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Avast Free Antivirus Review 2017: Full of Features with Occasional Ads

By: Dennis Z
Avast Free Review

Avast is best know for its free antivirus because in the past it was the only product the company offered.

Now that it also offers a variety of paid products, I'd like to cover the main differences between the free Avast antivirus and the paid one.

You can read our complete review of Avast to learn more about the complete set of features it offers.

This review of Avast Free Antivirus is focused on the main issues that arise from this free antivirus, like promotional pop ups, missing features, etc.

Avast Free Antivirus

Avast Free Antivirus

Pros and Cons of Avast Free Antivirus

So, once again, these are the main aspects of this antivirus you should consider before installing it.

I'm not diving into each feature and setting which is available in the software, only the main benefits and drawbacks.

For a complete coverage of the features you can get from Avast's product line, check out our complete Avast review.

Pros:
  • Real-time malware protection
  • A wide range of scan options
  • Each component can be easily removed
  • Popup duration controls
  • Silent mode available
Cons:
  • No phishing protection
  • No firewall
  • No sandbox
  • Occasional offer popups
  • Large promotional windows

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Article Index

9.1 / 10

Custom Installation of Avast Free Antivirus

I started off by installing the free product and took notes of the most interesting bits of the process as I went along.

For example, you can see that Avast promotes its other products as early as the first installation screen:

Avast Free Antivirus Installation Screen

Avast Free Antivirus Installation Screen

If you simply install the product, you will receive the complete variety of components, some of them are free and some are a demo version of premium products.

If you choose to customize the installation you will be able to pick which features you don't want installed.

For example, there are some browser extensions that you may choose to deselect:

Custom Installation

Custom Installation

Unlike Avira Free Antivirus, Avast is really user-friendly in this regard.

Not only can you choose not to install part of the components, but you can also very easily remove any of them at any stage after you install this free antivirus.

Here's a snapshot of the relevant section in the settings:

Component Settings

Component Settings

10 / 10

Transparency Regarding Data Collection

Another thing that's important to note is the privacy aspect.

You will see this screen after the installation is over, and it's important that you read it:

Privacy Notice

Privacy Notice

By showing you this message, Avast basically saves you the effort of reading its entire privacy policy which is usually a long and boring document written in legalese.

This is commendable!

I wish other antivirus companies took similar steps to educate users about the privacy implications of installing this or that software.

As the message states, you can easily opt out of the data collection programs by visiting the settings after the installation is complete.

This is what you need to modify in the settings if you don't want Avast to collect any information about you:

Privacy Settings

Privacy Settings

8.1 / 10

Free Features vs. Paid Features

The free version of Avast antivirus includes a complete arsenal of security scans, including custom and scheduled scans.

Avast Antivirus Free Scan Options

Avast Antivirus Free Scan Options

The Smart Scan, that's the one available directly from the Status screen on the dashboard, scans for malware, vulnerable software, PUPs, and more potential issues.

Smart Scan in Progress

Smart Scan in Progress

Real-time protection is also enabled by default and provides protection by actively scanning your PC, websites you access and emails you receive.

Emails will be scanned only if you're using a local client like MS Outlook, it won't work on web clients like Gmail or Yahoo Mail.

You don't have to register in order to use Avast Free Antivirus but if you do, the web interface - My Avast - will allow you to manage your devices and subscriptions.

You will be able to access information about each device, and if you have the Avast app installed on your mobile devices, you will also be able to track and remotely control this device in case of theft.

In the category of less important features, you will enjoy the Avast SafeZone browser. I say that it's less important because it's a separate free browser and you can download it without installing any other Avast product.

In terms of protection features, this is what you won't enjoy:

Excluded Protection Features

Excluded Protection Features

The Data Shredder is also not a part of the free product, but to be honest, the average user shouldn't worry about this one.

Excluded Privacy Features

Excluded Privacy Features

The free password manager is actually an extension for the Chrome browser and not a complete password management software.

Overall, the average user shouldn't feel much of a difference in terms of protection features between the free and the paid Avast products.

