Reports say AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition is the best free antivirus program available, and it's clearly popular with users as well. Reviews of the paid version, AVG Anti-Virus, place it behind Norton AntiVirus 2009 (Discontinued) and ESET NOD32 Anti-Virus 4 (Discontinued), among others, and it is safe to assume that the free version will also fall short of those top two contenders. AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition and other free programs offer much less user control than commercial programs, but users swear they work. If you're diligent about your personal security practices, free antivirus software might be enough for your needs. Version 8.5 is newly released; the major change is that it includes LinkScanner Active Surf-Shield, which provides real-time protection against malicious web pages.
Version 8.5 has not been professionally reviewed, but we did find a useful review of the similar AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 8.0 from Which?, the U.K.'s equivalent of ConsumerReports.org. PCMag.com's has a mid-length article by Neil J. Rubenking, who tests AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 8.0 on infested virtual machines. We found user reviews of AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 8.5 at Download.com and BetaNews FileForum.
1. Which? magazine
British consumer magazine Which? doesn't review any of this year's commercial standalone antivirus programs, but it does test and compare four free antivirus programs, including AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 8.0, which is similar to the current 8.5 version. Editors call it "the best of the antivirus programs on test," and give it their Best Buy award.
Review: Security Software Review, Editors of Which? magazine
Neil J. Rubenking calls AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 8.0 "an excellent choice if you need free protection against both viruses and spyware." Both AVG and avast! get good ratings from Rubenking, but he ranks AVG slightly higher. In his own testing, he's especially impressed with its performance on driver-based malware.
Review: AVG Anti-Virus Free 8.0, Neil J. Rubenking, May 2, 2008
Download.com has already amassed more than 17,000 ratings and 100 reviews of AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 8.5, which is latest version. It earns a solid 4 out of 5 stars overall.
Review: AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition, Editors of Download.com
4. BetaNews FileForum
BetaNews offers shareware downloads plus an extensive member review section. AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 8.5 has garnered more than 1,000 ratings and five user reviews. Opinions here are more negative than at Download.com, and the software earns a rating of 3.8 out of a possible 5.
Review: AVG Anti-Virus Free, Contributors to BetaNews FileForum