AVG free might have flagged just a little in the past few years, but its back with a shorter install, better usability, and faster scans.
First of, you'll see that AVG has done bit of sprucing up around the shop.
No drastic alternations, but there is a new darker band on the top and left nav, which serves to highlight changes there.
There is a new scan-now button for one click scans and more scanning data like timestamps that is exposed here with a new bigger font.
The icons for AVG's security components remain in the central pane.
Double click on one to access more information and basic configuration settings for each specific tool.
Advanced settings are available under Tools on the menu bar at the top of the window.
AVG Free has some new protective features this year, too.
The is smart scanning which leverages AVG's behavioral detection network to scan known safe files once and only rescan them if it detects changes.
As with its competitors, AVG's network is made up of its user base anonymously contributing data up to the cloud.
AVG says opting out won't negatively affect your security.
The smart scanning tech also gives you a built-in system resource manager that prioritizes scans.
Just move the slider to control how much of your RAM goes to AVG when you are actively using the computer when AVG is scanning.
I recommend setting it to scan-only when the computer is idling.
Other changes include Facebook and MySpace link grading from AVG's link scanner tech, a new desktop gadget for Vista and Windows 7 users that for one click scan and support access, and the PC Analyzer.
This new tool scans your system for registry errors, fragmentation, disc problems, and broken shortcuts.
Once the analysis is complete, users of the free version get one free fix of all problems detected.
The installation process has also been changed.
It has been cut from 13 to 5 screens, although, you still have to watch out for the AVG toolbar command during your search engine.
Now, that's not playing nice at all even if people do like the toolbar.
Most importantly, AVG Free now has the same detection engine that AVG Paid does.
So, free users should see a better level of security than before.
CNET labs performance benchmarks showed that while it takes a big hit on your computer boot time, it's virtually undetectable on shutdown and has
very fast deep system scans, which is saying something considering how tedious those can be.
Overall, if you have liked AVG in the past, you'll love this one and if you've moved away, it's really worth taking it out for a spin again.
After all, it is free.
With the first look at AVG anti-virus Free 2011, I am Seth Rosenblatt for CNET.