What do you use for security on your Windows PC or Apple Mac? Avast One is an option and it keeps malware out, protects on the web and mail, stops ransomware and has a free VPN.
Not everyone needs antivirus software and other security products because these days, operating systems have a lot of built-in security. Both Windows and macOS have ways of preventing malware from getting into your computer and I have rarely used any security software for several years.
Windows Security is good and it keeps your computer and files safe. MacOS is very secure and it also helps that there is considerably less Mac malware than for the PC. Neither operating system is perfectly secure and it is still possible for some types of malware to infect the system.
Extra security may be beneficial for some people. You have to decide yourself whether you need it and how much you want to pay. Some security solutions are even free, although there may be limitations.
Avast has been around for decades and has been developing security software for many years. Avast One is the latest product and it aims to be a complete security solution for Windows PC and Apple Mac users. There are free and paid versions and I used the free app on both a PC and a Mac to see what is on offer.
Avast One free VPN
What initially caught my attention was the VPN that is included in the free version of Avast One. How does it compare to other free VPNs? It is limited in some ways, but quite generous in others.
The VPN completely lacks settings and there is nothing you can change. Limitations in free VPNs are common, so this is not unusual and you don’t get all the features you would get in a paid VPN.
Avast One has set my location to UK and Germany at times and the option to change it is locked. I presume it automatically connects you to the nearest or least used free server, so you might connect to different servers to me.
The aim is to secure your internet connection and prevent spying from your home ISP, work internet, public hotspots and so on. The free VPN is not designed to fool Netflix and other streaming services that you are in a different country. You need a paid VPN for that, like in Avast One premium version or a dedicated VPN like NordVPN (affiliate link).
The free Avast One VPN is limited and the premium version lets you choose from a list of 37 countries and some, like the USA, UK, Canada and others, contain multiple servers. Icons next to servers in the list show the ones best for video streaming and P2P (peer-to-peer file transfers).
The most interesting feature of Avast One free VPN is that you get 5 GB of data per week. I have seen free VPNs that give you just 0.5 per month, so this is a generous data amount. It. clearly shows how much data is left and how many days until it renews.
I could live with a 5 GB/week limit because I am a light user, but people that stream video over a VPN will hit the limit in a day or two. They need to pay.
Avast One free security
Avast One is more than just a VPN and it is a whole security suite with many different modules. There are some small differences between the PC and Mac versions of the app, but mostly the features are the same.
Scan Center: Malware and virus protection is always active, but the system can be scanned at any time using a Smart Scan, Deep Scan (everywhere), and Targeted Scan (a folder). A Boot-Time Scan is available on the PC only. A quick scan of obvious places malware hides takes only a minute or two if you have an SSD.
File Shield: This checks programs and files before they run them or open them.
Web Shield: This scans website traffic, web applications, and scripts, and protects against botnets.
Ransomware Protection: This protects important folders like your Documents folder. It aims to prevent ransomware from encrypting your files. Not that ransomware is likely with all the other security Avast One adds, but you can’t be too careful. The protected folder list can be edited and folders can be added or removed.
Firewall: This PC-only feature monitors network and internet traffic to protect against unauthorized access. You can see what has access the network or internet and allow or block them.
There is also a Network Inspector, which scans the network for threats. An Email Guardian (PC) or Email Shield (Mac) checks email for malware. And there are a few more tools, like PC Speedup, which freezes non-essential activity on the computer and lets you stop startup programs you do not need. It can limit the background activity of apps to boost performance on a PC. There are several more features in the premium version of Avast One.
The free version of Avast One contains a lot of useful security features that are designed to keep you safe when using the internet, downloading and running software, accessing networks, ransomware protection, a VPN and more. There are a lot of modules running in the background, which do require some memory, but they use very little CPU. I often saw them using only 0.1 % CPU, which is good.
The free VPN has a generous 5 GB a week data limit, but you cannot choose the location or connection protocol, whereas some free VPNs do offer these, although often in a limited way unless you pay. Free is OK if you don’t stream TV, but you need to pay if you do.
If you install the free version of Avast One, you will get offers to upgrade to the paid version. I saw some very cheap offers, like £2.17 a month for three years. It is hard to find a VPN at this price and it includes a lot of security modules as well. This is very tempting.
Alternatives to Avast One
Many security software providers have free apps in addition to paid ones, like Avira, Bitdefender, AVG and others have great freebies. There is no shortage of choice when it comes to computer security.