A security suite with some advanced features
Avast Internet Security 7 is a suite but it doesn't have lots of extra bundled services like online storage (although it does offer these separately). Instead it has some very useful advanced protection features aimed at more experienced users.
Internet Security is Avast's flagship paid-for product and the main additions over the free version include a firewall, anti-spam filter, plus a Sandbox feature for safely opening suspicious files and programs without compromising the rest of your computer. There are eight modules (‘shields') in total that can be configured individually, making it easy to turn off unwanted modules. There are no parental control features, however. An Android app is also available, but this is free for everyone and not just owners of this suite.
We encountered no problems during setup and, unlike other suites, no mandatory online registration was needed. Scanning was slow at 16 minutes, but memory use was only 20MB. Avast is a ‘hybrid' product so it refers to both a traditional virus database and frequent online updates from Avast to recognise viruses. The firewall works in conjunction with the Windows Firewall and has three basic settings for home, work and public networks.
One unusual feature is the Sandbox. This allows users to open suspicious files in a protected virtual environment where no damage can be done to the rest of your PC. Any installed browsers can also be set to work in Sandbox mode. For extra protection when banking or shopping online, the Safezone Browser launches a special protected desktop and web browser that are completely isolated from the PC.
Some of these features might sound a little complex for the average user, but in practice they are easy to use and are explained well in the online help files. For those who get stuck, there's a novel Remote Assistance feature that allows another Avast user to remotely control the PC and give advice. There's also a thriving help community supplementing the official Avast support.
For those who prefer their security software to focus on the core tasks of advanced antivirus and anti-spyware protection, Avast has its attractions. It is not the cheapest suites if multiple licences are needed, but it is easy to use and has some interesting, useful features.
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Avast has some unusual advanced features rather than lots of extra gee gaws.
Easy to customise; Useful Sandbox feature for extra protection; Good help resources
No parental controls, backup or online storage; Slow scans
£30 for one PC; one year subscription
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