AVG Antivirus Review

Overview

When looking for a suitable security system for your computer, you wouldn't want to go for a no-name antivirus, with a questionable reputation. An excellent choice is AVG Antivirus, one of the most well known security solutions on the market. It provides highly rated antivirus protection and prevention mechanisms, a good assortment of special utilities, as well as a clean and intuitive interface, which allows even novice users to secure their systems on the fly. This product line is ideal for protecting a large number of devices at a reasonable price.

Originally created in 1992 by Grisoft, in the Czech Republic, under the name "Anti-Virus Guard", AVG hit the international market in 1998, starting with Germany and the UK. The company was sold in 2001, went through various changes and its name was eventually changed in 2008 to AVG Technologies, after its flagship product.

The product has a long history of updates and improvements, as a result of the company buying numerous smaller companies, oriented towards privacy and security. AVG Technologies itself was bought by another antivirus manufacturer in 2016. Today, the Czech company has offices in Europe, the United States, Israel, Brazil and Canada and, as of February 2015, there are over 200 million people who use AVG products.

Packages and features

There aren't that many product packages to choose from, but AVG still has plenty to offer in terms of functionality and there are some good deals to be found. Besides paying for a one, two or three-year license, you can also opt for monthly payments, so you don't have to waste money on protection if you don't use your computer for a long time. The best part is that AVG offers standard licenses for unlimited devices, regardless of which package you choose.

It is also worth noting that you can purchase additional privacy and security applications, when buying an antivirus package. When checking out the product, you can also add the AVG Secure VPN, Password Protection and Drive Updater products to your cart.

  • AVG Internet Security

  • This package makes web browsing and other online activities much safer and it can also fine-tune your computer and make it run smoother. It brings almost everything single users or entire families need to protect their computers from virus or hacker attacks and to keep their personal information safe.

    • Extended Antivirus Protection

      AVG incorporates the same kind of technologies that other popular antiviruses use. This includes on-demand scanning, real-time protection, with behavior analysis, as well as other forms of protection, against various online threats. What sets AVG apart from other antiviruses is the fact that it offers not one, nor three, but six scanning options, without counting the scheduling options. If you want to scan a specific file, check a removable drive for infections or check for well-hidden viruses, you will have a tool for all these situations.

    • Web and Email Protection

      The program blocks suspicious websites, prevents the download of dangerous files and it also checks email attachments for virus threats. Even if you don't have any clue about the danger of fraudulent websites and how to avoid them, you will still be able to surf the web and check your emails, without any worries, because AVG will prevent any malicious programs or websites from infecting your computer and stealing your data.

    • Anti-ransomware Protection

      AVG comes with a dedicated module for preventing ransomware from encrypting your personal documents. All you have to do is store your files in a protected folder and the program will prevent untrusted applications from modifying them. The module can be set to Smart mode, if you prefer to let the program take all the important decisions automatically. Alternatively, you can set it to Strict mode, in which case you will have to agree to any actions that could change your files. This way, you can make absolutely sure that only you can modify your files and not a malicious program that encrypts your files and asks for money in return for the key.

    • Webcam Protection

      Having a camera pointed at you and not knowing who can be watching can be unsettling. If you feel uneasy with your webcam, you can set AVG's Webcam Protection module to allow only applications that you trust to use your webcam. Unless it's on that list, nothing will be able to connect to your webcam and collect footage, so you can behave however you want in front of your computer, because you won't be seen by strangers on the web.

    • Enhanced Firewall

      AVG comes with its own firewall, which constantly monitors your Internet and network traffic, as well as all connections. Keeping this module active is a sure way to prevent hackers from gaining access to your computer. It blocks IP-based attacks in real time and it provides you with notifications whenever it happens, so you will know when an unscrupulous individual is trying to hack your computer and steal your data, at which point you can just watch how they fail miserably.

    • Fake Website Shield

      Shopping online is certainly easy, but so is stealing your banking details. Fortunately, AVG is capable of spotting phishing websites, which try to trick you out of your private information. Simply turning this feature on is all it takes to avoid situations in which you pull out your credit card and unknowingly give your details away to online scammers.

    • Data Safe

      Important files can be heavily encrypted and hidden away with the Data Safe module. As the name suggests, this feature works as a vault, in which you can store your documents or other files you don't want others to see. Unless they know the password to your vault, no one will be able to find your files in Windows Explorer, even if it's set to show hidden files, so you don't have to worry about other people looking over your embarrassing photos or your secrete recipes.

    • File Shredder

      If some of your photos are just too embarrassing or certain documents could damage your reputation if others see them, you can just get rid of them with AVG's data shredder. Instead of just deleting the files, the shredder will overwrite the actual information on your disk, thus making sure that no one will be able to use recovery utilities to find the information you want gone forever.

