AVG Internet Security 8.0 review

Price when reviewed

NOTE: This is a review of AVG’s commercial internet security suite. Click here for our full review of AVG Antivirus Free Edition 8.0

While many security packages are updated to an annual schedule, AVG has been sitting at version seven for more than three years. Over that time it’s evolved from a simple antivirus and firewall bundle into a complete Internet Security package, including an antispam system and web protection. The user interface, however, has remained basically the same – clunky, illogical, and a subject of regular criticism in these pages. It was arguably good enough for a free package (PC Pro readers voted the free edition of AVG Antivirus as 2007’s Software of the Year), but as the front-end to a commercial internet security suite it looked decidedly shabby.

The good news is that version 8 brings a complete overhaul. The grey boxes of old are gone, replaced by a clean, clear blue and white look. Navigation has been drastically simplified, too: everything is brought together in a single control centre, with buttons and options cut down to a practical minimum. Where the old AVG was bewildering even for experienced users, the new version will be pleasingly accessible even to a novice.

It’s simple to use too. Malware detection supports on-access, on-demand and scheduled scanning. A VB100 certification confirms that, as of February, the engine detected 100% of in-the-wild viruses. And against our own more varied selection of malware it identified 22 out of 28 current threats – not a bad score, though we also retested A-List title-holder Kaspersky Internet Security 7.0 with the same malware: it managed 24.

The firewall, meanwhile, uses an automatic multi-profile system, minimising user intervention while ensuring that (for example) public Wi-Fi connections don’t get the same level of trust as connections from within your company LAN. We particularly liked the way it built an initial whitelist of recognised applications by scanning the hard disk during installation; this kept pestering to a minimum, while reducing the opportunity for malware to sneak under the radar in future.

Web protection works in a similar way to McAfee’s SiteAdvisor, warning you when you try to visit a dodgy site and even inserting helpful icons next to web search results, indicating how safe or otherwise the link is. It worked seamlessly, though sometimes we were left waiting upwards of ten seconds for it to scan the remote page before it was able to give us a rating.

The last major feature is the antispam module, which integrates with Outlook, Outlook Express, Windows Mail, Thunderbird and, unexpectedly, The Bat! In use we found it unobtrusive and surprisingly effective without any configuration or training at all – though greater flexibility is there if you want it, as we’ll discuss below.

AVG’s engineers have done a good job on the program’s footprint, too. In our last security suites Labs, we criticised AVG’s memory demands, but the latest version gets the load at boot down to just 93MB. For comparison, Norton takes 115MB and Kaspersky Internet Security eats up over 200MB. It’s not a CPU hog, either – throughout our tests, processor usage never hit 100% for more than a few seconds.


Software subcategory Internet security

Operating system support

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

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