AVG Antivirus logo on laptop
Photo by Kari Shea on Unsplash

You can never go wrong with free antivirus protection, but some deliver even better detection and protection rates, along with extra security features, without costing a dime. This is where AVG antivirus shines – sharing the spotlight with Avast.

That comparison isn’t just due to both antivirus software offering exceptional security tools for free; AVG and Avast are pretty much one and the same. Back in 2016, Avast acquired AVG. However, despite both products now being under one roof, AVG still thrives as its own service. It has its own paid packages, user interface and features that stand out from Avast, even though they have notable similarities.

So, is there a reason to choose one over the other? Not really, as you’ll find that both AVG and Avast dominate in detection and protection results. It’s a matter of preference, as each antivirus may be more popular in different regions. Either way, you’re still getting one of the best antivirus software around for free – just in different flavours.

AVG is best for…

Pros

  • Great antivirus package for free
  • Superb lab test score
  • Handy bonus features

Cons

  • Scans can take a while
  • Premium promotions

Those looking for a mean and clean antivirus that stops malware and viruses in their tracks – for free.

AVG provides reliable protection and only a small impact on performance for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. It safeguards your devices against malware, viruses and zero-day exploits, along with blocking malicious links and attachments in emails. Throw in phishing protection when surfing the internet and extra security features such as its SafePrice browser extension and Network Inspector, and you’ve got yourself a do-it-all antivirus.

Sure, you can find all of these perks with Avast, but if you like a slick, darker user interface that’s easy to navigate, then AVG is for you.

AVG pricing and subscriptions

AVG offers multiple subscription packages, ranging from its free version to AVG Ultimate, with the latter providing additional perks such as AVG TuneUp, Secure VPN and AntiTrack. Each extra feature is valuable for the all-in-one price, but you’ll be getting the same antivirus detection and protection with the free version.

Its best offering is the AVG AntiVirus Free package, which is available on Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. Mostly because it’s free, but it adds a bundle of features along with its strong antivirus protection. It’s easy to download and works seamlessly with all devices. Like Avast, it comes with the usual security bells and whistles, such as malware and ransomware protection, a (new) firewall), online privacy tools, real-time protection and more. For something that won’t set you back anything, this is a fantastic deal.

AVG Pricing Options

The next step up is AVG Internet Security. It comes with even more protection tools, such as enhanced anti-ransomware and firewall, webcam protection, anti-hacker security to stop threat actors from remotely hijacking your PC and plenty more. This package costs $94.99 NZD for the first year for one Windows PC or one Mac, or $119.99 NZD for the first year for 10 devices, including iOS and Android. However, like with a majority of antivirus providers, there’s always a deal that cuts down these price stickers. Currently, the single-device package is $54.99 NZD for the first year, while the 10-device subscription is $69.99 NZD for the first year. When compared to other antivirus software, that’s a steal.

For example, the Avast One Individual subscription is priced at $140 AUD (around $153 NZD) for the first year. As of writing, however, this price has plummeted to $70.68 AUD (around $76 NZD). That’s for up to five devices, and it’s still slightly pricier than AVG’s 10-device package. For further context, Malwarebytes Premium is $60 NZD per year for one device.

Then there’s AVG Ultimate, which adds a VPN, a PC performance booster and anti-tracking to stop advertisers from tracking you online. This is also available for 10 devices and comes in at $159.99 NZD for the first year. That said, it’s currently $109.99 NZD thanks to a seemingly ongoing deal, so if you’re keen on all these add-ons, then it’s best to get it at this price or lower.

While packages propose fierce competitive pricing (for the first year, that is), if you’re only looking for superb antivirus protection, then the AVG AntiVirus Free download is all you need.

How AVG runs

The best antivirus software are easy to download and even easier to navigate around, and AVG has this down to a tee – with an attractive user interface to boot.

You can download AVG from its official website on any device, whether it’s a free or paid version. During installation, it gives you the option to download the free AVG Secure Browser, which hides from ad trackers, detects malicious websites and blocks ads. It’s good to have this option, even though it’s in small print compared to the big “INSTALL” button.

Once downloaded, AVG brings up a brief guide on what it does, along with the option to upgrade to the Internet Security package. For this review, I stuck with the free version to see how much a user can get out of AVG’s antivirus. After this, it will do a first scan or “Smart Scan”. This only took 15 seconds, and it found two “Advanced issues” on my Windows PC. This included my PC webcam being vulnerable and being open to fake websites. AVG explains the threats in detail, which is great for those unfamiliar with cyber threats. Although, these “Advanced issues” can only be fixed by upgrading to the paid package – clearly a persuasion tactic.

