AVG Free Antivirus 2015 review
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.
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 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.
This unobtrusive approach was reflected in our legitimate software tests, where AVG was the only free piece of software that didn't throw up any obstructions when we tried to run various third-party applications. This points to very good research and a constantly updated list of legitimate software, so AVG will very rarely block software you know is safe without telling you.
Protection scores have improved remarkably since our last set of tests with AVG managing an overall score of 93% in our most recent round of tests. Unfortunately, in a super competitive round of tests, 93% puts AVG third-from-last and a fair way behind free anti-virus leader Avast. When subjected to 100 attacks, AVG faultlessly defendined against 57. A further 36 were able to run on our test system, but AVG neutralised them before they were able to do any damage. Slightly worryingly, seven threats made it through untouched and were allowed to wreak havoc on our test PC.
^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
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.
AVG is a great piece of software just slightly let down by its protection scores. Considering it's taken massive strides in improving its scores, however, we wouldn't be surprised if it became a front runner in future tests. For now, though, we'd recommend Avast Free Anti Virus as your top choice of free protection.