Probably one of the most popular free plans on the antivirus market, AVG also has a perfectly affordable three-year plan. However, some security and usability concerns keep it from running with the top dogs, check out our AVG review to find out exactly what these are.
Free plan available
AVG is a security-conscious and affordable antivirus that earns its spot on our best antivirus software list. While not as secure as other options, it comes close, and the powerful interface is enough to account for that shortcoming.
In this AVG review, we’ll use lab results and hands-on testing to gauge how well it performs in the real world. We’ll look at and discuss features, pricing, user-friendliness, protection and support before giving our verdict.
Since Avast’s acquisition of AVG in 2016, the two antiviruses have become similar. While they share the same infrastructure and protection methods, we like AVG’s feature set and interface more overall.
- Powerful interface
- Easy to use
- Unlimited devices
- Strong lab results
- Lots of features
- Monthly plan
- Confusing knowledgebase
- Complex support system
AVG has a generous free offering that provides basic protection against malware. It also provides ransomware protection, a feature that many antiviruses hide behind a paywall. Additional protection measures, such as download monitoring and email protection, are included, as well.
AVG’s Secure Browser is included with each install. This Avast Secure Browser clone mimics the look and feel of Google Chrome with a list of built-in extensions. Of the list, the password manager, ad blocker and privacy cleaner are our favorites.
We like Secure Browser a lot, which isn’t surprising since it’s the same as Avast’s offering. We still don’t like the lack of Google integration or default Yahoo search engine, though. Overall, it’s better than Internet Explorer and Firefox, but not as nice as Chrome. If security is a concern for you, make sure to check out our guide to the most secure web browsers.
The built-in password manager isn’t on the level of Dashlane, our best password manager (read our Dashlane review). It’s the same as Chrome’s built-in password manager, that is to say, it’s basic. It gets the job done, but we recommend something with more heft.
AVG’s Paid Features
AVG’s feature set kicks in with Internet Security. You’re getting the same basic protection as AVG Free, along with measures including a firewall, webcam protection and file encryption. It also includes Android protection if you want to protect your mobile device.
AVG Ultimate combines two products: Internet Security and TuneUp. It’s the only addition to the feature set, but TuneUp is worth the premium. It’ll clean your machine of extraneous files, find applications that are slowing performance and help identify disk errors.
While not included, AVG offers its virtual private network, Secure VPN, as a privacy tool. It’s the same as Avast’s SecureLine VPN, which is decent, but unimpressive given the price. You can read our Avast SecureLine VPN review to learn more or check out a beefier service such as ExpressVPN.
AVG Features Overview
1-year plan $ 5.83/ month
$69.99 billed every year
1-year plan $ 8.33/ month
$99.99 billed every year
AVG has a no-nonsense three-plan lineup that we like a lot. Paid plans are expensive, but so is functionality. Any paying customer has access to an unlimited number of devices, along with all the premium security features we’d expect from an antivirus suite.
That’s not to say the free plan doesn’t have merit. AVG has an excellent free offering, complete with real-time protection and advanced scan settings. It has a small tuneup package and ransomware protection, as well, making it better than Avast Free (read our Avast Pro review).
If you’ve used Avast before, AVG will feel shockingly familiar. Avast acquired AVG in 2016 for $1.3 billion. Both platforms run on the Avast security network but maintain separate features. Avast offers Wi-Fi Inspector on its free plan, while AVG offers a small tuneup package. Overall, both are excellent.
Internet Security feels like a bonafide antivirus package. You get webcam protection, an enhanced firewall and the option to encrypt folders for an extra layer of ransomware protection, but we like that you can use an unlimited number of devices most.
Kaspersky Internet Security, for example, is $15 cheaper, but is limited to five devices. As long as the “apple” refers to a fruit in your household, all your devices will be protected under AVG’s plan. Kaspersky is an excellent antivirus in its own right, though, as you can read in our Kaspersky Antivirus review.
Ultimate is Internet Security and AVG TuneUp combined. The plan supports an unlimited number of devices on Windows, macOS and Android and comes with an advanced suite of performance optimization tools.
It’s great value considering that TuneUp alone costs $49.99 per year. At AVG’s rate, it’s competing with McAfee Total Protection, a competent antivirus that restricts you to 10 devices. You can read our McAfee Total Protection review for more on that service.
Extras like AVG Secure VPN are available at a premium, but that doesn’t bother us much. Bundled password managers and VPNs have made us cynical about complete antivirus bundles, especially in the case of Panda Security. Make sure to read our Panda Security review for its excellent lab results, though.
AVG has a robust installer. The tiny, 8MB package completes its installation in under a minute for a lightweight install that’s not quite on the level of Webroot (read our Webroot SecureAnywhere review).
What’s surprising about the install is that you can tweak it to fit your needs. AVG gives you control over what modules are installed and offers presets to help get you started. You can go lightweight and just install basic protection or do a more muscular package including features such as webcam protection.
You’ll want to pay attention to the boxes on the main install window, though. That’s where you can control if AVG Secure Browser installs and whether you want it to be your default browser in Windows.
Once completed, you’ll land in the AVG interface, which is one of the best we’ve seen. It’s comprised of your system status, five modules for different areas of protection and a large, green button to begin a scan. Clicking on the gear icon next to that button will bring up the scan settings.
There are six scanning presets, a surprising level of versatility compared to the most expensive antiviruses on the market. They include a basic system sweep, deep scan for hidden malware, targeted file or folder scan, performance scan, boot scan and USB scan.
