The secret of AVG

The AVG Anti-Spyware Help file reveals a nifty little secret, for those who love free anti-malware.

There's no doubt that Grisoft's AVG Anti-Spyware 7.5 offers a high level of protection for a reasonably low price. What isn't so well-known is that the program will actually work beyond the 30-day trial limit.

We think. Staff Writer Jason Parker discovered a line in the Help notes of the AVG Anti-Spyware that indicates that only some features will be disabled after 30 days, as opposed to the whole program going kablooey. From day 31 and on, we think users will lose access to the resident shield, the automatic updates and some of the other more advanced functions of the program.

However, the core malware scan-and-remove functionality, and the manual definitions updates, should remain intact. For those who've been looking for a solid, effective and free malware remover, this might be the program you're looking for.

If you haven't used an AVG tool before, they tend to err on the side of powerful, with a good dollop of light-on-your-resources built on a foundation of effectiveness. Anti-Spyware is more complex than its AVG Anti-Virus cousin, and it's not for the casual enthusiast. Besides the Scanner, which offers four levels of scanning plus a fully customizable fifth, the Resident Shield blocked all malicious components we tried to install, and we were impressed with the overall level of security the app provides: there's even a shredder that offers Fast, Secure and Paranoid levels of deletion.

There are more than a few diagnostic tools to manage, from running processes to start-up entries to connections--but the program provides little information as to which items are potentially dangerous. In some cases, the program hogged an inordinate amount of memory when its real-time shield was active. The Analysis tab offers in-depth essential information not only on system processes, but Internet connections, programs running from startup, browser plug-ins and LSPs.

What features remain after the trial is, so far, speculation for us, since the Help file only specifies that the program will revert to being a crippled shell of its former self. As long as you're not using Windows Vista Enterprise, on which the program doesn't run, you should be able to eek out enough functionality out of the app to keep your computer and your peace of mind safe and sound.

If you have a favorite free anti-malware program, tell us about it below in the TalkBack section.