AVG Anti-Virus Free 9.0: far too much trouble

It’s hard to tell if AVG Anti-VIrus Free 9.0 offers decent PC security. That’s because the application is so annoying, it imposes such an overhead that it had to be deleted before testing finished.

At times 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.

The program is available at AVG’s free web site – but 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.

Flakiness abounds

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.

Finally

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.

Not responding

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.

It has to go

Before long my computer started crashing, randomly. And things went 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 Anti-Virus 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.

5 thoughts on “AVG Anti-Virus Free 9.0: far too much trouble

  1. Update.

    This morning I re-read this and thought I may have been too harsh. So I reinstalled the AVG software again to check my earlier comments were fair. Not only can I confirm the experience – it doesn’t get better the second or third time around – but within an hour of installation my computer froze.

    I had to remove the software all over again.

  2. Hi Bill,

    Thanks for the review. My Norton subscription recently lapsed, and I am currently using Norton 2010 trial – I actually really like it, I tihnk I’m going to pay.
    This came about when I tried to uninstall the previous Norton to make way for AVG free, but it froze and then the only way to uninstall after the restart was to overwrite with another version.
    Now that I read this, I’m glad I didn’t resort to AVG. Sometimes you pay for what you get.

    Cheers,

    LA

  3. Good call! AVG 8.5 started telling me I had to upgrade to 9, but after reading this I uninstalled and switched to Microsoft. Easy install, quick scan and it found a virus on one of the kids’ accounts AVG had missed!

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