Contenders: AVG And GFI
We felt it was important to represent a couple of the leading free AV products in our selections, and by our totally informal reckoning, AVG Free and avast! are two of the most popular. We certainly had several people in our last AV roundup request avast!. However, since that company is based in the Czech Republic and didn’t answer our press query, while AVG (located only three time zones away) bent over backward to help and participate, it made our choice simpler.
AVG Free (free.avg.com), as with most no-charge AV products, provides you with a solid antivirus core and little else in the way of free amenities. Most notably, the product lacks a firewall, so there’s no guarding inbound or outbound packet sniffing. Does it matter whether you detect a malicious before or after it reaches your system? Probably about the same as it matters if you extinguish a burning torch in your driveway instead of your hallway. You just don’t want something dangerous coming inside.
AVG Free still monitors your browsing and social networking. You’ll find a nifty tool called AVG Advice that proactively monitors Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer, alerting you in the event of any “overuse of memory” by a browser. You’ll also be warned if AVG’s LinkScanner determines that a site is untrustworthy before you visit it. For $36, you can step into AVG Anti-Virus 2012 and thereby grab a firewall and priority tech support. For $49.49, AVG’s Internet Security 2012 will safeguard your wireless connections and email, as well as allegedly accelerate system start-up and rich content downloading.
GFI Vipre Antivirus (www.vipreantivirus.com/) comes to this story as our dark horse, a new contestant in our testing. Previously sold by Sunbelt before being acquired by GFI, the standard edition of Vipre covers antivirus, antispyware, email protection, and rootkit detection/removal. Vipre Premium adds in a firewall, ad blocking, Web site blocking, malicious script blocking, and more.
We can debate whether Vipre brings much that’s new to the AV space, but we definitely like having readily available phone tech support here in the U.S. Equally inviting are the product's flexible billing options. There are no auto-billing subscriptions—nice. Instead, you can select whether you want a license for one, two, or three or more systems, as well as a license duration of one, two, or three years or the PC’s lifetime. The Premium product spans from $30 for one year on one PC to $150 for lifetime support on three or more systems.