AVG review

Score
9.1
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Score 9.1

Threat Protection

  • 24/7 Protection- real-time scanning
  • Protection against: trojans, malware, adware, spyware, ransomware, and Phishing scams
  • Remote firewall protection
Plans & Prices:

AVG Internet Security- $69.99 per year
AVG Ultimate- $99.99 per year

Payment Methods

Intro

AVG AntiVirus (also known as AVG, which stands for Anti-Virus Guard) is an antivirus software developed by AVG Technologies, a subsidiary of Avast. With well over 200 million active users, AVG is one of the biggest companies in the antivirus space. Founded in 1991 out of the Czech Republic, In 1997, the first AVG licenses were sold in Germany and UK. AVG was then introduced in the U.S. in 1998.

AVG is now worth nearly a billion dollars, and their antivirus solutions have a very positive reputation on the market known to be efficient in removing malware and strong in feature set.

The AVG Free Edition helped raise awareness of the AVG product line. In 2006, the AVG security package grew to include anti-spyware, as AVG Technologies acquired ewido Networks, an anti-spyware group. That same year, Microsoft announced that AVG components would be available directly within the Windows Vista operating system. AVG Technologies acquired Exploit Prevention Labs (XPL) in December 2007, and incorporated that company’s LinkScanner safe search and surf technology into the AVG 8.0 security product range released in March 2008. In January 2009, AVG Technologies acquired Sana Security, a developer of identity theft prevention software. This software was incorporated into the AVG security product range released in March 2009.

They have acquired multiple Virus Bulletin 100 Awards through the years (a highly commended award in the antivirus world) and in 2012 AVG Antivirus Free was selected as PC Magazine Editors’ Choice in the free antivirus category.  AVG AntiVirus Free 2015 received the Editor Choice badge of SoftChamp.

On 7 July 2016, Avast announced an agreement to acquire AVG for $1.3 billion. Both product lines continue their separate existence, but the underlying antivirus protection engine is identical, as evidenced by the results from my tests and independent lab tests. Why does the company keep them both? AVG and Avast Free Antivirus have huge followings, but globally each is strong in different areas. The combined company has a worldwide reach.

During our research on antivirus software, we’ve identified five key criteria for you to consider when choosing an antivirus software: 1. Threat Protection 2. Resource consumption 3. 24/7 protection/real-time scanning 4. Extra protection features 5. Platforms/Devices accessibility. Our reviews will examine each antivirus software in accordance with how well it delivers on these five criteria.

How AVG meets the 5 criteria?

1. Threat Protection

AVG features most of the common functions available in modern antivirus and Internet security programs, including periodic scans, scans of sent and received emails (including adding footers to the emails indicating this), the ability to repair some virus-infected files, and a quarantine area (virus vault) in which infected files are held.

Malware Protection

The Computer Scan checks for insecure browser add-ons and for active malware. It also flags performance issues, but correcting those performance problems requires a purchase of AVG TuneUp. AVG’s Deep Scan checks your entire computer for lurking malware. It takes quite a while, but users are recommended to run it at least once after installation. AVG could block all access to the malware-hosting URL, or wipe out the malware payload before the download finishes. When AVG detects a non-malware file acting suspiciously, it runs a quick scan to make sure there’s no problem.

Spyware Protection

Spyware can secretly monitor your actions on your device, capture passwords, banking credentials, and credit card details. AVG is capable of recognizing such programs, block and remove them.

Web Protection

The patent-pending LinkScanner technology acquired from Exploit Prevention Labs and built into most AVG products, provides real-time updated protection against exploits and drive-by downloads. LinkScanner includes: Search-Shield – a safe search component that places safety ratings next to each link in Google, Yahoo! and MSN search results; plus Active Surf-Shield – a safe surf component that scans the contents of a website in real-time to ensure it’s safe being opened.

AVG Online Shield is a feature, designed to check files and ensure that they are safe. AVG Online Shield also ensures the safety of exchanging files via instant messengers and VoIP clients. It would apply a local blacklist, then prefetch and scan the links clicked on by the user.

