grisoft.jpgThis is one of my (many) computer pet peeves… every new PC I’ve encountered in this decade comes with a virus protection program installed, generally from McAfee or Norton with a trial subscription. Offers tend to vary between 30 day and 1 year, with 1-2 seeming average. After that time, the anti-virus program will keep running (often quite stubbornly) but it won’t receive new updates or “definitions” from the manufacturer. Those are those regular updates which inform your anti-virus of new threats to look out for. Without them, your anti-virus will quickly become virtually worthless. I’d say about 10% of the privately owned PCs I come across have nothing more than an expired copy of Norton or McAfee on them, with most owners citing cost and convenience (I have a lot of poor and busy friends). That’s why I’m recommending a free anti-virus if you cannot or do not have other options.

There are a few free virus protection programs out there varying from crippled commercial version, trials, nag-ware, etc but I chose AVG Anti-Virus Free, manufactured by GriSoft, as my trial. Here are my observations after three months with the free version on my laptop:

True to its name, AVG Anti-Virus Free is offered free with no nags, ad-ware, registration or spam. Updates are automatic downloaded and can be scheduled to your convenience through the built in Scheduler feature. Simply set Scheduler to download updates and system scanning preference once and forget about it. Except in the case of major updates, AVG Anti-Virus Free does not require anything be restarted or rebooted.

AVG’s primary strength is not appearance. The interface is basic and lacks the bells and whistles of a highly polished design. It is however, graphic interface driven so you don’t have to be a command line commando to use it. As a matter of fact, the out of the box configuration should be fine for most users. After the initial install, I recommend an immediate update/download of definitions and a full system scan.

AVG Anti-Virus Free also scans incoming/outgoing emails and file attachments as they are generated so you can avoid “sharing the love” when it comes to folks you communicate. Scanned emails are stamped with the following message:

No virus found in this incoming message.
Checked by AVG Free Edition.
Version: 7.1.407 / Virus Database: 268.12.11/460 – Release Date: XX/XX/XXXX

Another feature that is often crippled in free anti-virus versions but is fully functional in AVG Anti-Virus Free is real time scanning of executables and documents as they are deployed.

Finally, AVG Anti-Virus Free is available for Windows and Linux platforms.

All in all, pretty standard stuff for a commercial anti-virus program, but nice to see it all fully implemented in a free version with no limited trial period.

What does the free version NOT offer that the paid version does? The paid version includes:

  • 24/7 Technical Support
  • Priority updates
  • Multiple language support
  • More granular options settings
  • Enterprise use.

Some nice perks, to be sure, but nothing that cripples the program for your otherwise defenseless computer owner.

GriSoft offers several commercial products as well such as Professional Anti-Virus, Anti-Malware, Firewall, etc all under the AVG banner at reasonable costs with discount programs for schools, charities, religious institutions, and municipal & government organizations.

AVG Anti-Virus Free is available from the GriSoft website here.


I was not paid for this review, but the folks at AVG are welcome to buy me a cup of coffee if we run into each other.I’ll babble about how the broke & busy can get by on ad-ware, firewall and other precautions another time. I also just thought you’d enjoy the break from the news on the establishment of the U.S. Police State. :-)Cafe Arcane: Nazi free since September 28, 2006!