Avira Free AntiVirus 2014 is a basic but capable antivirus engine which does its best to keep your PC malware-free.
Installation is simple and straightforward. Unlike the competition, there are no demands to remove competing products: we had Norton Internet Security installed on the test PC, and were able to run both packages alongside each other without problems.
Once the program is running it provides all the features you'd expect: files you access are checked for threats in real time, you can carry out on-demand antivirus scans on any part of your system whenever you like, and a capable scheduler allows you to set up regular scans to run automatically and unattended.
Just as with the last edition, there are very few changes. Perhaps the best news is that the "Notifier", the pop-up ad which appeared daily if you didn't install the Avira toolbar, has been pulled. And Avira's own firewall has been removed, with the program now providing a basic interface to manage the Windows firewall instead. (Notably this only works with Windows 7 or later.)
If this isn't enough power for you, Avira provides a couple of alternative solutions.
Avira Antivirus Suite 2014 (the new name for Avira Antivirus Premium) has everything in the free edition, and adds plenty of extras. Behaviour monitoring allows the program to detect even brand new and previously undiscovered threats, for example. An antiphishing module keeps you safe online. The program looks out for and blocks infected emails; the AntiDrive-by module protects you from unwanted downloads; its Game Mode suspends notifications during games, movies and other full-screen applications, and you get 5GB of free online backup space.
And of course Avira Internet Security 2014 takes all these features and extends them with encryption tools, PC maintenance options (free hard drive space, increase performance), and more.