For today’s Freeware Frenzy I will examine AntiVir PE Classic 7.0 from Avira.

Avira AntiVir Personal Edition Classic is a virus scanner, much like AVG. This is the only function of both programs; you’ll have to look elsewhere for firewall and spyware protection. For those I recommend XP’s built in firewall and a combination of AdAware SE, Spybot Search and Destroy, and SpywareBlaster. But the need for online security is paramount now because with increasing broadband connections, there are more potential bad guys on the Net.

I found Avira mentioned in our own PC Mechanic forums (feel free to visit it if you have not), as an alternative to AVG. I am a long-time AVG user; it is my main antivirus program used on my computers. While free, it lives up its reputation as an excellent antivirus program in my experience. So when Avira popped up I wanted to see for myself how the two compared. Besides the scanning results, I’ll also touch on extras and Avira’s usability.

After installing AntiVir, the program will (attempt to) update. It took me a few tries at different times of the day to finally connect for an update though. From a bit of research on the Avira forums, I found that the free version has a limited number of servers for the high demand. Of course the Premium version has more servers without any update issues. Strike one for AntiVir; AVG updates every time.

To compare Avira with AVG, I used the latest versions of both programs and their most recent updates. One of my systems has not been scanned in a few months, making it the prime candidate for my experiment. I will scan first with AVG, noting any viruses found, and then follow up with Avira to compare the results. I did a full C: drive scan with both programs.

 Results Table Avira AntiVir PE Classic AVG Free Edition
 Time (min:sec) 36:15 25:41
 Files Scanned 300,000 72,000
 Viruses Found 2 3

On my first attempt, my system came up completely clean with both programs. So to make an actual comparison, I took 3 infected files out of AVG’s Virus Vault, and rescanned. Unsurprisingly AVG found all three again. Interestingly, Avira AntiVir found only two out of the three, though it found them in spectacular fashion, sounding a bell in my case speaker.

AntiVir uses a tabbed interface to organize its various options. The Scanner tab lists the various types of scans you can setup; from your hard drives, removable drives, documents and even a root kit search. The Guard tab lists statistics on recent virus detections and a link to learn about viruses in the database. Quarantine is the same as AVG’s Virus Vault; a container to keep infected files isolated from the system while you do further work on the infected computer. You can restore or dump these files with a click. The Scheduler tab lets you setup what scans to run at what times you want. This is a +1 because AVG Free does not let you setup custom schedules. The final two tabs, Reports and Events give you a history of scans and results so you can investigate issues. Finally, the extras menu lets you perform a ‘boot records’ scan to make sure a virus has not become a part of the boot process (loading every time you start the system.) AVG includes this in its regular scan.

So overall Avira AntiVir Personal Edition Classic is a solid program but it fell short to the AVG juggernaut. AVG has a consistent updater, never bothers you with ads (I encountered a massive pop-up advertisement for a Premium version upgrade in Avira), and has a more comprehensive database. But everyone has their own criteria when it comes to their computer’s security, so I encourage my readers to give both a try. Check out Avira’s website: