Investing in a quality antivirus is essential if you plan on using your devices on the internet in 2019 and beyond. Avast and AVG are two of the biggest options in the antivirus market, and these software have been installed on millions of PCs and mobile devices worldwide.
We’ve talked about both antiviruses extensively in our roundup of the best free antivirus software. Both products are owned and operated by the same company, with Avast buying up the previously independent AVG back in 2016.
To see how these antiviruses siblings perform, we’re going to put them to the test in this head-to-head Avast vs. AVG comparison. If you want to take a look at each antivirus separately, you can look through our Avast Pro review and AVG Antivirus review before you begin reading.
Setting Up a Fight: Avast vs. AVG
Editor’s Note 1/28/2019: A report has surfaced showing that Avast and its subsidiaries collect user browsing data from more than 100 million devices. We cannot, in good faith, recommend Avast or AVG products until we look further into the issue.
Regular Cloudwards.net readers will know the format, but if you’re new, here’s how we approach our comparison reviews. Our comparisons are split into five rounds, covering features, pricing, user-friendliness, antivirus protection and customer service.
We’ll award a point to the winner from each individual round, explaining why we chose that antivirus after each round is complete. The first antivirus to reach three points or more will be the winner. We’ll walk you through our decision making in our final conclusion, too.
We use a mixture of our own testing and the reports from independent security labs to guide our decision making. If you want to disagree or if you have your own thoughts to share, please drop us a comment at the end of this review.
Facing the threats that the ever-growing cybercrime industry brings to the table, it’s simply impossible for security firms to avoid adding new features to make premium antivirus software worth paying for.
With that in mind, and to kick things off, we’re going to run through the features that Avast and AVG offer to customers.
Avast is feature-filled, both on its free plan but also for premium customers. It’s our recommended option for Android users, as we’ve previously suggested in our best antivirus for Android article.
Avast is centered around its antivirus protection, with even its free plan blocking threats like ransomware. To add to your overall network security, however, Avast offers a network scanning tool to search for vulnerabilities and recommend solutions.
Avast Premium customers gain DNS web protection to block phishing, as well as a Sandbox tool that lets you try new (and potentially dangerous) software and test unknown files for infection.
This isolated testing environment generally prevents potential malware from interacting with your PC files and your system, with Avast dealing with any infected files it detects for you. Avast customers can also take advantage of Avast Secure Browser, a custom Avast browser with additional privacy and security features.
Premium subscribers receive additional privacy protection, with a security tool that restricts access to your webcam to stop potential hackers from viewing or recording the feed. Avast also offers encryption for your files to prevent ransomware encryption, as well as a tool to securely delete certain files.
VPN protection is included with the most expensive Avast Ultimate plan, thanks to Avast SecureLine VPN, which our Avast SecureLine VPN review talks about in greater detail. It’s not a top-tier VPN, but it’ll do if you need to access the web while you’re on an insecure network.
Avast Ultimate subscribers gain the use of Avast Passwords, too. This password manager is fine for basic use, but it isn’t a 1Password replacement (see our 1Password review).
Like Avast, AVG is one of the best free antiviruses currently available, with millions of users using it on PCs and Macs across the globe, but it offers a good selection of features for “premium” customers.
AVG comes with basic antivirus protection as standard, with the usual protection for malware mixed with some uncommon features, such as email attachment scanning. There’s also an AVG-branded browser you can install during the installation process.
AVG Secure Browser (as the browser is called) is exactly the same as Avast Secure Browser, thanks to the AVG-Avast tie-up. It uses the same base as Google Chrome, so much of the user interface will be similar, but with privacy protection, ad-blocking and a password manager built in.
If you subscribe to a premium AVG plan, you’ll gain protection for your webcam to stop snoopers, additional ransomware protection, a file shredder to erase sensitive files and a beefed-up system firewall. There’s also phishing protection, thanks to extra DNS security.
