Avira Internet Security Suite 2012 Review: An Adequate Safeguard Against Malware
By Nick Mediati
At a Glance
Adequate protection against malware
Interface needs work
Mixed scan-speed performance
The 2012 edition of Avira’s security suite gets the job done, but not much else.
We couldn’t find anything truly wrong with Avira Internet Security Suite 2012 ($60 for one year, one PC as of January 29, 2012), which ranked 11th in our 2012 roundup of Internet security suites. After all, the package protects against malware adequately, and although the interface isn’t perfect, it’s certainly usable. But in a year when so many suites are excellent performers, being adequate isn’t enough to keep pace.
In our tests, the Avira software put up decent overall scores in malware detection and blocking. It fully blocked 92.3 percent of brand-new malware in our real-world detection tests–a good result, though slightly below average for the products we tested. With known malware, it was able to detect 99.68 percent of samples; despite that better-than-average outcome, Avira’s suite wasn’t quite on a par with the top performers in this test, which detected over 99.99 percent of samples.
False positives are a nonissue: The Avira suite mistakenly flagged only a single known safe file out of a pool of over 250,000 as being potentially malicious.
It proved capable at dealing with malware infections, too, as it detected and disabled all active malware infections on our test system. That said, it did leave behind malware remnants 50 percent of the time–slightly worse than average next to its rivals.
Avira’s package had a moderate impact on overall PC performance as compared with the other suites we looked at. Its performance was average or slightly better than average in most tests we performed, though it seemed to struggle in two particular cases. Our test PC with the Avira suite installed completed our download test in 3 minutes, 12 seconds, which was by far our worst performance in that regard. In contrast, the average completion time for other suites was around 53 seconds; and without any antivirus installed, our test PC finished this test in 37 seconds. In addition, the Avira product slowed file-copying operations on our test PC significantly, wrapping up that test in 2 minutes, 56 seconds. Our test PC with other security software installed finished this test in 2 minutes, 2 seconds on average; without antivirus software, the PC sped through in 1 minute, 28 seconds.
Scan speeds were about average next to the other suites we evaluated. Avira’s on-demand scanner–which runs when you manually start a scan–checked 4.5GB of files in 1 minute, 29 seconds, good enough for sixth place and 30 seconds faster than the mean. Meanwhile, the on-access scanner–which runs when you open or save files–finished in 4 minutes, 40 seconds (a slightly better-than-average result).
Avira’s interface is usable for the most part, but it’s nothing to write home about. The installation process steps you through a fairly standard wizard, though it will check for incompatible software before you install it. Avira’s suite underwent a mini-makeover for 2012, with a redesigned main status screen. This new panel is a definite improvement over last year’s interface: It’s nicely laid out, and it gives you a clear status indicator as to whether you’re protected. A ‘Fix Now’ button makes it easy to correct issues, and you can easily toggle suite components off and on from this main screen. Once you delve beyond the main screen, though, Avira’s interface feels designed with experts in mind. I wasn’t a big fan of the Avira firewall’s insistence on asking me whether programs had permission to connect to the Internet when they attempted to do so the first time–especially since I had no idea what some of the programs it referred to were.
All in all, Avira Internet Security Suite 2012 is a lot like the company’s 2011 offering: It isn’t flashy, but it will do the job. Even so, Avira must do better if it wants to hang with the top performers in the increasingly competitive race for security supremacy.