The new 2013 versions of AVG security products have just been released – they include several improvements and new features. How does the most popular AVG 2013 Free version fare?
Ease Of Install – AVG’s website points you to a download at Cnet – it’s a 4MB online installer which downloads the rest of the installation files (about 33MB) automatically.
This makes life easy but the disadvantage of online installers becomes apparent if you have more than 1 computer – you have to download AVG on each one. It also means you can’t install AVG if the computer is not online – something that will frustrate many people because it is logical to leave the computer offline whilst you have no antivirus protection…
Fortunately there is a safer alternative, download the full AVG 2013 Free installation files from AVG here (separate 32bit and 64bit versions) then go offline and install it. Note: during installation you are offered the choice of ‘Express’ or ‘Custom’ Install – choose ‘Custom’ if you want to deselect components you don’t need e.g. the AVG sidebar widget (for Vista/W7) or Security Toolbar.
We were hoping for a smaller download than the monster of AVG 2012 Free and there is a welcome improvement – full installation file sizes have reduced by at least 30MB. The 32bit version of AVG Free now weighs in at 118MB whilst the 64bit version is a more lardy 130MB.
Main Features of AVG 2013 Free
The biggest new feature is the user interface – touch friendly and designed to emulate the Windows 8 tiled visual style. Personally I find it more confusing than the 2012 version but being one of the first security products to follow Microsoft’s style (like it or loathe it) does give it a certain kudos:
The other main features include:
- 24/7 Free Support – previously support was only available for users of the paid versions, now it is there for everyone (premium support is offered for non-AVG issues)
- Antivirus – improved detection
- Email Scanner
- LinkScanner Surf Shield – checks files before you download them to ensure they ensure they are safe
- Social Networking Protection
- Do Not Track – privacy feature to help avoid tracking by websites (previously included in 2012 version)
- Identity Protection
- WiFi Guard – avoid rogue wireless access points (used by hackers to intercept your online data)
- Turbo Scan – smarter scans reduce scanning time
- Game Mode – avoid popups/updates from AVG interrupting your gaming
- Smart Scanner – scanning is claimed to be more than 30% quicker than before
After installation, adverts are displayed with links to some of AVG’s free mobile products – AVG Family Safety app for iOS (here) and for Windows Phone (here). A further ad links to Antivirus Free for Android here.
I found AVG 2013 Free to be very naggy and the adverts get to be intrusive – it advertizes AVG products (especially the paid suites) too much for my liking but, to be fair, you won’t see most of them unless you open the program’s user interface.
How Good Is The Security?
The 2013 version of AVG Free is too new to have been tested yet but the previous version provided very good protection in our recent review of free antivirus products compared to its main rivals. However, it did suffer from a very high number of false positives.
Early signs are that AVG 2013 Free should provide better security but it remains to be seen whether it can reduce the false positives.
AVG 2013 Free looks to be an overall improvement on the 2012 version and the free support is a bonus – though hopefully not needed too often.
If you are currently using the older version and want to stay with AVG it is worth upgrading – the average user shouldn’t be too concerned about size and ease of download as they will likely only have to do it once or twice.
I found AVG to be rather sluggish on an older computer but perfectly acceptable on a newer model. There are certainly lightweight security products that are more suited to an old/slow computer but they often don’t offer as good protection – a trade off between better security and higher impact on computer speed.