Avira's AntiVir has been a player in the security world for some time; however, in 2008 its status boomed because of its remarkably strong detection rates. It still remains near the top of independent antivirus efficacy tests, but while the 2009 version more or less kept pace with the competition, the 2010 edition isn't quite as good as it could be.
Both longtime and new users alike will note the pop-up ad that appears whenever a program update is downloading; it has been the unaddressed focus of critical and user dislike for several years. While the occasional ad that interferes with a user's work flow used to be considered tolerable for effective free security, that's no longer the case. Avira's lack of a silent-running entertainment-gaming mode is also noticeable, since so many free and paid competitors now offer the mode.
Except for the most cosmetic of changes, the app's interface is unchanged from version 8. There are new icons on the program's toolbar, a new static image background, and that's about it. The main window offers a left-side navigation menu with drop-down menus and a central pane to see more detailed information. AntiVir opens to the Status menu, informing you of your last scan, your last definition file update, whether the real-time guard is active; however, Avira removed the premium upgrade link in this version. The Events screen logs changes to the program and the Reports tab keeps a history of threats--information from both sections can be exported.
New features are a bit thin in the free version of Avira 10, too. A new generic-repair mode really just takes the choice out of how Avira tells you about the threats it has discovered. In version 9, you could be informed about them in the middle of a scan or at the end; however, now only the latter is available. Windows 7 users now have the capability to run a scan as an administrator directly from the interface, which is a smart, but minor improvement. Avira's installation sequence has been revamped, and now only takes users through five windows. Theoretically, this means it's a five-click installation, but new users will have to complete the registration form. However, its installation file unpacking process appears faster, and you no longer have to reboot after the install.
This isn't to say that AntiVir Free 10 isn't stuffed with robust features. The program offers a wide selection of scan customization, letting users fully scan both internal and external hard drives, run a preloaded scan--for rootkits, for example--or customize a scan. On a real-world computer, the full scan took about 1 hour and 12 minutes, which is average. Avira includes antispyware protections, scanning tech that can crack open "locked" files, improved internal security to prevent AntiVir's files from being maliciously altered, and one-click threat removal--baby-sitting was taken out in the last version.
The Local Protection and Administration navigation options reveal the Scanner, Guard, Quarantine, and Scheduler features. Combined with the Configuration button located at the top of the central pane, users can customize scans as necessary. When Avira quarantines a file, its information is on display along with options to scan it again, restore, delete, and e-mail the file to Avira. The apps rebuilt heuristic engine retains the same choices from the previous version had, and it can be turned on or off in part or in full and offers three intensity levels. Not counting the lively user forums, Avira's included help features are good for a free antivirus app, with mouse-over information on each feature. The scheduler, once a major Avira selling point because it was light-years ahead of other free security suites, has now been caught up to by its competitors.
AntiVir 10 doesn't require a special uninstallation tool, unlike many competitors do. In the end, Avira's free suite makes for an excellent backup suite, but its competitors have since caught up with or surpassed what it can do.
This review will be updated with CNET Labs benchmarks and third-party efficacy scores as they become available.