Known for its popularity among European (particularly German) users, Avira Antivirus Free was pretty impressive with its scanning and active defense features. Yet during our tests, the program also revealed glaring issues with its detection database. A widespread error kept the software from updating itself properly to combat new threats, which rendered it inoperable for around half a day.
It is also our opinion that Avira doesn’t really want to offer a free version of its antivirus, or at least treats it as a marketing tool for its fully-featured paid version. There’s nothing wrong with the latter, but when you have messages asking you to pay pop up very regularly, it makes you wish you tried something else.
There’s also a relative sparsity of protection, especially concerning how well Avira protects the hosts file and the registry (two important system functions that control how a PC connects to the internet and the operation of other applications respectively).
One area where Avira does work well is scan, particularly the detection of pre-existing threats on a computer. Complementing this is a decent cleaning function that removes threats without compromising infected files.
With regards to the interface, Avira took a very utilitarian approach that casual users may find a bit confusing. Their more knowledgeable counterparts will feel at home however.
Defensive Capability: ***
Scanning and Cleaning: ****
- Which free antivirus performed above and beyond the call of duty—and price?
- Our Testing Methodology
- AVAST! 7 Free Antivirus
- AVG Free Antivirus 2012
- Avira AntiVir Personal
- Comodo Internet Security
- Microsoft Security Essentials
- Panda Security CloudAntivirus
- PC Tools Antivirus Free
- Appendix: Complimentary Free Antivirus Tools