Why I Switched from AVG to Avast Antivirus

Category: Anti-Virus

After eight years of using AVG's antivirus software, I've decided to switch to Avast! Antivirus. Read about the frustration that pushed me over the edge, and why I chose Avast as my free anti-malware protection...

Goodbye AVG, and AVAST Antivirus 2014 Review

It's good to change things up every once in a while. I had reason to do so recently, when my attempts to upgrade to AVG 2014 left me frustrated to the point of switching. Here's the short version of the story...

AVG 2013 popped up a friendly reminder that it was time to upgrade to the AVG 2014 release. Okay, fine, let's give it a whirl. After downloading and starting the update, I noted that the paid version of AVG was pre-selected for installation, even though I was using the free version. This explains why so many people complain to me every year that "AVG is no longer free." Selecting the free option got me past that first hurdle.

Goodbye AVG, Hello Avast!

Next, I got "Installing new hardware" prompts, warning me that something called "Unknown" had not passed Windows Logo testing. Twice. Huh, I'm not installing any new hardware? I hit the "Continue Anyway" button and the AVG installer churned a few minutes then froze my computer. (No, I wasn't running any other antivirus software.) Had to power off and restart. I thought maybe uninstalling AVG 2013, rebooting, and installing AVG 2014 from scratch would work. I did so, and was instructed by the AVG control panel to "restart to complete the install". I did, but got the same message again. Windows warned I had no A/V protection.

I remember having the same type of trouble while trying to upgrade a year ago, so it was time for AVG to go. According to the latest AV-TEST reports, Avast had near-perfect malware protection scores on Windows XP, Windows 7 and Windows 8, and the highest possible marks for usability. It installed without a hitch, and didn't even require a restart. The friendly Avast control panel greeted me, ran an initial scan, and informed that all was well. A little poking around revealed some new and interesting features in the Avast 2014 release.

What's New in Avast! 2014?

AVAST Software has poured 25 years of malware research into its flagship product, Avast! Antivirus. The payoff has been overwhelming popularity, with more than a quarter of all PCs (over 200 million devices) protected by Avast! Antivirus, according to the company. On October 15, 2013, Avast! Antivirus 2014 was announced. It includes several new features that extend the umbrella of Avast's protection even further. Here are the highlights of what’s new:

Avast claims to have the the only boot-time scan in the antivirus market. This advantage allows for detection of sneaky viruses and rootkits that try to load while the computer is starting up, prior to the activation of the anti-malware engine. In addition, the latest version pushes over 250 daily micro-updates to improve zero-day protection and detection of polymorphic threats. So-called DeepScreen Technology strips away web page code that malware developers insert in order to conceal what their malware is doing behind the scenes.

Hardened Mode is a super-conservative security posture, in which only trusted software that appears on a "whitelist" will be permitted to run. Such tightly buttoned-down security can be very inconvenient for users, but so can the life saving suit worn by a firefighter. Might be good, though, for a PC that's used by kids (or non-techie grownups) who have a tendency to click on anything that moves.

The Browser Cleanup tool does what it says. Potentially unwanted toolbars and plugins are identified, and can be disabled with a click.

Users can now create a bootable rescue disk on a CD, DVD, or USB flash drive with Avast! Antivirus installed and ready to root out malware. Bootable removable media enables one to start up and disinfect a computer even if malware has rendered it unbootable.

Additional Features in Paid Versions

The free Avast! Antivirus program contains all of the features mentioned so far. Two paid products offer additional functions:

Avast! Internet Security (US$40) adds SafeZone, a "virtual machine" technology touted for financial transactions. Your Web browser runs in a software-emulated virtual space, completely isolated from your real PC. Malware may get in, but it has nothing to infect. The virtual machine vanishes with the click of a button, taking with it any malware that may have entered this "death zone."

Avast! Internet Security also includes anti-spam and anti-phishing technology, and a silent firewall. The latter is something I do not recommend if your machine connects to a high-speed Internet router that is already running a firewall program. (See Do I Really Need a Firewall?)

Avast! Premier ($56) includes all of the above plus some amenities that you really don't need to pay for them. The Data Shredder securely erases files, logs, and other things you’d rather no one ever saw. PrivaZer is a free alternative that does this and a lot more. A remote-desktop program, only for aVast! Premier users, lets you connect via the Internet to a friend's desktop, to give or receive tech support. No need to pay for this, because there are plenty of Free Remote Access and Screen Sharing Tools. An automatic software updater keeps all the software on your hard drive up to date. Nice, but you can get this for free as well. See Computer Security: The Missing Link for three free alternatives.

