We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
Anti-virus software Reviews
15,669 Reviews PC Advisor Recommended

Avast! 7 Free Antivirus review

FREE (annual registration required)

Manufacturer: Avast Software

Our Rating: We rate this 4.5 out of 5

Avast! 7 Free Antivirus is anti-virus software that won't cost you a penny: but is that good value? Read our Avast! 7 Free Antivirus review to find out.

Two of the most successful free Windows anti-virus products come from the Czech Republic. AVG, based in Brno, was once the most well-known of freebie options, while the subject of this review is the more recently popular Avast! 7 Free Antivirus  from the Prague-based Avast!.

Both company’s offerings are stripped-down versions of their commercial products, providing straightforward anti-virus cover. Avast requires you to re-register Avast! 7 Free Antivirus annually, but otherwise you can continue to use it without interruption. See also: Group test: what's the best security software?

Once downloaded and installed, the main screen of Avast! 7 Free Antivirus is conventionally designed with an option menu down the left-hand side with setting and display panels to the right. The main options are Scan, Real-time shields and Additional protection. There’s also a Market tab, which offers a range of paid-for Avast products. Visit: Security Advisor

As well as comprehensive scan options: quick scan, full scan and custom scan, the other tabs offer some unusual options for a free product. There are eight different shields, for example, from a file shield, to a web shield, script shield and behaviour shield. They work together in Avast! 7 Free Antivirus to try to ensure miscreant code doesn’t run on your machine.

Then there’s Avast! 7 Free Antivirus's sandbox, which enables you to run new or possibly suspicious software in an environment where it can’t reach any important systems within your PC. A useful tool if you try out new stuff, regularly. One feature you’ll probably want to turn off is the annoying, American-accented voice, which too helpfully informs you whenever Avast completes any update or other housekeeping.

AV-Test hasn’t evaluated Avast! 7 Free Antivirus yet, but it’s most recent tests of Avast Free 6 in February 2012 gave it a good score of 14/18. This was made up of 4.5 out of 6 for Protection, 4.5 for Repair and 5.0 for Usability. It scored 96 percent or above in identifying zero-day malware, 98 percent in finding new examples and picked up a full 100 percent on more established code.

It managed to remove 85 percent of active malware, but could only remedy 59 percent of other malicious components. This is still above average, but not by a lot. It’s no better than average on the system slow-down it causes, either.

In our tests, Avast! 7 Free Antivirus showed very good scan performance, with the scanner checking over 18,000 files in our 50GB file basket in 2 minutes 12 seconds. That gives a scan rate of 137 files per second, the highest we’ve yet recorded. To achieve this level of performance, though, the software appears to make quite a hole in system resources. Our 1GB file transfer took over five times as long when Avast was scanning than when it wasn’t.

Avast! 7 Free Antivirus Expert Verdict »

Windows 2000 SP4/XP/Vista/7 32-/64-bit (XP 32 bit only)
Intel Pentium 3
200MB drive space
  • Ease of Use: We give this item 9 of 10 for ease of use
  • Features: We give this item 9 of 10 for features
  • Value for Money: We give this item 8 of 10 for value for money
  • Overall: We give this item 9 of 10 overall

Avast! 7 Free Antivirus is a well-designed product you would be well advised to install if you have no other security software on a Windows PC. It offers more than bog-standard AV protection and is surprisingly well endowed, with shields and a sandbox. It can put a bit of a burden on resources when scanning, but the PC product provide about as comprehensive protection as you’ll find without an annual subscription.

  • Avast! Free Antivirus For Mac 7.0 review

    Avast! Free Antivirus For Mac 7.0

    The jury is still out on whether or not Macs really need anti-virus software, but Avast! is free so there’s no reason why you can’t download a copy and just use it to run the occasional precautionary scan.

  • Alwil Avast! Professional Edition 4.8 review

    Alwil Avast! Professional Edition 4.8

    Although Alwil Avast! Professional Edition 4.8 has a speedy scan rate, that isn't enough to offset its unimpressive protection from malware infections and its truly annoying interface.

  • Avast Pro Antivirus 5 review

    Avast Pro Antivirus 5

    Avast Pro Antivirus 5 (£29 for a single-PC, one-year licence as of 11/30/2010) is a definite improvement on Avast's previous pay-for offering, thanks to a slick new interface and some useful additional features. But middling detection capabilities relative to other paid antivirus software keep it from claiming a higher ranking.

  • Alwil Avast Antivirus Home Edition review

    Alwil Avast Antivirus Home Edition

    Avast Antivirus Home Edition provides solid antimalware protection and a good set of features, but its outdated interface needs a makeover.

  • Avast Free Antivirus 5 review

    Avast Free Antivirus 5

    Avast Free Antivirus 5 provides good all-around malware detection in a speedy, well-designed package. And it's free, of course.

IDG UK Sites

Sony Xperia Z3+ release date, price and specs: The Xperia Z4 for the UK

IDG UK Sites

Why Intel’s vision of the future is a future I want to live in

IDG UK Sites

10 amazing, creative uses of tech – and the brands behind them

IDG UK Sites

Jony Ive 'semi-retired' into new role: kicked upstairs as Chief Design Officer