I tested Avast and ESET using 15 criteria, including malware detection, real-time protection, extra features, and value for money. After all my tests, I found that ESET provided superior features and much better performance when stacked against Avast. Avast has a few areas where it excelled it has been caught selling its users’ browsing data and so I hesitate to recommend it. Try ESET risk-free for 30 days

No Time? Here’s a 1-Minute Summary of Category Winners

ESET is a better antivirus than Avast. It offers perfect malware-detection scores, whereas Avast falls slightly behind. ESET offers more compelling extra features such as parental controls, a password manager, and banking protection. Test ESET risk-free for 30 days

How I Tested and Compared Avast vs ESET

Try ESET risk-free for 30 days

1. Virus Scanner — ESET Offers Perfect Malware Detection Scores

Avast and ESET are excellent at malware detection, but ESET has the best detection scores. I downloaded hundreds of malware samples onto a test machine and ran a series of virus scans on both antiviruses. ESET detected 100% of the samples, an impressive score only achieved by the top-tier antiviruses on the market. Avast, on the other hand, detected 99.8% of malware but flagged 14 files wrongly. Both antiviruses offer multiple scanning options. ESET offers 3 types of scanners:

Full scan — Conducts thorough checks of every area of your hard disk. Custom scan — This allows you to choose and scan specific folders or files. Removable media scan — Scans external devices and drives plugged into your system.

ESET’s full disk scan took longer than I expected, taking almost 4 hours for the initial scan to complete. This was because ESET checked the deepest areas of my system that are often ignored by many antiviruses. I noticed that ESET doesn’t have a quick scan option, but I was less worried when I discovered that ESET runs 2 automatic scans in the background, checking the same areas a quick scan would. Avast has more scanning options, offering 6 different types of scans:

Quick scan — Scans critical areas of your system. Full scan — Checks the whole system. Smart scan — Detects outdated programs, cookies, and performance issues. Custom scan — Automates the type of scan and frequency of scan. Targeted scan — Checks selected folders or files. Boot-time scan — Scans system during start-up.

Avast’s full scan took just 23 minutes to complete, making it much faster than ESET’s initial scan. However, ESET’s subsequent scans were much quicker thanks to it marking trusted files safe and skipping them in the successive scans. While Avast had more scanning options, ESET won this round because of its perfect detection scores. If you want the best of both worlds, Norton still offers the fastest and most thorough scans. Try ESET risk-free for 30 days

2. Real-Time Malware Protection — ESET Is Better at Phishing Protection

Both antiviruses offer robust protection against real-time threats, but ESET is more effective at catching phishing threats. Real-time protection stops malware from infecting your system in real-time, blocking it at the door. Avast detected 100% of real-time threats during my tests, but it could only detect 86% of phishing attacks. In comparison, ESET detected 100% of real-time threats, including phishing attacks. To test this, I opened several malware-laden sites and known phishing links. ESET blocked all the malicious sites, displaying a page-wide warning whenever I opened such links. Similarly, Avast also blocked malicious sites with its AI-powered scanner, checking every suspicious site I visited. ESET is also effective at detecting ransomware threats and applications with suspicious behavior. Its Host Intruder Prevention System (HIPS) feature successfully blocked ransomware attacks and malicious applications trying to alter my system. ESET also provided advanced system diagnostics tools. The SysInspect tool allows you to monitor all background running processes, displaying the reputation of each process or program. Try ESET risk-free for 30 days

