AVG Technologies Internet Security 2013 review
AVG is best known for its free anti-virus application, but this year we've tested its full commercial Internet Security 2013 suite. This uses the same virus detection engine but also includes a wealth of extra features, such as instant messenger and email protection.
Although it provided a reasonable level of protection when looked at in isolation, AVG did not perform as well as most of its rivals. In 100 tests, it successfully blocked or completely neutralised 92 per cent of malicious programs we exposed it to. An 8 per cent failure rate, although low, is still significant when the failure in question means that you could lose the use of your PC or have your personal data compromised, given that other programs provide greater protection.
AVG's accuracy was better in our false positive test; it flagged up plenty of warnings about applications that it wasn't entirely sure of, but only blocked three of 100 benign apps. This combination meant a total accuracy score of 300.6, which put the software towards the bottom of the pile in our tests.
Unless you untick the options during setup, AVG installs its Security Toolbar in Firefox and IE by default; it also defaults to using and maintaining AVG secure search as the search engine on all three major browsers. Both features are designed to protect you from visiting malicious websites.
Almost as soon as you've installed it, AVG starts displaying periodic pop-ups telling you that it's protected you from several threats recently and inviting you to click through to a Threat Report for more information. This is in fact rather deceptive, as AVG hadn't yet protected us from anything at all.
Even after actual protection, the threat report didn't provide any more a tally of how many instances of malware had been detected on our system, although more detailed logs are available within the program’s main interface.
Like many of the most popular anti-virus programs, AVG's latest version is designed to work well with Windows 8's new touch-friendly interface. It takes a lot of design cues from Windows' own Start Screen, with large, bright buttons that are big enough for comfortable poking. No scrolling is required on the main screen, either, but it doesn't look terribly attractive.
A clear message at the top of the interface informs you of whether you're currently protected and warns you if anything undermines your PC's protected status. Selecting any of the buttons opens a new screen, from which you can then access further, more detailed settings screens. At the bottom, buttons allow you scan or update your virus scanner. The Scan screen also lets you manage scheduled scans; this feature is disabled by default, as AVG constantly monitors your PC's safety in the background.
The Computer button lets you disable and re-enable the virus scanner, scan for rootkits and access advanced settings that control your virus scanner's behaviour, such as whether it asks you before removing detected threats or enabling detection of a more sensitive set of potentially unwanted programs. The Web Browsing protection screen controls the Link Scanner, which examines links for potential risks, and the Online Shield, which checks files as you download them.
The Identity settings don't let you do much more than enable, disable and automate AVG's anti-phishing and fraud protection. There's also an Identity Alert option, but this simply prompts you to upgrade to the more expensive AVG Premium Security suite.