Avira Free Security Review
Avira Free Security continues to provide free effective malware protection, but it does not currently stand out among its competitors.
- Works on Windows 7 and 8.1
- Includes a lot of additional tools
- Less effective than some competitors
- Ransomware defense is not included
- Notifications can’t be disabled
Password manager Avira offers a free version of its accompanying password manager
Avira Free Security has a longstanding reputation as a lightweight antivirus suite that works on just about anything.
However, its lack of a silent mode and slight dip in test performance mean it’s no longer an easy recommendation. It might be best for you to look elsewhere for the best free antivirus.
Malware detection performance
The performance of Avira’s malware detection engine in the latest tests by AV-Test and AV Comparatives, while in no way effective, has not been on par with most of its competitors.
It was the worst performer in two months of AV-Test’s real-world tests, scoring 99.2% and 99.9%, respectively. It shielded the test system in 98.9% of test exposures for AV comparisons, even though it scored a perfect 100% across all protection and accuracy measures in the latest SE Labs tests.
Avira Free Security’s interface is typical of a modern AV suite: a grayscale background with large icons to make it easier to navigate its various features. It opens in the Status Scan tab, which scans and removes unwanted files, mostly cache folders and registry entries. It’ll offer to fix your privacy settings, speed up startup times, and update older apps for you — if you upgrade to Avira’s premium version.
More useful is the second tab, Security, with which you can start on-demand scans, check for orphaned files, search for apps that need updating, access the Windows Firewall, and enable and disable the various Avira protection modules.
This shows that free users can only access the real-time protection module, which monitors your computer at all times and scans for any potentially malicious software that attempts to make changes to your device.
If you click on the dedicated web, email, and ransomware security modules, you will be prompted to sign up for Avira Prime. This is less generous than many of Avira’s free competitors, but it’s worth bearing in mind that real-time protection is the most important component of any modern anti-malware tool for everyday defense.
The Privacy tab is mainly there to promote other Avira products. I’m not a big fan of the Browser Security module – Avira Safe Shopping Extension. Free users also get a not particularly useful 500MB of monthly productivity on Avira’s Phantom VPN, which has been upgraded to unlimited Avira Prime subscribers.
Password Manager that comes with Avira has a free version; But, even though free users can sync across devices, you will have to pay for a password security check which is not as polished as competitors like Bitwarden.
A file shredder gets rid of files and replaces them so they can’t be recovered, while the Privacy Settings tool helps you tweak Windows settings and installed apps so you don’t inadvertently share more than you want.
You’ll find more tools under the Performance tab, with utilities to locate and delete duplicate files, a performance optimizer, a driver update checker, a tool to tweak laptop battery settings, as well as a selection of system and desktop speed optimization tools. It should be noted that the interruption-free game / movie / full screen mode is only available on the paid Avira offers.
Should you buy it?
If you are using an older version of Windows:
If you’re an existing Avira Free user running an older version of Windows, its current performance is decent, if not amazing.
You want the best possible protection:
It’s not as effective as Microsoft Defender for current versions of Windows, or Avast if you’re running an older version – stick with these versions if you’re looking for a new antivirus solution.
Avira Free Security’s additional features are extraordinarily generous for a free anti-malware suite, and will work happily on Windows 7 and 8.1. However, for Windows 10 and 11, tests show that it is less effective at blocking malware from your PC than Microsoft’s premium – and fully integrated – Defender suite, while users of unsupported Microsoft operating systems will be better off using free antivirus tools From Avast or Bitdefender.
How do we test?
We use all antivirus software ourselves, so we can check different features.
We also use trusted websites to determine malware detection performance, including AV-Test, AV Comparatives and SE Labs.
We download and use the software ourselves to test the included features
We use trusted and certified websites to determine malware detection performance
questions and answers
Is Avira Free Safe?
Yes, it is completely safe to use and can be trusted. But you can find better free malware detection elsewhere.
Is Avira Antivirus free for life?
Yes, Avira Free Security is free to use for as long as you want. Although some features are locked behind the premium tier firewall.