Avast! 2014 Free Antivirus review
If you're reluctant to pay for security software, there's still a surprising choice of products. Avast! 2014 Free Antivirus offers real-time protection and scheduled scanning to deal with a full range of malware threats. It includes configurable protection against threats found on web pages, and those arriving through email or found in the local file system. The program is a free and fully functional download, although you can only use it for 30 days without registering with an email address. Though it's not strictly part of the same software, Avast! also makes a free Mobile Security & Antivirus package for Android users, which includes an anti-theft module and backup software.
You might not expect free software to provide the best anti-virus protection, but in our most recent tests Avast! performed surprisingly well, scoring a solid 962 for total accuracy out of a possible 1,048 marks. It was particularly good when it came to false positives, allowing legitimate software to function normally without prompting the user in all but two cases, and then recommending that the user allow the software to proceed. Its legitimate software rating of 746 was only two short of the maximum possible result in this test, where only Microsoft Security Essentials performed better.
While Avast! was admirably unobtrusive, however, it was less impressive when it came to handling live threats, defending against 76 of the 100 threats evaluated, neutralising 18 others but allowing six to compromise the system. This dropped its weighted protection rating to 216 out of 300, placing it sixth out of the nine home software packages we tested.
Our live tests were conducted on Avast! Free Antivirus 8, the previous release. While the scanning engine and performance in the new 2014 version are substantially similar, Avast! highlighted that it has introduced a new hardened mode, through which inexperienced users can opt to further prevent the execution of files not known to be safe, and a DeepScreen mode claimed to make better real-time decisions on suspicious but unknown files. The company also said that it had speeded up scanning, and 2014 Free Antivirus certainly seems quick enough, completing a quick scan on a newly installed PC in around two minutes. If detected, any threats are listed along with the available remedial actions, which include fixing automatically, deletion or moving to the Chest; the Avast! term for quarantine.