Archive for February, 2008

AVG Anti-Virus 8.0

Thursday, February 28th, 2008 | useful tools, windows | 1 Comment

Updated 10-Mar-2008: An old college friend noted that the plural of viruses is viruses, not virii! Thanks for that Mike 🙂

Updated 07-Mar-2008: MessageLabs new advertising campaign includes digital images of viruses created from their actual code.

Wow — where did the first 2 months of 2008 disappear to? I figured I better get back blogging before tomorrow or I might be accused of only blogging every 4 years 🙂

I don’t usually talk about commercial products here and I certainly haven’t spoken about Windows software in the past, but where I find a useful Windows tool (commercial, open source or indeed free software) that does its job and offers value for money (either in terms of the cost of licensing it or the cost in time to install and use it) I’m inclined to sing its praise – if only to give it a bit of extra publicity. Before anyone asks, I’m not getting any freebies from Grisoft for blogging about their product.

I initially started using AVG when I came across the free version which has been available for a number of years for home and non-commercial use. It’s an interesting marketing trick – when it came to choosing an anti-virus solution for the office AVG was on my list of contenders. We have about 10 desktops and laptops in use around the office, only some of which are running Windows (we tend to use a mixture of Windows and Linux on the desktop depending on our developers personal preference and the needs of the customer projects they are working on) so initially the small business version of AVG met our requirements. My experience of using AVG is that,

  • It’s lightweight – unlike some of it’s competitors (M****e and S******c) it doesn’t hog all of your system resources while it sits in the background.
  • It’s easy to install and uninstall – again, unlike some it’s competitors who require you to deinstall about 4 different packages in the correct order before you can rid your PC of them.
  • Licensing is straighforward and uncomplicated – Grisoft (the makers of AVG) allow you to buy bundles of licenses in units of 5 and have hassle free upgrades when moving to large numbers of licenses or indeed to their more advanced products such as the Network edition. They don’t force you to jump through hoops to upgrade or require you to buy a whole new suite halfway through your current licenses.
  • The price is right.
  • It works (I thought this was a given but just in case anyone was wondering, we did opt for an anti-virus solution that actually catches viruses, not just the cheapest one).
  • The lightweight thing is a big selling point for me. I recognise that I need anti-virus software on all of our Windows systems – but I don’t want to have to buy a second CPU just for the privilege of running it – AVG seem to get that. Sure, running a virus scan will slow down the system a little – but it largely sits in the background with impacting system performance.

    I suspect once we have more than 5 Windows systems in use I’ll probably move to the network edition of AVG but for now, we’re just sitting on the tipping point where it’s as easy for our guys to maintain their own systems and run their own updates when it suits them (especially since we trust our guys to do the right thing and run regular updates — right lads? 🙂 )

    So why am I only talking about AVG now when we’ve been using it for about 3 years? Well, AVG just released v8.0 of their product today. For the moment at least, it doesn’t look like v8.0 of the product is available as a freebie, hopefully this will change over time. Not only have they upgraded the interface in v8.0 – they’ve also introduced a bunch of new features some of which used to be previously distributed as separate products or freebies. As well as the existing anti-virus and email scanner, AVG 8.0 introduces the following,

  • Anti-Spyware – I’ve previously used Spybot-S&D as an anti-spyware solution – it has a good reputation and works well, but we’ve never deployed any anti-spyware tools on our company network because of the extra effort involved in managing multiple tools. It’s nice to see AVG including this in their core product now (it was previously available as a separate tool).
  • Anti-Rootkit – again, this was previously available as a separate component but we didn’t have it deployed on our network. It’s nice to now that our AVG now includes support for rootkit scanning also.
  • Web Shield and Link Scanner – AVG 8.0 also introduces some new tools for scanning both web pages as your browse them and instant message traffic (currently only supporting MSN and ICQ it seems) for malicious content. I’ve no idea how useful these will be in practice but it’s good to see Grisoft continuing to add value to their core product without gouging the customer for these additional features.

I’m just running my first full scan with the new version now — I’d be surprised if it turns up anything since I regularly ran AVG 7 on the system but I’ll be sure to report if it does. To steal a line from Hill Street Blues –

All right, let’s roll… Hey… Let’s be careful out there.

(am I showing my age with that one?)