Avira Free Antivirus: It Was Never Like It Was Before
Today’s Best Avira Free Antivirus 2018 Deals
Avira Free Antivirus focuses on malware protection and offers some additional features, although many of them can be downloaded for free from Avira’s website.
You get a small app that fine-tunes the Windows Firewall, but Avira scans have had a relatively big impact on our system performance, and anti-malware rates have stagnated behind the best antivirus software while other brands have improved their hardware.
Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition and Kaspersky Free Antivirus offer better protection with less system impact and are our top picks for best free antivirus software. For additional features at a lower cost of malware protection, try Avast Free Antivirus.
more: Best antivirus software and apps
What’s covered and upgrade options
Avira Free Antivirus 2018 works on Windows 7 (with Service Pack 1), Windows 8/8.1 and Windows 10. No XP or Vista support; So, there is Panda Free Antivirus.
The software comes with a firewall manager and browser extensions, which evaluate websites based on reputation and protect against unwanted add-ons.
If you want more features, Avira Free Security Suite adds a password manager, Avira Phantom VPN service, and system optimizer, although some are shareware that you’ll need to pay for in the long run.
There are three paid upgrade options. Avira Antivirus Pro (starting at $5 a month or $45 a year for a single PC or Mac) adds protection against ransomware and infected flash drives, as well as a powerful browser for online commerce. The macOS component is a contender for the best Mac antivirus software.
Avira Internet Security Suite (starting at $6 per month, or $58 per year, for a Windows PC) adds a software update tool to ensure that your applications are fully patched.
At the top is Avira Prime, which includes licenses for premium iOS and Android apps as well as PC and Mac software. It adds unlimited VPN usage, a software updater for Windows and Android, an optimizer for Windows, along with one of the best antivirus apps for Android of course.
Avira Prime starts at $10 per month, or $100 per year, for up to five devices. The “unlimited” license, available for $130 per year, or $13 per month, is effectively limited to 25 devices.
Like most antivirus programs, Avira has a three-layer protection system. A traditional malware scanner compares files with a library of known threats. Guided monitoring checks the code and monitors for indicators of infection.
The program uploads copies of suspicious files to Avira laboratories for analysis. Everything considered dangerous is added to malware signature updates that are published several times a day for Avira’s 400 million users.
This data collection necessarily includes customers’ system profiles, computer usage habits, and browsing history. You can opt out, but you will need to submit the application via email.
Avira Free Antivirus 2018 scans compressed files and blocks unwanted programs, but email attachments are scanned when they are opened, not when they arrive. Avira’s Browser Safety extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera browsers warn of known malicious websites and block ads and tracking cookies.
You can start a quick scan with one click from the main window of the program, but it takes three clicks to start the full scan. The custom scan option lets you go back to specific files or folders, but you can also right-click anything in Windows Explorer to scan it.
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Avira Free Antivirus lets you schedule scans when you’re asleep or away, or set them to run automatically once every day or week.
Avira’s malware scanner, which all Avira’s Windows Antivirus programs share, is sometimes great but mediocre at other times. It provided only adequate protection from attack in our internal and third-party lab tests.
Our own tests, conducted from February to June 2018, saw Avira Free Security Suite block 96 percent of malware and phishing attempts on malicious websites. This is not enough to get an A grade in antivirus software, where what matters is what you don’t pick up.
The result was less than 98 percent of the average detection rate among the products tested; Only AVG AntiVirus Free gets fewer points among the free antivirus software makers.
German lab AV-Test evaluated 18 antivirus products on Windows 10 in March and April 2018, and Avira Antivirus Pro took off by detecting previously unknown “Zero day” malware by a pair of 100 percent.
Avira’s scanner was held back a bit, however, due to the widely known malware, scoring just 99.7 percent in March and 99.8 percent in April. These rates were above average just a few years ago, but your antivirus protection has improved a lot, and most of the products we review perform better.
In our own tests, Avira Free Security Suite stopped 96 percent of malware. The result was less than 98 percent of the average detection rate among the 14 products tested.
In Windows 10 reviews in May and June 2018, Avira stopped 100% and 99.9% of prevalent malware respectively, which is pretty good. But while Avira also stopped all zero-day malware in May, it only faltered 99.2 percent in June, the same as Avast Free Antivirus but ahead of AVG Internet Security.
More: Antivirus Software – Reviews of Free and Paid Versions
Avira also had very little detection of malware in AV-Test’s January-February 2018 Windows 7 tests. It encountered 100 percent of zero-day threats in the first month, but only 99 percent in February, matching the category average. In the face of widespread malware, Avira posted a low of 98.7% in January but rebounded 100% in February.
Over six monthly rounds of testing conducted in the first half of 2018 by Austrian laboratories AV-Comparatives, Avira Antivirus Pro performed well, stopping on average 99.8 percent of “real-world” malware (mostly carried over the Internet) , behind Bitdefender and Kaspersky.
