AVG Internet Security 7.5 review

Price when reviewed
This is the first time Grisoft, maker of just about the best free anti-virus application, AVG Free, has entered the security-suite market. And, it has to be said, it shows as far as the user interface is concerned. Don’t expect the all-on-one-screen compactness of F-Secure or the at-a-glance simplicity of Norton. Expect both, on different screens, which is where the problem lies. There are just too many windows (Control Center, Test Center, Virus Vault) often open at the same time, taking up screen estate and confusing the user. We’d much prefer to see some consistency and integration as far as the interface is concerned.

Where AVG scores highly is in the flexible licensing options, with one- or two-year licences for up to five computers: for example, a one-year, three-computer version is £54. Support is also excellent, via an office-hours UK-based telephone team, although the 24/7 email support is the usual centralised affair.

What you also get is proven AVG anti-virus technology wrapped up with anti-spyware, anti-spam and a firewall (no parental controls or anti-phishing protection, though). The updates are automatic, and resource consumption was among the lowest we’ve seen for a security suite, so if you’re running on an older computer this could be a key differentiator – although scanning times were very slow. The suite footprint is also minimal, requiring just 70MB of hard disk space and 64MB of memory.

Email scanning covers both anti-virus and spam, although we found the spam filtering to be less effective than either the McAfee or F-Secure suites and more difficult to use. Spam is flagged as such, but you have to create your own client rules to move them to a spam mailbox or delete them. We’d suggest the latter, as in our extensive testing AVG didn’t return a single false positive out of 3,000 emails scanned. A highly impressive result – had it not let 540 (18%) spam emails through.

Anti-spyware performance wasn’t overly impressive on our heavily infested test system, having difficulty removing many threats, and resulting in an overload of never-ending pop-up windows. On our clean system, however, it was much better at keeping out new threats. That makes it a good choice if you know your computer is malware-free before installation.

But the firewall lets this suite down. There’s no plain-English guidance to what’s happening when an application attempts an internet connection, no visual clue as to how safe or otherwise it may be, or even what’s making the attempt – just the full path to the application itself and the remote address it wants to access. It’s a far cry from the detail-rich ZoneAlarm or silent Norton, and almost guaranteed to confuse the average user – not a good thing when it comes to system security.

Worse still, the firewall is more vulnerable to attack than most, including by straightforward ending of essential services or even via the Task Manager. To say we were surprised at the ease by which we could do this is an understatement – if we can do it, so can malware using exactly the same approach. For this reason alone, we’re unable to recommend AVG Internet Security 7.5 in its current form.

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