Protecting over 200 million PCs, Macs, & Mobiles – more than any other antivirus

July 17th, 2009

avast’s Top 5 Hidden Gems

Most users are not able to tell the difference between various antivirus software applications. They consider all the applications pretty much equivalent (function-wise) and usually decide which one to use according to subjective things like prettiness of the user interface, ease of use or lightness on system resources (and of course, the price).

More experienced users sometimes try to search for independent reviews and pay attention to detection rates measured in comparative tests. The problem is that these reviews and tests often produce conflicting results, making the situation even more confusing. In addition, most of these tests only perform on-demand scans, completely ignoring the on-access (and pro-active) parts of the product.

In this article, I’d like to pinpoint 5 features of avast! that we feel are pretty unique, and differentiate us from the pack.

1. Boot-time scan. The boot-time scan is a unique feature in avast that allows you to perform a full hard drive scan before Windows boots. The principal advantage here is that at the moment the scan runs, the vast majority of malware is still dormant (hasn’t been chance to activate yet) and is thus easily detected, and removed. Moreover, the boot-time scan uses direct disk access (bypassing the Windows file system drivers), allowing us to see even the most stubborn rootkits. Therefore, it is wise run the boot-time scan whenever there’s a suspicion that the system may be infected.

In order to run a boot time scan, open avast’s user interface (run avast e.g. from the desktop icon), and from the right click context menu, select “Schedule boot-time scan”.

Note: the boot-time scan is currently available only on 32-bit operating systems.

2. Antivirus screensaver. Another avast! favorite, the antivirus screensaver is basically a special screensaver that is able to run a full system scan when it makes most sense – i.e.when the system is idle. It can run on top of another screensaver (with just a small top-level window showing the scan progress), so you don’t have to sacrifice your favorite screensaver in order to use it.

To enable the avast! screensaver, open the system screensaver properties window, and select “avast! antivirus” from the list.

3. Unrivaled detection of script malware. Five years ago, most viruses were distributed by means of email. These days are now gone, with the World Wide Web taking over. Indeed, the vast majority of malware today is distributed over the web, mostly by means of hacked (otherwise legitimate) sites. The attacker usually injects malicious some scripts into some (or all) pages on the site, waiting for an unsuspecting user to visit the site and possible infect his/her machine.

And this is where avast’s detection capabilities really excel. Its abilities to detect these web-based malicious scripts are second to none, and thanks to the Web Shield and Script Blocking providers, they are used exactly when needed, doing an excellent job stopping the web-based malware right on the entry point.

4. Strong antirootkit shield. Starting with version 4.8, avast has a built-in antirootkit scanner. It is based on GMER, one of the most respected specialized antirootkit applications available (in fact, the guy who created the original GMER now works for us). We’re constantly improving the internals of this component so that it’s able to detect and remove even the latest threats, including e.g. the infamous MBR rootkit.

Normally, it’s not necessary to perform any manual rootkit scans as these are done automatically each time you restart your computer. Uses of the Professional Edition can run a manual rootkit scan by creating a task in the Enhanced User Interface and selected Rootkit scan in the Scan Areas section.

5. Malware submission system. This is one of the lesser-known features of avast!, but an equally important one. Under the hood, avast deploys a number of sensors that monitor the file system, registry and other components of the operating system. On top of these sensors, there’s a module that analyzes all the data reported by the sensors and if it concludes there’s something suspicious, it immediately alerts the user. However, it doesn’t tell the user that the system is infected. Instead, it just reports that something fishy is going on on the system and that these and these files/programs are the suspects. And, most importantly, allows the user to submit these files to our virus lab for further analysis (the submission process is then automatic, all we ask for is the consent to send the files).

This way, we’re able to have a continuous feed of the latest samples right from our own user community. And since the community is so huge, it all works very well, moreover with the community being self-sufficient.

By the way, in avast 5, the core of the malware submission system have been refactored into something we call the “Behavior Shield”. More on this later.

Categories: Technology Tags: , , ,
  1. CharleyO
    July 20th, 2009 at 16:19 | #1


    Thanks for the above information, Vlk. :)


  2. jfjb
    July 21st, 2009 at 19:31 | #2

    what abut the firewall?
    In terms of comparisons with what the (free) market offers — mostly thinking about Comodo, since ‘they’ also have an anti-virus.

