I’ve been a fan of AVG Anti-Virus for a long time. I recommend it to friends and family, have installed the free version countless times, and have a paid multiple computer license for my home network.
I used to use Norton AntiVirus, but that was a long time ago. I abandoned that product in frustration because the software kept getting bigger and bulkier and more sluggish. Utility software should be invisible, doing its work quietly in the background efficiently and unobtrusively, only alerting you to its existence when absolutely necessary. Norton AV started that way. But eventually fancier UIs, the constant addition of new ways to check and scan, bigger and slower updates, just being far more intrusive and in the way … well, Norton AntiVirus finally become more of a hindrance than a help. So goodbye NAV, and hello AVG.
But this week I updated my wife’s machines to AVG 8. And to my dismay, AVG has now fallen into the same trap. The machine instantly became more sluggish, task manager shows the app constantly working harder and chewing up precious resources, web pages started taking longer to load … you get the picture. But hey, the new version looks so much prettier!
Fortunately, AVG allows you to selectively enable and disable features, and I found a combination that works and seems not to impact performance. Still, it’s sad to see yet another vendor succumb to the temptation to build bloatware, a path blazed by the likes of Norton AntiVirus, McAfee, Netscape, RealPlayer, and so many others.

21 thoughts

  1. I was in the same boat, had AVG 8 on my dev box for about 10 minutes and then said goodbye to AVG and hello to avast! My issue with turning off features is I never found a way to completely disable them without having AVG report an error state. I know it’s only an aesthetic thing, but having big red crosses or exclamation points on my system try really bugs me.

  2. Joe, in the options you can tell it which features to report on. So in addition to turning off features, also turn off notifying about those features, and then no red X.
    — Ben

  3. Ben,
    Norton has two versions consumer and corporate. The corporate version if you can get one is Norton light and while it has a few glitches it isn’t too bad. It does anti-virus and that’s pretty much it.

  4. Ben, just curious…what did you disable? (I really hate the browser bar, and I’m glad it breaks in Mozilla 3)

  5. i almost blogged about this as well. when i saw the ‘link checker’ feature i knew instantly i’d have to disable that. the only problem with disabling it is, as joe mentioned, the big red ‘X’ in the task bar.
    had to google but found out that you have to actually install AVG without the ‘link checker’ feature… which is not intuitive or able to be done through the installer application. you actually need to uninstall, then reinstall from the command line via the following:
    c:avg_free_stf_*.exe /REMOVE_FEATURE fea_AVG_SafeSurf /REMOVE_FEATURE fea_AVG_SafeSearch
    http://free.avg.com/ww.faq.num-1241 -> see the link "How to install AVG without LinkScanner"

  6. I’ll second Joe on this one: avast! for the win. Free and doing nothing but AV work for me. The updates can get in the way when I don’t set the timing out, but the only config I’ve needed to ever do is to disable listeners that I just don’t need (like the Outlook hooks).

  7. I just dumped AVG last month after I identified it as the cuase for my computer’s sluggishness. I was recommended Avast by a few people and am going to give it a try. AVG was compact and quick when I first started using it a few years back. It really has turned into bloatware and it’s unfortunate.

  8. I dumped Norton for the same reason a few years ago. I now use Kaspersky and am more than happy to pay for it.

  9. Ben, I’ve been using Kaspersky for over 4 years now. I too was a huge fan of Norton until about 6 years ago when Norton failed to find several dangerous virus’. About that time, a leading computer magazine contacted me ans ask me to evaluate the top 10 anti-virus software and what I found, surprised and shocked me at the same time.
    After alomst 6 months of daily testing on several computers and several thousand types of virus, I the rusults pointed to only three contenders. Grab Kaspersky and give it a try. You can fun the full versoin for 30 days.

  10. >>the only problem with disabling it is, as joe mentioned, the big red ‘X’ in the task bar
    The new version lets you choose what options to install. Go to advanced install to uncheck the safesurf bit.

  11. The corporate versions of both Symantec and McAfee are horrible. We have had nightmare issues with them. I had used both for many years on hundreds of machines and finally gave up after serious problems with both. Two partner companies I have worked with also had the same issues.
    AVG has been good to me, but after hearing about recent experiences I am certain I will move to Kapersky soon. ClamWin is also decent, open source and free. I have had a few issues with it so I dont use it as much anymore.

  12. While AVG has been free and fairly low-impact, it is also pretty poor protection. I’ve been fond of ESET’s NOD32, which you can often buy from Newegg.com for about $20. It has an incredibly low resource footprint and has a very strong record for effectiveness, even stronger than Kapersky, from what I can make out.

  13. Another vote for avast!
    Had exactly the same problem with AVG 8 a month ago, and moved to avast! after quick online research. No regrets so far….

  14. I’m probably gonna get flamed for this, but I’ve long thought that the responsibility for anti-virus and anti-spyware functions belong at the network level, not on the workstation. I mean seriously, if it works for web filtering and IPS/IDS to be embedded, why not anti-virus too? The whole bloatware nature of Symantec, McAfee, and now AVG is what drove me to switch to the Mac. Not that the Mac isn’t vulnerable to viruses, but when compared to Windows, well, there is no comparison in that arena.

  15. Mark, actually, in principal I agree with you. Which is why I don’t bother running anti-virus software on some of my machines. But I make the exception on any box that I know will end up sharing files via CD/DVD, USB flash drives, etc.
    — Ben

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