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CNET Editors' review
AVG's updates for 2013 look to the future while struggling to overcome the problems of the past. There's a new interface optimized for Windows 8 that really does make the suite easier to use, and the suite once again tackles its lengthy installation procedure. However, one of the best new features in AVG was actually introduced as a midyear update during 2012.
We found that the program can go from completed download to ready to use in about 5 minutes.
AVG's touted its five-screen installation for several years now. While it's true that the process continues to be short, it's important to call out a few improvements and one glaring snag.
The installer itself now weighs in at 33MB, down from more than 100MB two years ago. The installer also does not require a reboot. This isn't surprising for Windows 8, but even on computers running Windows 7 and older, installing AVG will be reboot-free. Unfortunately, not only do you still have to opt out of AVG's toolbar and SafeSearch if you don't want them, but even when you choose only the toolbar, it commandeers your default location bar search in Firefox. This is, of course, problematic because the toolbar provides some important security options, such as AVG Do Not Track.
AVG loses points as well for force-shutting your browser without warning during installation, and for not adapting the installation options to Windows 8. AVG has retained the small check boxes from previous years, which are difficult to use by touch.
A more customer-friendly approach would be to go for an opt-in process that doesn't move forward until the user makes a decision. After all, this is what AVG does when asking you to choose between AVG Free or a 30-day trial of AVG Internet Security.
Shouldn't we be done with search engine commandeering by now?
Windows 8 has forced every Windows software maker around to reconsider how its programs look, and that's a good thing. Whether kicking and screaming, or gleefully leaping, software designers are changing how they make their Windows apps, and AVG is no different.
Although the security suite had been using a variation of the same interface for years, the 2013 suite has been overhauled with a new one that embraces large, boldly colored, tile-like buttons that ought to feel at home in Windows 8.
The new main interface lays out AVG's features in a clean, legible manner. The upper right corner has links to Reports, Support, and Options. At first blush, the Options list is overwhelmingly long, but navigating is impressively accurate on a touch screen. It contains direct links to features that are also available behind the tiles that take up most of the interface.
Next on your way down the main screen is a protection status notification in green for safe or red for unsafe, and then there are three rows of tiles. The first row of bright green tiles are links to core security options: Computer, Web Browsing, Identity, E-mails, and Firewall. The second row are blue, and link to AVG's performance optimizer, parental controls, and the backup service LiveKive. Next to LiveKive there's a button for AVG apps, new services that haven't been revealed at the time of writing.
The third row contains two teal buttons, one to commence a scan and one to update virus definition files. If you're running AVG Free, the bottom quarter of the interface is an ad to upgrade to AVG Internet Security 2013. Behind each of the buttons is a deeper dive into its associated functions. Under Computer, for example, you have access to antivirus and antirootkit scans, statistics, and configurations.
The interface is basically highly navigable, except that people with Windows 8 touch screens could find the third level down tricky without a mouse. If you go into Configurations or another deeper settings level, the advanced settings options could still be too small for some people to easily adjust.
Do note that AVG is essentially running a Windows 7 program with Windows 8 dressing. It opens to Desktop mode, and runs in a single window that doesn't take up the full screen. It's possible that there have been under-the-hood improvements that will allow AVG to adapt to a Metro interface easily, but that's not available yet.
Features and support
While the interface is new, and as you'll see below, the performance improvements are stunning, AVG's focus for 2013 has not been to push aggressive new security tech. That's okay. Instead, the focus this year was to bring some tech that exists at competitors to AVG's enormous, 128-million-strong active user base.
When you start AVG for the first time, a window appears over the main interface that promotes links to its new, free 24-7 telephone support; the AVG Android app; and a tutorial on getting started. As one of the best-known names in Windows security, we like that AVG is making it easy for newcomers to get acclimated.
