AVG Antivirus Review

By
&
Aliza Vigderman Gabe Turner Chief Editor
Last Updated on Jan 13, 2021
By Aliza Vigderman & Gabe Turner on Jan 13, 2021
8.6
/10
Editor's Rating
Page Contents

Now more than ever, strong antivirus software is a necessity for the health and safety of every Internet-enabled device. With more people than ever working from home, the opportunities for cyber threats have increased dramatically, and criminals are salivating at the possibilities. Here’s the good news: we’ve got you covered. Read on to get our complete review of AVG Antivirus, both the free and the paid Internet Security versions, and decide if one of these is the right software package to protect your devices.

AVG - You Have Basic Protection
AVG – You Have Basic Protection

Editor's Rating
Overall Rating
8.6
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Coverage for up to 10 devices
  • Plans for Macs, PCs, Androids and iOS devices

A Quick Overview

We ran AVG through its paces on our 2020 Lenovo Thinkpad to see just what it could do. We examined both its free and Internet Security versions, we studied its privacy policy in-depth, and we considered what programs it offers for other platforms.

AVG includes on-access scanning, which means as soon as we opened the program it began scanning and continued to scan in the background as long as it was open. But it also offered the option for on-demand scanning. Any time we felt just a bit nervous, we could run a Smart Scan, which took just seconds to search for basic issues like viruses, malware, and bad browser add-ons. Or, we could run a deep scan that checked out absolutely every file on our laptop. AVG uses a behavior-based approach to its scanning, looking specifically for:

  • Viruses
  • Malware
  • Malicious email attachments
  • Fake websites

AVG’s more advanced tools, available for less than $6.49 a month, include additional features:

  • Ransomware protection
  • Password protection
  • A VPN
  • Wi-Fi Guard
  • A data shredder
  • Webcam protection
  • Payment protection
  • An advanced firewall.

We went with AVG’s mid-range package, which they call Internet Security, and we were able to protect 10 devices. Because, after all, what’s the point of protecting our laptop if our tablet and our phone are vulnerable to attacks?

Downloading the Software

Downloading AVG Antivirus software was straightforward enough. The company’s homepage has a nice bright green link right at the top offering a “Free Download.” Of course, there are links to the paid Mac, PC, and Mobile versions, but we prefer to try things out before we lay any money down. And to be honest, AVG makes it easy to start with a free plan, which includes a file scanner and a basic firewall against viruses and malware; the download and installation took under a minute. And once we were convinced that the tools they offered were worth an investment, there was an easy option in the program’s drop-down menu to enter an activation code. We instantly went from Basic to Full protection, which included access to webcam protection, payment protection, and an advanced firewall.

Downloading and Installing AVG
Downloading and Installing AVG

Like a lot of antivirus companies out there, AVG seems always out to convince us that we won’t be completely safe until we’ve purchased enough subscriptions to feel as though our computer is as protected as Fort Knox. In their case, this comes in the form of an initial scan which found that our computer was “cluttered” and slowed down by 314 performance issues requiring our immediate attention. Of course, the moment we clicked the “Resolve” button, we were taken to a link where we were encouraged to buy more software. We’ve never been especially cool with these sorts of marketing tricks. Does our computer really need a tune-up just six months after we bought it? We’re doubtful.

Still, AVG didn’t actually lie and tell us our computer had malware when it didn’t. If there’s one thing we won’t stand for, it’s flat-out lying. In the end, once we knew the scans were always going to claim we had performance issues, it was a pretty simple matter to ignore the constant advice that we repair them.

FYI: Ransomware can attack your device using a number of different vectors. All of them have the same result, however: ransomware encrypts user files and then demands a ransom to restore them.

Pricing

In addition to its free version, AVG offers two levels of paid antivirus security for a yearly fee. Each level provides a variety of different tools, and all three are available on the AVG homepage.

Free version Internet Security version Ultimate version
Price $0.00 $47.88 for the first year $77.88 for the first year
Number of devices 1 10 15
Malware and virus blocking Yes Yes Yes
Ransomware protection No Yes Yes
Wi-Fi network security No Yes Yes
Protection from fake websites No Yes Yes
AVG VPN No No Yes
AVG TuneUp for performance issues No No Yes

It was easy to start with the free version and simply step up to the level of protection we felt was right for us. It was also nice to know, though, that when we did buy a year subscription it came with a 30-day money-back guarantee. Learn more about AVG’s pricing.

The Experience of Using AVG

Like we said before, we took the time to see what came in the free package before we went all in. Below, we outline both experiences.

Free Package

As soon as we opened the software, the main page laid our options out in clear, easy-to-understand terms. At the bottom of the screen, a button offered us an on-demand Smart Scan. Of course, we pushed that before we bothered checking out the other tools, and to our great relief discovered in just seconds that we were virus-free. We do like to maintain a clean machine. Next to this button, AVG also told us when we ran our last virus scan and exactly how long it had been since our virus database had been updated. Finally, we had many other scanning options. We ran a deep scan, which took just over 34 minutes, and looked at our entire system including storage drives, memory, and rootkits. We also had the option to schedule scans, including recurring scans. And we could see a monthly history of what AVG had managed to uncover.

