AVG Free Antivirus

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AVG is a 100% free antivirus program that offers real time protection, on demand scanning, and email scanning. It also features automatic updates and a very small footprint that will not slow

down your system. It does exactly what it promises and does it really well.

Although AVG is well known as a free antivirus program, I wanted to review it because the new version 7.5 (Oct 2006) seems to offer better protection than its predecessors

First, the good news:

  • AVG is a complete antivirus solution that features dependable real time protection as well on-demand virus scanning
  • AVG features auto updates, making it a good install-and-forget solution that you do not have to manually keep updating (some other ‘free’ antivirus programs will force you to keep doing this in order to incentivize you to buy the paid version).
  • AVG has a remarkably small footprint, is light on memory use, and generally will not hog your system resources. Upon replacing Norton AV with AVG I noticed that my system boot time was three times faster and my system in general was noticeably more responsive, especially the time it took to acess files. If you suspect that your antivirus software is making everything unaccpetably sluggish then I recommend that you experiment with removing it and installing AVG.
  • AVG provides email virus protection for both incoming and outgoing emails. This is not to be taken for granted, since it is the one reason why AVG is my choice over Antivir, another excellent free antivirus which is excellent for both real time and on demand scanning but somehow does not offer email scanning. Given that I receive 100+ spam emails a day on one of my POP3 email accounts, this feature is really important to me.
  • Its Windows Vista ready

Second, the not-so-good news

  • Although AVG is very good at detecting known virusus, it’s so-called heuristic detection abilities have been somewhat lacking. Heuristic detection is a protection against viruses that are yet unknown based on observing the patterns of behavior of legitimate code vs. viruses (it is a kind of ‘generic’ virus protection). According to the Grisoft website, however, the new AVG upgrade to ver. 7.5 promises “improved virus detection based on better heuristics and NTFS data streams scanning”. All of the antivirus software comparisons that I could find tested older versions however, so until new comparison test are published it is not clear just how much this has improved. But the improvement seems to be significant, since the Grisoft website states that “recent certifications include VB100%, ICSA, and West Coast Labs Checkmark”. The West Coast Labs certification in particular is something that AVG previously lacked while AVAST, another free antivirus soft, had.
  • The free version of AVG is stripped of the spyware/adware detection component of the paid version. You could download and install this seperately, but the free version is significantly handicapped. This is not a huge concern, since there are many freeware antispyware programs that you could install seperately that offer excellent protection. Click here for reviews of some of these on FreewareGenius.
  • From what I’ve read AVG has been associated with a high rate of false positives. I’m not sure if this is still the case, but I do know that this has not been an issue in my experience.
  • Predictably, there is no technical support offered to users of the free edition. If you feel that this is something you need then its probably worth it to buy the paid ‘pro’ version.

Freewaregenius 5-Star Pick

The verdict:AVG is a program that keeps getting better and better, and manages to do so without growing into a resource intensive monster that takes over your machine. I’ve looked at many antivirus comparisons, and it seemed like the more recently the test was conducted the the better AVG performed.

I am very comfortable recommending AVG as your primary virus protection software, provided you (a) have adequate seperate protection against spyware/malware, and (b) you have a good firewall running. Currently on my machine I am running a combination of AVG antivirus, Spyware Terminator, Spyware Blaster, and Comodo Free Firewall, and I haven’t experienced any problems despite the fact that I am constantly downloading/installing and testing out all manner of files/programs on my machine, including some that may be somewhat dubious.

Version tested:  7.5.430

Go to Program Download Page for the latest version. The Program home page.