AVG Free Antivirus 2015 review

A well-designed anti-virus package, but AVG's protection scores are worryingly low

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 


OS Support: Windows XP SP2, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, Minimum CPU: Intel Pentium 1.5GHz, Minimum GPU: N/A, Minimum RAM: 512MB (XP), 1GB (others), Hard disk space: 1.2GB

AVG is a big name in AV, with its free software offering a basic level of protection. We chose to evaluate this over the paid-for software, because it’s the most popular version. Internet Security 2015 is the paid-for service, and includes additional features that could potentially improve its results, including Cloud-based file scanning, which analyses files before they're ever downloaded to your computer.

Read our comprehensive guide to Internet Security 2015

Last year we were irritated by AVG's rather overt advertising tactics, with banners and pop-ups encouraging us to upgrade. The banner is still there, ever present in all parts of the software, but is far less garish. There's a tool for cleaning "junk" from your PC. The analysis tool is part of the free package, but you'll need separate, paid-for PC TuneUp software in order to solve any issues.

AVG's main menu shows you your security status at a glance

^AVG's main menu shows you your security status at a glance

AVG sits quietly in the system tray and doesn't throw up pop-ups for minor events like slight network changes or the insertion of USB sticks, which is nice. The interface is simple to use and the welcome screen is particularly attractive, giving you a quick summary of the various ways in which your system may or may not be compromised.

Pleasingly, this unobtrusive approach is also reflected in its handling of legitimate software installations. Of the 100 applications we installed, AVG only threw up one pop-up warning, suggesting that we might wish to block the installation. It didn't block any other programs without letting us know, which is exactly what we're looking for from security software. From our scoring, this gave the software a score of 826 out of 846 for legitimate software.

Sadly, AVG's protection scores were disappointing. We were very concerned to see that our test PC was compromised 24 times. Only Microsoft Security Essentials was less reliable, but that is nothing to be proud of. A further 27 threats were allowed to run but were neutralised before they gained a foothold, while only 49 of the 100 pieces of malware were fully defended against. Its final protection score was just 67 out of 300.

A quick AVG scan found an incorrect digital signature

^A quick AVG scan found an incorrect digital signature

AVG has plenty of customisable options in its Advanced Settings menus, with options for setting up file exceptions, schedules and tweaking the various notifications that the software throws up. There's also a Game Mode that suppresses pop-up messages and engages automatically when you're running a full-screen application.

AVG's Advanced Settings menu lets you ignore certain filetypes in scans among many other things

^AVG's Advanced Settings menu lets you ignore certain filetypes in scans among many other things

There are plenty of options that at first glance have no explanation, but AVG has included an extensive offline help file that can be accessed from any part of the settings menus, and you'll be taken to the page explaining that particular function. It's a useful addition, particularly for less experienced users.

Although it has a friendly interface, AVG’s protection just isn’t good enough. If you don’t want to pay for AV, go for Avast 2015 Free Anti Virus instead. For the best protection Norton Internet Security 2015 is the software to buy.

System requirements
OS Support Windows XP SP2, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1
Minimum CPU Intel Pentium 1.5GHz
Minimum GPU N/A
Minimum RAM 512MB (XP), 1GB (others)
Hard disk space 1.2GB
Buying information
Price including VAT Free
Supplier www.avg.com
Details www.avg.com
Product code Free Antivirus 2015