AVG Antivirus Free
EXCELLENT PROTECTION ACROSS THE BOARD, BUT YOU DON’T GET THAT MANY FEATURES, AND PAID-FOR SOFTWARE HAS BETTER PROTECTION
When Avast bought a majority stake in AVG at the end of 2016, it looked as though it could be curtains for one of the most popular free anti-virus packages: it seemed as though the two products would merge, creating a single, more powerful app. That hasn’t happened, and AVG Antivirus Free Edition actually scored higher than Avast Free Antivirus in our testing.
In fact, the two products super cially look the same, but under the hood, the two managed different results.
As with most of the free packages, AVG offers a paid-for version of its virus suite. Upgrade to Internet Security and you get personal folder protection to thwart ransomware, webcam protection to stop people from hijacking your feed, fake website avoidance for shopping protection and an enhanced rewall. At the top is AVG Ultimate, which also adds a tune-up package to keep your PC in tip-top condition.
Unsurprisingly, these features aren’t that different to the line-up in the paid-for Avast suites. However, given the popularity of the free suite, we’re focusing on that here.
Protection is excellent, with AVG getting a Total Accuracy score of 96%. That score comes from a protection rating of 90%, a full eight percentage points higher than Avast. In more detail, AVG AntiVirus Free managed to block or neutralise 99 threats, only allowing one bit of malware through and on to the test computers.
Impressively, AVG managed to let all good software through, with a clean 100% record.
KEEPING IT SIMPLE
As with Avast, AVG doesn’t ship with a lot extra, with the free version focused on quality malware protection. That could be a good thing if you’re not worried about getting a load of extra software.
AVG would clearly like you to upgrade, as the main information screen shows you that you only have Basic protection. No surprises that the Full protection heading lists a bunch of features that you have to upgrade for.
Even so, the neat interface makes it easy to control your software. Under PC protection, you get the chance to choose how your computer is kept safe. You can toggle the two protection components on and off: File shield scans applications and les added to or opened from your computer, while Behaviour shield monitors your computer for suspicious activity, alerting you if anything is found. You may recognise these names from the Avast software.
You also get similar web protection components: Web shield monitors your internet connection, blocking web attacks and dodgy downloads; Email shield cuts out infected attachments.
Having the ability to toggle these protections is nice, but we recommend leaving them all turned on for the best protection.
AVG bundles fewer features with its free version of software than Avast does. So you don’t get the built-in password manager that Avast has. However, you do get a free le shredder, which securely erases les and folders that you don’t want; be careful with this tool, as once you remove a le you won’t be able to recover it.
There’s a VPN option, with a 60-day trial. That’s a decent amount of time if you just want to try out a VPN or you need one temporarily. After that, it’s $6.66 a month.
There’s an optional PC Tune-up utility that is designed to look for ‘inef cient’ PC settings, junk les and redundant apps. This costs $4.99 a month to run. It’s not the kind of service that we’d sign up to.
There’s a gaming mode built in, which suppresses popups while you play and stops intensive tasks. It’s a bit harder to turn on than the one Avast has, and we couldn’t nd an automatic setting to run it.
Scans of your entire computer can be run, and you have full control over which folders and items are looked at. The potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) scanner could be useful, cutting down on the hidden junk that some applications try to install.
Overall, AVG AntiVirus Free doesn’t have the same range of features as Avast, and its interface isn’t as easy to navigate. However, its protection is better, making this the security suite to install if you don’t want to pay for a subscription. If you want the best protection, go for Kaspersky Security Cloud.