AVG Antivirus Free Edition 8.0 review

AVG Antivirus Free Edition 8.0 incorporates a new LinkScanner feature and sees a major revision of the user interface.

The new UI is something of a relief; in the six years the software has been available, we’ve repeatedly criticised its front-end for its confusing multiple windows and garish designs.

Now all that is gone, replaced by the clean, blue design that debuted last month in the commercial AVG Internet Security Suite 8.0.

As with its paid-for cousin, all the program’s modules can be accessed from one central console. You get the same antivirus and antispyware components as found in the full security suite, making AVG Free a competent, if not quite award-winning, virus detector.

When we tested AVG 8 against a selection of contemporary malware, it identified 22 out of 28 threats, while the A-Listed Kaspersky Antivirus 7 spotted 24.

Naturally, the free version doesn’t have all the commercial product’s features. You don’t get any sort of firewall, nor the anti-spam module, though, as with the previous free edition, the package does integrate with your email client to stop mail-based attacks.

It also includes the new LinkScanner feature, which the company acquired last year when it bought out Exploit Prevention Labs. This browser plug-in integrates with three major internet search engines (Google, Yahoo! and MSN), automatically scanning the pages that are returned as search results and highlighting potentially dangerous links before you click on them.

As reported previously, AVG has told PC Pro that, in the 30 days following the release of AVG 8 Internet Security suite, the LinkScanner module picked up over 88,000 infected websites which had been returned as web search results. The company expects its inclusion in the free version to greatly expand the software’s malware database.

However, keen not to cannibalise sales of its commercial product, AVG has warned that users should still surf cautiously, as the free package does not include the sandboxing feature that tests out unknown code in a secure environment.

The free version also comes with no entitlement to technical support, and – in the package’s only conspicuous piece of pushiness – the optional web toolbar includes a Yahoo! search box which can’t be hidden and a greyed out “Active Surf-Shield” button that tries to upsell you to the full commercial package.

But it’s easy to forgive a few limitations and foibles in a free download. AVG Antivirus Free Edition 8.0 is less intrusive than its free competitor Avira Antivir and certainly more usable than its previous incarnation. And in LinkScanner it offers a genuinely valuable new feature.

If you’re serious about security, it’s worth investing in something more comprehensive, but if all you want is a free, lightweight malware shield, we have no hesitation in recommending AVG.

You can download the new package from the AVG Antivirus Free Edition website.

Details

Software subcategory Internet security

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported? yes
Operating system Windows XP supported? yes

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