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Avira Antivirus Review 2021

Steve Adams 15+ years experience in the tech, privacy and security space

avira logo squareAvira is based in Tettnang, Germany and has over 500 employees. Avira Free Security is its flagship software and has over 100 million customers, according to the website.
I will cover the following areas when conducting my review:

  • Does this software cause slowdown or speed issues?
  • Is Avira Antivirus effective against spyware, malware and viruses?
  • Is Avira user friendly?
  • Is Avira good value for money?

At the end of 2020, Avira was acquired by NortonLifeLock, along with Avast the year after. As we’ve seen with antivirus software acquisitions in the past, like when Avast acquired rival AVG, there’s a good chance Avira will remain the same for the most part. Avira could incorporate some of Norton’s best features and vice versa, although it’s something to watch.

I tested Avira to see how it performs against some industry-standard AV tests. This pits Avira up against the EICAR test files to ensure it is actively scanning downloads, and against three live samples which are adware and two trojans.

I’ll also highlight the respective pros and cons of Avira including coverage of its customer support responsiveness and thoroughness when answering questions.

Avira performs well in my review, though some competitors have scored higher in some areas.

On top of this, Avira Free Security is, you guessed it, free. Paid subscriptions include other software services from Avira including an unlimited VPN.

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Summary

Pros:

  • Free version does better than some paid versions from rivals
  • Outstanding performance in detecting variety of malicious objects
  • Good record on transparency

Cons:

  • Missed one EICAR file (more on that below)
  • Company headquarters is located in the European Union, but acquired by a US company
  • Avira has had issues with security breaches in the past

Avira Plans and pricing

Avira Antivirus Free

Avira offers a free antivirus for PC, Mac, Android, and iOS. It includes advertising.

Avira Antivirus Pro

This includes the antivirus, and access to premium support. You get one protection for one device for $44.99 (£32.77) a year.

Avira Internet Security

Includes the antivirus, premium support, software updater, and password manager. One device a year is $57.99 (£42.24).

Avira Prime

Avira Prime costs $99.99 (£72.83) per year for five devices and is available on a wide variety of platforms. It offers all the benefits of Avira Internet Security with the added bonus of unlimited VPN and device tuneup software.

Device coverage

Avira’s free and paid versions only allow for single device coverage. You need to purchase Avira Prima to use it on up to five devices.

Trial options

Avira has a free version, but you can download a trial of their paid tiers.

Compatibility

ProductsWindows 10Windows 8Windows 7LinuxMacMobileRequired Processor
Avira FreeYesYesYesNoYesYes32-bit (x86) 64-bit (x64) processor, 1 GHz
Avira Antivirus ProYesYesYesYesYesYesSee above
Avira Internet SecurityYesYesYesNoYesYes32-bit (x86) 64-bit (x64) processor, 1 GHz
Avira PrimeYesYesYesNoYesYes32-bit (x86) 64-bit (x64) processor, 1 GHz

Effectiveness against malware

We put Avira up against several malware tests. We used both malware test files and live malware samples to give us an idea of real-world performance.

Avira’s results on other review sites will also be investigated to see if there are any major vulnerabilities that should be known about.

EICAR sample tests

The European Institute for Computer Antivirus Research (EICAR) is a commonly used benchmark to test the effectiveness of an antivirus. EICAR has released sample malicious files available which will replicate a virus or malware attack that are harmless to your computer.

We tested Avira’s quick scan to see in real-time how effective it is at detecting and blocking EICAR files.

Avira did okay in the EICAR test, with the following results.

Test FileEICAR Sample 1EICAR Sample 2EICAR Sample 3EICAR Sample 4
AviraBlockedAllowedBlockedBlocked

Avira detected the majority of threats and stopped them, except the text file. Missing this second sample was the only issue we found with Avira. This is likely due to Avira not scanning text files that are downloaded.

The real test is the next one: Avira versus live malware samples. The EICAR samples are publically available, but they are designed to emulate real-world and potentially devastating threats.

The malicious software we’re using for this test has a variety of vectors covered including adware and Trojan horse style entry methods.

Adware and Trojan horse malware are very common threats online. Adware spies on you and injects ads into your computer and web browser. A Trojan horse hides in innocent-looking software which may function as intended but performs malicious actions in the background.

