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AVG Free Antivirus 2015 review

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
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A well-designed anti-virus package with massively improved malware protection results, but it's not quite there yet

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Specifications

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 still one of the bigger names in anti-virus software that offer a decent alternative to the paid for services. Giving you a decent amount of protection via the free options, which doesn't include the paid-for Internet Security 2015 service, AVG is often at the top of the food chain.

While in 2014 we disagreed with AVG's somewhat pushy ad strategies, with copious amounts of banners and frequent pop-ups bombarded its user with often useless drivel, it's not too intrusive this time around. While the ad banner is still there, and can be found in all parts of the free software, it's not too obnoxious. While it isn't quite as streamlined as Avast's 2015 software version, it's still not all that bad nonetheless.

If you're willing to actually spend some money on the service, the paid-for Internet Security 15 offers a bunch of features such as file scanning via a cloud-based system, which looks at all downloaded files before they even appear on your PC. For the purposes of this review, we're solely analysing the free service that AVG offers, and comparing that to other software providers too.

Read our comprehensive guide to Internet Security 2015

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.

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

^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.

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.

System requirements
OS SupportWindows XP SP2, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1
Minimum CPUIntel Pentium 1.5GHz
Minimum GPUN/A
Minimum RAM512MB (XP), 1GB (others)
Hard disk space1.2GB
Buying information
Price including VATFree
Supplierwww.avg.com
Detailswww.avg.com
Product codeFree Antivirus 2015

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