Prior to trying the Avast 4.6 Home Edition, I was very much a Norton user. I knew there were a lot of free antivirus software out there but I wanted to be on the safe side and use something tried and true. However, with the increase of spyware and virus attacks, my computer was not always spared and there were times I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with it. That’s when I thought that it was time to try something new – and free.\nInstallation is very easy. Just download the software from the Avast website, free of charge. The only catch – if you can consider it that – is that it is for personal, non-commercial use only. The installation process is mostly automatic. You can choose to register it after installation in order to access free updates for one year. If you do not choose to register it then you can use it for 60 days free. Since the registration is free as well, there is no reason not to do that.\nThe user interface is simple and easy to use. Some people might not find that it doesn’t suit their taste as it looks something like Winamp – it looks fun, not very serious. However, that doesn’t take away its functionality. It actually adds to the experience as you can change the skin if you want to.\nIt gives you the option to run 7 providers. You can choose which ones you want to run. I use the following shields: Instant Messaging, Internet Mail, Network Shield, P2P Shield, Standard Shield, and Web Shield. If you use Outlook then you can opt to use that provider as well. The above-mentioned shields pretty much cover everything you do on your computer, providing extensive protection. The Web Shield is by far the latest impressive addition to this release. It monitors all internet traffic including spyware. It is also compatible with most internet browsers. If you are worried about the effect on speed, your worries are unfounded.\nA drawback of this software is that it takes too much time to load up when you first turn your computer on. It may take several minutes. In the meantime, it would be difficult for you to run applications.\nI think that is a minor inconvenience you can put up with. For something that is free and works effectively, I wouldn’t mind waiting for a couple of minutes.