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Avast! AntiVirus Pro 6 Download:


Avast! Antivirus Pro 6
VERSION:  Windows 7 / Vista / XP (Requirements), Single User

PRICE:  $39.99

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Other Versions:  Avast! Internet Security 6 download
Rating: Very Good  


Review of Avast! Pro Antivirus 6.0


    By Jay Andrew Allen

Avast! With over 100 million users around the world, Avast! Antivirus has proven itself to be one of the more popular security programs available. Improvements to its interface last year, and a continued great feature-set make Avast! a great antivirus alternative.


1) Installation:  4/5

Installation of Avast! AntiVirus Pro 6 was painless on our reference system*, and completed in an above average 1 minute and 47 seconds, with no reboots required. (See Installation Time Comparison Graph)

*Reference Computer: Windows 7 Home Premium running on a Toshiba Pentium Dual-Core T4200, with 3GB of RAM and a 210GB hard drive.


2) Features & Ease of Use:  9/10

The Avast! interface is both visually pleasing and functional. The front page of the Dashboard displays the system's security status at the top of the screen; below that is a prominent on/off option for Silent/Gaming Mode, which will prevent Avast! from displaying pop-up messages for the specified time period. (Avast! will automatically suppress pop-ups if an application is running in full screen mode.) A menu bar on the Dashboard's left hand side provides easy access to the program's additional features, including virus scanning, real-time shields, and miscellaneous protections.

Avast! 6 Dashboard:

View Larger Avast! Screenshots

Avast! outshines many other anti-virus platforms in both the protections and features it offers. Real-Time Shields is Avast's name for its instantaneous scanning of known and potentially unknown viruses. Avast! offers a wide swath of real-time scanners for file system, mail, Web, P2P apps, Instant Messaging, arbitrary network connections, Web scripts, and rootkits and other malware. Each scanner displays a graph of its current scanning activity; a red bar appears on the scanner if Avast! detects an attempted intrusion.

The Additional Protection menu is where Avast! stores all of its goodies. The Sandbox permits running suspicious or untrusted applications in a limited execution environment; if the application contains malware, Avast! will limit the damage it can inflict on your system. The new AutoSandbox feature uses real-time heuristics to place applications that exhibit suspicious behavior in the Sandbox without user action. Most intriguing of the miscellaneous features is the new SafeZone, a unique service that launches a separate desktop with a stripped-down, extension-free version of Google Chrome called the SafeZone Web Browser. (Technically, the SafeZone Browser is built off of Chromium, Google's open-source code base for Chrome; with a few exceptions, it is functionally equivalent to Chrome.) Avast! prevents other applications or browser extensions from accessing SafeZone's execution context and network traffic, preventing keystroke-loggers and other malware from capturing data for sensitive personal and financial transactions.

The Avast! System Tray context menu offers shortcuts to popular Avast! commands, including Gaming Mode and SafeZone. Users can even disable Real-Time Shields for a specified time period from the menu.

The only downside of the Avast! interface is that, by default, the application plays a voice-over whenever an important event occurs. Users will encounter this when they first launch the application and a woman's voice declares, "Welcome to Avast!" This can be quite disconcerting if you have your speakers cranked. Fortunately, this annoying feature can be disabled by clicking Settings in the upper right corner of the dashboard, selecting Sounds, and un-checking either Enable Avast! sounds or Use voice-over sounds (whenever possible).


3) Virus Scanner:  3/5

Feature-wise, Avast! Pro AntiVirus offers a rich range of virus scanning options. The software supports initiating a Full Scan of the drive; a Quick Scan of critical system areas; a Custom Scan of specific files or directories; a scan of all removable storage devices currently attached to the system; and a Boot-Time Scan that will run each time the system is restarted.

Avast! Virus Scanner:

View Larger Avast! Screenshots

Speed: While functionally rich, Avast!'s virus scanner doesn't set any performance records. On our reference system (see above), the platform was only able to scan 20MB of data per second, and spent 51.1 seconds scanning our 1GB test file matrix. While not the worst to date, these numbers do place Avast! in the bottom third in terms of speed. (See Scan Speed Comparison Graph)

Updates: Avast! is also in the bottom tier of antivirus programs when it comes to updating its virus definition database, downloading only an average of 2 updates every 24 hours. (See Updates Per Day Comparison Graph)



4) Performance Testing:  7.5/10

A good antivirus program should not only protect your computer from viruses but also not slow down the Performance of your computer too much by using up your computer's resources. We run each antivirus program through a set of Performance Tests to see the impact it has on the computer. View the results below of our antivirus testing for Avast! Pro 6.0...

Memory Use: Avast! Pro 6.0 uses 6.6 MB of system memory. #1 ranked program of the 15 antivirus programs we tested.

Reboot Time: Avast! added 21.4 seconds to our test computer's reboot time. #9 ranked program.

Installation Size: Avast! Pro Antivirus 6 requires 280 MB of hard-drive space for installation. #5 ranked program.

Initial Scan Speed: Avast! Antivirus scans files the first time at a speed of 20.0 MB/s. #11 ranked program.

Subsequent Scan Speed: Avast! performs subsequent scans at a speed of 19.3 MB/s. #13 ranked program.