AVG Main Hub

From there, you can toggle options to schedule Smart Scans, and then you’ll be led to the main hub. Like Malwarebytes’ user interface, there are a number of outliers convincing you to upgrade, but otherwise, AVG offers a detailed yet easy-going interface. Tiles tell you if you’re protected, and clicking on them opens a wealth of options. For example, going into Computer brings up AVG’s automatic “core defences,” such as File Shield, which scans files on your PC, and Behavior Shield, which gives you a heads up if an app behaves maliciously. There are even further options for its Ransomware Protection and Network Inspector, where you can protect specific folders and find network issues.

There are also more options for website alerts and email threats. You’ll have to go here to download its Enhanced Firewall, where you can block suspicious apps. Digging deeper into settings, you’ll find even more security tools, including a Do Not Disturb mode and a Data Shredder. It would be nice to have these clearly outlined on the home page, but they aren’t completely out of sight, either. Clearly, what AVG offers for free is fantastic, and its handy antivirus tools are only a few clicks away to use.

AVG Productivity Score

AVG also offers a varied selection of scans, from a Deep Scan to a USB/DVD Scan. While the first scan took no time at all, the deep scan took 23 minutes and 47 seconds. That’s a long time, and while subsequent scans were faster, they still took around 17 minutes. It’s slower than other antivirus software, but it doesn’t stop you from doing other casual activities in the background. To test its performance, I ran a PCMark 10 benchmark before and after installing the antivirus. Initially, my device got an overall score of 4,305. After downloading the antivirus, it scored 4,262. It barely impacted my device’s performance.

All in all, AVG presents a smooth antivirus user interface with a plethora of security tools that are easily accessible. This is especially good, seeing how it’s free.

What can AVG protect you from?

  • Viruses
  • Worms
  • Trojans
  • Malware
  • Ransomware
  • Spyware
  • Zero-day exploits
  • Phishing attacks
  • Malicious websites

AVG lab protection tests

Since AVG and Avast are tightly linked, it comes as no surprise that the former also knocks it out of the park in a majority of lab tests.

Researchers at AV-Comparatives test a number of antivirus services, giving them a score from Standard certification to Advanced+ certification. The latter is awarded to software that goes above and beyond just passing tests, and AVG received six Advanced+ certifications and one Advanced award. It got near-identical results with Avast, and those are great scores to share. It received a perfect 100% protection rate in the real-world protection test, ahead of Malwarebytes (99%) and Bitdefender (99.7%). It also received a 100% online protection rating, a 98.8% online malware detection rate and an impressive 93.9% offline detection rating. Only Avast, G Data and McAfee received the same 100% protection score. In performance impact, AVG received an impact score of 6.2 (the lower, the better). It placed 10th out of 17 antiviruses tested. This is only slightly higher than Avast.

AV-Comparatives Real-World ProtectionOnline Malware ProtectionOnline Detection RateOffline Detection RatePerformance Impact (lower is better)
AVG100%100%98.8%93.9%6.2
Malwarebytes99%99.81%96.9%87.4%7.1
Avast One100%100%98.8%93.9%6.1
Bitdefender99.7%99.98%94.9%94.9%6.6
Norton 36099.9%99.9%99.4%85.7%6.3

As for the AV-Test Institute, AVG got a perfect score, achieving 18 out of 18 points. The researchers score a service based on their protection against malware, impact on a device’s performance, and overall usability. It protected against 100% of zero-day malware attacks, including websites and email threats, and detected 100% of malware discovered in both November and December 2022.

AV-Test InstituteMalware ProtectionMalware DetectionOverall Score
AVG100%100%18/18
Malwarebytes99.2%100%17.5/18
Avast One100%100%18/18
Bitdefender100%100%18/18
Norton 360100%100%18/18

MRG-Effitas puts antivirus software through the wringer with its tests. AVG doesn’t appear on these tests, but seeing as it appears to use the same antivirus engine as Avast, AVG will likely share the same results.

Researchers use a banking Trojan test and throw different types of malware at it. To pass the first test, the antivirus software needs a perfect score, while the malware test offers two scores: Level 1 for blocking every malware and Level 2 for having some malware slip through but being destroyed in 24 hours. Avast failed the banking Trojan test and scored Level 2 in the malware test. Bitdefender, Malwarebytes and Windows Defender received Level 1 certification.

MRG-EffitasBanking Trojan TestMalware Test Certification
AVGFailLevel 2
MalwarebytesPassLevel 1
Avast OneFailLevel 2
BitdefenderPassLevel 1
Norton 360N/AN/A

As expected, AVG performed exceptionally well in lab tests – scoring the same results as Avast. It has a bit more impact than its antivirus sibling, but that difference is so minimal that no one would notice.