Like these two industry leaders, Avira has monthly high scores of 100 percent and lowest of 99.5 percent, safely above the industry average of 99.0 percent. Avast, AVG AntiVirus Free, Panda Free Antivirus, and Windows Defender all performed worse.
Avira scored five false positives (benign items mistakenly flagged as malware) in the four AV-Test rounds, and six in the five AV-Comparatives rounds. Those scores, in which lower number is better, were better than average.
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SE Labs, based near London, ranked Avira Free Security Suite ninth out of 13 products in its April-June 2018 tests, with an overall score of 94 percent. Avira was docked at a few spots to allow infection even though a few bits of malware were detected (not an unusual case).
Overall, these results put Avira Free Antivirus a place or two behind the free antivirus programs offered by Bitdefender and Kaspersky, and the same as Avast, AVG, Panda, and Windows Defender.
Security and privacy features
Avira Free Antivirus 2018 has some additional, non-essential features. The Firewall Manager controls Microsoft’s Windows Firewall. You also get Privacy Pal, which fixes 200 common privacy issues, such as online ad tracking, and lets you restrict the information you reveal online.
There’s also Avira’s System Speedup, which frees up disk space, boosts performance and encrypts files among other useful, but impressive, things; The app is “limited” unless you pay $32 a year.
Avira’s Phantom VPN client and service are not included in Free Antivirus, but you can get it through the Free Security Suite or install it on its own. There is a maximum of 1 GB of free data access per month, which is not a lot; Unlimited data costs $10 per month, or $78 per year.
Security Suite adds a free password manager, although a premium version is on the way; Software updater, available in both free and “pro” versions; Shopping advisor and Chrome extension for SafeSearch. Both of these goodies can be downloaded from Avira’s website.
Like many antivirus companies, Avira offers a free “rescue disk” that you can burn to a CD or mount to a bootable flash drive. It boots your PC into a secure Linux environment to completely sanitize your Windows drive.
performance and system impact
Avira Free Antivirus defenses put a fairly heavy load on system performance, and you may notice slowdowns during a full system scan. It had the largest system load out of all the seven free antivirus products we reviewed in 2018.
To check the performance impact, we used a custom OpenOffice benchmark test, which measures how long it takes to match 20,000 names and 20,000 addresses in a spreadsheet. Our test was an Asus X555LA laptop with a 2GHz Core i3 processor, 6GB of RAM, 117GB of files on a 500GB hard drive, and running Windows 10 with the latest updates.
Avira Free Antivirus 2018 defenses put a fairly heavy load on system performance, and you may notice slowdowns during a full system scan.
Before installing Avira Free Antivirus, the OpenOffice test finished in 6 minutes 58 seconds. With Avira running in the background but no active scanning, that completion time increased to 7:39, down 10 percent from baseline and worse than AVG and Bitdefender’s 5 percent losses.
During Avira’s full scan, the OpenOffice test took 9:26 to complete, 35 percent slower than the base score and 23 percent slower than the background test result. This was one of the biggest slowdowns among the free antivirus products we’ve tested lately.
Avira’s quick scan wasn’t that bad; OpenOffice testing ended at 8:59. But that’s still 29 percent slower than the pre-install baseline and 17 percent slower than Avira running quietly in the background.
On our Asus, Avira’s first full system scan took an hour and 14 minutes to look at 914,835 files, roughly as long as it took Windows Defender and Panda Free Antivirus. The scan time did not get shorter on subsequent runs, indicating that Avira did not choose to consider some files to be inherently secure.
The quick scan took 1 minute 37 seconds to move 3,377 files. (Scan times will vary from system to system.)
Avira Free Antivirus’s new, bright, modular interface is a winner, but some of the screens beneath the surface are still in the previous Avira’s monochromatic, straggly style.
Avira’s main screen shows the program’s real-time protection manager and firewall, but the Web Protection section is for Pro clients and the empty module next to that is a placeholder.
At the top of the home screen, a green check mark tells you that everything is OK. There is a link to update malware definitions and an offer to upgrade to Avira Antivirus Pro. You can also start a quick scan from this screen.
The left navigation bar links to the Scan (Quick, Full, Custom or Scheduled Scan), Modules (Real-Time Protection and Firewall), Quarantine (Dangerous Items), and Activity (Tasks) screens. The settings gear icon at the bottom deals with options such as adware blocking, phishing, and dual extension files.
Avira’s PC Protection section lets you turn on or off everything from boot scan options to checking files for integrity. It offers a lot of customization, but the interface, which is not updated on this page, is hard to spot.
The powerful Task Tray icon allows you to turn real-time protection on or off, start a program scan or update. You can also send feedback to the company.
Installation and support
Avira Free Antivirus installation starts with a 5.2MB installer which also provides the installation of the Opera web browser. The entire installation process took less than 7 minutes.
Like most others…