AVG Internet Security 2013 Review: Adequate antivirus program gets a makeover

AVG is a perfectly respectable antivirus program. But "perfectly respectable" just doesn't cut it these days.

AVG has given its Internet Security suite a makeover for the new year. AVG Internet Security 2013 ($55 for one year, as of 12/17/12) now has a pretty, Windows 8-style tiled interface, complete with large, colorful buttons that are optimized for a touchscreen. That said, it seems as if AVG has put most of its effort into improving its program's looks, as the suite managed a respectable, but below-average, showing in our tests.

In our real-world attack test, AVG completely blocked 94.4 percent of attacks and partially blocked 5.6 percent of attacks. This indicates how well the program will block new malware attacks when it encounters them in the wild, and this is a good score, actually. However, since five of the nine security suites we tested completely blocked 100 percent of attacks, this score still puts AVG in the bottom half of the list.

AVG's ability to detect 97.8 percent of known malware samples seems respectable at first glance, but it's actually the worst detection rate of all the suites we tested. All of the other security suites were able to detect at least 98.8 percent of malware samples, while the top contender in this category, Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security 2013, was able to detect 100 percent of samples. AVG also flagged five safe files (out of a pool of over 250,000) as being dangerous; while this isn't a bad false-positive rate, almost all of our other testedsuites posted lower rates.

In our system cleanup test, AVG detected 100 percent of infections, but only disabled 90 percent, and only managed to completely clean up 60 percent. This isn't a great rate--F-Secure Internet Security 2013 managed to completely clean up 90 percent of malicious files--but it's also not the worst of the suites we tested.

AVG Internet Security 2013 is quick and fairly painless to install. It has just five screens to click through, and the program does not require you to reboot your computer. You do have to opt-out, rather than opt-in, of the company's browser toolbar and SafeSearch. If you choose just to install the browser toolbar, AVG will still change your default search bar in Firefox to its SafeSearch bar.

AVG's new interface is very nice--simple, clean, and totally in line with the look of Windows 8. The main window features large, brightly-colored tile-like buttons arranged in an easy-to-understand layout. At the top of the window is a protection status notification, which lets you know whether you're protected (green) or in danger (red). Below this status lie five large green tiles.

These tiles are buttons that represent the suite's main security components: Computer, Web Browsing, Identity, E-mails, and Firewall. On each button there's a little status notification that lets you know if that particular area is currently protected. Below these five green tiles are five smaller teal tiles that link to other security options and services from AVG: Fix Performance (installs AVG's PC Tuneup program), Mobile protection (links to AVG's free AV program for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone), Speedtest (links to Speedtest.net), TechBuddy (links to AVG's remote tech-support program), and More from AVG (links to otheravailable AVG apps).

Finally, there are two turquoise buttons near the bottom of the screen: Scan now and Update now. The scan button lets you scan your computer or manage your scanning options, while the update button checks AVG's website for updates to the program.

When you roll over any of the tiles or buttons, you're presented with further information about that feature. This information pops up in the lower half of the window, underneath the rows of tiles. While this new tile look makes AVG's software seem more user-friendly, the settings (in the Advanced Settings or Firewall Settings menus) are still a bit intimidating for non-advanced users.

The program itself is lightweight overall, but its scanners aren't the quickest. It adds about 1.5 seconds to startup time (as compared with a test PC that has no antivirus installed), and its overall impact on PC performance was low. The program completed our on-demand scan test in a mediocre 1 minute, 38 seconds (the sixth-best of the group), but its with on-access scan time of 6 minutes, 31 seconds was the worst of the suites we tested.

AVG Internet Security 2013 is a perfectly respectable antivirus program with a great new top-level user interface. But that's the problem--in these malware tests, "perfectly respectable" doesn't quite cut it, and we saw several programs that outdid AVG at nearly every turn.

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