In the fight against suspicious files with malicious software from the Internet offers the antivirus software Avira Free Antivirus – AntiVir for Windows. Once known as “AntiVir Personal”, freeware monitors actions in real time and checks whether the system contains a virus, Trojan horse, dialer, rootkit, spyware or other malicious software.
With the “Free Security Suite”, an extended version, also free of charge, is also available, which supplements the antivirus protection with a VPN client and a password manager, among other things.
Graphical user interface with overview
Avira Free Antivirus is operated via a graphical user interface. Here you can view reports and make settings in the software to adapt the freeware to your own needs. In the status window, Avira Free Antivirus displays whether the virus protection is up-to-date. The latter is the case if the latest updates have been downloaded and the system scan was not performed too long ago. If Avira Free Antivirus is of the opinion that the protection is not optimal, the software will alert it and mark the appropriate areas in yellow or red.
Settings for the virus scanner
The configuration allows changes after the installation via the usual gear symbol. Here you can exclude files from the check under PC Security. In addition, the behavior of Avira Free Antivirus in the event of a virus discovery that can take place automatically or interactively with the user is defined here. If you want the former, you have to mark the corresponding checkbox and select the quarantine in which the suspicious file will be moved as action. You should refrain from deleting them so that the antivirus software does not destroy harmless and important files in the event of a false alarm.
Configuration after installation of antivirus software is not mandatory. However, the default settings can still be refined so that the anti-malware works as desired. AntiVir also searches for joke programs, games and programs that violate privacy. Alternatively, you can disable the search for adware, but this is not recommended.
Adware is usually freeware, which offers programs from other manufacturers to finance the project during installation. This additional software can be excluded from the installation via hooks and is then not installed. Unfortunately, there is dubious adware that automatically downloads additional software from the Internet without any further inquiry during installation. For example, browser toolbars can be installed on the computer or malicious programs can be installed. Since the additional software is only downloaded during installation via the Internet, the setup file of the adware is usually virus-free and is therefore classified as virus-free by virus scanners.
Avira Free Antivirus offers a real-time scanner that runs as a background process and is active after installation to constantly search for threats. In addition, you can use the planner to set when the computer should be thoroughly checked. This is useful at times when the computer is not needed so that you are not hindered in your work.
If the virus scanner detects a virus, the user receives a corresponding message via a pop-up window if the interaction with the user was selected in the configuration for this case. Afterwards, the integrated quarantine management offers different options for handling the find: all suspicious files can either be deleted or isolated.
What to do when Avira sounds the alarm
If the virus scanner sounds an alarm, some users may panic, even if this is not appropriate. Because not every find means a danger to the system. This is especially the case with heuristic finds. The antivirus software usually does not know whether the examined software is really dangerous, but assumes this due to the program behavior. Heuristic finds often contain the term “gene” or “generic” in the virus report, while the virus is named in the case of a specific virus find.
If there is a suspicion that malicious software has really settled on the computer, AntiVir should quarantine the suspicious file. The next step is to search the Internet for the virus and find out how best to combat it. The Microsoft tools Autoruns and Process Explorer can also help to find suspicious processes and autostart programs.
To make sure that it is not a false alarm there is Virustotal. The service checks an uploaded file with many virus scanners. If several alarms are triggered, malware is likely and the computer must be cleaned.
Disinfectant can also be used for this purpose. The advantage of Desinfec’t is that the Windows to be cleaned does not have to run and thus existing viruses are not active and cannot actively escape the cleaning process.
However, the safest method is still to install an uninfected system backup after the data backup or to reinstall the system if there are no backups. This is particularly recommended if there is a rootkit in the system that loads more viruses and other malware. This also avoids the risk of residual traces and back doors being present after system cleaning, which could promote a new infection.
Safe is safe?
All virus scanners have the problem that they only detect known dangers and can also trigger false alarms, because a software was accidentally recognized as a danger. To keep this problem to a minimum, the virus signatures must be constantly updated. Avira Free Antivirus provides for a period of at least 2 hours for automatic updates, which can be increased so that, for example, you are not prevented from working when you are on the road with a poor Internet connection due to an update.
Unfortunately, it can never be ruled out that a new malware will implant itself in the system despite a virus scanner and only be found later. Therefore, a regular system backup is mandatory, which can be restored in case of an emergency and saves a lengthy reinstallation.
To reduce the risk of infection, you should check the origin of files and not open every attachment in an email. This also applies to links in e-mails, because spam e-mails often contain links to dangerous websites. If such a page opens in the browser, malware could get onto the computer through a security hole. This is why every software on the computer must be up-to-date so that security gaps can be quickly closed by updates. This applies in particular to the operating system. This also needs to be constantly updated to be as secure as possible, which is not the case with an operating system such as Windows XP, for example, since support from Microsoft has already been discontinued in 2014.
Install Avira Free Antivirus
The complete setup file with about 250 MByte is available for the installation as well as a small installer file. For the latter, the computer must be connected to the Internet so that the necessary Avire Free Antivirus files can be downloaded during installation. With the setup file, the installation can take place offline, but you should establish an Internet connection afterwards to download current updates.
You can customize the installation to learn which components the setup installs. With this installation method, it is possible to pretend that Avira Free Antivirus obtains a confirmation from the user if the antivirus software wants to send suspicious files to Avira for scanning. The activation of heuristic tests can be turned off on request. Heuristics can detect unknown malware, but they can also cause false alarms. Nevertheless, one should first accept the default settings, as they can be changed later under “Configuration > PC Security > System Scanner > Search > Heuristics” if necessary.
Avira Free Antivirus runs on a desktop computer with the Windows operating system and supports mobile devices such as notebooks and notebooks. For mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets, Avira offers the Avira Mobile Security for iPhone and iPad and the Avira Antivirus Security App for Android. Users of Mac OS X can access Avira Free Antivirus for Mac.
More security for an extra charge
The freeware Avira Free Antivirus scans e-mails only after they have been saved on the computer including file attachments. The paid premium version Avira Antivirus Pro and the even more comprehensive premium Internet version Avira Internet Security Suite already perform a scan while downloading from the respective e-mail server in order to find suspicious files. The Avira Internet Security Suite also protects against spam, has an integrated firewall, Avira browser protection or web protection and a game mode that ensures uninterrupted gaming.