Avira may not be a household name in the UK, but to German and Austrian computer users its antivirus products are on a par with Norton and McAfee. Avira's Premium Security Suite offers protection against viruses, adware, spyware, rogue diallers, phishing and email viruses. However, it really boils down to a pair of products: a powerful antivirus, AntiVir, plus a firewall.

At just £27, Avira's a fairly inexpensive option. Installation is simple – it takes just a few moments to download the package and install the provided product key.

We especially liked AntiVir's light system footprint. Norton's antivirus in comparison imposes too high a system overhead, and slows systems down. We installed AntiVir on an old laptop and it ran nicely.

AntiVir provides the usual AV protection – a real-time monitor and a system scanner, which can be scheduled. Updates are provided frequently, but AntiVir uses heuristic techniques to detect virus-style action, too. And it will filter up to a dozen processes from on-access scanning, so it can coexist with, for example, a spyware scanner.

Avira's firewall offers far better protection than XP's built-in firewall, but it doesn't perform an initial sweep to automatically clear applications for internet access. This makes for a lot of access approval requests – even Avira's own AV updater has to be approved the first time it updates.

However, we don't have many complaints. The updating process can be a bit slow and the MailGuard doesn't integrate directly with your email client, but attachments are scanned upon detachment.

Avira Premium Security Suite: Specs

  • Intel Pentium or AMD Athlon CPU
  • Windows 2000/XP
  • 20MB RAM
  • 30MB hard disk space
  • administrator rights required to install
  • Intel Pentium or AMD Athlon CPU
  • Windows 2000/XP
  • 20MB RAM
  • 30MB hard disk space
  • administrator rights required to install

OUR VERDICT

A good, low-cost security solution, easily on a par with its rivals. Note that a free lite version of AntiVir is available – marry that with the free version of ZoneAlarm on the DVD and you have an effective but cheap security system.

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