Avast tops our best free antivirus software shortlist, but it has its own premium plans for those who need a little extra.
Avira sits at the other end of the market, providing subscribers with one of the best antivirus software for PC, Mac and mobile devices.
If you’re struggling to decide which antivirus software you should invest in, this Avira vs. Avast comparison review should help. Take a look at our separate Avira review and Avast review for more information on both providers.
Setting Up a Fight: Avira vs Avast
Editor’s Note 1/28/2020: A report has surfaced showing that Avast and its subsidiaries collect user browsing data from more than 100 million devices. We cannot, in good faith, recommend Avast or AVG products until we look further into the issue.
To help you sort through the benefits of both Avira and Avast, we’re going to test them over five rounds. Our antivirus archive is filled with some of our previous comparison reviews, if you’re unsure about the format.
Our five rounds cover features, pricing, user-friendliness, protection and the quality of customer service. We’ll declare a winner for each round, awarding either Avira or Avast a point and explaining why in a recap underneath.
The overall winner is the first provider to earn three or more points. We’ll run through our final thoughts at the bottom, using a mix of facts, independent testing and our own judgment to make the decision. We’d love your feedback, so feel free to agree or disagree with our reasoning in the comments section.
Antivirus protection is a bit like a game of whack-a-mole. When one threat is defeated, another pops up elsewhere. New types of dangerous malware or cyber threats require that antivirus software add new features to provide the best protection overall. In this first round, we’ll talk through the features Avira and Avast offer to consumers.
In our earlier Avira review, we awarded the provider a perfect 100-percent score for the quality of features it offered. Avira is by no means simplistic, with various security products across multiple subscription plans, both free and paid.
Avira puts a lot of emphasis on its top-tier product, Avira Prime. This plan gives subscribers complete access to the full suite of Avira premium products. It comes with Avira Antivirus Pro, the core Avira antivirus protection. We’ve talked about this protection favorably in the past in our Avira vs. Bitdefender comparison review.
Avira subscribers also gain access to a clean-up tool called System Speedup Pro, which removes temporary files and speeds up your PC, as well as a software scanner to update any outdated and at-risk apps you have installed. It’ll also give you a benchmark score out of 100 in various areas, including performance and privacy, with tips on how to improve.
For those who are worried about the dangers of public WiFi, Avira offers a virtual private network solution for customers called Phantom VPN. It’s unlimited for Avira Prime users, putting it ahead of the capped VPN service offered with Bitdefender (see our Bitdefender review).
Avira Phantom VPN doesn’t match up to the quality of the best VPN providers in the market, such as ExpressVPN, but it’s good to have the option available (read our Avira Phantom VPN review). Avira also provides a password manager for customers to help you learn how to set up a strong password for your accounts.
If you’re worried about your privacy, Avira Privacy Pal works through your various PC and browser settings to optimize how your data is used. Along with other features, it’ll disable location access and remove privacy cookies.
Mobile protection is offered, too, for users with Android and iOS devices. It blocks dangerous websites, fake and suspicious callers, and lets you track your device if it’s stolen.
Many of the features are offered with full access to certain subscribers — or for free with some limitations — letting you test out the Avira products you like first.
We’ve long been fans of Avast for the features you’ll see included, especially on the Avast free plan. It’s also an option we recommended for Android users on our best antivirus for Android shortlist.
Avast’s free plan is feature-filled in its own right, with extensive antivirus protection that blocks the biggest threats, including ransomware. If you’re worried about other devices on your network, the built-in network scanner will check for any risks to lower the chance of a cyber attack.
If you want to pay, Avast Premium takes all of the above features and adds DNS protection to reduce phishing attempts. There’s also a testing tool, called the Avast Sandbox, which you can use to securely test unknown software.
Rather than put your PC at risk, the Avast Sandbox lets you test new software or open suspicious files in an isolated testing mode, preventing it from interacting with the rest of your PC. If Avast detects a problem, you can safely remove it without any risk of infection.
