AVG Antivirus Review 2020 – Is It Any Good?
Antivirus protection is an essential service for anyone with an active digital presence. If you have a computer, you should have an antivirus program; it’s as simple as that. And no, we’re not talking about the one that comes pre-installed on some Windows systems, which simply doesn’t stack up.
There is a wide array of antivirus products available, to such a degree that it can often be challenging to sort through all the options and decide which one is best for you.
One of the most prominent options is AVG Antivirus. To help you make an informed decision, we’re going to do a deep dive into everything AVG has to offer. Follow along for a thorough breakdown of this product: features, plans, pricing, things we like, areas of concern, and more.
In this article you will find out...
What is AVG Antivirus?
AVG—short for “Anti-Virus Guard”—is one of the oldest antivirus protection services still active today, first launching in the Czech Republic in 1992. Gradually growing and evolving over the years, AVG was introduced in the United States in 1998.
In 2006, they incorporated an anti-spyware platform, and they have continued to expand their technology in the ensuing 14 years.
In 2016, AVG was acquired by leading antivirus company Avast for a significant $1.3 billion price tag, has continued to utilize the AVG brand name rather than bringing their software under the Avast umbrella, as AVG has a large population of loyal users.
As of the most recent information available, AVG has over 200 million users, which makes up 10.1% of the world’s antivirus market share. That makes AVG the fifth most popular antivirus company worldwide (and one of the systems they’re behind is Avast, which is the most popular).
So, AVG is one of the most prominent antivirus systems available. But do they live up to the hype? Let’s take a look at what they have to offer:
AVG Subscription Tiers:
AVG Antivirus offers three different tiers of services: AVG Free, AVG Internet Security, and AVG Ultimate. As the name says, the first option is available for free, while the other two cost varying amounts. Each one offers a different service and a different degree of overall quality. Let’s break them all down:
The most basic level is ideal for people who need basic antivirus coverage (which again, is everyone who uses a computer) but isn’t looking to break the bank. AVG Free has relatively few features, but robust all-around offerings that cover the most common threats to your digital security.
AVG Free’s antivirus software scans for malware, spyware, and viruses, while proactively blocking unsafe links, downloads, and email attachments before they can do damage to your computer. The scan also looks for general computer performance issues.
AVG has worked to correct issues with scan speed, and the active scan slowing down users’ computers. While this still wouldn’t be considered a strength relative to other competitors, it has improved over the years.
AVG Internet Security
The first of the two paid tiers, AVG Internet Security, is available for $39.99 per year. It offers everything available through AVG Free: it fights malware, spyware, and viruses, blocks unsafe links, and scans for performance issues.
But the Internet Security version comes with some more advanced features as well. AVG Internet Security includes an advanced firewall for defense against hackers, an extra layer of encryption to protect your files, and protection against outside forces trying to hack into your webcam.
It also includes real-time, immediate-response security updates, and defense against fake scam websites to protect your credit card information and make online shopping as safe as possible.
AVG Internet Security comes with AVG Pro for Android, to protect your mobile device as well as your PC.
The second paid tier—AVG Ultimate—is the best AVG Antivirus has to offer, with the most features and the most significant degree of convenience and flexibility. It is available for $79.99 a year.
AVG Ultimate focuses on combining the best in security with the best in performance, offering an advanced security package along with its premium tune-up features. AVG Ultimate includes all the security features of the AVG Internet Security system, along with a package of performance tools designed to speed up your PC from top to bottom.
The tune-up package cleans out junk to free up storage, automatically updates your most essential programs, boosts battery life on laptops and mobile devices, and helps optimize processing speeds.
AVG Ultimate comes with both antivirus and performance features for Android mobile devices, along with your laptops and PCs.
While some antivirus services might try to dazzle you with bells and whistles, AVG Antivirus always has emphasized simplicity when it comes to the user interface.
