Avast is among the best free antivirus software on the market, while Webroot uses different methods to protect your devices, compared to its competitors. To decide which is best, we’re pitting Webroot and Avast against each other in a head-to-head comparison.
Although the services cover different markets — with Avast appealing to the masses and Webroot targeting a niche audience — they’re more similar than they are different. That said, some areas, such as protection, are more important than others, pushing one of the services ahead.
This Webroot vs. Avast comparison can’t cover everything, though, so take a look at our separate Webroot SecureAnywhere review and Avast Pro review for a more detailed look at both pieces of software.
Setting Up a Fight: Webroot vs. Avast
Editor’s Note 1/28/2020: A report has surfaced showing that Avast and its subsidiaries collect user browsing data from more than 100 million devices. We cannot, in good faith, recommend Avast or AVG products until we look further into the issue.
We’ll be putting Webroot and Avast through a five-round battle for superiority to help you decide which antivirus is best. Our antivirus archive has a list of previous comparisons for you to look through first, if you’re curious about the format.
We’ll be covering features, pricing, overall user-friendliness, protection quality and the customer service options offered. We’ll choose a winner for each round, giving either Webroot or Avast a point in the process.
As the math dictates, the winner is the first to reach three or more points. We’ll recap after each round, with a final recap explaining our decision making. We’d love to hear your thoughts on these antivirus providers, so please leave us a comment at the bottom of this review.
When you’re considering an antivirus, ignore the buzzwords and focus on the features. Before you buy a subscription for antivirus protection, look carefully at what features are included with those packages. In this first round, we’ll look at the features Webroot and Avast offer to customers.
As we mentioned in our initial Webroot review and subsequent Bitdefender vs. Webroot comparison, Webroot is an antivirus software that stands apart from many of its competitors. Much of the power behind Webroot is cloud-based, rather than being limited to the resources available on your device.
With this focus on cloud detection and analysis, you’ll find that Webroot’s footprint on your PC is much smaller than you’d see in a typical antivirus. This makes it an ideal option for lower-powered PCs.
Webroot is largely focused on antivirus protection for Windows and Mac, but it does include a few extras. It helps you to secure your webcam by blocking unnecessary access and stopping any attempt to log keystrokes when you’re typing sensitive data.
It’ll automatically clear your PC of privacy tracking data, as well as optimize it by removing temporary files. Customers of Webroot’s top-tier Internet Security Complete plan also gain 25GB of cloud storage to protect their most important files.
Although not a leader in the mobile market, Webroot does offer antivirus protection for Android phones, as well as a “secure” web browser for iOS devices. Rather than develop its own password protection, Webroot includes LastPass, a third-party password manager, with Webroot Internet Security Complete subscriptions.
As we covered in our earlier LastPass review, it’s a good, user-friendly password manager. It isn’t the best, but it’s certainly better than the basic password managers you’ll see from even highly recommended antiviruses, such as Bitdefender (see our Bitdefender Antivirus review).
The biggest Webroot feature, however, is (in Webroot’s own words) the “lightning-fast” speed of its antivirus scanning, compared to other antiviruses. Webroot’s footprint is tiny compared to other providers, whether that’s space on your drive or its general resource usage.
Webroot also offers a VPN service, which you can read about in our Webroot VPN review.
Unlike Webroot, Avast is a more traditional antivirus, avoiding cloud-based scanning for typical device-based scanning. Avast is antivirus protection that we’ve long recommended as one of the best for free customers on PC, but it’s also a top recommendation on our best antivirus for Android review.
With ransomware and phishing protection, Avast tries to be the all-round protection for your entire network. It comes with a network scanning tool to analyze the network you’re on, along with a software updater to keep your device up to date.
Avast also offers a sandbox testing tool. This lets you test unknown software or files for malware, isolating it from the rest of your device while it runs. Any detected malware is then safely removed afterward.
Additional premium features include a webcam block to stop camera spies, file encryption to prevent sophisticated ransomware attacks and a file shredder to remove any traces of files you’ve previously deleted.
Although Avast doesn’t include these features directly, the Avast Ultimate plan includes a subscription to Avast SecureLine VPN and Avast Passwords. SecureLine VPN isn’t the best virtual private network you can buy, as our earlier Avast SecureLine VPN review explains, but it’s a nice addition.
