The German brand Avira is one of the oldest antivirus programs on the market. This solution has had a lot of success throughout the years, but how good is it now compared to industry-leading security software like Bitdefender and McAfee? To find out, I tested Avira Prima, their most advanced security suite.
What first grabbed my attention was the dark mode. Avira’s interface is permanently dark — you can’t change to a light theme. I like this because it helps save battery power on laptops and is easier on the eyes. But those who want a lighter theme wouldn’t agree with me. There’s a full-screen button, too, which not all antivirus solutions offer.
Anyway, the interface consists of four tabs. The first shows the status of your PC and lets you start a Smart Scan.
The second enables you to access the security features:
The third tab groups together the privacy functions:
Lastly, you can access performance tools from the fourth tab:
That said, I have a few complaints:
The big icons in the Status tab aren’t clickable — you must click on the corresponding icons in the left menu to access these modules. It doesn’t seem obvious, but you can access the general security settings from the Security tab > Protection Options. From here, you can configure settings for each security module.
When clicking on the small gear icons in the protection options, a window with advanced settings will open (but with a slight delay). Also, you can click on “Help” to open the user guide, but it hasn’t been updated since 2014.
Avira has an impressive array of features designed to keep your OS fast, clean, and free from malware. Let’s take a closer look at each feature.
Ransomware is one of the most common threats that your PC can experience. For this reason, it’s essential to test each antivirus suite using a ransomware simulator. I used the KnowBe4 Ransomware Simulator.
At first, Avira prevented the main launcher from opening and moved it into quarantine without notification. I restored it from the quarantine window, and the test was able to run. Incredibly, the test resulted in 0 vulnerabilities out of 21 with the Ransomware shield turned on. That’s a lot better than most security programs.
Unfortunately, it resulted in 20/21 vulnerabilities when I turned the Ransomware Shield off. In other words, the Ransomware Shield makes a huge difference.
Avira’s scanning possibilities are diverse, and, as you’ll see in the analysis below, I especially liked the Smart Scan feature.
A full scan is exhaustive — the first scan checked one million files in about 40 minutes. Did you know that most antivirus products optimize later scans to save time? They may only check new or changed files, searching for malware only in places where it often hides.
A second full scan with Avira took 24 minutes. A massive improvement over the first scan! Since I ran a ransomware simulation test earlier, the scan found leftover files from this test. Those files now safely remain in quarantine.
During a scan, a new window appears. It’s named Luke Filewalker! That’s pretty amusing, but I don’t see the Star Wars connection (aside from the pun). Anyway, this window doesn’t look as polished as the main interface, but what matters is accurate threat detection.
You can schedule a full scan daily, weekly, or monthly (which they recommend). If you’re looking for a lighter search for malware or PUAs, use the quick scan or custom scan options.
The quick scan searches for threats in the most vulnerable areas of your PC. Thus, it’s usually really quick compared to the full scan option. In my tests, scanning over 4000 files took a little over one minute:
What I found interesting here is that you can’t change frequency options. It will run weekly — Avira says it’s essential to run quick scans regularly. Also, something that bothered me is that, sometimes, the scan window doesn’t open on the first click.
This section lets you schedule a predefined type of scan, such as a rootkit scan, hard drive scan, process scan, and more.
Each custom scan can be further edited. You can change the frequency, day of the week, and time.
Smart Scan is the most prominent feature from Avira. It has its own tab — the first one, and it’s very user-friendly. With only one click, this function will check for security, privacy, and performance issues on your device. Scanning is very fast: about one minute. Here’s how it looks:
In my tests, it found many issues that needed to be fixed. It also correctly identified Windows updates, too.
This is an excellent feature for all types of users because time is important to everyone, including advanced users. Smart Scan is a quick and easy way to fix problems with your device that could compromise your digital information.