Above the Scan button, the page displayed our additional options. To the left were our two primary tools, those that came with the free version. On the right, AVG reminded us of the three tools that were unlocked when we put in our credit card. The free tools included:

  • Computer protection: Computer protection essentially means what it says. AVG kept a constant eye on the health of our computer, ensuring it was fine now and that it stayed that way. Selecting this icon opened another, equally user-friendly page detailing the various functions within computer protection, which we could turn off and on individually.
    • File Shield: This shield scanned every file either added to or opened on our computer. It made sure we didn’t download any nasty files in the first place, but just in case something did sneak past, it scanned all these files again each and every time we opened them.
    • Behavior Shield: This shield monitored all our applications, looking for any suspicious behaviors that might indicate something malicious at work.
    • Ransomware Protection: This tool walled off all of our files, ensuring they weren’t vulnerable to attacks from ransomware.
    • Network Inspector: Last, but not least, this tool scanned our entire Wi-Fi network and provided useful information about all our connected devices. Turns out we’d forgotten to shut down our Kindle after getting caught up in a mystery one night!
  • Web and email protection: Web and email protection is designed to make sure we’re safe while we’re surfing and includes two more specific functions.
    • Web shield: AVG’s web shield kept us from logging onto any suspicious websites and blocked any potentially unsafe downloads.
    • Email shield: Meanwhile, the email shield kept an eye on our emails, making sure we weren’t exposed to unsafe attachments. Web and email protection: Web and email protection is designed to make sure we’re safe while we’re surfing and includes two more specific functions.

At the top of the main page, we discovered a drop-down menu with a couple of more tools, including a data shredder and a quarantine folder. The data shredder allowed us to permanently and irreversibly remove a file, a folder, or an entire disc from our computer. The quarantine folder, on the other hand, provided a safe place to store any suspicious files, completely isolating them from the rest of the system. One of our favorite tools, though, was the Do Not Disturb mode. We gave AVG a list of which programs require our absolute uninterrupted attention: spreadsheets, for example, and solitaire. AVG made sure that when those programs were running full-screen nothing and nobody could bother us. No pop-ups: none. Not even, incidentally, from AVG itself.

Finally, the drop-down menu included a list of other AVG services to check out.

Tip: A behavior shield constantly scans your computer looking for processes that exhibit suspicious behaviors. Once it detects such behaviors, it can block the file, even if the malware itself hasn’t yet been added to the virus database.

AVG - Vulnerable to Websites
AVG – Vulnerable to Websites

Paid Package

In the end, we liked our free experience with AVG so much that we decided to go with its Internet Security package (there is also an Ultimate package). Once we keyed in the activation code, three more functions, located on the right-hand side of the main page, magically lit up as well, including more protection modes:

  • Hacker attack protection: The three functions here made sure we were safe not merely from random viruses, but also from specific attacks from hackers.
    • Enhanced firewall: While the free version of the software offered us some basic protection against hackers, the enhanced firewall looked for more targeted attacks.
    • Password protection: This feature kept our saved passwords nice and secure, allowing us to autofill forms when we wanted but only when we wanted.
    • Remote access shield: This shield made sure we were impervious to unwanted remote connections.
  • Privacy protection: We’re sort of rabid about maintaining our privacy, and these functions meant we had no worries on that score.
    AVG - Webcam Protection
    AVG – Webcam Protection
    • Webcam protection: This feature ensured no one could use spyware to access our webcam.
    • Sensitive data shield: This shield prevented snooping on our most sensitive documents.
  • Payment protection: Finally, the paid version of AVG provided complete protection for all our online purchases.
    • Fake website shield: As part of maintaining our safety, the fake web shield made certain we weren’t taken in by any fake websites phishing for our credit card data.

We installed the package on 10 different devices; we have a lot of devices, okay? And as a bonus, it came with a VPN, a virtual private network that routes your online surfing through a third party server so that your browsing and even your IP address are shielded from prying eyes. If you’re interested in comparing AVG’s VPN to others on the market, check out our list of the best VPNs.

Putting AVG’s Virus Detection to the Test

Any antivirus software is only as good as its ability to do its job: stop viruses. That’s why we took the time and effort to download (but not open!) five files that we knew contained viruses. Of course, we made sure to check out a variety, from adware to Trojan malware. In the end, AVG managed to detect three of the five, a 60 percent success rate. We were alarmed at first, until we discovered that this is actually a pretty standard percentage for antivirus software. We tested over 40 different programs and found only two that managed to catch 100 percent of what we threw at them, believe it or not.

