AVG Review

by Christo Petrov

“Why the hell should I spend money on something I can get for free?”

Have you ever asked yourself this question?

Saving money always makes sense…except when it doesn’t. Such is the case with AVG.

Best known for its free antivirus software, AVG administers the security of millions of devices around the world. Its free product has won universal acclaim and gets high scores in AV testing.

But in this AVG review, I’ll give you my reasons to get the company’s paid products, not the free one.

Free Version

AVG Antivirus is a powerful yet free solution. In addition to scanning for viruses, it can block spyware, ransomware, and other types of malicious code before they wreck your machine.

Moreover, it hounds dangerous links and attachments. That’s already a fairly good deal, and you’re getting it for free!

The AVG free edition is a gem, but it’s not all the company has to offer.

My tip? Try AVG Internet Security, one of the company’s premium solutions. It comes with an impressive price tag, but it also has a wealth of value to offer.

Price 

AVG Internet Security costs $79.99 for a 1-year license. Similar products like Trend Micro Internet Security cost the same, although with Trend Micro you get more than a 50% discount for the first year.

If you buy 3 years of AVG virus protection, the price will swell to $239.99. Or you can add a few extras to your shopping cart that will also make your receipt a little longer. For example, a VPN service costs $39.99, and a password manager is an extra $9.99.

OK, so now you know how much you’ll have to spend. But you still have no clue what you get on top of AVG Antivirus. We’ll come to that later.

Requirements

AVG Internet Security will run on a device with Windows 7 with Service Pack 1 or higher. You’ll need an Intel Pentium 4 or an AMD Athlon 64, at least 1GB RAM, and about 2GB of free disk space.

Installation

Set aside two minutes to install the AVG protection suite on your device. The installation begins with downloading and running an executable file, after which an “Enter your email address” box appears. Filling it out is optional, though.

User Interface

What I like most about AVG’s interface is how straightforward it is. From the main menu, you can explore all features and turn each one on or off.

That’s it. No confusing settings buttons, no checkmarks. Just the basics. This is perfect for most users who just want to make sure a certain feature is enabled without having to think about how to configure it.

The AVG team has done a swell job creating a user-friendly design.

Which doesn’t mean you can’t finetune AVG. On the contrary, you can do it from the gear icon in the top right-hand corner of the screen.

AVG’s features are divided into two big sets: Basic protection and Full protection. Basic protection is what you get for free with AVG Antivirus: scanning the files on your device as well as email attachments and files you download. Full protection holds the premium features of Internet Security like ransomware filter, webcam control, etc.

The main menu has 5 tabs: Computer, Web&Email, Hacker Attacks, Privacy, and Payments. The one that bothered me is Hacker Attacks.

When you click on it, you see your “core defenses against hackers and ransomware.” Namely, the firewall and the ransomware protection feature.

This is what bothered me about the AVG app. It doesn’t make much sense for these to be isolated in a separate tab. Ransomware isn’t the only weapon in hackers’ arsenal. They also send phishing emails, sniff wi-fi networks, access routers and IP cameras, and so on. Why label a tab “Hacker Attacks” if it only protects against ransomware? It makes no sense.

Features

I told you how AVG feels, now let’s see what it can do!

Scanning

With AVG, virus detection stands out with heaps of scanning options. From the gear icon next to the Scan button, you can choose between six types of scans, including a Boot-time scan, which will search your system right before Windows starts.

The Computer scan is your basic tool to discover viruses on your machine. If you want a longer, thorough search for malware, choose a Deep scan. You can read speed results later on in this AVG review.

Other options include scanning folders, files, and removable drives like USB. Finally, you can run a performance scan, which will look for junk files to optimize the system’s performance.

Web & Email Protection

Is AVG reliable against online threats? The suite’s Web shield will keep online threats away by checking every file you download and every script your browser is about to execute before actually executing it.

Likewise, the Email shield scans inbound and outbound mail, provided you’re using an email client.

Ransomware Protection

Even as a free antivirus, AVG has some ransomware-fighting abilities. But in the paid version, they are enhanced.