3. System Performance — ESET Consumes Fewer System Resources

After thoroughly testing both antiviruses, I discovered that ESET was the more light-weight solution, having the least impact on my PC’s performance. In contrast, I experienced a few slowdowns with Avast, resulting in delays when I tried copying some files and opening new programs. I wanted to measure the impact of each AV on my PC. So, I recorded baseline values of my CPU, Disk, and Memory Utilization. After that, I compared it against the values I got after a full scan. After my tests, I saw an insignificant increase in values for ESET but a slightly significant increase with Avast. My CPU utilization moved from 4% to 29% with ESET. In comparison, Avast had my CPU utilization move up to 75% from 12%. Overall, I noticed that ESET had no significant impact on my PC’s performance, which wasn’t the case with Avast. However, the results on low and high-end devices could be slightly different. For purely performance reasons, I am a fan of  Bitdefender. Its cloud-based infrastructure allows it to perform fast scans that have little impact on any system and beats both ESET and Avast. Try ESET risk-free for 30 days

I checked both antiviruses and discovered that only Avast offers a VPN service. Avast’s VPN (Avast SecureLine VPN) offers a decent server network, military-grade security features, and streaming capabilities. During my tests, Avast VPN worked for popular streaming platforms like: To my surprise, Avast VPN offers fast speeds on all its servers, allowing me to stream, surf the web, and play my favorite online games. It achieved up to 100Mbps on local and global servers, which was more than enough speed for all my activities.

Unfortunately, Avast’s VPN service is only available on the highest Avast plan (Avast Ultimate) or as a standalone product. There are more affordable VPNs bundled in an antivirus suite. Moreover, I can’t recommend Avast’s VPN, considering the reports that the company had been involved in selling customers’ browsing data. As a privacy-minded internet user, I don’t want to hand over my personal information to a company that could sell it to third parties.

5. Parental Controls — Only ESET Has a Parental Control App

After testing both contenders, I noticed that only ESET offers a parental controls app. ESET’s parental control app, however, is basic and old-fashioned, having only a few features. ESET’s parental control feature functions more like a content filter, allowing me to block category-wide unwanted sites, including adult, violence, and drug-related content. During my tests, it blocked all the harmful sites on my child’s Android phone. Unfortunately, there’s no parental controls app for iOS devices. ESET’s parental controls app works on Mac and Windows devices. To enable it, select the “Parental Controls” button from the “Setup Tab” on the desktop client. Next, create a password and add a date of birth for your child’s profile. Overall, ESET’s parental controls app doesn’t do more than the basics. In comparison, Norton’s Parental Controls app features:

a more extensive category of unwanted sites, geofencing abilities, and a detailed report of the usage of browsers and time spent on each app

I also love how it allows me to limit screen time, block specific websites, and set rules to filter content in search engines on my child’s phone. Try ESET’s parental controls risk-free

6. Firewall — Both Antiviruses Offer Powerful Firewalls

Avast and ESET offer robust firewall features to protect against network attacks. It was also pretty easy to configure both firewalls on my PC. Both firewalls provide basic and advanced functions with easy configurations that outperform the integrated system firewall for Windows. Avast’s firewall is easy for beginners. It offers a smart firewall function that auto-configures itself depending on the network that you’re connecting to. If you’re on a private network, Avast trusts the activities of the applications on the network. However, application activities on public networks are treated as more vulnerable. I also like how Avast’s “stealth mode” helps me hide my device when connected to a public network. ESET also has a great firewall that blocks all unauthorized connections. The settings are easy to customize for basic and advanced users. Basic users can set different filtering modes, such as:

Automatic Mode — Allows all outbound traffic and blocks most inbound traffic. Interactive Mode — Offers predefined rules that require your approval or disapproval for each request (which spammed my notifications). Policy-based mode — Involves user-defined rules and blocks all unspecified connections. Learning mode — Automatically creates and saves rules.

