Avira is a well known company from Germany that creates very good antivirus software. It used to be the most downloaded software on CNET Download.com but unfortunately it is no longer listed in the top 20 downloads today. The popularity of the Avira free antivirus started going downhill ever since they partnered with Ask.com whose toolbar is often being criticized as spyware/adware. Other than that, Avira also encouraged the installation of Ask Toolbar bundled in the setup by enabling the Web Protection module only if it detects that the toolbar is installed.
Previously Avira had two versions of the antivirus which were the Personal (free) and Premium (paid) but now they’ve replaced the Premium with Pro. One of the restrictions that the personal version had was it cannot download the latest program updates and virus definitions from Avira’s fast premium servers which are only available to their paid premium subscribers. The free users probably had to endure the slow and sometimes non responding update servers which are very critical in keeping your system protected against the latest 0-day viruses.
In the current Avira, the Free version connects to personal.avira-update.com for updates while the Pro version connects to a different hostname which is premium.avira-update.com. Although they are different subdomains, both actually connect to the same CDN server that belongs to Akamai. This is why you will no longer find any information on Avira’s website stating that the paid version gets to download updates from a fast server.
With Avira using a leading third party CDN as their update server, you can expect a more reliable and faster download speed with a very good uptime, thanks to the DNS server that automatically directs you to the CDN PoP server closest to you. Nevertheless, it is still possible to experience issues connecting to the designated Avira update server because of a variety of other reasons such as a firewall, a faulty undersea cable and etc.
Here is what you can do to forcefully connect to a different Avira update server when you have trouble updating Avira.
1. Press the Start button, followed by typing CMD and press enter to run the Command Prompt.
2. Type “ping personal.avira-update.com” and press enter. Take note of the IP address because that is the CDN server which the Avira Antivirus installed on your system connects to in order to obtain updates.
3. Now visit Super-Ping.com to ping personal.avira-update.com from multiple locations worldwide to reveal the different Avira update servers.
4. You can force Avira on your computer to connect to any of the update server by mapping the hostname “personal.avira-update.com” to the specific IP address shown in Super-Ping in the system’s HOSTS file. Make sure to choose an IP that is in the same continent as you are in for best performance.
5. Before you can start making changes in your HOSTS file, Avira by default protects the system’s HOSTS file against modification. You can disable the HOSTS file protection in Avira by running it, press F8, go to General > Security, uncheck “Protect Windows hosts files from changes” and click OK.
6. Press the Start button, type notepad C:\Windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts followed by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Enter to run Notepad and edit the HOSTS file as administrator.
7. At the end of the line, add an entry that starts with the IP address of the Avira update server, followed by a space and finally the hostname which is personal.avira-update.com. Save the file and now Avira will always connect to the IP address that you’ve specified in the HOSTS file to download the updates. Here is an example:
Important Note: If you are using the free version of Avira Antivirus, the hostname that must be used is personal.avira-update.com. As for the Pro version of Avira Antivirus, the hostname will be premium.avira-update.com. The hostname that you enter in the HOSTS file must match the version of Avira that is installed in the system or else there will be no effect.
You can easily test if the mappings are correct by pinging personal.avira-update.com and it should resolve to the new IP address.
Another way to verify that Avira is really connecting to the IP address that you’ve specified in the HOSTS file by running URL Snooper and run an update in Avira. You should see a connection to http://personal.avira-update.com with the source IP as the one that is the same as in HOSTS file.
As you can see from the screenshot above, I’ve successfully connected to a different Avira update server that I prefer (188.8.131.52) rather than relying on their DNS server to tell my computer which server I should be connected to.