Phishing Websites Protection

AVG blocks phishing (fraudulent) websites and malware-hosting sites by cutting off access at the network level. While it displays a notification popup, the browser simply shows an error message.

Adware Protection
Adware is less dangerous, but it is still nothing else than malicious software that uses your computer resources to automatically display or download advertising materials such as banners or pop-ups. This both slows down your device and usually hinders your surfing experience. AVG is capable of blocking and removing such programs as well.

2. Resource Consumption

When AVG 8.0 was first released, its LinkScanner safe search feature was shown to cause an increase in traffic on websites that appear high in search engine results pages. Since LinkScanner disguises the scans as coming from an Internet Explorer 6 browser when it prescans each site listed in the search results, website usage logs showed incorrect and overinflated site visitor statistics. The prescanning of every link in search results also caused websites to transfer more data than usual, resulting in higher bandwidth usage for website operators and slow performance for users.

There were also numerous reports between 2012 and 2015 that the AVG SafeGuard Toolbar installs itself without the consent of the user, as a side effect of installing other applications. The toolbar program appears to cause significant RAM issues and can be considered an intrusive potentially unwanted program (PUP).

Though those major problems seem to be fixed nowadays, overall the AVG software tends to slow your computer more than other antivirus software on the market.

At the same time, the 2017 release of AVG TuneUp (comes for an extra charge) comes with a complete reboot of its patented ‘Programs-On-Demand’ technology. It puts draining programs into a smart Sleep Mode and reduces their impact on PC performance, battery life, network, and storage to nearly zero.

3. 24/7 Real-time Scanning

AVG virus scanner will constantly look for infections on your PC, remove them, and protect you by running the software in the background and monitoring your system, as long as the device is on.

4. Extra Protection Features

  • Boot Time Scan. If persistent malware resists removal attempts by the regular antivirus, you can choose a Boot-Time Scan. Since this scan runs before Windows boots, Windows-based malware has no chance to defend itself.
  • Shopping Coupons. AVG’s SafePrice browser extension checks items in your shopping cart and seeks better deals; it also offers coupons for the current site, when available.
  • VPN Internet Security. Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) can provide a wide range of benefits from securing a private browsing session to unlocking restricted content. You can connect boldly to public Wi-Fi with a 256-bit AES encryption to keep all your online activity private and away from hackers, and unwanted peepers, as well as have access to any content worldwide.
  • Password Manager. Easily manage and keep all your passwords secure in one place.
  • Firewall. Remote management of Windows firewall or built-in advanced firewall tools.
  • AVG TuneUp. Updates your basic existing programs. Speeds up, cleans up & fixes all your devices. (For an extra charge)
  • AVG Driver Updater. Easily fix & update your device drivers. (For an extra charge)

5. Platforms/Devices Accessibility

AVG provides AVG AntiVirus Free for Windows, AVG AntiVirus for macOS, and AVG AntiVirus for Android devices.
All are so-called “freemium products”, meaning they are free to download, install, update and use, but for technical support, a premium plan must be purchased.

 

Windows OS

Mac OS

Android

User Experience

The AVG software is said to be reliable, thorough and easy to use. Most users mention how easy the software is to navigate and manage, simply set up and regular scan then let it run and deal with the results. Utilizing the extra features like LinkScanner and Family Safety is easy enough at a very basic level, but if you want to delve into advanced settings you can expect some hardcore configuration. Although, the learning curve is wonderfully balanced out by helpful chat support.

The product’s user interface features green and white text on a slate-gray background. It clearly distinguishes free from premium features. It marks the panels for Computer and Web & Email protection as basic protection. Full protection includes panels for Hacker Attack protection, Privacy, and Payment protection. All three display a lock icon; clicking them invites you to upgrade to AVG’s security suite.

On detecting malware, AVG pops up a notification that it quarantined the problem, along with a button to run a scan for any other lurking threats.

