My 2012 Review Of Avast Free Antivirus 6

Antivirus:
Lee
Version:
2012
Price:
$0

Reviewed by:
Rating:
4 Stars
On December 3, 2011
Last modified:June 2, 2012

Summary:

Well featured, free and uses very little system resources. Not the best at detecting malware but still very capable.

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.

Avast Free Antivirus 6 installation

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The Good:
  • 1. Exceptionally low CPU usage
  • 2. Extremely low memory usage
  • 3. Good set of features for a free program

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The Bad:
  • 1. Good detection rates but not the best
  • 2. –
  • 3. –

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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?

Avast Free Antivirus 6 interface

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.

Avast Free Antivirus 6 settings

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.

Conclusion

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.

Avast Free Antivirus 6 resource usage

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!

avast!

Well featured, free and uses very little system resources. Not the best at detecting malware but still very capable.
About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.

Comments

  1. paul wenman says:

    Thanks Lee. I will post back on what I find

  2. paul wenman says:

    Thanks for that. We will look at these others. I am wondering if there are other factors to consider that may open doors for these little demons. I am prepared to invest properly in better PC and op sys if necessary because we use our PCs at home to run our small web research business and these interruptions are very costly to us. I am wondering if the heavy web searches we do may expose us to this type of attack more than otherwise might be the case.

    • ” I am wondering if there are other factors to consider that may open doors for these little demons.”

      Possibly – that would depend very much on how ‘risky’ your heavy web searching is.

      Depending upon how large/critical/profitable your business is you may need to consider some type of Endpoint security solution which, alas, is not an area on which I could add much comment at this time.

  3. paul wenman says:

    Thanks for yr reviews. I would love to know, however, how I can stop rootkits. We had one in Dec 11 which 2 weeks with help from Bleeping Computer to eradicate, with all damage done. We were running Avast antivirus and Comodo firewall. We aurimatically install Vista (64bit) updates. And now, Feb 16th, we have another rootkit invasion. Both came at same time as the fake MS anrivirus scan scam; the Dec rootkit also started web browser re-directs and caused horrendous boot problems. Hopefully BC will help again. But how can we stop this? If I paid for a professional firewall and antivirus would that help?

    • Hi Paul,

      The first point I’d make here is that security software is always in catch up mode, responding to the new threats as the bad guys create them. Therefore, there is always a chance that something will slip through, regardless of which product you are using for protection.

      Avast + Comodo isn’t a bad combination so I’m surprised you’ve picked up two rootkits in such a short period of time!

      Will a paid solution be better? Possibly. I’d suggest looking at ESET, Kaspersky or BitDefender as they are (my opinion) good at detecting and blocking rootkits. All 3 of these have trial versions you can test out.

      For dealing with existing rootkits try Kaspersky’s TDSSKiller which may well be a solution for your current problem.

  4. i want to download free antivirus software.

  5. nice antivirus

  6. Inacio Gomane says:

    This antivirus is fine. I so happy to use it and liked to get 2012

  7. David Hagan says:

    I hate the Avast program. Interfeared with everything. Avg, I am like you not bad but not crazy about firewall. Bit Total Drug my system to a craw. Kis works great on my little HP but I want more simple control of the Firewall like the old ZA. Which the new version I am not crazy about either. I also Won an 18 Month of Avira IS but it seems to conflict with something and the firewall is so confusing. Please feel free to reply back and what do you know about McAfee All Acess?

    • Well after that my first reaction is to ask what do you use???

      I’ll be looking at some McAfee products in the next 2-3 weeks so I’ll be able to answer your question then…

      • David Hagan says:

        McAfee has a great deal if you can find it on a product called Total Access at half off. Covers your computer, Laptop, phone, and I think it even cleans your car out. LOL.. Looked pretty cool, but after investing in Zone Alarm and KIS, I just put the KIS back on for now. Closest thing to what I like with control, not bat on resources, warns when I hit a bad page, and keeps me virus free, so far at least. And Amazon had it for around 20 bucks for 1 user 3 pc’s the other day.

  8. Mr Lee,
    Perchance have you done a review on Avast’s paid programs? I am getting ready to renew my avast Internet Security 6.* I switched over to the paid version after using free avast, which BTW i liked on my XP SP3 dinosaur laptop, for several years. No morer McAfee or Norton for me. Did like Panda and TC.
    FTW, Freedom Thru Wisdom
    Ron

    • David Hagan says:

      Yeah I won a key through one of the giveaway sites and I had it on my old HP with XP 3 and it worked great. But I closed my e-mail account and lost my key because of spam from other sites. One out of five are bad for software giveaways. I did not the Avast IS because I was not happy with the firewall although it is better than others. Avast Pro and IS are fairly good. Just the Avast Free 6 is the only one I have had problems with and its the new HP with windows 7. I wished I had got the Acer. I like them better.

    • David Hagan says:

      I have not tried Panda for a few years, It was on the old XP and it drug it way down at that time, and I had to reformat because it left so much baggage behind after the uninstall. Not sure what you was talking about on the TC. Unless Trusport. Did not try it but reviewed and research it. Looks okay for someone who has nothing. I do have a year that is about to expire if I don’t activate by DEC. 31st. I am thinking about letting my wife’s mom try it out. lol….

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