Avira Antivirus is a program that has long been regarded as one of the best antivirus applications around. This is due to its top notch virus detection and also the fact it does not slow down your computer too much. Currently there are 5 derivatives available for home users which are the free version, Antivirus Suite, Family Protection Suite, Internet Security Suite and the Ultimate Protection Suite. The paid versions now include extra features such as cloud storage, parental controls and system maintenance/tune up tools.
A few years ago, Avira Free Antivirus took first place with the most downloads at CNET’s Download.com for the antivirus category. Sadly their ranking has dropped significantly and they now get around 1/25th of the downloads the likes of their main competitors AVG or Avast get. Avira did not get too bloated and it’s detection is still great, so what went wrong? Avira actually annoyed many of its faithful users by embedding an unnecessary toolbar called SearchFree provided by Ask.com, and some people regard the Ask toolbar as adware.
We wouldn’t necessarily classify the Ask.com toolbar as adware although it is still one of the most unpopular browser toolbar add-ons around. This is because uninstalling it from the Control Panel will fully remove the toolbar including restoring the preferred search engines and default homepage in web browsers, as opposed to something like the Babylon Toolbar which leaves all manner of things behind when you try to uninstall it.
Other than just bundling the toolbar in Avira, opting out of the toolbar during installation or uninstalling it from Control Panel afterwards will disable the Web Protection component that scans every URL that you visit from your web browser and blocks them if malicious code is found. That’s an important component of the antivirus disabled because web threats are more common now than ever.
If you’d like to continue using the Avira Free Antivirus and keep the Web Protection enabled without installing the SearchFree Ask.com toolbar, here is an updated trick to work with the latest Avira 2014 v14 on both 32-bit and 64-bit Windows systems. To try and make things a bit easier, we’ve provided help for 3 different scenarios.
A New Install of Avira Without the Toolbar
For those of you wanting to install Avira for the first time but don’t want the toolbar installed from the off, this is the solution you need to follow.
1. Download the registry fix file below according to your Windows version (32-bit or 64-bit) and run it to merge into your registry. If you are unsure which one to download, installing both registry fixes won’t cause any problems on your computer.
2. Download the latest version of Avira Free Antivirus 2014.
3. Once the download is complete, run the setup file. In the Installation Type window, make sure to select Custom, then tick the agreement box and click Next.
4. Continue with the installation until you reach the window offering the install of the SearchFree Toolbar and changing your default search and homepage options. Simply click “Don’t install” to continue without installing the toolbar. The search and start page options don’t need touching as they will only change if you select Install. The installation will then continue, don’t install simply chooses not to install the toolbar and will not halt the Avira main installation process.
5. After installation and the updating has finished, run the Avira Control Center shortcut from the desktop or tray and you’ll notice that the Web Protection is activated. You can even access the Web Protection options from the configuration button.
Removing the Toolbar and Keeping Web Protection
Many users will have installed Avira Free Antivirus and also installed the SearchFree toolbar either by mistake or because they were prepared to tolerate it as they are still getting what is essentially a good free antivirus. This solution is for those with Avira and the toolbar currently installed, and should also work if you have upgraded from a previous version and the toolbar was installed during the upgrade.
1. Open Control Panel -> Programs and Features (or Add and Remove Programs for XP) and uninstall the “Avira SearchFree Toolbar”. Leave the Programs and Features or Add and Remove window open as you will need it again in a moment. After the uninstall you will now find the Web Protection component inside Avira has been disabled and greyed out.
2. Download the registry file for your operating system from and run it to merge the data into your registry, these are the same files as above.
3. Go back to the Programs and Features or Add and Remove window, right click on the Avira Free Antivirus entry and select Change. In the window that pops up make sure Modify is selected and click Next.
4. In the Install Components window, tick Web Protection and then click Next. This will reinstall Web Protection again after it was disabled when the toolbar uninstalled.
5. Go into Avira and you will see Web Protection has been enabled again but now you don’t have the toolbar installed.
For Those Running Avira Without Web Protection
If you’re running Avira free but without the Web Protection feature and would like to know how to enable it while not having to install the toolbar, this is for you. The procedure is very much the same as the method above but you don’t have the toolbar to start with.
1. Download the registry file for your computer and double click it to import the data into the registry.
2. Open Control Panel -> Programs and Features (or Add and Remove Programs for XP), right click on Avira Free Antivirus and click Change.
3. Making sure Modify is selected, click Next. Enable Web Protection by ticking the box and then click Next. Checking in Avira’s main window, you should see the Web Protection feature is now enabled.
Hopefully you can now enjoy the free Web Protection feature by Avira Free Antivirus without upgrading to the paid versions or being forced to install the unnecessary SearchFree Toolbar provided by Ask.com. Judging by the huge drop off in numbers of people downloading Avira these days, we hope that one day they will realize just how unpopular the SearchFree toolbar is and users are voting with their feet by avoiding Avira totally. After all, there are plenty of other free antivirus products available that don’t have this restriction.