In order to demonstrate what the paid version looks like, I upgraded my installation of Avast Free Antivirus to Avast Internet Security:

Avast Internet Security

Avast Internet Security

As you can see, the premium version is very similar.

It contains some features and settings that were not accessible in the free product. You can try it yourself:

Try Internet Security

6.6 / 10

Products Sold from Within the User Dashboard

The initial license you receive for the free product is valid for 30 days after which you will be prompted to make a choice:

License Expiration Warning

License Expiration Warning

This is basically a gimmick, and you can continue to enjoy free protection if you simply select the free product in the window that follows.

When you use one of the included premium features, like Avast SecureLine VPN, you will see that it's a limited trial only.

You will have to pay if you want to keep using it beyond the trial period:

Avast SecureLine VPN Free Trial

Avast SecureLine VPN Free Trial

If you don't need these limited components or already have a good alternative, you can simply not install it from the get-go or uninstall it as I demonstrated above.

Some of the ads will offer you free trials or discounted subscriptions for premium products, like this one:

Avast Internet Security Free Trial Ad

Avast Internet Security Free Trial Ad

If you access your subscription settings, you will see that you can purchase additional Avast products right from the interface:

Subscription Settings

Subscription Settings

So don't be surprised if some offers to buy this or that product pop up when you take the wrong turn, or click the wrong option on the interface.

This entire free antivirus software contains promotional offers in some areas of the dashboard and in the settings.

7.6 / 10

Some Ads and Some Excluded Features

As soon as you finish installing Avast Free Antivirus, you may see an ad like this one:

Promotional Notification

Promotional Notification

This is a glimpse into the promotion-filled future that awaits any user who installs the free version of Avast antivirus.

It's nothing terrible and you can close it with one click of a mouse, but as time passes you will see more of those.

What I don't like about this most is that it's the size of the antivirus user console.

Unlike other free antivirus programs (i.e. AVG Antivirus Free, which Avast now owns as well) Avast isn't satisfied with Windows task bar notifications and shows full size ads as well.

You can't disable promotional pop up notifications on the free version.

On the bright side, you can control the duration of the time that other pop ups remain visible via the settings, for each type of notification: (not the promotional ones, though)

Notification Settings

Notification Settings

However:

Interestingly enough and despite the fact that you can't disable promotional popup notifications, you can block all notifications by activating the Silent Mode in the general settings.

But this will keep the promotional pop ups away only while you're running full screen apps or games.

Toggle Silent Mode

Toggle Silent Mode

My Conclusion

Avast Free Antivirus offers an impressive and convenient collection of tools, for a free product.

The ads aren't very intrusive, but there are quite a bit of them.

The average user can run it as is, and advanced users have plenty of settings they can customize in order to tailor the product to fit their own needs.

The interface is easy to use and intuitive, almost all the settings are available and there's no reason to pay for this product unless you really want to get rid of the ads or use one of the excluded features.

For a company that struggles to achieve top performance in independent antivirus lab tests, it seems that too much time is invested in catchy feature names and marketing instead of improving the malware protection engine itself.

It's good, but not that good.

There's better free antivirus software if you're willing to give up on some of the features included in Avast Free Antivirus.

And if you don't want to settle for ads nor for missing features, premium antivirus products have a reasonable price tag and provide good value.

Pros:
  • Real-time malware protection
  • A wide range of scan options
  • Each component can be easily removed
  • Popup duration controls
  • Silent mode available
Cons:
  • No phishing protection
  • No firewall
  • No sandbox
  • Occasional offer popups
  • Large promotional windows

If you like this product, you can get it here:

Get Avast Free Antivirus

By Dennis Z

Privacy fanatic & online marketing guru

A millennial privacy freak who wouldn’t normally even put his first name anywhere, not to mention his last name or his photo. Having learned basic programming at the advanced age of 11, computers have always been a part of his life in every aspect.

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Avast Free Antivirus has a great user interface, despite the fact it causes occasional ads pop up both in the form of notifications, and in the form of new Windows within the Antivirus program. A complete set of scan options and real-time protection shields justifies the ads and promotional offers you have to experience.

Avast Free
Date published:June 6, 2017
8.3 / 10 stars

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