AVG Internet Security 2012 (£40 for one year and one PC as of February 1, 2012) finished ninth in our 2012 roundup of security suites. It does a very good job of keeping a PC safe, but some other products do an astounding job, which caused AVG to fall in the rankings. See also: Group test: what's the best security software?

AVG's suite fully blocked 92.3 percent of attacks in our real-world test--which helps determine how well a suite will be able to block brand-new, as-yet-undiscovered malware--and partially blocked an additional 3.8 percent. Those results are nothing to sneeze at, but they rate as mediocre among this year's test group. Historically speaking, the AVG software’s 99.11 percent detection rate of known malware samples is excellent, but given the strength of its competition, that result is actually slightly lower than the average for the products we evaluated this year. Visit: Security Advisor

AVG Internet Security 2012Even though the AVG suite was successful in detecting and disabling all active malware infections on our test PC, it removed all traces of malware only 40 percent of the time, tying for the worst showing in completely purging malware. It also flagged six safe files out of our pool of over 250,000 as being malicious; percentage-wise, that's a very low false-positive rate, but a few of its rivals posted a perfect score in our false-positive test.

The AVG package had a relatively light impact on PC performance, though it added nearly 10 seconds to startup time as compared with our test PC with no antivirus installed (the second-worst result of the group). Scan speeds were uneven: It went from being good in our on-demand scan test (1 minute, 31 seconds, the sixth-best showing of the 14 suites we tested) to not-so-good in our on-access scan test (5 minutes, 5 seconds, the fourth-worst outcome). The former test shows how quickly a security product can check 4.5GB for malware during a manually initiated scan, while the latter test evaluates a scan that runs when the user opens files or saves them to disk.

AVG’s interface, while good, needs improvement. The main screens are fairly straightforward and easy to use: At the top is an indicator that tells you whether any problems need fixing. And AVG's overview pane helps you find all of the suite's features quickly and easily. That said, the settings seemed downright intimidating to me. Settings live in either the Advanced settings window or the Firewall settings window. The Advanced settings screen is especially hard to navigate: You have to deal with a three-level-deep hierarchical list to find the options you want to adjust. This complexity makes the AVG suite feel like a product designed for advanced users; it wouldn't be a bad idea for AVG to give its interface an update in next year's product line.

At the end of the day, AVG Internet Security 2012 doesn't do a whole lot wrong, but it doesn't do much to stand out from the crowd, either.

>> Review from 27/12/2011 on next page >>

Review from 27/12/2011

By Simon Williams

When it started in the anti-virus business in 1992, the Czech company AVG hit on the strategy of giving away an application to provide basic protection. The free version of Anti Virus Guard was taken up by millions of people. Once they had used the program and realised its value, many were more amenable to paying a subscription for the enhanced Internet Security package - the latest of which is AVG Internet Security 2012. There are now 98 million AVG users, worldwide. 

In addition to anti-virus protection, AVG Internet Security 2012 offers assessment of dangerous websites, spam and phishing detection, identity protection and a two-way firewall. It can also scan specifically for low-level infiltration by rootkits.

AVG Internet Security 2012 doesn’t include parental control or file backup, though LiveKive is a separate AVG application, dedicated to backup. AVG claims four different AV detection techniques: signature, polymorphic, heuristic and behavioural, but the last two sound a bit similar. The company describes them as: heuristic – ‘looks at the way software behaves to identify whether or not it’s malicious’ and behavioural – ‘looks at how software behaves to determine hostile file behaviour’.

See also: Group test: what's the best security software?

As well as a number of enhancements to existing features, the main new facilities included in AVG Internet Security 2012 are Advisor and Accelerator.

Advisor offers advice of potential problems in pop-ups. Advice like restarting your browser to reclaim the memory it’s hogging. Accelerator is designed to speed the download of YouTube videos and the like, though we didn’t notice any dramatic speed increase during testing.

The main control screen is a bit basic, with little of the flashy presentation some other products use. A set of small icons on the overview screen lead to panes which report status and offer control of various parameters.

The suite can be easily tweaked and its many customisations make it easy to tailor to your particular needs.

AV-Test tested AVG Internet Security 2012 and gave it 15/18, a very good score, beaten by only three other products in the last 25 it has reported.

The scores break down to 5/6 in each of the sub-categories of Protection, Repair and Usability. In particular, it scored 99 percent in spotting new malware and 100 percent in spotting running malware, including rootkits.

Our own tests assess the impact the product has on a typical PC and showed a very small hit when only its background processes were running; our 1GB test copy took 44 sec, second quickest of those we’ve tested recently. With a scan running in the background, however, the copy time rose to 1 min 47 sec, longer than from all the others, except Webroot SecureAnywhere.

A default-settings scan of out 50GB basket of assorted files took over 47 minutes, longer than any others, but the program scanned 180,078 files, also the highest number selected by any suites we’ve tested. It gives an average scan rate of 63.21 files/sec,which sits in the middle of the group.

We choose to scan a set file basket rather than running a system scan, so we know all suites are testing the same number and types of files. Of course each product makes different choices over the exact files its scans, based on its internal scan algorithms. Dividing the number of files scanned by the time a scanner takes to complete it gives an approximate scan throughput.

Visit: Security Advisor

Verdict:

The scanning engine in both AVG Internet Security 2012 and AVG Free is robust, effective and has a comparatively light footprint. AVG Internet Security 2012 includes worthwhile extensions into spam and identity protection which are worth paying for. The single and three-PC licences are not particularly cheap, though, when compared with rivals like Norton.

AVG Internet Security 2012: Specs

  • Windows XP/Vista/7, 32/64 bit
  • 1.5GHz PC
  • 512MB RAM
  • 1GB drive space
  • Windows XP/Vista/7, 32/64 bit
  • 1.5GHz PC
  • 512MB RAM
  • 1GB drive space

OUR VERDICT

The scanning engine in both AVG Internet Security 2012 and AVG Free is robust, effective and has a comparatively light footprint. AVG Internet Security 2012 includes worthwhile extensions into spam and identity protection which are worth paying for. The single and three-PC licences are not particularly cheap, though, when compared with rivals like Norton.

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