AVG AntiVirus for Mac offers excellent protection from viruses, web, and email threats. The app doesn’t have much to it aside from on-off sliders, and a few minor settings, but for those who just want a set-it-and-forget-it option, AVG’s free antivirus for Mac is a good choice.
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Free third-party antivirus is often a tradeoff. You receive only basic protection—a term that means different things to different companies—as well as semi-regular “encouragement” to upgrade to a paid suite.
AVG AntiVirus Free for Mac offers very basic protection, but isn’t too terrible about encouraging upgrades. The suite protects against viruses, secures your desktop email, your web browsing, and that’s it. Those are the essentials, however, which go a long way to keeping your computer safe.
AVG’s protection is top notch. AV-Test looked at it in December, and it had a 100 percent protection rate from 145 samples. AVG for Windows had the same score from AV-Test’s 0-day, web and email threats, as well as the widespread and prevalent malware test.
AV Comparatives’ most recent Mac test was in June 2019. AVG for Mac also got 100 percent among 585 Mac samples, and 100 percent against 500 Windows samples in the same test.
In our own spot tests, AVG did fine. It had no trouble blocking web-based threats, as well as a number of malware samples from the Objective See library.
Interface and features
When you first start-up AVG Free for Mac you get a window with four tiles. Two of which are labeled Basic Protection and the other two are Full Protection. The latter are for paid subscribers only and include ransomware protection, phishing protection, and a Wi-Fi inspector for monitoring all the devices on your home network.
Under the basic protection the two tiles are labeled Computer and Web & Email. Computer includes a file shield that automatically scans any new files added to your computer, and then the quarantine shows any detected malicious files. Web protection includes the ability to block web-based attacks and unsafe downloads, and then there’s the email shield for desktop email programs that scans for unsafe attachments.
The tiles interface isn’t really necessary for just the basic features. When you go into each section all you see are sliders that turn the aforementioned features on or off.
The top of the main dashboard includes the typical green, yellow, and red warning system. When something’s wrong with your system or something needs your attention, you’ll see it easily here. If everything’s all good the dashboard reads “You have basic protection” lest you forget you haven’t yet upgraded to AVG’s premium features.
The lower part of the primary screen is reserved for scanning. The lower left indicates when your last scan happened, the lower right indicates if the virus definitions are up to date, and in the center is the Scan Mac button. There are also three dots, which shows the three types of scan you can do: Mac Scan, Deep Scan, and File Scan. The Mac Scan is just another name for a quick scan and looks at the most common places where malware hides. The Deep Scan is just that, and File Scan lets you pick specific files or folders to scan. There’s no option to drag and drop a file or folder for scanning, though you can right-click any file and choose Scan with AVG from the context menu.
Within the Preferences window there isn’t much to tweak, but the Scanning tab is worth looking at. Here, you can set AVG to automatically scan external drives and shared folders, as well as automatically scan Time Machine backups.
For anyone who needs it Preferences > Exceptions tells AVG not to scan specific files or folders, which is handy if you deal with large media files that have little chance of being corrupted.
It costs nothing and protection is top notch, what more could you ask for? Well, you might want ransomware protection, and the phishing protection is also important–especially if you’re prone to click on links you shouldn’t in email, social media, or a chat window. Upgrading to AVG Internet Security costs $30 for a year, $57.36 for two years, or $82.44 for three. Those are new customer prices that will inevitably go up once you reach the end of your first subscription period.
For those who don’t want to pay extra, AVG isn’t too bothersome with its upgrade offers, though you can’t miss them when you look at the primary window. If you’re looking for solid protection with basic antivirus features, then AVG AntiVirus for Mac is a good choice.
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Ian is an independent writer based in Israel who has never met a tech subject he didn't like. He primarily covers Windows, PC and gaming hardware, video and music streaming services, social networks, and browsers. When he's not covering the news he's working on how-to tips for PC users, or tuning his eGPU setup.