Avast! Internet Security 2014 Review: Internet Security Software
|Visit Avast! Internet Security 2014 Website|
|Fast, affordable and easy to use with a slew of great features. Best bargain for smart security software.|
[Editor's note: Avast! is currently offering NextAdvisor visitors an exclusive $10 off discount on its 2014 software. Click any of the Avast! links from NextAdvisor to take advantage of the deal.]
Once again, Avast! secures its spot as the best bargain for Internet security software. It offers most of the features that the bigger security software suites offer, as well as solid protection. With its easy-to-understand interface and high performance scores, Avast! is the best all-around product for those who aren't willing to shell out the big bucks for the top names.
Avast!'s installation process isn't as streamlined as its competitors — in addition to a mandatory restart, you are required to download a license file from the confirmation email and import into the program before you can begin installation. Once installation finishes, the program runs a Quick Scan to check your computer's most vulnerable areas for infection before requesting a restart, which is a nice touch if you're worried about your computer already being infected.
The interface is much the same as 2013 with a slightly darker color scheme and a revamp to the home screen that adds four large shortcut buttons. They start off as Quick Scan, Browser Cleanup, a blank button and Mobile Protection, but in a cool effort to boost personalization, these can be customized to four shortcuts of your choice by right-clicking to remove or change the shortcut. This is a handy feature considering how many different features the program has. The rest of the main screen shows your protection, updates, firewall and shield status.
To the left of the program is a sidebar menu where you can find all of the options and features Avast! has to offer. The top of the menu is the Status page so you can easily return when you want. The rest of the list includes Scan, Tools, Store, My Devices, Help, Statistics and Settings, each accented with a large orange icon. Finally, at the bottom is a button that allows you to collapse the text of the sidebar menu to make the program window more compact.
The Tools button opens a second menu where you can access the majority of Avast!'s extras. Software Updater shows the update status of the software installed on your computer and lets you update everything from right there in the program. SecureLine is a premium service that creates a secure, anonymous Internet connection. Sandbox lets you run any program on your computer in an isolated, virtual environment to prevent harm to your computer. Browser Cleanup removes those annoying, unwanted toolbars and extensions that get installed to your browser. (Currently, this feature is supported for Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome.) AccessAnywhere lets you or another person remotely control your desktop. Lastly, Firewall lets you set up your connected network and control the access for various applications.
The rest of the menu is pretty self-explanatory. Store lets you purchase upgrades or extras to go with your software. My Devices allows management and remote control operation of your phone or tablet. Help opens a second menu with Support, Feedback, Remote Assistance (which lets another Avast! user connect to your computer for technical support) and an About page. Statistics shows data for the program and your computer as well as global community data. Settings opens up a new window where you can change the program settings to your heart's content.
Altogether, Avast! presents one of the more visually appealing and intuitive interfaces of the Internet security software programs we've reviewed.
Antimalware and Antivirus
Though Avast!'s performance in the AV-Comparatives Whole-Product Dynamic Test — which takes into account the sum of the product's parts in protecting PCs — has been on the low side in previous years, the software scored 3 out of 3 stars in this past summer's test, which is a serious improvement that shows Avast!'s efforts to strengthen and improve their antimalware and antivirus technology. They also passed our in-house download and site blocker tests with flying colors.
When it comes to the heart of antivirus protection — virus scanning — Avast! offers 5 main types of scans: Quick Scan, Full System Scan, Removable Media Scan, Selected Folder Scan and Boot Time Scan. You can also create a custom scan with your own parameters. We appreciated that the full scan not only took very little time to complete, but did not slow down our system or prevent continued use of Avast!'s other features.
Avast! also brings to the table a number of great security features, including:
Rescue Disk: This new feature lets you create a CD or USB backup of Avast!'s virus definitions for removing an infection that prevents you from accessing anything in your computer, such as a full-screen window.
SafeZone: One of the coolest features Avast! has to offer is a virtualized desktop that allows you to shop and bank online in a totally secure, separate environment with the ability to set an automatic switch for certain websites when you try to access them. You can bookmark additional applications from your computer, such as calculator or notepad, for added convenience, and you can switch between your regular desktop and the SafeZone desktop in case you need to obtain information like a password from your files.
This is a category where Avast! really shines when it comes to independent testing. Avast! has consistently ranked 3 out of 3 stars in the AV-Comparatives performance test, meaning that the software has a minimal effect on your operating system's speed. This is something we definitely noticed during our in-house testing as well — scans and other operations did not cause a system lag and the pop-up notifications are quick and minimal. Changing the settings can be done within most individual sections of the program as well as the settings window, which opens up as a separate window from the rest of the program and is neatly organized.
Keeping an eye on the performance of Avast!'s shields on your system as well as within the global user community is easy with the Statistics feature, which opens up a large second window when clicked. This window shows Realtime data, Historical data and Component status information for the various components of the program with the option to view your stats or global stats.
A user-friendly interface, fast performance and top-rated protection combine with great features like SafeZone and Rescue Disk to make Avast! one of the best choices for affordable Internet security on the market.
System Requirements: Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8
* AV-Comparatives ratings on a variety of tasks related to the antivirus and antimalware product. "Known Malware " refers to a product's ability to catch pre-identified viruses, while "Unknown Malware " refers to its ability to detect brand new viruses. Older scores may reflect previous software versions.
AV-Comparatives. Score indicates overall effectiveness in a variety of tests over time. † indicates that company did not take part in all tests. See reviews for details.*Averaged 2010/2011 scores for each company's antivirus/anti-malware product by independent testing agency
**Score indicates impact of antivirus product on system performance. Average of performance tests by AV-Comparatives.
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