AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 2012 2012.0.1869 - Free download and software reviews - CNET Download.com

AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 2012

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CNET Editors' review

The bottom line: AVG Free 2012's renewed focus on performance keeps scans zippy, but struggles with slowing down your boot time and too many false positives.

Review:
The never-ending mantra chanted by security suite vendors sounds a lot like "faster scans, easier to use, better performance," and AVG has released a new version that it says accomplishes all three. Certainly, the scans are faster, it does install more quickly, and some tweaks to the interface have made it easier to view. Two new core security changes will make you safer, too.

Faster and lighter land in AVG Free 2012

Editors' note: Portions of this review are based on CNET's review of AVG Anti-Virus Free 2012.

Installation
We found that the program can go from completed download to ready to use in about 5 minutes.

Last year, AVG cut down the number of installation screens from 13 to 5. This year, the process continues to be short, but savvy users will want to be wary of a few things. First, if you have a browser open when installing, AVG will not warn you before it forces it to close. Second, you are opted-in to AVG's Security Toolbar and the Secure Search default search engine change. Users who opt out of installing the toolbar but want it later will need to rerun the installer to get it.

On the polite side, AVG does not opt you in to an automatic AVG Internet Security trial. By starting from a null position, you are required to actively choose to install AVG Free or the 30-day trial of AVG Internet Security. So this year's install procedure is a bit of a crapshoot, better in some ways than last year, but unchanged in others.

Interface
The changes to AVG's interface in the 2011 version were minor but actually improved usability quite a bit. This year, the tweaks are even less pronounced. There's not much different besides redoing the icons in the main interface so they're easier on your eyes.

AVG Free's slightly tweaked interface for 2012.

(Credit: Screenshot by Seth Rosenblatt/CNET)

There's a one-click Fix button for automatically repairing security breaches that appears at the top along with a yellow X when your system safety has been compromised. It disappears when your system gets a clean bill of health.

Joining the one-click Update button on the side nav is a one-click Scan Now button. There's a clean look to the nav, as well, with bigger fonts and timestamps for the most recent scan and most recent update.

AVG has placed icons for its security components in a central pane. Double-click on one to access more information and basic configuration settings for each specific tool. Advanced settings are available under Tools on the menu bar at the top of the window.

The new interface changes are small, no doubt, but they do make AVG easier to use.

Features and support
AVG 2012 includes a couple of solid changes to make you safer. The first is a patent-pending technique for identifying one of the most obnoxious threats to ever reach your computer: the fake antivirus. If you're unfamiliar, these programs purport to be an antivirus, or a Web-based antivirus scan. Once they install on your computer, the only way to get rid of the infection is to "buy" their license. They're also related to the ransomware infections, which don't even bother with the effort to pretend to be an antivirus. AVG 2012 will block both of them.

The LinkScanner tool has been improved to watch out for more dynamic code, which is essential in the security game because threats are mutating at such a rapid rate. Meanwhile, premium users get the new AVG Accelerator option, which optimizes your Internet connection to speed up downloads and rendering. It currently works on two sites: YouTube, and you can see its impact when pausing and unpausing videos; and Download.com binary downloads. The accelerator protocol was developed internally at AVG.

AVG now includes a monitoring tool that automatically warns you when Firefox, Chrome, or Internet Explorer consumes too much memory. Called AVG Advisor and in all of the AVG suites, it opens a small pop-up and asks you if you'd like to restart your browser. There's no way to "force" it to activate, although if you open up a couple dozen tabs, wait a few minutes, and then open another dozen or so, it ought to kick in.

Changes made last year are still relevant. The software offers what it calls "smart scanning," which leverages AVG's behavioral detection network to scan known safe files once, and only rescan them if it detects changes. As with its competitors, AVG's network is made up of its user base anonymously contributing data up to the cloud. You can choose to opt out of contributing your data when you install, or from the options menu. AVG says opting out won't negatively affect your security.

The smart scanning tech also gives you a built-in system resource manager that prioritizes scans. If a scan is scheduled to begin while the computer is in use, it will automatically restrict the scan so that it runs slower but doesn't interfere with the computer's other tasks. When it detects the computer idling, it will then allocate more power to the scan. The feature comes with a slider so you can customize how sensitive it is.

The desktop gadget for Windows Vista and Windows 7 users that lets them initiate scans and updates with one click, without having to open the full interface. It also contains links to AVG's Twitter and Facebook pages, which the company uses to bolster its support for the free version.

The PC Analyzer scans your system for Registry and disk errors. It includes a disk defragmenter and a broken-shortcut cleaner, as well. Although the feature is restricted in full to paid users, if you have the free version, the PC Analyzer comes with a one-time offer to clean all errors it finds. It provides a link to download the separate PC Analyzer tool, once the scan is completed. This is an interesting twist on the idea of letting users detect but not repair errors, and it provides more functionality while not affecting the basic security of your computer. However, it's likely that some users will shy away from the extra download.

