Today we welcome AVG Internet Security 2012 to our round of reviews. The suite is developed by the Czech company AVG Technology and one of the commercial alternatives to the free and very popular AVG Antivirus. In this review I will evaluate how much AVG improved the 2012 edition compared to previous versions and find out if it has become a security suite we can recommend to everyone.
Downloading the trial of AVG Internet Security 2012 is as easy and painless as it should be: takes a few clicks and no personal information is requested. This is a welcome change compared to other security vendors who are more aggressive about collecting information.
You first download an executable file which then downloads the latest version of AVG Internet Security 2012. The download size is of 91MB. I recommend you do NOT do a quick install as AVG Internet Security 2012 tends to install everything that comes bundled with it. And certain things you might not want to have installed on your computer. One example is a desktop gadget which does not provide much value in terms of functionality. Another, is the fact that AVG will change your default search provider for your browser to AVG Secure Search. Personally, I do not appreciate this change as I would rather have my browser customisation intact, the way I want it.
Except these less desirable changes, the installation proceeds smoothly. Once done, you are prompted to restart your computer. When you log in again, AVG prompts you to update it. If you don’t, it automatically updates itself in approximately 1 or 2 minutes However it updates only to the latest definitions not the latest program updates. This is very good behavior which helps in protecting your system as soon as possible.
When comparing to the 2011 version, you notice that AVG has worked on simplifying the interface and reducing the number of modules. Some have been bundled into one while others (which were not essential) have been removed. This is a welcome evolution which helps in improving usability.
However, there are some things which don’t help in making a great first impression. First, is the PC Analyzer module which isn’t really fully-functional. It is there only to convince users they need to buy an additional solution called AVG PC Tuneup, which isn’t even integrated with AVG Internet Security 2012.
Another unfortunate aspect is the introduction of the so called AVG Apps which have their own section in the main interface. They are additional applications that can be purchased and added to "enhance" your AVG protection. However, most applications cost money and are not integrated with AVG Internet Security 2012. They function mostly as separate, independent applications.
It is sad to see more and more security vendors trying to trick their users into buying additional solutions, some of which don’t even help increase their system’s security. As for AVG, this approach lessens what would have otherwise been a great first impression.
Integration with Windows
AVG Internet Security 2012 impressed me with its great integration with Windows 7. During its installation, it disables both the Windows Firewall and Windows Defender, thus eliminating any possible conflicts or performance issues from having multiple solutions running at the same time. The integration with networking features in Windows 7 is executed very well and caused me no issues during testing.
The impact on my system’s boot timings was 15 seconds. While it is not great, it is not a disaster either. AVG Internet Security 2012 seems to be light on resources while running in the background. On my system it needed approximately 45MB of RAM to function, which is pretty light compared with many other security suites. Another good aspect is the fact that you cannot kill its protection processes with ease. The few processes you can kill, restart automatically, thus keeping your system protected.
The only integration aspect that is less than ideal is its browser support. AVG Internet Security 2012 installs the AVG Security Toolbar only for Internet Explorer and Firefox. It doesn’t offer support for Google Chrome.
Considering the rise in popularity of Google Chrome, this is a pretty important shortcoming. People who use this browser heavily won’t be fully protected by AVG while browsing the web. Regarding the browsers that it does support, the toolbar does a good job at scanning the webpages you are visiting and blocking those which are infected.
Ease of Use & Configuration
In the main interface you get a list with all the modules included in AVG Internet Security 2012. Clicking on a module gives you a brief list of options that you can configure. Even though they are few, they are always the most important and easy to understand even by novices.
At the bottom of the window there is an "Advanced settings" link. Clicking on it opens a new window with lots of detailed advanced settings. The list of things that can be customized should satisfy the needs of any advanced user.
AVG Internet Security 2012 does a good job at explaining most options. Even though its help file is not very comprehensive, I never found any configuration option I was not able to understand from reading the information presented to me.
One weak configuration aspect of AVG is that it has no enabled default scans for malware. There is a scheduled scan defined, but it needs to be enabled by the user. Otherwise, defining and customizing schedule scans is done with ease.
