Critics praise AVG Anti-Virus Free 2012 for its superb malware removal abilities; even though it's free, this antivirus program outperforms the detection and removal rates of many paid antivirus options. It receives West Coast Labs' Platinum Checkmark Certification, an award that few programs earn. AVG Anti-Virus Free 2012 is no one-trick pony, though. Experts appreciate the Facebook-, email- and MySpace-scanning capabilities in its LinkScanner feature, and a SurfShield component provides basic anti-spam and anti-phishing protection, although SurfShield pales in comparison to the protection offered by premium Internet security suites.
As one might expect with a free program, there are some drawbacks. AVG Anti-Virus Free 2012 slows boot times considerably compared to the competition, and the cluttered, unattractive interface contains ads for the premium AVG Internet Security 2012. Frequent false positives are another major issue in tests. If you are willing to pay for antivirus protection, most critics prefer Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2012 (*Est. $25) for its clean look and superior protection capabilities.
West Coast Labs isn't the only source to weigh in on AVG Anti-Virus Free 2012. AV-Comparatives.org includes AVG Anti-Virus Free 2012 in a detailed evaluation of several antivirus programs' on-demand scanning abilities, and Virus Bulletin tests the antivirus portion of AVG Internet Security 2012. Maximum PC magazine, PCMag.com and the U.K.-based Which? magazine all test AVG against competitors and name it the best free antivirus program.
AVG Anti-Virus Free 2012 manages to neutralize more than 95 percent of malware in AV-Comparatives.org's August 2011 on-demand comparative tests, but a high number of false positives -- 51, the third-highest total among evaluated programs -- keeps it from snagging the highest Advanced+ certification.
Review: Anti-Virus Comparative, Editors of AV-Comparatives.org, Aug. 2011
Neil Rubenking hands AVG Anti-Virus Free 2012 an Editors' Choice award for best free antivirus software after the program posts high malware blocking and removal scores in his testing. While the additional anti-spam and anti-phishing features are less effective than the ones found in for-pay security suites, AVG's excellence at its core function -- antivirus -- woos Rubenking over.
Review: AVG Anti-Virus Free 2012, Neil J. Rubenking, Sept. 1, 2011
Although AVG Anti-Virus Free 2012 doesn't rate quite as highly as some premium antivirus software, Paul Lilly dubs it "the King of Free AV" and gives it a solid 8 rating. "We did eventually manage to overwhelm AVG's defenses," Lilly writes. He also finds the interface "slightly chaotic."
Review: Choose Your Defender! 10 Anti-Virus Programs Reviewed and Compared, Dec. 5, 2011
4. West Coast Labs
AVG Internet Security, which includes AVG Anti-Virus Free 2012, earns a rare Platinum Checkmark Certification from the independent researchers at West Coast Labs. Real-time anti-malware capabilities rate highly, though the software could do a better job cleaning neutralized -- and now harmless -- virus components from your computer, researchers say.
Review: Checkmark Search – AVG Technologies, Editors of West Coast Labs
5. Virus Bulletin
AVG Anti-Virus Free 2012 earns a VB100 certification from Virus Bulletin for every operating system that it's tested on, something few other programs can claim. You need to subscribe to Virus Bulletin to see more detailed testing results, however.
Review: VB100 Results Summary, Editors of Virus Bulletin
6. Which? magazine
AVG Anti-Virus Free 2012 is one of several programs examined by this Britain-based Consumer Reports-esque publication. Highlights and lowlights are detailed, and numerical ratings are provided for a number of criteria, such as total performance, anti-malware and more. The best performing software earns a Best Buy award.
Review: AVG Anti-Virus Free 2012, Editors of Which? magazine