It’s the same case with Avast Passwords. It won’t make our best password managers shortlist, so although you’d be better served by Dashlane, it’s suitable for basic use.
Round One Thoughts
Webroot’s different approach to protection is interesting, but it’s otherwise light on features, even when you consider the benefits of a cloud-based provider.
Avast, in contrast, is a traditional all-rounder that keeps up with other big names in the market to protect against typical dangers, making it the clear winner.
The best protection comes to those who pay, so it’s important to take a closer look at the cost of Webroot and Avast. Pricing is our focus in this round, so let’s begin.
Webroot has some of the longest-named product plans we’ve ever seen at Cloudwards.net, with products like “Webroot SecureAnywhere Internet Security Complete” available. If this isn’t confusing, all Webroot products are labeled with the “SecureAnywhere” brand.
- One device, ransomware and phishing protection, firewall
- Three devices, mobile apps, firewall, password manager
- Five devices, file shredder, cloud storage, disk cleaner
At $39.99 per year, Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus is a cheap option for customers. It’s even cheaper for new customers, with a $10 discount on top. Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus is available for PC and Mac users, with plans covering one or three devices.
The AntiVirus plan comes with the typical Webroot cloud protection, along with the additional network scanning tools and network protection.
After this, the next plan is Webroot SecureAnywhere Internet Security Plus. On top of the features offered in the cheaper AntiVirus plan, this product comes with Android and iOS support and LastPass password management. It also covers a few extra devices, protecting three to five, up to three years.
The best plan, from a features point of view, is Webroot SecureAnywhere Internet Security Complete. This includes all Webroot features, plus the additional cloud storage, covering three devices. At $59.99 per year for new customers and $79.99 per year for existing customers, it protects up to five devices.
If five devices aren’t enough, then the Webroot SecureAnywhere Internet Security Complete Family Pack protects 10 devices for $159.99 per year.
This is pretty pricey, especially compared to a competitor like Avira (see our Avira review), which offers unlimited device protection for a lower price. There are no discounts available for new subscribers to this plan.
The fifth product, Webroot AntiVirus for Gamers, is a bit of an oddity. It has the same features as Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus, but Webroot claims it has improved performance during gameplay by reducing lag and staying silent.
These additional “features” come at a cost. AntiVirus for Gamers only supports one device, but it’s the same price as AntiVirus coverage for three devices. Most customers will likely want to give this particular plan a miss.
Compared to Webroot, Avast’s three product plans are a little easier to understand and have shorter, clearer names. One of these plans is Avast Free, which has a strong set of features for a free plan.
- One to 10 PCs, WiFi security
- One to 10 PCs, Phishing protection, Sandbox
- One to 10 PCs, Webcam protection
- One to 10 PCs, Avast Cleanup
Avast Free offers antivirus protection, a network vulnerability scanner, a password management tool and a software updater, all features you’d see in antivirus plans that actually cost you money.
Avast Premium Security is the first plan to cost you money, although it’s actually two plans, with Premium Security Single-Device being the cheaper of the two. It offers antivirus protection for a single PC running Windows at $69.99 per year.
This is more expensive than the best Webroot plan but comes with far more features, including Avast Sandbox, phishing and spam protection, and ransomware protection for your files.
For families, the Avast Premium Security Multi-Device plan, costing $89.99 per year, would be more suitable. It comes with iOS, Android and Mac support and protects up to 10 devices.
At the top of the Avast product list is Avast Ultimate. Strangely, it covers fewer devices than the previous plan, with protection for only one PC running Windows. Multi-device coverage is only offered with Premium Security Multi-Device.
If you only need to protect a single PC, then Avast Ultimate includes the same features as Premium Security while adding subscriptions to Avast SecureLine VPN and Avast Passwords for $99 per year.
Round Two Thoughts
Webroot is deliciously cheap, starting at $29.99 per year with new customer discounts, but it offers fewer features. Avast’s free plan is generous on features, but its other plans are costly and don’t have discounts for new customers. Even with additional features, Webroot does better on cost, making it the winner here.
3. User Friendliness
As we hit the half-way point, let’s take a look at how user-friendly Webroot and Avast are to use for customers. We’ll start by looking at installation before covering general usage.
Webroot is blisteringly quick to install, with a small installation file of around 5MB. The installer size demonstrates the Webroot approach. It doesn’t need to install a lot of files because most of it works from the cloud.
