Alwil is a Czech Republic security vendor that has been quietly producing Avast Antivirus for many years. There are two versions, Avast Antivirus Home edition, which is free and simplified, and Avast Antivirus Professional edition, which is paid and includes more advanced settings as well as additional features. In general, we were pleased with both editions. However, Avast lacks some important tools found in other antivirus products, such as antirootkit protection, antispyware, and antiphishing protection, leaving you vulnerable in these areas. Also, the home edition runs in the 60-day trail mode until you register the product, a registration that will have to renewed each year afterward.
We downloaded the 14.27MB file and installed the product in a matter of minutes. The 60-day trial is full function, which is good. After 60 days, you'll have to pay the $39.95 for a one-year subscription. There is a free version available, Avast Antivirus Home Edition.
After installation you must reboot. Before Windows reloads, Avast performs a boot-level antivirus scan, looking for malware that might load with the operating system. The program then uses pop-up balloons to explain the new icons on your task tray.
Should you decide to uninstall Avast, there is no uninstall icon. You will need to use All Programs > Controls Panel > Add or Remove Programs within Windows to remove it from your system. After a reboot, we found that several empty file folders under Program Files as well as several registry entries remained behind.
Upon launch, Avast initiates a memory and start-up scan of your system. You will also encounter a rather garish but nonetheless helpful screen explaining the Simplified User Interface. In the professional edition there are two interfaces. The simplified interface is stylish and designed for the end-user who just wants the PC to be protected; this interface is the only interface available in the free home edition. The second interface is more advanced with virtually no creative design; it is available only in the professional edition. Ultimately, though, we think having the two interfaces is clunky and would prefer a better design in future releases.
Most useful within the paid edition is a second, more advanced user interface. The Enhanced User Interface features include on-demand virus updates, program and virus updates, and Go To Background, which throttles back to low priority the resources used by Avast Antivirus so you can work in Excel or any other application without latency.