Avast Free Antivirus has been around for many years and is significantly better at protecting your system than Windows Defender. I’ve used it on my own machines and clients computers without any real issues.
An attraction of using Avast for many people is the fact that you don’t need to set up an account. You can simply download and install and your away. There is however a caveat to using Avast free antivirus.
You need to be careful when installing it because it does come loaded with paid-for extras.
In this guide we’ll install and setup Avast Free Anti Virus.
Installing Avast Free Anti Virus isn’t as straightforward as it could be, but we’ll walk through each stage.
The very first thing to do is to double-check that you’ve removed and uninstalled any other antivirus programs from your computer. The golden rule of only having one AV applies here.
You probably already know this, but make sure you don’t have any other anti-virus programs on your computer before you attempt to install Avast.
I can’t stress this enough.
Here’s a selection of popular AV’s you should remove before proceeding, but there are many more.
The only exception is Windows Defender. You can safely leave Defender alone. Avast will sort that out.
Now we’re ready to get Avast.
You can Google Avast Free Anti Virus or click the link below.
When you land on the Avast page, click the Free Download button.
You can’t miss it.
Start the Avast installation process by clicking the launcher from within your browser or from wherever you downloaded it to.
Because you’re installing a new program, Windows User Account Control will normally kick in.
Click the Yes button to proceed.
The Avast installer will start up and download the files it needs.
This may take a few minutes depending on your Internet speed.
Avast Free Antivirus Setup.
Eventually, the Avast Setup page will appear. And this is where we need to pay special attention.
You can see that big green Install button and you’ll want to just click it. You really will, but don’t.
Resist the temptation.
First, take a look at this in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen.
It’s the option to install the Avast Secure Browser.
Take the tick out of the box by clicking on it.
Next click the word CUSTOMISE, which is just below the big Install button.
On the Custom Installation page, we can choose which components to install.
I only install the first 5 options. Namely
- File Shield
- Behaviour Shield
- Web Shield
- Mail Shield
- Ransomware Shield.
Once you’ve done that, click the INSTALL button.
The other options are generally part of the paid-for version. They can all be installed later from within the program itself if you decide that you want any or all of them.
Avast will start the install process.
When the installation is finished, Avast will open it’s setup pages.
Click the CONTINUE button.
Now you’ll see a succession of screens where Avast is scanning your computer for potential threats.
Click Next or Continue through each screen until you get to the Advanced Issues page.
Advanced Issues – Installing Avast Free.
When you get to the Advanced Issues window, stop clicking the green buttons.
You’ll have to be sharp-eyed but keep alert. It will appear.
If you click the green button RESOLVE ALL, what you’ll be doing is installing a trial of the paid-for version of Avast.
In the bottom right-hand corner, click SKIP FOR NOW.
I know that for some people, this screen is going to look a little scary, maybe you should reconsider?
That’s exactly what it’s designed to do.
Click the SKIP button.
When Avast Free Antivirus has finished all it’s scanning you’ll click the done button.
Notice that Avast will schedule a Smart Scan to run once a month.
You might get a promotion for the Avast mobile app.
If you don’t want it, click the IGNORE button.
Or you might get this screen.
Again, click the IGNORE button.
Done it. Avast Free Antivirus is installed on your computer.
Click the RUN SMART SCAN button to have Avast scan your machine.
It’ll run the same scans as it did earlier when we were setting it up.
Just keep clicking the NEXT button until you reach the Advanced Issues page.
On the Advanced Issues page, click SKIP FOR NOW again.
After Avast Free Antivirus Has Been Installed.
The first thing to do after installing any anti-virus software is to make sure it’s up to date.
I know you’ve just downloaded it, and you’d think that would be the most recent version, and it probably is, but it’s always worth checking.
To manually update Avast, click the MENU button in the top right of the screen.
It’s not easy to see, but it is there.
When the Menu opens, click SETTINGS.
On the Settings page, click UPDATE in the left-hand panel.
Once on the Update page, click the CHECK FOR UPDATES buttons.
Click the bottom option first. That’ll check to see if the program itself is up to date.
When that’s finished, click the top one to check for the most recent virus definitions.
Once the updates have completed, click the PERSONAL PRIVACY button in the left-hand panel.
On this page, you can opt-out of sharing data with Avast by taking the tick out of the boxes.
When you’re all done, left-click the close button (X) in the top left-hand corner of the screen.
That’s pretty much it, you’ve successfully downloaded and installed one of the best free antivirus products on the ‘net.
If you’d like to have a look around, click any of the three options on the left-hand panel.
You’ll see a flyout screen appear.
You can click on any of them to see what they do.
But a word of warning. Look carefully and you’ll see that some of them have a tiny padlock on them.
These modules are only available in the paid-for version of Avast.
Avast Ransomware Shield.
Avast Free Antivirus comes with an interesting module called Ransomware Shield.
This is a direct quote from the Avast website – “Ransomware Shield secures your personal photos, documents, and other files from being modified, deleted, or encrypted by ransomware attacks”.
The Ransomware Shield will automatically add your personal folders to its list of protected folders.
But it’s worth checking to see what exactly has been included, and you can add extra folders that you want to protect.
Open Avast and then click the PROTECTION tab in the left-hand panel.
On the Protection screen that flies out, click the Ransomware Shield button in the lower right corner.
You’ll see a list of folders that have already been added to the Ransomware Shield.
In my example, my Documents, Pictures, and Desktop folders are protected.
You can easily add extra folders to the list.
Click the PROTECT NEW FOLDER button, and then simply navigate to the folder you’d like protected.
When you find it, left-click it once to select it and then click the OK button.
In my example, I’ve added my Music folder to the list of folders protected by the Ransomware Shield.
I really can’t say how effective this is at protecting your folders from ransomware, but since it’s free, and I’ve never heard of any problems with it, you may as well make use of it.
For more information about Ransomware Shield, you can visit the Avast website here Ransomware Shield FAQ
The Issue With Free Software.
One of the problems for any company that gives it’s products away for free is how do they make any money?
After all, we know that every company has to make a profit. We might argue about how much profit, but we know that without any profit at all, they’ll go out of business.
And so it is with Avast. They have to make money somehow.
Every now & then, Avast will show you an advert in the lower right-hand corner of your screen.
As a very general rule of thumb, I’d just ignore it. The ad doesn’t usually stay there long.
Since I don’t know exactly what message Avast will show you, I can’t give you a definite course of action here.
When I’m saying ignore it, that’s a general rule. Not a set in stone course of action. There may be exceptions.