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Avira AntiVir Personal 8 review: Avira AntiVir Personal 8

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Avira's AntiVir Personal 8 comes highly rated by independent third-party antivirus experts, so we were eager to compare it with other antivirus products. While we can't complain about its high level of protection, there were several nitpicks about the application itself that set us back. For one thing, you pay more for AntiVir, in part because of the exchange rate. However, there's a decided lack of features and finesse to the product. AntiVir reminds us of early editions of Nod32, which had terrific test results, but poor user appeal. We were expecting a Norton replacement, and found something less.

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7.3

Avira AntiVir Personal 8

The Good

AntiVir Personal 8 has great test results for performance and effectiveness.

The Bad

AntiVir Personal 8 is expensive and lacks security and utility features found in comparable products.

The Bottom Line

AntiVir Personal 8 provides more than adequate malicious-software protection, but for the price, we expected more features and polish.

Setup
AntiVir Personal 8 is available for Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Windows Vista. The free version contains fewer features; the premium version for three users, however, is more expensive than competitive products (in part because of the U.S. dollar-euro exchange rates). There is also a surcharge--a donation to the Auerbach Foundation--that adds 5 euro to the final price and cannot be removed from the shopping cart.

For this review, we looked at the paid and free versions of AntiVir Personal 8. The free version can be downloaded from Download.com. Also, a limited-function 30-day trail of the paid version is available from Download.com.

Installation went smooth and did not require a reboot. We like the fact that AntiVir Personal Edition 8 lets you opt out of providing any personal details and register at a later time; some antivirus vendors do not allow this.

Should you decide to remove AntiVir, you'll need to use Microsoft Windows' Add and Remove Programs feature. After a reboot, we found no traces of the product left behind, which is good.

Interface
The interface in AntiVir Personal 8 leaves something to be desired. Unlike with AVG Anti-virus, we were left with a feeling there is something missing. Part of the problem is that AntiVir gives the user not much to configure or monitor.

Additionally, we weren't crazy about the large dialogue boxes that informed us of the product's activity, or the large pop-up windows that attempted to sell us the security suite from the company. We could do without all the noise.

Features
Perhaps the best features of AntiVir Personal 8 are its antivirus signature database and heuristics capabilities. The product consistently scores high marks in independent third-party malicious-software tests, and often leads the competition in producing updated signature files. AntiVir Personal also includes some antispyware and antiphishing protection as well.

For Web-based attacks, AntiVir Personal 8 includes the capability to block downloads from known hacked sites and desktop checks to see if a virus was installed during a Web site download. The method is good, although it is not as robust as AVG's Linkscanner technology.

There's also a Scheduler within AntiVir that lets you set automatic virus scans or perform updates, as opposed to using the one in Windows.

Missing (even in the premium edition) are various extras we see elsewhere. For example, Sunbelt Software Vipre Antivirus + Antispyware includes several system utilities in its price. Also, there is no personal firewall, common in some antivirus products these days.

Performance
AntiVir Personal Edition 8 scored well in CNET Labs' performance tests and in third-party, independent antivirus testing using live viruses, although it did not always take the top position. On the CNET iTunes test, AntiVir Personal Edition 8 came in just three seconds faster than the test system at 271 seconds. On the CNET Microsoft Office test, AntiVir Personal Edition Premium 8 finished in 1,373 seconds--one of the faster times. On a test scanning a single folder with compressed and media files, AntiVir Personal Edition 8 completed it in at a lightning fast 150 seconds. And in boot speed, AntiVir Personal Edition 8 came in with a fast 30 seconds. To find out how we test antivirus software, visit CNET Labs' How we test: Antivirus software page.

In terms of protecting your PC, we refer readers to two leading independent antivirus testing organizations. The latest test results from AV-Comparatives.org, gave AntiVir Personal Edition Premium 7 an Advanced rating (highest) for On Demand protection and Advanced Plus (highest) for heuristic protection, blocking 97 percent of the malicious code used in the test. Our second source of independent antivirus testing, CheckVir.com, did not test Antivir. Another trusted testing site, AV-test.org did test AntiVir in January 2008 and gave it a 99.6 accuracy rating (the highest among the 30 products tested).

Support
Avira offers a wide variety of technical support options. There's a robust community forum, a so-so online knowledge base, and a fairly extensive downloadable document to support its paid product. There is e-mail support; however, there isn't an online chat service. Telephone support is only offered in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland (and a few other select European countries), starting at 1.99 euros per minute. There is no North American telephone support.

Conclusion
Despite positive third-party test results, and speedy performance results in our CNET Labs test system, we're not gushing over Avira AntiVir Personal 8. It's expensive, the company tries a little too hard to promote its other security products, and there are fewer features than are found in competitive products. For those looking for an alternative to the McAfee, Symantec, Trend Micro usual suspects, the three-user edition of Sunbelt Software Vipre Antivirus + Antispyware, for example, is just as fast and is also highly rated, but is a much better deal.

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7.3

Avira AntiVir Personal 8

Score Breakdown

Setup 7Features 7Performance 8Support 7