Avast! 6 Free is an antivirus package that's so packed with extras that it feels more like a security suite.

And so, of course, the program can scan selected files, folders, or your entire system, either on demand or your schedule of choice. While the boot-time scan runs before Windows loads, and accesses your hard drive directly, so bypassing Windows own drivers and helping you detect even the stealthiest of rootkits.

Powerful real-time protection then monitors every aspect of your system for potential threats: the programs you launch, the documents you open, incoming and outgoing emails, the web pages you view, your P2P and Instant Messaging downloads, network activity and any scripts launched on your PC are all checked to ensure they're safe.

Sometimes it's hard to be 100% sure that a particular program is malware, of course, and so avast! 6 now also includes the AutoSandbox. This enables you to automatically run any suspicious program inside the avast! sandbox, where it's isolated from the rest of your system and so unlikely to do any damage.

A new WebRep browser plugin displays the reputation of the sites in your search engine results, which could help you avoid becoming infected in the first place.

And an avast! gadget displays your security status on the desktop, and allows you to launch a scan in a couple of clicks.

Avast 6.0.1367 ships with these improvements:

- Script Shield now works with Google Chrome, all versions of Firefox and Acrobat Reader
- Improvements in WebRep plugins (especially IE)
- Stability improvements in aswSP.sys and the avast! sandbox
- File system shield: improved on-close scanning
- avast! Internet Security: new antispam engine
- Web Shield and Script Shield: more options in the UI
- Added in-product avast! Market
- Various other security and stability related fixes

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Avast! 6 is a promising release that has plenty of interesting new features