Bottom line, I'm very happy with the free Avast Antivirus product. It installed easily, didn't try to trick me into buying anything, and the control panel is easy to use and understand. I'm also confident that it will provide excellent protection. But of course, there are many other options when it comes to anti-malware protection, both free and paid. Check out some others in my Free AntiVirus Programs list.

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

 
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Most recent comments on "Why I Switched from AVG to Avast Antivirus"

(See all 97 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

Steve
31 Oct 2013

Removed Microsoft Security Essentials and installed Avast 2014 (free version). As soon as I opened Microsoft Outlook (2000), Avast quarantined it and made it inoperable. Every time I restored the file from the virus chest, Avast immediately quarantined it whenever I tried to open Outlook. I had to disable Avast for 10 minutes to use Outlook once I restored the file again from the virus chest. Problem is now Outlook only displays all email in text and there is no way to restore it to display HTML emails, most of which now are blank. Even uninstalling Avast 2014 and repairing Outlook did not restore its ability to display HTML emails. Until Avast is fixed, I will not install it again.


Posted by:

Roman Athens
31 Oct 2013

Hello Mr. Rankin and all the other Rankinites!

I GAVE up on AVG years ago when I found it to be a Resource Hog and NOT very effective in getting detecting and removing malware!
I then tried Avast which was simply Fantastic [especially it's unique BOOT SCAN] - - until it became TOO bloated and had a busy-looking interface - - that was just TOO overwhelming for me.
(The above notwithstanding I have to admit to using AVAST'S stand-alone Anti-Rootkit utility to do a spot check on my computer system every now and then).
The Program appears comprehensive as it can load up to 85-90 MB of Updates!

So generally speaking I continue to use Microsoft's MSE (despite advice to the contrary) and Malwarebytes in tandem (along with Microsoft's MRT when it comes out every month).

RA


Posted by:

Stu
31 Oct 2013

Yep...everytime I select download I am redirected to this site...and a few years ago I had problems with "stuff" from cnet!!...

EDITOR'S NOTE: Just found this page with direct download links for Avast! http://www.avast.com/download-software


Posted by:

Chuck
31 Oct 2013

Tried Avast a few times over the years and always ran into a problem or another and finally stuck with AVG. As you've advised in the past, read through first before clicking anything. I use AVG 2014 on 5 different computers and have not had a problem so far, all Windows 7.


Posted by:

BaliRob
31 Oct 2013

The latest update for the free version completely
ruined my Windows XP startup programs - the whole system went down during download - leaving me unable to reboot or enter safe mode - only subsequent Google searches revealed just how dangerous AVG is at the moment. Also, using AVG rescue disk on another hard drive a few months ago trying to deal with a small startup problem resulted in the discovery of a Trojan by them which activated the ba---rd crashing the whole system before I could do anything to prevent it.


Posted by:

Art Sulenski
31 Oct 2013

My son who is an IT specialist recommended that I use Avast along with Windows defender, I have not had any problems with viruses. My wife, same setup, plays games online as well as downloading free games also has had no problems, that in itself tells me it is working. Oh yeah, had AVG some time ago, many problems and challenges, no way would I change from Avast.


Posted by:

Bruce
31 Oct 2013

I've been using Avast for the past 5 years now and am very satified with it. A computer I bought back then came bundled with the Free version, which I ran successfully for a year. I was so impressed that I took out the paid version. My most recent subscription was for 2 years and cost a mere £44.50 ($71.50 or €52.58). A real bargain.


Posted by:

Dave Ruedeman
31 Oct 2013

Heh--
There is a reason why there is more than 1 anti-virus program in the world. I have always liked AVAST but last year I delivered a software project to a client. When he put the thumb drive in his computer AVAST said my programs were virus infected! To check I installed free AVAST on my Windows box and not only did it identified my executables as infected, It identified any Dropbox activity as being suspicious and tried to kill those processes! It sure does leave you with an uneasy feeling when you think that your entire windows box is infected. In any event I submitted files identified by AVAST as infected to Virustotal. Virustotal runs 46 different anti-virus programs against this executable. Out of 46 two programs said the executable was infected and 44 said it was clean! A couple of weeks later they got an avast update and then the files no longer were infected. However, I went from AVAST to AVira.


Posted by:

Diane
01 Nov 2013

I have the paid AVAST security suite & occasionally it blocks a web page. Having once accidentally installed malware by closing a pop-up while recipe surfing, I prefer this real-time protection. But I *have* had a recurring problem with AVAST claiming to detect ROOTKITs right after a Windows Update (esp. if Windows Defender, which I run on-demand, not real-time). Re-running the SCAN (or doing the boot-time scan) finds no problem. I called AVAST "tech support" about this, and it was a joke. I knew more about computers than he did - and the next level of support would cost $100 (and I PAY for my AVAST subscription). If I was running AVAST, I would acknowledge false positives so customers don't waste their time (or lose data doing a restore to an earlier date, as I did 3 times before I noticed the pattern). But I like the interface better than the Norton we have running on our desktop. And the Norton NEVER seems to detect any malware, which seems odd considering how much is out there, even though we practice "safe-surfing".


