Many internet users lack security software on their computer, whether its a firewall, antivirus, antispyware, or all of them. Many security software like Symantec and Panda Security costs a subscription fee, however some users do not require a full featured security suite and just require bare security necessities. That’s when free alternatives come in. One of the most popular freeware security suite is AVG Free Anti-Virus. AVG has just released Version 9.0 recently introducing a few new features and a claim for faster performance and scans.
During installation, you will be offered AVG Security Toolbar powered by Yahoo! This toolbar features shortcuts as well as LinkScanner features. The toolbar also changes your new tab page unless you disable it in the options. A new feature to AVG 9.0 is ‘Identity Theft Recovery Unit’ which is only available for users of the toolbar. Learn more here.
AVG Anti-Virus Free features an integrated Anti-Virus and Anti-Spyware engine, LinkScanner for web browsing safety, Email Scanning, and basic Real Time Protection through Resident Shield.
Upon first start, it will ask you if you want it to optimize itself for faster scans by identifying trusted files that do not require scanning. This process took up 50 percent CPU and around 5 minutes.
It also features a scan scheduler. You can set it to automatically scan your computer with certain options.
It would be a nice addition if there was a “Quick Scan” option that automatically scans commonly infected areas. Theres a Slow Scan, Automatic Scan, and Fast Scan modes for the scans. The slower the scan, the deeper it scans. I recommend running the optimization at the beginning.
A slow full scan of my computer took around 3 hours and significantly slowed down my computer during the whole time with occasional complete freezes. A progress meter would be helpful.
During AVG’s regular operation, it took 11 processes on my computer and 12 during a scan, which is a bit excessive. Luckily, the RAM usage stayed low.
I created the EICAR Test String File and AVG’s Resident Shield gave me a warning 2 seconds after the file was saved as “test.com”.
AVG’s Context Menu item appears to mess up the appearance of the right click context menu of Windows Vista and Windows 7 by making the main menu look like Windows Classic (like in XP) though sub-menus remained Vista style. I disabled the context menu using ShellExView and the menu appearance was fixed.
LinkScanner is a feature that is also available as a standalone product. It scans links for safety in real time and protects you from third party exploits and other malware. It also adds color coded icons next to your search results to tell you which sites are safe. Unlike WOT and SiteAdvisor which has ratings stored in a database, LinkScanner has no database. All sites are scanned and rated in real time.
I have yet to find false positives with LinkScanner however it often flags malicious sites as green, some of which are very well known to be dangerous, such as Smiley Central.
Advanced options are also available for those who want to fine tune their settings.
I also noticed that with AVG installed, the boot time of my Windows 7 was significantly increased by at least 10-15 seconds.
While I don’t notice any significant performance improvements other than the scan being slightly faster than it was in Version 8.0. It lacks advanced features found in paid products and it tends to be a bit slow and heavy however it still nevertheless provides rock solid protection.
AVG Free Anti-Virus 8.0:
Ease of Use: 4.1
Value for Money: 5
Final Rating: 4.175
AVG Free Anti-Virus provides proven excellent protection, and while it isn’t the fastest free security solution out there, those who can’t afford a premium anti-malware product should consider using AVG rather than having nothing at all.
AVG Free Home Page
Supports Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7
32-bit (x86) and 64-bt (x64)