  3. July 22nd, 2009 at 23:35 | #3

    Avast is the Best antivirus I ever used

  4. July 22nd, 2009 at 23:39 | #4

    The Firewall is working in the background very effective

  5. Michael
    July 22nd, 2009 at 23:46 | #5

    The simple popup in the bottom rigt of the screen is great. All other systems have a popup in the center of the screen thaqt you have to click on to remove. The other GREAT feature is the Avast ‘LCARS’ skin for the controler,,,PLEASE PLEASE incorperate this into the new version.

  6. July 23rd, 2009 at 01:11 | #6

    I highly recomend avast to my friemd because i find it excellent

  7. Tatjana
    July 23rd, 2009 at 01:21 | #7

    I am thankful avast is free but from my experience with how well it works, I would choose it over any other product even if it wasn’t free.

  8. M. Garrigan
    July 23rd, 2009 at 01:28 | #8

    Had symantech forever till I got a new laptop, and the business I bought it from told me it was “head & shoulders above” aforementioned program. So far, not problems…so I’m assuming it’s doing the job. Thanks

  9. July 23rd, 2009 at 01:35 | #9

    Hola mi computadora tiene un troyano, no me permite actualizar avast y no lo puedo eliminar.Mi programa es WIN 98. Espero pueda ayudarme, GRACIAS

  10. July 23rd, 2009 at 01:39 | #10


  11. Karl-Heinz Bonacker
    July 23rd, 2009 at 01:48 | #11

    Only now, i. g. after having read accidentally your blog, I’m becoming aware what pretious kind of jewel or gem my friend who is servicing my PC recommended to me for replacing my Panda Antivirus (expensive and all but very effectful…)! I am more than content with your antivirus program and am eager to install asap its forthcoming version 5 or, still better, to test its beta version (if this won’t be to dangerous for me…).
    Kind regards, Bonacker

  12. Pamela
    July 23rd, 2009 at 01:55 | #12

    The technology person at our school told us about Avast. I am so grateful. Several times while exploring links from other sites, it5 alerted me to get out. I did too! Have not had any problems with viruses since using Avast. Have recommended it to lots of people.

  13. Karl-Heinz Bonacker
    July 23rd, 2009 at 02:05 | #13

    This is no comment, but rather asking for an info- After having read the description of the “Boot-time scan” I activated it accordingly, but chose the option “recover or re-install infected files”.
    My question: may that option be somewhat dangerous and should I perhaps better choose the option “put infected files into container”?
    Thanks for any helpful answer to this issue!
    Regards, Bonacker

  14. Leroy T.
    July 23rd, 2009 at 02:43 | #14

    I used to use AVG Free but it slowed up my boot up process which Avasti does not. I also find that Avasti is much better at notifiying me if sites I have gone to are possible infectors and does a much better job of keeping me virus free. Thanks Avasti team!!!

  15. July 23rd, 2009 at 02:50 | #15

    While reading your comments on avast this one just doesn’t seem to work for me:

    To enable the avast! screensaver, open the system screensaver properties window, and select “avast! antivirus” from the list.

    Must be having a senior moment here, could you help me with this one?

    Thanks so much,

  16. B. Lowery
    July 23rd, 2009 at 03:05 | #16

    @ Linda

    Go to the control panel and (XP)SCREENSAVER or (VISTA) PERSONALIZATION\SCRRENSAVER and select Alwil.

    Hope that helps.

  17. Andrew
    July 23rd, 2009 at 03:06 | #17

    Can you guys tell us when you are going to release the boot-time scan for 64-bit systems? And here is another question: Is running the virus scan when your windows is in safe mode as effective as a boot-time scan(I would appreciate a little more info on this)?

  18. B. Lowery
    July 23rd, 2009 at 03:13 | #18

    @ Linda

    sry should be (XP) controol panel \ display \ screen saver

  19. Simon.D
    July 23rd, 2009 at 03:59 | #19

    Thank!! to Alwil software . Congrats to all the employees for there contrubition in making the avast! Antivirus . I am happy to use Avast! . My problem is on the issue of rootkit even the i am using the latest version of avast! Antivirus 4.8.1335 which have an antirootkit tool it is not sufficient to remove it even through boot scan , rootkit first enter the system file then it becomes an hidden process , then it spreads the viruses like win:32 vitro and even worms , then it del the internet connection due to which sending it to the lab becomes impossible. Kindly give me the feed back in my email address as above mentioned. Hoping the Best! from the avast! VERSION 5

  20. TERRY
    July 23rd, 2009 at 04:41 | #20

    So far so good for day 1.Cd burn time improved,as well sophos no longer comes up as update failed, or disabled.this system is fairly old 7-8 years. This computor was part of the university of sask use (staff owned).

