AVG Technologies Anti-Virus Free 2012 review
To understand how we go about the UK's most accurate and realistic anti-virus testing, read How We Test: Anti-virus software.
AVG is probably the best-known free anti-virus program, as well as a perennial favourite of ours. Fortunately, the latest version of the software continues that trend and offers excellent protection.
In our tests just one virus out of 50 (two per cent) compromised our test system, meaning that AVG defended against 98 per cent of our test files. It was very good when it came to false positives, producing no warnings about harmless files and only blocking two of our test programs.
The interface hasn't changed much in the last year or so, although the main icons have been spruced up a little bit. From the front page, you can view the status and click through for more details about each of AVG's core components. These include the main anti-virus engine, the LinkScanner, which warns you about potentially unsafe web pages among your search results and on Facebook, email virus scanning, a dedicated Rootkit scanner and Identity Protection, which uses heuristic monitoring to block any activity that could lead to identity theft, effectively setting our mind at ease regarding threats from key loggers and similar software.
Some features have been held back for the paid-for version of AVG, including its online shield, which provides more direct in-browser blocking of web-based threats, as well as spam filtering and a firewall. You can also add extra paid-for components such as system optimisation tools, AVG Family Safety, which allows you to monitor your child's online activity for just 95p a year, and AVG LiveKive, an online backup and synchronisation service.
Unfortunately, because the interface includes icons for all the extra components that you don't actually have, it creates a little unnecessary clutter. It's easy to configure your anti-virus software in more detail using the Advanced Settings menu, which allows you to fine-tune the locations and file types that are scanned, control the schedule for scans and updates and take a look at quarantined files.
With an excellent defence rate and a sleek, easy-to-use interface, AVG remains one of the best free security packages you can get, with many more features than most. AVG has more features than its competition and is less chatty, making it this year's winner of our Budget Buy award.
For straightforward advice on getting the best anti-malware deal, and keeping your software up-to-date year-on-year, then read Avoiding the anti-malware trap now.