REVIEW: Avast Free Antivirus 2015

Category: Anti-Virus

The holiday shopping season starts earlier each year, and so does the release of major annual updates of security software. The 2015 edition of Avast Free Antivirus arrived before Thanksgiving, for instance. Avast 2015 contains some features never before seen in Avast. Read on for the full story, and learn how you can get the paid version for free...

What's New in Avast Antivirus 2015?

First off, there's a home network scanner in Avast 2015 that I have not seen in any other security suite. When launched, the network scanner checks your router’s administrator username and password, warning you to change them if they’re still set at factory defaults.

It warns of unencrypted WiFi connections, or those encrypted with the easily hacked WEP protocol. It checks to make sure your DNS has not been redirected and that your router is not accessible from the Internet. If there is a problem, Avast 2015 will display step-by-step instructions for solving it – if your router model is one that Avast supports. Otherwise, you’ll have to consult the user manual or Google it.

These are "front door" security precautions that many users miss, so I applaud Avast for these additions to the already comprehensive protection that this free security suite provides.

Avast 2015 Review

With the 2015 edition, Avast seems to be morphing into an all-in-one system maintenance and security suite, much like Advanced System Care, PC Matic and other utility suites. Avast’s emphasis is on maintenance issues that affect security, but they may also improve system performance.

Avast’s “Browser Cleanup” feature is not what its name implies to most people. Instead of clearing the browser’s file cache, browsing history, etc., Avast cleans up unwanted toolbars and plugins, eliminating points of vulnerability to hackers and places where malware likes to hide.

Keeping all of one’s software up to date is another security issue. Avast 2015’s “Software Updater” makes it a breeze. You can set it to notify you when updates are available or just install them automatically. This module checks for updates of operating system, browser, and popular applications, but if you don’t see some of your apps in the tool’s list you’ll have to update them on your own.

Free or Paid Version?

"Avast Free Antivirus" is the name of the free version of the Avast suite. "Avast Internet Security" is a paid version that offers extra features such as Anti-Hijack Protection (to secure your online banking and other sensitive accounts), a Silent Firewall (to sheild you from hackers) and an Anti-Spam module. The cost is $39/year, but there's a way to earn a free copy. See the inset for details.

Want to get a free copy of Avast 2015? You can, with my Avast Friend Referral Link. You can even get the PAID VERSION FOR FREE by earning Avast Karma Points with your own referral link. What's that all about? Full details are at the end of this article.

Avast Free 2015 also includes demo versions of premium security tools. The SecureLine VPN option is a free three-day trial of a fully encrypted proxy service; using it hides your IP address and Web surfing activity even from your own ISP. A one-year subscription costs $60. “GrimeFighter” analyzes your system for junk files, bad registry entries, and other junk that can slow your system; but to fix the problems you’ll need to pay $20. (Or you can use Privazer, the free cleaner-upper I recommend.)
The free Mobile Backup trialware comes with a 2 GB Dropbox account and stores your mobile device’s data in the cloud; the premium version costs $15.

The main Avast interface screen includes a “Store” button that reveals a host of premium and freemium products, an indication that competition in the Internet Security marketplace is heating up, or that profit margins which rely on converting free users to paid customers are getting tighter.

Karma Points and Free Avast Software

If you have registered as a member of the Avast online community you will see in the upper-right corner of Avast Free’s main screen your registered email address and a notation such as, “540 karma.” So-called “karma points” are awarded for various acts of participation in the community, and even for being a user of Avast Free for a long time. Referring friends, posting to forums, trying a demo feature, buying a premium feature, etc., all earn you more karma points and “status” in the community.

With enough Karma points, you can earn a free copy of Avast Internet Security. Here's the fastest way to do that. On the Avast main screen, click the ACCOUNT tab. Login to your Avast account (or create one if needed). Next, click on the colored circle under the Logout link at the top right. On the next screen, you'll see a gray box that says "Recommend Avast and earn Karma". Click that link, and you'll be given your own referral link, which you can use to invite friends via Email, Facebook, Twitter or Google+. Recommending Avast to 7 friends can earn you a free year of Avast Internet Security (14 friends, two years; 21 friends, three years). Your friends must download and install Avast via your referral link.

I've been using Avast for over a year since switching from AVG, and I'm giving the new Avast 2015 version a big thumbs up for some innovative new features and continued comprehensive protection from malware threats.

Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

 
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Most recent comments on "REVIEW: Avast Free Antivirus 2015"

(See all 31 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

Bernie B
08 Dec 2014

I stopped using Avast when they started pushing unwanted tool bars and browsers. I accidentally allowed it to automatically update once and could not reset without the toolbar and browser reappearing. So this product is forever off my computer. Good riddance!


Posted by:

Maura K
08 Dec 2014

I use the free version of Avast for my tablet. It seems to do the job without slowing down performance. I think when my current anti-virus for my laptop expires, I will switch to Avast as a much more economical option even in the paid version. As always, Bob, thanks for the information!


Posted by:

Glen
08 Dec 2014

I have been using Avast since you recommended it and I am totally happy. I did have a problem with a program on another computer that Avast was tagging as Malware, Otherwise, I like Avast.


Posted by:

Doc
08 Dec 2014

When you install a program you don't have to keep it. I like Advanced System Care but it HOUNDS me (it seems like) every day to upgrade, or inform me that I need the rest of their tools (I do keep IOBIT DEGRAG though, and just know that it's a minor annoyance, it's ASC that seems to cause all the hounding). I'll instal it, run it, let it clean things up, then delete it. After all that's what programs like Revo Uninstall are for: getting rid of programs you don't want. Not knowing if Avast! does any real time scanning, I generally stay away from it except for my old computers which chug away at World Community Grid 24/7 and run it every couple of days. At home I run the free AV program given to me by my ISP, though I do double check it every couple of days with MBAM. Panda takes FOREVER to run on my computer - too long for me.

Just because a program does good things and has some side effects that bother you - doesn't mean you have to keep it - just use it for what you want to use it for -- then dump it. I run CCleaner everyday, add Privazer a couple of times a week or so depending on how much public surfing I've been doing, Run Glary about once every week or two, then once a month down load ASC run it, delete it, then defrag over night.

Remember you can be like a mechanic: get the tool you need, then 'put it back on the shelf' (delete it). Yes, it takes about 10 minutes longer to down load and uninstall (AND you have to cold-boot after you uninstall it) - but you did use a good tool for the right job - and put it back where it belongs, on the tool rack. I like what ASC does, but HATE the harassing (it seems to me) to use ALL their tools. So, I treat it just like the engineers who built the pyramids: I use their skill, then kill them. Not a problem.


Posted by:

joe
09 Dec 2014

Be aware of the gruesome problem with avast and the KB3000850 windows 8+ patch. I switched to avira.


Posted by:

JIMeans
09 Dec 2014

I can't remember how long I've used Avast, both paid & free versions. It is my first go-to program to get a new user to install on a non-protected unit. I've found it easy to install and use. I'll stck with the program for now. It has been the least obnoxious for me of the vendors that try to get you to upgrade. Thanks for the review of the new features.


Posted by:

Joe M
09 Dec 2014

You covered everything. Except how it performs in the core functions.


Posted by:

Don MacDonald
09 Dec 2014

I updated my paid version of Avast to 2015 version and 3 days later I uninstalled it and went back to AVG where I was for years.The new program was interfering with websites and Chrome browser.I am 76 years old and my memory is not what it was. It is too late in life to fight with a bully.


Posted by:

Rudy
09 Dec 2014

Hi,

I used Avast in the past before it became a Norton look alike.. Now it is is the realm of Norton and MacAfee. I it on my DO NOT USE LIST!!!

It locked my Email and other thing in my computer (Microsoft office Outlook)... I could change the settings. I deleted it the registry to no avail... Good thing I had a System Image to restore my computer...

Will not use their Product again!!!!! not worth the trouble!!!!


Posted by:

lojohjr
09 Dec 2014

I, as did Bob, switched from AVG to Avast. Unhappily, my 'cornerstone' program software tech guy informed me, when I had difficulty with it, that my problem was likely Avast - many of their customers that same day had also reported difficulty with the program - the tech folks discovered all of us used Avast. We were all advised to switch to another antivirus program. I checked Bob's recommendations and decided to go with Avira. That solved my 'cornerstone' program software problem immediately. I have use Avira ever since, had no virus problems nor other software programs problems, and am quite satisfied!


Posted by:

PeteFior
09 Dec 2014

As a long term user, let me put in a strong recommendation for ESET Smart Security! It's a no-frills, super-lean - but powerful suite that runs in the background with a very low profile. It is always available mid-year at a very hefty discount and is getting uniformly top ratings for all the important security performance parameters! ESET will automatically upgrade you to the latest version (8.0) for free when it becomes available!


Posted by:

Jeff
10 Dec 2014

Been an Avast fan for years. For the average user, FREE is more than enough (imho)
I do miss the verbal reminder that my computer has been updated... dropped with Avast 15. Like losing an old friend.


Posted by:

Bob Greene
14 Dec 2014

On a generally positive prior experience with Avast, I bought into a license for the full Avast Internet Security 2015 product. After installation, I can report AIS2015 is a good program, with great depth of features.

Unfortunately, even the paid version is poorly supported. Paid users are not clearly provided an easily-accessible means of technical support.

After much searching, I managed to find a number which delivered me into the hands of iYogi, a fee-paid technical support service (after a fashion) in India. These technical "experts" are quite difficult to understand, since they speak with the strangely percussive accent of Indian English.

As if that were not bad enough, the Indian customer service representative made it clear he did not enjoy translating his instructions for me to follow, and much preferred being allowed to plumb around in my system by remote connection. Score this aspect of Avast 2015 a complete and aggravated failure.


Posted by:

Frank Sargent
24 Dec 2014

I, too, have been a long time user of AVAST, and have recommended it many people, but the tech support scam, if it continues unresolved, will soon cause me to drop it.

People phone 1 866 951 7679, get pushed over to some sort of "tech support" service, and then things plunge southward.

The "support reps" insist upon remote access to the PC, even though AVAST advises people not to permit that, citing FTC warnings on their blog.

Then come hyper-aggressive, high-pressure, scare tactics, phony claims of malware, etc., which escalate if you ask any direct, reasonable, essential questions, such as: What did you find? Where? How?

The process can't stand up to informed questions by any competent tech.

But if you're not in a position to evaluate what's taking place, you can end up paying $179 to have someone run Disk Cleanup or turn off the Windows firewall.

I've been a consultant and technician for over twenty years, so I'm a careful, professional skeptic, but after getting on the phone with these people on behalf of my clients, I've come to inescapable conclusion that something is seriously wrong.

Maybe AVAST doesn't know what's happening, but that's unlikely, since this has been going on for months. Maybe they're in on it, but I don't want to go there yet. Maybe they're in financial trouble, and it's gotten so bad that they've taken to mistreating their customers. ???

I just don't know. Not yet. But to my knowledge, AVAST has yet to responsibly and credibly address what's taking place through their phone number, and in their name.


Posted by:

Luis Aveleyra
30 Dec 2014

Hello Bob,

Have very much enjoyed your emails and have employed almost all your recommendations, BUT!! Do you still recommend AVAST 2015 over 2014?

From the AVAST 2015 feedback listed on your site and responses to a posted overall Internet query of AVAST 2015 on the Web, it appears there are still wrinkles needed to be ironed out in AVAST 2015. As such, I'm going to keep my AVAST 2014 until I hear from you. Again, THANKS MUCH for your emails.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Mine was updated to the 2015 version automatically, and no problems here.


Posted by:

David Sparkman
07 Jan 2015

I too am disappointed with Avast Anti-Virus. Way too many announcements are a distraction, and, it continues to try to delete programs I have written myself for my clients. Telling the company that the program is a false positive (safe) doesn't seem to have any effect. I am looking for a way to replace Avast. It may be a good program for casual users, but they are getting money hungry with all their ad's popping up on my paid for subscription.


Posted by:

Ellie Hood
05 Feb 2015

Avast keeps telling me my browser is unsafe and tries to get me to use yahoo. What's unsafe about Google Chrome? And it tells me I have an urgent update with Real Player, but when I tell it to go ahead, it does nothing. I have Avast Premium and they have lost my email address and have no record of me.


Posted by:

David
14 Feb 2015

Avast has turned to bloatware.... don't believe me then read their forums.

You get pop-ups, unwanted installs and from time to time you get BSOD's.

I ditched Avast in 2008 and never looked back, keeping an eye on the forum it has gone from bad to worse, I had 6 months to go on my license.

Why no mention of these pop-ups, unwanted installs? Since Grime Fighter (alias Jumpshot) joined Avast it has even got more worse.

I am sorry but this review does not give the other side of the story - check their forums see for yourself.


Posted by:

Linda
03 May 2015

Avast support continues to use scare tactics to hoodwink users into purchasing there $179. "Total Support" service.

I unfortunately fell for the bait and no actually helpful services were provided, beyond having the premium service (that I'd purchased) reinstalled after an automatic "upgrade" took away the Premium and put the free Avast back on my computer. I was told I needed to purchase "Total Support" because this happened due to serious problems with my computer-- not an error in the upgrade???? The "serious" problems were bogus-- the guy wanted his commission and he knew he had a not so tech savvy person on the line...


After the "Total support" tech "fixed my computer" I did get back the original Premium Avast but my computer runs no better than it did before. The guy basically reinstalled Premier (which I should not have had to pay for), ran a junk removal program I could have run myself, and then woo hoo, ran an avast virus scan (which no surprise to me was clean)...

I investigated one of the things the sales tech tried to tell me was a serious problem- a failure of a windows upgrade-- when I looked later I saw that after an initial failure that specific upgrade had installed correctly at a later date, as had all the security updates the guy pointed to as evidence of serious security risks on my computer--

I have requested a refund for the so called "Total Support", which I sincerely doubt I will get.

Because of the scare tactics employed to get you to purchase tech support, I will be switching away from Avast. They have been cited for this before and supposedly changed support companies-- yet, the new support company now does the same exact thing. It's unfortunate as the antivirus software is decent, but the company sales tactics are unethical.


Posted by:

Tammi
26 Jul 2015

I've always liked Avast-- but their practices disappoint me. I refreshed my computer- leaving the windows operating system in its original default state and uninstalling everything- including my Premium Avast. When I tried to reinstall it the install button was grayed out- so I called the support number. My computer was “checked out” and I was pointed to the windows reliability meter as a sign that my computer had issues. It was at a 7. I tried to get a number to call back and discuss it with my husband. But instead I was talked into putting the salesman (I won’t call him a tech support guy) on hold while I discussed it briefly with him. So I forked out the $179 dollars and they scanned, cleaned, looked at, reinstalled etc. I have no problem with that– but strangely enough the SAME reliability meter that they used to scare me into buying the service has degraded down to between 5 and 7. Soooo— either they lied about how important it was to get me to buy the service– or they haven’t done what they need to to fix it. The techs seem to be friendly enough, and have helped install software etc. But if my “reliability” doesn’t go up– they may not feel as friendly since I will call every single day– until it does, or until they admit they lied. After all– I was informed that the purchase of the service was not refundable– so I may as well get my money’s worth.


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