Avira Free Antivirus

Avira Free Antivirus

Download Editors' Rating:
4
Excellent
Average User Rating:
4.0
out of 4190 votes

Quick Specs

  • Version:
    12.0.0.849
  • Total Downloads:
    146,099,089
  • Date Added:
    Oct. 04, 2011
  • Price:
    Free
  • File Size:
    144.6MB
  • Downloads Last Week:
    21,126
  • Platform:
    Windows
  • Product ranking:

Editors' Review

+

The bottom line: An aggressive redesign aimed at making its best-known suite more accessible than before, Avira Free Antivirus 12 combines fast scans with above-average protection for a solid security combo.

Review:
Free antivirus maker Avira debuts a laundry list of changes in its latest major update, basically repositioning the suite to remain competitive in the face of tougher competition from other free security suites and a renewed emphasis on performance from paid competitors. From the new breezy installation to the modernized interface and reputable security, the suite has a lot going for it.

However, it notably lacks some features that many people consider basics even at the free level, so this version may only wind up appealing to existing Avira users and fans.

Longtime Avira fans will note that the suites also have undergone a bit of a name change. The product title "AntiVir" has been dropped, as Avira AntiVir Personal becomes Avira Free Antivirus, Avira AntiVir Premium becomes Avira Antivirus Premium, and Avira Premium Security Suite becomes Avira Internet Security. While product-specific names may work for some companies because of legacy associations, such as the Norton product from Symantec, new user confusion has likely forced security suite makers to streamline their operations.

The suites have also skippped version 11, perhaps driven by a Spinal Tap-esque fear of exploding amps, and gone straight to version 12. It's also possible that the company was thinking of aligning the version number with the release year, as most security suites released in the fall have version numbers that reflect the coming year.

Installation
Getting into Avira has never been easier, as version 12 debuts a two-click install. The company says that it developed the two-click installation as part of its "less is more" strategy, where it offers the same level of protection as before without the hassle. Of course, that's a tacit acknowledgement of prior problems.

Anyway, the new install is the simplest of the major free security suites. The two-click process will auto-detect competing security components and remove them, so be warned if you think you're going to be more secure by running two overlapping AVs. Avira won't let you.

Another click will take you past the Ask.com toolbar and search engine re-direct, but at least Avira is polite: it's an opt-in, not opt-out, experience. The toolbar screen itself is a bit unclear: it's actually Avira's WebGuard feature, powered by an Ask.com search engine that's part of the toolbar. There's also an option to have Ask.com become your browser's default engine, although that's not checked by default.

At the end of the installation process, Avira will begin a quick scan. On our test machine, it took about 1 minute, 25 seconds to complete, a completely reasonable wait to endure before the suite is ready to go.

Interface
The new interface is simple and mimics that of many competitors. A left nav shows you your tools, while the center pane focuses on a deeper dive into your security. New on-off buttons make it easy to toggle features, although it's noteworthy that the free version is quite restricted when compared with the free competition.

A red banner with the program name serves as a wrapper to anchor the suite, with a Windows XP-style menu bar above it. It doesn't look bad in Windows 7, although it is definitely archaic. The only feature that you can't reach from any other part of the interface except the menu bar is the Help menu.

The main interface is the Status window, with a green check box letting you know when you're safe. It turns to yellow when there are security tasks to perform or when you've turned off a feature, like real-time protection. It turns red when there's something mission-critical that requires your attention.

Below that, you've got two categories: PC protection, and Internet protection. What this really means is that the former protects you from threats locally, while the latter guards you against new threats from attacking you. Under PC protection, you can toggle your real-time protection, manually run a scan, start an update, or upgrade to a paid version of Avira. Use the gear icon next to each option to open the configuration window, which has its own slider in its upper-left corner to quickly change between the standard view and expert mode.

One hint about the system scanner option from the left nav: this is where you would go to initiate specific types of scans, or scans on specific parts of your computer, such as a rootkit scan in C:/Windows. For a generic scan, use the Scan System option from the Status window.

