Both product lines continue their separate existence, but the underlying antivirus protection engine is identical, as evidenced by the results from my tests and independent lab tests. Why does the company keep them both? The combined company has a worldwide reach. There’s a certain amount of upsell when you down avg free to down avg free the free antivirus, but it’s much more laid back than that of, for example, Avira Antivirus.
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Both product lines continue their separate existence, but the underlying antivirus protection engine is identical, as evidenced by the results from my tests and independent lab tests. Why does the company keep them both? The combined company has a worldwide reach. There’s a certain amount of upsell when you go to install the free antivirus, but it’s much more laid back than that of, for example, Avira Antivirus. You can choose the free antivirus or start a day free trial of the suite.
With the current product line, AVG Zen is defunct. You install an antivirus, you only get an antivirus, which I like. Also, there isn’t a Pro edition of the basic antivirus. If you click one of the pro-only features in the free antivirus, it suggests you upgrade to the AVG Internet Security – Unlimited suite. The product’s user interface features green and white text on a slate-gray background. It clearly distinguishes free from premium features.
Full protection includes panels for Hacker Attack protection, Privacy, and Payment protection. All three display a lock icon; clicking them invites you to upgrade to AVG’s security suite.
Lab Scores: High and Plentiful You might not realize this, but in most cases antivirus companies pay for the privilege of having products tested by the independent labs. The company does benefit; a high score gives it bragging rights, while if the score is poor, the lab helps the company work through what went wrong.
With a free antivirus that doesn’t bring in any income, a company might be tempted to avoid the expense of testing. Not AVG. I follow four independent testing labs that regularly release reports on their results; all four of them include both AVG and its cousin Avast. The analysts at AV-Comparatives perform a variety of security tests, of which I follow four. With six points possible in each category, the maximum score is 18 points. AVG took six points for usability, meaning it didn’t erroneously flag valid programs or websites as malicious, and six more points for malware protection.
It came close in performance, with 5. Avast precisely matched that score. A total of Trying to come as close as possible to real-world conditions, the experts at SE Labs capture drive-by downloads and other web-based attacks, using a replay system to hit each tested product with the exact same attack.
MRG-Effitas reports its test results a bit differently from the other labs. Products that don’t manage perfect or near-perfect protection simply fail. AVG achieved Level 2 certification in the all-types malware protection test, meaning that it let at least one attacker install, but remediated the problem within 24 hours.
Avast also received Level 2 certification in this test, and it passed the banking Trojans test. Of the products I track, 10 don’t appear in results from any of the labs. AVG and Avast are among the elite 10 that show up in all four lab reports. I use an algorithm that normalizes all the results to a point scale and produces an aggregate score from 0 to The aggregate score of 9.
Bitdefender is at the top, with 10 of 10 points, and Kaspersky runs close behind with 9. Avira made a decent showing, with an aggregate score of 9. For example, AVG could block all access to the malware-hosting URL, or wipe out the malware payload before the download finishes—I’ll discuss those malware protection layers shortly. If a file is already present on your computer, AVG assumes it must have gotten past the earlier protection layers.
To test AVG’s malware-blocking abilities, I opened a folder containing my current collection of malware samples and tried to execute each one.
AVG blocked about three quarters of them immediately, wiping them out so fast it left Windows displaying an error message stating that the file could not be found. It eliminated most of those that did manage to launch before they could fully install. I tested Avast simultaneously, with precisely the same results. Both products detected 89 percent of the samples and scored 8. When tested with my previous malware collection, Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus earned a perfect 10 points. Given that the samples were different, I can’t make a direct comparison with more recent tests, but everyone likes a perfect score.
One of my hand-coded analysis tools proved suspicious; AVG killed the process, triggering a Windows error message. Once AVG exonerated the program, it ran without any interference. Suspicious activity by a few other files merited special scrutiny. AVG displayed a message stating, “Hang on, this file may contain something bad,” and promised an evaluation within 15 seconds. All my hand-coded testing utilities triggered this warning; all three got a clean bill of health.
