Avast is best known for its free antivirus products, but its paid-for service is also well worth a look, offering excellent support for older PCs, performance comparable to Microsoft Defender, and shed-loads of extra features.
- Works on Windows 7 & 8.1
- Very accurate
- Ransomware defence and webcam protection
- Lots of extra optimisation tools with which to tinker
- No more effective than Microsoft Defender
- Per-folder ransomware protection:Select specific folders to be protected against unauthorised changes
- Free VPN:5GB per week free VPN service
- Webcam protection: Restrict or disable access to your webcam
Avast’s free antivirus (now called Avast One Essential) is one of the best free Antivirus options around, especially on an older version of Windows. However, Avast One Premium – its paid-for sibling – brings some formidable features to the stable itself.
At the time of writing, Avast One Premium currently exists alongside Avast Premium Security. Avast One is clearly the more polished product, with only minor feature differences, so it’s likely that the two will be merged sooner, rather than later.
Avast also owns the AVG range of antivirus services, which share the same malware-detection engine. The question is whether Avast One Premium can stand up to the best antivirus software such as Trend Micro Internet Security and Norton 360.
Avast was set to be bought by NortonLifeLock – maker of Norton 360, which also owns rival free antivirus maker Avira – in spring 2022, but this has been held up by a UK Competition and Markets Authority inquiry into the potential negative impact of this move on UK consumers.
Avast One has a great introductory price of $50.28/£39.99, which gets you a five-device subscription that will cover mobile devices as well as Windows and macOS PCs. But note that the renewal fee is a rather painful $99.99/£79.99, which doesn’t compare well to premium-priced rivals from ESET to Trend Micro.
Avast One is very new, so it isn’t currently available to buy in shops. However, if Avast Premium Security is anything to go by, you should be able to purchase your updates for significantly less if you buy your antivirus subscription through Amazon.
Malware detection performance
- Same detection engine as free tier
- Achieved perfect scores in AV-Test’s latest real-world tests
These tests were carried out on Avast Free Antivirus, but are still valid for Avast One Premium since the core malware detection engine is the same.
Avast achieved perfect scores in AV-Test’s latest real-world exposure and reference file-scanning tests, with only one false positive. It blocked 99.7% of malicious content in AV Comparatives’ real-world protection tests – the same as Microsoft Defender, with a single false positive.
|Testing facility||AV-TEST||AV Comparatives||SE Labs|
|Real-World Threat Protection||100%||99.7%||97%|
AVG and Avast use the same malware detection engine, and usually perform identically in detection tests. However, although each was only compromised once in SE Labs’ tests, Avast had to neutralise one virus after infection, while AVG just blocked it. Neutralisation is a less favourable outcome, and the score weighting reflects this in Avast’s 97% protection rating.
- Features include unlimited VPN and password protection
- Improved interface compared to Avast Premium Antivirus
Avast One Premium shares many of its features with Avast One Essential, its free counterpart. These include on-demand and scheduled malware scanning, real-time protection, email and web protection, ransomware protection and a simple firewall (really a supplementary interface for the Windows firewall) based solely on granting per-app access.
While the core virus protection is the same, paying users get more of the Avast’s extra features. These include an unlimited VPN (a version of Avast SecureLine) as well as an active password protection that will monitor up to five email addresses and alert you if they’re included in a breach.
You also get a more fully featured Software Updater, with the ability to install updates for your third-party software, as well as to simply inform you of their availability. Keeping software up to date is critical if you want to avoid vulnerabilities that can be exploited by malware.
Other extra features include dedicated webcam protection that you can make as strict as you like, to the point of blocking any software from accessing the webcam; Web Hijack Guard, which authenticates URLs against Avast’s own DNS server; a driver updater, and more.
The new Avast One interface is definitely nicer to interact with than the dark tones of Avast Premium Antivirus, although grey-on-white text isn’t the most readable for those using small screens. There’s a lot of unused space on the Home tab that could be used for shortcuts tools, since everything is crammed together on the Explore tab; but at least you know where to look for any given tool.
You’ll find all Avast’s settings via a button in the Account tab, where you can configure behaviour, notifications, alert sounds and app exceptions and restrictions. If you want to enable Silent mode, that can still be done either in these Settings or via the right-click menu on the notification area icon.
Should you buy it?
If you like extra features:
Avast One Premium is absolutely jam-packed with features to improve your computer’s performance or provide margins of extra security. If you enjoy tinkering, this one comes with a full toolbox. If you’d rather just install your antivirus and forget about it, it isn’t the best option.
If you want rock-solid protection:
Avast’s malware detection engine is usually just as effective as Microsoft Defender’s, but very occasionally misses malware in tests. Trend Micro Internet Security and Norton 360 performed better, but at the cost of more annoying false positives.
Avast One Premium is a little expensive when you consider the renewal price of £79.99 – but you can buy it for a lot less and it does pack in plenty of features. I particularly liked the addition of webcam protection, a breach checker and extra update tools.
But if you won’t use those tools, then Avast is no more accurate than Microsoft Defender, which is free. That said, like its free version, this is an extremely effective antivirus for older PCs running Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 PCs.
How we test
We use every antivirus suite ourselves, so we can check out their various features, from scanning options to integrated extras such as parental controls.
The results we use to asses malware detection performance come from reputable testing houses including AV-Test, AV Comparatives and SE Labs.
We download and use the software ourselves to test the included features
We use data from trusted and approved testing houses to determine the malware detection performance
You might like…
Yes and no. There’s a free tier called Avast One Essential, as well as a paid-for tier called Avast One Essential (reviewed here) which provides additional features.
Avast One Premium costs $50.28/£39.99 in the first year, but the renewal price will be increased to $99.99/£79.99.