Other features are restricted to users of AVG's paid upgrades. The paid upgrade version of AVG Anti-Virus 2012 distinguishes itself by offering chat link shield, a download scan for files sent via instant message that looks at all ports, not just port 80, and telephone support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The PC Analyzer option mentioned earlier is also included, and comes without restrictions. New in 2012 to premium users is the new AVG Accelerator option, which optimizes your Internet connection to speed up downloads and rendering. It currently works on two sites: YouTube, and you can see its impact when pausing and unpausing videos; and Download.com binary downloads. The accelerator protocol was developed internally at AVG.

AVG Internet Security 2012 includes all that AVG Anti-Virus 2012 offers, and adds in a firewall and antispam protections.

Performance
AVG claims some major performance enhancements in the 2012 versions. Specifically, the company says that it has reduced by 40 percent the size on your hard drive of the virus signature database. That database is a major component of how the program recognizes threats. AVG also stated that the number of running processes that run suite has been reduced from 16 to 11, that it uses 20 percent less memory overall than previous versions, and that it ought to impact your computer's boot time less.

CNET Labs' benchmarks found that, on the whole, it is a faster program than last year's. However, we can't directly compare this year's results to last year's because we upgraded our testing computer from Windows 7 x64 to Windows 7 x64 with Service Pack 1. We can report that AVG's boot time impact was slower than average, ranging from 2 seconds slower than the average suite from AVG Free to 18 seconds slower than average for AVG Anti-Virus. AVG Internet Security was a few seconds slower than AVG Free. This is not unusual for AVG, as it historically has a big impact on startup, but that doesn't mean we don't want to see it get faster.

Shutdown impact continued to be minimal. Security scan times were the third-fastest suite we've seen so far year, though not as good as last year's tied-for-fastest numbers. The impact of the suites on the computer while in use were very similar to last year's--in general, slightly better than average, but not stellar.

Security Program Boot time Shutdown time Scan time MS Office performance iTunes decoding Media multitasking Cinebench
Unprotected system 40 6 n/a 395 120 342 17,711
Average of all tested systems (to date) 64.3 16.6 1,185 418 125 348 17,111
AVG Anti-Virus Free 2012 66.3 12 753 411 125 347 17,131
AVG Anti-Virus 2012 82.3 13.7 842 410 124 346 17,026
AVG Internet Security 2012 69.9 11.3 792 416 124 344 17,259

*All tests measured in seconds, except for Cinebench. On the Cinebench test, the higher number is better.

In our other tests, it was a bit faster than the median. It's not a big shift from last year, but it's enough to notice that it's moving in the right direction. You're looking at a much slower startup, fast scans, a minimal impact on shutdown, and a midrange hit to general system performance with AVG Free.

Third-party efficacy results haven't been published yet for AVG Anti-Virus Free 2012, but the 2011 suite marks are solid, if not spectacular. In the AV-Test.org test on Windows 7 from the first quarter of 2011, AVG Internet Security 10 (version 2011) scored 13.5 out of 18 overall, a solid midrange score. The suite had a 5.0 rating out of 6 in Protection, a 4.0 in Repair and a 4.5 in Usability.

The second quarter 2011 test, on a Windows XP computer, definitely showed improvement in some areas and regression in others. It scored 13.0 out of 18 overall, also a midrange score. The suite improved in Protection and Repair with a 5.5 rating out of 6 for the former and a 4.5 for the latter, but Usability dropped to 3.5 most likely due to false positives.

The most recent AV-Comparatives.org Whole Product test, which looks at on-demand scanning, retroactive tests, and "real-world" guards including cloud-based protections, puts AVG Internet Security 2011 toward the back of the class, out of 17 suites tested. Looking at Whole Product test results cumulatively from January 2011 to June 2011 found that AVG came in 13th, blocking 95.1 percent of threats. Much of that low score came from bad showings in March and April; by May it was back up in the 96 percent range.

It's fair to conclude that according to these third-party tests, AVG has been moderately effective, with some indications that it's been getting better in recent months. However, since AVG Internet Security and AVG Anti-Virus Free share the same engine, you're getting a strong level of protection at no cost.

Conclusion
A word of caution: We've noted before that the average person is paying more and more attention to performance, and there are far more viable operating system options than ever before. If security is more or less similar, people will be scrutinizing system impact greatly, and adding 30 seconds or more to your boot time has the potential to drive people not just from your security suite, but from your OS, too.

All that said, AVG Anti-Virus Free continues to offer an excellent if not perfect level of security, and is well-worth a serious shot at being your go-to suite.

AVG Antivirus Free-Protect your PC from viruses and malware.-Download Video Previews:

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All User Reviews
  • All versions:

    4.0 stars

    out of 24,502 votes

    • 5 star: 11577
    • 4 star: 7497
    • 3 star: 1850
    • 2 star: 993
    • 1 star: 2585
  • Current version:

    3.8 stars

    out of 66 votes

    • 5 star: 31
    • 4 star: 16
    • 3 star: 4
    • 2 star: 4
    • 1 star: 11
  • My rating:

    0 stars

    Write review

Results 1-10 of 66

  • 2.0 stars

    "Not compatible with Online Armor"

    November 22, 2011  |   By IvoShoen

    Version: AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 2012 2012.0.1869

    Pros

    Hard to say as I was unable to actually install it.