AVG - First Scan Invitation
AVG – First Scan Invitation

Our Tests

  • XLSX file: First up, we tested AVG’s prowess with a spreadsheet file, Order.XLSX, a tricky little virus that would have tried to convince us to turn off our AVG protections so it could steal our browser histories, passwords, and email credentials. Only 34 percent of antivirus programs detected this one, so we weren’t terribly surprised that AVG failed as well.
  • EXE file: Next we checked out whether AVG could spot RsBvabnsg1, a virus that frequently appears in the form of an exe. RsBvabnsg1 is better known as AgentTelsa, a remote access tool (RAT) that allows bad guys to completely take over a computer. Luckily, the majority of programs manage to catch this one, 66 percent, and AVG managed to also.
  • DOC file: We find doc files to be especially pernicious since we do a lot of writing and files can sort of just blend together. We tested Reservation.doc, and AVG did manage to detect it. This was an impressive result given that only around 36 percent of all programs spotted it.
  • XLSM file: AVG let us down again on this one, 97655499.xlsm, which usually shows up as an email attachment. Only 35 percent of antivirus software programs managed to detect it though.
  • XLS file: Finally, we ran a check for BDO-1218.xls, an xls file that about half of antivirus programs manage to find. Here AVG performed well, detecting it with ease.

In the end, here’s how AVG measured up.

Virus File Type Percent of Antivirus Software That Detected It Did AVG Detect It?
XLSX 34% No
EXE 66% Yes
DOC 36% Yes
XLSM 35% No
XLS 51% Yes

Lab Tests

Just to set our minds completely at ease, we also checked out how AVG performed in independent tests run by AV Test.1 In terms of protection, AVG received a six out of 10. Under performance, AVG was rated four out of 10. And in terms of usability, they were awarded five out of 10, which isn’t too shabby given that the industry average is two out of 10. Overall, AVG averaged out to a five out of 10, not stellar, though not at the bottom by any means. We were more excited to discover that when it came to detecting the most recent viruses, malware released over the last month, AVG had a strong 99.8 percent success rate.

AVG’s Available Apps

We downloaded the Windows version of the software, but the AVG homepage offers a Mac version as well. In addition, our software came with extensions for both Chrome and Edge browsers.

In addition to its PC products, AVG also offers mobile apps. The Apple Store offers AVG Mobile Security, which we noticed has a 4.8 rating out of 5. Meanwhile, Google Play offers AVG Antivirus Free and Mobile Security, Photo Vault, which despite its lengthy name is highly rated at 4.7 out of 5.0. We tested Google Play’s version and saw right away why it’s rated so highly. The interface is just as easy to use as the PC version. Also, it doesn’t take up a lot of space, which is good since most of our phone space is taken up with cat pictures.

AVG’s Customer Support

We were pleased to discover that AVG not only offers solid customer support, but it offers a number of different options for support. First, there is a help file integrated into the program itself, which managed to solve most of our basic problems, explaining the software and how to make the most of its capabilities. In addition, AVG offers 24/7 phone support for its products, where we found the representatives to be knowledgeable and friendly. Finally, AVG has an extensive searchable database of community troubleshooting posts and a blog that provides useful tips on their own software and malware protection in general.

AVG Support Page
AVG Support Page

We were a little disappointed that there was no live chat online support option, but with all these other options, we never had a problem we couldn’t get an answer for. Even when we made that call at two in the morning just so they’d explain the difference between Smart Scans and Deep Scans, everyone was quite pleasant.

AVG’s Privacy Policy

AVG was recently acquired by Avast,2 and you can read our complete Avast review for more on the company. Recently, Avast, and thus AVG has been thrust into the spotlight due to their privacy policy, which we read ourselves. Certainly it is true that AVG does collect data on its users, something it makes clear in its privacy policy.3 That information includes:

  • Name
  • Email
  • Phone number
  • Username
  • Password
  • Card number
  • IP address
  • Billing data
  • Subscription information
  • Operating system
  • City or country of device
  • Browser type
  • Network
  • Service data like malware samples and detections
  • URLs and referrers
  • Usage statistic

Data collection of this type is actually pretty standard in the industry, and AVG maintains that it needs this information as a means of constantly improving its service. In addition, AVG does provide a means of turning off data-sharing, though this is not the default setting.

Recap

If you’re looking for good basic protection from malware and viruses, AVG’s free app definitely fits the bill. You’ll pay a little more for extra tools and an enhanced firewall, but if you take your computer’s health seriously, AVG is worth the cost.

Citations
  1. AV Test. (2020). AV-TEST Product Review and Certification Report – Jul/2020.
    av-test.org/en/antivirus/mobile-devices/android/july-2020/avg-antivirus-free-6.29-202903

  2. The Wall Street Journal. (2016). Avast Software to Buy AVG Technologies for $1.3 Billion.
    wsj.com/articles/avast-software-to-buy-avg-technologies-for-1-3-billion-1467896539

  3. AVG. (2020). Privacy.
    avg.com/en-us/privacy