With the top-tier AVG Ultimate subscription, you’ll gain access to some additional products, such as AVG TuneUp. This is similar to Avast’s subscription model, where various products are combined to make a single security suite.
AVG TuneUp is similar to Avira System Speedup Pro and Software Updater Pro, with tools to remove temporary files, improve system settings and automatically update insecure software (see our Avira review).
AVG doesn’t include TuneUp with its plans, but you can also take out an additional AVG Secure VPN subscription. Similar to Secure Browser, Secure VPN is Avast’s SecureLine VPN but rebranded for AVG customers.
It’s an okay product to access Netflix on the go, but you’d be better off with another provider from our best VPN for Netflix shortlist, such as NordVPN (see our NordVPN review).
Round One Thoughts
The feature lineup from both Avast and AVG are pretty similar. Some features, like Secure Browser, are shared, but Avast does offer a few extra features for premium customers, like Avast Sandbox, making it the winner of this first round.
Most premium antivirus products require an upfront annual fee. If you’re locking yourself into an antivirus product for a year or longer, you want to make sure it’s worth the cost. Let’s look at how Avast and AVG are priced so we can judge their affordability and value for money.
Avast currently has three product plans, with Avast Free as a plan in its own right. Avast Free comes with Avast protection as standard, as well as a few surprising extras, such as a basic password manager and a network scanner.
- One to 10 PCs, WiFi security
- One to 10 PCs, Phishing protection, Sandbox
- One to 10 PCs, Webcam protection
- One to 10 PCs, Avast Cleanup
Avast Premium Security is the first “premium” plan from Avast, although it’s technically a plan that’s split into two halves. Premium Security Single-Device provides antivirus protection for one Windows PC at $69.99 per year, along with Avast antivirus protection, email and phishing protection, the Sandbox test tool and file encryption against malware.
Avast Premium Security Multi-Device is required if you want to protect more than one device. It includes the same features as Single-Device, but expands them to 10 devices, including support for Android and Mac, at $89.99 per year.
At the top of the product list is Avast Ultimate. It’s $99.99 per year, with Avast SecureLine VPN and Avast Passwords included. Strangely enough, though, it only supports one Windows PC, which is a step backward compared to Premium Security Multi-Device.
For most customers, Avast Premium Multi-Device is the best plan, unless you’re desperate to use Avast’s additional VPN and password manager.
AVG’s price plan is similar to Avast’s, with three plans for customers, including AVG Free for non-paying users. There’s also a separate AVG antivirus product for Mac users, offered for free with fewer features. Most AVG products center around Windows protection.
- Basic antivirus, Ransomware protection, Browser monitoring, PC performance tuneup, Windows only
- Encrypted folders, Webcam protection, Enhanced firewall, Windows & Android, Unlimited devices
- Live chat & phone support, Advanced antivirus & PC tuneup package, Windows, macOS & Android, Unlimited devices
Unlike Avast, which only offers unlimited device coverage on a single plan, AVG bests its parent company by offering coverage for unlimited devices across all of its plans.
At $79.99 per year, AVG’s first premium product, AVG Internet Security, isn’t cheap. It comes with antivirus protection, webcam blocking, spam protection, mobile protection for Android devices, a network firewall and custom file encryption to block ransomware attacks.
The most expensive product in the AVG lineup is AVG Ultimate, which costs $20 extra than AVG Internet Security. Technically, though, it’s two products in one, with AVG Internet Security features being combined with AVG TuneUp, the $50 system-optimization tool for removing junk files and updating your outdated software.
A few AVG products require a separate subscription, such as AVG Secure VPN. With this in mind, give AVG Secure VPN a miss and look through our VPN reviews for an alternative. However, as we’ve mentioned, you’d be hard pressed to find a better alternative than NordVPN or ExpressVPN.
Round Two Thoughts
With one free and two premium plans (and an extra free product for Mac users), AVG’s pricing structure is pretty simple, with a generous offering of unlimited device coverage to sweeten the deal.
