The biggest news with AVG Anti-Virus 8 is that it includes Linkscanner, a technology that actively blocks malicious content from Web sites that may have been hijacked or otherwise compromised. Also, antivirus, antispyware, and antirootkit preventions have been combined into one product. The new drive-by download protection combined with AVG's award winning effectiveness in blocking and removing antivirus and antispyware code is tempered only by its somewhat slow performance in CNET Labs benchmark tests. While individual applications loaded fast, scan and boot times trended toward the slow end.
We were able to download and install AVG Anti-Virus 8 on a Dell XPS machine running Windows XP SP2 with no difficulty and without rebooting. If you are upgrading from a previous version of AVG, you must uninstall that version first before installing version 8.0. AVG provides a fully functional 30-day trial. While installing, AVG asks one critical question: do you want to install the security toolbar? Since it's hard to say whether you want that, we recommend saying no. Although AVG recommends installation, we found that it installs a prominent search box with Yahoo as the default search engine, and little else. Even without the toolbar, we were still able to use the Linkscanner technology.
After installation, AVG walks you through seven steps:
- Screen one merely describes the wizard
- Screen two asks how often AVG should update itself
- Screen three asks if you want to report compromised Web sites to AVG
- Screen four asks if you want to use the Yahoo search as your Internet browser default (this is the second time you asked to adopt the Yahoo search engine; if you installed the security toolbar, you'll already have Yahoo on your browser via the toolbar)
- Screens five and six lets you to download updates
- The seventh step tells you that the seven-step process you've completed is just the first part.
We do not like the interface in AVG Anti-Virus 8. Although it is an improvement over the previous design, the right windowpane is too crowded with large icons. There are nine icons in all. Below each is a statement telling you if that feature is active. Clicking an icon will run either access additional information about that tool or run that specific scan.
The left windowpane includes only three options, Overview (the icon view in the right hand window), Computer Scanner, and Update Now. Computer Scanner has but one option, scan all. Update Now is equally opaque, mysteriously searching and downing something onto your PC.
A toolbar above these windows contains the advanced feature options.
Should you wish to remove AVG Anti-Virus 8, there is a removal option under All Programs. After a reboot, we found a handful of registry entries related to the free trial, and some empty directories in our system directory.