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Avira Free Security for Mac review

At first sight

Expert assessment


Effective Antivirus Protection Includes a VPN, password manager and junk file cleaner


It offers several tools via its dashboard, but only a few are available in the free version. A smart scan promises to improve the performance of your PC, but there’s little you can do in the free version. The VPN severely limits the amount of encrypted traffic

Our verdict

Avira Free Security for Mac seems to offer a lot of features for free. But most actually require a paid subscription, so the product’s overall usefulness is limited.

Price at time of review


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Some free security programs appear to offer a number of features beyond just basic virus protection. But when you dig deep, you find that most of those extra and advanced options actually require a paid subscription. This is the case with Avira Free Security for Mac. Free for home use, Avira Free Security starts with antivirus protection, but then lists a VPN, password manager, browser cookie cleaner, junk file cleaner, a application uninstaller, a startup manager, and a PC performance booster. All of these features appear in the dashboard of the program, but only some of them are actually accessible in the free product.

For alternatives, see our roundup of best antivirus software for mac.


The Avira Free Security for Mac installation is quick and painless. The process directs you to the specific preferences on your Mac that need to be given permission to install Avira. After the initial setup, the program invites you to run a smart scan on your Mac to check for any security or privacy issues and performance issues.

The first time I ran smart scan on my Mac, Avira detected 44 tracking cookies and informed me that my email was not being tracked for phishing attempts. She also promised that she could free up 2.6GB of disk space. Further details identified one of the privacy issues such as cookie tracking in Chrome and disk space clutter such as cache files, logs and general trash. I could check or uncheck any of these options and then tell Avira to fix the problems.

However, this is where the first sales pitch started. The free version of Avira has identified the problems found in the smart scan. But to actually clean up anything beyond junk files you’d need one of the paid editions…Avira Internet Security at $34.99/£22.99 for the first year or Avira Primo at $59.99 / £51.99 for the first year.

origin 1Avira Smart Scan checks for security, privacy and performance issues. But fixing most of them requires an upgrade to one of the paid editions.



While Smart Scan’s usefulness is limited unless you plan to upgrade to one of the paid editions, the program’s dashboard appears to offer access to a variety of amazing tools, all organized into three main categories: security, privacy and performance.

Under Security is the virus scan. Here you can run a quick scan to check system files and other vulnerable areas, or a full scan to scan your entire Mac for malware. With both types of scans, you can schedule a scan to run daily, weekly, or monthly. Additionally, you can create a custom scan to scan only certain folders.

By default, real-time antivirus protection scans all new files saved to your computer and files downloaded from the Internet. Scanning USB drives is listed as another option, but requires one of Avira’s paid products. Any malware discovered is automatically quarantined for you to inspect. Clicking on the name of a malware takes you to the Avira website with a helpful file analysis.

origin 1With Avira’s antivirus tool, you can run or schedule a quick scan and a full scan, and create a custom scan to check specific folders.


In Privacy there are the VPN, the password manager and the cookie cleaner. To use the VPN, you need to download a separate, free tool called Avira Phantom VPN & WiFi Proxy from the Mac App Store. Manual VPN activation uses the closest location for your network. With the free version of Avira, you are limited to only one automatically chosen network location. Also, your monthly quota of encrypted traffic is over 500MB, which won’t last very long.

origin 1With Avira’s free version, the VPN limits you to one location and up to 500MB of traffic per month.


Avira PWM Password Manager for Safari works just like a Safari extension. Avira PWM fulfills the basic functions of a password manager, creating and storing secure passwords, applying them to associated websites, and requiring you to devise a master password to protect your information. Next on the list is a Cookie Cleaner, but that’s another feature that requires the paid Prime edition of Avira.

Finally, the Performance category lists three tools: a junk cleaner, an uninstaller, and a startup app manager. Among them, the junk cleaner is available in the free version of Avira and will scan and remove junk files and other unnecessary files clogging up your system. The uninstaller and the startup apps manager both require the Prime edition of Avira.

origin 1To improve the performance of your Mac, Avira Free Security lists a junk cleaner, an application uninstaller and a startup manager, but only the junk cleaner is accessible in the free edition.



Avira was effective at detecting and blocking malware. The program easily captured and quarantined the different EICAR test files I tried to download, including the eicar.com file and the eicar text file. It didn’t scan the eicar.zip file when I downloaded it. But when I tried to open the file, Avira detected it and quarantined it.

The paid version of the product, Avira Internet Security,received top marks in a September/October evaluation by AV-Test for protection, performance and usability. A Avira Free Antivirus 2016 review by AV-Comparatives gave the program good overall ratings, while a May/June 2022 review of macOS security products gave Avira Antivirus Pro high marks.


The most frustrating part of Avira Free Security is the sheer number of tools that require one of the paid editions. I don’t necessarily blame Avira for this kind of deception; is a game played by many free products. But listing every tool in the program as being available seemed deceptive to me. Ultimately, the old adage “you get what you pay for” certainly holds true with Avira Free Security. Take out the tools that require a subscription and you’re left with antivirus functionality, a limited VPN, a password manager that only works in Safari, and a junk file cleaner. On the surface, it’s not a terrible mix for a free product. But you can do better with other free standalone products.

You can get Avira Free Security for your Mac here.