I can’t tell you if AVG Free 9.0 offers decent PC security. That’s because the application was so annoying and imposed such an overhead on my computer I deleted it before testing finished.
There are times when free is too high a price.
AVG Anti-Virus Free 9.0 is still only two weeks old. It arrived about the same time as Windows 7 and is compatible with Microsoft’s new operation system.
I downloaded the file in late October to test on my computer running Windows 7 release candidate version. The program is available at AVG’s free web site – but as I’ll explain in a moment, I don’t recommend it.
It is only a small download at 869Kb – it takes seconds with broadband. The first file is a downloader which fetches and installs the rest of the software.
The process is easy enough. Yet the second screen you see is only the start of what becomes an annoying and shrill sales pitch designed to control your choices and trick you in to paying money. It appears AVG has learnt from the scam artists the software promises to protect you from.
Your first choice is to select either free basic protection or a 30-day trial of the company’s comprehensive protection.
The implication is responsible people will choose the second option – which means in 30 days AVG will ask you for money. Don’t worry – you’ll get plenty more opportunities to pay AVG if you choose not to do so at this point.
I thought I was downloading the free software – that’s what I clicked on at the AVG web site – so that’s what I proceeded with.
During the download AVG asks you to remove existing anti-virus software. This makes sense, anti-virus applications can conflict with each other and anyway, as each program imposes an overhead, the performance drop can multiply.
Annoyingly AVG doesn’t remove the other software. It halts and opens the Windows uninstaller so you can manually remove it. Even more annoyingly, the AVG installer closes itself at this point – you need to hunt around in your download folder to find it and start all over again – by now many megabytes have been wiped off your download cap.
Click, click, bloody click
There’s a lot of clicking throughout this process – some of it unnecessary. Then it asks if you wish to install the AVG Security Toolbar.
The software has also helpfully pre-selected the option to change your default search engine to Yahoo. This is spam – of a sort. In both cases I choose No.
It is tricky – if you click off the first box, the Yahoo box stays ticked but grayed out. This can only be designed to trick you into selecting the search engine choice.
At this point the installer had to close Firefox. Not wanting to be sent all the way back to the start like that horrible long snake at the end of a game of Snakes and Ladders, I clicked to close Firefox held my breath. Phew. The install resumes.
We are now 40 minutes into the process. Even at minimum wage rate this free anti-virus program has cost me the price of lunch and a clutch of grey hairs.
Suddenly the process is over. A box appears telling me the install has finished. But wait, what is this?
More stuff to click.
Do I agree to give anonymous information? Oh alright then. And now would I like to receive spam? (Sorry news and alerts). Please enter your email address. Are you kidding? No.
While AVG starts its first scan. I reload Firefox. In the meantime I notice the program has installed an icon on my Windows desktop. Did I ask for this? No I damn well did not. AVG asks tons of questions during the install – but doesn’t allow me to choose whether the icon despoils my desktop. At this point I’m starting to get angry.
Meanwhile Firefox is failing to load. What’s going on here? There was a string of open tabs – none of them are visible. Windows tells me Firefox is “not responding”.
Eventually – more than an hour after the first download, Firefox opens. And what’s this? AVG has installed AVG Safe Search. Is this the toolbar I choose not to install? The name is different, so let’s assume it isn’t the same thing. I wasn’t warned or asked about it, but hey, let’s go with the flow for a moment. So, Firefox opens at the home page – my tags are all lost.
AVG is now scanning my computer looking for viruses. I open up the scanner’s display and see what looks like a banner ad for the paid for software at the bottom of the screen. Fair enough, the software was free and these people have to eat. I can accept advertising as the price to pay for free anti-virus.
But it has to go
Before long my computer started crashing, randomly. And things started being very s l o w l i ke w a d i n g t h r o u g h m o l a s s e s. There could be only one explanation for this. I removed AVG, reinstalled Microsoft Security Essentials and performance returned to normal.
Of course, you mileage may vary. AVG may rock your boat. But for me it has proved so disastrous I couldn’t even test its efficiency as an anti-virus tool. I give it zero stars out of five.