Under Internet protection, you only get one option in Avira Free: Web protection. If you chose to not install the toolbar, then this entire section will appear grayed out.

It doesn't sound like much, but that's the point. This is the easiest-to-use version of Avira yet.

Features and support
This is one area where the changes Avira has made are not so apparent. Longtime users of Avira Free are not likely to recognize much new. The scanner checks for virus, Trojans, rootkits, and adware. There's a generic threat removal engine, but Avira--like many security suites--is much better at preventing threats from infecting you, rather than removing ones you've already got.

The advanced options menu doesn't contain much that's new, either, but the layout is new, and it's quite easy for a savvy person to drill deep into security settings and either extract the information they want or set a very customized level of security. This includes scanning as Administrator from the main interface, a window showing realtime scan performance, configuring how to scan of archives, and a restart reminder in case you enjoy that kind of automated nagging.

The engine powering the scans has been improved, too. Your Hosts file is protected by default, and resource usage has been slashed. And after the daily virus definition file update, Avira still takes over your screen with a pop-up asking you to upgrade.

The company told me that it kept it because its users like it. According to its market research feedback, the pop-up apparently reminds people that they've been protected. Be that as it may, I find it an unnecessary distraction that blocks me once a day from doing something more important than clicking away an ad.

If a problem is discovered, a one-click Fix problems button appears at the top of the Status window. Click it, and even if the fix is something as simple as reactivating a deactivated module, the program will do it for you.

The WebGuard feature, available only if you install the Avira toolbar, takes a more aggressive approach to detecting sites that could be hosting malware before they load on your computer. This is not unlike Avira's competitors. However, for the performance cost to the browser for a toolbar, search result ratings would be a nice compensation. Too bad they're not offered.

Features-wise, the free version provides the kind of security that most people will be comfortable with. For people who want more, Avira Antivirus Premium 12 ($29.99 for a one-year license) comes with a suspicious behavior guard for when programs or files that might be trusted act in an unsecure manner; the silent/gaming mode for fullscreen use; and live telephone support. Avira Internet Security 12 ($49.99 for a one-year license) rolls in parental controls; an e-mail spam guard; antiphishing measures; and a firewall that I found to be obnoxiously chatty and intrusive.

While the firewall and parental controls are always relegated to premium status, it seems quite niggardly of Avira to reserve the silent/gaming mode for premium users, when competitors don't and all the while insisting upon a pop-up that can interrupt any activity you're using your computer for.

Performance
Avira's performance in the past has been hit or miss, with strong detection rates but high false positives. Avira's been doing a lot of work in that area, though, and this is one of the best-performing versions of Avira that we've seen.

Avira Free Antivirus 12 shares the same detection engine as its premium upgrade siblings, Avira Antivirus Premium 12 and Avira Internet Security 12, so all three are discussed here.

In a real-world test, Avira completed its initial scan during installation in 1 minute, 25 seconds. However, the new Avira still does not whitelist known safe files on your system, so repeated scans will check out the same file, even if it's got a hash that indicates that it's been unchanged since the last scan. The Full scan averaged 1 hour, 36 minutes over three installs, which is an appropriate benchmark for such a resource-intensive scan.

CNET Labs' benchmarks found that Avira benchmarked well in most system tests, but with room for improvement in the critical test of boot-time impact. Note that while last year's benchmarks were tested on the basic installation of Windows 7 x64, CNET Labs is now using a Windows 7 x64 test bed running Service Pack 1. So while results are more comparable than they would be with, say, a Windows XP computer, there's still a notable difference between the test computers.

Avira Internet Security 12 performed had one of the smallest impacts on computer start up, slowing it down only by 13.1 seconds when the average was 25.3 seconds. However, Avira Free Antivirus and Avira Antivirus Premium slothed along and added nearly 60 seconds each, the two worst suites tested so far this year.

Once we get past that poor first showing, Avira tested better than average on nearly every system test we looked at. As the chart below shows, shutdown time, scan speed, and the in-use system tests of MS Office performance, iTunes decoding, and were almost always better than average, often by a lot. Avira was weak on the Cinebench test.

Security program Boot time Shutdown time Scan time MS Office performance iTunes decoding Media multitasking Cinebench
Unprotected system 40 6 n/a 395 120 342 17,711
Average of all tested systems (to date) 65.3 15.4 1,114 415 125 347 17,106
Avira Free Antivirus 12 98.8 12.4 860 409 125 345 17,000
Avira Antivirus Premium 12 100.3 12 1,026 407 125 342 17,125
Avira Internet Security 12 53.1 13.7 959 407 124 346 17,030

Note: All tests measured in seconds, except for Cinebench. On the Cinebench test, higher numbers are better.

Independent testing agency AV-Test.org has marked acceptable scores for Avira Premium Security Suite 10 (Avira Internet Security as of version 12) during the first two quarters of 2011. On a Windows 7 computer during Q1, Bitdefender scored 4 out of 6 on Protection, 3.5 out of 6 on Repair, and 4 out of 6 on Usability, for an overall score of 11.5 out of 18, just clearing the minimum of 11 for an AV-Test.org certificate.

In the second quarter, on a Windows XP computer, the same suite did slightly better. The suite hit 3.5 out of 6 on Protection, 4.5 out of 6 on Repair, and 4 out of 6 on Usability, for a total of 12 out of 18. However, at that point Avira hadn't updated the detection engines in a while.

When AV-Test.org tested Avira Premium Suite Security 10.2 in July and August of 2011, Avira climbed a bit higher, with a 4 out of 6 on Protection and Repair, and 4.5 out of 6 on Usability, for a total of 12.5 out of 18.

Note that AV-Test.org defines its categories as follows: "The 'Protection' covers static and dynamic malware detection, including real-world zero-day attack testing. In case of 'Repair,' we check the system disinfection and rootkit removal in detail. The 'Usability' testing includes the system slowdown caused by the tools and the number of false positives."

Third-quarter results aren't in yet, but results shared by AV-Test.org with CNET indicate that along with the new name, the suite has made some significant improvements in the level of protection offered. It notched a 99.73 percent malware detection rate, higher than the overall average rate of 99.29 percent in September 2011 certification testing. The suite was able to remove 87.5 percent of active malware infections, slightly higher than the industry average of 84.6 percent. AV-Test.org did not test or did not release numbers for rootkits. In AV-Test.org's zero-day attacks test, Avira Free blocked 92.7 percent of threats, while the two premium suites blocked 96.4 percent of the attacks, compared to the average September 2011 certification results of 92.7 percent. The suite also did not find any false positives against more than 330,000 samples.

In short, AV-Test.org found Avira 12 to be more effective than Avira 10, although there were suites both paid and free that did better.

The most recent AV-Comparatives.org Whole Product test, which looks at on-demand scanning, retroactive tests, and "real-world" guards including cloud-based protections, puts Avira Premium Security Suite 10 in the top four suites tested. The August 2011 test found that it blocked 98.4 percent of attacks and threats thrown at it, only behind Trend Micro's Titanium and Symantec's Norton. Meanwhile, looking at Whole Product test results cumulatively from January 2011 to August 2011 found that Avira 10 did far worse, coming in ninth with a 97.0 percent success rate. So, while Avira started the year off rough, it has clearly made strides to improve and that bodes well if you're considering using version 12.

A third testing lab, Dennis Technology Labs, had much worse news for Avira from its January 2011 test. In its test of high-end suites, including Avira Premium Security Suite 10, Dennis Labs placed Avira second to last out of 11 suites. Avira had an Accuracy score of 28 out of 100, but this did not include false positives. The Total Accuracy score, which does include files that are marked as threats but in fact are not, also put Avira at second to last with a score of 64.5 out of 150. Avira struggled with the lab's Protection test, earning only a 66 percent, second to last and well below the average of 84 percent. The bottom line here is that Dennis Labs and Avira 10 did not mix well, at all.

It's fair to conclude that according to third-party tests, Avira 10 tested weakly at the beginning of 2011, but has made strides to improve and should not be discounted. Still, movement in the right direction is not the same as consistent performance, but things are looking up for Avira at least when it comes to protecting its customers.

Conclusions
Avira Free Antivirus 12 is a solid effort by one of the most popular, and therefore most trusted, security suite makers to address an ever-changing and increasingly more dangerous threatscape. It offers solid and effective free protection, with a newly accessible interface, but it lacks some of the competitive features that other free suites give their users. Also, depending on your system, you might have to prepare for much longer computer startup time, and there's that daily pop-up nag to contend with. We're glad to see that Avira has no intention of straying behind the pack anymore, however, we expected more from this long-overdue update.

 
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Publisher's Description

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User Reviews
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  • Current Version

    3.8

    out of 105 votes

    • 5 star 55
    • 4 star 17
    • 3 star 11
    • 2 star 6
    • 1 star 16
  • All Versions

    4.0

    out of 4190 votes

    • 5 star 1976
    • 4 star 1165
    • 3 star 391
    • 2 star 219
    • 1 star 439
  • My rating

    0 stars

    Write review

Results 1–10 of 105

1 stars

"Used to be great, but it now simply a popup generator."

May 10, 2012  |  By Caprikris80

 |  Version: Avira Free Antivirus 12.0.0.849

Pros

Small resource footprint
Well supported (updates often)

Cons

Constant 'in your face' advertisments and pop ups

Summary

As an I.T specialist, Avira used to be the first thing I installed on a clients PC. It needs little in the way of resources and was above average in detection rates compared to other offerings.

Now however the application has become a parordy of itself, instead of protecting our hardware from invasive programs that disrupt workflow, it has become one!

Microsofts advances in antivirus recently has led me to switch teams, I now recommend clients use Microsoft security essentials, not only is it free, it is free of pop ups.

Why Avira decided to shoot itself in the foot like this is beyond me.

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5 stars

"Avira Int.Sec. on Windows 7 Pro 64Bit 8GB Core-i5"

February 24, 2012  |  By hknbbk

 |  Version: Avira Free Antivirus 12.0.0.849

Pros

Avira found some additional viruses which BitDefender&Avast&Comodo&Norton could not find in my previous tests.

It also finds hidden viruses which are capable of hiding themselves from AV Software.

Works fine with Windows 7

Best firewall I have ever tried. It locks all open doors to your PC and warns you seemlessly about the threads.

Cons

It slows PC performance a bit compared to BitDefender&Avast but not as much as Comodo. It's tolerable.

Summary

You should definitely try Avira, but they have to create a better logo since their logo looks like some kind of ordinary AV software!

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4 stars

"avira free antivirus"

February 23, 2012  |  By aamab

 |  Version: Avira Free Antivirus 12.0.0.849

Pros

just started using

Cons

haven't had any problems yet

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5 stars

"No Problem At All"

February 20, 2012  |  By Terisa86

 |  Version: Avira Free Antivirus 12.0.0.849

Pros

Wow such a great one,only after trying it can you know its great advantages,your PC can be protected all the time by using it,an idle assistant to every computer user

Cons

nothing i found yet

Summary

free and convenient program,no need to hesitate

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1 stars

"uninstalled kept getting in my way"

February 15, 2012  |  By art-guy

 |  Version: Avira Free Antivirus 12.0.0.849

Pros

uninstalled kept getting in my way

Cons

uninstalled kept getting in my way

Summary

uninstalled kept getting in my way

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5 stars

"great,sharper,perfect and the best for Vista 32bit64bit"

February 14, 2012  |  By sharper2U

 |  Version: Avira Free Antivirus 12.0.0.849

Pros

I gonna to say this Avira Antivirus is great and defend any virus with his light and smart 'body', lightness makes him very active and efficient. I love it. It's the only one I can find for free in reality. The guys working out this 'seal' are great! Hopefully, you guys keep on going.....

Cons

the 'initialized' for scan needs a little bit quicker. If it can scan email, absolutely perfect!

Summary

OM...OM..OM Avira!

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5 stars

"Good all around performer"

February 14, 2012  |  By philatlive

 |  Version: Avira Free Antivirus 12.0.0.849

Pros

Nicely in the back ground, no problems, just gets on with it.

Cons

Once a day advert to buy full version, can't stop it.

Summary

Gr8 program. Not as noticeable as others IE: AVG, Avast etc:

Updated on Feb 14, 2012

For those finding problems I suggest you set it up correctly via the option settings, then you might find it works more to your liking.
Standard options are not right for all.

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1 stars

"Does not work! Constant pop ups."

February 13, 2012  |  By VagrantNinja1

 |  Version: Avira Free Antivirus 12.0.0.849

Pros

It takes less system resources than AVG.

Cons

False sense of security.
Doesn't actually scan for viruses while doing basic actions.
A ton of pop ups. Every single time my browser reloads I get a lovely pop up.
It has let multiple malware into my computer.

Summary

I downloaded Avira to be a good replacement for AVG because AVG is such a resource hog. For the first couple of months it was great! Maybe three months ago I began getting tons of pop ups and recently it has completely let me down by letting malware into my computer. I'm going to try AVAST and if that is not satisfactory then I'll go back to AVG.

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5 stars

"Tested as the BEST FREE ANTI-VIRUS"

February 08, 2012  |  By snadge

 |  Version: Avira Free Antivirus 12.0.0.849

Pros

Fast, uses least resources of all AV's
99.8% detection Rate from millions of infections (avast 97.5% , AVG 93%)
Loads quickly at boot
DOES have Anti-Spyware but not 'advanced' like premium

Cons

Nag popup "upgrade to pro" every 2 days, can be stopped if you google it, simple instructions takes 1 minute

Summary

This Anti-Virus is FREE and performs better than almost ALL paid AV's and all Free AV's - only TrustPort and G-DATA detect a few more samples but they use multiple AV engines and slow down your PC too death

I dunno what EDITOR is on about? this does NOT add 60 seconds too boot?? its quickest of ALL av's ive tried and has almost no impact..your test rig must have had something installed that didnt agree with it

best protection: AVIRA FREE AV and COMODO FIREWALL with Defense+ enabled, checkout AV-CoMparitives (avira) and matousec (comodo) websites too find out why ..better than any paid protection and all FREE!!!

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1 stars

"It's not antivirus- it's an ad for business cards!"

February 08, 2012  |  By Re-BekaM

 |  Version: Avira Free Antivirus 12.0.0.849

Pros

I didn't use it long enough to find any.

Cons

Frequent pop-ups asking to upgrade, and pop-up window ads for the aforementioned business cards.

Summary

My boyfriend suggested I try Avira because it was less intrusive than Avast. It was not. Avast would have a couple of pop-up boxes telling me that an update had been done or that a scan or whatever had been done, but it would happen when I first started up my computer and that was it. Avira asks me to upgrade to the paid version every single time I wake my computer up from sleep mode. It also has actual pop-up window ads asking me to buy business cards. There are no options to change the duration of the pop-ups or just disable them completely (which I would prefer).

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Results 1–10 of 105

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Full Specifications

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General
Publisher Avira
Publisher web site http://www.avira.com
Release Date October 04, 2011
Date Added October 04, 2011
Version 12.0.0.849
Category
Category Security Software
Subcategory Antivirus Software
Operating Systems
Operating Systems Windows, Windows XP 32-bit, Windows Vista 32-bit, Windows 7, Windows XP 64-bit, Windows Vista 64-bit
Additional Requirements None
Download Information
File Size 144.6MB
File Name avira_free_antivirus_en.exe
Popularity
Total Downloads 146,099,089
Downloads Last Week 21,126
Pricing
License Model Free
Limitations Not available
Price Free

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