 

Not everything is perfect in this regard though. There was also a lot of criticism over the past couple of years.

Criticism   

  • There were numerous reports dating back to 2012 that the AVG SafeGuard Toolbar installs itself without the consent of the user, as a side effect of installing other applications. The toolbar program appears to cause significant RAM issues and can be considered an intrusive potentially unwanted program (PUP). Once installed, the AVG toolbar is virtually impossible to remove.
  • In September 2015, AVG announced that it would start tracking users for profit, analyzing their data for sale to the advertising industry. This measure received criticism from consumers, the press and security industry, as many users intended to use the software in order to protect themselves from spyware and would not expect the functions of spyware to be “hidden” in security software.
  • In December 2015, the “AVG Web TuneUp” Google Chrome extension (automatically installed with AVG AntiVirus) was revealed to contain multiple critical security vulnerabilities. Most notably, Chrome users’ browsing history could be exposed to any website, cookies from any site the user has visited could be read by an attacker, and trivial cross-site scripting (XSS) issues could allow any website to execute arbitrary code (as another domain).
    The XSS vulnerability allowed a user’s mail from “mail.google.com” to be read by any website, or financial information to be read from the user’s online banking site. The AVG team fixed this by only allowing “mysearch.avg.com” and “webtuneup.avg.com” to execute these scripts. Despite this remediation, attackers could leverage any of these attacks if an XSS vulnerability was found on the AVG sites. As of April 2016, Web TuneUp was still not available for download from the AVG website.

Plans/Rates

AVG AntiVirus Free

FREE / Unlimited

  • Blocks viruses, spyware, ransomware & other malware
  • Blocks unsafe links, downloads, & email attachments
  • Scans for PC performance problems
  • Real-time security updates

AVG Internet Security

$79.99 / Year

  • The optimal all-around protection for multiple devices.
  • Blocks unsafe links, downloads & email attachments
  • Scans for PC performance problems
  • Webcam protection
  • Enhanced Firewall

AVG Ultimate

$99.99 / Year

  • The fullest all-in-one protection for multiple devices.
  • Advanced antivirus & tuneup package
  • Secure & tune up all your PCs from one screen
  • Live phone or chat support
  • Real-time security updates

There isn't a Pro edition of the basic antivirus. If you click one of the pro-only features in the free antivirus, it suggests you upgrade to the AVG Internet Security - Unlimited suite. As a today’s standard, all of the three options include a 30 Day Money Back Guarantee trial version, giving you the opportunity to try the software in action, before deciding how much you are ready to invest.

Support and Customer Service

Support is an area where AVG seems to perform pretty well. The offer prompt chat and phone support, as well as support through Facebook and Twitter.

AVG also has a community of users accessible through their website. You can compose your own question and submit it to the community, or search through previous questions and answers.

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Automatic updates: Now you can always have the newest version of AVG, unlike the previous editions.
  • It’s free: You can still get a version that costs no money
  • Modular installation: AVG has separate components and you can choose what to install one by one.
Cons
  • Questionable performance in the basic packages. Advanced features like hacker protection, privacy protection, and payment protection are available only with a  full AVG security suite.
  • Installer tricks. Unless you use a “custom” installation, it by default will put you on a 30-day trial of one of the company’s paid products instead of installing AVG Antivirus Free. It will also change your browser’s homepage and default search engine to Bing.com.
  • PC Analyzer issues. The analyzer is all-or-nothing; you can’t skip the defrag or the registry cleaner and just delete junk files and shortcuts.
  • Resource consumption. The software slows your computer more than other antivirus software on the market.
  • Numerous criticism for questionable techniques (See the Criticism paragraph)

Bottom Line

According to independent testing labs such as AV-Test and AV-Comparatives, AVG uses a solid antivirus engine. But the problems and tricks in the installer, possible system slowdowns and the technical error in the PC Analyzer, leave alone the reported leaks of the personal data,  have an impact on trust and confidence in the product.

At the end of the day, there is no such thing as a free lunch, as they say, and for a reason.