June 21, 2024


Sapiens Digital

Avira Prime – Review 2020

18 min read

Here, take this theme-park pass! It gets you on a few rides, but mostly you just watch the rides go by. Or, wait, would you rather have this other pass? It lets you ride all the rides as many times as you want—even rides that haven’t been built yet. Yes, it’s an easy choice. In the arena of Avira’s security suites, Avira Prime, reviewed here, is the all-access pass. A subscription gets you the full-featured Pro edition of every Avira product, including existing products, future products, and mobile products. If you’re intent on Avira, this is the suite to get.

As for the limited theme-park pass, well, that’s Avira Internet Security. Naturally it includes everything found in Avira Free Security, but a great many features remain locked, including all the features related to performance improvements.

You pay $99.99 for an Avira Prime license, which gives you five licenses to install Avira products on your Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS devices. Norton 360 Deluxe also gives you five cross-platform licenses for that price, along with 50GB of hosted storage for your online backups. Kaspersky Security Cloud seems expensive at $149.99 per year, but that gets you protection for 20 devices. Still not enough coverage? For the same price as Avira Prime, McAfee Total Protection offers unlimited licenses to protect every device in your household.

Avira does have an offer that beats Kaspersky, at least in terms of the per-license price. If you want more than five licenses, no problem. You can get a 25-license subscription for $129.99. That’s not quite the unlimited licenses you get from McAfee Total Protection, but it’s a rare household that needs protection for more than 25 devices.

These price-comparison comments wouldn’t be complete without a mention of the fact that Avira isn’t what you’d call a full-featured suite. It doesn’t offer a firewall, spam filtering, parental control, or backup, among other features found in the competing suites. And while its core antivirus component is good, it isn’t up there with the best.

Avira Prime Main Window

While Avira hasn’t canceled its free and paid standalone antivirus products, the company is strongly emphasizing its several security suite offerings. These have all gotten a thorough user interface makeover, with much better integration of the various features. At a glance, Avira Prime’s main window looks just like that of Avira Free Security, with a dark grey theme and three big icons showing status for Security, Privacy, and Performance. Oddly, these icons aren’t clickable. To drill into more detail in these three areas you must click the corresponding icon in the left-rail menu.

Shared With Free Security

This suite’s basic antivirus protection is the same as what you get with the free suite, plus a few Pro-level additions I’ll discuss below. For a full understanding of this suite’s abilities, I advise you to first read my review of Avira Free Security. If you’re in a hurry, you can just read my summary here.

Tested by independent labs, Avira gets excellent scores. Of the four labs I follow, Avira appears in results from all four. Its aggregate lab score is 9.8 out of 10 possible, better than any other product tested by all four labs. Bitdefender Total Security, tested by three labs, took 9.9 points, while Sophos, with perfect scores but from just two labs, got 10.

Avira Prime Lab Results Chart

In my own hands-on malware protection testing, Avira didn’t score nearly as well. Its score, 8.8 of 10 possible points, is middling at best. Bitdefender, too, fared poorly in my hands-on test while earning top scores from the independent labs. When that happens, I give more weight to the results from the labs. It’s worth noting that Webroot SecureAnywhere Internet Security Complete managed a perfect 10 points against this same collection of malware.

Avira’s Browser Safety component installs as an extension for Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Opera, with the aim of keeping the browser away from dangerous or fraudulent websites. Tested with a hundred recently discovered malware-hosting URLs, Avira protected against 81 percent of them. Note that I give equal credit for diverting the browser from the URL and for eliminating the malware payload after download. This score, too, is middling at best. McAfee, Sophos, and Vipre Advanced Security all blocked 100 percent in their latest tests.

Avira Prime Malware Protection Chart

Coding a malicious program that can get past antivirus is hard. Fooling unsuspecting netizens into giving away their credentials for secure websites is not. Fraudsters set up phishing sites, sites that masquerade as, for example, PayPal, or a bank, and disseminate links to the fake site. Every user who logs in is a user whose account has been pwned by the fraudsters. I test phishing protection using the very latest reported frauds. In a test using hundreds of such possible phishing sites, Avira detected 93 percent. That’s much better than its score in my previous review, but numerous others did better. Kaspersky Security Cloud and Trend Micro detected 100 percent of the fakes in their latest tests.

