AVG AntiVirus Free is one of the most popular free antivirus programs, offering basic protection against malware. But is the free version any good, or should you pay for premium antivirus software? This in-depth guide examines the pros, cons, privacy, and alternatives to help you decide.
Brief Background on AVG
AVG Technologies is a Czech cybersecurity company founded in 1990. Their AntiVirus product, now known as AVG AntiVirus FREE, has been available at no cost for home users since 1998.
The free version provides real-time protection against viruses, spyware, ransomware, and other threats. It works on Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. Over 200 million people use AVG‘s free and paid antivirus products.
Pros of AVG AntiVirus Free
Good malware protection for a free product
Independent testing labs like AV-Test consistently give AVG Free high marks for protecting against widespread viruses and zero-day threats. In protection tests, it scores nearly as high as premium antivirus suites from Norton, McAfee, and others.
While not flawless, AVG Free successfully blocks the majority of malware samples. And its real-time scanner can detect and halt new threats before they impact your computer.
Many users report AVG Free has little impact on system speed and performance. It uses minimal computing resources while idle.
Gaming PCs also see little slow down during gameplay. The lightweight design makes it suitable for older computers.
The AVG dashboard is clean and intuitive. With just a few clicks, you can run scans, view protection history, and change preferences. Less tech-savvy users can easily operate the basic features.
Cons of AVG AntiVirus Free
Lacks advanced features
AVG Free focuses solely on malware protection. Unlike paid suites, it doesn‘t include a firewall, tunable spam filter, password manager, PC optimizer, or other extras.
It protects your system from external threats, but won‘t optimize or improve performance. And it provides no protections when using public Wi-Fi.
More false positives than premium competitors
AVG occasionally misidentifies safe files as malware. These "false positives" are annoying but easy to fix by adding exceptions.
Still, premium antivirus engines like Bitdefender and Norton offer better accuracy. And AVG Free lacks options to customize the scanning sensitivity.
You have few options to tweak preferences or turn specific shields on/off. Scheduling scans is also more difficult than with premium software.
Too many ads and upsells
AVG frequently nags you to upgrade to the paid edition. Expect popups pushing premium features and annual subscription offers. The constant advertisements are frustrating.
How AVG Free Compares to Other Top Free Antivirus Programs
|Antivirus||Malware Protection||System Impact||Interface||Features|
|AVG AntiVirus FREE||Very Good||Low||Good||Basic|
|Avast Free Antivirus||Very Good||Low||Excellent||Basic|
|Bitdefender Antivirus Free||Excellent||Very Low||Good||Basic|
|Windows Defender||Very Good||Minimal||Simple||Basic|
AVG, Avast, and Bitdefender are about even on malware protection. But Bitdefender has the least system impact followed by Windows Defender.
Avast has the most polished interface with plenty of customizable scans and shields. Windows Defender has the least amount of configurable options.
Overall for free antivirus, Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition wins as the best free antivirus software because of its near-perfect malware protection and extremely low resource usage. But AVG and Avast are solid choices too.
Independent Lab Testing & Reviews
Here‘s how AVG Free stacks up against the competition in lab tests by organizations like AV-Test and AV-Comparatives:
Protection against zero-day malware attacks: AVG received a 6 out of 6 from AV-Test, indicating excellent defense against new and unknown threats. It matches Bitdefender and outperforms Avast and Windows Defender.
Impact on system performance: In AV-Comparatives testing, AVG had a medium impact on system speed, putting it on par with Avast but slightly below Bitdefender. Windows Defender continues to have the least impact.
Detection of widespread and prevalent malware: AVG receives consistently high marks here, but still falls slightly short of premium suites like Norton in terms of overall detection rates. Around 99% is common for AVG.
The consensus among reviewers is AVG Free provides reliably good malware protection that‘s suitable enough for many users. But antivirus engines from Bitdefender and Kaspersky score a little higher in detection rates.
Privacy Concerns & Data Collection
- They share data with third-party advertisers to serve targeted promotions.
- Your search terms may be collected when using AVG‘s Chrome extension.
- Browsing history data is stored but not personally identifiable.
- Your email address is required to use their free antivirus software.
AVG collects more usage data than some competitors like Windows Defender and Bitdefender. But less than Avast, which faced a huge backlash over privacy violations.
Tips for Using AVG AntiVirus Free Safely & Effectively
Turn off browser extensions like SafePrice and AntiTrack for better privacy. They collect browsing data.
Disable the Email Scanner under Active Protection to prevent sending data to AVG‘s servers. But you lose email malware protection.
Uninstall using AVG‘s official Remover tool to delete all leftover files and registry entries.
Periodically scan with a second opinion tool like Malwarebytes to catch anything your main antivirus misses.
Never upgrade via popups as they may install unwanted programs. Only upgrade directly through your AVG account.
Use a firewall like Windows Firewall or ZoneAlarm to protect your Internet traffic, since AVG Free lacks one.
When Does it Make Sense to Upgrade?
For most home users, the free version is good enough for solid antivirus protection. But you may want to upgrade to a premium plan like AVG Internet Security if you:
Need complete internet/network protection when using public Wi-Fi or sending financial data.
Find malicious links slip past AVG‘s browser add-on into your email or feeds.
Desire extra features like a password manager, file shredder, firewall customization, etc.
Are dealing with malware that the free version cannot successfully remove.
Want increased control over scans and system impact.
Need support from AVG‘s technical experts to help solve an infection.
If you rely on your computer for work or other important activities, the extra investment into a robust security suite makes sense. But regular home usage is fine for AVG Free.
What are the Alternatives to Upgrading to Paid AVG?
Rather than spend money upgrading to AVG Internet Security or other paid suites, consider:
Bitdefender Antivirus Free for even better protection and performance. No ads.
Malwarebytes Premium to complement AVG‘s shields with on-demand scanning and malware removal. Also protects your internet traffic.
Windows Firewall is suitable enough for basic inbound/outbound firewall protection if needed. Less configurable but gets the job done for free.
Other dedicated tools like ZoneAlarm can supplement AVG‘s weaknesses like online banking protection. Lets you spend money only on features you need.
How to Completely Uninstall and Remove AVG
It‘s important to fully delete AVG using their official removal tool before switching to another antivirus program. Here are the steps:
Download the AVG Remover from avg.com/uninstall.
Close all open AVG windows and modules before running the tool.
Launch the AVG Remover and follow the prompts to uninstall.
Restart your computer when complete. The remover will delete all files, settings, and registry entries.
Scan with another antivirus program like Malwarebytes to check for leftover traces.
Install your new antivirus software.
Following this process avoids conflicts and ensures AVG is fully removed from your system.
The Verdict: AVG Free is Good Enough for Most
While more advanced users will want premium software with extra features and customization, AVG AntiVirus Free is perfectly suitable for everyday home usage.
It provides comprehensive real-time malware protection and has little impact on system performance. The interface is intuitive and lets you quickly scan files, view reports, and adjust preferences.
Downsides like a lack of internet security, too many ads, and susceptibility to false positives keep it from topping the free antivirus rankings.
But for casual users who practice basic online safety, AVG Free gets the job done. And its high malware detection rates mean your sensitive data and identity remain protected from cyber attacks. Just don‘t expect many extras or a pristine user experience.
Overall, AVG AntiVirus Free lives up to its promises of basic antivirus protection at no cost. For many, it‘s good enough to keep their devices and data safe. But premium software like Bitdefender remains a superior choice for those who demand rigorous security and robust features.