Saturday, June 5, 2010

Free AVG Anti-Virus - review

6:01 PM |

AVG Free is probably the world's most popular free anti-virus program, with a reputation built on its dependable accuracy and clean, easy-to-use interface.

It's a stripped-down version of the full AVG Anti-Virus. It has the core anti-virus and anti-spyware components, along with email scanning (for POP and SMTP protocols, but not IMAP) and a basic anti-rootkit module. The AVG Security Toolbar lets you know if the web page you're currently looking at is safe or not, but this isn't as useful as the included LinkScanner, which checks for malicious pages among search engine results.

AVG was a pleasure to use, although it has few options. The main interface displays each of the program's components and its activity status. You can get to a handful of advanced settings via a right-click menu on each component. You can change AVG's update frequency, configure the Resident Shield to remove threats automatically and enable or disable email scanning for both incoming and outgoing messages. A separate tab allows you to scan either your entire PC or selected folders. The scanner tab also provides access to your scan history and virus vault, where all the programs that AVG has quarantined are listed. The only other tab in AVG's left-hand menu bar instructs the program to check for updates.

AVG was updated from version 8.5 to 9.0 during our tests. We carried out the second half of our tests using version 9.0 and then went back and carried out the earlier tests again using copies of the malicious sites we'd stored on our server. Recent database updates gave AVG 9.0 an unfair advantage in these tests. This means that AVG's score is not directly comparable with those of the other programs tested, but the results make a convincing case for the improvements made to the latest version. AVG 8.5 was compromised four times in the first 11 tests, but AVG 9 was never compromised and completely removed all but three malicious incidents.

Because of these testing irregularities, it's difficult to give AVG's success rate a concrete guarantee, but the latest version is effective and easy to use.

Basic malware protection
Avira basic protection
We give programs one point for each of the 20 web threats it successfully defended against (for example, blocking the web page that hosts it or deleting the file as soon as it was downloaded) or neutralised (for example, where a virus took hold but was deleted or rendered unable to run after a full scan).
Overall (including false positives)
AVG overall false
These are the basic malware protection scores, with half a point deducted for each of our false positive test programs that was detected as a virus or prevented from running properly without manual intervention.
Complete remediation
AVG complete remediation
The basic protection graph shows how many viruses were deleted or rendered incapable of running (for example, by deleting Registry entries that triggered malicious files hidden in a temporary directory). This graph shows only those incidents in which all traces of malware were either blocked or completely removed from the system.
Author: Kat Orphanides

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