Antivir Personal Edition Classic is a free, award-winning antivirus software. It provides scanning on demand as well as real-time protection against a wide array of malware including viruses, trojans, worms, and dialers.
Antivir also offers excellent heuristic virus detection (i.e. its ability to identify yet-unknown threats).
This review was borne out of an email exchange with Freewaregenius reader Sinkhan, whose emails I quote below with permission.
For a comparison of the best freeware antivirus programs see my article: The best free antivirus: a comparison (where, incidentally, Antivir came out on top).
Sinkhan: “I feel that there is some freeware that should definitely belong on your site. First of all, in your top ten picks, you list Grisoft’s AVG as your third favorite pick…. I would like to bring up AntiVir from Avira. This program is very near and dear to my heart. Although I’ve tried AVG and a close competitor that you may have heard of, Awil’s Avast!, Avira’s AntiVir Personal Edition Classic is a free program with an outstanding performance record.
At www.av-comparatives.org, an independant organization that researches anti-malware software, recent tests show that AntiVir has stellar detection rates, beating other commercial giants like Norton, McAffee, and quite substantially beating Avast! and AVG. The tests conducted were yes, done on the paid versions, but according to this part of Avira’s site, both the free and paid versions use the same engine for detecting viruses. The only features that the free version may lack is *fully* automatic updating (which however can be configured in the program to be automatic) and e-mail scanning (which I find rather unnecessary when using web-based email such as Yahoo!, G-Mail, or Hotmail).”
Me: “Thank you for your email. Indeed you’re right, there’s a lot of titles missing from my site. This is primarily a function of time, but I will say something about some of the titles you mentioned… I simply stayed away from [Antivir] because of the email scanning issue; for work, I have to use a POP3 account and I simply cannot have that vulnerability. But for anyone who only uses web services (Gmail, Hotmail) like yourself I agree it might well be the antivirus of choice.”
Sinkhan: “I still encourage you to use AntiVir at home if you can’t at work (Despite my incessant effort to try and encourage as many people to use AntiVir, I don’t work for them, of course, I wish I did. I’m just a huge supporter.) Of course, there are probably several robust freeware programs out there that could compliment AntiVir in its work. One would have to admit that the results from av-comparatives are rather conclusive.”
Me: “I’m going to install AntiVir on my home computer to test it out. I was very impressed with the results for this program on AVcomparatives.”
Sinkhan: “It’s great to see that I’ve convinced you to try out AntiVir. I’m confident that you’ll be satisfied”.
After a few days of using Antivir on my home computer I installed it alongside AVG on my work computer as well. Here are some noteworthy observations:
- According to the tests conducted by www.av-comparatives.org (Feb 2007), Avira’s on-demand scanning outperforms not just AVG and Avast but for-pay heavyweights such as Kaspersky, NOD32, McAfee and Norton. Note that av-comparatives ask that these results are not reproduced or linked to directly (?), but you can easily find them from the main page.
- The test for pro-active detection of unknown viruses (conducted Nov 2006) produced similar results, with Antivir trumping all of the above mentioned programs by a wide margin (except for NOD32, which it was on par with for that test).
- Note that these tests were conducted on the commercial versions of these programs, although, as Sinkhan has pointed out, the free and paid versions of Antivir use the same detection engine.
- Updates: Antivir by default installs itself with a daily update schedule every 24hours. This means that although the free version will not update itself at each and every point that an update is made available, it will update itself every day at a set time. No need to worry about updating manually.
- Antivir is a well designed, slick-looking program that does not seem to hog the computer’s resources.
- Nag screen: please note that whenver the free version of Antivir installs new updates, a browser window appears with a nag screen urging upgrading to the paid version. This nag screen can be removed by following the instructions here, here, or here.
- Email scanning: although the free version of Antivir does NOT offer real-time email virus scanning and detection; it is not clear, however, that this makes it any less effective with threats that might make their way to the hard drive via email, as it will protect you from these threats anyway after they are downloaded (see this article and this article for more in support of this position).
The Verdict: This is one of the best antivirus programs out there and probably the most powerful free antivirus option. If you only use web mail (Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc) then this definitely should be your free antivirus of choice. If you use regular downloadable email you can still use this provided you install another antivirus program that can do email scanning for you. I recommend AVG to do this, as it has a light footprint and co-exists well with other antivirus programs. To lower these program’s claims on your computer’s resources, simply de-activate all of AVG’s services except the update manager and email scanner.
Version tested: 7.00.03.02
Compatibility: Windows 98/ME (only supported until 30.06.2007), NT (only supported until 31.03.2007), 2000/XP, Vista.
Go to the download page to get the latest version (approx 13.7megs).