Avast Premier

Price: £59.99 from fave.co/2jaNI7A

Tech Advisor - - Round Up -

Avast is one of the more pop­u­lar free, third-party antivirus pro­grams. For any­one will­ing to pay for more ad­vanced fea­tures, how­ever, Avast’s pre­mium prod­ucts also have a lot to of­fer. At the top of the com­pany’s line-up is Avast Premier for £59.99, which comes filled

with fea­tures. Though it only of­fers two ad­di­tional ex­tras com­pared to Avast’s £49.99 In­ter­net Se­cu­rity prod­uct (fave.co/2jb09QJ), those par­tic­u­lar fea­tures are po­ten­tially use­ful for those who want them.

The first is Data Shred­der, which deletes files by im­me­di­ately over­writ­ing them so they are not re­cov­er­able. The sec­ond is Soft­ware Up­dater, which au­to­mat­i­cally up­dates third-party pro­grams, plug­ins, and util­i­ties on your PC. Both are nice fea­tures, how­ever, you can use free pro­grams to per­form the same func­tions – like FileHippo App Man­ager (fave.co/2jd9BTF), which mon­i­tors and au­to­mat­i­cally up­dates your pro­grams.

De­spite be­ing packed with fea­tures, Avast man­ages to not over­whelm the user with a messy in­ter­face. The pro­gram uses a fairly stan­dard de­sign that in­cludes a left rail with a pop-out menu, and a main screen that dis­plays the set­tings and pri­mary in­ter­face for each fea­ture.

The pro­gram also uses colour ef­fec­tively to help con­vey im­por­tant in­for­ma­tion. The pro­gram’s pri­mary back­ground is a bluish grey, with the ac­tive sec­tion in the left rail high­lighted in pur­ple.

Avast Premier fea­tures four main cat­e­gories: Sta­tus, Pro­tec­tion, Pri­vacy, and Per­for­mance. The Sta­tus sec­tion is pretty sim­ple with a ba­sic green check mark when all is well. The main in­ter­face has one but­ton to run a quick scan for viruses. This is also the sec­tion where you can get di­rect links to Avast’s cat­a­logue of An­droid and iOS apps.

Pro­tec­tion is where you can run antivirus scans, as well as get ac­cess to a ros­ter of other se­cu­rity fea­tures.

There’s Res­cue Disk, which puts a ver­sion of Avast Antivirus on a CD or USB stick to more ef­fec­tively scan and re­move stub­born mal­ware. You’ll also find Avast’s fire­wall set­tings, a Wi-Fi in­spec­tor, Real Site phish­ing pro­tec­tion, Ran­somware Shield (which mon­i­tors spe­cific fold­ers for ran­somware threats), the afore­men­tioned soft­ware up­dater, and a sand­box to wall off sus­pect files from the rest of your PC.

The Pri­vacy sec­tion in­cludes Avast’s built-in pass­word man­ager, Data Shred­der, and Sen­si­tive Data Shield. The lat­ter probes your ma­chine for im­por­tant doc­u­ments, and then it adds ex­tra mon­i­tor­ing and pro­tec­tion to those files to guard against mal­ware. It also acts as a quick ac­cess list of your im­por­tant files. There’s also a link to Se­cureLine VPN, but VPN ser­vice is not part of the Avast sub­scrip­tion. In­stead, your prompted to pay ex­tra for the VPN.

Fi­nally, there’s the Per­for­mance sec­tion with only two fea­tures. The first is Cleanup, which is sim­i­lar to pro­grams like CCleaner that scan your sys­tem for ex­tra files, tem­po­rary fold­ers, and caches that can be cleared. Al­though it looks like it’s in­cluded, Cleanup only scans your PC for free. To ac­tu­ally clean up your PC, you need to shell out cash for Cleanup Pre­mium.

Per­for­mance also houses the set­tings for Avast’s gaming mode. This fea­ture au­to­mat­i­cally de­tects when you’re play­ing a game and forces Avast and Win­dows to re­duce its re­source foot­print – al­low­ing you to play your game un­en­cum­bered.