Avira Prime Phishing Protection Results Chart

Just about everything on the Security page is available in the free suite. You can launch or schedule scans, view and manage quarantined items, and apply easy on/off control to Windows Firewall. The software updater component finds apps that lack important security patches and, at your command, applies those patches. In the paid suites, this component can automatically keep apps patched, without any user interaction, but that’s not a huge enhancement.

Many features found on the Privacy page are present in the free suite. As noted, the Browser Safety extension for Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Opera is free. You get a simple File Shredder for secure deletion of sensitive documents. And you can get Avira’s help configuring your system for maximum privacy. Avira Phantom VPN is present, but the free edition is limited to 500MB per month, with no access to advanced settings. On the other hand, the free password manager has all the features of the Pro edition except for an advanced password security report.

Finally, we come to the disappointing Performance page. Free suite users can use the Driver Updater and check for duplicate files. All the other performance choices are seriously limited. Basically, you can scan for performance issues but if you try to fix them you’ll find an upgrade is required.

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Shared With Avira Internet Security

You’ve seen that users of Avira’s free suite get quite a lot of security protection. Upgrading to Avira Internet Security brings some enhancements, but not enough to merit its price.

To the free edition’s Real-time Protection, the paid upgrade adds Web Protection, Email Protection, and Ransomware Protection. Email protection simply checks incoming and outgoing email for malware, which seems redundant given the other protection layers. Ransomware Protection aims to detect ransomware that gets past the regular antivirus. I couldn’t test it, because turning off Real-time Protection also disabled Ransomware Protection.

Web protection is another layer aimed at fending off dangerous websites. Unlike Browser Safety, it works below the browser level and hence could theoretically protect any internet-aware program. In testing, though, it didn’t catch any real-world dangerous pages that Browser Safety missed, and it missed 70 percent of those detected by Browser Safety.

The paid suite gets you the pro editions of the password manager and software updater components. That’s nominally more than a $60 value if you bought those programs separately, but neither is worth the price. The password manager just adds a full security analysis for your passwords, and the software updater gains the ability to apply found updates automatically.

Finally, the VPN gets a very slight lift for its bandwidth limit, doubling what you get for free to one whole gigabyte per month. That’s still a stringent limit, and you still don’t get access to the VPN’s advanced features.

As for the performance-related tools, nothing changes. Just as with the free suite, you get full access to the driver updater and duplicate finder. All the other performance tools will happily scan for problems, but if you want a fix you must upgrade to Prime.

Avira Prime Performance Chart

In the past, Avira’s entry-level suite has fared poorly in my performance tests, doubling or even tripling the time required to boot a test system. That problem, at least, is gone. In the latest test, boot
time actually decreased with the suite installed; I verified this by uninstalling it and re-running the baseline test. While it’s not zero-impact in all three tests the way ESET Smart Security Premium and Webroot are, its impact shouldn’t be detectable.

No-Limits VPN

Your antivirus or security suite works hard to protect your data, your devices, and your privacy, but its protective skills only apply to local activity. Once your data heads out into the wilds of the internet, it’s vulnerable to sniffing, stealing, and spoofing; a clever hacker could even modify the contents of your communication. That’s why you need a Virtual Private Network, or VPN. The VPN encrypts your network traffic and routes it through the VPN company’s servers. This both protects your communication and hides your actual IP address from the sites you visit.

How much bandwidth do you use in a month? It’s not an easy question, but the answer is surely quite a bit more than 1GB, which is the monthly limit for VPN usage in Avira Internet Security. You can’t make proper use of a VPN with that kind of cap. Fortunately, Avira Prime gives you the full power of Avira Phantom VPN. Please read our review for a full analysis of this product. I’ll very briefly go over its virtues here.

As noted, Prime users have no bandwidth cap. You can choose from 100 servers in 28 countries, which is rather sparse. Editors’ Choice Private Internet Access boasts more than 3,000 servers and NordVPN more than 5,000. At least the Avira VPN’s selection list handily reports the latency for each location.

