Avira is a powerhouse of an antivirus program, offering real-time protection as well as an extreme number of extra features. However, it’s a bit pricey for the average user and it didn’t pass every test the security labs threw at it. Although it didn’t make our best antivirus software list the last time around, its recent improvement in support options may be the push it needs.
In this Avira review, we’ll take an in-depth look at its feature list, tell you if it’s worth the price and analyze its ease of use. Then we’ll run it through our own tests and summarize what the labs have to say about its security suite. Finally, we’ll test out the customer support options and give you our overall verdict.
Even the free version of Avira is staggering in its feature set, but Avira Prime is worth it despite the high price tag. Check out what makes this program worth the cost and give it a shot with its 30-day free trial.
Strengths & Weaknesses
- Very feature rich
- Phone & social media support
- Digital health dashboard
- Automatic software/driver update
- Slow file copying
- No firewall
Alternatives for Avira
Avira is absolutely packed with features. Every section of the application includes a flood of new options to speed up your computer, scan for malware or even update your drivers. Not only does it bring a ton of luxury features to the board, such as a built-in virtual private network, it makes managing your computer convenient and easy, in general.
Some of the features offered are optimizations of your own computer, such as a built-in updater for all of your drivers and software. You can update each driver manually, but Avira gathers them all in one place, notifies you which ones are out of date and lets you update them all with a single click. This updater can protect you from security issues that are fixed with a patch in a later version of a program.
There’s a small army of features that tap into this convenience factor. Avira will delete duplicates of files, change your performance profile on your laptop, modify which programs start when your computer does and even let you change your computer’s privacy settings to minimize the data being shared with third parties.
This is all wrapped up in the “system speedup” features, which are not security-related but will improve how you use your computer, in general.
One of the system speedup features is called “hyper boost.” This function takes several hours to complete, but it will fully optimize your startup process so you can go from restarting your computer to using it as fast as possible.
After you optimize your startup process with hyper boost, there are also individual settings so you can turn on any programs that you actually want to launch at startup, as well as a built-in timer for your startup time.
On top of these convenience features are more traditional tools offered by Avira itself. This includes fan favorites, such as a file shredder and the Phantom VPN (with a 1GB monthly limit on the free plan). Read our Phantom VPN review for more in-depth coverage on the VPN itself and where it stands compared to other similar services.
Features such as file shredders are commonly requested by users and offered by many higher-end antivirus programs, such as Kaspersky (check out our Kaspersky Anti-Virus review), so their inclusion immediately elevates Avira above much of the competition.
You also have the opportunity to change your privacy settings across your entire computer using Avira. It gathers every setting on your computer that might leak data and allows you to edit them in the program itself. This includes any programs that are built in to your operating system, as well, such as Microsoft Edge built into Windows.
The performance-based features that Avira offers are dedicated to making your computer as fast as possible. This includes a disk cleaner, which removes temporary files, cache files and other space-hogging files that get in the way.
Although this is not technically a security feature, it’s where this antivirus shines. Avira contains so many helpful features that your computer will be better in every way by the time you go through them.
Once you’ve done that, you can optimize your performance profiles, if you’re using a laptop. This is a setting that already exists on your computer but — like the privacy settings — Avira gathers it into one place. There’s even a feature to organize your desktop for maximum productivity.
The only feature that is strangely missing from Avira Antivirus is a firewall. With all the extra features included, the user may expect a firewall, or at least the ability to manage the default Windows firewall within Avira, similar to the way you can manage the privacy settings.
Instead, the firewall button in the program just opens the default settings that come with your operating system, such as Windows firewall. This is an oversight that stands out especially due to the huge number of features already included.
Hidden deep in the system speedup settings is also a file encryption service. It’s unclear exactly what encryption algorithm Avira is using, but read our best encryption software guide for more information about your encryption options.
Avira Features Overview
- Unlimited devices, startup optimizer, disk cleaner, password manager
- One device, real-time protection, phishing, ransomware
- One device, program optimizer, cloud protection, automatic software updater
- Five devices, VIP support, disk cleaner, mobile apps
Many of Avira’s most important and shiniest features are offered even in the free version, such as basic malware protection, a file shredder and a limited VPN with 1GB of data per month. The free antivirus also includes a basic password manager and the software updater, which updates all of your software and drivers for maximum security.
However, we recommend not using Avira’s built-in password manager. Instead, check out our best password managers roundup to find one that’s right for you.
The next tier, Avira Antivirus Pro, doesn’t have many extras that make it worth it. It’s mainly to get access to the phone and email support, although phishing and ransomware support certainly don’t hurt as extra features (read our ransomware protection tips). It is difficult to even find its product page, as Avira seems to be pushing the higher tiers for obvious reasons.
