Avast is best known for its free antivirus products, but its paid service is also worth a look, offering great support for older PCs, performance comparable to Microsoft Defender, and plenty of additional features.
- Works on Windows 7 and 8.1
- Very precise
- Ransomware defense and webcam protection
- Lots of additional optimization tools to tinker with
- No better than Microsoft Defender
Ransomware protection by folder:Select specific folders to protect against unauthorized changes
Free VPN:5GB free VPN service per week
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, especially on an older version of Windows. However, Avast One Premium – its paid sibling – brings some great features to the stable itself.
As of this 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 the two will merge sooner rather than later.
Avast also owns the AVG line of antivirus services, which share the same malware detection engine. The question is whether Avast One Premium can stand up to top antivirus software such as Trend Micro Internet Security and Norton 360.
Avast was due to be taken over by NortonLifeLock – maker of Norton 360, which also owns rival free antivirus maker Avira – in the spring of 2022, but that was delayed by an investigation by the UK Competition and Markets Authority into the potential negative impact of this decision on UK consumers.
Avast One has an excellent introductory price of $50.28 / £39.99, giving 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 high-end rivals from ESET to Trend Micro.
Avast One is very new, so it is not currently available for purchase in stores. However, if Avast Premium Security is anything to go by, you should be able to buy your updates for a lot less if you buy your antivirus subscription through Amazon.
Malware detection performance
- Same detection engine as the free tier
- Achieved perfect scores in AV-Test’s latest real-world tests
These tests were performed 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 benchmark file analysis tests, with just one false positive. It blocked 99.7% of malicious content in AV Comparatives’ real-world protection tests, such as Microsoft Defender, with just one false positive.
|Test facility||AV-TEST||Audiovisual comparisons||SE Laboratories|
|Protection against real threats||100%||99.7%||97%|
AVG and Avast use the same malware detection engine and generally perform identically in detection tests. However, although each was only compromised once in SE Labs’ tests, Avast had to neutralize a virus after infection, while AVG simply blocked it. Neutralization is a less favorable outcome, and the weighting of the score reflects this in Avast’s 97% protection rate.
- 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 an additional interface for Windows Firewall) based solely on granting per-application access.
Although the basic antivirus protection is the same, paying users get more additional features from Avast. These include unlimited VPN (a version of Avast SecureLine) as well as active password protection that will monitor up to five email addresses and alert you if they are included in a breach.
You also get a more comprehensive Software Updater, with the ability to install updates for your third-party software, as well as just notify you when they’re available. Keeping software up-to-date is essential if you want to avoid vulnerabilities that can be exploited by malware.
Other additional features include dedicated webcam protection that you can make as strict as you want, to the point of preventing 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 noticeably nicer to interact with than the dark tones of Avast Premium Antivirus, although the gray-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 shortcut tools, since everything is crammed onto the Explore tab; but at least you know where to look for a given tool.
You’ll find all of Avast’s settings via a button in the Account tab, where you can configure behavior, notifications, alert sounds, and app exceptions and restrictions. If you want to enable silent mode, you can always do so either in these settings or via the context menu on the notification area icon.
Should I buy it?
If you like the extra features:
Avast One Premium is packed with features to boost your computer’s performance or provide additional safety margins. If you like to DIY, this one comes with a full toolkit. If you’d rather just install your antivirus and forget about it, this isn’t the best option.
If you want rock-solid protection:
Avast’s malware detection engine is generally as good as Microsoft Defender’s, but very rarely misses any malware in testing. Trend Micro Internet Security and Norton 360 performed better, but at the cost of more annoying false positives.
Avast One Premium is a bit pricey considering the £79.99 renewal price – but you can buy it for much less and it’s packed with features. I particularly liked the addition of webcam protection, a breach checker, and additional update tools.
But if you don’t use these tools, then Avast is no more accurate than Microsoft Defender, which is free. That said, like its free version, it’s an extremely effective antivirus for older PCs running Windows 7, 8, and 8.1.
How we test
We use each antivirus suite ourselves, so we can check out their various features, from scanning options to built-in extras like parental controls.
The results we use to assess malware detection performance come from reputable testing companies, 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 trusted test houses to determine malware detection performance
Yes and no. There is a free tier called Avast One Essential, as well as a paid tier called Avast One Essential (reviewed here) which provides additional functionality.
Avast One Premium costs $50.28/£39.99 for the first year, but the renewal price will be increased to $99.99/£79.99.