Our Review of Avast Internet Security 2015
Paid Anti-virus Programs
Pavel Baudis and Eduard Kucera founded ALWIL Software in 1988 when they released their first Avast anti-virus program. Years later in 2010, ALWIL changed its name to AVAST Software. Ever since the first release of Avast Anti-Virus, the software has been recognized as one of the best virus and malware protection applications available. That proud tradition continues with the latest release - Avast Internet Security 2015.
Cost and Value
Avast Internet Security 2015 offers average value in a security suite application when compared to other products we have tested. At a cost of $49.99 for an annual single-computer subscription and $69.99 to cover three PCs, Avast Internet Security 2015 costs roughly the same as comparable AV suites. While the Avast security suite does not provide a Parental Controls feature, it does offer router scanning, a reliable firewall and solid performance. Note - at the time of publication, and for a limited time, Avast is offering a $10 discount on the single-PC version of the anti-virus suite.
Downloading and installing Avast Internet Security 2015 is a relatively simple process, and depending on your Internet connection speed, should not take very long. The entire Avast installation file is rather large at 178 megabytes. However, you can choose to download a smaller quick-setup file that is less than 5 megabytes. If you opt for the smaller setup file, the wizard will simply download the remaining files during installation. At the time of publication Avast is offering a 60-day free trial if you provide billing information before downloading. Nevertheless, for the purposes of this review, we opted just to use the 30-day trial.
After downloading the setup file and opening it, just click "Run" in the Security Warning window that appears. Next, select to either use the trial version or enter your subscription info if you already have an Avast subscription. The installer then allows you to create a free Dropbox account if you need one, and finally prompts you to accept the license agreement. After you accept the agreement, the Avast installer completes the installation without any further action needed.
After installation is complete, just click the "Done" button to close the setup wizard and launch Avast Internet Security 2015. Upon starting for the first time, Avast will perform a quick Smart Scan of your computer automatically.
Once Avast Internet Security 2015 completes the initial smart scan of your system (which only takes a couple of minutes by the way,) it displays the Overview window of the user interface. The first time you see the interface, a "New Network Detected" window appears. Unless you are an advanced user or have a specific reason for doing so, just click the "OK" button to accept the default network settings.
While the text and icons in Avast are bright and easy to read, the interface can be a bit confusing at first glance. The layout of the Avast user interface suggests the company designed it with both PC and mobile users in mind. However, the combination of a sidebar menu and large tiles will make it harder to use for touchscreen users. If you will be using Avast with only a PC, though, the home screen of the UI is simple enough to navigate.
On the Overview screen, you can log in to your account or choose one of the four large buttons to perform common tasks. The four large tiles in the Overview window allow you to run a Smart Scan, clean up your browser, configure your router or create/edit safe zones.
The sidebar menu can be difficult to use. Clicking one of the sidebar labels opens another slide-out menu that is sensitive and disappears quickly if mouse movements are not precise. Nevertheless, you can access all the important functions from the sidebar menu. Those functions include Overview, Scan, Tools, Store, Account, Statistics and Settings. The sidebar labels provide adequate descriptions of the functions to which they lead. One nice feature in the UI, though, is the easy accessibility of the Settings area on the sidebar. With some AV suites we have tested, you have to search deep within the UI to find the configuration settings.
Avast Internet Security 2015 does not include Parental Controls. However, it does offer a few features not found in other security suites we have tested. One of these bonus features is access to a strong VPN network for making surfing sessions secure. Additionally, the application includes a nifty Remote Assistance option that enables two Avast users to share desktops and collaborate.
Virus, Malware and False Positive Detection
After we introduced a set of 8 viruses and 16 false positive files to the test system, we ran a full system scan. Initially, we were quite surprised and disappointed as Avast appeared to detect only two viruses and identified one of the safe false positive files as a threat. However, after closing the Scan Results window, we got another surprise - Avast prompted us to reboot so that it could continue the scan. After rebooting, Avast scanned the system in DOS mode and was able to detect and neutralize all of the viruses introduced to the test system. Unfortunately, Avast did identify another safe false positive file as a threat during the process.
To receive a perfect score in our tests, a security suite should detect and remove all viruses/malware and ignore all the false positive files. Put simply, the application should neutralize bad files and leave the safe false positive files intact.
Avast Internet Security 2015 performed quite well in the virus/malware testing by detecting and neutralizing all eight of the infected test files. With the false positive test, though, Avast incorrectly identified two safe files as threats and prompted for their removal. Therefore, Avast Internet Security 2015 received a 100% score in virus/malware removal and only an 87.5% score during the false positive test.
Below is a screenshot of the files used in the false positive test.
Scanning and System Performance
Perhaps the greatest strengths of Avast Internet Security 2015 are its tiny impact on system resources and extremely fast scan speeds. Initial scans on the clean test system were very fast with the smart scan taking only 2 minutes 4 seconds and a full scan finishing in just under 5 minutes. During the full-system/boot scan performed by Avast on the infected system, the entire process took less than 10 minutes.
Multitasking with Avast Internet Security 2015 also provided excellent results. Avast is very light and utilizes very little in terms of CPU cycles or RAM. While running a full scan, we were able to open IE and Chrome in under 3 seconds, and Windows programs such as the Snippet Tool, WordPad and Windows Media Player all opened immediately. In short, it was hard to tell the AV program was even running while using the test system for other tasks.
The test system we used to test and review Avast is a relatively modest Windows 7 machine with an Intel dual-core CPU and 2GB of memory.
Avast Internet Security 2015 is a very efficient virus and malware removal tool and performs very thorough scans. Impact on usability during scans is almost non-existent because Avast uses very few system resources. Although not covered in detail in this review, the Firewall and Router Security features are first rate and offer additional protection to users on the same network.
Avast Internet Security 2015 did not score so well in our false positive test. Avast identifies some safe files as threats and may prompt you to delete them. For some users, this could lead to the deletion of files needed for opening or running legitimate programs.
The Avast anti-phishing features did not perform as well as many other AV products we have tested. During our tests with known 0-day phishing and malicious websites, Avast blocked access to only 6 out of 10 bad sites. The anti-phishing tools in Chrome and Firefox actually did a better job, detecting 8/10 and 7/10 respectively.
The user interface is not as polished and easy-to-navigate as some offered by Avast's competitors. Finally, the lack of a Parental Controls feature is a negative for those with children or others who want to monitor/control surfing habits.