That’s also shown from the quick installation, which only takes a minute or two to complete. This includes the time Webroot takes to make an initial check of your PC for malware. As we’ve mentioned, this has almost zero impact on your PC’s resources.
The Webroot client is simple, with statistics and information on your recent scans prominent, and a “scan my computer” button that allows you to quickly begin a PC scan. The right-hand menu lists your features and settings, letting you easily enable or disable certain features.
The side menu lets you access your account settings as well as the Webroot forum and knowledgebase for extra help. Separated into sections, each feature area has a “learn more” button that leads you to helpful guides that explore that feature further.
An “advanced settings” button in the top-right takes you to Webroot’s settings area. From here, you can completely customize the Webroot experience. You can schedule regular antivirus scans, change the sensitivity of your Webroot antivirus and customize the notifications you receive from the client while it’s open in the background.
Overall, Webroot’s interface is one of the easiest to use. You’re not overloaded with features or icons, but the right-hand menu still allows you to quickly customize your protection, with links to support guides most prominent.
The installation process for Avast isn’t as fast as Webroot, but it isn’t far off. Beyond confirming terms and conditions, and clicking “install” to begin, most of the installation process is completed for you.
Avast will run an initial scan of your PC for malware and outdated software. It’ll remove or quarantine any suspicious files while it automatically updates your installed programs.
The color scheme that Avast uses in its client makes it easy for users to focus on the most important areas. Buttons like “show results” after a scan completes are self-explanatory, while extra prompts and notifications are designed to draw your attention to them, as needed.
There are four categories in the left-hand side menu, each dedicated to various Avast features. “Protection” displays features such as your antivirus protection and the Sandbox mode. Helpful descriptions are included under each feature to describe what they do.
Modifying your Avast protection is easy. Just click “menu” in the top right, then click “settings” to enter the settings menu. Like Webroot, this section lets you customize everything from Avast’s notifications to the antivirus sensitivity.
One minor issue with the Avast client, especially for customers on a cheap (or free) Avast plan, is the inclusion of features that you don’t actually have the ability to use. When you click on a feature you don’t have, Avast will take you to a checkout page to upgrade instead.
This advertising approach could confuse new customers, so if you plan on using a cheaper Avast package, research the features that are included on your chosen plan before you buy.
Round Three Thoughts
Avast is simple, with an appealing color scheme and a client that isn’t packed with unnecessary features or icons. However, the Webroot client is simpler, with easy access to enable or disable features you don’t need. It’s also quicker to install, so it wins this round.
Antivirus protection changes as new threats are discovered. It’s the ability to detect these new threats that can make or break an antivirus software.
That’s why we’re using three independent security testing labs to decide whether or not the protection Webroot and Avast offer to customers is worth the price.
Webroot’s protection is a little unusual. If it detects a new threat, it will put the malware through tests in a “sandbox” environment. The behavior of the malware sample is analyzed, and if it’s considered a threat, that information is used to respond to the threat in the future.
This stands at odds to the approach that most testing labs expect from antivirus protection, which skews the scores Webroot receives. In some cases, these labs don’t bother to test Webroot on a regular basis, or at all.
If you’ve read one of our previous comparison reviews, you’ll know that we normally use three labs to test antivirus software: AV-Test, AV-Comparatives and MRG Effitas. AV-Comparatives hasn’t tested Webroot since 2012, so we won’t be using that information as part of this review.
AV-Test does test Webroot regularly but makes no adjustment to its approach, which reflects in a score of 2 out of 6 for protection in AV-Test’s May to June 2019 test.
A 2 out of 6 protection score would normally be enough for us to be extremely alarmed. Webroot has criticized this approach from AV-Test in the past and, with Webroot’s unusual testing methods, it seems like the AV-Test approach isn’t as valid for Webroot, compared to typical antiviruses. It did, however, score better for performance, with a 5.5 out of 6.
MRG Effitas tested Webroot in Q3 2018 and, while the score it recorded for Webroot was poor on paper, a deeper look shows a different story. MRG Effitas uses a sample size of 329 during the test. Out of these, 26.75 percent were initially missed, which is so far, so bad.