Avast Premium also includes privacy protection features, including a webcam-blocking tool to stop snoopers from peaking at you without permission. Avast users can also take advantage of file encryption to secure your files, as well as a “shredding” deletion tool to completely erase any sensitive files you’re looking to delete.
If you’re looking for VPN protection and a password manager, as well as a file clean-up tool to remove junk files, you’ll need to look at Avast Ultimate at the top of the Avast product list. Avast SecureLine VPN is fine, but it isn’t one of the better VPN products, as our Avast SecureLine VPN review explains.
It’s a similar situation for the imaginatively named Avast Passwords. If you’re looking to save a few passwords, it’d be more than acceptable. If you need more features, you’ll want to look at one of the best password managers, instead, such as Dashlane (see our Dashlane review).
Round One Thoughts
This is a difficult round to judge. Avira and Avast both offer a comprehensive list of features designed to protect against all kinds of threats. There’s a lot of similarities between these antivirus providers, making this round a draw.
Before you reach for the credit card, you should carefully consider the price of any antivirus you choose to buy. With various plans, discounts and features to consider, you need to track down for the best value for your money. Let’s take a look at the prices you’ll have to pay for an Avira or Avast subscription.
Avira has a pricing setup that’s fairly typical in the antivirus market these days. Individual Avira plans are offered with variations in coverage based on the length or number of devices.
Because Avira separates many of its features into several “products,” it refers to its plans as “security bundles” instead. There are three such “bundles” available for sale.
- 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
It’s one of the few antivirus providers to offer monthly payments, along with better-value annual plans available from one to three years. Unlike some of its competitors, Avira doesn’t offer discounted rates for new customers.
The cheapest plan offered is Avira Antivirus Pro. It’s nearly $60 for an annual subscription that covers three devices. This is a little pricey, especially compared to the basic plans offered by other providers like Comodo (see our Comodo Internet Security Suite review).
Antivirus Pro is the basic option, coming with privacy protection, download and email scanning, top-tier antivirus protection and a web filter to block suspicious websites. It’s available for Windows and Mac users.
However, a better value option is Avira Internet Security Suite. It includes Antivirus Pro protection, as well as access to the self-explanatory Software Updater Pro and Password Manager Pro features for only $13 more than Antivirus Pro, with an annual three-device subscription.
At the top of the Avira “bundles” list is Avira Prime. This includes all the features previously mentioned and more, including a network scanner, VPN protection, privacy tune-up tools and mobile security for Android or iOS device owners.
Avira Prime comes at $99.99 per year for five devices, but you can upgrade to unlimited-device coverage for an extra $30 per year. This is extremely generous for those with large families, while the monthly plans offer an affordable alternative.
Like Avira, Avast comes with three product plans, a slimmed-down portfolio compared to our earlier Avast review. One of these products is Avast Free, an unusual option from an antivirus software but a strong plan in its own right.
- One to 10 PCs, WiFi security
- One to 10 PCs, Phishing protection, Sandbox
- One to 10 PCs, Webcam protection
- One to 10 PCs, Avast Cleanup
Avast Free Antivirus, as the name suggests, costs absolutely nothing but comes with Avast antivirus production, a network scanning tool and a basic password manager for customers.
The first plan that actually costs you money is Avast Premium Security, but it’s technically two plans. The first is Premium Security Single-Device, offering consumers antivirus coverage for one Windows PC for nearly $70 per year, which is $10 more than the basic Avira Antivirus Pro plan.
However, it comes with most of the Avast features, including the sandbox testing tool, protection against phishing and email spam, as well as secure-file encryption and shredding.
Additional devices require an Avast Premium Security Multi-Device subscription. This expands Avast’s coverage to include Android and iOS mobile devices. You’ll also gain protection for Mac devices, with up to 10 devices covered. It costs $90 per year, an additional $20 compared to Premium Security Single-Device.
Avast’s most expensive plan is Avast Ultimate. It’s $100 per year — $10 more than Premium Security Multi-Device — offering VPN protection and a password manager, as well as device tune-up features.