In­stalling Avast Premier is very easy and us­ing the free trial does not re­quire you to regis­ter with the com­pany. Iron­i­cally, Avast tries to in­stall ex­tra soft­ware at in­stal­la­tion – some­thing a se­cu­rity suite should guard against. In the case of our test PC,

it was Google Chrome. On a sys­tem with Chrome al­ready in­stalled, Avast of­fered to in­stall its own se­cure browser, SafeZone. Later on, I no­ticed that Avast in­stalled two Chrome ex­ten­sions: Avast On­line Se­cu­rity and Avast SafePrice. I don’t re­call ex­plic­itly agree­ing to in­stall ei­ther of them.

Avast makes it easy to opt-out of this down­load, but it’s also easy for users to get a sur­prise Chrome in­stall if they’re not pay­ing close at­ten­tion.

Per­for­mance

As one of the top se­cu­rity firms, Avast per­forms very well. In A-V Test’s June test of zero days, web, and email threats, Avast scored a per­fect 100 per­cent. Reg­u­lar mal­ware scans also did well, scor­ing 100 per­cent against more than 10,000 sam­ples.

Avast per­formed sim­i­larly high dur­ing A-V Com­par­a­tives’ eval­u­a­tion. It scored 100 per­cent in the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s ma­li­cious URL test and 99.8 per­cent against nearly 38,000 mal­ware sam­ples. In A-V Com­par­a­tives’ off­line test, that de­tec­tion num­ber dropped slightly to 98.8 per­cent. SE Labs gave Avast a AAA rat­ing, not­ing that it and AVG were the most ef­fec­tive free prod­ucts. Avast and AVG did fail to stop five tar­geted at­tacks in SE Labs’ tests.

Dur­ing our bench­marks, Avast had no drop in per­for­mance. When we ran PCMark 8’s Work Con­ven­tional test – a sim­u­la­tion of web brows­ing, video chat, word pro­cess­ing, and spread­sheet edit­ing – with­out Avast run­ning, our test PC net­ted a score of 2517. With Avast run­ning, it got 2515, which is well within the stan­dard mar­gin of er­ror.

In our more-pun­ish­ing Hand­brake test, our test PC typ­i­cally takes one hour, 15 min­utes, and 30 se­conds to transcode a 3.8GB MKV file us­ing the An­droid Tablet pre­set. With Avast in­stalled the file took one hour, fif­teen min­utes, and five se­conds.

We also looked at how Avast’s Sen­si­tive Data Shield per­formed, since that fea­ture is likely to be in­trigu­ing to most users. It did a good job, though there were a high num­ber of false pos­i­tives. For ex­am­ple, it in­cluded many Word doc­u­ments in the ‘Em­ployee doc­u­ments’ sec­tion likely be­cause they were my old ar­ti­cles with com­pany names in the title. Avast also in­spected fold­ers that weren’t even on my PC via the Key­base.io desk­top pro­gram for Win­dows. That is ad­mit­tedly an edge case as Key­base is a niche pro­gram. Nev­er­the­less, if you are a Key­base user, turn off the pro­gram be­fore scan­ning for sen­si­tive doc­u­ments.

Verdict

Avast Premier is a very well-de­signed pro­gram with all kinds of ex­tra fea­tures that will ap­peal to se­cu­rity con­scious users look­ing for more than just antivirus pro­tec­tion. But if you don’t mind the in­con­ve­nience, you can get an al­ter­na­tive that is al­most equally as good for £10 less – Avast’s £49.99 In­ter­net Se­cu­rity prod­uct is eas­ily sup­ple­mented with free soft­ware to re­place Avast Premier’s Data Shred­der and Soft­ware Up­dater fea­tures.

Avast In­ter­net Se­cu­rity’s Data Shred­der fea­ture

Here’s the ‘Per­for­mance’ sec­tion

Avast’s ‘Pro­tec­tion’ op­tions

Avast’s ‘Pro­tec­tion’ op­tions

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