Avast! Free Antivirus 2014 is avast!'s latest malware-hunting engine.
Installation is fast, perhaps due to a major reduction in product size. Compatibility seems good, too, with the package running happily alongside Norton Internet Security on our test PC.
Scans can apparently be much faster, for some file types at least; in terms of in-memory scan times, EXE files are now checked around twice as quickly, text contents (web pages, scripts) are up to 10x faster. (The program still needs to load this content in the first place, though, so final scan times won't change very much.)
There are several important improvements to avast's protection features. You get enhanced streaming updates for real-time detections; a new DeepScreen technology helps the program make smarter decisions about unknown files; extended cloud scanning again assists in detection; and if something does turn up, then improved cleaning will get rid of it more reliably.
Still not enough? A new "Hardened" mode can be set up to run only known safe programs. It's a little drastic but can work well for inexperienced users (see Settings > Antivirus > Hardened Mode to set this up).
And all this is presented in a vastly simplified and more configurable interface (there are now only three shields to worry about, for instance).
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.
- Stream Filtering -- fixed stability and compatibility issues, it's running smooth and fast now
- ARA/ARC -- implemented internal architecture improvements
- Firewall -- the firewall should be more stable and with better compatibility with other network applications
- Software Updater – new installation wizard lets you download and install multiple updates at once
- Browser Cleanup – improved detection and removal of browser protectors, those tools that try to block us from getting rid of annoying toolbars
- GrimeFighter – now supporting 12 additional languages and with an advanced console for more control of optimization tasks