Avast! Free Antivirus 2018 is avast!'s latest malware-hunting engine.

Installation is simple and straightforward. Compatibility seems good, too, with the package running happily alongside Bitdefender Internet Security on our test PC.

The program interface is clean and very easy to use. Just click "Run Smart Scan" and Free Antivirus immediately runs a quick check for malware, missing software updates, network vulnerabilities, even looks for weak passwords and junk files.

When it's finished, clicking "Resolve all" allows you to review the results and fix whatever the program has found.

The previous Avast! Free Antivirus 2017 extended the package with a new password manager. This generates strong passwords on demand, stores and fills them locally, and syncs them with free iOS and Android apps.

The network security scanner detects more router vulnerabilities and displays extra details.

WebShield has switched to a smarter and more compatible system of HTTPS scanning, as used in Firefox, Chrome and Opera.

The interface has been optimised and improved.

It's not available in Avast! Free, but upgrading to a commercial edition also gets you a new SafeZone browser, which now does an even better job of protecting your web transactions from keyloggers and other malware.

Please note, the program will by default install Google Toolbar. If that's not what you want, pay attention during setup and clear the relevant checkbox when it appears.

What's new in 2018 v17.9?

- Now you can send feedback and bug reports from Settings > About
- Recycle Bin content can now be shredded via Windows contextual menu (Avast Premier only)
- Redesigned Scan & Shields screens in the Protection menu for easier navigation
- Redesigned Avast Passwords UI for easier use
- More detailed status reporting to Windows Security Center in Windows 10 Fall Creators Update
- Nested virtualization support for AMD CPUs
- Better proxy detection by setup and update from Windows settings
- Fixed a problem with white UI (you might see more processes AvastUI.exe now, but that's OK)
- Sensitive Data Shield now works with Windows XP and Vista
- Anti-Phishing Protection in Web Shield now works with Windows XP
- Clicking Scan Details in the Notification Center no longer starts another scan
- Fixed Avast service crash when a license expires
- Fixed performance scan in Performance > Cleanup Premium
- Fixed issue where Behavior Shield sometimes cut off a user’s Internet connection
- False positives can now be reported directly from threat detection warnings (File Shield)
- Fixed boot issue on Windows XP when Virtual PC driver is installed
- Fixed BSOD caused by conflict between DELL percsas3 and Avast Self-defense driver

Verdict

A solid antivirus engine with a good range of features, made even better by the new password manager.