However, after a 24-hour period, all of the samples that were initially missed were then detected and blocked. This seems to demonstrate that the “sandbox” approach to malware testing that Webroot uses works well. Only one sample was entirely missed during the MRG Effitas test.
Thankfully, Avast is a much simpler product to test, using a typical antivirus engine that our labs can analyze better.
AV-Test recorded a perfect score of 6 out of 6 during July-August 2019 protection tests, with a slightly reduced 5.5 out of 6 for performance.
Scores from AV-Comparatives were poorer during its February to May 2019 tests, with 746 of 752 samples blocked and an overall success rate of 99.2 percent. With six samples missed, Avast earned AV-Comparatives’ mid-tier “Advanced” category award for protection, matching Trend Micro (see our Trend Micro Antivirus review).
The score that Avast recorded in AV-Comparatives’ April 2019 performance test put it mid-table but earned it a higher “Advanced+” award.
Our final testing lab, MRG Effitas, doesn’t test the consumer products that Avast has to offer. However, in the latest Q2 2019 protection test, MRG Effitas did test Avast Business Antivirus. This test didn’t go well for Avast, with 3.92 percent of samples missed, placing it right at the bottom alongside McAfee (see our McAfee Total Protection review).
Although Avast’s business products differ from the products we’ve discussed in this comparison, it’s likely a shared antivirus engine and sample database are used across the two, making this score relevant.
Round Four Thoughts
While two labs failed to adequately test Webroot, MRG Effitas did. Its approach to antivirus protection is unusual but, as the scores from MRG Effitas show, Webroot does block almost all of the threat samples it detects, either automatically or within 24 hours.
Avast’s score is easier to test, but the scores are a mix of good and bad. Compared to Webroot, it’s impossible to decide which is “best” for protection, making this round a draw.
For our final round, let’s look at the quality and coverage of support that Webroot and Avast offer to customers.
Webroot provides a good mix of customer support methods for customers. If you have a problem you can’t solve, you can use direct support methods, including phone support, with lines available in Europe, the United States and Australia.
Live chat is offered, but this is only for sales questions. You can’t use this for technical support. If you have a technical support issue, you can raise a support ticket instead.
There’s a knowledgebase on the website with support guides covering common issues, along with an FAQ area that answers typical questions. You can also make use of a community forum that lets you ask other Webroot customers and staff for help, as well as search through old posts.
The forum is split into different sections based on products or featured topics. Webroot offers a good level of help through social media support, too, with Twitter and Facebook support accounts.
Premium customers, as well as customers on a 30-day trial, can take advantage of direct support from Avast. If you’re a free Avast user, most direct support methods aren’t available to you.
There’s a knowledgebase, however, for all types of customers. Each product has its own set of guides that cover typical issues, with clear instructions and images.
Like Webroot and other big antivirus providers, Avast comes with a support forum with more than a million previous posts. You can search through this massive resource to find answers to issues in old posts or make a new post yourself.
Direct technical support from Avast will cost you extra, though. If you need help with a technical issue, Avast will want you to subscribe to its Total Care plan for $199 per year, which includes allowing an Avast technician to remote control your PC.
This support is incredibly expensive, especially considering the cost of Avast subscriptions, so it isn’t something we’ll recommend here.
Round Five Thoughts
Webroot offers direct technical and sales support, including phone support, live chat, support tickets and social media. In contrast, Avast phone lines are largely dedicated to sales support, with technical support costing nearly $200 a year extra.
Although the knowledgebase and forums that both providers offer are adequate, the better direct support from Webroot makes it the winner of this final round.
6. Final Thoughts
Webroot uses unusual testing methods for its protection. This has the benefit of speed over its rivals, including Avast. Scans are extremely quick and have next to zero impact on the performance of your PC.
The MRG Effitas test scores show that this approach might be slower, but it does work. Tried and tested methods from Avast were a little better, and that software offer more features. Webroot is cheaper and easier to use, though. There’s plenty to like about Avast, but Webroot is the ultimate winner of this comparison.
Avast is still one of our recommendations if you’re looking for free antivirus protection. If you’re unsure whether Webroot is the right protection for you, head to our previous antivirus articles to look at our other reviews and comparisons.
We’d still recommend Bitdefender as our top choice, though. With that in mind, would you choose Webroot over Avast, or would you switch to Bitdefender instead? Let us know what you think in the comments below. Thanks for reading.