  21. July 23rd, 2009 at 05:27 | #21

    Best anti malware since “Gladiator” was on my original computer.Avast is far superior to Norton and McAffee or Trend Innoculate.Not only is Avast lighter on resources and has simpler tools that work flawlessly but it is free.
    Not a comment ,I guess , but an endorsement.

    Will Avast 5 be an auto update and free? I hope so ,because I wsa laid off and presently cannot afford the best.Please e-mail me if the answers are no.

  22. ahmed hamid
    July 23rd, 2009 at 05:59 | #22

    really avast is the best anti virus

  23. July 23rd, 2009 at 07:56 | #23

    i tried lots of antivirus and i started with avast and end with avast .this is the great antivirus i know till date.

  24. chaudfougueux
    July 23rd, 2009 at 08:53 | #24

    the pop up on bottom right is very good, but i would like to change manually the time it appears, and if it appears, or not. ( only have the notification sound )
    Thank you

  25. July 23rd, 2009 at 10:42 | #25

    I love Avast! It’s saved my life many times and since I’ve had it I’ve not had a single virus! That’s even through torrents and file sharing. It’s even alerted me to things happening on the network that are trying to get me (school sucks). I’ve told everyone about this and now half the school use it. The pc repair shop even recommends it above Norton and AVG etc.

    Did you know that symantec use macs? And they don’t really need anti-virus with that do they? Shows their faith in their own product!!

  26. mukesh kumar saini
    July 23rd, 2009 at 10:54 | #26


  27. Björn Lundahl
    July 23rd, 2009 at 12:42 | #27

    Hi, when I four years ago for the first time used Avast (I have always used it since then) I liked it and thought it only was “good enough”. Later on I realized that Avast has some special features which other antivirus software lacks. Those features are important too (apart from the detection capabilities) in the fight against malware. But as you have written they are probably neglected by many people and that is sad.

    Well then as I realized this I also points this out when I write reviews about this fantastic software (which I often do). This is my latest review at

    Avast Home Edition

    “The best there is and now also equipped with heuristics”

    by Björn Lundahl on April 25, 2009

    Pros: I have been in contact with the company behind Avast named Alwil and they have informed me that since version 4.8 Avast is equipped with heuristics. They are going to announce this …

    Cons: Actually none.

    Summary: Do not use Kaspersky, Norton, Nod 32, Bitdefender, AVG etc. use Avast and you will have a pc that is malware free and program which is reliable and just works. The program has a lot of features which many other lacks, features which are essential in the fight against malware. I have been in contact with the company behind Avast named Alwil and they have informed me that since version 4.8 Avast is equipped with heuristics. They are planning to announce this together with other new features related to heuristics in the third quarter of 2009.

    Avast will protect you against viruses, spyware, adware, rootkits and other malware. I have used Avast for nearly four years in different computers and it always work reliably and have kept them free from viruses.

    Avast has a lot of cool skins to choose from. It is not a dull anti-virus program like the rest.

    It is also free!

    Updated on Apr 27, 2009

    A note: Equipped with heuristic means that the program has a capability to catch unknown viruses.

    Björn Lundahl
    Gothenburg, Sweden

  28. Catherine McClarey
    July 23rd, 2009 at 13:38 | #28


    ?Ha usado Ud. “Avast Virus Cleaner”? Se puede encontrar el el website de Avast (y es gratis). Si no se puede download ni Avast antivirus ni “Avast Virus Cleaner” en su computadora, trata Ud. de hacer download de los dos programas en la computadora de un amigo, y traerlos a la computadora de Ud. por medio de un “flash drive” USB (los llamamos tambien “thumb drives” en ingle`s).