In summary, ESET’s advanced settings allow you to set predefined network rules and firewall profiles to protect your device. I liked that ESET offers more advanced firewall options, which allowed me to set specific network rules to protect all my devices. However, when I activated the Interactive mode, it spammed my screen with notifications asking me to allow or block apps running on my PC. While this level of control may be welcome to some, I found it a bit overwhelming. Thankfully, the notification wave stops once you make those decisions. Try ESET risk-free for 30 days

7. Password Manager — ESET’s Password Manager Stores Unlimited Logins

Both antivirus contenders ESET and Avast have password managers. However, Avast has discontinued its password manager service for new subscribers. I sought to find out how effective ESET’s password manager is and compared it to other top password manager options. A password manager protects and stores your password and personal data. ESET’s password manager provides this but lacks other essential features like password sharing and multiple vaults. ESET’s password manager allowed me to easily auto-fill my logins across multiple websites. You can store unlimited logins in its vault, generate secure passwords, and use it on as many devices as your license support. Setting up ESET’s password manager isn’t very complicated. In conclusion, I found ESET’s password manager easy to use, but I’d have loved to see more advanced features like an automatic password changer, which is common with top password managers. The password manager is also only available on the ESET Smart Security Premium and higher plans. Norton’s password manager competes highly, offering an automatic password changer feature for 60+ popular websites on more its most basic plan. Try ESET’s password manager risk-free

8. Gaming Mode — ESET Offers a Better Performing Gamer Mode Feature

Avast and ESET both have gaming mode features, although with basic functionalities. As an active gamer, I find the gamer mode feature very useful as it ensures I have an uninterrupted gaming experience. Gamer mode prevents disturbing pop-up windows and minimizes CPU usage, which ESET very much provides. ESET’s Gamer mode focuses mainly on blocking pop-up windows and background tasks. It stops the task scheduler activity (from initiating a scan or downloading the latest virus signature update) that could interrupt your gaming session. Ideally, this should also minimize CPU usage and improve gaming performance. However, while playing Grand-Theft Auto (GTA) using ESET’s game mode, there was no significant performance improvement as I experienced some lag. Avast also blocks all unnecessary background running processes with its gaming feature “Gamer Mode” and allocates more resources to you while gaming. It is automatically activated once you launch a game. You can also manually add games or programs that aren’t classified as a game with the gamer mode feature. Given that both antiviruses offer basic gamer mode features, I had to examine their respective impact on my system’s performance during a gaming session to determine the clear winner. It turns out that ESET was the more lightweight antivirus, having a negligible impact on my system during gameplay. Test ESET’s game mode risk-free

9. Optimization Tools — Only Avast Provides System Optimization Tools

I compared both contenders and found that only Avast provides system optimization tools. Avast offers a device tune-up tool (Avast Cleanup Premium) that helps you remove junk files, cookies, registry files, shortcuts, and bloatware. Avast’s Cleanup tool is very effective. It removed 5GB of junk files, browser cache, and broken shortcuts and cleared my browsing history. Unfortunately, this tool is only available on Avast’s Ultimate plan or as a standalone app.

I find it surprising that it would put its device tune-up tools high up in its pricing plans when competitors have these tools as part of their basic plans. For example, TotalAV’s System Tune-Up features a more advanced set of system optimization tools, and you’ll find it across all its plans. Other providers like McAfee offer a file shredder that helps you permanently delete sensitive files.

10. Other Features — ESET Has More Compelling Extra Features

After comparing the additional features provided by both contenders, I believe that ESET offers the most useful extra features. Avast also has many extra features for various security needs that come in handy. There’s also an overlap of features, but ESET offered unique features that I found more compelling:

Bank and Payment protection: ESET provides a secure browser that allows you to carry out safe transactions on banking sites and crypto-wallets. Webcam Protection: ESET restricts unauthorized apps from spying on you through your webcam. Secure Data: You can create a secure and encrypted virtual drive on your computer to store sensitive information or files. Web Protection: ESET’s “Web access protection” is a browser extension that blocks malicious links and files embedded in the websites you visit. Email and Anti-spam protection: ESET email protection scans your messages on email clients like Outlook, filtering spam and blocking phishing links. Anti-theft: You can locate a missing device with ESET’s anti-theft feature if you mark it as stolen on your ESET dashboard.

