AVG AntiVirus v6.0

Reviewed by: Matthew Carson
Published by: Grisoft Inc.
Requires: Windows 98 through Vista
MSRP: US$19.95 to register Trial version (v6.0)

Grisoft Inc., the maker of AVG AntiVirus, is a U.S.-based company established in 1998 as a holding company for Grisoft, s.r.o., a Czech Republic-based high-tech company specializing in the development and marketing of antivirus software for computer systems since 1990. AVG Anti-Virus is a virus detection and eradication program which provides PC users with an easy to use interface and effective tools with which to combat viruses.

Installing our review copy of AVG AntiVirus was a bit of an adventure. I placed the CD into the CD-ROM drive and waited for the Autorun to kick in. I waited. And waited. Nothing. The installer would not autorun. So I started Windows Explorer. After double- clicking the setup icon, the standard install screen popped up and showed me the license info and so on. I clicked 'Yes' several times until the program asked me where I wanted to install AVG AntiVirus 6.0. I set an installation path. As the software began to install, a funny thing happened — the installer stopped at 22%, and then crashed. I stared for a moment, then sighed, and rebooted. I tried again. Same result. To make a long story short (and to keep this review under 6 pages), it turned out the CD itself was faulty. I ended up copying the files from the CD to a Jaz disc, and installing from there. Once done, I rebooted and started AVG Anti-Virus. For the record, the latest versions of AVG install perfectly on an enormous variety of systems. We believe the foregoing installations woes were complete anomaly.


The first thing I noticed was the user-friendly interface. Everything was laid out in a way that allowed very quick access to any part of the program. Big icons and easy-to-read fonts made it extremely easy to see and understand what I was doing.

There are four big buttons on the left side of the UI: AVG Control Center, Resident Shield, E-Mail Scanner, and Virus Database. Each function can be active or disabled, depending on what options you pick in the setup. When I clicked on each of the buttons, a dialog box popped up and told me exactly what it did or was doing, and asked me whether or not I wanted to enable it or disable it.

As well as having the on-screen options to work with, there is a standard menu bar at the top of the window, that allows access to all the options within the program. There are also buttons across the bottom of the UI: Info, Help, Test Results, Scheduler, and Exit. Info provides information about Grisoft, the software license, etc. Help provides access to the online help system. Test Results provides information about all the previous scans you have conducted on your system using AVG AntiVirus. Scheduler lets you set a specific time each day (or week, month, etc.) for AVG AntiVirus to scan your system.

There are two different types of scans: a complete test which scans internal hard drives, and a Removable Media test which lets you scan floppy disks, CD-ROMs, removable media, and external hard drives. The Removable Media test is a welcome addition to the scan options, as most other Anti-virus programs force you to select the drive from a list (which I've always felt was kind of clumsy). The default virus listing was quite extensive, and became even more lengthy when I downloaded the latest virus profiles update from the Grisoft/AVG web site. The AVG Control Center lets you modify any of the options. For example, you can tell the E-Mail Scanner whether or not to scan outgoing mail, or set a scheduled time for AVG to update itself. The Scheduler options are extremely useful for someone with a permanent Internet connection (network, ADSL/DSL, or cable), as the scheduler can work unhindered as it downloads the latest updates.

I used my Father's virus collection at Proton Research in an attempt to fool AVG Anti-Virus. We tried Ghost, Shadow, a dozen different Word Macro virii, the extremely tough Stealth_Boot.C.STB and PeterII variants (boot sector/MBR virii), the scary Taiwan.DoomI.A variant (which erases the first 160 sectors of C and D drives on the 8th day of any month), and Hydra (a crippling polymorphic virus). They're all nasty, but AVG detected them easily and permanently removed all of them. Despite a couple of "Cons" (see below), AVG Anti-Virus is recommended.

Cons: Maybe Grisoft should test their install CDs before giving them to reviewers. Read the following blurb from the Grisoft web site on AVG's Heuristic Analysis component and tell me if it makes any sense: "The advanced heuristics technology implemented in the AVG engine represents nine years of continuous development is now not only the "privilege" of an "on-demand" scanner, but it is available even on the AVG Resident Shield, AVG E-Mail Scanner or AVG Shell Extension." It doesn't make much sense, does it? The problem is either abidingly poor translation and localization of documents, or someone who is trying to be an engineer, programmer, writer, proof reader, and marketing manager, all at the same time. It doesn't work. In any case, the much-overused word Heuristics, actually refers to analysis and use by logical trial and error, as opposed to analysis according to predetermined algorithms or variable formulas. Essentially, AVG Anti-Virus is designed to use trial and error methods to analyze code which it suspects might represent a virus. This is not a new approach, nor is it a bad approach; just don't be dazzled by the word heuristic.

Pros: Easy to use interface, good database, effective protection and low price. What more can you ask? A polished antivirus program (the installer issues really were a rare anomaly) that does its job well. Because it works well and is being diligently updated, you can safely ignore some of the many localization problems. AVG AntiVirus seems to be a safe, robust alternative to McAfee Antivirus, Norton Antivirus, Zone Alarm, and Dr. Solomon's (note that McAfee and Dr. Solomon's are both now owned by Network Associates). If you register your own copy of AVG AntiVirus on the Grisoft web site, you can sign up for the AVG Virus Alert. The service notifies you via e-mail about new virus threats and corresponding updates to AVG AntiVirus.



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