It’s a clean display with green and white text on a dark grey background. The interface clearly indicates what services are included with which package, and while (like all companies) they do try to upsell their paid products, they are transparent about what features go where.
The interface shows cards for each of the areas that the program scans—those not included with your plan will display a lock—and the current status of each of those areas. As new scans are completed, the status continually updates.
If you want to prompt a new scan manually, there is a bright green button at the bottom of your screen, and the program will go to work with a simple click. However, AVG continuously runs automatically, so you don’t need to engage with it to make sure it’s scanning.
Overall, the user interface is simple to understand and easy to use. And best of all, it’s transparent.
Antivirus companies often test their products in a lab to measure effectiveness against varying threats, and AVG has consistently put up high scores in this environment. Further, while some antivirus companies fail to test their free versions (as these versions don’t bring in revenue, and the tests cost money), AVG tests their free system as well.
The AV-Test lab tests in three areas: usability, protection, and performance, each scored on a one through six scale. On the most recent analysis, AVG scored a six on usability, five on performance, and five and a half on protection, for a total of 16.5 out of 18. Over the last few years, AVG has fluctuated between 16.5 and 17.5.
Another test comes from selabs, which provides holistic grades including AAA, AA, A, B, and C. AVG Antivirus received a AA, the second best grade overall. The test at AV Comparatives gave AVG the top possible grade in three of four categories, and the second-highest grade in the final category.
Overall, AVG Antivirus scores highly on lab tests, indicating excellent performance overall. While it wasn’t perfect in any test—perfect scores are rare, but not impossible—it came very close on each test in which it participated.
What We Like
Now that we’ve looked into the company and the features they offer let’s take some time to explore their pros and cons. We’ll start with the good stuff:
First things first: nothing else about an antivirus program matters if it doesn’t get the job done. Beyond that, there are other factors that will determine just how desirable the service is, but those only come into play if they perform.
As we stated above, AVG Antivirus consistently scores well on lab testing, which simulates the type of threats the program is designed to combat. While there are other services that have surpassed AVG’s scores, they are consistently excellent and demonstrate very effective service overall.
Aside from demonstrating the strengths of a service, lab tests also serve to expose weaknesses so that companies can work to address them.
The fact that AVG Antivirus consistently participates in lab tests from multiple companies, and subjects their free service to the tests as well is very encouraging in that regard. That suggests that AVG is committed to identifying and addressing problems, and working towards constant improvement of their product.
Every antivirus company is going to make an effort to upsell customers, to get them to invest in one of the paid tiers. That’s only natural, and AVG Antivirus is no exception. Their paid service is how they make money, after all.
However, AVG is not as persistent as some competitors in pushing their paid options over their free option. And they don’t make any efforts to obfuscate what features come with the free version and which come with the paid. They are perfectly clear about what you get with each different tier.
The user interface displays each feature, including those not included with your subscription if you don’t have AVG Ultimate. But they show a lock icon on those features, which you can click on if you’re interested in upgrading.
Another big plus is the excellent customer support system. There are two tiers of customer support available through AVG. The basic customer support tier is expansive; AVG provides access to their system knowledge base, which includes a wide array of FAQs and solutions to common problems.
The basic support tier also includes an internal forum for users. That can be a tremendously valuable resource for users. You can scan through past posts to see if other users have experienced the same issues as you, and see what answers they received. Or, you can actively post on the forum and ask or respond to questions yourself.
Sometimes other customers can provide the best customer support. And this service doesn’t exist with many competitors.
For paid customers, there is a second tier of support. Premium customers receive access to a toll-free, 24/7 customer support line as well as an excellent live chat. The customer support team is courteous, knowledgeable, and very well-trained. Users will likely receive answers to questions and concerns in a timely manner.
The biggest concern here is that AVG Free members do not receive access to the same level of customer support. But every company has perks for paid members, and answers to most questions are available in the FAQs or in the forum.