However, Avast Ultimate will only protect a single Windows PC. If you need to protect multiple devices, you’ll need to go for the slightly cheaper Avast Premium Security Multi-Device plan instead.
Round Two Thoughts
Avast’s free plan is impressive, but the paid plans are a little confusing, with the most expensive plan covering fewer devices than the plan immediately below it.
Avira’s product plans are easier to understand and cheaper than the equivalent Avast plans, making Avira the winner here.
3. User Friendliness
From installation to day-to-day usage, antivirus software needs to be something that anyone can use. We’re going to look at how user-friendly Avira and Avast are to help you decide which is the best option for you.
Avira’s installation file is mid-sized (around 180MB) and quick for users to complete. There aren’t many user choices, with most settings applied by the Avira installer itself.
Once installed, the Avira dashboard will look different, depending on which product you have. Avira Prime users will have a client that links you to Antivirus Pro and any other products in your subscription plan, like Avira’s VPN product.
Avira Antivirus Pro customers don’t have access to the separate Avira client, as they won’t have any other Avira products available. The antivirus client is separate and clearly laid out for customers to understand.
The antivirus client has five categories, accessible from a left-hand menu. The default “status” category gives you a quick update on your protection. In the center, the “scan” button lets you quickly start scanning.
If you want to access other features, you can flick through the other category tabs. Clicking “quarantine” leads you to any quarantined files, while the “modules” section gives you access to your Avira system firewall.
Each section comes with descriptions to help you understand any of the included features. This isn’t a big problem, though, as the main Avira antivirus client isn’t overloaded with unnecessary buttons or features.
If you do need to customize anything, though, clicking the gear icon in the bottom-left area of the client takes you to Avira’s settings. This under-the-hood settings area is extensive, with links to online guides and a “description” area for individual settings that can help you understand anything difficult.
The clean Avira interface hides an extremely powerful antivirus. The “scan” section will satisfy most users, while the “settings” area will let you customize your Avira protection any way you want to.
While Avira requires some user input during installation, Avast requires very little. Pressing the “install” button begins the process, taking care of almost all of the installation for you.
You’ll need to confirm some final terms and conditions once the installation is complete. Avast will then run a post-installation scan of your PC to check whether it can detect any malware. It will also run a scan for outdated software, offering to update any it detects.
Avast has one of the easiest antivirus clients to navigate, with an appealing color scheme that makes any obvious prompts and settings stand out. If you need to access other features, you can do that from the left-hand menu.
With only four categories, most of Avast’s features are pretty easy to find. The “protection” tab brings up your antivirus scanning options, your network protection, the Avast Sandbox and other features. Each feature has a brief description explaining what it does.
If you need to customize Avast, you can access the “settings” menu by clicking the “menu” button in the top-right.
If you click on a feature that isn’t included, Avast will take you straight to a sales page to purchase the product. The client doesn’t hide the features you don’t have, if you have a cheaper Avast subscription (or the free Avast plan).
Our previous Avast Pro review covered our distaste with this kind of advertising, but it’s more of an annoyance rather than a serious issue. It could be problematic and confusing for new customers, though, so it’s something you should watch out for.
Round Three Thoughts
As you’d expect from these top players, they’re both pretty equal when it comes to user-friendliness. Both antiviruses are quick to install and easy to use, although Avira does offer more customization for power users.
We’re also not big fans of the heavy sales focus within the Avast client, compared to the clarity of Avira’s offering, making Avira the better option here.
The most important part of our comparison reviews is our look at the overall quality of protection. Rather than test this for ourselves, we use the independent reports from three security firms: AV-Test, AV-Comparatives and MRG Effitas. Let’s take a look at how the protection from both Avira and Avast compares in real-world tests.
Starting with AV-Test, Avira scored 5.5 out of 6 for protection during its May-June 2019 protection test. A matching 5.5 out of 6 for performance was also recorded, with slightly lower performance scores compared to the industry average.
