Avast Pro Antivirus 2015 is a well-known antivirus program for Windows that offers a range of security functions with a particular angle towards remote access. There's a popular free version, but we tried out the first level of Avast's paid tier to see how it stacked up.
We used Avast Pro Antivirus 2015 on a Windows 8.1 laptop. It offers scanning against malware and viruses, checks your home Wi-Fi network security, and provides browser security over malicious extensions and fake banking sites. All of that will cost $34.99/year. For an extra $5/year, you get an enhanced firewall and spam protection for your e-mail inbox. For an extra $15/month you get Avast Premier 2015, which includes a permanent file shredder and automatic app patching on top of that. A visual feature breakdown is available on Avast's front page.
Avast scores fair in antivirus lab tests. It ranked just behind AVG in AV-Comparitives real-world test, and ahead of McAfee. Virus Bulletin puts Avast relatively low on both proactive and reactive protection. AVG, Kaspersky, Avira, and Bitdefender all rated higher on those tests. AV-Test gives Avast 5 / 6 for protection, 6 / 6 in usability, and 3.5 / 6 for performance.
Avast's Smart Scan checks for viruses, malware, outdated software, and network vulnerabilities in under five minutes. Avast also pushes a premium virtual private network service called SecureLine which is geared towards keeping your browsing secure and private. With your activity happening on a secure, separate computer, your own PC stays out of trouble. That's a separate subscription, starting at $9.99/month.
Along the lines of remote access, Avast also has the option for others to remotely access your computer securely. A simple code-matching mechanism allows you to quickly and easily provide remote assistance for a friend.
Tools are included in Avast Antivirus 2015 for local secure browsing too. A browser extension blocks traffic trackers, which are employed by less-than-scrupulous advertisers. The extension also peppers Google and Bing search results with annoying green checkmarks to confirm links have been scanned and deemed secure. SafeZone, a section within the Avast software proper, can be activated for specific sites to keep payment information secure.
An entire tab is dedicated as a store for other Avast products. On the one hand, this feels pushy, especially for a paid product, but at least it's more straightforward than other antivirus apps that will harangue you with pop-ups or leave passive aggressive reminders throughout daily usage to upgrade. The interface is a little jumpy, in that some functions pop open a new window while others stay in the main window. The bigger issue is how Avast has some particularly annoying audio alerts on by default. Tapping Alt in any given window will show a wealth of keyboard shortcuts for just about everything, which is overkill considering how few of them you'll use on a regular basis.
The most interesting feature of Avast is its karma system. As you conduct scans and use Avast software, your account earns points which progress through various ranks. You also earn badges, and are ranked among the world's Avast users. Though these amount to little more than an odd leaderboard, global anononymized statistics are available for users to poke through. This can show you how many domains are infected on the web, how many virus attacks have been prevented, and number of virus definitions within the Avast database. Again, this isn't particularly important information in the day-to-day dealings of PC security, but both features add an interesting angle to what is normally a drab affair.
Avast Antivirus Pro has a few unique features, particularly for those that are away from their PC regularly, or need to help friends or family from afar. The reward system and some of the interface quirks are on the awkward side, but far from deal-breaking. Avast handled day-to-day virus protection just fine, though there are a few other antivirus programs that fared a little better in lab tests.