With over 30 years of experience in the antivirus market, Avast is a giant—and a market leader—in the consumer security market. Avast’s acquisition of AVG Technologies in 2016 allowed it to combine antivirus technologies from both companies in a comprehensive, feature-rich offering tailored for both individual and business use.
Although it is somewhat highly priced and has only mid-range results from test labs, it comes with a huge number of features, is highly configurable, and delivers accurate URL filtering.
Costs and What’s Covered
In addition to a free version, Avast Pro was sold as a stand-alone product until recently. It was the flagship product of the Avast range but has now been combined with—and is marketed as—Avast Premium Security. You can purchase a one-, two-, or three-year subscription for Avast Premium Security. PC, Mac, Android, and iOS are supported, and you can purchase subscriptions for up to 10 devices at a time.
A one-year, one-device subscription for Mac costs $59.99 (or about $5 per month). This goes up to $159.99 (or about $4.44 per month) for the three-year plan. For Windows, the one-year, one-device subscription starts at $69.99 and tops off at $209.99 for the three-year plan. Both these plans average out to $5.83 per month, so there are no real savings for signing up to a longer plan. Every plan comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, single- or multi-device options, and custom features for mobile vs. laptop/desktop depending on the package and devices you choose.
While many Avast Premium Security features such as real-time virus protection, password management, and software update management are available in the free version, the premium one also includes a nifty secure DNS feature called Real Site. This system protects you from DNS hijacks and saves you from being scammed by copycat sites.
A sandbox feature is also available that allows you to securely test programs. This is especially handy if you like to install and try out the latest in freeware.
In addition to the above, this product gives you a useful browser add-on checker, wireless network scanning capabilities, and a secure browser that keeps you safe while you shop online or perform online banking activities.
Avast delivered a 99.5% protection rate in the August 2018 report of the AV-Comparatives' Real-World Protection Test. This test measures the performance of the top antivirus products against the very latest malware threats. Although 99.5% is a very high success rate, many products achieved a 100% rate, and Avast placed 12th overall out of 18 products.
Avast’s performance was slightly better when averaged over a longer time frame. A report that looked at antivirus performance over a 5-month period placed Avast’s performance 9th, very close to other antivirus heavyweights such as Symantec and McAfee.
Overall, the results from independent testing labs show that Avast is proficient in detecting and blocking most real-world threats, even those that were as yet undiscovered, and for most users, this capability is what matters most.
Security and Privacy Features
We talked about most of Avast Pro’s basic features above, such as secure browsing, real-time virus protection, and Real Site DNS protection. Let’s now talk about specific scan options you can run to keep your system safe and performant.
First, there is Smart Scan. This feature scans for viruses, missing updates, bad browser add-ons, network security issues, password issues, and performance problems. The scan runs relatively quickly and picks up most malware issues without any problem.
The network check-up is good too, and it can identify a range of low-level yet important issues with your setup. You can also sign up for Avast’s SecureLine VPN if, after Smart Scan, you feel you need more in terms of internet privacy.
A feature called Rescue Disk provides you with a bootable environment for systems that are badly infected. It works with a USB drive as well as CDs, DVDs, and many other tools, depending on your preferences.
A useful password manager that works with Chrome and Firefox add-ons allows you to automatically save new passwords as you enter them. It then syncs them across your devices and can help you save time filling in forms later. It works quite well for an extra feature that comes as part of a bundle.
For those worried about network security, there is a feature called Wi-Fi Inspector. This feature scans your current network, lists all of the devices connected to it, and provides solutions to issues it finds. This feature is something of a rare extra and we recommend you have it.
Finally, there is Real Site, which was formerly called Secure DNS. This feature configures your system to use Avast's secure and encrypted DNS system to prevent attackers from listening in on your DNS traffic or redirecting it to a malicious site.
General scans can be performed reasonably quickly, but because many scans also include scans for system optimization (by checking performance issues and browser add-ons), system performance can take a hit.
Depending on your system’s specs, a general scan can take anywhere from 15 to 60 minutes to complete. On an Intel i3 processor, your system will slow down considerably whenever Avast is launched.
The UI is well-designed and is a pleasure to use. Clearly marked tabs and buttons help you navigate to where you need to go, and notifications, updates, new features, system health flags, and other information bits are easy to find and clearly marked.
Installation and Support
You can immediately start to fine-tune your options when you launch the Avast installer. There is a choice of 16 available modules to install, and you can decide whether you want to include browser extensions or Avast’s password manager.
As the installer runs, easy-to-understand prompts and checklists allow you to see what’s going on and choose different features for installation. The process is fast, meaning you will be ready and protected within minutes.
Round-the-clock tech support by knowledgeable support staff and a comprehensive searchable knowledgebase make finding answers to issues and resolving problems relatively quick and straightforward.
Avast Pro is a comprehensive antivirus program that has many high-end features perfect for those who spend a lot of time online or who run their own domains or networks. If you are not such a user, however, we recommend using Avast Free since it contains many of the Pro version’s main features.