With somewhere around 430 million users each month, Czech company Avast is one of the most popular cybersecurity firms in the world.
Unfortunately, Avast has been no stranger to controversy - in 2020, it was caught red-handed selling user data to tech companies.
While any review of Avast's products needs to at least mention this, on this page we're going to try and give an impartial review and simply evaluate the effectiveness of the software, specifically of Avast Premium Security.
Avast Premium Security is Avast's paid antivirus and was formerly known as Avast Premiere. Protection for a single device will cost $69.99 per year, while you can get protection for up to 10 devices for $89.99 per year.
It is available for Windows, Android, Mac, and iOS.
Avast Premium Security features
With Avast Premium Security you'll get all the features included in Avast Free Antivirus, along with many extra ones. These include:
- Live protection against a wide range of malware, with a centralized malware database that is continuously updated
- Ransomware Shield keeps protected files from being modified without authorization - good for preventing zero-day attacks
- Advanced Firewall that blocks suspicious incoming connections
- Webcam protection can be modified to block suspicious access attempts or even all access attempts
- Password manager that stores your passwords in an encrypted location means you can diversify your passwords without having to remember them
- E-mail security reads email headers packets to protect your inbox from threats
- Data Shredder can make sensitive files near-irrecoverable
- Sensitive Data Shield to warn you of unprotected, sensitive documents that may be on your system (passport, credit card information, etc.)
- Avast Sandbox lets you run suspicious files in an isolated environment
Installation and setup
Installing Avast Premium Security is simple and straightforward. After you've purchased the program (also be aware that you can evaluate it before purchase with a 30-day free trial), open the executable file, which you can download on this page.
On the first screen you see after opening it, you can opt to install Avast Secure Browser or not by checking or unchecking the boxes on the bottom left corner. This is a Chromium-based web browser that offers extra privacy and protection while surfing the web.
Click the large green "Install" button, and the installation process will begin.
Once it's finished, you'll see a screen headed with "You're protected."
Click the green "Get Started" button.
From here, you will either activate the software with your product key (it'll be in your purchase confirmation e-mail) or click on Start Free Trial - whichever applies to you.
Finally, you'll have the option to "Run First Scan," which will alert you to any problems on your computer.
If you've ever used Avast Free Antivirus, Premium Security has the exact same green, black, and purple layout because they're essentially the same software. The contrasting colors help simplify the interface, making important buttons stand out.
Partially as a result of this, Premium Security is very easy to navigate, just as any antivirus program should be.
On the left side of the program window, you'll see "Status," "Protection," "Privacy," and "Performance."
Under Status, you'll have an option to run a smart scan. This is a standard, comprehensive, relatively quick scan that should find most threats.
Protection includes a lot more options. With the Virus Scans sections, you can choose to run a full scan and also customize your scans - for instance, you might run them at certain times of the day or examine only certain areas of your hard drive.
Core Shields will scan files, warn you of suspicious behavior, and keep you safe on the web - they'll be activated immediately after install, and there's no good reason to deactivate them.
The Virus Chest is where intercepted threats are quarantined.
Wi-Fi Inspector checks your network for threats, Remote Access Shield blocks unauthorized remote connections, and the Sandbox lets you execute malware files in isolation.
Under Protection, you can also customize which applications your Firewall blocks, enable online protection against phishing attempts, and protect specific, vital folders from potential ransomware attacks.
Under the Privacy tab, you'll find the Password Manager, Data Shredder, Webcam Shield, and Sensitive Data Shield. You'll also find SecureLine VPN and Antitrack Premium - however, these must be purchased separately.
Finally, under the Performance tab is the Software Updater, which will warn you of outdated software (old software can be vulnerable to intruders) as well as the settings for "Do Not Disturb" mode.
"Do Not Disturb" mode is just what it sounds like and can be enabled for specific applications - for instance, if you're playing a game or watching a movie, you won't want to be disturbed by alerts and so you can add those programs to the list.
Under Performance, you'll also find "Cleanup Premium" and the Driver Updater - both of these, however, are extra services that you'll have to pay more money for.
Overall, the UI is very intuitive and even people who don't know their way around antivirus software should have no problem utilizing and managing Avast Premium Security.
What Avast Premium Security offers
Avast Premium Security gives you fairly strong protection against all types of malware (see the lab results below).
You'll also get protection against more "modern" threats such as phishing attacks, attempts to access your webcam, and attempts to infiltrate your e-mail inbox.
Unlike other programs that rely on browser extensions, Avast phishing prevention works directly through the suite.
Hackers have figured out how to access webcams without activating that little light that shows they're on - in this way, they gather visual or auditory information and use it for blackmail attempts.
Fortunately, Avast can block all attempts to access your webcam unless you specifically permit them, as you'd probably want to do with programs like Skype or Zoom.
Emails can carry malware, phishing attempts, and other types of cybersecurity risks. They often have telltale signs that they're not what they appear to be, though, and Avast's Email security does a good job of scoping these out.
What Avast Premium Security doesn't offer
Since data privacy is such a huge concern, most paid-for antivirus programs these days come with a VPN. That's not the case with Avast Premium Security.
Although Avast does offer a VPN - as mentioned, you'll find a button for the "SecureLine VPN" under the "Privacy" tab - you'll have to pay for it separately. While the rate isn't outrageous at just $2.89 a month, there are many free VPNs or at least ones that come included with a paid version of antivirus software.
To us, this is a pretty glaring omission since you're paying.
Avast performs consistently well in lab tests, but maybe not well enough.
According to AV-Comparatives, for instance, Avast had a 99.4 % malware detection and protection rate.
This sounds great but, actually, Avast fared less well than Windows 10 Defender, which is a free, pre-installed program on the Windows 10 OS - AV-Comparatives found that Windows 10 Defender had a 99.8 % malware detection and protection rate.
They also found that Avast provided 7 false positives.
SE Labs, on the other hand, determined that Avast detected 98 out of 100 malware programs, with a 3 % misdetection rate.
So, it's good, just not the best.
Before we announce our final verdict, let's take a look at Avast Premium Security's pros and cons:
- Plenty of extra features that are actually useful, not just "bells and whistles"
- A strong firewall along with antivirus ensures you have the two main pillars of computer security
- Relatively expensive at $69.99 per year
- Not the best interception rate - even Windows 10 Defender performs better
- No Free VPN
- The high amount of false positives, which is more of a nuisance than anything
- Data privacy concerns with Avast
There's no way around it - Avast Premium Security is a solid piece of software. It offers robust protection from malware and plenty of extra features that buttress your system's security.
As you may have gathered, though, it's a bit of a mixed bag.
After all, there are better antivirus programs out there that are less expensive or even completely free.
Avast Premium may be worth it if you really want some of those extra features, such as webcam protection, data shredder, password manager, and the Avast sandbox, which is especially a pretty unique option.
On the other hand, there is free software that provides most of these functions.
To sum up, "Great but not outstanding" would be a good way to describe Avast Premium Security.