    • Centralized Device Management

      Since it can be used on any number of computers, AVG lets you manage their security settings from a single user interface. If you have other devices on your network, besides your main computer, you can add them on AVG's interface, to extend the program's protection to those devices. Instead of going through the trouble of getting up and moving to another computer, you can adjust its settings from where you are.

    • AntiVirus PRO for Android

      AVG Internet Security includes a license for Android mobile devices, with all features unlocked. Besides protecting countless computers, you can also protect all your smartphones or tablets against malware or hacks and track them down if they get stolen. Additionally, the mobile app can boost your device's RAM, to make it work faster, remove junk data, to save storage space and lock individual apps. Even if someone gains access to your phone, they won't be able to access your photos or your favorite apps.

    • AVG Secure VPN (Separate purchase)

      This module is purchased separately. If you decide to buy a license, AVG provides quick and convenient options on its user interface. Secure VPN gives you the possibility of surfing the web completely anonymously. It encrypts and redirects your traffic, which makes it look like you are from another country, with a different IP address. This means that websites won't be able to track you and you will also be able to bypass geo-restrictions and access content that is not available in your country.

    • AVG TuneUp (Separate purchase)

      Just like the VPN, this module has to be purchased separately, either when you buy a license for the antivirus itself or from the program's interface. You can use AVG TuneUp to identify certain issues that make your computer run slower. It can delete cached information and logs, to free up valuable disk space and it can also identify outdated applications, which could count as a security risk. If you feel that your computer is running slower or if you are running out of disk space, this module will help you unclog your computer and solve your performance issues.

    • AVG Password Protection (Separate purchase)

      Another module which you can buy separately is AVG's Password Protection. If you let Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome save your passwords, this module can prevent malicious applications from stealing them. Additionally, Password Protection can also detect if you have the same password for multiple accounts and it can help you change them to something stronger. You can secure all your online accounts quickly and easily, without having to log into each account separately.

  • AVG Ultimate

  • The features that AVG's top-tier package brings to the table makes the package an all-in-one solution for protecting a computer, guarding your privacy and making the machine run smoother. You can use it to secure any number of Windows PCs, as well as Macs and Android devices.

    • Tuneup Package

      While AVG TuneUp comes as a separate purchase for the previous package, it comes included by default in AVG Ultimate. You can stop problems that cause performance and make your computer run better, just by running a quick scan.

    • Live Phone or Chat Support

      AVG Ultimate users benefit from 24/7 technical support, which can be done either by phone or live web chat. If you have any difficulties with the program or encounter a particularly stubborn virus, which can't be removed, you can get an expert to help you solve your problems, so you won't have to spend hours in front of your computer.

    • Mac & Android Protection

      Besides Windows PCs and Android devices, AVG Ultimate can also be used to protect Macs. If you rely on multiple platforms for your work, this package can satisfy all your security needs. Regardless of how many PCs, Macs or Android devices you have, you can secure all of them without any issues.

    • AVG Driver Updater (Separate purchase)

      Updating drivers is always a hassle, which we usually avoid, unless it's absolutely necessary. However, AVG's Driver Updater can relieve you from this tedious task. Just click a button and the application will scan for outdated drivers, download new ones and install them for you. Instead of looking for drivers on countless web pages, you can just sit back and watch the program work.

Installation and setup

Installing AVG on a computer is quite easy. You start with a small beachhead setup file, which downloads and installs all other components. It takes less than ten minutes to install the program, but you may want to take it slowly, if you don't want to find yourself with other tools installed. For example, when you download the setup package, you will have an option to download and install a browser toolbar.

The installation process itself starts with a quick virus scan, to make sure there are no existing infections, which could complicate things further down the road. Creating an online account is not mandatory, but it will help you manage multiple devices from a single location. Once the installation is complete, you can just let the program work in the background, start a scan or look over its configuration options, especially if you want to opt out of AVG's data collection.

Like with most antivirus products, you should avoid installing AVG alongside other similar programs, to avoid conflicts. Fortunately, AVG is not known to cause problems with smaller privacy or security-oriented applications, so if you have a parental control app or a VPN, you won't have to uninstall them.

User Experience

AVG has a modern and elegant user interface, with simple and intuitive controls. Important information and options are placed within immediate reach, so you won't end up staring at the screen, trying to find a particular button. A clear message is displayed directly on the main dashboard, which lets you know if your computer is protected or if there is something that requires your attention.

A large Scan button is conveniently placed on the same dashboard, so you can start checking for virus infections right away, without going through any menus. Alternatively, you can click a gear icon, to access other scanning options. AVG places various possibilities in front of you when it comes to scanning. Besides quick and deep scans, you can also check individual files or folders, removable drives, run a performance scan and start a boot-time scan, to check for well-hidden malware, so you won't have any unpleasant surprises in the future.