    Cons

    I just tried to install AVG 2012 on one of my computers and it said I had to uninstall Online Armor (my version does not have av). ***?

    Reply to this review Read reply (1)

    Was this review helpful? (0) (1)

  • 1.0 stars

    "HORRID - AVG has tanked."

    November 22, 2011  |   By alemire

    Version: AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 2012 2012.0.1869

    Pros

    NONE, AVG is epic fail.

    Cons

    An anti-virus program that doesn't pick up well known viruses. How can a anti-virus not pick up on a virus that has been circulatiing for over a year? What possible excuse is there?! NONE.

    Summary

    AVG USED to be a kick-a** program that was well ahead of other companies. We're using AVG Business Edition in our office now. I can't tell you how many viruses...OLD VIRUSES still circulating even, that this program has NOT caught. I am not only incredibly disappointed, I am pissed that I am paying for a business product that is not being kept up to date. I spend so much time cleaning up the mess that AVG doesn't catch. Stay away from this product. I am switching over to Sophos tomorrow.

    Reply to this review Read reply (1)

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  • 1.0 stars

    "NO GOOD AT ALL"

    November 22, 2011  |   By uncleit61

    Version: AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 2012 2012.0.1869

    Pros

    NONE NONE NONE

    Cons

    CANNOT GET IT OFF YOUR COMPUTER IT WILL BE IN ALL YOUR RESTORE

    Reply to this review Read reply (1)

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  • 1.0 stars

    "NOT WORTH IT"

    November 22, 2011  |   By greatchewy

    Version: AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 2012 2012.0.1869

    Pros

    Better than most other free antivirus programs. Free?

    Cons

    Nowhere near as good as most paid programs. Misses many viruses and slows down computer. Does not provide the comprehensive protection that is required in today's digital age.

    Summary

    Is it really free when you have to pay over $150 to remove trojans that are missed by "free" programs? I work as a computer technician and through my experience, any free program is a no-go. I cannot tell you how many times I found hidden infections that AVG did not detect. Most viruses do their dirty work in the background so you never know that you are infected. I have also found AVG to fail in blocking many of the popular Rouge Antispyware viruses that are plaguing the internet. If you get a good paid program you will often get a full firewall, good parental controls, and a great backup solution. Every single person out there who says that AVG Free is great has either been lucky, or infected without even knowing it. All it takes is to go one bad site and BOOM, you are infected. Do yourself a favor, buy a good program that actually does what it is supposed to do.

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  • 5.0 stars

    "Amazing Product"

    November 22, 2011  |   By kashyaprishi

    Version: AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 2012 2012.0.1869

    Pros

    works actively

    Cons

    no cons works great

    Summary

    Simply a great free antivrus

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  • 5.0 stars

    "What's a Norton?"

    November 22, 2011  |   By dsw4rbrick

    Version: AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 2012 2012.0.1869

    Pros

    Unintrusive, efficient, free.

    Cons

    What cons?

    Summary

    Easily the best anti-virus out there for home use. No noticeable impact on performance, quietly gets on with its job, and outdoes its paid rivals.

    Reply to this review

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  • 4.0 stars

    "life saving"

    November 21, 2011  |   By alex200295

    Version: AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 2012 2012.0.1869

    Pros

    outperforms other "paid" programs i have used, been problem free from day one

    Cons

    is a little resource consuming, it would be alot better if it consumed less cpu and ran more in the background like other programs do so the cpu can be utilised by other programs like high performance games which require that little extra power

    Summary

    has saved my computer from a meltdown as my cpu usuage was through the roof with other programs (no idea why) and my computer was running hot .. it now has lower cpu rpm and is running cooler then before which shocked me as i wasnt expected much difference .. scanning is fast and efficient, installation is fast and painless and is a great product and i have recommended it to people i know

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  • 5.0 stars

    "wonderful and useful"

    November 21, 2011  |   By openstreet

    Version: AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 2012 2012.0.1869

    Pros

    I strongly recommend it to you,it is free software,but it has great functions,it never lets me down,you can take it

    Cons

    never found

    Summary

    I have been using this one for a long time,it is really a great software,it will bring you so much convenience

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  • 5.0 stars

    "Best out there"

    November 20, 2011  |   By ukeyski

    Version: AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 2012 2012.0.1869

    Pros

    Everything.

    Cons

    Nothing at all.

    Reply to this review

    Was this review helpful? (4) (0)

  • 5.0 stars

    "Excellent performance exceptional for FREE!"

    November 19, 2011  |   By dgilchbvoh

    Version: AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 2012 2012.0.1869

    Pros

    Operates efficiently behind the scene without grabbing so much memory and CPU to slow down the computer. Does an outstanding job, have been using AVG free for 6 years on family computers without any problems.

    Cons

    Have had to uninstall prior versions with some difficulty. AVG website offered directions with uninstall program that worked perfectly.

    Summary

    Performance is Excellent! Cost is Free! Outstanding product fantastic value. Thank you AVG. I have used Norton, McAfee but AVG is what I use now!

    Reply to this review

    Was this review helpful? (4) (0)

Results 1-10 of 66

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