Avast vs Kaspersky

Avast and Kaspersky are both popular brands of antivirus. They each serve millions of customers across the world. The question is, which antivirus program is better?

Both providers offer antivirus software that protects you from online threats on internet-enabled devices. However, both Avast and Kaspersky have some controversy surrounding them. Avast has recently come under fire for collecting and selling user data and some privacy enthusiasts are wary of the links between Kaspersky and the Russian government.

In this comparison, I will put each program up against one another to see which one comes out on top. I will look at performance, features, interface, and, most importantly, the protection they can offer against malware and other online threats.

I will use both my own in house malware detection tests as well as some independent research from the top antivirus labs running independent tests.

I will compare similar product lines from both Avast and Kaspersky—Kaspersky Total Security and Avast Premium Security—to see which one offers the best value for money and security.

If you don’t have enough time to read the full comparison, here is the quick version. Kaspersky is my top choice due to excellent malware protection, good value for money, and useful additional features such as banking protection and file backup.

Here’s what I found out on Avast vs Kaspersky:

Summary: Avast vs Kaspersky

Avast

  • Ransomware Protection
  • Sandbox Tool
  • Password Manager

Kaspersky

  • Ransomware protection
  • Banking protection
  • File backup (PC)
FeatureKaspersky Total SecurityAvast Premium Security
Antivirus and Antispyware
Firewall
Webcam Protection
Password Manager
Anti-Phishing
Ransomware protection
Banking and Payment Protection
Parental Control
Network Attack Protection
Encrypted storage
Automatically update apps
VPN
PC Cloud backup✔ (On PC)
File Shredder
Performance optimization
Identity theft protection
Run suspicious apps in sandbox
File Backup✔ (On PC)

Background

Avast has 425 million active users, making it one of the most popular and well-known antivirus programs on the market today. Avast is from the Czech Republic and has over 1700 employees. However, Avast has come under fire recently after a news story highlighted that Avast collected and sold user data.

Kaspersky operates in 200 countries and has 400 million users. It helps 250,000 corporate clients with their cybersecurity. It was founded in Russia in 1997. The company’s portfolio includes leading endpoint protection and services to fight sophisticated digital threats. However, Kaspersky also comes with some controversy, as some cybersecurity experts are wary of the alleged links with the Russian government.

Pricing & Compatibility

As the table below shows, both Avast and Kaspersky are similar in their price points. Both programs offer free antivirus protection in Avast’s Free Antivirus and Kaspersky’s Security Cloud. Although both are basic, they entice customers to sign up and try before buying into a more advanced program. Both pricing structures are simple and their top tier plans offer protection for multiple devices. Avast Premium Security protects up to ten devices and Kaspersky Total Security protects up to five, and you can increase the number of devices for an additional fee.

At the time of writing Kaspersky offers generous discounts on its website. Kaspersky Total Security offers $50 off the standard price, making the total $49.99. Avast doesn’t offer any discount on the first year, but if you want a two or three year subscription, there are cheaper prices available.

Both programs offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you will need to purchase the products and request a refund if you are not satisfied.

Both Avast Premium Security and Kaspersky Total Security work with all the major operating systems including Windows, Mac and Android devices.

In terms of price, both Avast and Kaspersky are fairly matched, but Kaspersky’s discount makes it cheaper for the first year.

Effectiveness against malware

I ran some tests to see how each of the programs performed when protecting my PC against malware.

The first test I performed checked for malware threats in real-time, rather than waiting until a scheduled scan. For the second test, I downloaded sample malware files from The European Institute for Computer Antivirus Research (EICAR). I turned off real-time detection on my computer and ran a full system scan and a quick scan to see how well the malware was detected and quarantined for each. The results in the table below compare the test results from both Avast and Kaspersky.

