Avast! 6.0

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Version 6 of Avast is available !

With more than 130 million users worldwide, Avast is one of the most popular antivirus software. And keeps a lot of computers protected against various online threats. If almost all antivirus producers have a very simple free version of their products, this Czech company adopted the opposite policy by adding shields to each new edition. The latest version (6.0) is better, because it includes a new sandbox technology and new automatic protection for website navigation.

Easy to use interface

The interface of the latest version of Avast is almost similar with the 5.0 one, but this is nonetheless a good choice for your PC and laptop. Version 5 of the antivirus was completely redesigned and made to feature a very clear and pleasant to use interface (even on PCs with touchscreens, thanks to large buttons). Information and settings are very well positioned compared to other antivirus software.
The 6.0 version has a lot of improvements. For example, improvements on Windows environment. You can see on the desktop a small gadget able to offer instant access to updates and a new SafeZone feature. However, a bad thing is that accustoming this product to Windows 7 wasn’t a very well done operation. The Avast! seems not to be present in extensions of the Start menu. Maybe it was just a simple misconfiguration of our PC.

A new feature: AutoSandbox technology

A weak point of the Avast antivirus has always been the lack of proactive defenses and shields which used to struggle against unknown malware. With this new version, the software has made significant progress. But of course it can do much better. In our tests it compensated for this “weakness” with a function able to fight against undetected malware This function is called a “sandbox” (a sort of bubble where the malware is blocked) activated automatically when a suspect item tries to run a malicious or unsafe code.

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This idea is excellent, but the implementation is unfortunately not the best option. The sandbox itself works fine: dangerous codes and such are not able to infect the system (but they are likely to steal some data). The problem is how Avast! determines whether a code is harmful or not. It all turns out to be a rather weak solution and we hope that Avast! will be more rigorous in the future and always perform unknown codes.

A manual sandbox, too

Compared to other free version, the paid version has the same AutoSandbox the free edition has. The difference is that in this version, the user is allowed to run any application of his choice in the sandbox. In addition, the software offers new settings to limit opportunities for thieves to steal information from computers. The beta version had an option to prevent malicious code to capture the user’s screen-shots. But this option didn’t work as planned. So the option it was removed from the final version of the Avast 6.0. One thing is clear: the Avast! antivirus offers a more robust protection for defending private data with the help of a SafeZone feature.

Keep your data protected: SafeZone

SafeZone (available just for the paid version) seems to be reminiscent of the Kaspersky Internet Security 2011 version. The idea behind this concept is to have a second independent version of the normal PC configuration, isolated from the work environment. In this way nothing can be stolen or infected.
The differences are that Kaspersky is capable to offer a true antivirus software able to run applications in its SafeZone. The Avast! 6.0 chose a minimalist module with which you can only surf the web using a special version of Google Chrome. What we really liked about this Avast! is that it worked equally fine on the 32 and 64 bit operating systems. Which wasn’t the case with Kaspersky (able to work just with the 32-bit editions of the OS).
The idea behind this technology is excellent and results it gives are great. It looks like it is one of the most interesting options of this antivirus and offers total protection. You should know, though, that SafeZone is not able to protect you against phishing. This feature only isolates the web browser from any normal environment where viruses can spread into your computer. Another interesting option is that the SafeZone has its own DNS channel secured, making navigation insensible to wrong activity done by the DNS host.

New features and omissions

In this version, other minor improvements were introduced. Such as the option to return after a single click to the default settings of the antivirus. Kind of like a reset button kept handy in case you don’t want to do the wrong changes to the settings.
Another thing that comes with Avast! Internet Security (the trial version) is the firewall, changed just a little bit. It is more user-friendly and effective at countering attempts to exploit system vulnerabilities or network problems. Compared to most of the firewalls from the market, it still remains relatively circumvented by techniques of leakage (compensated by SafeZone with a partially adapted response).
A weak point for the 6.0 version of Avast is the absence of a reputation mechanism scanning file as complex as those of Norton, Kaspersky or even IE 9. This thing makes the automatic sandbox less operational. Another regrettable thing is that repair and cleaning infections functions seem to be almost similar to the 5.0 version, but not as effective. Avast! 6.0 needs reboots after it detects infection even if no malicious code is actually present in the memory of the computer.

Review conclusion

Because Avast 6.0 introduced the sandbox mode and automatic Web enhanced protections, this version is a step forward compared to the previous edition and other free antivirus software. However, this new version is still far away from the perfect antivirus. These new protections are interesting, but they don’t have enough maturity and our tests can show this. Maybe the type of technologies used and the lack of effectiveness are just a question of settings. Maybe we weren’t able to setup this software the proper way.

The 6.0 version is very attractive and provides a new type of security solutions against web threats. Compared to other free security software solution, the one manufactured by Avast is better and able to offer more protection with its features. This antivirus, in its free version, is very competitive and can make a lot of changes in users’ preferences.

This thing can be said to paid versions of Avast, too. Because it is fast, lightweight, efficient and rich enough, this edition can make problems to the Avast Paid Version. The capability to work with the Windows 7 OS and the difference to the Internet Security 6.0 (about 65 euros) doesn’t seem to be very clear or justifiable.

Download Avast! 6.0 for free