Posted by:

Jenny
02 Nov 2013

I actually switched to this recently too. I love it! It never seems to miss anything, and the first time I used it, it came up with so many things AVG had missed.
I found it through CNet; I was sick of AVG's "no longer free" thing so I searched on CNet by rating. So glad I did.

It works well with MBAM and Super AntiSpyware, and since I've gotten all 3 I haven't had any issues at all.


Posted by:

John Anderson
02 Nov 2013

Hi Bob -- Thanks for your advice about Avast. I had often been told MSE was the best, so news that it was a poor performer was a shock, and I started moving to Avast. Installed easily on my very old laptop (used the bottom download button and missed unchecking an extra install). Went to my desktop, Windows 7 up to date. Removed MSE, started installation of Avast. Got a BSOD - PAGE FAULT IN NONPAGED AREA - shut down, rebooted. same BSOD but Windows fixed it by going back to a checkpoint where MSE was still in place. I called Avast, told them the problem. They got me to use msinfo32 error reporting, found a lot of fault bucket messages. They said I had corrupted programs and were going to connect me with an engineer to talk me through my problem, but I elected to wait. Any advice? THANKS for your help! And for your newsletters!


Posted by:

Andrea
05 Nov 2013

Hi Bob, I had moved recently from MSE to AVG on my two PCs, and unfortunately, I have to report that with AVG installed, I witnessed random hangs while doing stuffs as using compilers and development stuff and/or virtual machines. I am confident on AVG the cause, just because I never witnessed hangs before the move, and no other new things installed or changed on both my PCs. I like AVG, but for sure I will not use the 2014 version, I give them another try when they fix their engine and I see on their change log they fixed this problems for good.


Posted by:

Jim
20 Jun 2014

I am a single senior citizen with a fixed and limited income so I plan on keep using WindowXP pro.

I had been using MSE with success, but since it will only be supported until next April I am seeking an other anti-virus (free) program. I uninstalled MSE and installed Avast (free) last month. I have two problems:

1. It takes 6 to 8 minutes to boot (about three times longer then before installing Avast.

2. I keep getting an Avast pop-up saying I have suspicious browser add-ons. I click on remove and Avast wants to change my default search engine. My only choices are Yahoo or Bing. There is no way to bypass this and keep Google as my search engine.

I am still in search for an anti-virus program without these problems.


Posted by:

Jim
20 Jun 2014

I am a single senior citizen with a fixed and limited income and plan to keep using WindowsXP pro. I had been using MSE successfully, but since support will end in April I am searching for a free alternative anti-virus program.

Last month I uninstalled MSE and installed the free version of Avast. I have two problems:

1. It takes four times longer to boot with Avast installed.

2. I keep getting an Avast popup saying I have suspicious browser addons. When I click on remove Avast wants to change my search engine in order to continue. Avast only gives two choices either Yahoo or Bing. I want to keep Google as my search engine so I cancel the process.

I will continue to seek an anti-virus (free) program.


Posted by:

LeeD
21 Jun 2014

Before you install a new antivirus anybody should completely remove the old one. If you dont it will cause problems. Here's how to completely uninstall AVG or any other antivirus program:
http://kb.eset.com/esetkb/index?page=content&id=SOLN146
or
http://www.bitdefender.com/support/removal-tools-%28uninstallers%29-for-common-antivirus-software-1107.html

I used to use Avast AV, and it was good. But now I use Bitdefender Free which gets top marks for detection and is light and unobtrusive.
good luck!


Posted by:

Dan
21 Jun 2014

Thanks Bob for your article. Have been learning a lot from them.

I currently run Avast free anti-virus, and their Internet Security. I think I paid around $40.00 For their Internet Security program.

But, I also have Malwarebytes Premium, and Hitman Pro-which I paid for. Avast and Malwarebytes run full time while Hitman Pro is on stand-by and run on demand. Beautiful combination.


Posted by:

GeordieLad
09 Dec 2014

Contrary to some of the anti-AVG views expressed above, I've had no problems whatsoever with AVG (Free) Antivirus, currently updated to AVG 2015. I admit that AVG keep pointing to their paid version, but why not?, they have to make a living as we all do. Like any downloads, it's prudent to see what boxes have been checked or otherwise. Meanwhile, I'll stick with AVG.


