AVG Ultimate 2018 full review

AVG Ultimate is a solid security suite that's well worth considering if you're in the market for new antivirus software. Here, we review AVG Ultimate and compare it with the best antivirus for PC.

With AVG being owned by Avast, we initially had low expectations after recently reviewing Avast Premier and finding that some key modules were only ad-supported trial versions.

Our first happy surprise was the price. Whereas Avast Premier is £59.99/US$79.99 for one PC, AVG Ultimate is £69.99/$99 for unlimited installs, which is great value for families.

An integrated password manager, VPN and driver updater are value-added extras, but equivalents can be obtained free or at low cost from elsewhere.

Also included in the price is PC Tuneup. This is thorough, and takes a while to complete all its tasks including disc defragmentation. The laptop upon which we tested AVG Ultimate is only eight months old, but defraging the dual disc drives still took over an hour. With so many possible speed-up changes, it's good to know there's a “rescue center” included that enables you to undo any tweaks.

In terms of protection, there's a lot of overlap with Avast. The central core of the product consists of file and behaviour shields.

The file shield scans all files when programs attempts to open them, and the behaviour shield prevents programs suddenly acting in a suspicious or malicious way.

As with an increasing number of other AV products, it's good to see so-called “next gen” features like this making their way into domestic products.

The web shield scans all files downloaded from the internet and blocks known web attacks, and the email shield protects you from receiving unsafe attachments.

Like so many other AV products, a built-in firewall adds another layer of defence. Unlike many other products, however, this firewall allows you to see all connections made to and from your computer in real time.

This is useful for diagnostics, but for the lay person it can be quite scary to see how many connections a running Windows system has with the rest of the world. And guess what? You can resize the interface, so looking through the logs isn't like reading a newspaper through a letterbox. Other vendors should take note.

There's also an explicit ransomware module. This has a “smart” mode, which takes decisions about which programs to trust with access to your personal files.

Backing this up is “strict” mode, which means that you must agree to any and all actions that change or delete the files in your protected folders. Speaking of folders, it's also easy to add new ones to the list.

Also included is a data safe, into which you can place sensitive files. Encrypted with 256-bit AES technology, not even the security services would be able to look the content without having the key.

For some reason, the anti-spam shield isn't installed by default, and requires a system reboot when you click its install button. This detects the increasingly large number of phishing campaigns plaguing the internet.

Finally, the fake website shield detects bogus sites to keep you safe when accessing your bank, while shopping online, and so on.

There are also several types of system scan, including a dedicated USB / DVD analysis. Like the anti-spam shield, the boot-time scan needs installing by clicking its button. It's well worth doing so and running it every now and then.

The idea is that it will scan your discs the next time the computer is booted up, and runs before Windows (and any stealth malware) starts up. You can also right click files and scan them, or shred to delete them forever.

The Android version has the look and feel of Avast's offering. AVG Ultimate, however, is better equipped, and isn't ad-supported.

Along with scanning, you also get anti-theft to locate and remotely wipe your phone, a photo vault to keep your memories safe, a WiFi security tester, and broadband speed test.

There's also App locking, whereby you can insist on a PIN to run certain programs. You can also install the integrated AVG Cleaner. This is free, but ad-supported, with auto-cleaning being available in the paid version.

An enhanced photo gallery is also available and is ad-supported. As with Avast, you can install Alarm Clock Xtreme, which learns your sleep patterns so that it wakes you at the right point in your cycle. Finally, you can also install a free trial of the AVG VPN.