AVG Internet Security 2013 Review

Pros

  • Light system overhead
  • Intelligent scanning
  • Fast initial scan

Cons

  • Some fundamentals missing
  • High false positive score
  • The free option is almost as good

AVG was the first company to provide a basic, free AV program to protect a PC against virus attack and this generosity has stood it in very good stead for selling its more comprehensive suites, such as Internet Security 2013 (AVG IS 2013). This suite is available as a boxed product or a download and can be bought for one to ten machines with a one or two-year licence.

The Internet Security product sits between AVG Anti-Virus and AVG Premium Security products, adding anti-spam, personal information protection and data protection from hackers to the former and missing out on the identity theft protection and PC optimisation of the latter.

Things that you might expect, but are missing from AVG IS 2013, include online back-up, parental control and safe banking provision. Online back-up can be added through LiveKive, but this is a separate application with a separate subscription, as is PC Tune Up, another AVG offering.

In fact, when you compare AVG IS 2013 with AVG Free 2013, it’s mainly the online shield, antispam and the firewall, which aren’t included. It may seem churlish to mention this as AVG is magnanimous with its free offering in the first place, but don’t you want a few more suite components for your £42 a year?

AVG obviously has one eye on the imminent launch of Windows 8 and has given the interface a makeover to provide a tiled look. The top row has five green tiles labelled Computer, Web Browsing, Identity, E-mails and Firewall. Each of these lead to screens offering switches, settings and, in some cases, statistics.

The darker row below offers to Fix Performance, provide Family Safety and give access to LiveKive for online backup. In fact, though, these are all options for which you have to pay extra. The PC Analyser, for example, is happy to check for registry errors, junk files, disk fragmentation and broken shortcuts, but if you click to fix them, you’re dumped on the 24 hour trial/pay-up screen on the AVG site.

As well as all the tiles, there are small links at the top of the panel offering reports, support, a way to boost AVG’s profile on Facebook (no, really) and a long options menu.

The Advanced Settings option is where most of the key parameters are held and the list is pretty comprehensive. Despite the long list of settings, it still fairly easy to navigate to those you want to adjust.

When we ran our scan test, timing a scan of 30GB of mixed files, AVG IS 2013 took only 15 minutes nine seconds to check 80,755. This gives a scan rate of 89 files/sec, which is in the middle of the range we normally see. The total number of files scanned is quite small though, indicating a degree of intelligence in assessing which files could contain malware. As long as the assessment is accurate, this approach can save a lot of time and reduce the resource burden on the host PC.

Our usage test compares the time it takes to copy two, 1GB files with and without a scan running in the background. Without the scan, and just AVG’s other background protection, this took one minute 31 seconds and with a full system scan going, it took one minute 40 seconds, an increase of nine percent.

This is the lowest performance hit we’ve seen and should mean you rarely notice anything that the software is doing anything. AVG has never been a shouty program, interrupting what you’re doing with details of what it has just blocked or allowed through, so most of the time it really is fire and forget.

The antivirus testing organisation, AV-Test, has yet to finish evaluating the 2013 version of AVG Internet Security, though there’s no reason to believe it will be any less effective than the 2012 engine. It scored that at 13.5/18.0 under Windows XP and 14.5/18.0 under Windows 7, which is good and very good, respectively.

The Windows 7 tests gave the product 5.5/6.0 on Protection, which is the ability to spot new, recent and widespread malware, 5.0/6.0 on its ability to remove those threats and repair a system, but only 4.5/6.0 for usability. This category looks at system slowdown, where the program scored a good 8 against a group average of 10.

It was the number of false positives that brought the Usability figure down, scoring 5 and 4 in the two months of testing, against a group average of 3. It did better with the false positives under Windows XP, scoring 5 per month against an average of 6.

It was marginally worse at repairing damage under the older operating system, managing only 4.5/6.0 and saw a similar drop in performance in the Protection category, from 5.5 to 5.0. Overall, it’s a better than average performer under both versions of Windows.

Verdict

AVG Internet Security 2013 is a well-designed IS suite with all the basics providing a robust security system. Its easy-to-use, with a simple, modern interface and if its AV engine is it least as good as last year’s, it’s well capable of protecting a typical home PC.

However, you can get better value for your money on a function per pound basis. You’re covered for AV, browser protection, firewall, anti-spam and anti-spyware, but there aren’t as many extras as in, for example, Kaspersky Internet Security 2013. There are, for example, no parental control, safe banking or secure keyboard – as opposed to virtual keyboard – technologies.

Test results courtesy of AV-Test.org.