There's a new file reputation system, which AVG also uses in conjunction with its scans to scan dramatically faster than before. Basically, it looks at a file in the order that its bits were saved to disk, not in order of the directory file tree. It may sound hokey, but as the benchmarks below show, it's an effective technique. By cross-referencing that data with what other AVG users are running, AVG is able to create a more effective net for blocking malicious files.
The file reputation is an extension of AVG's "smart scanning," which takes advantage of AVG's behavioral detection network to scan known safe files once, and rescan them only 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 more slowly 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.
Another major change was introduced earlier in the year. AVG's Do Not Track add-on has been folded into the AVG toolbar. AVG's version lacks the nuance of Abine's Do Not Track Plus, making it more of a logger's chainsaw than a surgeon's scalpel, but it's still good to get privacy-protecting tools out to as many people as possible.
AVG offers a wide range of effective tools for keeping your computer safe. Along with the expected antivirus and anti-malware engines, it has rootkit detection and removal; fake antivirus and ransomware blocking; and basic e-mail and identity protection.
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.
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 a download of 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 2013 distinguishes itself by offering a chat link shield, a Wi-Fi guard for open Internet connections, and a download scan for files sent via instant message that looks at all ports, not just port 80. The PC Analyzer option mentioned earlier is also included, and comes without restrictions.
AVG Internet Security 2013 includes all that AVG Anti-Virus 2013 offers, and adds in a firewall and antispam protections.
After publishing this review, CNET Labs discovered a hardware error on our test computer that affected our published system benchmarks. AVG claims major performance improvements in the 2013 versions, and both CNET's own revised tests and independent labs appear to bear this out.
This year's version leaves a lighter touch on your system than last year's, a big change for the better for AVG.
AVG's boot time impact was not particularly impressive, adding around 15 seconds to our test computer's boot time. Shutdown time was adequate, adding only around three to four seconds, but our new Wake from Sleep test showed our test computer taking much longer to wake from sleep mode with AVG than unprotected.
However, AVG's impact on in-use performance was impressive. Antivirus scans are among the fastest of any suite, free or paid, and on our MS Office test AVG Free was actually significantly faster than an unprotected computer. AVG claims that this is because of how it reads your computer's files. Whatever the cause, it's clear that in some cases, AVG improves in-use system performance.
|Security program||Boot time||Shutdown time||Wake from sleep||Scan time||MS Office performance||iTunes decoding||Media multitasking||Cinebench|
|Average of all tested systems (to date)||52.2||11.4||6.3||1,038||426||125||346||17,327|
|AVG Anti-Virus Free 2013||64.4||11.1||17.8||554||353||124||342||17,158|
|AVG Anti-Virus 2013||64.4||12.2||13||889||411||126||345||16,960|
|AVG Internet Security 2013||63||11.4||15.9||588||405||124||341||17,046|
*All tests measured in seconds, except for Cinebench. On the Cinebench test, the higher number is better.
Third-party efficacy results haven't been published yet for AVG 2013, but the 2012 suite marks are excellent. In the AV-Test test on Windows 7 from the second quarter of 2012, AVG Internet Security 2012 scored 15 out of 18 overall, a lowish high score. The suite had a 5.5 rating out of 6 in Protection, a 5.0 in Repair, and a 4.5 in Usability. On the same test, AVG Anti-Virus Free 2012 scored slightly better with 15.5 out of 18 overall. The suite had a 5.5 rating out of 6 in Protection, a 5.0 in Repair, and a 5.0 in Usability.
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 2012 in the middle of the class, out of 21 suites tested. Looking at Whole Product test results cumulatively from January 2012 to June 2012 shows that AVG came in 13th, blocking 97.7 percent of threats.
When it comes to security, AVG isn't hands-down the best out there. But it is more effective than it used to be, and it's clear that it takes a smaller toll on your system than it used to. Those are big gains for the suite.
AVG Anti-Virus Free continues to offer an excellent if not perfect level of security, and deserves a serious shot at being your go-to suite. If you're unhappy with your current suite because of its impact on your system performance, AVG is worth checking out.
