Avira review: what sets this malware solution apart?

Back in the Mac/PC wars of the mid-2000s, I often heard that a good reason to get a Mac was that “they don’t get viruses.” I thought this sounded a little far-fetched but I didn’t think too hard about it, and I ended up not adding any virus protection to any of my computers.

But as time went on I started to wonder if I was making the right call. So I tried to find the source of the “no virus” theory. 

It turns out that old line has some basis in reality, but not much. Yes, Macs are statistically less likely to be affected by viruses or malware. That’s because many of the most serious viruses target high-value business and government computers, which usually run Windows.

The truth is that malware for Mac is out there. And it can do real damage by stealing passwords or logging web history without you even knowing. Naturally, your safest bet is to add a layer of antivirus protection to your computer.

That’s what led me to Avira Antivirus. 

Features of Avira for Mac


Avira is a leading developer of antivirus software for Mac. It combines a number of functions for detecting and removing malware and unwanted files. Together, they serve as a one-stop security hub for your Mac.

The tabs in Avira’s free version cover all the bases, from scheduling regular scans to isolating suspicious files. Here’s what it has to offer:

  • Scanner: With a single click, this feature checks your entire Mac for security threats like malware and viruses. You can also drag individual files into the Scanner window to check them for threats before you open them. 
  • Scheduler: Antivirus scans work best if you do them consistently, but like any repetitive task, it’s easy to forget to do it often. Avira’s scheduler lets you set up automatic scans at regular intervals: one less thing to remember, and a big security boost for your computer. 
  • Modules: Avira has a number of security modules that you can toggle on and off in this tab. These include a firewall for browsing protection, plus real-time protection and cloud protection. These features can be switched on and off quickly according to your security needs. 
  • Quarantine: Quarantine is a secure space where Avira can isolate suspicious files until you determine what you’d like to do with them.
  • Activity: This tab provides an at-a-glance log of Avira’s activity, helping you see how often your Mac has gotten a thorough scan. 

Avira doesn’t take a one-size-fits-all to antivirus detection. The app lets you choose between Quick Scans, more thorough Computer Scans, and even Custom Scans that you create yourself. You can also add Avira plugins to your Firefox or Chrome browser for extra protection against malicious sites online. Plus, a password manager and limited VPN offer additional layers of protection.  

The features listed above all come with Avira’s free-to-use version. If you upgrade to the app’s Pro, Optimization, or Prime version, you’ll get access to a range of other useful features, including a USB scanner module, ad blocking, and home network protection for your connected devices. You’ll also get to expand the VPN beyond its limited 500MB free version. 

Quick Action!

Avira includes a useful shortcut to make protecting your Mac even easier. With its convenient Menu Bar button, you can do a quick scan, update Avira, or toggle Real-time Protection on and off.

Avira: What makes it different?

Antivirus protection is a crowded field, but Avira has a number of qualities that distinguish it from the competition. The app stands out from the pack because of its slick design, diversified approach to security, and affordability:

  • Design: Avira looks and feels like a Mac-native app. Its modules and scans integrate seamlessly into my workflow and give great visual cues about what I need to do next. The scheduled scan is nicely laid out, making it very clear when in the workweek scans will happen.
  • Coverage: From quick health checks to deep dives on individual suspicious files, Avira has a good mix of options for ensuring your Mac’s security. You’re able to focus on exactly what you need instead of taking time out of your day to go through a whole scan. This customizable palette of options gives a nice level of control when using Avira. 
  • Affordability: The basic setup of Avira is completely free to use, and offers substantial virus protection power. If you have specific needs, the app offers a series of yearly plans that can expand and focus its malware detection power, but the basic model is well suited to casual Mac users.

Beyond virus detection: What are Avira’s best alternatives?

One place where Avira doesn’t quite hit the mark is its exclusive focus on virus detection. Its modules and features all help solve different instances of the same problem. However, it doesn’t have features for evaluating disk space or detecting performance issues with your Mac.

Frankly, with so much digital activity going on on our computers, the definition of a “virus” is a bit too narrow. More realistically, you’d want to clean your Mac from all sorts of“unneeded” items which includes junk, dubious software, browser junk, not just viruses. In this case, you may look at a universal cleanup tool, like CleanMyMac X

It combines solid antivirus protection with a hard drive cleaner and an uninstaller — try it here — it has a free version. This app is notarized by Apple, so you’re safe using it.

In addition to cleaning malware and apps, you can build a visual map of your entire hard drive. It gives you helpful cues as to where your disk space is going.

Space Lens: Handy disk analyzer 

This feature is available with a free version of CleanMyMac X.

Is Avira safe?

Not all antivirus apps are created equal, and when choosing one for your Mac it’s important to make sure you can trust it. There are a few ways you can do this.

First, you can look at the developer and the app’s history. Avira has been around and continuously updates for years, and is the flagship product of a well-regarded German developer. These are signs that it’s a safe and trustworthy choice for your Mac.

Avira also earns good marks in antivirus tests. AV-Comparatives, an independent head-to-head antivirus test, ranked Avira 4th out of 21 competitors in 2019. In the test, Avira blocked 99% of harmful files with only one false positive.

This shows that Avira is among the best antivirus protection your Mac can have, and is more secure than many alternatives. 

This many people can’t be wrong:

In 2015, with as many as 100 million users, Avira was the fifth-largest antivirus developer by market share worldwide, though its popularity has declined in recent years.  

Avira review: The verdict

If you’re searching for powerful and low-cost security for your Mac, Avira has you covered. It performs with the best software in its class for detecting malware, and its smooth, intuitive interface and scheduling feature makes it easy to add to your workflow.

However, its limited focus on blocking malware may not be right for every user. Which extra tools should you ask for? Check our feature-to-feature comparison of Avira versus CleanMyMac X by MacPaw. Hope this gives you all the answers you need.

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