  29. July 23rd, 2009 at 13:44 | #29

    I am so happy with avast free, as a pensioner I can not afford to pay for the paid version as my family has 6 old computers and that would cost $235.28 which is out of the question. On the other hand I do not feel good about using the free version as I realize that you are in bussiness to make money. Would it be possible for your company to have 1 licence and be able to put it on 6 machines using the same ip address or something like that. Thank you again for a great product.
    Cheers Ian

    July 23rd, 2009 at 14:12 | #30

    Given the number of times your program has blocked pop-ups and malicious downloads I’d say you guys rock at what you do!!!AND IT’S FREE.Keep up the great work guys and many thanks.E-II

  31. Mitchell G.
    July 23rd, 2009 at 14:16 | #31

    I used the free version. I’ve tested Avast against Symantec’s SED (mandatory in my workplace), Comodo and AVG. Avast came ahead as the best in the average CPU load during normal operation w/ 4 out its 6 providers enabled, memory footprint and ease of dis-/en-able services (needed for simulations and games). Boot time and resources during scan are a much lesser issue than what others and Symantec are making of… why optimize the rare events and leave our PCs burdened 99.999% of the time w/ heavy processes wasting power and cycles?!
    If you keep on improving these metrics, Avast may silently become a leading product. Thanks, Mitch.

  32. July 23rd, 2009 at 14:23 | #32

    I must say without any doubts that Avast has proven to be the top of the line. I have been using the Free version for about 2 months now. I plan on purchasing a license for Professional for all my home machines. Avast outperforms McAfee Products, Symantec Products, Trend Micro Products and even Malwarebytes, which I have raved to everyone about for the last 6 months. Avast even takes care of those pesky little buggers that Malwarebytes use to be effective against. I wish to congratulate the developers and the folks who are working (around the clock obviously) to keep Avast what I consider to be the TOP of the line when it comes to Virus/Spyware/Adware/Malware/Trojans–you name it Avast can resolve it.

  33. pOsiTiVe viBraTiOn
    July 23rd, 2009 at 16:20 | #33

    Avast!4.8 Professional is the best anti-virus

  34. July 23rd, 2009 at 17:43 | #34

    i love avast cant wait to try the new version once again i am very happy with avast

  35. July 23rd, 2009 at 17:57 | #35

    I have used avast for some time and have installed it on friends and families PCs.

    One key feature is the audible alerts – my brother-in-law is blind, uses a program called guide (does email, web browsing and more through keyboard and speech synthesiser).
    Having talking antivirus software is therefore a real advantage.

  36. Prashant
    July 23rd, 2009 at 18:38 | #36

    Thanks and cheers to the Avast team. You are doing a great job!
    I have been using avast! antivirus Home edition for past 3 years (for home use only).

  37. Vitor Hugo
    July 24th, 2009 at 02:42 | #37

    I wonder if this new version the updates will be automatic and should be downloaded again by the users. Vitor Hugo graciously Brazil

  38. July 24th, 2009 at 05:46 | #38

    thank you for avast.avast is the best antiviruse iever seen

  39. July 24th, 2009 at 08:25 | #39

    I am very pleased with Avast

  40. July 24th, 2009 at 08:27 | #40

    Thanks avast for protecting our puters

  41. PB
    July 24th, 2009 at 11:08 | #41

    Thanks for the tips!

    Would the boot time scan be available on Avast! 5 Home edition?

    Eagerly looking forward to the new Avast!


  42. July 24th, 2009 at 15:00 | #42

    can’t wait for 5, sounds good

  43. arunraj essar
    July 24th, 2009 at 15:41 | #43

    my computer was infected with win32 . i had to reinstall my os at that time. I wasnt using avast at that time actually. My doubt is that can avast 4.8 edition detect and remove reply to my email.

  44. vlk
    July 24th, 2009 at 15:48 | #44

    arunraj essar :
    my computer was infected with win32 . i had to reinstall my os at that time. I wasnt using avast at that time actually. My doubt is that can avast 4.8 edition detect and remove reply to my email.

    Sorry to hear that. This is not a good place to solve such issues though. I’d suggest heading either to our forum or getting in touch with our technical support team.

  45. vlk
    July 24th, 2009 at 15:49 | #45

    PB :
    Thanks for the tips!
    Would the boot time scan be available on Avast! 5 Home edition?
    Eagerly looking forward to the new Avast!

    All the features mentioned in the article are also available in the free version of avast.

  46. July 24th, 2009 at 19:04 | #46

    Well this all features r really unique in avast…..

  47. July 25th, 2009 at 04:45 | #47

    its great 0r exelent. in technology

  48. Steve
    July 25th, 2009 at 12:56 | #48

    Avast! ….. simply the best! Can’t wait for version 5!!

  49. Shelly
    July 25th, 2009 at 20:12 | #49

    I tried avast as a temporary replacement for a short period of time but loved it so much until I ended up keeping it. It has stopped two trojan viruses from downloading on my computer. I will never replace it.

  50. sujeily
    July 26th, 2009 at 04:55 | #50

    Como borrar del baul

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