Avast has just released the 2014 update to all of its security products.
We have reviewed the beta version of Avast Free Antivirus back when it was released for public testing, and encourage you to check out that review to find out what is new in this updated version.
The following guide provides you with tips on how to get the most out of the free antivirus solution.
This includes the best way to download and install it, and several configuration tips to improve the program's usability or get rid of features that you may not need or want.
Avast Free Antivirus 2014 tips
The official Avast website links to download.com for all downloads of the product line. The company seems to have a special agreement with the download portal, as it is being used exclusively by Avast.
Download.com does not have the best reputation, mainly because of its wrapped installer that it ships most downloads these days with. While that is not the case for Avast product downloads, you may prefer a direct download nevertheless.
Here are direct download links for all Avast applications:
- Avast Free Antivirus 2014
- Avast Pro Antivirus 2014
- Avast Internet Security 2014
- Avast Premiere Antivirus 2014
It is essential that you select the custom installation option during setup. If you do not, you may end up with modules, browser extensions, desktop gadgets and more that you do not have any use for. More importantly, they may also use system resources while they are running.
Here is a quick rundown of what the shields and tools do that Avast ships with:
- File Shield: Offers real-time protection. Scans files when they are run on the computer.
- Web Shield: A shield for http traffic. Scans urls and can block urls.
- Mail Shield: Scans mail for malicious files and spam.
- Browser Protection: A web reputation browser extension.
- Software Updater: Checks installed software for updates and lets you download and install those. Is fairly limited in terms of programs it supports.
- Avast Remote Assistance: Control a computer from a remote location.
- SecureLine: A VPN service built into all Avast products. Is available for $7.99 monthly or $5.99 when billed yearly. A three day trial is provided.
- RescueDisk: Enables you to create a bootable CD, DVD or USB Flash Drive that you can use for offline scanning and cleaning.
- Browser Cleanup: Can remove extensions, toolbars and plugins. Read our review here.
- Avast Gadget: A desktop gadget that displays the system's security status and lists options to open various modules or run a scan.
Even if you are using the free version of Avast, you have to get it registered to continue using it after a 30 days trial period. Registration is free, but mandatory. You can register right from within the application, or create a new account on the avast website.
4. Hardened Mode
The feature is not enabled by default. Avast notes that the mode will tighten security further on the computer it has been activated on, and that it is designed for inexperienced users.
It blocks the execution of binaries that would normally be sandboxed by the DeepScreen feature or limits the execution of files to those accepted by FileRep running.
If you select moderate, it will block the execution based on the DeepScreen feature, while agreesive uses FileRep to block all but whitelisted apps.
If you want to enable it, click on Settings > Antivirus and check the Enable hardened mode box there.
5. Turn off the voice in Avast
Avast will notify you by voice when operations complete. While that may be great at first, it can quickly get on your nerves.
If you want to disable sounds in the program, go to Settings > Appearance and uncheck the "Enable Avast sounds" box there, or only disable the voice over sound by clicking on sound settings and unchecking that box only.
6. Disable protections and uninstall modules
You can disable select protection modules in the program settings. It is possible to disable all shields under Active Protection for example, while other features cannot be disabled from within the program.
You need to run the software uninstaller for a chance to remove modules that you do not want to use anymore, and also if you want to add a module that you have not installed during setup.
Just select change after you have run the uninstaller to get the same list of program components displayed to you that you see during custom installation of Avast Free Antivirus.
You can exclude paths on the local computer system and urls from scanning and from Avast's shield protection. This can be useful if Avast detects a web address as malicious or problematic, when you know that it is not, among other things.
You can add these exceptions under Settings > Antivirus > Exclusions.
Here you can also add exceptions to the hardened mode, and add file exceptions to the DeepScreen module.
8. Exclusion II
Exclusions are also available for the Shields that run on your system. Both the File System Shield and the Web Shield support exclusions, so that you can add files or web addresses to them that you want the program to ignore.
Select Active Protection and then the settings button next to the shield that you want to configure to get started.
9. Block reporting to Avast
If you do not want to forward security-related information to Avast, then you better disable the feature under Settings > General.
10. Silent/Gaming mode
This mode suppresses popup notifications and alerts while you are running full screen applications on your system. It needs to be enabled under Settings > General.
11. Automatic clean-up of log files
If you want to keep log files for a long period of time, you better disable the automatic clean-up of logs in the application. Avast will delete all scan logs older than 30 days and all temporary scan logs older than one day otherwise.
To do so check Settings > Maintenance and either increase the interval in which log files are kept, or disable the auto-cleanup feature completely.
Now Read: Remove Avast software from your system