Test FileEICAR Sample 1EICAR Sample 2EICAR Sample 3EICAR Sample 4Live Sample 1 (Adware)Live Sample 2 (Trojan)Live Sample 3
(Trojan)
AvastAllowedAllowedAllowedAllowedBlockedBlockedBlocked
KasperskyBlockedBlockedBlockedBlockedBlockedDetectedDetected

Kaspersky successfully identified all EICAR samples, and all were blocked. For the live samples, Kaspersky immediately deleted them after being unlocked and zipped. On the other hand, Avast allowed the EICAR samples when downloaded over HTTPS, but blocked them on HTTP. For the live samples, Avast blocked all three.

To further the comparison, I took a look at the latest available data from the malware protection test (Real-Time Testing) from AV-Test independent test online and AV Comparatives website. Both websites are the best known independent AV testing labs.

Avast malware detection

In AV-Test’s March 2020 results, Kaspersky received a 100% score for the protection of malware attacks, and in April scored 99%. Avast in March 2020 scored 98.2% and in April, a little higher, at 99%.

I also looked at AV-Comparatives latest Malware Protection Test. In March 2020 Kaspersky was given a 99.97% score and Avast a 99.98% score.

AV Comparatives also runs a false alarm test, which checks how accurately a file or app is identified as safe or as a threat. The test results from March 2020 show that Kaspersky picked up ten false alarms, whereas Avast picked up 15 false alarms. False alarms can be incredibly annoying, so the lower the score the better.

In these independent tests, Kaspersky is slightly better with a higher protection score and fewer false alarms.

Impact on PC Performance

Users should be aware of the impact an antivirus program has on the performance of their PC, especially if you are working and using it frequently. I captured some data whilst running a full scan and a quick scan, but to further my findings I again looked at some recent independent tests.

The table below shows the data I captured and in my findings, including how long it took to complete a scan and the number of items that were scanned. The time it takes to complete is affected by the speed of the PC, the number of files that need to be scanned and, of course, the antivirus program that you are using.

Test TypeFull Scan Time (minutes)Full Scan Items ScannedQuick Scan CPU Utilization %Quick Scan Memory Utilization %Quick Scan Disk Utilization %Quick Scan Time (seconds)
Avast6018700009072300146
Kaspersky22721000007173531273

Kaspersky took 227 minutes to complete a full scan, which is much longer than Avast’s 60 minutes. However, Kaspersky scanned many more items compared to Avast. Avast completed its quick scan in 146 seconds, considerably faster than Kaskpersky’s 273 seconds.

full virus scan

I also recorded some data to see how my PC’s resources were affected by both antivirus programs while the scan happened in the background.

Test TypeControl CPU Utilization % (no scan)Control Memory Utilization % (no scan)Control Disk Utilization (MB/s) (no scan)Full Scan CPU Utilization %Full Scan Memory Utilization %Full Scan Disk Utilization (MB/s)
Avast32722842735801
Kaspersky46701210076316

Kaspersky had slightly more impact on CPU utilization when there was no scan taking place at 46%, compared to Avast’s 32%. The other tests measuring Control Memory Utilization and Control Disk Utilization showed that Avast used fewer resources than Kaspersky both when idle and when running a scan, but it did not greatly affect the usage of my PC. The full scan disk utilization showed a big difference between Avast and Kaspersky: Avast recorded 5801 MB/s, compared to Kaspersky’s 316 MB/s.

I then looked at results from other independent tests to see if they had similar results. AV Comparatives shows how each antivirus impacts on the PC performance during eight common tasks:

  • Downloading files
  • Browsing Websites
  • File Copying: First and subsequent run
  • Installing/uninstalling applications
  • Archiving / unarchiving
  • Launching applications: First and subsequent run

Each task is given a rating ranging between very fast and slow.

In the April 2020 results, Kaspersky came out on top with a very fast score for all common tasks. Avast received a mediocre score for launching applications and downloading files.

In my own tests, both are very similar and had little impact on PC performance. Despite this, the independent tests show that Avast makes things a little slower when doing common tasks, which could irritate regular PC users.

Features

The added features bundled with each antivirus program are also important when choosing the right software. You want to get more for your money and many providers add in a lot of extra features to make them stand out. I’ve highlighted below what is included in each package to see which offers the best value for money.

