Most users are looking for a super-charged antivirus solution: one that not only provides basic protection against malware but also shields them from various online threats like spying or data theft.
In this Avast review, we will have a look at one such product. Avast Premier is one of the company’s more expensive products. It tops Avast’s internet security suite by adding a few extra tools that protect users’ privacy.
So, is Avast worth paying for?
Keep reading to find out!
Avast Premier has a price tag of $79.99 for a 1-year license. This seems reasonable at first, considering how many features the product has.
What might come as an unpleasant surprise after you purchase Premier is the fact that some features on the menu are standalone applications. If you want to use them, you will have to install them separately, and that requires additional payments, which raises Avast’s cost.
Such is the case with Cleanup Premium, a tool for detecting and deleting junk files that slow down your device. Avast will scan and list such files, offering you to use Cleanup Premium to sort the problem out. But when you hit the Resolve button, you realize that you have to pay another $15 for Cleanup Premium.
Not a very smooth way to cross-sell, is it?
Avast Free vs Paid
Avast has a powerful free version, so why waste money on the premium product? In fact, Avast is mostly popular for its free solution. It is one of the main reasons for Avast’s gigantic 435 million user base (the other being antivirus AVG, which Avast owns, and which also has a very popular free version).
To answer your question: Avast Free Antivirus will protect you from viruses and other types of malware. It will also detect intruders in your home wi-fi network like suspicious devices and will offer you password management.
But the free product lacks many features that are available in Premier: a firewall, an antispam and antiphishing email protection, webcam protection, or file shredder, to name just a few.
With Avast Premier you get many more features, even though this is not the most complete Avast product. That would be Avast Ultimate, which costs $119.99 per year. But for the purposes of this Avast review, let’s stick to Premier.
By the way, if you’re not sure about Avast, you can always give it a test spin with the 30-day trial version. That way you get the chance to mess around with the features and see if this is the right product for you.
The trial version requires no registration and no credit card details, so it’s a good short-term solution.
Like most antivirus products, installing this suite is easy. Upon installation, you get the option to install Avast Secure browser, a free extension to protect you from ads and phishing sites. You also have the option to personalize the installation.
This means that you can choose which Premier components will be installed on your device. If you don’t make any personalizations, the executable file will simply install the whole package.
Before you start using the software, it asks you whether you want to share anonymous data about your computer, network, and websites visited. Then a green Run first scan button appears, prompting you to click it.
I love how simple and clean Avast’s user interface is. Most of the features are just two clicks away, and you won’t have much trouble finding what you are looking for.
The Status tab displays the state of your device. When you click on it, you should see the “You’re protected” sign with a big green “Show results.” If you click it, it will display the results from Avast’s last scan.
Any problems with the system will also flash in this tab.
The Protection tab is a list of all the features safeguarding your device from malware. From here, you can perform scans, check your wi-fi network for suspicious devices, adjust your firewall settings, and more.
For example, this is where you’ll find the Avast behavior shield: an extra layer of protection that monitors all processes on your device. When the tool detects a suspicious file, it blocks it, even if that file has not yet been added to the virus definitions database.
The Privacy tab is where you control your data. It helps you manage your passwords, destroy sensitive information, use VPN, or protect your webcam from peeping toms.
The Performance tab has a set of tools that help you boost your device’s speed. From here, you can choose to clean up junk files or disable annoying notifications.
For its price, Avast Premier has a reasonable mix of features. It’s packed with a versatile set of protection layers.
Those include a file shield that scans every file on your device, a behavior shield to track for suspicious activity, a web shield to guard you against online threats, and a mail shield to keep your mailbox safe.
Here are some other feats that may tickle your fancy.
Ransomware is not the hot topic in the news it used to be, but it still is a threat. That nasty code can give you a hard time by encrypting your files or locking the device’s screen.
Avast has a built-in solution for this. The Avast Ransomware Shield protects the folders where you keep your valuable info, like Documents or Pictures. When the shield detects that an app is about to change the files in these folders, it blocks it.
The cool thing about this tool is that you can configure how strict it should be. You can also add file formats to be protected by the shield.
This is a great tool to scan your home wi-fi network – or a public one, for that matter.
Wi-Fi Inspector checks your network for vulnerabilities and notifies you of things like using a weak router password. A weak password is something you don’t want, as it turns hacking your router into child’s play.
The tool lists all the devices connected to the network and provides basic information about them. For example, you can see the name of the device, its internal IP address, and its MAC address, as well as the OS it’s running.
Wi-fi Inspector, which is also included in the Avast free version, is very useful to keep away intrusive outsiders from connecting to your network. Hackers love doing that (even more than your neighbors) because it allows them to eavesdrop on your online activity, steal personal data, or infect you with malware.
