Avira vs. Avast: which antivirus to choose?

Avira vs Avast comparison

If you need protection against malware, you may be at the crossroads between Avira and Avast. The former even managed to climb into our top antivirus list, whereas Avast is by far the biggest name on the antivirus market.

Both services are from Europe and have been firmly holding ground against cyber threats for almost 30 years now. The result is their antivirus services that are a culmination of past achievements. To find out which is ultimately better, read our Avira vs Avast review.

Winner of Each Category

CategoryAviraAvast
Features
Protection
PC Performance
Pricing
User Interface
Support

Features overview

Part of the reason why this comparison exists is that Avira and Avast are relatively even in terms of features. For starters, both have robust free versions. So, the bar of entry is low, meaning you can test out each service yourself and then decide which one you like better.

However, when we look at what you actually get, Avast has a longer list of subscription benefits. Whether all of them will be useful for you is another matter entirely. The fact is that Avira will give you a smaller suite of features not only on the free version but across the board. It’s an easy victory for Avast. Not a lot of antivirus providers can match what they have to offer.

Winner: Avast

Avira features

Avira is one of the few free antiviruses that offer real-time protection. It may not sound like much, but it’s designed to stop malicious processes once they are accessed or started. This means that instead of forcing you into frequent (and more resource-intensive) system scans, Avira lets you rest easy that you’re protected.

Avira antivirus features screen

Avira also has impressive paid plans. Antivirus Pro adds protection against ransomware, web and email modules. Web protection blocks all known phishing and malware sites, while email protection scans email attachments for viruses. The toolkit also has an ad blocker. It blocks tracking scripts and annoying ads that might haunt you during your browsing sessions. There’s also customer support access that’s otherwise unavailable for free users.

The Pro version covers all essential bases. However, if you need more, there’s also Avira Internet Security. It adds a password manager and driver updater. Avira Prime is the edition with the most features. You get a secure price comparison tool, registry cleanup tool, mobile apps, and a promise of free access to their upcoming products.

Avast features

While most other services would have capitulated, Avast can match Avira blow for blow when it comes to features. For example, they also offer free real-time monitoring to determine potential threats. That’s not all, there’s also ransomware protection. So, overall you get a bigger package even without opening your wallet.

avast free antivirus features screen

When we transition into the paid territory, the first available plan is Premium Security. It expands the essential subscription benefits adding wifi network security, DNS cache protection, secure sandbox to run potentially dangerous files, app updater, and remote access shield. If all of this sounds fine but doesn’t quite cut it, there’s also the Ultimate edition. It adds everything that’s in the Premium Security plan, plus SecureLine VPN and Cleanup Premium tools. These are both separate products in their own right.

Avast separates its plans between single-device and multi-device options. Plus, you can move up their pricing tiers to get more safety features.

Avira vs. Avast: which offers better protection?

On the surface, it would seem like both tools are evenly matched. Considering the long history of both services, that’s what you should expect, right?

Well, there is more nuance. For example, according to AV-TEST Institute’s data, it seems that the strengths of both services differ. In the protection category, the Windows version of Avast and Avira score 6 points, the maximum to get. The services are even on Android as well – 5.5, which is still a good grade. However, on macOS, Avira scores 6 points, while Avast only has 5.5. So, Avira comes off as the better-suited service to protect you against digital threats.

Winner: Avira

Malware protection

Both services feature a comprehensive list of features that should be sufficient for removing malware. Whichever you choose, you’ll have to initiate a full scan immediately after an install. It sets a baseline for all your further usage.

Avira antivirus scan screen

Avira integrates cloud scanning into its real-time protection, making it a more lightweight and robust solution. In comparison, Avast seems clunky and outdated and primarily relies on background scans. The real-time protection is somewhat spotty, missing shady sites or triggering false alarms. It’s a bit disappointing not to find machine learning solutions to identify potential threats (like with Trend Micro products). Still, it should be more prominent with upcoming iterations of antivirus products.

Scanning

The previous statement about the overall chunkiness of Avast holds when performing virus scans. In our tests, Avira always completed the scan in approximately 30 minutes, while Avast dragged on to 48. That’s 60% of Avira’s speed. The ratio improves in a quick scan, but even then, Avast is slower than Avira.

avast antivirus scan screen

It’s also possible to set up custom scans for particular directories. It’s handy for when you suspect where the malware is hiding. Otherwise, a quick scan goes through your main system files and resources that could compromise your system if disrupted. It’s also available on both Avast and Avira, so you’ll be able to take advantage of it whichever you ultimately decide to pick.

Firewall protection

Avira has one of the least impressive firewall modules that I’ve seen on the antivirus. For example, the free version lets you manage the default Windows Firewall from within the app. It makes little sense to have their API wrapped around regular Windows settings, it’s a non-feature. On premium versions, the situation is a lot better. You can customize the strictness of protection by changing the computer’s visibility on the network, blocking connections from the outside, and preventing floodings and portscans.

Avast is equally uninspiring from this standpoint. The outlook becomes better only on their Premium and Ultimate editions. These add an advanced firewall that you can personalize with specific whitelists. This makes the control of your setup pain-free and tailored to your own needs.

Impact on PC performance

When it comes to performance, Avira is on a whole different level. It does an excellent job of managing your system resources. The slowdown is there, but it’s low enough to not be noticeable.

If, for example, you would fall prey to a crypto miner malware, your resource consumption would become high. Now imagine that your antivirus also requires a significant chunk of those resources. It would mean having to sustain a hefty load to remove the infection. Since the removal of malware takes time, you could crash your system in the process. That is why your antivirus solution needs to stay as lightweight as possible, and Avira does precisely that.