In contrast, Avast’s price plans are a little confusing. With two plans with similar names, and the most expensive plan covering fewer devices than the plan immediately before it, Avast really needs to look at its subsidiary for ideas on how to structure its own products. With this in mind, although the prices are broadly similar, AVG is the winner here, for clarity.
3. User Friendliness
We have three winning factors when we review an antivirus for user-friendliness: its simplicity and speed, as well as how easy it is for most users to install and use. We’ll be using these factors to take a closer look at how user-friendly AVG and Avast are.
Avast has a beginner-friendly installer that sets the gold standard for antivirus installations. It requires little input unless you want to customize the installer before it begins.
Once Avast is installed, it will run through a few things, such as a quick antivirus scan and a check for outdated software. It’ll update any old software it finds, with your approval.
Once installed, Avast’s client is a pleasure to use. It’s simple to navigate, with a dark color scheme that draws your focus to the most important prompts and icons. Less crucial features are hidden in the left-side menu.
Avast doesn’t bog you down in hundreds of categories, instead offering only four. For instance, “protection” will display your antivirus options and network protection, along with the Sandbox mode. Avast includes a helpful description that explains the purpose of each feature next to it.
Customizing Avast is simple; just access Avast’s settings through the menu, available in the top-right of the client.
We’ve mentioned in the past how we dislike Avast’s attempts to “upsell” products through its own client. This hasn’t changed, unfortunately, as products that aren’t included in cheaper Avast product subscriptions remain in the client. Clicking on these takes you to a checkout page for a more expensive subscription.
This could prove to be confusing, especially for new customers. If you’re planning on using Avast, be sure to watch out for this after installing the client.
With an ultimately tiny 1MB installer file, AVG is one of the quickest antiviruses to install. It even beats Webroot SecureAnywhere’s 5MB installer file and matches the installation time of two minutes (see our earlier Webroot SecureAnywhere review).
Like Avast, AVG offers two installation options, with a quick install to use the default AVG settings or a customized installation method where you can select which features you want to enable before the installation even begins.
Once installed, AVG has a neat client that’s as simple as possible to use, with five sections separating your features. The “computer” section offers you access to your antivirus protection, while “payments” include your secure browser and privacy protection features.
If you want to start an antivirus scan, AVG offers six preset options, from quick scans while your PC is running, to boot scans for heavy malware infections. These can be accessed by clicking the gear icon next to the “scan computer” button on the main screen.
Sections in AVG are laid out in a horizontal menu of buttons on the main client screen. You can customize these from the settings menu, which you can access from the AVG menu in the top-right of the client.
The level of customization in AVG is good, with useful descriptions explaining complex features. You can customize everything, from the AVG client appearance to the individual settings for each feature, including the sensitivity of your AVG antivirus protection.
Round Three Thoughts
Avast and AVG both follow the best standards of the industry when it comes to user-friendliness. Both clients are easy to use and install, and they offer extensive customization, although we’re not fans of Avast’s upselling technique on cheaper plans. Despite this, there’s no clear winner between the two, making this round a draw.
If you’ve skim-read the other sections of this comparison review, it’s time to focus, as protection is the most important element of any antivirus software. Features, pricing and user-friendliness are good to consider, but if the protection is trash, the product is trash — period.
With that in mind, we’re going to use the independent reports from three unaffiliated security testing labs to look at the protection Avast and AVG offer to customers.
During AV-Test’s July-August 2019 test, Avast did extremely well, with a score of 6 out of 6 for protection and 5.5 out of 6 for performance. The performance score, in particular, was slightly lower than the recorded industry average.
An acceptable — although not perfect — protection score was recorded in AV-Comparatives’ February-May 2019 protection test, with 746 out of 752 test samples blocked by Avast during testing.
This overall success rate of 99.2 could only be matched by AVG during this test, but it was enough for the lab to award Avast the AV-Comparatives’ “Advanced” award for the quality of protection. It also awarded Avast with the highest-level “Advanced+” award for performance, with a middle-table score in AV-Comparatives’ April 2019 performance test.
MRG Effitas focused on Avast’s business-level protection during the latest Q2 2019 protection testing, but unfortunately this score was extremely poor, with more than four percent of the 398 samples missed.
The poor score was enough for MRG Effitas to declare that Avast failed the test entirely. Although business protection differs from consumer protection, it’s not a score that can be ignored. Outside of Avast, only McAfee failed MRG Effitas’ testing (see our McAfee Total Protection review).
Matching Avast, AV-Test’s latest July-August 2019 protection test saw AVG score 6 out of 6 for protection, with 99.5 percent protection scores reported in July and 100 percent reported in August. For performance, AVG received a 5.5 out of 6.
During AV-Comparatives’ February-May 2019 protection test, AVG stopped 746 malware samples out of a total 752, with six failures and an overall success rate of 99.2 percent.
Again, this also matched Avast’s score for this period. It’s important to note that AVG and Avast share technology, so this matching score is unsurprising.
In MRG Effitas’ Q2 2019 malware testing, AVG wasn’t tested at all. We’ve already talked about Avast’s score in the previous section, so we’ll skip this lab report for AVG.
Round Four Thoughts
Avast and AVG share the same antivirus scanning engine, so equal scores from both providers shouldn’t be a shock. Both antiviruses did well, although a bad score for Avast’s business protection in MRG Effitas’ testing could be a cause for concern. With equal scores, however, AVG and Avast are equal winners of this round — it’s a draw.
Last but not least, this final round is going to cover the customer support methods both Avast and AVG offer to customers, as well as the quality of support you’re likely to receive.
Paying Avast customers — including those using a free 30-day premium trial — are the only ones who can receive direct support.
Direct support methods include a ticketing system and a premium support line, which is available 24/7 for customers. There’s a knowledgebase on the site, with sections for individual Avast products that cover basic issues, such as how to install the product.
There’s also a customer forum with more than a million posts. The forum is separated by language and product, where you can ask questions and receive support from Avast staff and other Avast customers. You can search through the posts to look for answers.
If you have a problem that can’t be solved, however, you can pay for Avast Total Care technical support.
This premium support includes direct, remote desktop support from Avast agents to resolve issues and infections. This expensive option can cost you either $79 or $119 per call, depending on how complex the fix is, or a whopping $199 per year for unlimited help.
AVG support methods are extensive, with a live chat for customers, an email ticketing system for more detailed queries and three 24/7 phone support lines based in the UK, Australia and the U.S.
A limited FAQ is available online, with questions separated by individual products, along with support guides to help you install (or remove) AVG products or change your plan. You’ll find the support forum for customers a better resource.
The forum is sorted by the most recent posts, but you can look through different sections on various topics and products. If you need additional support, then (like Avast), you can pay for it.
The $199 per year cost for AVG Total Care matches Avast’s offering and, like Avast, we’re recommending that most users don’t even consider it.
Round Five Thoughts
With 24/7 phone support and live chat available, Avast and AVG technical support is certainly good for customers who need extra help. The expensive price for direct technical support is a bit of a mark against the company, but you’re not obligated to pay for it. Given the equal level of support from both AVG and Avast, it’s a draw here.
6. Final Thoughts
In many ways, AVG and Avast are almost the same product, with rebranded features and support methods available to customers of both products. It’s no surprise, then, to find that this comparison ends in a dead heat.
Avast wins on features with a few extras, such as the included Sandbox, that AVG doesn’t offer. However, it has a confusing pricing structure compared to its baby brother, AVG. Still, Avast is the winner of this Avast vs. AVG match-up.
Bitdefender remains the best antivirus software in the market today, though, as our Bitdefender review explains. You can also take a look at our previous Bitdefender vs. Avast comparison review for a look at how Avast performs against it.
Whether you’re a fan of AVG or Avast, let us know your thoughts on both products in the comments below. For further product reviews and comparisons, take a look through our other antivirus articles. Thanks for reading.