These live samples also test vulnerability to other recent cyberattacks such as ransomware. Ransomware refers to the malicious software allowing the computer to be locked down remotely, usually by encrypting files in place. To unlock it requires paying a ransom for the decryption key, although some don’t unlock your files even after paying.

These types of threats underscore how important it is to prevent these types of infections rather than try and clean them post-infection.

Here is how Avira did against the handpicked infections.

Test FileLive Sample 1 (Adware)Live Sample 2 (Trojan)Live Sample 3 (Trojan)
AviraBlockedBlockedBlocked

As you can see, Avira detected and blocked all of them. The weight you put on this factor or the EICAR results will be a personal choice, but it should be noted that real-world performance trumps simulated almost every time.

Antivirus developers are testing products before launch or update, and they will be using malware and viruses that they find in public. This means that such well-known test material as EICAR’s samples could just be written into the antivirus software.

Are the scans effective?

The full scan feature of Avira is the next subject of our tests. It will be measured via time taken, thoroughness of the check, and effectiveness at removing the bad files.

Avira scanned over 612,851 discrete items on my PC when put through a full scan.

This full scan will take some time as each directory must be scanned. Overall time will be a factor of the number of files in a computer system. Large directories full of many files spread over many drives will take a lot longer than small flash memory.

In terms of raw numbers, Avira takes less time than several of its rivals but also scans fewer items.

Bitdefender is one of the best performers on this metric. In less time, Bitdefender scans over 4 million unique system items. Comparing Avira to other players in the market, it still does pretty well. Check for results with Avira highlighted in bold.

Test TypeFull Scan Time (minutes)Full Scan # Items Scanned
Bitdefender1104200000
Kaspersky2272100000
Norton121970000
Avira128612851
Avast601870000
McAfee223785000

AV-Comparatives tests

Other review sites have put Avira through a battery of tests.

AV-Comparatives is first up and runs benchmarks for antivirus research. It is the most recognizable name in AV research. As the organization has been around since 1999, it has one of the largest malicious software sample collections worldwide. This means that it can create a real-world environment to see how an antivirus program deals with various attacks.

First, the Malware Protection Test first looks to find vulnerabilities via USBs and network inputs. This test attempts to locate any local vectors to get into the target computer.

This is for situations where malicious programs are executed directly rather than remotely over the internet. Performing well in this test reflects a program’s capacity against infection before, during, and after execution.

It is also important that Avira’s antivirus not only prevents execution but takes remedial action to undo the damage done by the rogue software.

The Real World Protection Test looks at common online threats attacking via web browsers or other backdoors. If antivirus programs are not dealing well with these types of threats, you are missing a critical defensive shield.

The test doesn’t particularly care at what stage the malicious software is blocked in order to not unfairly benefit certain types of antivirus programs. As long as the threat is effectively dealt with and does not harm the target system, that will give a good score.

To be successful in this test, Avira will have to deal with web-based malware. This is any type of malicious program that has its origins in the Internet, which can be run on the user’s computer.

Avira came through with a 98.9 percent success rate in the February-May 2021 Real-World Protection Test, stopping 728 online threats. This is a solid result and reveals that virtually all threats should be stopped by Avira. Despite this, Avira was not one of the top antivirus programs tested. Trend Micro scored 100 percent, while Avast, AVG, Bitdefender, and Panda all scored 99.9 percent.

Importantly, Avira Antivirus scans and blocks effectively across a range of malware and virus attacks. It also does not mark obviously safe files as dangerous, meaning it does not produce false positives. Avira was well below the average of 13 false positives with three false positives.

AV-Test also ran a number of checks on Avira in June 2021. It scored the Windows version of the software out of 6 on three key metrics. For protection, it scored Avire 5 out of 6. For performance, it scored 5.5 out of 6, while usability was scored 6 out of 6.

Additional features

There are some additional features bundled with the Avira antivirus package. You get a VPN with a 500 MB per month data cap on the free plan.

Avira Phantom VPN offers the standard VPN features such as getting around geoblocking and privacy online. It made our list of the best VPNs that come bundled with antivirus.

Avira Password Manager

Avira includes a password manager. This prevents keyloggers from capturing vital information which means your security and privacy protection go up, as well as removing the need for you to remember a lot of passwords.

Avira Mobile App

The mobile app runs system scans and can help to protect your data.

