Avira Free Antivirus 13 Review
key review info
- Application: Avira Free Antivirus 126.96.36.19952
- Reviewed on:
- Redesigned GUI
- (6 more, see all...)
Regarded by many as one of the most effective free security solutions to date, Avira Free Antivirus continues to impress through innovative features, speed and usability.
Major changes have been made since our previous review, including a redefined interface, additional scanning modules and configuration parameters, as well as optimized performance.
The latest release includes real-time, cloud-based protection against malware, a web browser tracking blocker, website safety assistance, network drive scanning, and social network protection features geared towards parents.
The complete package includes real-time rootkit and web protection, along with a shell extension for quickly scanning custom files and folders via the Explorer context menu.
Advanced users may customize the installation by specifying which modules should be skipped (if any).
An automatic scan at startup generates a file report with the total files, directories, archives, warnings, searched and hidden objects, detections, suspicions, as well as repaired, wiped, deleted and moved items.
The Avira Free Antivirus interface is clean and highly intuitive, having all modules broken down into separate areas. From the "Status" panel, you can quickly activate real-time protection, scan the system, check for updates, and configure settings.
The application is able to verify local drives and hard discs, removable drives, Windows system directory, "My Documents," or active processes for viruses or unwanted programs. It can perform a full scan, a custom or quick one (Windows directory, programs directory, documents and settings for all users). Another scanning profile focuses on rootkits and active malware on selected drives.
The antivirus real-time shield is prompt in displaying notifications when detecting a virus or unwanted program. By default, it suggests moving the file to a quarantine area, while also allowing delete, ignore or rename as options.
You can view the last found file and virus/unwanted program, last scanned item, along with status information (e.g. detections, suspicions, fixed files). It is also possible to look into the Avira Virus lab database for information on a known virus, such as discovery date, target platform, damage and distribution potential.
Quarantine, Scheduler, Reports, Events
Avira Free Antivirus' quarantine is able to rescan, restore or remove objects, or send them to the developer on account of virus or false positive suspicion. You can view their properties and export them to file, insert a new item into the list, or open the quarantine's directory in Explorer.
Multiple scan and update jobs can be scheduled (once or recurring), and it is possible to assign one of the scanner profiles, select the display mode (invisible, minimized, maximized) and enable the computer's auto-shutdown. Plus, you can delete a task or edit its properties.
The antivirus application records all activity and lets you analyze reports and events, export a list of events to file, as well as filter it by event type (e.g. updates, system scanner).
One of Avira Free Antivirus' strengths lies in the configuration, as it lets users fully customize the program's behavior for each module. The system scanner may focus on all files, smart extensions (Avira decides which files are scanned based on their content) or a custom file extension list. You can disable the Cancel button during tasks, and pick the scanner priority.
Additional settings take into account the scanning of boot sectors and master boot sectors, optimized scans, integrity checking for system files, the registry, and others. The utility can remember an action to apply on all detections (e.g. quarantine, repair), exclude files, filter archives and limit the recursion depth. Regarding heuristics, you can disable Avira's Macrovirus and AHeAD modes.
The real-time shield is also capable of using smart extensions or custom list. You can make it scan archives, choose the scan mode (when reading, writing, or both), disable event recordings, make exceptions (processes and file objects), as well as disable the aforementioned heuristic methods.
Furthermore, it is possible to enable a password for selected areas, disable protection (for the Hosts file, registry entries etc.), disable sound notifications and updates/warnings alerts, as well as customize the list of threat categories (aside from viruses and malware), such as back-door clients, double-extension files, fraudulent software, phising, games, and unusual runtime compression.
Avira Free Antivirus ensures the security of your web browsers through a toolbar that shows alerts once an accessed website becomes suspicious, blocks companies that track your activity, while allowing you to make exceptions. It features a pop-up blocker, search module on Ask.com, and secure mode for starting a new private session, and lets you clear browsing data and access email accounts.
Supervising child activity on social networks
A special feature of Avira Free Antivirus is dedicated to monitoring your child's activity on popular social networking platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter. You need to register (for free) at Avira's Social Shield website and submit your child's account details, in order to receive emails with critical alerts on friends, strangers and photo/video analysis, profanity, drugs, drinking and smoking, and other sensitive aspects. The level of these filters is adjustable. Overall, this service is pretty smart and effective.
Testing the scanning speed
We measured Avira Free Antivirus' scanning speed by comparing it with two popular antivirus software suites, namely AVG Antivirus Free and Avast! Free Antivirus. The object for analysis was a local drive with 96GB used space, and we adjusted the programs' settings to equivalent parameters. The scanning procedure ran with normal priority and included all file types, except for archives.
As far as the system performance is concerned, all tools used very low CPU and RAM on our test system, running on an Intel Core i5-2400 CPU and 8GB RAM on Windows 8 Pro 64-bit. Avira completed the scan job in 39 minutes and 23 seconds, AVG took 47 minutes and 13 seconds, while Avast! crossed the finish line in 43 minutes and 42 seconds. All three products detected three different threats throughout the scans. Note that no actions were taken for infected/suspicious files between these runs.
The antivirus system is cross-platform and receives regular updates (you can pair it with Avira Antivir Virus Definition to keep it up-to-date). It performs speedy scans while remaining light on resources usage, which do not require frequent user intervention. The false positive rate is low, and Avira Free Antivirus manages to deactivate e-threats without error. Furthermore, it provides a security app for locating your Android smartphone in case of loss or theft.
Although the application quickly carries out a task, it usually takes a long time loading settings and modules. Furthermore, we have encountered issues in attempting to install and run the web protection component on multiple machines and platforms.
Users who want to disable ads and access additional features (e.g. mail protection, firewall, safe browsing, game mode) may update to Avira Antivirus Premium. Until then, Avira's Free Antivirus application suite remains a popular choice for home users, since it's free to use. It is not compatible with Windows 8.1 at the moment.