Prime users can choose to always keep the VPN running. That’s an option that wouldn’t make sense with a bandwidth cap in place.

Avira Prime VPN Advanced Settings

Prime users also get access to the VPN’s advanced settings. Among these are the ability to cut all internet access if the VPN stops working. NordVPN and a few others also sport this “Kill Switch” feature. Avira builds protection against malicious online content right into the VPN, though we didn’t test this separately.

In our testing, this VPN’s effect on upload and download speeds hovered right around the median. It doesn’t restrict P2P or BitTorrent usage, and its privacy policy impressed us. However, its server coverage is paltry compared to some competitors. You won’t go wrong using it when it comes as part of Avira Prime, but don’t go paying $78 per year for the standalone product.

System Speedup Pro

The biggest difference between Avira Prime and the other Avira suites is the presence of System Speedup Pro. You can run a performance scan to identify issues even with the entry-level suite, but when you go to fix those issues you find that Prime is required.

On Prime’s performance page you see three icons that are all part of System Speedup: Optimizer, Startup optimizer, and Battery saver. Clicking any of these launches System Speedup. But once you’ve opened the speedup utility you see a different set of choices: Quick optimizer, Power cleaner, Startup optimizer, and Tools.

Launching Quick optimizer scans your system for easy fixes. As it scans, it displays a series of “did you know” factoids. On completion it summarizes the junk files, wasted storage, Registry entries, and startup apps it found. You can just let it optimize or dig in for more detailed results and optionally exempt some items from cleanup. Most users will just smack the big Optimize button. On my test system, this scan freed up 409MB of disk space.

The Power cleaner runs a more intensive scan, with the option to run optimizations automatically when the scan finishes, and to shut down the system after optimization completes. Clearly this is meant as something you can launch at the end of the day and just let it run. This component also displays factoids about computers and security as it scans.

On my test system, the Power cleaner scan ran faster than the Quick optimizer, and went straight to a detailed list of its findings. Of the 13 categories of found items, only two were checked for full optimization. Another six had some, but not all, detail items checked. And Avira flagged seven of them with a warning that you should check the results, in case there are items you want to keep.

Unfortunately, the average consumer will have no idea how to determine what items might be important to keep. By default, this scan creates a System Restore Point before optimizing, so you can fix any damage done by deleting the wrong items. I’d advise just accepting the deletions marked by default. On my test system, that meant clearing up 123MB out of a possible 1.7GB.

Avira Prime System Speedup Pro

Many suites include some form of startup optimization. Norton, for example, reports on the resource usage and prevalence of your startup apps, and lets you prevent them from launching at startup or set them to launch after a delay. Bitdefender, too, lets you enable, disable, or delay startup programs. With BullGuard Premium Protection you get a complete (and complex) timeline of startup activities.

Avira’s startup optimizer does more than most. It analyzes both Windows services and startup tasks and automatically takes action to optimize the boot process, setting some to launch after a delay and others to remain dormant until launched manually. You can also click a snooze icon to terminate an app and disable it from the next boot.

If you really want a startup speedup, you can invoke Hyper boost, which reboots your device five times while taking measurements. I found that after each reboot it spent a little while optimizing the start time. And I had to be present after each reboot to log in. Overall, it took about 20 minutes. According to Avira’s chart, the boot time went from 149 seconds down to just above 30, but then wound up at 94 seconds.

Battery manager is an option on the main suite’s performance page, but within System Speedup it’s buried in the Tools menu. On this page you can use a simple slider to select one of five power modes, from Energy Saver, through Balanced, to Power Boost. My virtual machine test system naturally doesn’t have a battery, but if you’re using a PC that does, this could be handy.

Digging further into Tools, you’ll find a dizzying array of additional optimization features. Among this component’s many other skills are: finding large files and folders; finding empty files; thoroughly erasing drives (other than the boot drive); uninstalling apps; defragmenting disks and the registry; recovering deleted files; managing Windows services; and many more. There’s even a very simple encryption tool and a simple backup system. System Speedup Pro is a veritable Swiss army knife of tools for optimizing and maintaining your PC.