This app will help ensure your data, photos, and personal information are secured. Avira’s security software will perform well to protect your phone and is likely doing more than the security features you have on your phone right now. It does this using a number of processes. Antivirus scans your devices for malicious files. An app lock feature ensures apps can’t be opened on your phone without using a pin. You also get phone camera protection so hackers can’t capture images on your device, helping to protect your privacy.

Considering how much most of us use our phones these days, they are worth protecting.

Impact on PC performance

Avira’s software will need to use CPU and memory resources to perform its scans. This means that your PC’s performance may suffer during these full or quick scans.

To measure the impact first, we set a baseline CPU utilization and memory utilization figure. Next, we’ll run the quick scan via Avira and then a full scan to note any difference in resource use.

Not everyone has the latest and greatest technology, and some may be using laptops that are slower or older. If the software is too system-intensive, there are diminishing returns to getting that extra suspicious file if the device itself is unusable.

It is normal to see a much higher usage of device resources from the full scan than the quick scan.

Avira’s full scan did take some time, but the sheer size of files detected as well as blocks are impressive. As expected, there is evidence that Avira’s software does impact CPU and memory utilization, but there is nothing particularly concerning about this resource usage.

Test TypeControl CPU Utilization % (no scan)Control Memory Utilization % (no scan)Full Scan CPU Utilization %Full Scan Memory Utilization %Full Scan Time (minutes)
Avira40556468128

It looks to be an average 30 percent jump in resource intensity. While this may seem fairly CPU intensive, there is nothing of concern regarding this nominal increase in memory utilization.

The below table is a comparison of the increases in resource utilization as measured in other competing products. Avira is highlighted in bold.

Software% increase in CPU Utilization% increase in Memory Utilization
Avira3820
Bitdefender247
Norton703
Avast101
McAfee8865
Kaspersky546

Avira is on the lower end of the CPU impact measurements and the higher end of system memory impact.

The quick scan shows similar results with a fairly low impact on the PC. A user should not notice any discernible loss of performance while the scan is taking place.

Test TypeQuickscan CPU Utilization %Quickscan Memory Utilization % (no scan)Full Scan Memory Utilization %Full Scan Time (minutes)
Avira32703641

Usability

Avira’s interface is a white and red theme. Actions and instructions are centered and easy to view, with important information prominently displayed.

Buttons for support lead to guides on the website and an internal help menu. The dashboard view shows the actions to be taken, like a quick scan.

Avira’s customer support

24/7 support is available on Avira’s website. The paid subscriptions to Avira include priority troubleshooting via a toll-free number or online chat.

Email addresses are listed for technical support services. Avira’s website also has many guides and blogs that explain features and settings.

The paid subscriptions include priority live support teams that are much more responsive and will keep track of your issues.

What’s new in the latest version of Avira?

New Features have been added including:

  • Refreshed GUI – A fresh look of the product, applying the latest corporate identity graphics.
  • New AIRS (Avira Intelligent Repair System) functionality. The latest repair functions are updated (reboot handling, quarantine handling, extended API).
  • The SearchFree toolbar will be no longer be included in the software.

In addition, the antivirus engine is updated to deal with the latest threats including viruses, malware and adware.

Best alternatives to Avira

Interested in learning about a few of the best alternatives to Avira? Check out my recommendations below.

Trend Micro: Trend Micro includes a few extra tools, but many other companies offer more added features. If you can live without all the extra tools and just want an effective antivirus scanner, Trend Micro’s discounts are worth taking up.

Panda:  Panda scores well on performance and pricing. Panda bundles in a number of useful features with its antivirus scanner making it a good all-round security solution for your PC, laptop, or other devices.

Norton: Norton is a well-known name in the home antivirus sector and has maintained a good reputation for many years. This includes excellent malware protection results from independent labs. There are also excellent security features such as a VPN and webcam protection.

Verdict

Avira offers a solid product that excels in most categories. It did very well with the live samples, including catching malware quickly.

There seems to be limited impact on computer performance and the base antivirus program is free. The premium version does not have a better scanner so you get the best scanning and removal of threats even with the free version.

Avira does not have serious issues that are apparent. Our tests did not reveal any security flaws and indeed Avira seemed to perform very well against serious threats.

In this situation, Avira is offering a competitive product with optional subscriptions that further extend the safety and protection of its base offering.

With an almost perfect score in the tests and no false positives, Avira did well against the competition.

Avira is the perfect choice for a free AV tool to protect your device. It is effective at preventing and removing threats and boasts a user-friendly interface.