Microsoft has done quite a bit to improve the overall security of the Windows operating system. Some of the company efforts on the other hand fall short.
Microsoft Security Essentials for example adds protection against some viruses and other malicious software, but does not provide Windows systems with the same level of protection that top of the class products offer.
Avira Antivirus Suite 2014, formerly known as Premium Antivirus, concentrates on the protection aspect which makes it ideal for users who want their PC protected but do not want or need additional features such as backup or parental controls.
Avira Antivirus Suite 2014
You can configure the protection in detail if you select the custom setup option during installation, or use the recommended settings instead.
If you select custom, you can disable the following modules during setup:
- Real-Time Protection - Permanent monitoring of file access on the system in real-time.
- Mail Protection - Scans incoming and outgoing emails and attachments on POP3, IMAP and SMTP connections.
- Windows Firewall - Control the built-in firewall from with the Avira software.
- Rootkits Protection - Enables the detection and removal of hidden malware.
- Protection Cloud - Uses fingerprinting to check suspicious files in an online database.
- Web Protection - Protects web browsers against viruses and malware.
- Shell Extension - Integrates Avira into the Windows Explorer context menu.
While it is not recommended to disable real-time protection for example, you may want to disable features that you have no need for, for instance if you use another security program in the area.
Note: The installer will display options to install the Avira SearchFree Toolbar powered by Ask during installation. If you do not want to install the toolbar, make sure to hit the don't install button.
The main interface of the application displays relevant information about the status of PC and Internet protection directly, providing you with an overview of that right away after start or bringing it up to the front.
All installed modules are accessible directly from the homepage, which improves usability considerably, especially if you are used to antivirus software which use a layered approach. The homepage highlights the date of the last update, the activation status of the product, and provides you with options to run a scan right away.
You can enable or disable certain security features here as well, like real-time protection or safe browsing.
Most sidebar items link to configuration pages. The firewall configuration for example provides you with options to configure it directly from within the Avira software (it offers a control interface for Windows Firewall).
You can hit the F8 key alternatively to open the configuration for all items directly. You may want to go through all settings here at least once to make sure that everything is configured after your liking.
Here you can for instance enable the scan for rootkits prior to the system scan, enable the scanning of archives, the monitoring of network drives, or switch on complete logging.
A default values button is provided to reset preferences which can be useful if you want to start over from scratch.
Some of the links in the sidebar point to products that need to be installed separately. This includes the mobile protection app for Android, and also Avira Free SocialShield for social network protection.
Avira Protection Cloud
Cloud scanning has become one of the cornerstones of security solutions in recent years. What makes it interesting is the fact that the cloud database is always up to date, while the database of the antivirus solution on a user system may not be. Another benefit of the approach is that it accumulates data from all users of a particular product so that it can react to new malware as soon as it is discovered.
Avira's Protection Cloud compares fingerprints of suspicious executable files against its database to identify potentially dangerous files. Files that return a positive hit can be uploaded to the cloud so that they are scanned remotely and be classified as either safe or malicious.
Avira notes that documents, pictures or other personal files are never uploaded to the cloud. The program is configured to display a prompt before suspicious files are transferred to Avira.
How good is the protection
A nice interface and lots of options may increase the usability of a security program, but it all boils down to the level of protection that it makes available.
In AV-Comparatives real-world protection test, Avira managed to gain one of the highest scores in the test. Scores were equally impressive in the company's malware removal tests, and general system performance tests.
Avira's Antivirus Suite 2014 uses an insignificant amount of memory when it is running on the system in the background. On a Windows 8.1 Pro test system, it used less than 10 Megabytes of RAM across its five open processes.
This increases during scans, but will quickly go down again once the scan finishes.
Avira Antivirus Suite 2014 is a lightweight security program for all versions of the Windows operating system that is easy to use and maintain. The interface is streamlined for ease of access, with every feature reachable from the first page directly.
The options provided during installation are great, as they enable you to configure the program exactly the way you want to use it. A drawback is the inclusion of the toolbar during setup, or at the very least the checked state of the product.
Other than that, there is little to criticize. If you are looking for a lightweight effective antivirus solution, I suggest you give this one a try. A 30-day free trial version is available for download on the Avira website.