AVG is a rather popular company in the security business, mostly due to its free product offerings. For their 2013 edition of products they revealed a new user interface, inspired by Windows 8, and promised compatibility with this new operating system. But do they provide top notch protection in AVG Internet Security 2013? Let’s find out in this review.
Downloading the trial of AVG Internet Security 2013 is a painless process. You first download a file that acts as the downloader for the latest version of the security suite. The downloader itself is 4.2MB in size and it downloads another 54MB in order to install the security suite.
During the installation process, I learned that it is best to perform a Custom Install instead of an Express Install. That’s because, by default, it bundles some products you might not want installed. One example is PC Analyzer which doesn’t provide any real value as a feature. I will cover it in more detail in a later section of this review.
Next, AVG Internet Security 2013 changes your default search providers for all browsers. If you are like me, you won’t like having this changed and it is best to pay attention and uncheck the appropriate box. However, the AVG Security Toolbar is something you might want to install, since it provides a bit of protection.
At the end of the installation you are asked to create or provide an existing AVG account. If you would rather not, you can skip providing any information and continue to using the product.
No restart is required by the installation process and the product updates itself automatically after a while. However, you are not fully protected. When you launch the main window of the security suite, you are informed that the firewall actually needs a restart in order to protect your computer.
Even though the installation process is easy and doesn’t require any mandatory personal information, I was not pleased to learn that AVG Internet Security 2013 installed some products with questionable value and that, even though it required a restart to fully protect my system, it did not request one in a more visible manner.
Integration with Windows 8 & Windows 8 Apps
When it comes to the level of integration with Windows 8 there are many things to share, both positive and negative. Let’s start with the positives:
When installing AVG Internet Security 2013, the suite correctly disabled Windows Defender and Windows Firewall, eliminating the possibility of any conflicts showing up. If the correct network profile is assigned in Windows, you will be able to use any network sharing features with ease and without making any special configuration. The memory consumption is around 34MB of RAM, which is on the light side. Playing online games is done with ease and without any need for special configuration. Also, the NovaBench benchmark did not reveal a visible performance hit when running with AVG installed. The impact on the boot time was a reasonable 10 seconds, on my test system. Yes, it will take longer for your computer to boot but it won’t take much longer. All these are aspects that many users will appreciate.
But, the positives end here. One of the biggest problems I discovered is the fact that many AVG’s processes can be killed with ease, including the Firewall and the Online Protection services. Unlike the 2012 edition where the processes would quickly bounce back and continue to protect your system, now they don’t. At this point, AVG Internet Security 2013 starts to malfunction and the CPU (processor) usage goes up, making your system slightly unresponsive. This is very unfortunate as more complex infections can kill the processes of the security suite. It seems that AVG’s self protection feature doesn’t really work, even though it is enabled by default.
Another important issue I discovered is that AVG Internet Security 2013 doesn’t work well with the new Windows 8 apps. Even though it provides official support for this operating system, you will encounter issues when using the Windows Store to update installed apps or when running some of the apps you downloaded. Updating Windows 8 apps returned weird error codes like 0x80246007.
When it comes to integration with the main Internet browsers, things have improved since the 2012 edition, but not by much. First, Chrome is now supported. But, unlike the other browsers, the AVG Security Toolbar is not installed. In Google Chrome, only the AVG Secure Search provider is installed. Opera is still not supported but all HTTP traffic is scanned, indifferent of the browser you are using. This means you are warned when malicious pages are detected by AVG.
Even though AVG Internet Security 2013 promises to support Windows 8, I was very disappointed to encounter many issues when working with Windows 8 apps. AVG needs to spend more effort into improving the integration with this new operating system. Otherwise, users will have many reasons to be frustrated.
Default Settings You Might Want to Improve
I went through all the settings available in AVG Internet Security 2013 and felt they need to change quite a few things:
- If you want a more silent experience, you must tweak the System tray notifications.
- The e-mail protection doesn’t check your outgoing e-mail, only the incoming e-mail. You might want to change this.
- You should look at the settings available in the Scans section. There, you might want to enable scanning for tracking cookies, or scans inside archives for some of the available scans.
- The removable device scan is not enabled. Therefore, when you insert a DVD, a memory stick or external hard drive, it is not automatically scanned as soon as you plug it in. These devices are scanned only on a per-access basis. You might want to change this.
- Even though a scheduled scan is available, it is not enabled. I strongly recommend that users enable and configure the parameters of the scan, so that it runs on a regular schedule.
Users of AVG Internet Security 2013 need to invest some time to configure the product and improve its default settings. Otherwise they won’t get the protection and usage experience they want.
Ease of Use & Configuration
When it comes to ease of use, there are some improvements compared to the 2012 edition. First of all, the main interface of the suite uses touch friendly squares that can be successfully used on Windows 8 tablets as well. A click or tap on a module reveals some basic settings and switches that are touch friendly. If you go into the more advanced settings, then a mouse is required. But for basic configuration touch works well with AVG Internet Security 2013.
AVG Internet Security 2013 offers the basics you would expect from any security suite: the ability to create scheduled scans, access to the virus vault, the ability to add exclusions when scanning for malware, etc.
Its advanced configuration settings are nicely categorized and easy to work with. If something is not easily understood then you can access the Help and learn more.
When it comes to reporting, AVG doesn’t offer any visual reports - just very complete log files. There is a section dedicated to reports and from each module you can access the logs relevant to it.
You will find plenty of text entries to read and you will learn everything that is going on with the security suite.
Compared to other security suites, AVG Internet Security 2013 is rather verbose. It displays prompts when malware is detected, when attacks are blocked or when the firewall blocks access to the Internet for running apps and services. You will also learn when scans are made and many other details. If you would rather have a more silent experience, you need to spend some time configuring the types of notifications you want to receive.
The support options available are pretty good. You get access to the following: speak with an expert over the phone, chat with an expert, the AVG community forums and their database of Frequently Asked Questions.
What I found strange is that when clicking the Speak with an Expert button, I received an error. This might be because I did not provide an AVG account when installing the suite.
When it comes to ease of use and configuration, AVG Internet Security 2013 brings a number of improvements which will be appreciated by users. Its basic settings can be changed also from devices with touch, which is great.
In my review of the 2012 edition I applauded the quality of the firewall protection provided by AVG. That’s why I was very disappointed to learn that the 2013 edition offers a lesser experience in this regard.
First of all, in Windows 8, the firewall blocks many apps and services, which makes working with Windows 8 apps a frustrating experience. You really need to invest time in configuring what apps should not be blocked by the firewall.
Then, my scans with Nmap and Nessus revealed quite a few open ports. When a network connection is set as Private, there are 12 open ports found. When it is set as Public, 2 ports are still open. Luckily, they have little to no impact in compromising the security of the system. Also, the MAC and the exact operating system are easily identified, regardless of your network connection settings.
This is an average result and worse than the one obtained by the 2012 edition of AVG, which revealed less information. The only positive is that AVG continues to monitor the network connection settings made in Windows and adjusts its behavior based on them. When you set in Windows a network as Private or Public, AVG Internet Security 2013 automatically adjusts its firewall settings, to allow or block the appropriate networking features.
I was disappointed to learn that the quality of the firewall protection provided by AVG has degraded from the 2012 edition.
Antivirus and Antispyware
The experience I had when testing the antimalware protection features provided by AVG Internet Security 2013 was a mixed one.
First of all, the AVG Security Toolbar doesn’t work well in Internet Explorer 10. It slows the browser to a crawl and sometimes it doesn’t even display correctly. It worked well only in Firefox.
Then, AVG’s LinkScanner technology doesn’t seem to be very effective either. I browsed many malicious websites and most of them were blocked by the security features included with each browser and not by AVG. Only very few websites were identified and reported as malicious by AVG.
However, the antivirus engine worked very well when scanning infected USB memory sticks or when disinfecting a previously infected Windows installation.
The scan time was good too. I finished scanning a 30GB partition with 21GB of files in just 7 minutes. This is a very good result.
Unfortunately, only AV Comparatives has tested the 2013 edition of AVG products. And they awarded a weak Standard award for their On Demand Detection Test, placing AVG at the bottom of the pack.
Even though the traditional antivirus and antispyware engine seems to be working well, the level of protection provided by AVG's LinkScanner technology is rather disappointing.
Unlike other vendors, AVG doesn’t really bundle additional features with its security suite. The only products that are not part of the core of a security suite are the following:
- The AVG Security Toolbar provides some useful shortcuts to Windows apps, Facebook and the weather forecast for your location.
- The AVG Secure Search provider is a feature I did not appreciate. I did not like having my search results filtered by AVG, even though they promise additional security.
- The PC Analyzer scans your computer for things that can be optimized or fixed and then gives you a sales pitch to talk you into buying an additional product. Therefore, it is not a useful addition to the security suite.
AVG Internet Security 2013 offers very few additional features, some of questionable value and lacks any parental control capabilities.
Even though AVG created an improved user interface for the 2013 version, this doesn’t translate into better protection and more useful features when compared to its predecessor. Actually, the firewall protection is worse than in the 2012 edition, while their LinkScanner technology doesn’t do much in terms of blocking malicious websites. This, paired with the poor integration with Windows 8 and the lack of features like parental controls, don’t allow me to recommend AVG Internet Security 2013 to our readers.