Avast offers precisely the same protection for unknown and suspicious files. The samples I use for the malware blocking test stay the same for months.
I try to launch each one, recording whether the antivirus blocked access to the URL, vaporized the malware download, or totally missed the boat. AVG blocked access to about 60 percent of the URLs and eliminated almost another 30 percent at the download stage, for a total of 91 percent protection; Avast turned in identical results. That’s pretty good, but quite a few products have done better. Excellent Phishing Protection Phishing websites don’t need fancy coding tricks to infest visitors with malware; instead, they aim to fool the user.
They simply create a convincing imitation of a sensitive site, perhaps a bank, or PayPal, and strew links to that fake site around the Web. Any user who logs in, not realizing it’s a fraud, has just given away a secure account to the fraudsters. If a thousand netizens spot the fraud and just one fecklessly logs in, that’s a win for the bad guys. And when the authorities put the kibosh on the fraudulent site, the fraudsters just pop up another one. I test antiphishing using the very newest phishing sites, preferring ones that haven’t yet been fully analyzed and blacklisted.
I launch each probable phishing URL in four browsers. The product under test protects one of the browsers, naturally. The other three rely on protection built into Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer. Phishing Protection Results Chart Any coder can write a phishing protection module that blocks site found on official blacklists.
The best products use real-time analysis to identify frauds that are too new for the blacklists. AVG clearly has this capability; the company touts its enhanced machine learning and image recognition technologies. In testing, it proved quite effective.
With an impressive 98 percent detection of phishing frauds, AVG joins an elite group with top scores in this test. Bitdefender weighed in with 99 percent, while both Kaspersky and McAfee managed a perfect percent detection. This isn’t the full scan of your entire computer.
Rather, it checks for insecure browser add-ons, runs a fast check for active malware, and scans for performance issues. On my standard clean test system, the scan finished in about five minutes. It reported no malware or browser problems, but it did find some performance issues. Specifically, AVG reported hundreds of broken Registry items, 2GB of “system junk” files, and seven programs slowing down performance. A similar feature in Avast also reports problems, and likewise requires payment to fix them.
Clicking Performance Scan on the page of scan choices got me the same treatment. Avast’s Smart Scan performs those same three security checks, and more. It adds a scan for network security, unpatched security vulnerabilities, and weak passwords. As noted, clicking Scan Computer just scanned the system for active malware.
It must have been very deep; the scan took slightly more than two hours, about the same as the Full Virus Scan in Avast. That’s well over twice the current average of 50 minutes for a full scan. You should run a Deep Scan after installation, to root out any existing malware, but after that the product’s real-time protection should be enough.
You can also choose to scan all removable media, or scan specific files and folders. The Boot-Time Scan isn’t installed until you first choose to run it. This scan aims to wipe out persistent malware that doesn’t yield to the regular antivirus. It does so by launching before Windows does, meaning it launches before any Windows-based malware can defend itself.
You simply select Boot-Time Scan and reboot. Avast offers a very similar feature, though it’s installed by default rather than on first use. If it finds a better deal than the items you’ve selected, it shows what it found. For some sites it also offers coupons. It’s functionally identically to Avast SafePrice. Both Avast and AVG offer a Do Not Disturb mode, which postpones scheduled scans and suppresses notifications when you’re using specified programs.
This is a pretty common feature in modern antivirus programs, but many of them switch into this quiet mode automatically when you launch a full-screen program, without requiring you to make a list. My company contact confirmed that this component no longer installs as part of AVG’s free antivirus. Avast retains its very similar Avast Online Security feature, which marks up dangerous links in search results, actively blocks ad trackers and other trackers, and corrects mistyped URLs to avoid typosquatting attacks.
The final bonus feature is a little hard to spot. Buried in the right-click menu for files and folders, you should find a new item titled Shred using AVG. If you choose this item, AVG overwrites the file’s data before deleting it, thereby foiling any attempt to recover the deleted file’s data.
Very Good Malware Protection
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