Avira Privacy Pal first look
Security company Avira, best know for its antivirus products, launched Privacy Pal yesterday which promises to reveal privacy issues on Windows, prevent (select) tracking on the device, and remove digital traces it finds from the system. Think of CCleaner meets a Windows 10 Privacy tool.
Avira Privacy Pal is a free software program that you may download from the company website. The program is available for Windows 7 Service Pack 1 and newer versions of the operating system including Windows 10.
Download and installation should not pose any issues. Note that Avira advertises its other products during installation but won't download or install those automatically, or display opt-out choices to you that install programs if you are not careful.
Avira Privacy Pal
Privacy Pal displays the protection status and options to change it in the main interface on launch. The protection status is set to personalized in the beginning, and you may click on the level to find out what it entails and to switch to one of the other protection levels provided by the software program.
- Basic -- basic privacy protection and removal of tailored ads.
- Enhanced -- includes basic plus protection against apps tracking.
- Personalized -- gives you full control over privacy protection.
The configuration screen reveals little about what each of the privacy levels does. You can click on the edit icon next to Personalized to check out all privacy related options that Privacy Pal supports.
Avira launches a simplified view which you may (and should) switch to expert view. Expert view lists privacy options in the categories operating system, network, user privacy, browser and apps.
Available options are quite extensive and range from disabling certain Windows features that may transfer data to Microsoft to disabling Remote Registry, hiding the last used username on the login screen, or preventing apps on the system from using certain functionality or tracking you.
You can go through the five categories one by one, which I would suggest as it gives you full control over available privacy features.
A click on change to on the page displays quick change options that give you options to select a certain privacy level right away. The levels are not explained in the menu, however, which means that you will have to go through the categories to make sure that nothing was changed that may impact functionality.
Since it is not really clear what each preset does, it is better to go through the listings of options manually.
You may hover the mouse cursor over any option to get a short description of what it does. While many are self-explanatory, e.g. "disable Windows automatic driver updates", "disable Universal Plug and Play", or "don't get metadata from the Internet", others may not be clear right away.
Avira displays a yellow icon next to options that may impact functionality on the system. If you disable the Windows search service for example, search may not work at all anymore.
You can run a cleanup of data using Privacy Pal as well. Just click on the start button on the program's start page and select the areas that you want to clean.
Only the browser cache is selected by default but you may add the browsing and download history, cookies, chat logs, application usage, and browser session and input to the process.
Avira Privacy Pal supports Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Edge at the very least. A click on the edit icon displays the installed programs or locations that you may clean.
Avira Privacy Pal is a surprisingly powerful privacy tool for devices running Windows. You can use it to make privacy related changes on Windows machines, and clear some of the data as well.
The program does not have to hide behind other popular privacy tools for Windows, and the integration of privacy clean-up options gives it an edge over many of the programs that are available currently.
While you should not expect CCleaner-like cleaning and customization options, it is quite good what Privacy Pal has to offer in the initial version.
Usability, especially transparency of what features do but also navigation, is an issue. While you get used to the interface and functionality quickly, the software would benefit from clearer instructions and help texts (or tooltips) that explain what particular levels do.
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I’m using Privazer and I stayed true to CCleaner. I will test this one too.
Do not install this crapware! It will remove all FVD speed dials and cause havoc to your system. Another “free” crapware from Avira.
Should have read your comment before installing this program. It “hijacks” some of your settings, and it doesn’t help uninstalling the program. A system restore is the only thing that helps. There is no restore functionality inside the program.
Did you try the ‘Expert View’ option ‘Change to > ‘Original Windows privacy level’?
Thanks for pointing this out. I had not noticed the “Change to ^” interactive text.
However, what will be preventing me from using this app is the lack of technical description for some pricacy settings. I want to know exactly what the program does with my settings. A technical documentation would be great, but I cannot find one on Avira’s homepage.
Avira AV used to be good years ago, I downloaded the latest version and was shocked how much it has become another spyware/spamware app that doesn’t let you turn off it’s unwanted “features”. I wound up using Kaspersky which surprisingly allows you to turn off all it’s memory-resident modules and never pesters you. Basically like what Avira used to be. Shame on you Avira!
Backup before you test any software that can make changes to your system.
Hi, ah, come on,…
Avira is Bloatware, was good years ago, i use Panda Online Security and set Explorer and other Things to no scan, never had any Issues since i moved from Avira to Avast and then to Panda.
Superconfigurable and NO Threats on my PC.
Tried it, the interface was too thin on detail of what it actually did, however I noticed it installed two services and an entry in the Run registry hive, which I removed. Uninstalled, as not informative enough and not honest about its spyware intentions.
Privacy Pal appears to be an interesting idea, but for a new unprovedn product, it is short on transparency and help info.
Uninstalled for those reasons.
I also noticed a new service running after the initial install – ‘avira.privacypal.service.exe’. My firewall also alerted me today to ‘avira.optimizer.common updater.exe, running from the Privacy Pal folder. Then noticed ‘Avira.OptimizerHost.exe’ service running. All gone after uninstalling.
Martin, how do you feel this stacks up against the Windows 10 Privacy tools you linked to? It is somewhat of a hybrid, as you said. If it had been available when you were writing your book, would it have been worthy of a mention, alongside (or in place of) W10Privacy, O&O ShutUp10, and/or Windows Privacy Dashboard? Of all the W10 privacy tools, which are at the top of your list currently?
I think that Privacy Pal is not as easy to use as most Windows 10 privacy tools. It offers comparable functionality, but lacks some of the more advanced (and potentially dangerous) tweaks such as blocking Telemetry servers using the Hosts file. I think it is a good program and if you can work your way around the interface, you find it well suitable for applying privacy related tweaks to your Windows PC.
Among others, I use EFF’s Privacy Badger and O&O ShutUp10. I won’t be using Avira Privacy Pal, but thanks for the info. If I wanted more, I guess I’d be looking at security/privacy tricks via pfsense.