The program's modules are neatly categorized in different sections of the interface. These sections are represented by clickable tiles, which give you easy access to options for controlling general computer protection features, web and email protection, hacker prevention, privacy protection and security for online payments. Each section presents two modules, along with On/Off switches, which gives you the possibility of enabling and disabling them with a single click.

In some cases, like the ransomware protection, you will have to go a bit deeper, into a configurations menu, where you may tweak the module to your liking. However, everything can be done on the fly, by simply clicking a few switches or radio buttons, so you won't encounter any kind of complications, even if you are not a tech-savvy person.

All major components are enabled and configured by default, according to the best recommendations. Once the antivirus is up and running, you could just let it work in the background and get back to your regular activities. The program will constantly monitor for signs of virus or hacker attacks and it will react accordingly if they occur, so you don't have to think about protection and interrupt your work.

Updates are performed automatically and, if you don't schedule automatic virus scans, the program will occasionally remind you that you haven't scanned your computer in a long time. You can even see how much time has passed since the last update and the last scan, on the program's main dashboard, so you will always know if your computer could be at risk.

The best part is that AVG leaves a very small footprint on your computer's performance. Your normal activities won't be affected by the antivirus, so you can continue to work, play or surf the web as usual. Though it doesn't come with a dedicated Gaming Mode, the program doesn't really need one. If you still feel the need for some extra memory or processing power, you could reconfigure AVG's behavior, from aggressive scanning to a more passive one.

Scanning and detection

AVG incorporates all the modern defense techniques, to protect your computer and your personal data from virus or hacker attacks. It starts with the traditional scanning and matching files against a database of known malware signatures. This is reinforced by its real-time protection and heuristic analysis mechanisms, which work constantly in the background, to ensure that nothing you click on will affect you or your computer in a bad way.

The software is capable of detecting new and undocumented threats, based on their suspicious behavior. When this happens, the infected files will be uploaded to AVG for analysis and a new definitions update will be made available for all users.

  • Comprehensive Scanning

    While most antivirus products provide you only with quick, full and custom scanning modes and a few scheduling options for good measure, AVG places more functions at your disposal. Besides the regular quick, deep and custom scanning modes, you also get dedicated DVD and USB scanning options, so you can always check a disc or a USB flash drive for infections before you copy anything to your computer.

    Running a performance scan is a good way to find out about issues that make your computer run slower and if there are any junk files that need to be removed. A more interesting option, which you don't seen in all antivirus products, is Boot-Time Scanning. If activated, AVG will run a malware scan the next time you turn on your computer, before Windows starts up. This is an excellent way to check for well-hidden malware and deal with hardened viruses, which can't be removed while the operating system is running.

  • Real-time Protection

    AVG's real-time protection is put together by several modules, referred to as shields. Each shield is designed to monitor specific things, like files, emails, downloaded files, application behavior and so on. What this means for you, the user, is that anything you click on will be automatically checked for infections in the background, so you don't have to be paranoid and manually scan every single file before you open it.

    The program's protection doesn't stop at local files. It automatically checks for infections whenever you download a file from the Internet, it verifies the reputation of the websites you visit and warn you of any dangers. It even checks email attachments for infections, so you don't need to worry about those funny picture uncle Bob keeps sending your way.

  • Behavior Analysis

    Like most modern antivirus programs, AVG comes with heuristic monitoring capabilities. With this advanced mechanism in place, the program can detect virus-like behavior on your computer, which is an excellent defense against freshly-minted malware. If an application you are running is infected and it suddenly attempts to access your privileged data or cause other problems, the antivirus will stop it dead in its tracks.

    New malware is usually more dangerous, since it doesn't match to any existing signatures in the program's database. Fortunately, if such a threat finds its way to your computer, it won't get the chance to cause any harm, because AVG will react immediately, once the threat starts executing its malicious code. What's more, the software will upload the infected items to AVG's labs, where it will be analyzed, and added to the definitions database. As a result, all 200 million AVG users will get immediate warnings when they encounter that threat in the future.

System Performance

Minimum system requirements:

CPU: 1.5 GHz or faster
RAM: 512 MB
Disk space: 1.3 GB

Recommended system requirements:

CPU: 1.8 GHz or faster
RAM: 1 GB
Disk space: 1.6 GB

AVG doesn't have a problem running on older hardware, but you will have to deal with a noticeable impact on performance, if your computer doesn't have at least the recommended specs. Furthermore, if you are a Windows XP user, you will want to patch it to Service Pack 3, if you haven't already, otherwise you won't be able to install the antivirus. Also, you should note that the 64-bit edition of Windows XP is not supported.