Ransomware usually attacks your most valuable information and memories: folders like Documents, Pictures, or Desktop. AVG protects those by default, and you have the option to add others.

You can also customize how strict AVG’s security is. The default Smart Mode will block any untrusted apps from modifying the files in your protected folders (you can whitelist apps as trusted).

If you choose the Strict Mode, any app that tries to modify the files in those protected folders will need your permission.

Webcam Protection

Webcam hacking is a real thing. Hackers can take over your webcam and spy on you without your even noticing.

Is AVG safe to use as a webcam hacking prevention tool?

Yes, it is. AVG has built-in protection that blocks unauthorized attempts to access the webcam.

You can set up the feature in a way that no application – even a trusted one – will be able to access the webcam.

Payments Protection

The Fake Website Shield is a basic tool against DNS hijacking. The latter is a type of attack that redirects you from a legit bank or shopping website to a fake copy, thus stealing your credentials or payment information.

The Fake Website Shield checks if the page you’re trying to open corresponds to the IP address of the server where the site is stored.

The feature is turned on by default, so you don’t have to do anything to set it up.

Scanning for Viruses

My AVG review continues with scanning speed results.

A regular scan lasted less than a minute, but it was interrupted by constant pop-ups. In the end, AVG even offered to check for privacy issues with my device. It turned out this was just a marketing trick to make me buy their VPN service.

A Deep scan consumed over 17 minutes. It had no visible impact on the system. I tested it by playing a movie, opening websites, listening to music, and playing a video game.

Real-time Protection

Is AVG good in detecting threats in real-time? Let’s see what the tests are showing.

Phishing Protection: 10/10

AVG did an excellent job protecting my test laptop from phishing websites. It detected and blocked all the malicious samples I tried to open. Moreover, AVG offered to perform a computer scan after each phishing page it detected.

Parental Control Protection

Not only does AVG Internet Security lack parental controls, but there isn’t a single AVG product that has such a tool.

For 80 bucks, the AVG antivirus software should be able not only to block dangerous websites but also offer support to parents in today’s supper-connected world. The guys from AVG should think about adding such features.

Downloading the EICAR Test File

The EICAR test file checks if your antivirus can detect malware using signature definitions. It is a harmless way to find out if the security suite is doing what it is supposed to.

In the case of AVG, it properly detected the EICAR test both as a downloadable file and inside an archive.

Independent Lab Test

TechJury can’t run full tests on antivirus products. (After all, we don’t want to infect the devices in our corporate network with malware). So to get the bigger picture for this AVG review, I checked with Independent research lab AV-Test. In the case of AVG, there were some not-so-great scores.

AV-Test assigned a 5.5 / 6.0 score to AVG in its April report. The suite scored a 98.6% success rate in the so-called real-world testing, which includes zero-day malware attacks, web and email threats.

Despite AVG’s malware-fighting tools, that score is lower than the industry average (99.3%). And that’s not all. It looks like the April score is worse compared to the March tests (99.2%).

In terms of detecting widespread malware, AVG scored much better. It had a 100% success rate in the April test with over 6500 samples.

Customer Support

I found AVG’s customer care agents to be responsive and ready to assist. You can reach the AVG team by chat and phone or get information by email.

I tested the service by asking questions about billing, upgrading, and configuring various settings. While in some cases I had to wait for a minute or two until I got an answer, it wasn’t anything bothersome.

When I had to make changes in the settings, the agents offered to guide me step by step. They also cleared out some misunderstandings I had about my AVG account.

Conclusion

No cybersecurity solution is 100% virus-proof, but AVG might be just what you need for your home. Its interface is user-friendly and will probably appeal to first-time users.

As you’ve seen from this AVG review, the product has sound antivirus protection and enough tools to fight online threats. Packed with a firewall, ransomware protection, and a web shield, it is a good choice for securing your devices and home network.

Pros:

Straightforward, easy-to-use interface

Various layers of protection

Cons:

Not the cheapest product on the market

Lacks features compared to other internet security suites

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