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AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 2012

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out of 24628 votes

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  • Date Added:
    Apr. 26, 2012
  • Price:
    Free; paid upgrade available
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Editors' Note: The Download Now link will download an installer file to your desktop. Remain online and double-click the installer to proceed with the actual download.
To learn more about AVG products and to ask questions and receive answers from AVG company representatives, please visit CNET's dedicated AVG Forum.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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Publisher's Description

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User Reviews
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Results 1–6 of 6

5 stars

"Best free protection"

May 02, 2012  |  By cnetguy7

 |  Version: AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 2012 2012.0.2169


-Relatively quick scanning.
-Excellent root kit detection and removal.
-Superb web protection.
-Superb malware detection and removal rates.
-Highest rated free AV by PC MAG, consistently in top 2, mostly top free av in avtest. org 's test reports.
- Frequent updates and excellent 0 day protection.
- Simple installation and uninstallation process. They even have a AVG removal tool on their website.


The pros certainly outweigh the cons but there are a few cons.

- the process count is a little high.
- CPU and RAM usage can be bettered. nowhere near the industry best.
- System is marginally slower as opposed to some other free AV.
- Root kit scan and computer scans are separate. Why don't you merge the two?


Nothing better security wise for free. Perfect for installing on the systems of non- tech savvy people.
It quietly does its job of updating, monitoring, quarantines infections, cleans up the system and monitors for illegitimate processes.
I personally like it because it has protected my family's computer safe longer than paid like Mcafee, Norton and better than free ones like MSE, Avast and avira.
I can honestly say AVG is the only free AV that has completely healed an infected system without the need for a reformat.
Works well with comodo firewall.

Updated on May 2, 2012

Pleaseeee, just download ccleaner and run it after every download session. Ccleaner is probably the best at its job. This is no big deal.

Updated on May 2, 2012

the reference for ccleaner was for people beeching about cookie cleanup.

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2 stars

"disappointed with this current version."

May 01, 2012  |  By cybercsl

 |  Version: AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 2012 2012.0.2169


according to my past experience, AVG protected my computer well with any virus.


it seems to me that this current version doesn't compatible well with ZoneAlarm Free Firewall. AVG Free on my computer has difficulty to update the virus definition.


I have both ZoneAlarm Free Firewall and AVG Free 2012 installed on my new Windows 7 computer I purchased recently. It was working fine at the beginning. But, since last week, all of a sudden AVG can't update anymore. When I click 'update', it shows 'checking for new update', then it wouldn't go further. I searched online, some saying it could be the ZoneAlarm Security Toolbar. Hence, I tried to uninstall the ZoneAlarm security toolbar, while hoping I could able to keep both (AVG and Zonealarm) on my PC. Even though I uninstalled ZoneAlarm security toolbar, AVG still couldn't do the update. Then, I uninstalled ZoneAlarm Free Firewall, when I restarted my PC, bam....AVG Free automatically do the update without problem. I don't think it's because I set something wrong on ZoneAlarm Firewall to stop AVG from accessing the internet to do the update. Because there is very limited setting I could make on Zonealarm firewall free. I couldn't find setting that I could adjust to 'allow' AVG program to pass through ZoneAlarm Firewall. Hence, I believe there is a compatibility problem there. Don't get me wrong. I have been using AVG free for many years on my previous computer. I have been recommended AVG free to all my friends. I trused AVG on protecting my machine. But since I couldn't find a better Firewall program I could trust other than ZoneAlarm, hence I have to reluctantly uninstall AVG, and install Avast (which I also heard it's good) on my PC.

Updated on May 1, 2012

I'm so get used to AVG interface. I'll definitely go back if I could find out a way to keep ZoneAlarm Firewall on my computer at the same time without any issue.

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3 stars

"Good AV some annoying other stuff"

May 01, 2012  |  By jscott418

 |  Version: AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 2012 2012.0.2169


Scan caught 3 Trojan's Microsoft's Security Essentials did not.
Seemed a bit faster in scanning too.


Of course the free version has some tricks to get you to buy something. Like PC analyzer which will check for broken registry entry's and such. However after it finds them it directs you to a web page to pay for a subscription to remove them. Go figure.


I liked AVG Free when it was just a free Anti Virus program and nothing more. Now its nothing more then a platform to try and nudge you into one of their paid suites. I like the Link scanner, I also like the Anti Virus itself. What I hate is features that work only partially without paying for a subscription. If I wanted a paid version with all the goodies I would have bought it AVG.

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2 stars

"Not for me"

April 30, 2012  |  By indiegal

 |  Version: AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 2012 2012.0.2169


Scans are faster but then makes me Not want trust it.


When it updated to this new version 2127 or whatever it is? It would NOT auto remove threats/tracking cookies, ect .. I had to manually remove them Even though I had my settings to Auto remove or quarentine.


I found this New Version to Be So Annoying that I have went back to the Trusted Microsoft Security Essentials. It may take quite a bit longer on Full Scans with MSE but I trust it and many computer geeks I know Use MSE instead or Avast. I've Not tried Avast, don't like something running that I can't see. As Avira does. JMO. Each person uses what they trust but I use what I know and trust.

Updated on Apr 30, 2012

I have? For almost 7 years !! Used AVG Free. But for them to make this new change? I have had nothing but problems with it. Maybe when they get all the "bugs" out of it, I'll go back. When they do? Someone let me know ...

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4 stars

"It is a decent Antivirus without making a mess"

April 27, 2012  |  By vijaybamsuri

 |  Version: AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 2012 2012.0.2169


Hassle free and almost silent operation


In the end (expiry) of the trial version (Internet security) it slows (?) down the system. This happened to me several times before also. I dont know why. So please dont try trial version. Opt for "free" version.


I am using AVG for last several years. Never had a virus infection or other problems. I am using AVG along with other Malware protections now.

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3 stars

"Not sure if AVG is the problem..."

April 27, 2012  |  By FerretMomx12

 |  Version: AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 2012 2012.0.2169


it USED to work well


with the last auto update my 'puter kept blue screening & telling me to disable the anti-virus. I had a heck of a time trying to delete it but since I did, no more blue screens. Then I tried to download & install again but the install failed.


wish I knew what the problem was. I liked it when it didn't crash my system

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Full Specifications

What's new in version 2012.0.2169
Version 2012.0.2169 is a maintenance release.
Publisher AVG Technologies USA
Publisher web site http://www.avg.com/
Release Date April 26, 2012
Date Added April 26, 2012
Version 2012.0.2169
Category Security Software
Subcategory Antivirus Software
Operating Systems
Operating Systems Windows XP/Vista/7
Additional Requirements None
Download Information
File Size 4.86MB
File Name avg_free_stb_all_6125p1_177.exe
Total Downloads 553,231,545
Downloads Last Week 466,291
License Model Free
Limitations Not available
Price Free

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