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AVG Internet Security wants to convince you that an antimalware security suite is worth paying for, in a climate where free options from Avast (Windows, Mac), Avira (Windows, Mac), and AVG itself (Windows, Mac) are just a few clicks away. It's also priced to contend with the big dogs at McAfee (Windows), Norton (Windows) and Kaspersky (Windows, Mac). Let's see if Internet Security can separate itself from the pack.
The interface is clean and fairly easy to navigate: AVG's main window tells you at a glance what every component of the suite does, in plain English. The main menu is clearly labeled, there's a back button in the upper left that takes you back to the previous window, and you can set up specific types of malware scans in just a few clicks, starting with the gear icon next to the big Scan Computer button near the bottom.
A wealth of options under the hood: AVG might look basic on the surface, but clicking the Menu button and selecting Settings opens up a layer cake of toggles and sliders. Clicking the question mark icon in the upper right opens up a window that explains each setting in detail, without overwhelming you with technical jargon or marketing-speak.
The installer could be more attentive: When choosing the custom installation route, you're given the option to change your browser's home page, new tab page, and search engine to one recommended by AVG. If you decline this offer, the installer still adds an "AVG Web TuneUp" browser extension that empowers itself to make these changes anyway. (And between Firefox and Chrome, only the latter articulates what the add-on can do; Firefox just tells you that program X wants to install browser add-on Y.)
A surprising amount of upsell for a premium product: At $70 for an annual subscription, AVG Internet Security wants to live on the same block as Norton, McAfee, or Kaspersky. But by throwing several sales pitches into the interface, the user experience loses some luster.
For example, you can't do a regular malware scan without the application suggesting you download a trial of a program called "AVG PC TuneUp," which turns out to cost another $50 a year. CCleaner appears to be able to perform the bulk of PC TuneUp tasks for free. The TuneUp tool can check for updates to other apps installed on your PC while CCleaner does not, but this update check is frequently bundled into other antimalware suites at no extra cost. Spending $120 a year total to close the gap is a tough sell.
AVG Internet Security performs its basic antimalware protection competently, according to independent labs like AV-Test and AV-Comparatives. And there's plenty of behavior explanation and customization. However, comparably priced alternatives are less aggressive about selling additional services and installing add-ons in your Web browser. In a product category as competitive as this one, Internet Security comes off a little pushy.