Avast bought AVG and Norton bought Avast, which makes for interesting comparisons between same-but-different antivirus services from the same juggernaut antivirus company.
It’s not uncommon for big companies to buy smaller ones to decrease competition, but it’s led to three big-name antivirus providers falling under the same company. In late 2016, Avast was big enough to buy competitor AVG. And in late 2021, Norton bought Avast. There are differences between all three antivirus providers, and Avast has enough of its own personality to stand alone, so let’s take a look at how it fares in Australia these days.
Unlike some of its peers, Avast simplifies things with three core products, all available on compatible PC, Mac, Android, and iOS devices. Avast One Essential is the free version. Avast One is the main plan with all of the features. And Avast Premium Security is a mid-tier version albeit built for more devices.
Outside of the free option, the cheapest pathway is Avast One, which costs $70.68 for the first year to protect five devices (typically $139.99 per year). Alternatively, upgrade Avast One to protect 30 devices for $95.88 in the first year and $189.99 thereafter. That $70.68 first-year pricing is the same for one device with Avast Premium Security ($94.99 normally), but it’s $95.88 for the first year ($115.99 typically) to protect 10 devices.
That initial and ongoing pricing isn’t particularly flash next to the competition even if there’s good value in opting to protect 10 or up to 30 devices with different Avast plans. In terms of payment options, it’s either PayPal or major credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, American Express).
All versions of Avast come with the following features (including Avast free):
- Virus, malware, and ransomware blocking
- App monitoring
- Advanced firewall
Avast Premium Security builds on those three core features with the following inclusions:
- Webcam protection
- Fake/dangerous website avoidance
- Sensitive information protection
Finally, Avast One, which is the version that Avast seems to want to push people towards, has the six features above, alongside:
- Unlimited VPN (with 55 locations)
- Account breach monitoring
- Automatic driver updates
- Ad-tracker blocking
- Device clean-up and tuning
Avast sign-up and setup process
I really like that the free version of Avast is prominently displayed on the official website. Avast One Essential can be found in multiple prominent locations and offers basic installation steps when you download it. After a small download, there’s a guided installation process.
The installer prompts you to make Avast Secure Browser your default browser (just like AVG), so untick this if you like what you’re already using. It took a few minutes to install the Windows version before I was ready to go, which is a longer process than all of the other antivirus services I tested. It seemed to get stuck at the 50% mark while it was adding additional non-antivirus features, but it was fully installed after a forced computer restart.
As is the trend with antivirus services, the Android app is even easier to install. The only real challenge is ensuring you download the Avast One – Security & Privacy app rather than a handful of other Avast-branded apps. After a basic tour, the app prompts a smart scan, which requires some basic Android permissions to properly run, before you’re presented with a results page after a scan. The scan was done in under a minute on my Google Pixel 5.
Avast user experience
Like the Android app, Avast One on Windows prompts you to run a smart scan before doing anything else. It’s not only smart, it’s also quick, taking under 30 seconds to complete in my tests. Like other free services, Avast One Essential does push you towards an upgraded version, but you can easily ignore this.
After the smart scan, the Avast dashboard strangely prioritises non-essential messages at the top and you have to scroll to get to the more meaningful shortcuts. Here’s where you’ll find smart scan, deep scan, and targeted scan features. With either of the Avast One versions, you’ll also find the Avast VPN and device optimiser here. Note the free version of Avast VPN is restricted to 5GB of weekly traffic, but it’s impressive that it has a server in Melbourne (even the best free VPNs don’t tend to have Australian servers).
The final option on the dashboard is to check for breaches, which you can either do by manually entering an email address of interest or creating an Avast account to make this process even easier. After a few seconds, it showed several breaches related to one of my email addresses.
Branching out, the Explore tab has the main dashboard options and more, making it easy to customise Avast in terms of web, ransomware, firewall, and other forms of protection. It’s easy to see at-a-glance which features are available for the free version and which are locked behind the premium version.
