It’s one of the mysteries of the internet that I have never been able to get my head around – why anyone would want to pay through the nose for anti-virus software when there are perfectly good free alternatives out there. For the past five years, I have been using AVG from Grisoft and I have always been amazed at how great it is. The other day, they rolled out their 2008 free version and it blew my socks right off.
To give you an indication right off the bat of how good it is, a friend of mine has Norton Anti-Virus (for which he pays for) and it failed to detect a virus. On my recommendation, he downloaded AVG Anti-Virus 2008 – and it detected the virus immediately. My friend is now so disgusted with Norton that he has uninstalled it from his computer and he can’t stop raving about AVG 2008.
AVG does everything that a virus checker normally does – real time virus checking to begin with. When a virus enters your computer, AVG immediately flashes a warning sign on your screen with the location of the virus and it asks you what you want it to do. Obviously you want the virus moved immediately to the secure virus vault and once you make that choice, AVG moves away to do it and you can then continue with what you were doing before *cough* looking at naughty websites *cough*.
Secondly, AVG also scans your incoming and outgoing emails if you download your emails to an offline client such as Microsoft Outlook or Mozilla Thunderbird. It quarantines and zaps suspicious attachments, especially if it has a file type “exe”.
So far, nothing to make you go “WOW!”. It’s all fairly standard stuff so far. So let’s see what Grisoft has done to the 2008 version that has impressed me personally :
First of all, they have radically re-designed the interface. The designers have really gone to work on it to make it aesthetically pleasing. I like companies that go that extra mile to make their products look nice.
Secondly, they have introduced some new features. I can now tell it to remove malicious tracking cookies from my computer. This was not available in its predecessor (at least not in the free version of AVG). What it also does is real-time monitoring of malicious tracking cookies whenever you visit a website. So when you visit a site and that site tries to put a bad cookie on your computer, AVG will instantly flash a warning sign on your screen asking you what you want to do. You are given the option of looking up the cookie in the online AVG database for more information before deciding whether to nuke the cookie or ignore it.
Also, when I make searches on Google, AVG tells me if the search results are safe to click on or if the pages have spyware in them.
The green arrow indicates a safe site (I presume a bad site is a red cross). My only complaint about this is that the checking process can take a while (thereby slowing down my searching) so I may eventually switch this feature off in the AVG options.
The next new feature is that you can control the speed of the virus checking process. You can choose between “slow scan”, “automatic scan” and “fast scan” :
But regardless of this feature, AVG 2008 overall is MUCH faster than its predecessor. You will notice a much improved scanning speed. It’s like the older AVG on steroids. I don’t know what the AVG engineers are feeding their virus scanner to make it go so fast but it must be good!
If you have the older AVG, I strongly recommend you upgrade (you will need to uninstall the older version of AVG first). If you don’t have AVG, I strongly recommend you uninstall whatever it is that you’re using and you start using AVG instead because this little beauty is the King of the Anti-Virus Jungle.