Avira Free Security Suite is our choice for the best free antivirus solution. It did better detecting and blocking malware than other free antivirus programs we tested, catching 98 percent of all threats. The browser extension in Firefox is automatically enabled once the antivirus program in installed, but you do have to enable the extension in Chrome on your own.
When you try to visit a site that is known to be dangerous, Avira displays a warning message in the browser. You can click the Avira icon at the top of the browser to get more information about exactly what may be on the site and determine if you want to take the risk and still visit it. Sometimes the site has links or downloads that have malware hidden on them. Other sites are phishing schemes that try to trick you into giving personal information to steal your identity. Avira recognizes both. If you encounter a malware file that tries to download to your computer, Avira stops the threat and moves it to the quarantine folder before it can attack your computer.
Because Microsoft Edge doesn’t allow browser extensions, Avira had a tough time recognizing malware threats trying to get in through this browser. None of the malicious sites were tagged as dangerous, and most files were partly downloaded before Avira stopped them. If you use Edge as your browser, we don’t suggest using Avira as your antivirus solution. Instead we recommend Webroot antivirus because of how well it detects threats coming through Edge, and while it is a paid program, it is the best value among the paid programs we reviewed.
One of the best features of Avira, beyond its excellent ability to detect, block and remove malware is its gamer mode. It automatically detects when you are playing a game, whether online or offline, or watching a video and suspends scheduled scans so there won’t be any lag. It will not display pop-up notices while the gamer mode is on. Once you are finished watching your movie or playing your game, Avira senses you’re through and resumes any suspended scans. You are still protected in real time, so any malware that attempts to piggy-back on a video or game will be blocked by Avira.
This program includes extra security tools not typically found in basic antivirus software, including a VPN and a personal firewall. It also has a system vulnerability scan that looks for any weak spots in your system, like outdated software, and helps you strengthen them so hackers and other threats can’t sneak in.
The program is a little tricky to set up and use. Each tool is a sperate module you need to click through and set up on its own. You can’t access other tools when you’re working with one. For example, if you’re looking through the quarantine folder in the antivirus module, you can’t pop over to the VPN without first backing out of the antivirus module then choosing the VPN from the main dashboard. The only other real complaint is because it’s a free program, there are a lot of pop-up ads asking you to upgrade to one of Avira’s paid programs. This can get annoying, and it does affect the speed of your computer.
Avira Free Security Suite is a stronger antivirus program than most of the competitors in our review, and it is compatible with Windows. Its gamer mode automatically kicks in when you start playing your games or watching videos online, and the vulnerability scanner looks for any weak spots on your computer and helps you secure them. It lacks some security tools, like a password manager, and it doesn’t work well with Microsoft Edge, but it’s a secure program overall.
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