There has been quite a lot of complaints about Avira recent updating problem that hangs and counts time elapsed endlessly. Check Avira forums and you will see how many people are complaining over it. Honestly I do not use Avira even though I say that Avira is the best free antivirus because I have commercial license for Kaspersky and Norton. If compared between a paid and a free software, I prefer to use paid because I am eligible for prompt support. So I installed Avira on my test computer and researched for a few days on what’s happening to Avira’s update servers. I wasn’t very sure at first but now I am confident to share with you on my findings and also the temporary fix until Avira fix the problem at their side.
One of the main difference between the personal and premium edition is the premium edition gets to update the latest virus definition using Avira’s Fast Premium update server. This is true because the Avira AntiVir personal edition gets the latest virus definition from personal.avira-updates.com and the premium gets it from premium.avira-updates.com. There are only 4 premium servers and as for the personal update servers, there are 24 of them. I am able to download the virus definition at full speed from any of the 4 premium servers but as for the 24 servers that are used for personal edition, I get timeout most of the time on 20 servers and only 4 ipv6 servers are working.
I get to compile a list of Avira update servers by multi pinging Avira’s personal update server personal.avira-update.com. Do take note that the IP address could change if Avira decides to do that.
2a01:138:a001:201::21 (works most of the time)
2a01:138:a001:201::22 (works most of the time)
2a01:138:a001:201::23 (works most of the time)
2a01:138:a001:201::24 (works most of the time)
As you can see from the multi ping test, Avira randomly assigns an update server for you to download the updated definition. From what I’ve noticed, most of the time Avira will try to assign one of the 4 of the ipv6 update servers to personal users. Only sometimes you will directly get the ipv4 update server. I believe the reason they are doing this is because all of the 20 ipv4 servers are overloaded. I’ve used DownTester to try to download a 5MB definition file from all 20 servers with a setting of 50 retries if failed and guess what, NONE of the servers allowed me to successfully complete downloading the 5MB file.
It’s really a bad decision to use the ipv6 servers because by default Windows XP don’t have ipv6 installed and configured. Installing IPv6 in XP is easy but you still won’t be able to connect to the ipv6 servers as it doesn’t work right out of the box. Pardon me, I have no experience with configuring ipv6 nor could I get XP to connect the Avira ipv6 update servers.
When Avira on XP tries to connect to the ipv6 servers, it hangs for a very long time until it times out and redirects you to one of the 20 ipv4 servers, and again, those are problematic slow servers. So, basically Avira users on Windows XP is pretty much screwed until Avira gets more servers or fix it. If you are using Windows Vista and 7, you shouldn’t have any problems because the operating system already supports ipv6.
If you are using Windows Vista or Seven and wants to manually select which Avira update server to use, then you can use your Windows HOSTS file to map personal.avira-update.com and personal.avira-update.net to any of the IP address. Unfortunately we CANNOT redirect and use the premium servers because the definition files being used are slightly different. When Avira couldn’t find the files that they are looking for, it will automatically redirect you back to any of the free servers.
Here is how to modify your Windows HOSTS file so that the Avira AntiVir Personal Edition can download the updates from working servers.
1. Simultaneously press Win+R on your keyboard and you should see a Run box.
2. Type this in the box %SystemRoot%\system32\drivers\etc and click OK.
3. Open the hosts file with a text editor such as Notepad.
4. Copy the 2 lines below and paste it to the last line at the hosts file. Save the file.
It should look like the screenshot below.
One of the user from Avira forum suggested that Windows XP users can add this 2 lines to hosts file. I’ve tested it and ended up waiting for more than 20 minutes to download the updates but still stuck with the message “Files are being downloaded” with no progress at all.
5. Save the hosts file either by going to File > Save or just simultaneously press Ctrl+S. Now try to update Avira and it should work now.
Just for your knowledge, the HOSTS file can only map host names to IP addresses. If you haven’t noticed, all four ipv6 address are nearly the same except for the last character which is 21, 22, 23 and 24. You can try any of the four servers by changing the hosts file to find which Avira personal update server works best for you. Remember, the IPv6 servers can only work in Vista and 7. It doesn’t work on XP unless you’ve managed to install and configure IPv6 properly. I wonder if this is one of the Avira’s dirty tactic to make everyone pay and upgrade to Premium edition? They better fix it fast or else many people will start switching to Avast! or Microsoft Security Essentials.