You get a fair number of extras when you pay to upgrade, but it's not essential and really only for people who either feel safer when they pay or want the added bonuses. However, if you're on a Windows Vista or XP computer, you definitely ought to have a firewall upgrade. You could get a free one, but if system resources are a concern, it's worth checking out one that's bolted to a security suite as with AVG's paid suites.
From AVG Technologies USA:
AVG's most fully featured antivirus product ever, this is an advanced protection that never gets in your way.
AVG AntiVirus 2013 goes beyond simply detecting and removing viruses on your PC. It also delivers great preventative protection that blocks infected links and files as you surf, checking everything before you click through.
New for the 2013 edition is smart performance technology for quicker scans and gaming without annoying lags and freezes caused by scheduled updates and scans, meaning AVG AntiVirus 2013 is protection that never gets in your way.
When it comes to privacy protection 'AVG Do Not Track' feature gives you control over which websites can collect and use your data (available if you take AVG Security Toolbar as part of your installation). This joins AVG's Anti-Spyware and WiFi hacker-defeating technology to deliver powerful privacy and identity protection at home and on the move.
Also new for the 2013 edition is AVG's Easy Interface, which makes managing your protection as simple as possible.
Users of AVG AntiVirus 2013 also enjoy 24/7 phone support from our team of experts, 365 days a year.
What's new in this version: A) Even Greater Ease of Use
We've put a big emphasis for this release on making our product easy to use, for both our less-technically savvy customers, as well as those that wish to have greater levels of control with their PC protection. We've completely overhauled our interface, simplified our Firewall and improved our install experience.
- New User Interface
Our new User Interface has been developed with extensive involvement from our customers, helping us to build somet... See all new features
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All versions:3.5 stars
out of 985 votes
Current version:1.6 stars
out of 5 votes
My rating:Write review
Results 1-5 of 5
"hard to install"
Version: AVG AntiVirus 2013 2013.0.2793
failed to install.
failed to install. asks for $15 fee for installation assistance.
waste of time
"Easiest download & install, no problems, thanks!"
Version: AVG AntiVirus 2013 2013.0.2793
Of the few antivirus installs that I tried, 2 in a row did not install but AVG installed as easily as breeze.
Since I'm not a programmer, I don't see any cons. The best antivirus library would be the best program. But from my point of view this is a great program.
"Malware Incredibar infected/imbedded!"
Version: AVG AntiVirus 2013 2013.0.2793
None.. This is Malware! Do Not Install!!!
This is a terrible program infected with Malware.. Do not install!
First it asks if you want the AVG safety searchbar downloaded then it downloads the Incredibar Malware search bar which hijacks your Google and your IE application inundating you with ads, popups and redirecting you to other websites.. Shame on you CNet for not vetting your downloads before making them available to your customers!.
"Hate AVG 2013 from AVG user of at least 10 years"
Version: AVG AntiVirus 2013 2013.0.2793
None that I could see
Hate the new interface also has a problem with false positives on programs.
Uninstalled and put back in 2011 and everything is working just fine.
"Abysmal! It's just like Virus... Can't Uninstall It!"
Version: AVG AntiVirus 2013 2013.0.2793
Abysmal! NO pros - this free software seems to be actually a virus - it just can't be uninstalled.
I used AVG 2012 until it forced installed AVG 2013. Every time I tried to update AVG 2013 I'd get General Error. The after a few days I started to to get General Error in the middle of web surfing. So fed up I went to control panel to tried to REMOVE AVG 2013 4 times - my Control Panel kept freezing and after 4 complete shutdowns I still CAN'T REMOVE AVG 2013 ...Grrrr!!!
DO NOT Install AVG 2013! I repeat DO NOT Install AVG 2013 - it is in fact a virus and can't be removed! SO BEWARE!!!!
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