Avira Internet Security is strange in that it’s the only tier offered without cross-platform availability. It is only available on Windows. The automatic software updater, however, makes this upgrade worth it. It checks automatically for any updates, so it’s great protection against any exploits that will be discovered in the future and subsequently patched.
The top-of-the-line offering is Avira Prime. This gives you access to the Pro version of the password manager, unlimited VPN usage and the mobile applications. It’s pricey, especially compared to many of its competitors. For example, McAfee’s most expensive plan is less than half of Avira’s (see our analysis of McAfee Total Protection for more).
However, with all the features that are offered, the price is worth it. For $30 more per year, this plan can be expanded to include up to 25 devices, making it a great choice for anyone with many devices that all need protection. However, for the price, five devices is pretty limited (check out AVG Antivirus for an example of a similar price with unlimited devices).
There is a 30-day free trial offered for all of Avira’s paid products, but it’s a bit difficult to find. We couldn’t find any link to it on its website outside of a pop-up that occurred when we were comparing products. This does give you full access to all of their paid products, though, including the customer support options that are otherwise gated behind payment.
Avira is almost completely painless to use. Despite having so many features, they are surprisingly well-organized and easy to access. While the scans did slow down our test computer a noticeable amount, they were fast enough to not be a huge issue.
The installation process was quick and easy, and even unobtrusive. When Avira is installing, it minimizes itself to a small toast notification so you can continue using your computer while keeping an eye on its progress.
Once the program is installed, it immediately recommends you run a “smart scan,” which is similar to Avast (read our Avast Pro review for a comparison).
This essentially runs through every way that Avira can help your computer, including a quick malware scan, an analysis of your privacy settings, a scan of opportunities to improve performance and even an evaluation of which programs are out of date.
After the smart scan completes, Avira has a baseline with which to make recommendations. This scan is essential due to the sheer number of features the program offers. It will give you a great idea of what’s possible with Avira without overwhelming you with menu options, similar to a tour of everything it has to offer.
The rest of the program is split into three categories: security, privacy and performance. Security is where you’ll find the scanning options that are at the core of any antivirus. Even in this straightforward section, Avira offers a dizzying number of different custom scan options, although “quick scan” and “full scan” are the main attractions.
By default, Avira also schedules a scan of your active processes every day at midnight. You can change this, check out all the scan options or add any other scheduled scans from the “manage scans” menu.
We ran a quick scan and a full scan on our test computer to judge their speed and CPU usage. The quick scan took just one minute and spiked our CPU usage by a little bit under 10 percent, which is perfectly reasonable. The full scan, however, took just over three hours and occasionally spiked our CPU usage up to 20 percent higher.
This isn’t too terrible, but not as fast as some competitors, such as Sophos (see our Sophos Home review for more information). However, Sophos is the exception, and Avira is on par with other competitors.
Alongside the desktop program is a digital health dashboard that you can access through Avira’s website. Any applications you download on your devices will talk to the dashboard, improving your overall “health.”
Most of the improvements suggested here are programs such as Phantom VPN and Opera to determine if Opera is right for you). There are also a few browser extensions for features, such as safe shopping, and mobile apps for any mobile device you have.
With the amount of content that this security suite offers, it’s difficult to make every aspect easy to find and straightforward. However, Avira does an admirable job at making the application easy to explore and intuitive to find specific features.
Avira Browser Extensions
There are also extensions offered when you use Avira to improve your browser safety and give you protection even online. These focus primarily on privacy, blocking ads and trackers, acting as their own internet security suite on top of the protection already offered from the desktop application.
However, the extensions contain an incongruous, hidden feature: price comparisons. On compatible websites, Avira will show an extra toolbar informing you of a better price for that item. These are the kind of helpful — but slightly unrelated — features that are peppered throughout Avira. It will improve your browser safety while simultaneously getting you deals.
It’s also worth noting that the support buttons for the Chrome extension are currently broken and either do nothing or lead you to a 404 page. As this is a very straightforward application, it’s not a huge issue, but attention to detail like that is important.
For the amount of features packed in, Avira’s user experience is fairly friendly and well-organized. It’s simple to install, slick looking and leads you through the program in an intuitive way. Although it did slow down our computer a bit while using the scans, it did very well in user-friendliness.
To test Avira’s security offerings, we ran it through some hands-on testing and checked out its lab results. Testing the program with your own two hands can give you some great data, but labs use rigorous testing environments and have access to the most cutting-edge technology, so we use them as the gold standard of antivirus testing.
For our hands-on testing, we first put it up against AMTSO, or the Anti-Malware Testing Standards Organization. Avira failed to block only the phishing page (check out what phishing is and why it’s important), successfully catching every other piece of malware, both by a loud notification and by blocking the page it came from entirely.
To put Avira through the gauntlet, we also used the tools of WICAR, which throws a series of browser exploits at an antivirus to test the strength of its internet security suite. Out of the 13 exploits, Avira blocked nine of them and allowed four through. For an example of an antivirus that can catch all 13, check out our Webroot SecureAnywhere Review.