Avast does everything in the opposite direction. Not only is it clunky, but it also tries to smuggle in so many optional modules that your system resources can get hogged quite fast. Even on idle, Avast eats more memory and HDD usage than Avira. It isn’t optimal and reflects poorly on Avast performance.

Winner: Avira

Pricing

Because both Avira and Avast have a free version, it makes for an equal comparison. Although Avast seems like a better offer for free options, Avira is a much better-paid service.

The paid plans are universally cheaper in Avira’s camp, while Avast doesn’t show any price flexibility. With them, you’ll either get a single device option or too many. Since a single device option won’t be enough for most, this tactic creates pressure to go for more expensive plans with ten device options.

Avira provides much better value and user-friendly pricing. You can also get an unlimited amount of devices with their most expensive option. That’s a subscription benefit that’s hard to beat. In general, Avira is a value champion for those who are price-conscious.

Winner: Avira

Avira plans

When it comes to paid services, Avira is much cheaper. You can get Avira Antivirus Pro edition for just $44.99/yr for one device. The price increases if you select the three device option at $57.99/yr, or the five device option for $70.99/yr.

Avira antivirus plans and pricing options

Then, there’s Avira Internet Security. The single device option costs $57.99/yr, the three device option goes for $70.99/yr, and there’s a five device option for $83.99/yr.

The most expensive plan, Avira Prime, doesn’t have a single device option, and its lowest tier caps at five devices for $99.99/yr. There’s also an unlimited devices option, and it costs a whopping $129.99/yr.

Avast plans

Suppose you find yourself dissatisfied with Avast’s free version and want to get just a bit more functionality. In that case, the price increase goes from 0 to 11 pretty quickly. This is because the cheapest paid plan – Avast Premium Security for one device costs $69.99/yr. That’s as much as the five device Avira Antivirus Pro option or the three device option Avira Internet Security.

Device selection flexibility is non-existent here: you can either pick the one device or the ten device option, you will find no in-between options. So, the price for Avast Premium Security is either $69.99/yr (for one device), or $89.99/yr, there’s no middle ground. It forces users into the more expensive plans, with more subscriptions than they would realistically need.

The biggest wallet destroyer is Avast’s Ultimate plan. The single device option will cost you $99.99/yr. There’s also ten device variant for $119.99/yr. Essentially, Ultimate plans add SecureLine VPN and Cleanup Premium for $30 more.

User-friendliness

Most free antiviruses are guilty of sneaking in other products. For example, on the Avast installer, their Secure Browser addon is checked by default. It’s significant because it was revealed that the addon collects as much data as possible about the user. Most users don’t adjust the default install settings, which makes privacy suffer. In a sense, Avast is actively exploiting less perceptive or not very tech-savvy users. This shows their stance on user-friendliness, yes their UI is friendly enough, but the service is a bit sinister by design.

Avira, on the other hand, isn’t forcing your hand as much. You may use the free version and encounter reminders that you should upgrade, but they won’t be drastic. Avira is user friendly by virtue of respecting your choices and being more mindful of your data. That is why it deserves a win in this category.

Winner: Avira

Desktop app

Even at the installation phase, both apps are similar. Both first use smaller executables that download the remaining files during setup, for example. However, Avast has the browser issue, whereas Avira seems to be more professional in this sense. The client is clean and only installs the necessary files. If you’re using the free version, both apps will remind you about the paid options at random intervals.

avira antivirus main screen

In terms of UI, both clients are easy to use. They should be intuitive for most users, and if you’re transitioning between Avast to Avira, it won’t be painful. The general layout is very similar, so you’ll quickly find what you’re looking for.

In both cases, you will be navigating between menus with individual icons. If you’re on the free version, some of them will be disabled when you click on them, asking you to upgrade. They stay there as a constant reminder that you could be a lot more.

Mobile app

Although it would seem that their mobile apps are extensions of their antivirus services for desktop, this isn’t the case. Sure – there’s less reason to offer antivirus for iOS because of fewer associated malware risks. Tight control of Apple’s App Store eliminates most of the threats. Android protection, in this sense, remains more important.

Avira mobile app smart scan

However, it seems that the strict nature of iOS sets the baseline for both of the Avira mobile apps. In reality, their primary offer here is a VPN, not the antivirus. Avira doesn’t offer it for free, and what remains is a photo cleaner that removes duplicate pictures, a network scanner that determines whether your connection is safe, and not much else.

Avast mobile app screen

Pretty much the same is on offer for Avast users. The difference is that their VPN is free for everyone. Plus, Avast has a secure photo vault to store your most important (or embarrassing) photos. Your passcode will protect them, and it’s not uploaded anywhere. If you delete the app, the photos will be deleted as well, so keep that in mind. If you want to block dangerous websites, you’ll have to buy their paid plans.

Customer support

The bane of free services is modest customer service options. Avira is no exception to the rule – their only form of customer support available for free is the FAQ page. So, if you run into any problems, you’re on your own.

When we look at the paid option, naturally, there’s a customer service option. You can contact them via email and phone. Sadly, there’s no live chat, which could solve lots of problems.

Avast will also leave you hanging if you’re a free user and want customer support. They have to cut features if they want to keep the service free. However, their paid version isn’t any better than what Avira has on offer. They primarily rely on automated forms and community forums. So, when you’re frustrated, you have to jump through several hoops to get in touch with a customer support agent. They have a phone line as well, but the experience can prove infuriating. Avira does a better job here.

Winner: Avira

Final verdict

On their own, both services seem solid enough. However, when stacked against each other, they highlight their significant weaknesses. For this reason, in this Avira vs. Avast review, the former clearly wins.

Although Avast has a less feature-rich free version, Avira is an overall more robust piece of software. Not only will it work more efficiently, but it’s also more adequately priced, and it’s free of data collection scandals. Avast is an antivirus giant, but it lacks the usability to make the service worthwhile.

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