Similarly, Avast offers a wide range of additional features that protects you online:

Ransomware protection: Avast protects you from ransomware attacks by offering up to 14 ransomware decryption tools. Webcam Protection: Avast protects your webcam from unauthorized access by hackers. Sandbox: Avast’s Sandbox feature allows you to test apps from unknown sources in a virtual container to avoid getting your system infected. Real Site: Avast’s “Real Site” provides you with an encrypted connection using its DNS servers, preventing hackers from intercepting your DNS connections. Secure browser: Secure Browser is similar to the Google Chrome browser but packed with Avast features such as an anti-tracker, ad-blocker, anti-phishing, banking mode protection, and an integrated video downloader for sites like YouTube.

Overall, I found that Avast and ESET both offer unique and overlapping additional features. Both AVs offer browser and webcam protection. However, ESET offered slightly more in regards to useful extra features. Test ESET’s features risk-free

11. Device Compatibility — Avast Covers More Devices on the Premium Plans

Avast and ESET work on the most popular devices. Avast offers apps for Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android devices. ESET also works with these devices with the addition of Linux. ESET’s core antivirus app isn’t available on iOS but you use the password manager on iOS. If you’re looking for a complete antivirus suite to protect your iPhone, you should check the best antivirus software for iOS devices. Avast and ESET both offer user-friendly apps. ESET’s features are neatly arranged, allowing for easy navigation. The only thing I found inconvenient is that you have to manually activate most of the features before they appear on the main screen. You should also know that most plans come with just 1 device by default, and you’ll have to pay more to cover multiple devices. In contrast, Avast offers a more straightforward installation and setup process. The installation took just about 5 minutes to get everything running. Avast covers up to 10 devices on all its premium plans, which makes it better than ESET, whose multi-device license covers 5 devices.

In conclusion, Avast and ESET offer intuitive desktop and mobile apps. However, when I thoroughly compared both antiviruses, I found that Avast covers more devices, has the most straightforward installation process, and has user-friendly apps.

12. Customer Service — ESET Provides More Useful Support Options

After testing the customer service of both antivirus contenders, I discovered that ESET offers a much more helpful customer support experience. ESET offers multiple support options as follows:

Live Chat

I tested the live chat and was pleased with the help I got from the agent. It took about 2 minutes to get connected with the agent. I asked a question about the process of setting up the password manager, and the agent immediately sent me a link with a detailed explanation.

Email Support

ESET’s email support is equally fast and helpful. I asked a question about the specific abilities of the parental control feature, and I got a detailed response the following day.

Knowledge Base

Support Forum

I found the support forum very useful. It has been active for a long time with a deep well of answers I could draw from. However, the only available language is English, which limits the audience. Overall, ESET offers more support options and provides helpful responses at no additional cost. You’ll have to subscribe to Avast’s premium support service to access the same quality of support you would get for free with ESET. Try ESET risk-free

13. Price — Both Contenders Offer Competitive Pricing Plans

ESET provides a much better value than Avast. I compared the features such as malware detection abilities, real-time protection, additional features, and the number of devices both contenders could cover on each price plan. With these criteria, I found ESET to be the best product. I wasn’t impressed, however, to learn that ESET’s basic plan supports only 1 device by default. Most top AVs support up to 5 devices. To add more devices with ESET, you have to pay more, which can quickly add up if you have to cover multiple devices. You can transfer your license to a macOS or Linux version and vice versa. ESET offers 3 main price plans with the following features: In comparison, Avast offers 2 plans — Premium Security and Avast Ultimate. Premium Security is the best value plan, even though it costs the same as ESET’s Internet Security Plan and doesn’t measure up to it. ESET’s mid-tier plan includes only the firewall and ransomware shield features. It, however, beats ESET with its ability to be installed on 10 devices. Although ESET won the round, Avast did very well with its competitive pricing plans and several valuable features. However, I don’t recommend subscribing to the service due to Avast’s unethical practices where it sold customers’ data. Try ESET risk-free for 30 days

14. Free Version — Both Antiviruses Have Free Versions with Limited Features

Both Avast and ESET offer free versions, even though their features are limited. Avast’s free version is quite basic but surprisingly offers decent performance. It includes malware scanning, ransomware protection, and a Wi-Fi protector. You also get a 30-day free trial for its Premium Security plan. ESET doesn’t have a free version on the desktop app. However, you can use the Android app and ESET’s password manager for Android and iOS for free. Unlike Avast, ESET offers a 30-day free trial for all its premium plans. You don’t need to link a payment method, which helped me test it risk-free.

15. Money-Back Guarantee — Both Antiviruses Provide Money-Back Guarantees

Both ESET and Avast offer a 30-day money-back guarantee. However, ESET has a much simpler money-back request process and a faster money refund. You only need to send an email or give them a call. I tested ESET’s refund policy by signing up for an annual plan and contacted their customer support via email. After sending an email to support, it took a day to get a reply, but it included an immediate approval with no follow-up questions. To request a refund with Avast, you must fill out a form on its website with your name, order ID, address, and reason for the refund from a predetermined list. Once I submitted the form, I received a refund confirmation email just 1 minute later. While it took just 5 days to get my money in my account with ESET, it took up to 7 days for Avast. I preferred the ESET email or phone call approach instead of the form-filling method that Avast offers so ESET wins this round. Try ESET risk-free for 30 days

And the Winner Is… ESET

After comparing Avast and ESET across 15 different areas, I concluded that ESET is the better antivirus option. ESET provides a robust malware detection engine, real-time protection from zero-day threats, and a wide range of additional security features that help me stay safe online. Avast also provided reliable security features and near-perfect detection rates. It just couldn’t outperform the results and performance of the ESET antivirus suite. The only areas where Avast outshined ESET is with its VPN that accesses more streaming platforms, more comprehensive device coverage, and optimization tools.

Virus Scanner — ESET Real-Time Malware Protection — ESET System Performance — ESET VPN — Avast Parental Controls — ESET Firewall — ESET Password Manager — ESET Gaming Mode — ESET Optimization Tools — Avast Other Features — ESET Device Compatibility — Avast Customer Service — ESET Price — ESET Free Version — Avast Money-Back Guarantee — ESET

In the areas where both antiviruses had overlapping features, ESET performed better. It’s also a much better value for money considering its wide range of features and excellent results during my tests. You can also try any of ESET’s premium plans by yourself using its 30-day free trial that gives you access to the entire security suite. In comparison, Avast is harder to recommend because of its weaker performance and history of selling customers’ data to third parties, which is terrible for a security provider to do. Try ESET risk-free for 30 days

How to Install ESET on Your Device

Download ESET’s apps

Is ESET antivirus better than Avast?

Yes. While both antiviruses offer a wide range of features, I found that ESET provides much more robust features than Avast. I tested both antiviruses rigorously, and ESET had a more thorough malware scanner that detected 100% of malware samples. In contrast, Avast only detected 99.8% of the malware samples. ESET also provides more compelling additional features. For starters, only ESET offers a password manager and parental control features. For overlapping features like firewall and gamer mode, ESET is more effective. Overall, ESET performs better and offers better value for money.

Can I use ESET or Avast on my Mac?

Yes. ESET and Avast are compatible with macOS devices. However, after testing the Mac apps of both antiviruses, I found ESET to be more intuitive. The features are neatly arranged, allowing you to navigate the app easily. ESET’s Mac app is user-friendly and can be used even by non-tech-savvy users. Avast’s macOS app is also user-friendly. The features are arranged in a grid-like design, allowing you to use any feature easily. Unfortunately, Avast has been caught selling its users’ data to third parties. As a privacy-conscious Mac user, I don’t recommend installing an app that could collect and sell your data.

Other Top Antiviruses in 2023