AVG Internet Security 2014 with Zen review

Pros

  • Free Zen device management
  • Clear interface
  • Fair AV-Test results

Cons

  • No backup or online storage
  • No multi-platform cover
  • Lacks parental control features

AVG is one of the best known Internet Security providers, partly because it was one of the first and partly because of its free AV product, which many millions of people use. It has subscription products as well, though, and AVG Internet Security 2014 sits between AVG AntiVirus and AVG Premium Security.

The clean, well laid out interface includes five large green panels, covering most of the areas of support in the suite. They’re labelled Computer, Web Browsing, Identity, Emails and Firewall.

Computer covers AntiVirus and AVG’s Data Safe, which is an encrypted data repository, ideal for storing important passwords safely. Web Browsing provides Link-Scanner and Online Shield, which look ahead and warn of any unsafe sites you might visit, and generally protect you from browser malware.

Identity keeps an eye open for attempts at identity theft and Emails controls the email scanner and anti-spam utility. Lastly, Firewall does what you’d expect in maintaining two-way controls on network traffic, also enabling whitelists to be set up. The automatic setting is the default, though, and this works well, with no false positives during our tests.

The row of panels below these are largely advertisements for other AVG products, some free, some on subscription. There are links to smartphone and tablet apps, Driver Update, which aims to keep all your hardware drivers current, and Fix Performance. The latter runs the analyser part of AVG PC TuneUP, but you’re then asked to pay if you want to fix any problems it finds.

In a medium-price Internet Security product, you wouldn’t expect to get all the trimmings that come in a top-of-the-range suite, but you might expect one or two of the following to be included: Parental control, backup and online storage, PC tune up and multi-platform support.

None of these are included in AVG Internet Security 2014, though parental control and PC TuneUp are available as extra subscriptions, and a separate Android App is available as a free download (pictured below). Given the price of AVG’s IS product, compared with, for example, Bullguard IS 2014, which includes parental control, backup with 5GB of storage and PC tune up, it doesn’t appear particularly good value.

The area AVG has chosen to work on is system management. It’s new Zen product, which is another free download, enables customers to view the status of all machines registered with the Zen network, so you can see the security status of your PC from your Android phone or tablet, or vice versa.

The trouble is, at the moment, that’s about all you can do. You can’t instigate scans or change security settings between machines and being able to see the status remotely is of limited value. AVG says it’s going to extend Zen’s functionality to give some remote control, but until then it’s hard to see much advantage.

AVG has a wide range of applications for Mac, Android and iOS, but Internet Security 2014 isn’t a multi-platform suite and you have to separately download either the free or subscription versions of the products you need for other systems.

We ran a scan of our standard basket of 30GB of mixed files and AVG Internet Security 2014 looked at 143,100 files in 34 minutes 3 seconds, giving a scan rate of 70.0 files/s. This puts it around the mid-point of all the AV scan results we’ve seen from previous reviews.

A re-scan of the same file set took just 2 minutes 1 second to check 8,406 files, showing a high level of file fingerprinting which will speed up subsequent scans. Our copy test, copying two 1GB files with and without a full system scan in the background, showed a system hit of 14 per cent, again putting the product in the middle of those we’ve tested.

AV Test (www.av-test.org), the German testing site, recently scored the suite at 13.0/18.0, which is about average in its groups, but certainly not a front runner.

Breaking down the score into the three categories AV Test uses, it scored well in Usability, with 5.5/6.0. It only gave four false positives against an industry average of three during malware scans, but returning no false warnings at all when browsing websites, and no false warnings or blocks while installing legitimate software.

Under the Performance heading it scored 4.0/6.0 and produced the same 4 second resource hit on a set of varied tasks as the average for the group it was tested in. This ties in with the results we saw from our own tests, leaving it in the middle of the field.

AVG Internet Security 2014 did worst in the Protection category, managing only 3.5/6.0. Such is the state of AV software, though, that still means an average of 97.5 per cent recognition of both zero-day malware and established threats up to four weeks old. This is better than average on both measures.

Overall, the program is fair to good in most areas, but doesn’t excel in any. It could do with better anti-malware performance, as this is the core measure of the effectiveness of an IS suite.

Verdict

What AVG Internet Security 2014 does, it does pretty well. It has a fair technical record from AV Test and our own tests show it to be a reasonable contender. It just doesn’t do enough, though; for £50 it’s reasonable to expect more than just the basic protection tools. AVG can provide PC tune up and parental control tools, but expects to charge you extra subscriptions for them. AVG Zen is promising, but currently doesn’t offer any real benefits.

Specifications

Manufacturer and Product

AVG Internet Security 2014 with Zen

Antivirus protection

Yes

Antimalware protection

Yes

Antispam protection

Yes

Browser protection

Yes

Two-way firewall

Yes

Parental control

No

Multi-platform support

PC only (free Android App)

Online storage

No

PC tune-up

Analysis only

Extra features

Zen device manager, Identity Alert, Data Safe

Number of devices covered

3