The first ever anti-virus/anti-malware program I used was Kaspersky, a 1-year 3-user license I purchased from Wal-Mart for $60. Soon after, I discovered something I never could fathom before: free anti-virus/anti-malware programs , specifically Avira, Avast, and AVG. So I ditched paid anti-virus for free ones. I originally started with Avira, but over three years ago switched over to Avast due to Avast’s superior features in their free version. Yesterday, however, I made the switch back to Avira. Why? Better computer performance.
You see I’ve been plagued with an issue for the past eighteen months or so: my computer would often temporarily freezes whenever browsing for or downloading files or opening programs. It wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t deal with it, which is why I put up with it for eighteen months. (Laziness is too stronk.) But it was bad enough to be bloody annoying.
I blamed this poor performance on bloatware that came with my computer — bloatware I foolishly didn’t remove. And, to be fair, the bloatware did play its part; yesterday after reformatting my computer to get rid of the bloatware, I noticed an increase in performance. However, I came to the realization Avast was also causing those temporary freezes.
After I reformatted my computer, and the first thing I did was install Firefox. The second thing was to install avast! Free Antivirus. That is when I noticed it. Before installing Avast, I had little to no computer performance issues. After installing Avast, the familiar temporary freeze was back — such as when I download a file in Firefox or browse a folder in Windows Explorer.
At first I was reluctant to believe it. I love Avast; it is the only free anti-virus to provide so many features: real-time shield, web shield, IM shield, behavior monitor, script shield, etc. You name it and avast! Free Antivirus is more likely to have it than other free anti-viruses. However, I eventually bit the bullet and decided to test my theory.
If my theory was correct that Avast was causing the temporary freezes, then the temporary freezes would go away if I uninstalled Avast and installed a different anti-virus. So I did it. I uninstalled avast! Free Antivirus and installed Avira Free Antivirus. Guess what? I experienced a noticeable increase in computer performance. I’m not going to say the temporary freeze issue has gone away completely; it still happens sometimes, like when I have fifty billion Firefox tabs open. However, now this temporary freeze issue is more related to my hardware than software and something I cannot avoid without upgrading computers. The temporary freeze issue that was caused by avast! Free Antivirus is now completely gone.
I have no scientific data to backup my claims. In fact, if you look at performance tests by AV-Comparatives  (my favorite website for anti-virus/anti-malware software testing), Avast scores a better rating than Avira — 187.3 (avast! Free Antivirus 7) vs 175.3 (Avira Antivirus Premium 2013). However, my own personal experience has shown me Avira has less impact on computer performance than Avast. And if you think about it, it makes sense.
avast! Free Antivirus has many more features than Avira Free Antivirus. Avira Free Antivirus has real-time and on-demand anti-virus/anti-malware protection (including anti-rootkit). avast! Free Antivirus also has real-time and on-demand anti-virus/anti-malware protection (including anti-rootkit). But avast! Free Antivirus goes beyond general protection and provides more features in the form of specific shields, including but not limited to Web Shield which proactively blocks malicious web connections, IM Shield which protects from malicious files received over IM protocols, Script Shield which proactively blocks malicious scripts, Network Shield which specifically protects against worms, and Behavior Shield which blocks programs based on behavior. If you think about it, although in-the-lab tests may prove otherwise, it is only logical that avast! Free Antivirus would cause more of a strain on a computer than Avira Free Antivirus because it has more features.
Now does that mean I am less protected by Avira Free Antivirus than I was with avast! Free Antivirus? Not really. avast! Free Antivirus has specialized shields for specific types of threats, which is good but not absolutely necessary. If you are going to be infected by some sort of malware, that malware must eventually find its way onto your computer. When malware hits your computer, at that point any anti-virus/anti-malware program with real-time protection will (should) catch that malware — regardless of if it has special modules for that type of malware or not. The difference between Avira and Avast is avast! Free Antivirus may catch/block malware sooner but Avira Free Antivirus will also catch/block malware… just at a later step but still before it infects you. For example, avast! Free Antivirus’s Mail Shield will block an email in Outlook that has malware attached. Avira Free Antivirus won’t block the email but it will block the attachment if you download it. So you have less shields with Avira Free Antivirus but are still protected.
To conclude, I’m not going to throw Avast to the dogs. It is still a very good security program and not everyone may experience the same issues as me. In fact, I know plenty of people who are happy with avast! Free Antivirus with little to no performance issues. However, personally speaking, Avira does not cause the same performance issues as Avast does on my computer and still provides excellent protection; so I’m sticking with Avira for now. How about you? Which one do you prefer? Maybe a third option? Let us know in the comments  below!