AVG: free antivirus software to download

If you don't want to pay for a yearly subscription for your virus scan updates, there is always free antivirus software available! AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition (download: free.grisoft.com) is one of them. The AVG Anti-Virus setup is straight forward, with a few clicks en updating of the virus definitions, your Free AVG software is ready. You need to register, after registration you receive an e-mail with the registration code.

Advantages AVG Free antivirus: easy virus definition update
Disadvantages AVG Free antivirus: doesn't recognize all viruses (personal experience)

See the pages Free Avast and Free AntiVir for other free antivirus software.

Installing and setting up the free AVG virus scan software

After downloading AVG Free Anti-Virus (download: free.grisoft.com), the installation procedure is quite simple (but first remove any earlier version of AVG!). After accepting the Acceptance Notice and the License agreement, the installation of AVG continues. The window for activating the AVG Free License (the license for the free use of the virus scan software has been filled in by default (a username is not necessary). In the next window, you are asked to install the AVG Security Toolbar, new in AVG: disable this toolbar, in the free version of AVG it's not useful.

TIP: Is the toolbar AVG Security Toolbar already installed? The toolbar can be disabled in the Internet Explorer by Tools, Internet Options, tab Programs, button Manage add-ons (for Firefox: Tools, Add-ons, button Disable for AVG Safe Search). Disabling the option LinkScanner in the main AVG Window has no effect.


Grisoft advises to install the AVG Security Toolbar to improve safely browsing the internet: the toolbar verifies websites whether they are safe before they are shown in the browser.

AVG Security Toolbar

The additional security offered by this toolbar is split into the Search-Shield (verifies the build in Yahoo!-search results) and the Active Surf-Shield (a real-time protection of visited websites). The free version only uses the search-Shield while the Active Surf-Shield is disabled. For this reason, it is better to disable this toolbar at setup (option Yes, I would like to install the AVG Security Toolbar)!

The first time AVG runs

The first time AVG runs, the program asks several settings to confirm. In step 2 the automatic daily virus scan can be changed or disabled (by disabling the option Enable daily scanning). The other steps are not relevant for the use of AVG and can be confirmed with the button Next. The setup of AVG is concluded with a check for the latest virus definitions.

Optimizing the AVG settings

The most relevant settings can be changed in the main AVG Anti-Virus Free window (available by double clicking the AVG-icon in the system tray):

Free virus scan software AVG

Scanning the hard disk for viruses

Besides a permanent real-time scan for the running processes, all files on the hard disk are daily scanned for viruses on a preset time. These default scan settings can be changed by the main AVG window, Tools, Advanced settings, tab Schedules (in the left pane), sub tab Scheduled scan. Here, the scheduled time can be changed to a more favorite time when the computer is usually on but not used. By choosing for a specific day (see example), the daily scan can be changed to a weekly scan (for normal use, a daily scan is not necessary).

scanning the hard disk for a virus

In case of the default settings, the automatic scan for viruses is skipped when the computer is not turned on (or in sleep) at the specific time. Therefore, it's wise to activate the options Run on computer startup if task has been missed and Run even if computer is in low power mode, to make sure AVG will do the scan when the computer has just been turned on or has just came out of a lower power mode.

Disabling the option Enable this task disables the scanning of the hard disk for viruses. If the automatic scan for viruses is disabled, don't forget to do it manually from time to time! The manual scan of the hard disk (or specific parts of the hard disk) is started by the tab Computer scanner in the main AVG windows, option Scan whole computer (or Scan specific files or folders). Although the default settings are fine, the scan settings can be changed by the option Change scan settings.

TIP: On the tab What to scan, it is possible to make a selection of the partitions and folders to scan, which will improve the time to finish the scanning process. Specific partitions, folders and/or files can be scanned manually in the Windows Explorer by right clicking them and to select Scan with AVG Free. This is a useful option to quickly scan newly added files for viruses and spyware!

Files stored in the Virus Vault

Files which are suspected to be infected with a virus or spyware are placed in the Virus Vault. These files can be found with the button View Virus Vault of the tab Computer scanner in the main window. Here, the wrongfuly recognized files as a virus or spyware (the false positives), can be restored to their original location. After 30 days, the files in the Virus Vault are deleted. The Virus Vault settings can be changed by Tools, Advanced settings, tab Maintenance, sub tab Virus Vault.  By disabling the option Automatic file deletion, it is possible to deactivate the automatic deleting of files.

Updating AVG virus definitions

The updating of the virus definitions is done automatically. The specific time on which the updates are downloaded can be changed with the option Update Manager in the main window of AVG Anti-Virus Free (choose a time on which the computer is normally turned on). The free version can only check for updates once a day, on a specific time. If the computer is not active, there will be no updating of the virus definitions! That's why it's wise to activate all the options on the sub tab Virus database update schedule (Tools in the toolbar, Advanced settings, tab Schedules (in the left pane), to make sure the latest available virus definitions are installed when the computer is active.

Updating the AVG virus definitions

Updating virus definitions is done automatically. To do a check for virus definition updates your self, right click the AVG icon and select Update now. Furthermore, the check for updates, download and installation of the new virus definitions is straight forward.

Free virus scan software AVG: updating virus definitions

Disabling the certification of e-mail

Because e-mail is certified by AVG, all incoming and outgoing e-mail will show a certification at the end of the e-mail message. This looks more like an add, than it is useful. That's why I prefer to disable the option to certify e-mail. This is done by disabling the option Certify mail (for both the incoming and outgoing e-mail) in the menu bar, Tools, Advanced settings, tab E-mail Scanner (at the left pane). I prefer to disable the option Check outgoing e-mail as well (this option gives big problems in Norton AV: presumed send e-mail which is not send at all).

Disabling the certification of e-mail

Adding folders to the list of exceptions

Folders which don't contain dangerous files, they can be excluded from the scanning proces by adding them to the exceptions of the resident shield. This is done by Tools, Advanced settings, tab Resident Shield (at the left pane), subtab Exceptions, button Add Path. Especially when AVG comes up with a false positive and places it automatically in quarantaine (like the tools for finding a password).

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