AVG personal tests

With AVG being similar to Avast, along with scoring the same lab test scores, I expected my personal tests – which involve using known malware and dodgy websites – to carry out the same results. Of course, my expectations were met. I used a Windows PC for this test.

After executing a malicious file, AVG immediately alerted me that it had blocked a threat. It showed the file name and what it was infected with, along with giving options for what to do next. Similar to Avast, it can be moved to Quarantine, or you can “create exception” if you know the file is harmless. It also details the file path and process of that malicious file, along with how it was detected (in this case, it was the Behavior Shield). You can also copy the Alert ID and send it to the support team if you’re looking for more information about the specific malware.

What’s more, once the threat has been secured, the antivirus will offer to scan your PC, just in case the malicious code has sneakily infected other files.

AVG Malware Block Detailed

This is identical to Avast’s threat detection procedure and alert message. That’s not a bad thing; both show they are fully capable of blocking any potential threat trying to force their way onto a device.

Another sign of AVG and Avast’s similarities came up when I encountered the exact same false positive (when an antivirus unintentionally identifies a program or file as harmful when it isn’t). This was when I was running the PCMark benchmark, and it detected the same file that Avast did. Detecting a harmless file isn’t the worst, and AVG gives users the option to make an exception if they know the file is safe.

I also tested AVG’s anti-phishing capabilities, which should be able to scan a malicious web page for dodgy links and signs of fraud. I launched each link using different browsers, including Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Firefox. AVG could detect and block each site I opened, showcasing that it will protect you even when you mistakenly open a link with malicious code.

AVG Secure Browser

AVG offers a free Secure Browser as part of its antivirus package, and it acts largely similar to Google Chrome, seeing as it’s Chromium-based. Chrome is arguably the most popular browser, so using its template means anyone familiar with Chrome will have an easy time transitioning to AVG’s security-focused browser.

The Secure Browser puts its web-security tools at the forefront, with its Security & Privacy Center offering ten tools to use to stay safe while browsing the web. This includes the Secure Browser VPN, which launches AVG’s Secure VPN if you have it, a Privacy Guard to block ads and trackers, a Web Shield to block fake websites, an Extension Guard to stop untrusted browser extensions, a Privacy Cleaner to quickly clear browser history and more.

AVG Secure browser

A lot of these are turned on by default. While they’re handy to have quick access to without having to delve into settings and clearly explain what they do, it’s not like you can’t find these features on Google Chrome. The Password Manager is just Google’s built-in password manager, Private Mode is just Incognito Mode, and Privacy Cleaner is simply clearing your browsing history, which you can do on pretty much any browser by hitting Ctrl + Shift + Delete.

The Secure Browser is fine if you want easy access to a browser’s security tools, but you can do all this in Chrome anyway. So, what reason is there to go through the trouble of shifting browsers? There really isn’t one.

Verdict

As far as free antivirus software goes, AVG is up there with the best of them. Even its paid packages offer a flurry of handy security tools to use for great prices. That said, you don’t need me to tell you that – the AVG user interface won’t stop telling you all about it.

Regardless, AVG Free AntiVirus is one of the best antivirus software to get. With its user-friendly interface, top-notch detection and protection engine, wealth of bonus features and detailed explainers, AVG is a fantastic way to keep malware and viruses at bay. Yes, it offers nearly exactly what Avast brings to the table in almost every way. But at the end of the day, it’s just a matter of preference: prefer a darker user interface? AVG is the one for you. Stumbled upon AVG first rather than Avast? You’ll be getting the same protection.

However, with Avast One, you do get a free VPN offering 5GB of data per week. That’s an extra perk if you don’t already have one of the best VPNs installed.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
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Darragh Murphy
Darragh Murphy is fascinated by all things bizarre, which usually leads to assorted coverage varying from the mischievous world of online security to washing machines designed for earbuds. Whether it's connecting Scar from The Lion King to two-factor authentication or turning his love for laptops into a fabricated rap battle from 8 Mile, he believes there’s always a quirky spin to be made. When he's not checking out the latest devices and all things tech, he can be found swimming laps, watching terrible shark movies, and trying to find time to game.  Previous Editor at Laptop Mag and News Editor at Time Out Dubai, specialising in food culture, nightlife events, gaming, tech and entertainment.
avg-antivirus-review You can never go wrong with free antivirus protection, but some deliver even better detection and protection rates, along with extra security features, without costing a dime. This is where AVG antivirus shines – sharing the spotlight with Avast. That comparison isn't just due...

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