Avast! Free Antivirus 2017 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.

Avast! Free Antivirus 2016 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 v17.1?

- Improved user interface - simplified navigation, new brand colors, notification center
- Behavior Shield - better protects you against ransomware by monitoring running programs for suspicious behavior
- Game mode - helps reduce distractions and lag times by automatically prioritizing your game’s performance and suspending all unnecessary background notifications and processes while you play
- Free version no longer requires email registration
- Performance improvements - faster webpage loading and app launching thanks to optimized hashing algorithms
- Wi-Fi Inspector - previously called Home Network Security, this feature now detects even more problems and vulnerabilities on both home and public networks
- Passwords - faster UI and improved browser integration
- Real Site - our new name for SecureDNS, which prevents DNS hijacking to help you avoid visiting fake websites
- SafeZone browser - common settings for all modes, faster startup of bank mode, currency converter

Verdict

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