AVG Antivirus 2012 is the commercial version of the company's malware-hunting tool, which delivers everything you'd expect from an antivirus engine, and adds a few useful extra features for good measure.
If you've used any AVG product in the past year or so then the interface will be familiar. Antivirus 2012 launches on an Overview tab where you'll find icons for each of the programs features; clicking on Anti-Virus displays key program settings, then you can manually launch your first scan, or set up a scheduled scan or two, in just a few clicks.
There are so many other protective layers, though, that AVG Antivirus 2012 feels more like a security suite than an antivirus tool. So LinkScanner helps to keep malicious sites at bay while you're browsing; Email Protection examines incoming messages for potential threats; there's a separate rootkit scanner; and Identity Protection monitors program behaviour and automatically blocks actions which could lead to identity theft.
In addition, the program now integrates icons for a couple of AVG addons; Family Safety (parental controls) and LiveKive online backup. These remain separate and packages and you'll have to pay more to use them, but this needn't be much; clicking the Family Safety icon revealed that a 3 PC, one year subscription would cost a minimal £0.95.
Why choose the commercial version rather than AVG Free? The key advantage is download protection. AVG Antivirus 2012 checks the files you download (or receive via ICQ, MSN or Yahoo! instant messaging) against both its own scanning engine and the LinkScanner. You also get priority technical support and more frequent updates. But whichever version you use, you'll benefit from a new focus on performance in the 2012 editions which reduces their impact on your PCs speed and cuts scanning times.
This is AVG 2012 SP1 (Service Pack 1). New features include the ability to block ad trackers which follow you around the internet monitoring your browsing habits. The new WiFi Guard module will protect you from accidentally connecting to fake/spoof wireless networks, includes a rootkit scan wit the default system scanning and more.
AVG Antivirus 2012 offers good core protection from malware, has some useful extra features, and is a little more lightweight than it was last year (though still isn't particularly fast)