Initial Application Launch: Avast! Pro 6.0 added 0.132s to launch a web browser for the first time after a reboot. #2 ranked program.

Subsequent Application Launch: Avast! added 0.200s on average for subsequent web browser launches. #6 ranked program.

File Conversion Time: Avast! added 0.58s on average to convert a MP3 file to four other file types. #11 ranked program.

System Impact Score: The "System Impact Score" is a comparative score tallied from the above 8 Antivirus tests. Avast! Pro 6.0 scored a total of 70 out of 120 points when compared to the other antivirus programs tested. This ranked Avast! Pro 6.0 as the #4 rated antivirus program we tested this year. Last year, Avast! finished 3rd overall in our testing, so it is consistently one of the best performing programs on the market.

View graphs of the above Antivirus Performance Tests.



5) Effectiveness: (Virus/Malware Detection)  12.5/15

The most important function of an antivirus program is to keep your computer free from Viruses and other Malware. Below we'll take a look at some of the industry's top Virus/Malware Detection testing and certification.

a) AV Comparatives is an independent antivirus testing lab in Austria
providing some of the most trusted virus detection tests in the industry. They have 2 major virus/malware tests that they perform. In the most recent test in November, the Proactive Test, Avast! was rated 2 out of 3 Stars. In the 2nd test last August, the On Demand Detection Test, Avast! performed better receiving a 3-Star rating.

   

b) AV-Test is another major antivirus testing lab which is located in Germany. In their recent antivirus testing in 2010, Avast! received a 12.5 / 18 score on the Windows 7 platform. In the 2nd set of tests run on Windows XP, Avast! received a 13 / 18 score. While on the 3rd test run on Windows Vista, Avast! received a 13 / 18 score. All 3 of these scores were good enough to receive AV-Test's Certification level (12 points needed on each test for Certification). Overall, Avast performed well in these tests, however the scores were good, not great. Despite these tests being run on Avast!'s Internet Security software, they are useful when evaluating Avast!'s more basic antivirus program since they test the software's Protection and Repair capabilities against Viruses and Malware.

Win 7: Win XP: Win Vista:
       
c) ICSA Labs Desktop Anti-Virus Certified. ICSA is an independent organization that sets standards for security products and certifies anti-virus software.
d) Virus Bulletin's VB 100% Certified. Avast! passed the most recent VB100 test (Feb./11), and has passed the last 13 tests dating back to June 2008. The VB 100% award is given to antivirus software that detects all viruses "in the wild."
e) West Coast Labs' Checkmark Anti-Virus Desktop Certification. WCL specializes in functionality testing, performance validation and Checkmark Certification of security products.

6) Help & Support:  3/5

While Avast! has excellent inline and Help file assistance, its technical support options are less than staggering.

»On-Screen Assistance: The Avast! Pro AntiVirus interface is excellent, and contains plenty of inline text explaining the program's various features & options.

»Help File: Avast! ships with a local help file that is thorough, well written, easy to search, and well organized.

»Online Support: Oddly, the one thing that isn't easy in Avast! is getting help. The only link to their support site resides in the local Help file, and clicking it opens up the Avast! Support Center in the Help browser, not in your default Web browser. The only options available on the Avast! support site are searching the knowledge base, visiting the support forums, and logging a support ticket. Phone support numbers are listed on a separate page available off of the Avast! Products Support page (see URL below); there is no indication whether this is 24-hour phone support, or whether it's limited to business hours. Avast! does not appear to offer Live Chat as a support option (most of Avast!'s competitors do).

»Quick Support Links:

     • Avast! Support Center
     • Avast! Support Telephone Numbers
     • User Forum
     • Knowledgebase


CONCLUSION:

There are a few downsides to Avast! Pro Antivirus - namely, its below average scanning performance, and an annoying audio voice-over that will force you to mute your speakers. But Avast! also offers a great interface and a range of features rarely seen in entry level commercial antivirus platforms. With solid effectiveness against viruses and great new features this year (namely AutoSandbox & SafeZone), Avast! 6.0 is one of the best antivirus programs we've reviewed this year, just behind NOD32 and Norton, and deserves serious consideration for those looking for a new antivirus solution.

Overall Rating: Very Good   (Total Score: 39 / 50 = 4 Stars)


Misc Info:

    • Version Tested:
6.0.1000
    • Release Date:
    • Review Date:
    • Last Updated:
April 4, 2011
    • Previous Versions:
Avast! Version 5.0, Avast! Version 4.8
    • Other Avast Software:
Avast! Internet Security 6, Avast! Free Antivirus


Useful Articles:

    • Summary of the Best Antivirus Software of 2011

    • What is a Computer Virus?

    • Antivirus vs. Internet Security software - Which is right for me?

    • Differences between Viruses, Trojans, Worms & Spyware

    • More Articles...


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Avast! Antivirus Screenshots

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Avast! Pro Antivirus 6 System Requirements:




Operating Systems Supported:

    • Windows 7
    • Windows Vista (excluding Starter Edition)
    • Windows XP (Service Pack 2 or higher)

Minimum Requirements:

    • Pentium 3 or better processor
    • 128+ MB of RAM memory
    • 300 MB available hard-drive space

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