Security for everyone - Reviewing Avast Premier

Rating:
3 out of 5 stars

The world of free computer security is dominated by only a few companies, one of them being the very popular Avast. They develop and distribute one of the best free antivirus applications you can find, but that’s not the only security product they have in their portfolio. The most “complete” security solution they sell is called Avast Premier , and it offers users an antivirus engine, a firewall module and all sorts of other security modules destined to protect you and your Windows devices. We’ve tested it for a week and, after seeing all its pros and cons, we are now ready to share our findings with you:

The download and installation experience

In order to be able to install Avast Premier on your Windows computer, you must first download it from its official website, which you can find here. From there, you will get a small executable file named avast_premier_antivirus_setup_online.exe , with a size of 6.01MB. Noteworthy, Avast doesn’t ask for any personal information from you in order to let you download and install a trial version of Avast Premier. We like that!

Where To Buy

Running the installer will download an approximately 228 MB of files. However, the exact size of the download will differ according to the protection modules you will choose to install. Because yes, this is one of the few left security products that lets you choose what you want to install and what not.

What’s strange about Avast Premier is that it will try to bundle Google Chrome alongside its protection modules. And bundling additional software is something you’d expect from a free product, but not from a paid one. If you don’t want to use Google Chrome as your web browser, pay attention while installing Avast Premier and disable this option.

On our test computer, the download and installation processes took place without any interruptions or problems. After all was done, the security suite loaded its user interface and asked us about the networks to which our test laptop was connected. When the firewall detects a new network, it will always ask you whether it’s a private or a public one. Depending on your answer, the firewall adjusts its protection level automatically.

Taking a first look at the user interface, we also noticed that Avast Premier was already using the latest virus definitions available on the company’s servers, so that’s a good thing.

The download and installation experience we had for Avast Premier was a good one. We appreciated the fact that you don’t have to provide any personal information in order to test the security suite, and that you can actually choose what protection modules you want to install and use on your computer. That’s not something you see much these days.

Integration with Windows, web browsers and universal Windows platform apps

When we installed it on our test computer, we noticed that Avast Premier automatically disabled both Windows Defender and Windows Firewall. That’s a good thing because it will help avoid unwanted performance issues and possible conflicts. Avast Premier is also very well integrated with Windows’ networking features - we had no problems when creating or joining a homegroup, when sharing files and folders over the local network, or when using universal Windows platform apps.

A bit earlier, we mentioned that, when you connect to a new network, the firewall module asks you what kind of network that is. You can choose between a public and a private profile for each network, just like in Windows. However, what we found is that this applies only to new network connections. If you switch an existing network’s profile from public to private or the other way around, Avast’s firewall won’t detect your change.

When it comes to your online security, Avast Premier protects you with the help of its web shield module, which filters all the internet traffic from your computer and blocks everything suspicious. But, besides this module, Avast Premier also offers two different web browser extensions that should provide even more security. They are called Avast Online Security and Avast SafePrice. The Avast Online Security web browser extension is designed to block your access and notify you when you are about to visit an infected website. The other one though - Avast SafePrice - is created to give you better deals when you are shopping online, by sending information to Avast and giving you targeted ads in return. In Windows 10, these web browser extensions are installed by default for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. Our recommendation to you is to disable and uninstall both these extensions, because you don’t really need them - the web shield is all you need for protection.

We also looked at how much Avast Premier increased the boot time of our test computer. To do that, we used BootRacer to measure the boot time before and after installing this security suite. Fortunately, the increase was very small, of under one second in average. On the same positive note, we found that Avast Premier consumes very little in terms of RAM memory, even when running antivirus scans. We’ve seen take only up to 40MB of RAM memory. However, it looks like it does that at the cost of high disk usage, as you can see in the image below.

To get a better idea of how much Avast Premier impacts the performance of our computer, we also used PCMark 8 and ran its Home accelerated benchmarks before and after installing the security suite. We did that a couple of times, and the results we got were similar: apparently, Avast Premier made our test computer slower by 9.31%. That’s a big number and one we wished we didn’t see.

Avast Premier appears to be a security product that’s well integrated with Windows and its networking features. However, we don’t like it when we see a security product bundling web browser extensions that promise “safe prices, better deals”, and we surely don’t like it when a security product lowers the general performance of our computer, like Avast Premier appears to be doing.

Ease of use & configuration

Avast Premier has a very good-looking user interface, with a design based on smooth gradients and thin lines, just like any modern software should be these days. Just like in the past, Avast continues to use the subliminal orange-gray color combination.

The main console tells you in a glimpse what your computer’s status is, with bits of information about the antivirus and firewall modules. It also greets you with a large orange button called “Run Smart Scan” which when pressed, will trigger a scan on your computer for viruses, outdated software, browser add-ons with a bad reputation, network threats, performance issues and weak passwords.

The top of the user interface is home to a few buttons that let you access the most important features, tools and settings offered by the suite. For instance, this is the place from where you can launch antivirus scans, launch any of the tools bundled with the security suite or open the settings of Avast Premier. Speaking of which, most of them are easy to understand and configure, as Avast Premier offers both switches and checkmark lists.

Avast Premier is also quite good at helping you understand what its tools and settings do. For instance, the settings that are a bit more technical have a small information icon on their right sides. If you click on that, you will get more details about what the setting does or is. And, if you need more in-depth help or support, Avast Premier has you covered: you can browse through detailed help files, send support requests via a contact form from inside the security suite, or ask for phone support. However, the latter option only covers installing and configuring your Avast product. If you have more complex issues, like the ones usually caused by a virus on your computer, Avast’s technicians can help you only if you pay an additional subscription, with a price that’s definitely not negligible.

Avast Premier is a bit more talkative than other similar security products. It not only shows notifications and alerts on your desktop, but also speaks them out loud. However useful it may be for some users, for others that might be a bit disconcerting.

In case you are curious by nature, you might also be interested in the logs and statistics displayed by Avast Premier. Unfortunately, we can’t really say that we are satisfied with what it offers. The logs are hard to find and the information they offer is poor to say the least. For instance, if you’d like to see antivirus reports, you must ask Avast Premier to run a scan and, in the scan window, you can find a scans history link on the bottom. And there are no statistics to be found, anywhere in this security suite. That’s unexpected, as the previous versions of Avast Premier that we reviewed, all offered plenty of statistics and visual logs. Not anymore it seems.

Avast Premier has a very good looking user interface and finding your way through it is fairly easy. We appreciated the use of switches and checkmark settings, but we really didn’t like the lack of logs and statistics.

Go to the next page of this review and see how effective Avast is at protecting your computer from network attacks and malware. You will also see our final verdict for this product.