The alerts and messages shown by AVG Internet Security 2012 are easy to understand and have the option to show additional details, if needed.
However, I managed to receive alerts only from the antivirus and antispyware protection modules. The firewall was always silent, even when it was blocking my intrusive scans.
As for reporting capabilities - there are no reports in the real sense of the word. AVG Internet Security 2012 has only logs, made available in the History menu. You get logs for everything and they are very detailed and up to date.
I was happy to see a prominent Support button in the main interface. Clicking on it takes you to a window where you see the available support options - all accessed on the web via your web browser. You have an option to "Chat with an expert" which I was immediately tempted to use. Clicking on it though led to disappointment, as chat seems to be available only for pre-sales questions and not to get live support.
However, all the online support options seem to work fine and their support forums are pretty active.
Just like in the 2011 version, the AVG 2012 firewall is excellent. One of the very first things I noticed is its great implementation for assigning the correct settings profile to a network. It monitors the choice made by the user when setting the network location in Windows 7 and it automatically adjusts its protection settings.
This way, with one choice you get both Windows and the AVG firewall configured correctly. This means you won’t have issues with network sharing or the Homegroup, when connected to a trusted network. Also, you will get great protection when connecting to a public network.
Another great fact about the AVG firewall implementation is that, no matter which network profile is assigned, any intrusive scans I made, returned no useful results. On both network profiles, Nmap and Nessus were unable to find any open ports. The only information that could be identified was the MAC address. But that doesn’t really pose a security risk.
Antivirus and Antispyware Features
One of the tests I make is to browse several malicious websites. The AVG Security Toolbar did its job and promptly blocked access when needed.
However, when using Google Chrome, I was obviously unprotected and able to access malicious websites and download infected files from the web. The malicious files were detected only after they got downloaded to my computer.
I also plugged in a USB memory stick filled with infected files. AVG Internet Security 2012 did not prompt me to scan it for viruses. Therefore it started to detect infected files only when I was browsing the memory stick. This meant that it wasn’t able to detect them all at once. It took a while to detect and remove them one by one. If it happens to find infected files on removable media you are using, it is best to stop and make a full scan of the device, before continuing. This way, you make sure all malware is detected and removed by AVG.
I noticed a strange glitch during one disinfection: AVG reported removing a threat (which apparently was trying to infect Windows Explorer) and each time I pressed Close, the same message was shown again and again. I could make it go away only by closing Windows Explorer.
Except for this issue, AVG Internet Security 2012 was good at detecting and removing malware. The antivirus engine seems to be doing its job well. However, the fact that it doesn’t prompt users to scan removable media, it doesn’t have any enabled scheduled scans and it is not integrated with Google Chrome, don’t allow it to offer top antivirus and antispyware protection.
Another test I make is to measure the time it takes for a full system scan on a test system with only one 30 GB partition. I was surprised to see it finishing in only 6 minutes, which is pretty impressive.
Regarding the evaluations received from independent organisations, the picture is mixed. AV-Comparatives rated it as providing Advanced protection. This rating places it in the second half of the top twenty security solutions. AV-Test did not yet rate the 2012 version of AVG Internet Security, while Virus Bulletin awarded a good 90%+ rating for its reactive protection.
Giving a verdict for AVG Internet Security 2012 is tough. The suite has evolved versus its 2011 incarnation and it does many things right. For example, it offers a great integration with Windows 7, one which very few competing solutions are able to match. Also, it offers one of the best firewalls you can find. It works great and its default configuration is simply awesome.
However, there are areas where AVG is average: the lack of enabled schedule scans, the fact that it doesn’t prompt users to scan removable media (such as USB memory sticks or hard disk drives) and the lack of integration with Google Chrome. These aspects don’t allow me to recommend AVG Internet Security 2012 to everyone. Unfortunately the verdict remains just as with the 2011 version: "Buy for Geeks!" who are not using Google Chrome.
You can buy AVG Internet Security 2012 from Amazon US or Amazon UK (for European readers). When you are buying from Amazon, we also receive a small affiliate commission which will help pay for some of our work on the site. A big thank you to all who are buying using these links.