Avira Prime on macOS

You can use your Avira Prime subscription to install the Pro edition of Avira Free Antivirus for Mac. When you log into your account and download the macOS installer, you get a personalized file that automatically registers the installation to your account. Handy! This is a good macOS antivirus, but not the very best. See my review for a full rundown of its abilities. I’ll summarize the shared features and Pro-only features here.

On installation, I did get a warning that one of the application’s system extensions won’t be compatible with a future version of macOS. I’m not worried, because the macOS edition has an update coming that will bring it into line with the new, integrated user interface already seen in the Windows suites.

Both testing labs that I fo
llow for macOS antivirus results certify Avira’s malware-fighting abilities, though not at the highest levels. Avast, AVG, Bitdefender, Kaspersky, and Trend Micro Antivirus for Mac got top scores from both labs. In a simple hands-on test, I found that it did a decent job detecting and eliminating Windows malware.

I also determined that the phishing protection worked exactly as in Windows, scoring 93 percent detection. That’s quite good, but Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac and Trend Micro came in with a perfect 100 percent.

Avira Prime on macOS

The Pro edition, installed using one of your Prime licenses, upgrades the VPN component to the Pro level, meaning there’s no bandwidth limit. If you install the separate password manager, you get the Pro edition. It also adds scanning of USB devices and full-scale phone support.

If you don’t plan to use the VPN, and didn’t purchase the 25-device subscription, it probably doesn’t make sense to use up one of your licenses on macOS protection. Just stick with the free edition. On the other hand, standalone VPN protection costs almost as much as a five-license Avira Prime subscription, so if VPN is your bag, this is a good deal.

Comprehensive Android Protection

Avira’s mobile apps have gotten a user interface upgrade as well. On Android, you start by installing the free app from the Play Store. As with the Windows product, it runs a Smart Scan right away. Before proceeding to work with the scan results, I logged into my Avira account, the one with the Avira Prime subscription. The installation quickly shifted to Pro, unlocking quite a few features.

Checking the Smart Scan results, I found that under Privacy the app offered to check known breached sites for my email address. It found quite a few, but I had already taken care of them. As for Performance, it offered to free up memory and storage by killing background applications and removing temporary files. My Android must have been well-optimized, as the process didn’t find any additional free storage and added just six percent to free memory.

After that initial Smart Scan I checked out the main application. The interface is a simple scroll-down list of features: VPN – Secure internet; Control device remotely; Microphone protection; Optimizer; Control sensitive permissions; Web Protection; Check email for breaches; Camera protection; Lock confidential apps; and Network Scanner. You may have noticed the use of capital letters isn’t consistent, but that’s how the items are displayed.

Turning on VPN protection is a snap. By default, it offers the same choice of servers you get on Windows, though it doesn’t report the latency for each. It also lacks advanced features such as the Kill Switch and automatically enabling when you connect to certain Wi-Fi hotspots.

Control device remotely is just a way of describing anti-theft, and indeed, when you select it, you’re prompted to set up anti-theft. Setup simply involves giving Avira the necessary permissions. You can locate, lock, or wipe a lost device, or play a loud alarm to find one that you’ve misplaced around the house. Though the website mentions activating anti-theft from the My Avira dashboard, I could not find a way to do so except by using another mobile device.

Microphone protection simply limits use of the microphone to apps you’ve approved, preventing any sneaky apps from listening to what’s going on around you. Camera protection likewise limits which apps can use the camera, to prevent spying. You’ve already encountered the Optimizer as part of Smart Scan; Check email for breaches is just another way to talk about identity protection.

Most Android apps just request the permissions they need, but some shady ones overstep normal bounds. The Permissions manager lets you see how many apps require eight sensitive permissions, among them contacts, location, and camera. You can tap to see which apps have a specific permission, or view a list of all apps with the option to see their permissions. If you spot something suspicious, like a flashlight app that has a boatload of unwarranted permissions, you can tap to terminate or uninstall it.