Updating your software is vital for keeping your system safe from threats. Avira provides a tool that lets you search for program updates for your installed software. It also automatically checks for updates and informs you about them in the Status tab (under the Security icon).
But you can access the Software updater window from the Security tab. There, you can toggle the auto-update option and manually check for updates.
Each day during my tests for this Avira review, this antivirus solution found patches for various software, such as VLC, Chrome, and Windows 10.
However, it’s not perfect. At one point, it didn’t find two updates that the Dell updater found — an audio driver and a Windows update.
Avira doesn’t provide a firewall of its own. The Firewall module lets you manage the native Windows firewall from Avira’s interface. The only option you have is to toggle between public and private network profiles and open Windows firewall's advanced settings.
Avira provides its own VPN services, with servers in almost 40 countries, 13 of which are located in the USA. I like that you can see the latency of each server — it’s even color-coded. Under 150 ms is good (green), 150 to 300 is medium (orange), and over 300 is bad (red). I was able to connect to several servers without issue.
You connect to a VPN from the main interface and then control the VPN from a taskbar icon if you open the advanced settings.
The separate, smaller window provides plenty of advanced settings. Worthy of mentioning is the kill-switch function, which cuts all internet connections if the VPN disconnects. This way, your location stays hidden even without a VPN connection.
That’s great, but how fast are the VPN connections?
I tested the VPN speeds of several servers using fast.com. First of all, I should mention that, without a VPN, my Wi-Fi 5 connection was 520 Mbps, upload 470, and latency 5 ms. Now, let’s see how fast the connections are in different countries:
US - Los Angeles: 47 Mbps download, 110 Mbps upload, 200 ms
Denmark: 140 Mbps download, 170 Mbps upload, 60 ms
Italy: 190 Mbps download, 300 Mbps upload, 53 ms
Japan: 28 Mbps download, 4.9 Mbps upload, 279 ms
For privacy testing, I performed the ipleak.net test. The results were satisfactory — the server it detected was the one I selected in the VPN.
Other tests I ran for this Avira review were the IP and DNS tests from perfect-privacy.com. These tests turned out ok, too. I didn’t see any proof that my real IP or DNS server were leaked.
The Password Manager is simultaneously a browser extension, a web-based app, and a built-in tool that you can access from Avira’s interface. Thus, you can add account credentials and manage them from all three places.
I tested the extension on Chrome — my main browser. I found nothing special about the extension. It functions like all other password managers. When you log into an account, the extension asks if you want to save your details in the password manager. Next time you log in to that site, it will automatically fill out your account credentials. This worked well in my tests:
One of my Google accounts had a weak password; Avira estimated that hackers could crack my password within 116 days! I changed the password using a link from the interface and even used Avira’s password generator for a stronger password.
On the downside, the Password Manager lacks a few key features — for instance, the ability to share account credentials without revealing your password. Also, there is no emergency recovery option in case you forget your master password.
This may not surprise you, but most apps collect information about you. To limit the data you transmit to installed programs and your operating system, Avira came up with a tool that assesses your privacy and makes changes based on your preferences. You can either apply Avira’s recommendations or customize the changes:
The recommended changes have to do with blocking ad and location tracking, and stopping Microsoft from collecting information about you.
If you want to see what exactly Avira allows you to customize, head over to the Custom settings. Here, you can manually disable privacy settings and read about each option in the tooltips. There’s even an “Enhanced” level of settings you can choose. I was surprised to see just how much of my PC activity is tracked and used by software companies.
Optimizer is a basic junk cleaning tool that also displays slow startup apps. It’s designed to be as simple as possible but with the possibility of selecting which files to delete.
You can see which files it found by clicking on the blue arrows. When you’ve decided what to delete, click Optimize to begin. The cleanup will finish in seconds. In my Avira antivirus review tests, the Optimizer found almost 1GB of junk and one slow program that I could set to run after the PC startup.