Posted by:

Mike Allen
19 Jan 2015

Hi Bob,
Just found your site and have been reading the comments re AVAST, I now run an "internet computer" which does not have any internal drives other than for the "OS" It was set up with programmes such as AVAST and COMODO firewall from my old computer when finished was Imaged using ACRONIS software and only then went on the
net to update all the relevant programmes and then image again. If any problems occur re
virus etc its quicker and may I say safer to re-image than trying to remove by using the
required anti-virus programmes etc. With what I call my “good” sharing data on external
hard drives between the two, theres no chance of problems if one check before transferring from each computer.

Why is it that I never see any comments about using image software. Its so quick and easy rather than using all the other methods. Then theres the people that try to remove programmes that they don't like or want, but can't get rid of them, just by using image software the problem is solved, and one knows that the computer is like new again.
Thanks for letting me make a comment, I hope it may help others to stay safe.

Kind regards,

Mike


Posted by:

Gerard Tonno
18 Feb 2015

Bob,

I must say that up until today I was happy with Avast. Unfortunately though, I started getting a popup telling me I had a Microsoft Security issue, and to call an 800 number .......... you know the drill. Well, for some reason, this slipped by Avast as did much more. I called Avast tech support to find out why, and what I could do about it, and an agent named Justin attempted to "help me out". He was condescending, pushy and offensive. He told me after signing on to my machine and having a cursory look around, that I'd need to pay $119.99 to see if the problem could be fixed, and then I should sign up for their yearly service for $179.99/year. He told me that this would need to be done by either Avast or a "computer professional", because he could tell that I really didn't know what I was doing! He went on to state that I might still need to buy a new computer, because it may ultimately not be possible to "fix" all that was wrong. I told him that if it came to that I'd format the hard drive and start over. To my amazement, he told me, "Yea, but that won't work either, as a month later your problems will return."

I told him I'd think about it and let him know.

After visiting your site, I decided to give Malwarebytes a try. Well what do you know, it fixed everything right up, even some additional issues I was unaware were actually being caused by malware.

So, from a neophyte geek, there you are: Malwarebytes fixed things that slipped right through the Avast crevasse, and it didn't cost me $300, as recommended by the pushy, arrogant, Avast agent. Honestly, once my Avast subscription expires next year, I'll be replacing it with something else, mainly because of how Justin from Avast treated me.

Just thought you should know about what goes on out here in the trenches.

By the way, I also recently purchased your disc on Backups 4th edition, and while I have not read it completely through yet, it is definitely worth the price of admission.

Thanks,
GT


Posted by:

dondi
12 Mar 2015

My father has been using free Avast ever since my nephew recommended and installed it. It seems to work all right, but the plethora of popups (ranging from nag pages to scan results) confuses and annoys him. He's 91 and has macular degeneration - it's extremely difficult for him to read these pages and try to figure out what they're saying, whether they're real, and what action he should take - so I end up reviewing them, as often as not. I concede that their identification of programs as "possibly" unfriendly leaves a bit to be desired, the modified path they cite is confusing (is the original still there?), and the number of registry files is alarming. But I investigated a list Avast provided, and it seemed legitimate (I deleted all the files and registry entries manually after identifying them all via the web). We also had considerable difficulty decoding their one-year license expiration and renewal - they continued to try to upsell, and it took three different tries to get the license renewal page, and even then the paid version was the default.

But I decided I'd try Avast on my Mac anyway.

The first issue was that the download didn't show an icon for the "Avast Mac Security.pkg" (and the uninstall icon was extremely low-res) - I double-checked the url, downloaded it again (same result), and decided to open it, although if they can't even get an icon to show, I'd have to wonder how effective their program is. Then I came to their Software License Agreement. Shock number 2: they're out of the Czech Republic! That's not a deal-breaker, but it makes me nervous. Then this:

"Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the AVAST privacy policy, you consent during the term of this Agreement and for one (1) year thereafter to (i) AVAST sharing information collected by you during your installation or registration of the Software with AVASTs distributors and other business partners and (ii) use of such information by AVAST, its distributors and other business partners to present you with information that may be relevant to you, including offers of software, services or other products.

The collected information may be transferred to third parties or to other countries that may have less protective data protection laws than the country or region in which you are situated (including the European Union)."

OK, I don't need a program which is supposed to prevent tracking and unwanted ads to do its own tracking and ad presentation by them and anybody who will buy their list! They claim to anonymize (most of) the other data they collect, but a program which has such unrestricted access to everything on my computer shouldn't be associated with ad-based data sharing.

So no thanks - I'll look for another solution.


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