Avast! is one of the most popular of the free anti-virus programs for Windows PCs. This Mac version has been available in beta form for a few months already, but is now officially complete and carries the version number 7.0 to match its Windows counterpart. See also: Group test: what's the best antivirus?
The program does work well and provides efficient protection against viruses and other forms of malware, although it could use a decent manual or some built-in help files to get you started. The first thing you see when you launch the program is a graph labelled ‘aggregate shields activity’ – which won’t mean much to first-time users. And it didn’t help that the only manual we could find on the Avast web site was for the Windows version of the program, which differs quite a bit from the Mac version. Visit: Security Advisor.
Fortunately, the program isn’t that complicated, and it doesn’t take too long to locate its main features. A closer look reveals that the program’s protection features consist of three ‘shields’. The File System Shield scans files on your Mac or on removable storage devices such as a memory stick, while the Mail Shield scans your emails to make sure nothing sneaks in that way. The Web Shield works in conjunction with a plug-in extension that it installs into Safari and monitors web sites that you visit in order to warn you about sites that may be suspected of launching possible malware attacks.
You can turn any of these shields on or off, or run a scan on a selected machine or storage device whenever you want. However, there aren’t a lot of options or settings that you need to fiddle with, so most people will simply install Avast! and leave it running in the background to protect them while they get on with their work.