Performance scans use AVG TuneUp to clean your machine. It’ll go through registry issues, broken shortcuts, system cache and more to delete unnecessary files. You can download and use it for free, but a full license costs $49.99 annually. It cleared 11GB of data on our test machine.
Other scan settings can be fine-tuned to a surprising degree. You can click on any of the six icons to begin a scan or use the gear icon in the upper left corner to customize that particular scan. You can set custom scan areas on a deep scan, for example, as well as how AVG recognizes file types.
You don’t have to, though, and that’s what makes AVG’s interface excellent. It’s intuitive and responsive, giving you significant control over your settings while maintaining a clean aesthetic. Despite Avast buying AVG, and the two interfaces looking similar, we like AVG’s level of power more.
We like scanning performance as well. We ran a deep scan and only noticed, at most, a 5 percent increase in CPU utilization over idle. Drives were pinned as expected, but you can run a scan in the background without noticeable performance degradation.
Even with all those settings, we’ve only covered one aspect of AVG’s interface. The five tabs in the main window control all areas outside of the antivirus, including behavior monitoring, webcam protection and the anti-spam shield. Each of the tabs holds a couple of sliders, too, so it doesn’t become overwhelming.
More intensive settings can be found by opening the menu and clicking on “settings.” Basic controls such as checking for updates are there, but we’re more interested in the customization options.
AVG gives you control over every aspect of protection. You can manage pop-up duration, set passwords to access the antivirus and customize your privacy. AVG’s components-based approach shines here, as well, with settings for each area of the antivirus.
AVG, by far, has our favorite antivirus interface. There’s more power and usability than other options and the level of control it gives you without sacrificing user-friendliness is a marvel.
We compare our hands on testing to lab results to rate an antivirus for protection. Our tests include established testing tools, not malware found in the wild. Because of that, we lean more on the labs when evaluating the protection of a particular antivirus.
Starting with Anti-Malware Testing Standards Organization’s feature settings check for desktop antiviruses, AVG gets poor scores. Of the six tests, AVG blocked half. It failed download of a potentially unwanted application, a drive-by download and a phishing page.
The drive-by downloaded completed but was removed a few moments after living on our desktop. The PUA did not only make it to our machine, but it was able to execute. AVG removed the file when we manually scanned it, but that should have been done already.
That’s a small, but significant, difference. Other antiviruses block the page without indicating that they’re doing so. The function is the same, but that small window telling you that AVG has it covered gives peace of mind.
Lab results were excellent across the board. AV-Test observed 100 percent blockage of zero-day malware and widespread malware in its May assessment. June had problems, though. AVG blocked 100 percent of widespread malware, but only 98.3 percent of zero-day attacks.
For a stronger reference point, we went through AV-Test’s archives and found similar results dating back to the beginning of the year. It was 100 percent effective in all tests ran during January and February, while only 99 percent effective between March and April.
The May and June tests awarded AVG 17.5 out of 18 points, the half-point deduction made for lackluster protection rates in June.. Performance and usability received perfect scores.
AV-Comparatives awarded it three out of three stars and an advanced+ rating, the highest possible. AVG blocked an average of 99.4 percent of samples in tests ran between February and June. Performance was excellent, as well, with AV-Comparatives awarding AVG an advanced+ rating in that category, too.
MRG Effitas awarded it a Level 2 certification in its Q1 2018 full spectrum analysis, meaning AVG blocked at least 98 percent of threats. It, unsurprisingly, had similar results to Avast in all tests.
Going through MRG Effitas’s data, we found that AVG didn’t miss. In most cases, the threat was removed within 24 hours, with that slight amount of time accounting for AVG’s second tier certification. For an antivirus that recieved a Level 1 certification, check out our Bitdefender Antivirus review.
AVG offers phone and live chat support, along with a knowledgebase and forum. We like the forum the best for its active community, but the knowledgebase and direct contact options are good on their own.
The knowledgebase is split by operating system and then by product. There isn’t unnecessary overlap, though. For example, articles concerning Internet Security are found in the Windows product tab, even though that plan supports Android devices.
Articles are skimpy, though. Each product has a list of topics ranging from installing to canceling an AVG subscription. The real support is found by using the FAQ for your product. There, you’ll find a list of collapsable topics concerning your particular product, covering everything from feature definitions to troubleshooting.
The forum is split by product, as well, though there’s an option to view all topics. As with many community forums, there are more topics than replies, at least for billing and basic technical support. Threads concerning viruses and threats have more interaction.
By default, the forum is organized by the most recent reply, but you can sort posts however you’d like. That makes navigating the forums much easier, especially if you just want to browse the list of recent topics.
Underneath the article list for any product, you’ll find a button labeled “get more help.” This is where you can contact the support staff and, like Avast, AVG has a confusing system. Free users only get email support, while paying members get live chat and phone support.
AVG has a seperate number for premium tech support. It’s a 24/7 remote support solution where AVG staff can help set up products and remove viruses from your machine. We recommend you spend time learning how to remove viruses yourself, though, as a year of premium support runs $200.
There are two things that set AVG apart from the rest of the market: an excellent user experience and unlimited device count. The feature set and protection scores are good, as well, but they’re not as impressive.
AVG isn’t the pinnacle of protection, though. It has good results overall and, in most cases, you shouldn’t be vulnerable to exploits. It ranks below options like Bitdefender, though, if only by a single percentage point.
In the grand scheme of things, there’s little to complain about. There’s no harm in downloading AVG for yourself and trying it. If you want to shop around, make sure to read our other antivirus reviews.
Let us know your thoughts on AVG in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.