The Optimizer is separate from System Speedup Pro (which I’ll discuss below). I don’t see why Avira kept the Optimizer in Avira Prime since System Speedup Pro is a better tool. I guess it’s a feature for non-Prime users.
Avira System Speedup Pro is a complex utility that’s integrated with Avira. It's kind of like a Swiss army knife of PC optimization tools, which includes:
Quick Optimizer — A simple tool for beginners or users who are in a hurry. In about 10 seconds, it found 522 MB of potential junk, 45 registry entries to delete, and one program to optimize for a faster startup.
You can review each file that the program can clean:
Power Cleaner — This is a more powerful PC cleanup tool. It found 2.2 GB of cleaning potential. Be careful when using this tool as not all detected files should be deleted. If you are a beginner user, remove only the files that Avira selects by default.
Startup Optimizer — This module shows all startup apps and services; the program lets you postpone the loading of these entries, speeding up the device’s startup.
But did it work…?
The standard optimization greatly improved my startup. It was over 60 seconds before and around 35 seconds after.
There's also a hyper boost option to improve your device's startup in a more advanced way. It restarts your device five times, taking several hours to finish. Weirdly enough, the loading time was 42 seconds after the hyper boost, which is worse than before.
Disk cleanup tools (“Free up space”) — There are lots of file cleaning tools available here. For example: find duplicates, large files or folders, or empty files. The empty file scanner found almost 700 files which I deleted.
Here, you can also find a shredder with advanced deletion methods. The software uninstaller highlights apps for uninstalling, but doesn’t scan for leftover files and registries afterward. You can use the disk wiper to delete any leftover files.
Performance tools (“Improve performance”)
There’s a slew of tools here, too: a process manager, network traffic manager, game booster, disk defragmenter, and more. I like the settings for tuning up your disk based on your needs: space, reliability, speed, or custom.
Backup & restore tools (“Backup and restore”)
Here, you can find many backup utilities, such as backing up the system registry, recovering deleted files, and more. The first option — “Back up and restore files or folders” opens Windows native file history.
The other tools are for advanced users who want to restore or backup data for security reasons. In my tests, the recovery tool found thousands of files, which I was able to recover.
Antivirus solutions are well known for their high consumption of system resources. Yet, they are getting lighter and lighter thanks to newer technologies like cloud scanning. Here’s how Avira fared during my tests.
During a full scan, Avira consumed 25-30% of processing power and 250-400 of RAM. That’s about average for an antivirus program. As a regular user, you can resume your tasks during a full scan.
Additionally, AV-Comparatives tested Avira’s impact on system resources and gave it the highest score, Advanced+, for performance. The tests included file copying, archiving, installing, application launching, and more.
As expected from a top antivirus software provider, Avira comes with a comprehensive knowledge base. From their support page, you can read about Avira’s products, watch videos, read the latest updates, and more.
If you haven’t found an answer to your questions, you can choose to contact Avira’s support team. Only paying customers can email or call Avira’s support, though. To test their reliability, I decided to both email and call them to ask a few questions.
The phone support was helpful and polite, and they sent me additional information via email based on our conversation. Yet, I didn’t receive a reply to my email. I think it’s because they had already answered my questions via phone.
Avira is a German company with three offices in Germany, one in the United States, and one in Romania. Avira is trusted by 500 million users worldwide.
Avira comes with a free version that includes basic security features. If you want more protection, privacy, and performance for your device, opt for a stronger alternative like Avira Internet Security.
The Avira Phantom VPN is 100% safe according to my tests. I connected my device to servers from different countries, and my IP and DNS remained secure and hidden. If you want to keep your connections private, download Avira Phantom VPN or choose the Pro version for unlimited protection.
Octav Fedor (Cybersecurity Editor)
Octav is a cybersecurity researcher and writer at AntivirusGuide. When he’s not publishing his honest opinions about security software online, he likes to learn about programming, watch astronomy documentaries, and participate in general knowledge competitions.