Avast Free Antivirus and AVG Antivirus Free 2014 are two of the most popular security software programs available. Neither will cost you a penny to download, although they will encourage you to upgrade to their fully featured cousins.
What features do Avast and AVG offer when compared to each other? Should you be ditching your Norton or McAfee subscription in favour of a free alternative? We explain all this and more in our Avast vs AVG comparison.
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Avast Free Antivirus vs AVG Antivirus Free 2014 — design
Both Avast and AVG have a similar Windows 8-inspired design aesthetic featuring large panels that encourage you to click them and start scanning your PC. AVG is the better looking of the two and it’s easier to navigate with clear ‘back’ buttons and switches to turn on settings. Avast is packed with more tabs and links, but this is initially quite confusing. Antivirus protection isn’t something anyone wants to think about for too long, you just want to click the ‘scan’ button and be done with it.
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Antivirus scanning – we’ll soon be lab testing the latest editions of both AVG and Avast against trojans, malware and more, but in terms of ease-of-use, Avast is difficult to get to grips with.
Upon installing, it immediately started a scan that we thought we’d cancelled until a computerised voice announced the results were in. When we went looking for them, they were nowhere to be seen. In contrast, AVG waited for our permission to do its job and then presented its findings in a clear and simple manner; just as you’d want.
Extra freebies – aside from their antivirus capabilities, both Avast and AVG offer several other free tools to help keep your computer ticking over. In theory, Avast’s most useful feature is Software Updater — a means of keeping track of the updates available for any piece of software installed on your PC. But click on an ‘Update now’ link and you’ll only be linked to the programme’s website instead of getting a direct download pop-up.
AVG’s LinkScanner and Secure Search features are also useful add-ons, which combine with your browser to scan sites and search results for dubious content. It’s worth bearing in mind, however, that removing either can be complicated, should you decide you no longer need them. There’s also an email scanner for for virus protection in Microsoft Outlook.
What you’re missing – unsurprisingly, the free versions of AVG and Avast are plastered with links encouraging you to upgrade. AVG Internet Security 2014 costs £36 to download and promises to scan your file downloads and block anyone trying to access data stored on your PC. Avast Internet Security offers a very similar level of protection for £39.99.
Which? expert verdict – ‘What about Windows?’
If you want an antivirus program that you can open up, start a scan and easily find its results, you’re likely to initially struggle with Avast, although once you’re familiar with its navigation quirks, you’ll be able to use the program without much hassle. When AVG is easier to use from the off, I don’t see much point in settling for the steeper learning curve.
Unless, that is, Avast’s antivirus scanning is significantly better than AVG’s — we’re testing the latest versions of both downloads in our test labs right now, so stay tuned to our security software program reviews for the results.
In the meantime, you may be better served by the antivirus that’s already on your PC. In Windows 8, Windows Defender offers free protection against malware and a phishing filter too. A similar bit of software called Microsoft Security Essentials is available on Windows 7 computers.
When it comes to the paid vs free antivirus debate, you’ve ultimately got to make a choice between value for money and peace of mind. Paid-for software will inevitably offer more features but, if you can get a good enough standard of protection for free and know how to stay safe online, why not save yourself a bit of cash?
Rob Leedham – writer
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