The latest in my series of reviews of free 2012 antivirus programs is for Avast Free Antivirus 6.
Today’s review of the latest free antivirus program from Avast! finds me liking an entry which is arguably not the absolute best in terms of malware detection. Read on to find out why.
- 1. Exceptionally low CPU usage
- 2. Extremely low memory usage
- 3. Good set of features for a free program
- 1. Good detection rates but not the best
- 2. –
- 3. –
Installation and first impression
Avast! Free Antivirus 6 is a quick and painless installation.
Once you are up and running you will be faced with the interface that you see in the image below. This is very clear, concise and easy to navigate. The only niggle I have here is, as you can just about see in the picture, the inducement to upgrade to the paid version. That said, you do get this particular program for nowt so you can’t blame the company for looking to gain a few sales can you?
The program itself is surprisingly well featured for a free antivirus package. Of course there is no firewall present but, for most users, the free one that comes with Windows will suffice anyway.
Avast! Free Antivirus 6 has all the usual scans that you would expect to see in such a product, such as scheduled scans, on demand scans and constant behavioural analysis. Additionally, it also offers an email scanner (spam prevention is an optional extra) and a module which is dedicated to peer to peer downloading. There is also a similar module which scans files received via IM clients.
Another good feature is the sandbox – if the program detects a file which it deems to be suspicious then it can be run in a virtual environment which allows it to be tested without compromising the rest of your system.
Finally, like many other security programs these days, Avast! Free Antivirus 6 also includes a browser plugin which will identify suspicious web sites in search engine search results pages before you click on them.
When testing this program against a random sample of malware I found it’s detection rates to be good, on a par with several other free programs, but not quite as good as the free version of AVG. That said, its by no means bad, and it may fair differently depending upon which samples it has to work with.
Even though I didn’t find Avast! antivirus to be the absolute best at malware detection I would still strongly recommend that you give it due consideration. Regular readers will know that I like security programs to consume as few system resources as possible, both in standard operation and also whilst running scans. And this program is exceptionally good in this area. In fact it is the best I’ve seen thus far; during a full system scan CPU usage averaged out at around 18% and memory usage was approximately 260 MB throughout. These two factors meant that I was able to using my laptop for several other tasks during a scan without any noticeable slowdown whatsoever. Thats excellent!