Maximum PC Staff Apr 15, 2010

Avira AntiVir Free Edition

At A Glance

The Good

Added spyware protection in this version. Protects IE from rogue code.

The Bad

Failed to detect any of the several payloads inside our contaminated archive.

A serviceable solution if you supply your own smart computing habits

Ask any penny-pinching power user what he thinks about non-free security suites, and he’ll tell you it’s a fool’s solution, plain and simple. After all, what’s the point of paying for AV software when programs like AntiVir offer the same protection sans a price tag?

A valid question, so we set out to answer it. We combed through the data available from two well-known independent testing labs—Virus Bulletin and AV-Comparatives—and in both cases, we found that AntiVir historically performs well, boasting high detection rates. So far, so good.

AntiVir's Expert mode unlocks a bevy of options you wouldn't expect to find in a freebie security app.

Even better, AntiVir added a bit of basic spyware protection to this year’s version, addressing one of our primary complaints about AntiVir in 2009. Repeating some of the same tests we used last year, this year’s AntiVir did a much better job protecting IE from rogue code and prevented a few other spyware shenanigans, such as altering our host file.

But it wasn’t all peaches and cream. Based on AntiVir’s track record, we didn’t expect to run into too much trouble with Trojans. We were wrong. When attempting to download the same dirty archive we used throughout this roundup, AntiVir failed to detect any of the several payloads inside. Moments later, our test bed was in pretty bad shape. The various viruses disabled UAC, knocked out access to the Task Manager, and even managed to block AntiVir from running a scan.

Based on our in-house testing, it’s tough to recommend AntiVir if you’re installing AV software for family for friends. But for power users who don’t plan on putting themselves into too many precarious situations, like romping around the web’s dark alleys and searching for software via P2P, AntiVir still deserves consideration. Its ultra-low footprint makes it a serviceable option for anyone who doesn’t want to sacrifice performance; just be sure to tread carefully.

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Avira AntiVir Free Edition

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