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Avira vs avast! vs AVG: A comprehensive comparison

Without a doubt one of the most popular questions I am asked is "which security software should I use for my computer?" Often times the person asking me the question is looking for a free security solution as opposed to a paid one. To address this question, I have already created a post on best security software. However, now - in this article - I am going to directly address the issue of "should I use Avira, avast!, or AVG?" Of course there are many other free anti-virus/anti-malware software. However, I do feel these three are the most popular and most commonly inquired about (and probably the three best).

When evaluating security software and trying to decide which one you want to use, there are two main areas which you should look at: features and performance. So, lets get started.

In terms of features, as you can see, all three provide the necessary fundamental protection. However, avast! is the most notable one for going "above and beyond" the basics and providing a little extra bang for the buck (or lack thereof). In other words, avast! provides more "extra" features than the other two.

When viewing the above test results, keep in mind a few things:

* The tests were conducted 3-6 months ago. In other words, Avira, avast!, and AVG may have improved their performance since these tests were conducted (in particular avast! and AVG because they both released new versions of their software after these tests were conducted by AV-Comparatives.) These are the versions used for both of the above tests:

* The tests were conducted using the paid/professional version of each software.

Because of the above mentioned points, the performance of each software today may be different than when the tests were conducted. However, for the purposes of a simple comparison, these test results work just fine because they give general indications, which is what we are looking for.

That being said, the general indications are clear: Avira performs the best in terms of malware detections, with avast! coming in second, and AVG in third. However, it is worth noting Avira also has many false positives while the other two were rated by AV-Comparatives as "low" false positives.

Speed and Computer Resource Usage

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NOTE: I did not conduct the tests that the above charts show data from. All five charts are based on data available at's Best Performing (Speed and Memory Usage) Antivirus and Internet Security for 2010 article. Read Raymond's article for tests results on all the security software he tested.

Note2: I have attained permission from to reprint the above test results.

Note3: Avira Free v9, avast! Free v5, and AVG Free v9 were used for the speed/resource usage tests.

As you can see, the speed and ram usage results are all over the place. In some tests, one topped out, while in another a different one topped out, yet in another the third one topped out. However, the most notable aspect of the tests is how disproportionately long it took for avast! to do a full scan; 19 minutes to scan a 13 GB drive? That is very slow, especially considering the fact that in the other tests avast! scored similar to the other two and even beat out the other two in RAM usage.

Final Verdict

As expected, there is no one "winner" between Avira, avast!, and AVG. However, if I were to draw the line somewhere, I would draw it between AVG and avast!/Avira. AVG is probably the most popular out of the bunch; however after reviewing the data, I wouldn't recommend AVG to anyone. That is not to say AVG is bad; it isn't. Rather AVG does not provide any clear-cut advantage over the other two. In fact, the lower detection rates could be used as a valid excuse to not use AVG.

Between the other two, avast! has the most features out of all of them and uses the less RAM while idle, but also takes very long to do a full scan. Avira does the best in terms of detecting malware, but also has lots of false positives. So - to answer the million dollar question - which one would you use? It depends. If you are looking for the best protection, in terms of detecting malware, and are willing/are able to deal with the false positives, go for Avira. If you want the one with the most features, a good-but-not-the-best detection rate, and don't mind the long full scan times, go for avast!.

On a personal level, I have been an Avira user for a long time. However, the new changes made to avast! in v5.0 have really intrigued me so I will be giving avast! a chance to win me over. What about you? Feel free to share below in the comments.

1 blog comments below

I've been using Avira for some time too. Smile
escritor on Mon May 10, 2010 7:25 am

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