avast! Free Antivirus is a complete anti-virus package, that is is free for registered home non-commercial users. It contains an on-demand scanner with two interfaces (simple for novices and advanced for experienced users), an on-access scanner with Standard Shield (which protects against execution and opening malware programs) and an embedded e-mail scanner which scans incoming and outgoing email messages. avast! Free Antivirus integrates with the Windows Explorer right click menu and also includes a special screen saver which is able to scan your system while your computer is not in use. Updates are incremental and frequently made available for manual or scheduled download. You will download a 30 day demo, if you would like to continue free usage beyond that time, you`ll need to register from the home page to obtain a free activation key by email. The effectiveness of this product has been certified by these independent labs: ICSE, TWestCoast Labs, VirusBulletin.
This antivirus software has all the essential features and more. Two outstanding features worth mentioning are the AutoSandbox and the code emulator. The sandbox works with both 32- and 64-bit systems, and it essentially lets your web browser run in a virtual environment where the software can keep tabs on file behavior. You can also run any software or application you think might be risky in the virtualized environment, and no damage will transfer from the secure sandbox to your actual computer. The Avast sandbox is now completely automatic, and it will prompt you run certain suspicious applications in the virtual environment.
The code emulator is used on risky executable files and runs them in a test environment. If the suspicious application behaves like malware, the software can detect it and block it accordingly.
The new SafeZone virtual desktop may seem similar to the Avast AutoSandbox, but in reality it’s a completely different tool. The sandbox keeps risky applications in a sterile environment, but the new SafeZone virtual desktop is intended to protect sensitive activities from malicious interference. You can think of the sandbox as a test lab playground with two-way mirrors and padded walls; it’s an area where you can let risky applications run without unleashing the consequences on your computer. SafeZone, on the other hand, is more like a sterile personal lab; it’s an extra-secure environment specially walled off for safe and controlled activity. The SafeZone essentially opens a new virtual desktop with an isolated web browser (powered by Google Chrome) so you can bank and shop online in a controlled environment.
Another new tool worth highlighting is the Avast WebRep browser plugin. Color-coded reputation ratings are displayed on search results and can help you avoid clicking on risky sites. The WebRep rating for individual websites is determined by combining anonymous visitor data collected by Avast users (CommunityIQ) with the opinion ratings provided by the other WebRep users. As part of the huge Avast community, you can vote with your opinion of any given website and flag what type of information is provided.