One gizmo I found useful is the Software Updater. It monitors your system for outdated programs and automatically updates them to the newest versions.
You may not realize it, but keeping outdated software on your device can cause serious damage. Such programs are known to have unpatched vulnerabilities that hackers might exploit.
So it’s only reasonable to keep everything on the machine up-to-date. Avast Antivirus can help you achieve that.
The Data Shredder is a great tool to destroy data you no longer need.
Simply emptying the Recycle Bin won’t do the job. The files are still on the disk; you just don’t see them.
But the shredder scrambles the data in a way no one can read it, even if they have physical access to your device. This is a premium feature, and you won’t find it in Avast Antivirus or the Internet Security Suite.
A good VPN is essential for privacy. It keeps hackers and other snoopers like internet companies away from your personal life.
Avast offers its SecureLine VPN service, which encrypts all your traffic and hides your IP address (and so your location). As of the time of writing, it uses servers in more than 50 locations from 34 countries around the world.
It all sounds great until you realize SecureLine VPN is a standalone app like the ones I mentioned earlier in my Avast review. You have to pay extra to use it. However, the price of $1.89/month is sweet enough to make most users swallow the fact they have to pay more.
Scanning for Viruses
Avast’s default Smart scan checks for viruses and malware as well as browser threats and outdated apps.
It took just over a minute to perform a Smart scan on my test laptop, which is somewhere in the mid-range compared to most of the antivirus products I’ve tested.
A full scan is another story. It ran for 27 minutes, checking the entire disk for different types of malware, including rootkits.
The scan had some impact on system performance. I played a movie, and a few times I saw a lag between images and sound. Other than that, there were no noticeable disruptions while I was doing something else, like browsing or playing a video game.
The Avast antivirus feature can run custom scans: for example, you can choose how often a scan is performed. You can also scan certain folders instead of the whole disk.
Now that we know what Avast has to offer, let’s see the suite in action.
Phishing Protection: 10/10
Phishing is one of the oldest tricks in the book, yet it is still very effective. The practice of putting up fake websites to steal credentials never seems to grow old, precisely because so many people fall victim to it.
I tested Avast’s protection from phishing pages, and it didn’t disappoint. For this test, I picked some of the newest submissions on phishtank.com. I chose phishing links that are valid and online at the time of writing.
None of the samples I tried had the chance to load. So if you ask me “Is Avast good in detecting phishing pages?”, my answer would be: “Yes, it is.”
Just like AVG, Avast has no parental control feature. That’s a shame considering the fact you are paying for a premium antivirus product.
If you want to keep your children safe, you could restrict access to specific websites using the site blocking feature. However, it only does a fraction of what real parental control can do.
For example, it will only block websites you list, whereas parental control will block any content it considers inappropriate for children.
With parental control, you can track your kids’ location. You can’t do this with Premier.
Downloading the EICAR Test File
For all tests, I use the EICAR file, an industry-recognized solution for testing whether an antivirus software will respond to it as a threat.
Is Avast a good antivirus? The EICAR file will not give an explicit answer to that question. However, it will show if the particular AV product is working properly.
None of the EICAR files I downloaded went unnoticed by Avast. It signaled a threat each time it detected a version of the file.
Independent Lab Test
With a 99.3% success rate in discovering zero-day malware attacks, Avast covers the industry average according to AV-Test’s April 2019 report. I have to point out that this score is for Avast Free Antivirus, not Premier, but both products rely on the same technology.
When it comes to detecting widespread malware, Avast is even better and nails a 100% success rate.
All-in-all, AV-Test assigned a 5.5 / 6.0 score to Avast.
Customer support should be easy (and free) to reach, but I can’t say that for Avast customer service.
For one, the only sure way to contact the support team is by phone. You could send your query through an online form, but that requires an order ID. Free and trial versions of Avast products don’t have one, so it’s not an option.
What’s the problem with phone-only support policy, you ask?
Well, sometimes the connection is not that good. You can’t hear what the other person is saying, and you have to repeat and spell like you are still in second grade. That’s what happened to me.
Besides, some users just don’t like making calls. They prefer to send their questions by email or contact the customer care agent by chat.
Speaking about phone support, it’s toll-free – if you’re in the US, that is. If you’re calling from somewhere else, you get billed by your carrier. Seriously, Avast?
Apart from that, the Avast tech support representative was well-mannered and assisted me with the information I needed.
Let’s draw the line. Avast has made a strong antivirus bundle that brings a lot of value. All those tools and types of protections make up for the few things I didn’t like in Premier.
If this Avast review didn’t persuade you, you can always look up the company’s other products or read other TechJury reviews on antivirus solutions.
Until next time, and stay safe!
Great set of real-time protection layers
Some tools require additional payment
Lacks features like parental control