Avast has just released the final version of their antivirus software Avast 6 which has been available as a beta version for some time. Avast Free Antivirus 6.0 is a free for personal and non-commercial use. It offers antivirus and anti-spyware protection for Windows PCs.
The developers have added several new features to Avast Free Antivirus among them a new sandboxing feature and shields for specific programs or situations. A custom install option is available during setup to remove modules that are not needed from the program. A user without desktop email client could for instance disable the mail shield, a user who is not making use of P2P the P2P shield.
Avast 6 Antivirus scans the PC during the installation, a restart to finalize the setup is not required. Some modules like the new autosandbox are however only available after a restart of the Windows PC.
Free users have to live with advertisement in the application. They also need to register the application to stay protected after the initial 30 days. Registration is completed in the application, it is not necessary to open a web browser to register externally.
The main new features are the following in Avast Free Antivirus 6:
Lets take a closer look at some of the features. Avast 6 uses the new AutoSandbox feature for instance to run suspicious programs automatically in a sandbox to avoid damage to the operating system and files.
WebRep, another new addition adds itself as a plugin to Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox. It can be used to view reputation ratings for websites that are visited or displayed in search engines in the supported browsers. Uninstallation options are provided in the Avast Antivirus interface which is handy in case those plugins are not needed anymore.
The new sidebar gadget for Vista and Windows 7 displays the current system state (e.g. secured) and offers to open the Avast Free Antivirus interface and to update the software with new virus definitions.
The Real-Time Shields menu offers interesting information about the shields that are currently running and protecting the system. The shields have their own Shield Traffic graph that displays information about scanned and infected files or events.
Expert settings for each module are very extensive. The settings for the web scanning module for instance are divided on seven pages with options to exclude urls and mime types from the scan, change the scan from all files to only select files and mime types, select packer formats that should be extracted while scanning, configure actions if a virus, potentially unwanted program or suspicious files is discovered and to define the heuristic sensitivity.
Similar expert settings are available for all shields. Some settings are identical while others differ. Another interesting feature is the ability to access the free antivirus software even if it is currently scanning the computer. It is for instance possible to take a look at the real-time shields during a full system scan.
Avast Free Antivirus 6 offers several interesting features and usability improvements. AutoSandboxing, the ability to uninstall the web reputation plugin, extensive shield configuration options and real-time and traffic history information make it a solid choice for Windows users who are looking for a program that can protect their computer effectively.
Avast Free Antivirus 6.0 is available for download at the developer website.
Update: Avast Free Antivirus 7.0 has just been released by Avast. The free version adds new several new features to the free antivirus software. This includes cloud based virus definition updates that speed up the distribution of new virus definitions, a new file reputation service that uses the cloud to make better decisions about files, and a new remote assistance option.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.