Is your computer safe from viruses? Without the proper protection, your computer can catch a virus faster than you can recite your email address three times. Viruses can destroy files, compromise your privacy, and make you vulnerable to identity theft. What to do?
AVG Free Anti-Virus Software
The first step is to make sure that you have a decent anti-virus program installed. There are many to choose from, but I use and recommend the free AVG software. Let's take a look at the new 8.0 version and see what it can do to protect you from the onslaught of cyber-nasties floating around out there.
AVG proudly claims that over 70 million computers have downloaded their software. Compatible with both Windows XP and Vista, AVG is easy to install and use. It features automatic updates and background virus scanning on all your files, pictures, and applications. AVG Free protects against viruses, spyware, adware, identity theft.
The free version also scans both incoming and outgoing emails for viruses, and inludes the Link Scanner to protect you from "drive-by downloads" and other exploits that can infect your computer. The Safe Search feature protects you from clicking into malicious websites by displaying a real-time safety indicator next to the search results when you use the Google, Yahoo or MSN search engines.
Although it's free, and provides excellent protection from the most common Internet threats, you don't get any technical support, and you can use it for private, non-commercial home computers only. The free version is available in English, Italian and Japanese languages.
AVG Commercial Anti-Virus Software
If you want additional protection, or you want to use AVG in an office or other organizational setting, the AVG Anti-Virus Pro version adds protection from rootkits, screens all downloads, offers secure instant messaging, and offers worldwide technical support around the clock. A one-year subscription costs USD $35 or you can pay $52 for two years.
For maximum protection, the AVG Internet Security version adds a Firewall and email scanning to protect against phishing, fraud and spam. The cost for this option is $55 for one year or $80 for two years.
Both of the paid versions offer support for other languages, including Czech, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Hungarian, Polish, Portuguese, Serbian, Slovak and Spanish.
Personally, I use the free version and am very happy with the level of protection that it provides. I even decided to turn off the Link Scanner because it adds a bit of extra time to search engine queries. But I'm also a computer professional, so security is always on my mind when I'm searching, emailing, downloading or shopping online. If you want the additional peace of mind and access to tech support, the Pro version may be a better choice.
But honestly, I don't see much extra value in the AVG Internet Security version, as compared to the PRO version. Windows XP and Vista have a software firewall built in, and if you have high-speed a router, you already have a hardware-based firewall. (Please read Do I Need a Firewall? for more info on this topic.) And since I use Gmail, it includes pretty good protection against spam and phishing scams for free. I think other webmail services like Yahoo and Hotmail/Live also do a good job with this.
I have no financial interest in AVG, I'm just a happy user. So if you install AVG (either the free or paid version) and find it a good solution, I'm happy to know that one less computer is vulnerable to the plague of botnets that's responsible for so much of the spam and phishing attacks in our inboxes.
NOTE: Some people have reported problems after installing AVG 8, or upgrading from the AVG 7.5 version. They range from slowdowns to freezes to inability to access the Internet. AVG recommends that you uninstall your existing anti-virus software, turn off or suspend your firewall and anti-spyware programs, and reboot before installing AVG 8. Failure to do so may prevent AVG from installing properly and this can lead to all sorts of problems. For the record, I run with the XP Firewall, Windows Defender, and had no trouble installing or running AVG 8. But there are enough people reporting problems to take this caution seriously, especially if you are upgrading from version 7.
Other Anti-Virus Software
Of course AVG is just one of many options when it comes to anti-virus protection. There are plenty of people who swear by Avast, Avira Anti-Vir, BitDefender, ClamWin, Comodo AV, NOD32 and others. You can find mini-reviews of other free anti-virus programs in my Free Anti-Virus Programs article.
While there is no perfect solution to combat viruses, you have to include at least one of them on your computer to safeguard against attacks. Never open an e-mail that looks suspicious, pay attention to security warnings by your computer, and don't download anything unless you know it's from a trusted source.
Do you use AVG or some other anti-virus software? Post your thoughts in a comment below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 1 Aug 2008
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- AVG Review (Posted: 1 Aug 2008)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved