REVIEW: Avast Free Antivirus 2015
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.
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.
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...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 8 Dec 2014
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- REVIEW: Avast Free Antivirus 2015 (Posted: 8 Dec 2014)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved