Avira Free Antivirus 12.0.0.1125 - Free download and software reviews - CNET Download.com

Avira Free Antivirus

CNET 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.

Avira 12 renews commitment to security

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.

The new main interface for Avira Free Antivirus 12.

(Credit: Screenshot by Seth Rosenblatt/CNET)

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.

Avira 12's WebGuard toolbar.

(Credit: Screenshot by Seth Rosenblatt/CNET)

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.

Publisher's Description

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All User Reviews
  • All versions:

    4.0 stars

    out of 4,167 votes

    • 5 star: 1972
    • 4 star: 1160
    • 3 star: 387
    • 2 star: 218
    • 1 star: 429
  • Current version:

    3.3 stars

    out of 68 votes

    • 5 star: 21
    • 4 star: 15
    • 3 star: 9
    • 2 star: 9
    • 1 star: 14
  • My rating:

    0 stars

    Write review

Results 1-10 of 68

  • 3.0 stars

    "OKAY Antivirus"

    September 10, 2012  |   By etsrella

    Version: Avira Free Antivirus 12.0.0.1125

    Pros

    Easy to install and use; detects most virus but not all.

    Cons

    Too many popups, they are very aggressive and interrupt too much.I used to tell everybody how much I like Avira but now I'm not so sure.

    Reply to this review

    Was this review helpful? (3) (4)

  • 3.0 stars

    "Might have been good but didn't get that far."

    September 8, 2012  |   By DFrostedTuna

    Version: Avira Free Antivirus 12.0.0.1125

    Pros

    I can't really say much as I didn't get to use it. :P

    Cons

    Isn't compatible with Comodo Firewall which they don't tell you anywhere. >.> That and it kept detecting Avg Antivirus on my computer despite have manually removed all the files.

    Summary

    Could be good if you don't use Comodo Firewall, otherwise I can't really say.

    Reply to this review Read replies (2)

    Was this review helpful? (2) (4)

  • 2.0 stars

    "Hardly worth the effort of installing"

    September 6, 2012  |   By Mr_Bill_N

    Version: Avira Free Antivirus 12.0.0.1125

    Pros

    Free AV scanner with little 'on-the-fly' protection

    Cons

    Lacks even basic protection offered by other free AVs, such as e-mail scanner, link scanner, id protection, game mode, etc. The frequent pop-up windows advertising the aforementioned features being found only in their commercial AV is extremely annoying and disruptive. Automatic update rarely works properly and needs to be initiated manually when Windows alerts you that your AV is outdated.

    Summary

    Little more than adware for their commercial products. Welcome back, AVG!

    Reply to this review Read replies (2)

    Was this review helpful? (2) (5)

  • 1.0 stars

    "SUCKS!!!!!!!!!!!"

    September 2, 2012  |   By isnoopy26

    Version: Avira Free Antivirus 12.0.0.1125

    Pros

    It's Free but i wouldn't use it.

    Cons

    Didn't pass my PC Secutity Test. Complete wast of TIME.

    Reply to this review

    Was this review helpful? (1) (5)

  • 4.0 stars

    "Good free antivirus"

    August 21, 2012  |   By dcrane12

    Version: Avira Free Antivirus 12.0.0.1125

    Pros

    Scans fast and is good at detecting viruses.

    Cons

    An ad pops up after ever update of the software that can be annoying at times, but can't complain since it's free.

    Summary

    Good overall antivirus worth trying and comparing to some of the more popular brands.

    Reply to this review

    Was this review helpful? (5) (0)

  • 4.0 stars

    "very good for a free one"

    August 20, 2012  |   By snooky796

    Version: Avira Free Antivirus 12.0.0.1125

    Pros

    works great and you can start it to do start up

    Cons

    I haven't found any yet

    Summary

    it's free give it a try

    Reply to this review

    Was this review helpful? (5) (0)

  • 2.0 stars

    "Used to be good before pop-up malware"

    August 18, 2012  |   By anthillmob

    Version: Avira Free Antivirus 12.0.0.1125

    Pros

    Easy to install and use. Used to scan at a regular time, now it scans every time I boot up. Regular updates seem to be pretty effective although discovery of new variants can be a bit slow.

    Cons

    - Scans every time I turn on, so I have to cancel. A pain.
    --- Pop ups. It's meant to stop malware and headaches, not cause them. A HUGE minus and the reason that I (and many others) have uninstalled and gone elsewhere.
    -- Not always quick when a new virus/variant is created. The 1 or 2 times that I've got infected, it took Avira a day or more to catch up with the new virus that I found.

    Summary

    Bearable. Used to be good but with the new pop-up malware, on top of slow additions to it's library, it's now a case of 'bye bye' Avira, hello Avast or AVG or MSSE.

    Reply to this review

    Was this review helpful? (1) (5)

  • 2.0 stars

    "This has a MAJOR FLAW"

    August 17, 2012  |   By saffire045

    Version: Avira Free Antivirus 12.0.0.1125

    Pros

    Although this program will comb thru all your files, it will not quarantine or remove viruses if they are found while you are surfing the internet. All you get is a 5 second pop up telling you that it has found malware and asks you what to do. It you don't click the remove button fast enough it lets the malware in. Since most viruses infect your computer via the internet, I find this program lacking in the most essential way possible.

    Cons

    While it tells you about hidden objects it is extremely difficult to find them - even if they are deleted from the registry, that only deletes the registry line, and not where the actual culprit is located.

    Summary

    I used it faithfully until I learned more about AV's and got sick of their BUY ME pop ups. Now I use MS Security Essentials and it catches things Avira doesn't even notice. Security Essentials uses more resources, but I'd rather be safe than sorry.

    Reply to this review Read reply (1)

    Was this review helpful? (0) (5)

  • 5.0 stars

    "The best AV on the market"

    August 15, 2012  |   By kefob

    Version: Avira Free Antivirus 12.0.0.1125

    Pros

    Lightweight
    Fast Scanning
    One of the highest detection rates on the market
    Free
    Simple to setup and use

    Cons

    Pop-up ads (they have to pay the bills somehow)

    Summary

    For anyone that needs great AV protection, you need to download and try Avira. The ads are there, but you can't beat the detection capabilities or the low impact on your system

    Reply to this review Read reply (1)

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  • 2.0 stars

    "Why bother with this?"

    August 13, 2012  |   By cnetguy7

    Version: Avira Free Antivirus 12.0.0.1125

    Pros

    -free
    -light
    -regular updates

    Cons

    -very mediocre detection and removal

    Summary

    AVG free is much better security wise though I'll admit, AVG is a pain to remove and lots of people hate it.
    Avast free is slightly better.
    AVG's vastly superior detection and removal rates and Avast's far greater web blocking should make Avira seem pedestrian even amongst free.
    Why do I say AVG is much better and Avast slightly so? because of personal experience. don't believe me? check out avtest. org ratings.

    Updated on Aug 13, 2012

    remove spaces. See, AVG free and Avast free rate better than Avira internet security aka paid version.
    www . av-test. org/en/tests/home-user/mayjun-2012/

    Updated on Aug 14, 2012

    @Avira can't repair ****.

    Updated on Aug 15, 2012

    @soaring_eagles, good for you playa.

    Updated on Aug 15, 2012

    OK, so an Avira fanboy replied to me showing contradicting findings to my assertion that AVG > Avira. he posted this -
    http://www.virusbtn.com/vb100/RAP/RAP-quadrant-Dec11-Jun12-large.jpg
    so according to virus bulletin, lavasoft and Avira pro are better than Kaspersky and better than Bitdefender on proactive detection. Anyone familiar with security suites can smell the BS.
    Also, check out av-comparatives. Its findings are almost always consistent yearly whereas av-test has different results and av-test publishes results 6 times a year aka every 2 months.
    Also, pcmag and pcworld both picked AVG as their choice for free antivirus 2012.
    http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2388652,00.asp
    http://www.pcworld.com/article/254121/free_antivirus_you_can_trust.html
    Look, I don't have anything against Avira infact I root for them but they're just not that good. Helpful hint, don't frequent adult websites with Avira as your only protection or expect this AV to remove sophisticated malware.

    Updated on Aug 20, 2012

    I agree with ElObomo. What he's saying is nothing new. All AV reviewers on youtube test AVs the same way and guess what, Avira doesn't do too well.

    Reply to this review Read replies (8)

    Was this review helpful? (1) (5)

Results 1-10 of 68

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