During AV-Comparatives’ February-May 2019 protection test, out of a sample size of 752, all 752 samples were blocked by Avira. Only Kaspersky Anti-Virus was able to match this score during the test (see our Kaspersky Anti-Virus review).
Performance scores for Avira weren’t as good during AV-Comparatives’ April 2019 performance test, though. Out of 14 antiviruses it tested, Avira was number 13, with only Windows Defender scoring worse. AV-Comparatives awarded Avira with its “Advanced” award for performance, alongside Trend Micro (see our Trend Micro Antivirus+ review).
The final lab test from MRG Effitas in Q2 2019 showed that, out of a sample size of 398, 397 were blocked by Avira. For this score, MRG Effitas awarded Avira a Level 1 “Certified” score, matching F-Secure (see our F-Secure Antivirus review).
With a 6 out of 6, Avast’s score during AV-Test’s protection test in July and August 2019 was slightly better than Avira’s. Performance scores weren’t as good, with 5.5 out of 6.
During AV-Comparatives’ February-May 2019 protection test, the recorded scores were acceptable, with Avast blocking 746 out of 752 malware samples. It missed six, with an overall 99.2-percent success rate. AV-Comparatives awarded Avast its “Advanced” award for protection.
Avast’s performance score wasn’t too bad in AV-Comparatives’ April 2019 test, sitting in the middle of the table and being awarded the highest “Advanced+” award.
MRG Effitas doesn’t test Avast’s consumer products, but it did test Avast Business Antivirus in its last Q2 2019 test. Unfortunately, unlike the other lab tests, Avast performed extremely poorly, with nearly five percent of samples missed. Only McAfee performed as badly in MRG Effitas’ test (see our McAfee Total Protection review).
It’s likely that Avast’s business and consumer antivirus products share the same scanning engine, so this poor score can’t be ignored.
Round Four Thoughts
Avast had generally good scores for the quality of its protection, other than from MRG Effitas. However, given how badly it performed, this can’t be ignored. Avira, by contrast, did well across all of the tests, making it the winner of this round.
In our final section, we’ll be looking at the overall quality of customer support from Avira and Avast.
Avira’s customer support is a little hit and miss, but it is extensive. Direct email and phone support are restricted to premium customers, and you’ll need to log in to verify your subscription before you can access it.
On the website, Avira offers a detailed knowledgebase with supportive how-to guides in several languages. There’s also an extensive FAQ that answers questions on various common issues.
Unfortunately, navigating through the knowledgebase is a little difficult, but if you run into trouble, you can post on the community forum yourself. It’s monitored by customers and staff who will respond to any of your queries.
You can also look through Avira’s YouTube channel, with videos answering questions, exploring topics like privacy and security, and offering useful tips for beginners.
Direct support is only available for Avast premium customers. However, users who take advantage of the premium trial can make use of Avast’s direct support.
Other than that, Avast has a knowledgebase for all users, with guides separated by each product plan covering common topics, such as installation. These guides include easy-to-follow instructions with helpful images.
There’s a support forum with 1.3 million posts, with individual forums for different products and languages. You can search the forum for existing posts that answer questions on past issues, too.
If you need extensive technical support, you’ll be paying a large price for it. Avast offers its Total Care package for direct support at $199 per year. This extra cost is hugely expensive and isn’t a package we’d recommend.
Round Five Thoughts
Avira offers a good variety of support for customers, including helpful guides and plenty of direct support options. Avast’s options are pretty similar, but because the direct technical support requires an expensive add-on package, Avira’s support is better overall.
6. Final Thoughts
While Avast and Avira both offer a significant number of features, it’s Avira that wins this comparison review. With better protection scores than Avast and a user interface that’s easier to use, Avira is the better option.
Avira is one of the best antiviruses in the market. Although Bitdefender remains our top choice, you’re unlikely to be disappointed with an Avira subscription.
If you’re looking for an alternative, you can take a look at our other antivirus articles for further reviews and comparisons. Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below, and thanks for reading.