Avira Prime on Android Montage

As noted earlier, the Web Protection component in the Windows edition proved seriously ineffective. On Android, this component promises to block malicious and fraudulent sites, and also “stay in control of accessible websites.” Turning on this feature involved adding Avira in Accessibility settings and the turning on the feature. When I checked a couple of sites blocked by Web Protection on Windows, the Android version also blocked them. As expected, it didn’t detect pages blocked only by Browser Safety in Windows.

If you’ve protected your lockscreen with a PIN, pattern, fingerprint, or facial recognition, it shouldn’t be possible for an Android thief to get into your phone. But for added security, Avira lets you apply an additional lock, in the form of a swipe pattern, for apps you define as sensitive. Finally, the Network Scanner shows you just what devices are on your local network.

With antivirus, web protection, anti-theft, and system tune-up, this app has everything you might want in an Android security app. Additional bonuses like network scanning, permissions management, and a check on unrestrained use of camera and microphone just make it all the more appealing.

Avira for iOS

As on Android, you begin your protection journey by downloading the free Avira Mobile Security. As is common, there’s not nearly as much protection on iOS, mainly because the safeguards Apple imposes to defeat malware also defeat many malware-fighting techniques.

Like the Android app, this one insists on a Smart Scan as soon as you install it. It runs through the familiar check for issues in Protection, Privacy, and Performance. On my test iPad, the Protection component advised updating iOS and enabling Web Protection.

Web Protection, it turns out, is a Pro-only feature, as is Identity Protection. Going Pro also gets you unlimited bandwidth for the VPN, just as on other platforms. I logged in to my Avira account to upgrade this device before going further.

On the iPad, the app looks very much like the Windows edition, with a left-rail menu that includes Protection, Privacy, and Performance. On the Protection, you can enable Web Protection, just as on Android, though the protection seems specific to Safari. Anti-theft lets you locate a missing device or make it howl a siren sound, but you can’t lock or wipe it. The iOS updater and a simple Contacts Backup component round out Protection.

Featured atop the Privacy page is the no-limits VPN. Identity Protection checks known breaches for your email address and Network Scanner lists all devices on your network, just as on Android. But the Privacy Manager is very iOS-specific. If you’ve enabled the Hey Siri feature, your phone may record that it shouldn’t. To me, the best response is to disable that feature, but if you want to keep it, Avira offers a profile that aims to prevent the transmission of excessive data. There’s also a Call Blocker that I couldn’t exercise, given that my test iPad has no cellular connection.

Avira Prime on iOS Montage

There’s not much on the Performance tab. The new Photo Cleaner seeks duplicate and similar photos, to help you save space. I was impr
essed that the search for similar photos matched photos wildly modified by DreamScope with their unmodified originals. Finally, the Device Analyzer offers simple charts showing storage and memory usage on your device, without the option to free up more memory and storage that the Android edition gives you.

Unless you purchased a 25-device subscription, I’d suggest you think twice before using a license on iOS protection. Install the free app and see if it’s enough for you. If you really want the unlimited VPN or the handful of other Pro-only features, you can always log in to your account later.

Avira at Its Best

You could get dizzy trying to list all the different Avira products available. There are tons of free tools, and tons more that start out free but require purchase for full functionality. And there are multiple collections of components, free, commercial, or both. Of all these, Avira Prime is without question the best. For one price, you get access to every free and commercial Avira product, including any new products that come out. And if you choose the 25-license subscription, your per-device cost is among the lowest available. If you’re determined to buy an Avira security tool, make it Avira Prime.

On the other hand, even with every Avira product installed you don’t truly have a full security suite. Norton 360 Deluxe and Kaspersky Security Cloud include firewall, parental control, password management, and more. Kaspersky adds a check for compromised email accounts and a hard drive health monitor. With Norton you get 50GB of storage for your online backup data, a powerful intrusion protection system, and (for those who need it) a spam filter. Both offer a full protection suite on macOS, plus effective mobile apps. These two are our Editors’ Choice products for cross-platform multi-device security suite.

Avira Prime Specs

VPN Full
Firewall No
Antispam No
Parental Control No
Backup No
Tune-Up Yes

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