AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 2012 review

Having recently reviewed Avast! 7 Free Antivirus, we thought it was only fair to do the same for another leading free antivirus offering, AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 2012.

AVG was the first company to offer free AV protection and the policy has done very well for the company, as a lead-in for sales of its full suite. When installing the free AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 2012, you have to be quite careful not to inadvertently ‘upgrade' to the full, put-your-hand-in-your-pocket, one. Once running, ads for other AVG products appear within the program, but these can thankfully be switched off.

Having downloaded and installed the AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 2012 software, the overview panel offers five protection tools and another three optional ones, which you can activate as needed.

Anti-Virus – which like most such products these days might be better named anti-malware as it detects viruses, spyware, worms, Trojans and malicious adware – is the core of the suite.

LinkScanner is for browser protection and scans ahead, looking at the sites that are returned from web searches. It also provides protection against drive-by threats from bad sites.

E-mail Protection scans against spam and phishing attacks on your incoming e-mails, while Anti-Rootkit looks for low-level rootkit installations, often linked with adware and botnets. See also:Group test: what's the best security software?

Identity Protection uses heuristics to protect against identity theft from zero-day threats.

AV-Test checked out AVG Free 2012 in January and February of this year and scored it at a total of 14.0/18.0. Visit: Security Advisor

This score is better than average and when you break it down under the headings Protection, Repair and Usability, the only area where it sits noticeably below average is in the removal of malicious components of the test malware. Where the average was 54 percent, the AVG product scored 10 percent less, at 44 percent.

Protection overall scored 4.5/6.0, scoring slightly below average on zero-day malware protection in one of the two test months, but on or above average everywhere else.

AV-Test found it to be particularly good under its Usability criteria, with a slowdown of the computer of just 3s, when the average was 10s.

In our own usage tests, AVG Free 2012 performed pretty well. Scanning our 50GB basket of files took 34 min 58 sec and 178,044 files were checked. This gives a scan rate of 84.9 files/sec, putting it in the middle of the 2012 Internet Security suites we've reviewed.

Transferring a 1GB file with the program running, but not scanning, took 40s. When it was running a scan the time increased to 1 min 32 sec, an increase of 130 percent. This is again in the middle of the field, so it's probably worth scheduling scans overnight or during other downtimes.

There are three optional parts to AVG Free 2012. PC Analyser is the detection part of AVG PC Tuneup, which can be used to analyse and rectify problems like Registry errors and junk files.

One complete fix comes free, but after that you need to buy a year's subscription. Family Safety enables search filters, anti-bullying and real-time alerts, to protect younger members of a family. LiveKive is a bit like DropBox, providing backup storage and easy online file sharing. Both these services require separate subscriptions. Visit: Security Advisor

AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 2012: Specs

  • Windows XP/Vista/7 32/64-bit (XP 32-bit only)
  • Pentium 1.5GHz
  • 512MB RAM
  • 1GB drive space
  • Windows XP/Vista/7 32/64-bit (XP 32-bit only)
  • Pentium 1.5GHz
  • 512MB RAM
  • 1GB drive space


AVG Free 2012 is pretty much set and forget, so there's very little excuse for anybody not to have good, free malware protection from this program. Under our own tests and those of AV-Test, the program shows itself to be a full-strength anti-malware application, with a good feature set and an easy way into extra, subscription-based features, should you need them.