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AVG Free Antivirus Review 2017: Frequent Upgrade Prompts

By: Dennis Z
AVG Logo

AVG has been around for a long time and protects quite a bit of users over the world from malicious applications and dangerous websites.

In this review of AVG Free Antivirus I will focus on the difference between the free and paid versions of AVG.

Our complete review of AVG has a thorough coverage of its features, test scores and everything else you need to know.

The purpose here is to demonstrate the user experience and missing features when using the free version only.

AVG AntiVirus Free

AVG AntiVirus Free

Let’s take a look!

Pros and Cons of AVG Free

Once again, these are the pros and cons of the free version vs. the paid one.

Pros:
  • Active malware protection
  • Email protection
  • Free for an unlimited time
  • No bundled junkware
Cons:
  • Frequent prompts to upgrade
  • Half of the antivirus dashboard promotes the paid version
  • Additional AVG products are advertised on the main console
  • Fancy names for simple features
  • Phone and email support is reserved for paying customers only

If you're considering the paid AVG products, read our complete review of AVG.

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Article Index

Reviewing AVG AntiVirus Free

For the purpose of this review of AVG AntiVirus Free I started by installing the free 30-day trial of its Internet Security product.

You can get the trial yourself, here:

Try AVG Internet Security

This is how it looks during the free trial:

AVG Internet Security - Free Trial for 30 Days

AVG Internet Security - Free Trial for 30 Days

Note that there's a small strip advertising the premium version at the bottom of the user interface.

After the trial expired, the program was downgraded to the free antivirus with limited features, allowing me to compare the user experience between the free and paid versions.

8.5 / 10

Free Features vs. Paid Features

The most important feature of AVG AntiVirus Free is the real-time protection which is not the case for every free antivirus.

By allowing multiple scan options, including custom scheduled scans, AVG takes care of the security of its free users just like it does for its paid subscribers.

All Scan Options are Available for Free Users

All Scan Options are Available for Free Users

Web & email protection ensures a scan of all downloaded files, warnings about potentially malicious websites you visit and suspicious public Wi-Fi spots.

It seems that while AVG don't explicitly state it, the file shredder is also available in the free version.

But what about what you forfeit if you choose the free version?

Here's the simplified rundown of the features which you will no longer enjoy when the trial expires, or simply won't have if you install the free version of AVG:

Note the pretentious names of these features. I really don't like that, a firewall is a firewall, not a "hacker attack shield".

It's misleading and confusing.

Anyway, I marked the options which aren't present in the free version as you see them in the settings of the paid one.

AVG - Premium Features under Settings

AVG - Premium Features under Settings

Aside from the features outlined above, note that only paying customers are eligible for phone and email support.

5.0 / 10

Products Sold from Within the User Dashboard

Another thing that I noticed is that the main dashboard (not the antivirus one), up-sells additional products.

If it was only on the free antivirus I'd overlook it, but after paying for the internet security bundle I expect zero ads.

Zero.

If you look at the main AVG console, you'll find that aside from access to the antivirus or internet security dashboard, most of the space is for advertising additional products 

Product Placement on the AVG Console

Product Placement on the AVG Console

4.0 / 10

Pop-ups Every 3 Hours

If you installed the free trial and it expired, get ready to get angry.

First, you're notified that you have to restart your PC because the trial has expired.

AVG Trial Expired

AVG Trial Expired

After you restart, the alerts start coming in, prompting you to buy the premium product.

Your console will display this warning every time you access it:

AVG Console Warning

AVG Console Warning

Every 3 hours you receive one of the following alerts:

An Alert That Pops Up in the Bottom Right Corner

An Alert That Pops Up in the Bottom Right Corner

Another Version of an Upgrade Alert

Another Version of an Upgrade Alert

For me intrusive alerts like this are a deal breaker. What's more, they come at the worst time possible without consideration for your current activity.

In some cases, it even minimizes your active window.

While I haven't received emails from AVG, I have seen claims by users online that upgrade prompts also come in via email.

My Conclusion

AVG Free provides all the essential features to protect your machine, but in order to convert free users into paying users it bothers the free user with multiple notifications every day.

I don't recommend this free antivirus.

If you're interested in reading more about this antivirus, have a look at our review of AVG's paid security products.

Pros:
  • Active malware protection
  • Email protection
  • Free for an unlimited time
  • No bundled junkware
Cons:
  • Frequent prompts to upgrade
  • Half of the antivirus dashboard promotes the paid version
  • Additional AVG products are advertised on the main console
  • Fancy names for simple features
  • Phone and email support is reserved for paying customers only

If it's good enough for you, you can download it here:

Get AVG AntiVirus Free

Contributor: Vlad Zhelezniak did the leg work for this article, testing both versions over several weeks to provide an insight into the real, day-to-day user experience. Thanks Vlad!

By Dennis Z

Privacy fanatic & online marketing guru

A millennial privacy freak who wouldn’t normally even put his first name anywhere, not to mention his last name or his photo. Having learned basic programming at the advanced age of 11, computers have always been a part of his life in every aspect.

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AVG is a reputable company, but their free product is really annoying. While it does provide reasonable real-time protection for free, the constant reminders that advertise its paid products are annoying and overdone. This product would only benefit from toning down the constant stream of pop up alerts.

AVG Free
Date published:May 21, 2017
7.6 / 10 stars

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