You won't notice too much of an impact on a modern-day system. Whether the program is passive or actively scanning, you will be able to perform any task, from copying files to editing videos, without any hindrance. AVG's passive activity brings a performance hit of barely 5%, which puts it on par with the best performing antiviruses out there and even surpassing some of them.

Active scans are what put the most strain on a computer, but you don't have to worry about that when using AVG. A full system scan will slow down a computer by roughly 11%, which is one of the smallest impacts you will see. The performance hit of quick scans is only marginally better, but, realistically speaking, you will barely notice anything, regardless of how you scan your computer. You can go ahead and finish your work or watch a movie comfortably, without complaining about slow loading times or a choppy video playback.

Though its performance impact is minimal, AVG takes close to one hour to complete a full scan, which is a bit longer than the average of 45 minutes of most antiviruses, but still well within a reasonable margin. On the other hand, quick scans won't keep you waiting for too long, because they can be completed in under one minute. The program doesn't mark files as safe and ignore them in the future, so you won't see any time improvements in subsequent scans, but this also means a more thorough check for well-hidden infections.

Support and Customer Service

No matter how well a product performs, you may still run into unforeseen issues, whether they're technical or something you don't understand. Fortunately, AVG offers 24/7 technical support, which can be reached by email or phone. A support option can be found on AVG's user interface, which gives you quick access to a rich knowledge base, an online community and, of course, to the numbers you need to get in touch with tech support. This is definitely a nice touch, since it relieves you from combing the website for contact information.

AVG's support team can help you with licensing problems, installation or other technical difficulties and even problems related to other devices, like smartphones or printers. If you think you can solve certain issues, especially common ones, you can have a look over AVG's knowledge base, where you will find a wide range of guides and tutorials. Also, if you want to be absolutely sure about something, you can always drop a question in the forums, where other users will be happy to answer and help you out.

AVG offers a standard 30-day money back guarantee. If, for any reason, you are not satisfied with your purchase, you can ask for your money back, with no questions asked, if it happens within 30 days from the moment you have purchased (not installed) the product. However, you should not that retail versions of AVG are not eligible for refund. If you buy the program on a physical disc from a store, you will have to contact that store and see what their refund policy is.

Value for the Money

You certainly get your money's worth with AVG. It has a lot to offer in terms of protection and it does an excellent job at keeping malware and other nasty threats away from your computer and data. Also, the fact that you can protect an unlimited number of devices with a single license, regardless of what package you pick, should be a tempting proposition for anyone.

AVG comes with most of what you can expect from a modern-day antivirus, but it also brings something of its own to the table. For example, its boot-time scanning is something you don't see in every antivirus. Furthermore, while the firewall functionality of certain products are simply better control for the existing Windows firewall, AVG brings its own full-fledged firewall, with advanced monitoring and traffic control features.

The antivirus engine is constantly evaluated by third party testers and it always comes out with good results. The German company AV-Test gave it a "Top Product" badge, after receiving near-perfect scores across the board. Furthermore, in AV-Comparative's tests, AVG got numerous "Advanced+" ratings, as a result of its excellent prevention capabilities, against known and zero-day threats. The antivirus also received high scores for accuracy, coming in with a 100% score in SE Labs' reports, which means that you won't see it mistakenly flagging your legitimate software as threats.

With two packages on offer, it can be quite easy to figure out which one can suite your needs the best. Both versions can be used on any number of devices, with a single license, for one, two or three years, but you can also opt for a monthly payment plan, if you wish to spend money on protection for when you actually use your computer.

AVG Internet Security

This is the package most people will go for. With a comprehensive protection system, Internet Security is ideal for single users, households of any size or even professionals. It incorporates all the latest antivirus defense systems and it also provides additional protection, for online shopping, personal documents and even for your webcam. Whether you want to protect your personal computer or provide an adequate antivirus security system for the entire family, you can't go wrong with this package.

AVG Ultimate

In addition to all the protection features of Internet Security, AVG Ultimate brings a few other benefits, like regular maintenance for your computer, premium technical support, as well as a license for an unlimited number of Macs. It is definitely an attractive solution, especially for professionals who work on multiple platforms, besides Windows PCs.

Final Verdict

Though there may be a tool or two you'd want to see added, AVG leaves nothing to be desired when it comes to actual protection. It brushes shoulders with all the best antivirus solutions on the market, it doesn't affects your workflow and the modern and elegant design of its interface makes it quite easy to use, even for beginners. With high scores and awards, as well as single licenses for unlimited devices, at an attractive price, AVG certainly makes a proposition you can't ignore.

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