AVG Anti-Virus PDF Print E-mail
AVG Anti-VirusPros: Good use of cloud technology to defend against zero-day threats; Excellent support with live chat; Provides a safety rating for any link recommended by a search engine.

Cons: Telephone is not a support option.

The Verdict: AVG Anti-Virus is effective antivirus software that maintains its value through continuous improvements in product performance.

In the antivirus market, it's hard to overstate how much reputation matters. If you produce a product that is substandard and full of holes, it's almost impossible to recover from that reputation. AVG Technologies, creators of AVG Anti-Virus, is widely hailed as a competent, proficient antivirus solution.

AVG's signature software employs several layers of protection. The first layer, of course, is its antivirus engine. This portion of the software scans your files and compares them with a known threat database. This is a long-held standard in the antivirus industry; it's effective but not always comprehensive. To combat this problem, AVG collects real-time infection data from customers who have opted to share zero-day data. This way, malware infects as few users as possible.

Another layer of protection AVG provides is its social networking shield. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and others have become instrumental for consuming and sharing content. Unfortunately, you can't trust every link you see on social networks. The AVG Social Networking Protection prevents you from following a sleazy link to the wrong internet neighborhood.

AVG Anti-Virus leaves a light footprint on your system resources. It does this by waiting for your computer to become idle before it tries to perform a deep system scan. Furthermore, it knows which files it's scanned before and skips over them if there has been no change to the file since the last scan. This effectively cuts the scan down to a fraction of the time it would take to scan your entire drive.

An area in which AVG excels, which many lesser antivirus solutions omit completely, is protection for online gaming. Games like "World of Warcraft," "Star Wars: The Old Republic" online and more all store massive amounts of private data, both on their servers and on your computer. AVG protects this data from the actual villains that troll Azeroth.

AVG Anti-Virus is an effective antivirus solution that possesses both a robust feature set and an intuitive interface. The company maintains one of the best threat databases in the industry. We particularly like its zero-day infection system. AVG understands all the complex threats that your computer faces in today's rapidly changing online world, and it shows.

In our malware tests, AVG Anti-Virus Free 2013 protected us against a very creditable 98% of threats – giving a better degree of protection than many commercial packages. True, it isn’t quite up there with the best of the paid-for products, but with online dangers evolving constantly, even the most assiduous security developer can’t expect a clean sheet every time.

Similarly, although AVG fell a mite short of perfection in our false-positive test, it flagged up only 4% of our tricky applications. It raises the question of whether there’s still any sense in paying for security software at all.

This being free, however, extras are limited. There’s no dedicated firewall, no bootable recovery disc, no parental controls, no encryption and no file shredder. AVG does actively scan incoming and outgoing email (unlike Microsoft Security Essentials), so you can’t unwittingly pass on infected messages. And AVG’s LinkScanner automatically adds red, yellow or green icons to search results in your browser, showing which sites can be trusted and which are best avoided. A Game Mode suspends scans and updates whenever an application is running in full-screen mode. Note, however, that this also means scans will pause whenever a screensaver kicks in.

There are a few flies in the ointment. For a start, despite what looks like a stripped-down feature set, AVG Anti-Virus Free added a weighty 259MB to the memory footprint of our test system. That won’t be a big problem on a modern PC with 4GB of RAM, but for older systems it’s a drag. We also didn’t enjoy waiting a ponderous 1min 10secs for a quick system scan to complete.

The real annoyance, though, is the interface. At first glance the icon-based view looks accessible, but start exploring and you’ll find three of the eight main icons lead you to external features that cost extra (the PC Analyzer, the Family Safety Module and LiveKive Online Backup). Meanwhile, a large banner advert for AVG’s commercial internet security suite hangs off the bottom of the main window, and an “Upgrade your protection” button in the main icon area whisks you away to a purchase form for the paid-for suite. Worst of all, even if you never open the main interface, you’ll see the occasional pop-up advert while using Windows.


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