Avast Free Antivirus vs AVG Antivirus Free 2014 – which is better?

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.

Security software program reviews – our test lab results

Avast Free Antivirus vs AVG Antivirus Free 2014 — design

AVG screenshot

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.

Avast Free Antivirus 8 vs AVG Antivirus Free 2014 — three things to know


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?’

Rob Leedham profile imageIf 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

More on this

How often should my antivirus software update and scan? – we explain
Security software features explained – our expert guide
PC security troubleshooting – some handy tips

Categories: Computing Helpdesk

16 replies

  1. Come on Rob, the headline should have been “Free antivirus software: which is the BETTER?” as you’re only comparing 2 free programs: Avast and AVG.

  2. Interesting article but I think it could have waited until you had completed the tests you are currently running and therefore been able to give us your opinion on which is the better. You’ve pointed out various attributes of the two free downloads mentioned but it just serves to confuse me as to which is the best. Are we to assume that these two are the only free antivirus software packages worth looking at ?

  3. So are you comparing them to Windows Defender and Microsoft Security Essentials at the same time?
    Nobody wants to add more resource hogging programs to a PC if there is a native program that can do the job as well!

  4. I just want some program that will keep me safe online and update all my programs, and fine tune my computer on a regular basis, { All in ONE}. Is it too much to ask?

  5. Have had free AVG s/w for a number of years. Lats year and this I paid for the AVG 2013 version. Had trouble activating it. I purchaced the 2014 version last month and still cannot activate it. I had the same trouble activating Avg Tune Up. It works well,but! every time I run it a message Disc needs
    defragging. This takes a while and as I ran it yesterday I will ignore it.
    I agree with Dave and Ike. Panda, Ashampoo etc. Paddy

  6. I currently use Microsoft Security Essentials. A neighbour has warned me that an article in his computer magazine says:

    ‘Microsoft’s recent admission that its own Security Essentials tool is potentially unreliable will come as a shock to people who depend on it to keep their PC’s safe.’

    It goes on to recommend switching to Avast Free Antivirus 2014. As you can imagine, this made me panic somewhat! Please can you let us know when your results of the test of this latest version will be available so that I can decide whether to make this switch urgently, or wait for your test results to be published.

    Also should MSE be removed before installing Avast?

  7. I would appreciate it if you could also include in your reviews those applicable to Apple computers – many Which members have these as well as standard Windows PCs.

  8. I did switch to Avast a few months ago. It definitely lets through more junk/suspicious mail than MSE did, every day I’m getting half a dozen junk emails through to my inbox. It also causes my computer to slow down more than MSE did when updating. So overall it’s a bit of a pain, but no major problems so far.

  9. So since a computer magazine said Windows Defender wasn’t worth its salt… well… that’s the definitive answer, right? LOL

    And they based their findings on what? What evidence did they cite to give some credence to their claims? Now here’s a fact: Windows Defender is built into the system unlike these third party AV’s and it cannot easily be hacked and thereby rendered ineffectual without alerting the user via a blue screen. People get ideas into their heads (i.e. MSE and the current Windows Defender) isn’t adequate, based upon a few Youtube reviews and older AV Comparative tests and that seems to settle it for all time as far as they’re concerned. This is simply false. Windows Defender is a very adequate AV/Malware program and it does not need to be replaced by any third party AV, particularly a free offering. Granted, if you want bells and whistles and the ability to endlessly tweak your program, you’ll probably opt for a paid-for suite but in the end you’re going to experience a performance hit for very little in return. It’s your call. I’ve made mine and Windows Defender is my choice.


    1. You should only have 1 Antivirus program installed unto your computer. Otherwise if you have more than one the programs will work against each other.

  11. I just run MSE alongside MALWAREBYTES. Never had a problem with either. I’m just a general user and I always say “if it aint broke, then don’t fix it”.

    Everybody has their own preference so just try them all out and see which one is for you.

  12. Until last year I was using AVG free, until my engineer, on a visit, reccomended Avast. For some months, I`ve been getting a number of phishing scams from banks and others, which of course I delete immediately. Recently, a power surge did for my router, and while the guy (a different one) was there, I asked him to uninstall Avast and install AVG. Since then, the phishing has stopped, although this may be entirely coincidental. As far as MSE is concerned, most of what I`ve heard about it is not so good, but it will always have its defenders.

  13. Thankyou for all your efforts that you have put in this. Very interesting information. I like this site very much so much superb information.

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