Although Avira may not make our list of the most secure antivirus software, it more than holds its own in the protection front. With some excellent results in the labs, Avira can be trusted to keep your computer secure.
AV-Test gave Avira stellar security results. In its latest test, Avira blocked nearly every zero-day exploit and all widespread malware. It was also significantly faster than the industry average in almost every respect. The only place it faltered was copying files; those were consistently four to five times slower than the industry average.
AV-Comparatives agrees with AV-Test when it comes to speed. Its latest performance test shows Avira, again, only struggling with file copying, similar to Bitdefender (see our Bitdefender review).
Although Avira was ranked in the middle of the pack when it comes to speed, it still received AV-Comparatives’ highest ranking. This speaks more to the high quality of antivirus programs today than to Avira’s speed, in general.
In AV-Comparatives’ real-world protection test, Avira was one of only two antivirus programs that blocked 100 percent of malware, and also only blocked a single false positive. The other antivirus that performed almost as admirably was Symantec Norton Security (check out our Norton Security 2018 review for more).
The final lab tests we rely on are from MRG Effitas. In its latest banking simulation, Avira was unfortunately not certified as secure, unlike some programs, such as ESET Internet Security (read our ESET NOD32 review to see how to stacks up to Avira in other ways).
While Avira Antivirus succeeded in securing the lab device from a botnet attack, it failed to block one of the pieces of financial malware tested. It also failed the simulator test, although it was in good company — all but three of the antivirus programs tested also failed that test.
Avira offers two tiers of support: the free tier and the paid tier. Both of them offer some form of direct communication with Avira employees, but more direct contact is understandably limited to people who are giving Avira money. You should be able to find the answers to your questions with any tier of support, but if you’re looking to hear a human voice, it’ll cost you.
On the free tier, you have a series of robust knowledgebase articles, a YouTube channel full of in-depth tutorial and educational videos, and an active community forum.
The knowledgebase includes troubleshooting for any errors, explanations on various features and quick infosheets for some of the products. It is split up by feature to make it simple to navigate, or you can search for a specific question. While some of the links are a little technical, it’s not difficult to find what you need.
The forums are fairly active, as well, and have employees of the company answering questions daily. Because Avira is based in Germany, each forum is a mixture of English and German, which can make it more difficult to find an answer to your question if it has already been offered.
Email and phone support are offered only with paid accounts. However, these options are also offered to accounts using a free trial of a paid product.
Phone support is offered during the daytime in Central European Time, while email is offered 24 hours a day. They do not offer a live chat option at all, lagging behind the support offered by competitors such as Trend Micro (read our Trend Micro Antivirus+ review).
When we sent an email request, an Avira employee responded to it within the hour. However, this was midmorning on a weekday, within working hours for both the United States and Central Europe, where their customer support seems to be located. Your experience may vary depending on when you require support.
Avira runs a Twitter support page that does not distinguish between free and paying customers, in case you need a personal touch but don’t have access to email support. Also, strangely enough, Avira runs a Pinterest page if you prefer your support through curated pins.
Although the two tiers of support is a bit off-putting, forcing free users to rely on community forums and social media to get answers, the knowledgebase is so well-maintained that this shouldn’t be an issue most of the time. Plus, the social media options give every user the ability to speak to a human about their technical problems or questions.
The inclusion of phone support, unlike some less supportive programs such as ZoneAlarm (read our ZoneAlarm Antivirus review), puts Avira a notch above many other antivirus programs.
Avira Antivirus is a great program. It has everything you could want out of a security suite, and it stuffs in features that you didn’t even realize you wanted, all without feeling cluttered or bloated.
Its antivirus protection stands above the competitors, making it a stellar option for pure malware protection even without the glut of extra features. Its support is also detailed and easy to access across many platforms.
However, its cost puts Avira Prime out of the price range of most users, especially with so many more affordable malware protection programs on the market today.
Its multilingual user base should also be split into separate customer support channels for usability purposes, so you’re not digging through German videos or forum posts while looking for an answer to your issue.
While Avira is a solid option for your antivirus needs, check out our other antivirus reviews to see what it’s up against, if you’re not ready to shell out that kind of money. What’s your experience with Avira and its malware protection? Please let us know in the comments. As always, thanks for reading.
- There are a few spikes in CPU usage during in-depth scans, but that’s to be expected of antivirus software. The only other speed issue Avira faces is when a user is copying a file. Copying is up to five times slower than other antivirus programs. In every other aspect, Avira is not a slow program and will not significantly slow down your computer.
- Avira has a lot going for it, but it isn’t the best free antivirus out there. While its feature list -- even for the free version -- is impressive, it just doesn’t match up in its detection rate and malware protection when compared to the best free antivirus programs out there.