Avast Premier full review
Avast Premier 2018 is certainly user friendly, but we found that the additional cost for extra features and the ads on the mobile version prevented this from being a five star product. Here, find out more about Avast Premier 2018 and how it compares with the best antivirus for PC.
Let's begin with the price. £59.99/US$79.99 for one PC feels high considering what's not included. On the purchase page, you realise that some functions included for free in other products are bolt-on additions here.
The stand alone password manager, for example, will cost you another £9.99 (discounted from £19.99). This could be an expensive product if you want all the toys.
Speaking of toys, I'm always on the lookout for ways to speed up my laptop, and the performance section contains Cleanup Premium. This scans for system junk, broken registry items, and programs that can eat resources.
However, clicking the resolve button after the scan merely invites you to subscribe to Avast's cleanup tool. The same is true of clicking Resolve when viewing supposed privacy issues, which asks you to subscribe to the AntiTrack service.
Avast Premier itself keeps flagging issues in the main interface that are only covered by these tools, leading to the conclusion that a part of the product is dedicated to driving extra sales.
This is poor form for a paid product calling itself “Premier”. To be fair, dismissing the resultant adverts does give you the opportunity to try the basic versions on a trial basis, but that's hardly the point.
So, what do you get for your money? Despite initial misgivings, the answer is surprisingly good.
After a simple installation, Avast Premier immediately gets down to business by asking what kind of network you're connected to, private or public. Your answer sets the rules for the in-built firewall. A popup then offers a network scan to make sure you begin securely.
Several system scan types are also available. These cover a full system scan and a more targeted scan examining specific folders.
For rootkit protection, there's the boot-time scan, which runs once at the next reboot. Simply select this, and the next time you reboot, your system is thoroughly scanned before Windows and any rootkits start. This scan takes a while, but a handy percentage indicator shows progress as it runs.
Smart Scan examines not only system security but also outdated software, browser add-ons, performance, and the rest of your network. Several steps are then presented to resolve these issues, including another opportunity to subscribe to Avast's cleanup tool.
The core protective shield modules are much as you'd expect, scanning files as they're opened, blocking dodgy web sites, and stopping dangerous incoming mail.
Most interesting is the behaviour shield, which warns you if an application suddenly starts performing suspicious operations. This functionality is something normally associated with so-called next generation anti-virus products.
Also very welcome is the ransomware shield, which protects your files from being turned to porridge until you make a payment to get them back. The ransomware shield protects several folders by default and it's easy to add more.
As with other antivirus products, you can right click a file and scan it. Unusually, there's also an in-built sandbox, which allows you to select a potentially dodgy program and execute it safely. You can simply right click the program in question and select “Run in sandbox”. There's also an option to always run the program in the sandbox.
Also on the context menu is the file shredder. This can delete single files, the contents of the recycle bin, and even an entire disk drive. Use it carefully, however, as there's no going back once you shred.
The Real Site module protects against unknowingly being sent to fake sites when logging into your bank etc. With the range of DNS hijacking exploits in use by hackers today, this protection is increasingly important.
To install on Android, simply enter your Gmail address in the interface, and it'll send a download link to your inbox. After installation however, when you log into your Avast account to synchronise the licence, you discover that the mobile product is ad-supported.
There are a lot of adverts in this product, and they are intrusive. Annoyingly, there's even a feedback form to tell Avast how it's doing with it's advertising!
The modules you get in the Android version include the main scanner, anti-theft, a photo vault to keep sensitive images safe, a WiFi security scanner, and a WiFi speed test. Downloadable modules include system cleanup and SecureLine VPN – both of which are just ad-supported trials for the full versions.
There's also a free battery saver to download and something called Alarm Clock Extreme, which monitors your sleep and selects the best time to wake you. Only if you upgrade to the Pro version will you banish the adverts and also gain access to an app locking module that ensures a PIN is required to run selected software.