There is no shortage of good free antivirus software programs. The 3 most popular free programs are: Antivir, Avast and AVG. Today, I will be talking about my personal favorite Avira's Antivir Personal Edition Classic. It is an excellent antivirus software program, which is both reliable and efficient. It is available free for personal non-commercial use. There is a premium version, which adds POP3 scanning and a dedicated update server.
Antivir 7.00.00.47 is the latest version, only 12.74MB. I had no problem installing Antivir. Once installed, Antivir prompted me to update the virus signatures and perform a system scan. Updating went smoothly as did the system scan. There's no registration required. The license renews automatically. Antivir updates are free for life. Antivir had a major makeover from version 6.x to 7.x. The user interface is clean and tidy. The Main menu shows the status of Antivir Guard, the most recent update, virus scanner build and expiration date of license.
Most of Antivir’s settings are accessible via the Configuration menu. In the Main menu, click on “Configuration” or its icon. In the new window, in the upper left hand corner, there is an “Expert mode,” check it. The advance settings are only accessible through the “Expert mode.”
Antivir provides real time, on demand and on access protection. Antivir is always working in the background protection your computer. It works invisibly allowing you to do work without any interruptions. If you are connected to the Internet, it will scan files which are downloaded to your computer. It will scan during both reading and writing of a file. You can use its Scheduler to automatically scan your computer or you can manually start a scan. Antivir has a number of advance features which really makes it stand out, such as heuristic scanning and scanning archives. Antivirus scanners depend on updated virus signatures to both detect and removal viruses. Unfortunately, if there is no virus signature available, antivirus scanners won’t be able to detect them. However, heuristic scanning does not depend on virus signatures but rather it looks for characteristics and behavior common to all viruses, which is great when there is a new virus floating around. To avoid detection by antivirus scanners, virus writers try to hide their viruses in archive file types, such as .zip files. The good antivirus scanners scan within .zip files or any other archival file types (e.g. WinRAR).
One of my favorite features is the creation of a desktop shortcut which starts a scan you specify. For example, I created a desktop shortcut to scan of all my local drives. In order to start the scan, I just double click on the shortcut. Users can specify which file types to scan. For most users, the default file types are fine. If you elect to scan all file types, you might notice a lag in computer performance.
Antivir’s real time protection is provided by Antivir Guard. Antivir Guard has heuristic scan capabilities as well and you can even adjust the detection level. For most users, the default settings are fine. I don’t recommend making any changes, unless you know exactly what you are doing.
Users can also schedule regular updates of virus signatures. By default, Antivir will update daily as well as scan daily at a time you specify. Also, Antivir will maintain both an event and report log – just in case you want to see what Antivir was doing in the background.
There are a few omissions in the free version of Antivir. Antivir will can outgoing e-mail but does not scan incoming mail. As I mentioned before, POP3 scanning is only available in premium version. For myself, I use the free Gmail and Yahoo! E-mail, both of which scan incoming e-mails. As a result, the lack of POP3 scanning is not of great concern to me. However, for those who use e-mail services without virus scanning, Antivir might not be the best choice for you. Both Avast and AVG antivirus offers both incoming and outgoing e-mail. In addition, updating virus signatures can be slow at times. The premium version has a dedicated server, the free version does not. I’ll admit, when there is a large size update, I have to wait several hours or even a day before I can download it. One thing I find very annoying is, when updating virus signatures, Antivir will display a splash page advertising their premium products. Some might call it adware but there is no such thing as a “free lunch.” It is not a big deal. You can close the splash page at any time.
Antivir’s scan engine is top notched. PC World Magazine reviewed all 3 free antivirus scanners and showed Antivir had superior detection and removal over Avast and AVG. About.com corroborated PC World's findings.