Avast Free Antivirus Review

A full review of Avast's free antivirus program

Avast Free Antivirus is one of the best free antivirus software programs you can download. It's a complete tool that protects against threats from the internet, email, local files, peer-to-peer connections, instant messages, and much more. In fact, the 2021 version outdoes its competitors to a pretty significant extent. 

With all of these features, you might wonder what you'll have to fork over to pay for it. Fortunately, it's completely free!

Screenshot of the Avast Free Antivirus status screen in the Windows 10 app
What We Like
  • On-access protection from viruses and other malware.

  • Includes a "heuristics engine."

  • Silent mode feature to hide alerts.

  • Long history of excellent virus protection.

  • Runs on Windows and Mac.

  • Grab a free trial of Premium Security.

What We Don't Like
  • No commercial use (home/personal only).

  • Tries to install unrelated software.

  • Shows ads within the program.

  • Doesn't hide the non-free features.

Avast Description: Important Features

Avast's no-cost AV program includes fully functional antivirus, antispyware, and heuristics engines. There's also real-time protection of files, email, web surfing, and suspicious behavior. It scans browser plugins, too, to find installs that have a poor reputation and may be malicious.

The Behavior Shield feature keeps a constant eye on your applications to make sure they don't start to act differently, which could be a sign of a virus attempting to manipulate the software. The other shields include File, Web, and Mail, and each can be customized to your liking, like to block specific websites, scan files when they're being opened, scan inbound emails.

Wi-Fi Inspector scans your network to find vulnerabilities, such as identifying routers that are using default passwords and checking if your network is accessible from the internet.

A feature called Do Not Disturb Mode will block pop-ups and Windows updates while any program is in fullscreen mode. This is great so that you don't see update or virus alerts while presenting something or playing a live game.

Blocking apps is allowed to protect yourself from viruses they might have. Alternatively, you can stop the virus scanner from checking for threats in folders of your choice. If there are files you want the scanner to avoid, you can add those to the exclusions list, too.

A great way this program protects itself is by letting you set a program password. Doing so prevents other people from making changes like turning it off.

Some other things we like are the options you can set for each virus scan type: full scans, targeted scans, File Explorer scans, and boot-time scans. For example, Avast can check for potentially unwanted programs, follow links during the scan, test the whole file for threats, scan removable media, find rootkits, look for viruses on DVDs and CDs, scan startup programs loaded in memory, scan archives, scan only risky file extensions (like EXE and BAT), and turn off the computer automatically after a scan.

Screenshot of the Avast Free Antivirus scan settings

Don't Believe the Rumors: Avast Is Free

Some users have stated that Avast Free Antivirus is not free or that it's not a truly complete antivirus program. That's simply not true; it's a complete anti-malware tool.

Some of the additional benefits you get from purchasing the Premium Security or Ultimate version of Avast are the firewall, VPN, privacy, and spam protections, but you can get those features free from other programs ​if you want them.

So yes, Avast Free Antivirus provides constant virus protection, also called on-access or resident protection, for free. This means that it can completely replace antivirus software from companies like McAfee and Norton that charge for their software and for yearly access to updates.

Our Thoughts on Avast Free Antivirus

Avast Free Antivirus has been around a long time and is, overall, an excellent free antivirus program. It includes just about everything you'd ever want from an antivirus program, free or otherwise. It's the only anti-malware tool you'll need on your computer.

You can see how Avast's software compares with antivirus programs from other companies—in protection, performance, and usability—from AV-TEST.

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