Avira Internet Security 2013: Competent but confusing

This program is competent at detecting, disabling, and cleaning up malware, but its unfriendly user interface is a big problem.

Avira Internet Security 2013 is an acceptable antivirus program--if you happen to be an expert in security jargon and working your way through a somewhat unfriendly user interface. This particular security suite passed our tests (though,not with flying colors) and even managed to come out on top a couple of times, but it's not for the average user.

In our real-world attack test, Avira managed to completely block 94.4 percent of attacks, and partially block 5.6 percent of attacks. This indicates how well the product will block new malware threats when it encounters them in the wild.

While this result is solid, it's not good enough compared to the top competitors:

Five out of the 10 security suites we tested managed to completely block all attacks.

In our malware-zoo detection test, which determines how well a product can detect f known malware, Avira detected 98.8 percent of samples. Although respectable, this percentage still puts Avira in the bottom half of the suites wetested--six suites managed 99 percent or higher detection.

Avira was able to detect and disable 100 percent of malware infections in our system cleanup test, but was only able to purge them completely about 50 percent of the time: That's the worst cleanup rate of the suites we tested. Aviradid perform impressively well in our false positives test; it didn't flag a single safe file as malicious.

Avira is a fairly lightweight program, and it won't slow down your computer too much. It adds less than a second to startup time (as compared to our test computer without any antivirus software installed), and roughly two seconds toshutdown time. Avira's suite did drag down file downloads more than we'd like,though. It's acceptably quick with on-demand scans (1 minute, 41 seconds, the fifth-best of the group), and also fairly speedy with on-access scans (4 minutes,26 seconds, the fourth-best of the group).

Avira's installation process isn't the quickest, but it's fairly easy to get through.

There are about six screens to click through, and the last one requires some basic personal information--your name, email address, and country. You are able to opt-out of installing the toolbar and Avira SearchFree (if you choose tojust install the toolbar, Avira will change your default search to SearchFree).

You'll also need to restart your computer once the installation process is finished.

When you first restart your computer, you'll be inundated with pop-up windows from Avira as the program tries to determine which of your already-installed apps should be able to access the Internet. This can be annoying if you've got a lot ofapps (including things like AIM and Yahoo Widgets), but luckily Avira remembers what you choose to allow.

Avira's user interface isn't very straightforward. The main screen has a large checkbox on top that shows whether your computer is secure, and smaller checkboxes to show PC protection and Internet protection. The left side of thescreen has options for different types of protection (PC protection, Internet protection, child protection, mobile protection), as well as an administration section for scheduling scans and viewing reports.

However, clicking on any of these links in the left bar is just...confusing. Screens are clearly set up for advanced users: For example, if you tap "Web Protection" under the Internet protection section, it shows you non-user-friendly informationsuch as what the last scanned URL was. If you tap "Avira Firewall," you'll see the current security level of the firewall and what that means--"Flooding and Portscans are prevented." While this information is great if you're an advanceduser, it means nothing to the average consumer.

The settings are also difficult to access and very confusing. Each screen has a "configuration" button, which requires you to turn on "Expert" mode (as if you aren't already in it?) and takes you to a terrifying, jargon-filled menu fullof checkboxes and nested menus. At least there are descriptions of different settings in this screen (they pop up in a box when you roll over them).

At the end of the day, Avira Internet Security 2013 is a competent antivirus program. But being merely competent isn't a great thing, especially when it's combined with an interface that's for advanced users only.

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