Avast has beefed up its AV program while keeping the price at a
user-friendly zero. The result: Outstanding virus protection that
beats the reigning cheapskate champ, AVG.
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983
Avast takes crown from AVG as best free antivirus software for Windows
March 22, 2009
By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2009, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2009, The Post-Standard
Windows users looking for free antivirus software just got a treat.
Avast has beefed up its AV program while keeping the price at a user-friendly zero. The result: Outstanding virus protection
that beats the reigning cheapskate champ, AVG.
Avast's move to the top couldn't come at a better time. AVG recently gave up on the notion of giving software away, and I've
heard from many readers asking what to do. Many have wondered if they should pay for Norton or McAfee software.
The answer is to install Avast Home Edition, from www.avast.com/eng/download-avast-home.html, and keep your wallet in your pocket. Avast is easily as good as the pay-as-you-go
stuff from the other guys. It updates itself unobtrusively and checks for viruses and other suspicious activity in files, e-mail (incoming and
outgoing), instant messages and network traffic.
The interface gets my vote as the best I've seen in an AV program. A tiny icon in the Windows tray (that area near the clock)
shows activity and keeps you informed of anything unusual. Updates are a simple matter, too. You do nothing; everything is done for you, once a
day. (But check the settings to be sure this is turned on.)
Avast is a perfect example of good free software. Businesses who need to protect a few hundred Windows PCs have to pay for
the commercial version of Avast. It's very good, too, but, as you might guess, it's not much different from the free version. Home users reap the
benefits when business users pay the freight. I like that.
(Do you get any benefits by paying for antivirus software? I haven't run Norton AV lately, but my experience with McAfee's
product might be instructive. It came already installed on my new Acer Aspire One notebook PC. It annoyed me at every opportunity, got in the way
when I tried to do anything and refused to uninstall properly when my patience ran out. I doubt I'll ever recommend McAfee software after that.)
One more thing. Avast and AVG are for Windows only; there are no Mac versions. Whether Macs should be protected is not clear,
at least to me; there are no confirmed Mac viruses, so Mac users who install AV software usually are doing little more than being good neighbors -- by letting their Mac AV software block Windows viruses that might be passed along in forwarded mail. This appeals to some folks, but not to me, because I think Windows users need to do this themselves.
But if you do want to protect your Mac against any possible future Mac threats, try the free PC Tools' iAntiVirus, from
www.iantivirus.com. It does not try to detect Windows viruses. A commercial version costs $30 a year, but the home version is free.