Avira antivirus review: Firewall, phishing and identity protection

German company Avira is owned by Norton LifeLock, the firm that also puts out the Norton 360 range of security software. Avira isn’t, however, Norton repackaged under a different name – the Avira software has been around since before the company was taken over, dating back to 1986 and H+BEDV Datentechnik GmbH. You can see why they settled on the name Avira.

There is a completely free version of Avira, known as Avira free security, with an upgrade path to three subscription products for Windows, Mac, and mobile platforms. The first is Avira antivirus pro, which nets you antivirus protection that covers removable drives you plug into your PC, real time protection that runs in the background, blocking of known malware websites, data and identity protection, and a cloud-based AI agent that stops emerging threats from infecting your PC.

The next tier is Avira internet security, which costs more and includes everything from antivirus pro plus a software updater and password manager. At the top is Avira prime, which costs a lot but can be installed on five different devices, and adds PC tuning tools and an unlimited VPN to the Internet security features. The VPN, password manager, software updater and PC tuneup tools can all be subscribed to separately.

However, that free version we mentioned earlier is actually very good. It offers real time protection as well as hard drive scanning, you get a 500MB/month bite of the VPN, identity protection, some PC tuning tools, a firewall, and protection from phishing attacks. There’s a software updater and PC cleaner. It installs plugins on your browser (Chrome, Opera, Edge and Firefox) to cover your online shopping trips, and generally feels like something they’d be mad to give away for free.

However, the reason they give it away becomes clear when you actually try to use it. It will happily scan your PC and report back on what’s wrong with it, including outdated apps, tracking cookies, and unwanted files taking up space. It will even fix some of it for you. If you want your apps updated, or any of the other services chosen to live behind the subscription, you’ll need to pay up. This is, we discovered, the only way to get a free trial of…