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AVG Antivirus - Friend or Foe?

Many of us have been hit by a computer virus at some point in time. The solution is simple, stop visiting 'dodgy' websites, stop opening suspicious emails and definitely - invest in a good security program.

Now, here is the most common answer I hear when I ask if a user has antivirus protection - "I have AVG antivirus, and it's free". This is all good and I have nothing against getting free stuff, but the question is "How effective is AVG antivirus?"

I am all for free and open source products (mind you, not all free software is safe so be mindful of this), but when it comes to PC security is this 'free' software good enough to keep 'nasties' off my PC which may be trying to hack into my banking details or key log my credit card info - is this 'free' software going to do the job well enough to protect me?

Based on all the blurb that I have read and user reviews, AVG Free appears to be the best bang for buck antivirus (seeing that you pay no bucks for it). AVG has it's merits and has won many awards - but if you delve a little deeper, many of these awards are for the 'paid' version and not the 'free for personal use' version.

AVG Free lacks a few security components required for effective PC protection including anti-rootkit, anti-spam, instant messaging filter and more, (Grisoft - the company that produces AVG - actually states this on their website - http://free.grisoft.com/ww.download-avg-anti-virus-free-edition). This would therefore imply that AVG Free is not a complete security solution. The full version (which sells for US$54.99 p/a) is a complete version but when it comes to paying that price - wouldn't you have been better off just considering any other commercially available software in the market e.g. Trendmicro, BitDefender, CA or Norton (Symantec) antivirus?

My greatest gripe (and fear) with AVG Free is that it offers unsuspecting users a false sense of security as they believe they are fully protected when they could well have a 'nasty' on their PC sending out their personal details to a 'well intentioned' hacker hell bent on emptying their bank account. I cannot count the number of times we have had a client PC with AVG Free, start acting strange, and when scanned with a commercial product, we find a myriad of malware that have slipped through AVG's defenses.

(BTW - when I say unsuspecting users, I refer to those users who have downloaded AVG Free because their friends or colleagues swear by it, but have not read about what it covers on the AVG website or ignore the fact that the paid version provides more effective protection)

For something as precious as your personal data, credit card details and banking info - I hesitate to see why anyone would skimp on purchasing a good security software (be it AVG or any other).

If you do nothing but use your computer for the odd email, game, Google or document - AVG Free is probably going to be sufficient to help stave off simple viruses. But if you use your PC for business, banking, buying and selling (e.g. eBay), invest in a full security software suite which does a more thorough job than the freebies.

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