Avira Free Security Suite 2017 is a capable collection of the program's free security, privacy and optimisation products.

Avira Free Antivirus is a highlight. Independent testing labs show its engine offers some of the best protection around, comparable with top commercial products from companies like Bitdefender and Kaspersky, and the latest edition ramps up your security even further with enhanced anti-ransomware technology.

Avira Browser Safety is a Chrome and Firefox extension which blocks access to known malicious sites. It adds icons to your search engine results, enabling you to spot potential dangers at a glance, and if you click a dangerous link somewhere else it jumps in to warn you of the risks. (If you're completely sure a site is safe you can carry on in a couple of clicks, so the system never gets in your way.)

Avira Phantom VPN encrypts your communications to prevent interception, masks your IP address and may help you access websites you couldn't normally reach. The free version has a very limited data allowance of 500MB per month (1GB if you register), but that could still offer useful protection for email and basic browsing.

Avira System Speedup is a cut-down version of the company's PC maintenance tool. There's no boot optimisation, file encryption or secure deletion, and it won't free up quite as much disk space, but there are still plenty of performance, memory and privacy tweaks (and it wipes away your internet history, too).

While this sounds like a bulky suite, it's surprisingly easy to handle. Installation and setup is easier than many stand-alone antivirus engines, and all your tools are managed from Avira Connect, a simple launcher which lives in your system tray. Launch it with a click and you can run a quick antivirus scan, launch the individual suite tools, and view or manage any other devices you've protected with Avira technology.

If you like the product, updating to Avira Internet Security gets you USB device scanning, shopping/ banking protection, and the full set of System Speedup features, while Avira Total Security adds unlimited Phantom VPN traffic, and automatically secures public wifi connections.

Verdict

Avira Free Security Suite 2017 is a capable collection of products, particularly Antivirus and Browser Safety, which between them do a great job of keeping you safe online.