Avast is not unique in making users jump through hoops to find and download the free version of its anti-virus protection.
The program also requires registration in return for a one-year renewable license.
Although no adware is installed, there is the option of installing Google Chrome browser and the Google Toolbar for Internet Explorer.
These can be declined, although the tick boxes are almost unnoticeable on the first installation screen.
After installation, a scan is run before the registration screen appears – this needs just a name and email address.
During our testing, the program was updated to give full Windows 8 support.
We installed this in Windows 10 with no problems, where it disabled the built-in Windows Defender protection.
As well as the Google Toolbar, the Avast Webrep plug-in is installed.
This is a service that shows how trustworthy a website is based on the ratings of other users.
The program includes almost exactly the same configurable protection modules (‘shields’) as the paid versions, but the firewall is missing.
There are plenty of advanced settings, but the defaults are well chosen.
Users new to Avast might be a little spooked by the voice notifications, although these are easily disabled.
There’s also a silent/game mode for those who prefer no alerts at all.
How quickly Does Avast Scans the System?
Scanning speed and resource usage during a Quick Scan was similar to the paid version.
It took a leisurely 19 minutes and used just 20MB of memory.
Although the manual sandbox feature (which allows programs to be run in a protected virtual environment) is not available, an automatic sandbox is used when suspicious programs are opened.
It does include the novel Remote Assistance feature, though. This allows two Avast users to ask for (or provide) remote control assistance with using the program, or indeed any PC problem.
It allows the remote user to take full control of the PC. To use the feature, the person requesting assistance clicks a button to generate a special access code that must then be given to the remote user.
Avast’s free program works very well with a good range of features, although it does get a little technical in places.