Avast virus and malware protection
Short of randomly or deliberately encountering a virus, malware, or ransomware, testing the comprehensiveness of antivirus software is a bit tricky. Instead of creating a virtual machine or compromising actual devices, we lean heavily on the independent industry-respected analysis of outlets like AV-Test and AV-Comparatives, both of which regularly perform real-world tests of up-to-date antivirus software.
Avast is one of the antivirus services both sites test and, according to recent results from AV-Comparatives testing, Avast had solid scores. AV-Comparative’s March 2022 tests showed that Avast blocked 99.4% of threats, all user-dependent threats (those that require user input), and only reported two false positives. That false-positives score is beaten only by Kaspersky’s single report, but while 99.4% is impressive threat blocking, it’s not as good as the 100% scores for Norton and Bitdefender.
For the other main antivirus results considered, AV-Test issues scores from zero to six across protection, performance, and usability metrics. Avast earned perfect scores across all three. Here’s how Avast compared to its peers across, Android, MacOS and Windows versions (AV-Test doesn’t have results for iOS devices):
|Avast Mobile Security 6.46 (Android)||6||6||6|
|Avast Security 15.1 (MacOS)||6||6||6|
|Avast Free AntiVirus 21.11 (Windows)||6||6||6|
|Norton 360 5.29 (Android)||6||6||6|
|Norton 360 8.7 (MacOS)||6||6||6|
|Norton 360 22.1 (Windows)||6||6||6|
|Bitdefender Mobile Security 3.3 (Android)||6||6||6|
|Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac 9.0||6||6||6|
|Bitdefender Internet Security 26.0 (Windows)||6||6||5.5|
|McAfee Mobile Security 6.6 (Android)||5.5||6||6|
|McAfee Total Protection 25.4 (Windows)||6||6||6|
|AVG AntiVirus Free 6.46 (Android)||6||6||6|
|AVG AntiVirus 20.1 (MacOS)||6||6||6|
|AVG Internet Security 21.11||6||6||6|
|Kaspersky Internet Security 11.82 (Android)||6||6||6|
|Kaspersky Internet Security 21.1 (MacOS)||6||6||6|
|Kaspersky Internet Security 21.3 (Windows)||6||6||6|
Avast vs other antivirus services
Check out the table below for the key differences between Avast and its most popular antivirus peers.
Initial annual price
Number of devices
|Best antivirus software overall||$99.98||10||100%||View on Bitdefender||Read review|
|Best cheap antivirus software||From $59.95||1, 3, 5, or 7||99.40%||View on Kaspersky||Read review|
|Best antivirus for families||From $70.68||5 or 30||99.40%||View on Avast||Read review|
|Best antivirus for enhanced security||$89.99||3||100%||View on Norton||Read review|
|Best antivirus for first-timers||From $59.99||1 or 10||99.40%||View on AVG||Read review|
|Best runner-up||$84.95||5||96.10%||View on McAfee||Read review|
Prices are accurate as of post date. Read full disclaimer.
Avast is functionally the same as AVG, and the latter antivirus service offers better overall pricing. Still, Avast has an easy-to-use free version that bundles great advanced features, and there are plenty of extended-functionality reasons to consider paying for one of the premium versions, though Avast One has the better value over Avast Premium Security. Ultimately, Bitdefender and Norton are better picks for us, but Avast is still a robust antivirus contender.
How we review antivirus software
Our antivirus testing starts with basic feature comparisons, including pricing and whether there’s a free version or easily accessible free trial. Letting people try before they buy scores well with us. Then we check to ensure antivirus software includes critical features like real-time protection and speedy scanning tools, ideally without a massive performance impact on compatible devices.
The ease of installation is then evaluated as well as how well an antivirus service guides the user and encourages them to explore additional security settings (where available). Antivirus software that also includes extended features—like a VPN, password manager, digital file shredder or other bolt-ons—scores points for versatility.
Ultimately, though, we always go back to how well an antivirus service performs on key metrics: namely, threat protection and performance impact. For these factors, we defer to the extensive ongoing testing data that’s readily available from antivirus authorities AV-Comparatives and AV-Test. If antivirus software scores well in those external tests, it has a great chance of scoring well with us, too.
Below are the answers to some of the most pressing Avast questions.