The flexible and affordable pricing options is another perk of AVG Antivirus. Users who want strong, all-around coverage without spending any money can easily access AVG Free. That is one of the highest-performing free antivirus programs, and one of only a few free systems that is consistently subjected to a wide array of different lab tests.
The paid tiers are also competitively priced, with AVG Internet Security available for $39.99 per year and AVG Ultimate available at $79.99 annually. Further, those tiers offer some opportunities for significant savings.
While each AVG Free account is only available for one device each, and is not available for mobile. But each of the paid AVG options are available on unlimited devices, and come with Android mobile coverage for free.
So if you have a wide array of devices that require coverage, One of the paid AVG programs could be quite a bargain. If you have two computers, a phone, and a tablet to cover, for example, AVG Internet Security will average out to $10 per device per year.
Areas for Improvement
So we’ve focused on the strengths, and there are plenty of them. But like any product, AVG Antivirus isn’t perfect. There are very few total weaknesses with which we take issue, but the first one is a big one, that might be a dealbreaker for some potential customers. Let’s explore them now.
Data Privacy Questions
In early 2020, it was revealed that Avast, and its subsidiary AVG, was allegedly harvesting and selling user browsing data to outside marketing companies for millions of dollars. That was seen as a significant betrayal of trust for many users.
Avast justified the decision by claiming that all browsing history was stripped of personal user details and sold as a single, aggregated trove of de-identified data. Avast claimed to emphasize preserving user privacy throughout the process.
However, investigations have indicated that it is possible for de-identified data to essentially be reverse-engineered and picked apart in a way that links back to individual users. Avast and AVG were briefly removed from several web stores until they installed new privacy protections. But for many users, trust was understandably severed permanently.
If you choose to utilize AVG Antivirus nonetheless, it is possible to go into your settings and opt out of third party data tracking. That step should help further preserve your privacy.
The stakes of this area for improvement aren’t nearly as high as those in the previous section, but it is an area for improvement nonetheless. AVG Free has all the basics covered, but has only a small handful of features overall. There are other free options that have a wider array of features. AVG Free still offers strong overall performance, however.
Slower Initial Scan
Another low-stakes issue is that the initial scan is slower than that of many competitors. While this won’t be a dealbreaker for many, customers who are focused on speed might want to look elsewhere.
The Bottom Line
Antivirus protection is an essential service. AVG is one of the oldest active antivirus programs, and remains a leader in the industry to this day, particularly after being acquired by Avast in 2016.
AVG offers considerable flexibility depending on the needs of the customer. Users looking for basic antivirus protection for a single device can get that without spending a dime, by signing up for AVG Free. Meanwhile, those who are looking for comprehensive coverage and performance optimization on multiple devices will be interested in AVG Ultimate, available for $79.99 per year. They also have a middle option, AVG Internet Security, which you can get for $39.99.
Nothing else matters if the program doesn’t work, and AVG antivirus certainly delivers. They subject their programs—all three levels, including the free model—to multiple lab tests, which demonstrate strengths and identify weaknesses. AVG regularly brings in scores that place them towards the top of the field.
Beyond that, AVG gets high marks for their pricing transparency, customer service, price plans, and ease of use. However, AVG is not perfect, and it’s parent company, Avast, has not been without controversy.
In early 2020, Avast and AVG were rocked by news of a data-selling scandal. Avast was making millions of dollars by harvesting and selling used browsing history to third party marketing companies. While the company insists the data was not attached to individual users, experts indicate that the data de-identification processes used by Avast can easily be worked around. Further, AVG Free has relatively few features and a slower initial scan than some competitors.
However, it is a leading product for a reason. If you’re willing to overlook the data-sharing scandal (helped, surely, by your ability to opt-out of data tracking), then AVG Antivirus is an excellent product overall. Whether you’re looking for basic coverage without breaking the bank, or a comprehensive, performance-oriented service, AVG Antivirus has you covered.