Avast Premium Security

  • Secure passwords
  • Block malware
  • Block spam and phishing emails
  • Safer shopping
  • Webcam protection
  • Lock out hackers with an advanced firewall
  • Scan for Wi-Fi security weaknesses
  • Get an extra layer of ransomware security
  • Safely run suspicious apps
  • Permanently shred sensitive files
  • Automatically update apps
  • Install on all your devices

Kaspersky Total Security

  • Defends against viruses, ransomware & more
  • Protects without slowing you down
  • Easy to set up and use
  • PC Mac and Mobile
  • Blocks phishing
  • Encrypted browser
  • Safe Kids
  • Password Manager
  • File Protection

Below are just some of the interesting features that could be most useful to you.

Avast Premium Security 

Automatically update apps – This tool automatically updates and searches for the latest releases online for all your apps. This is important as out of date software and apps can lead to hackers getting into your machine. .
Safer shopping – If you frequently bank or shop online, this great tool stops hackers from hijacking your router’s DNS to send you to fake sites. It also lessens the chance of hackers stealing your passwords.
Sandbox  – Opening a file that may seem suspicious is dangerous, but if you insist on downloading it, the sandboxing tool lets you open files in a safe environment before you let them run on your PC.

Kaspersky

Safe Kids Parental Controls – If your children frequently use the PC, it’s important to have parental controls. Kaspersky includes a ‘bad content’ blocker, GPS tracker, and more on PC, Mac & mobile
Safe banking – If you bank online, Kaspersky will launch an encrypted browser to protect online transactions on PC and Mac
Webcam Protection – Stops webcam hijacks and prevents hackers from capturing images via your device.

Sign Up and Installation

The sign-up and installation for both programs is very simple.

Avast Premium’s checkout was easy and after entering a few personal details and payment, I received a download link. Avast does not offer an automatic discount for your first year. It’s also very clear when stating that you will be billed annually until you cancel, so you don’t get caught out.

Similar to Avast, Kaspersky makes it very easy to sign up. On clicking Buy Now, you are greeted with a pop-up window to upgrade to more devices. The next page is laid out simply, with an option to add on Kaspersky Expert Installation. The page also highlights the amount of discount you will receive. The auto-renewal is automatically set to on, so if you do not wish to renew the following year, I suggest turning this off.

How easy is the interface to use?

If it’s your first time using antivirus software, you need it to be easy to use and navigate.

Kaspersky’s home screen/dashboard will show you a green check to let you know that everything is running accordingly and that your device is protected. The dashboard displays common tools like the scan, database update, safe money, privacy protection, password manager, backup and restore and parental control. This makes it really easy to navigate to the right section. The design is fairly simple, with a light grey and green color scheme.

Kaspersky lab - Total security

Avast’s interface is simple and similar to Kaspersky’s. On opening, the green tick on your dashboard will be green, telling you your PC is protected. A clear bold box lets you easily run a smart scan. All the usual features such as protection, privacy, and performance are on the left if you want to see more in detail.

Avast premium security interface

Customer Support

Avast’s customer support features live chat and emails. A technician phone support option is available at an extra cost if you need it. Avast also lets users find solutions via self-service, providing a detailed FAQ on its support website if you did not wish to contact anybody.

Kaspersky technicians are available to call between the hours of 7 am and 1 am, seven days a week. You also get prompt customer support by email or online chat. Extensive videos, FAQs and other useful information are on the website.

Kaspersky has great customer support compared to Avast, as you can call a technician if your query is urgent at no extra cost.

Conclusion

Both Avast and Kaspersky are great antivirus software and have some impressive features.  However, Kaspersky offers a lot more value for money in terms of added features such as privacy and parental controls. The software also has limited impact on PC performance compared to Avast and if you’re working on your PC a lot, you need it to run efficiently. In terms of malware protection, Avast initially allowed all EICAR threats, compared to Kaspersky that blocked all of them. Overall, Kaspersky is the right choice in this antivirus software comparison for its affordability, added discounts, and superior malware detection rates.

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