AVG users: It’s time to update to the new version, 9.0…!

AVG users: It’s time to update to the new version, 9.0…!


November 2009 — If you’re using AVG as your antivirus, you’ve probably seen some popup windows appearing lately telling you that it’s now time to “upgrade” your AVG antivirus.

In this post, I will tell you how to get the new free version of AVG. And we’ll also run through how to update if you’re using the paid version.

First, though, a few words on the current antivirus (and virus) situation in general.

An Update on the Virus Situation – Autumn 2009

Over the past several years, I’ve put the FREE version of AVG’s antivirus onto hundreds of computers. And for most folks, this free antivirus solution has worked, and is working, pretty well.

It’s worth noting however that I’ve been seeing a bit more in the way of tough virus issues over the past few months. There is now so much stuff out there that’s trying to worm its way into your computer, it’s almost unbelievable.

We are now past the one MILLION mark in the number of distinct viruses, trojans, and other malware out there trying to break into your computer.

I’m not saying you should necessarily upgrade to a paid antivirus, especially if you’re happy with your current free antivirus and haven’t experienced any problems. But if you want to upgrade your protection a bit, there are a couple of possibilities that may be worth considering, so I’ll also go over these in this post.

As for what I’m doing personally, I run the paid version of AVG Antivirus on my main (work) computer, and will be continuing to run the free version of AVG on a couple of home computers. I’m also testing the current free version of avast! on another computer (we’ll talk more about that one shortly.)

If You Want To Keep It Simple – How To Upgrade Your Free AVG to Version 9.0

If you simply want to upgrade your free AVG to the latest version, here’s how to do it. If you’d like more information on other possibilities, see below.

We’ll go over two methods to get your new AVG Free installation going.

Method 1: Follow the Prompts

This is probably the easiest way to install the new version.

In the pop-up message I have regarding AVG, you can start by clicking the red “LEARN MORE AND UPGRADE NOW” button. In the first paragraph of the web page that pops up, there should be a link for “AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 9.0.” Click on that, and on the next screen choose the download button under the first column, under “AVG Anti-Virus Free.”

You can then either “Run” the update file or first save it to your computer and then run it. If you’re running Windows Vista, I would first save it to a place where you can find it (like the desktop), then right-click on it and “Run as Administrator.”

You may get a “Connectivity Check” first, then a screen that gives you a choice choice to “Install only basic free protection” or “Install comprehensive protection free for thirty days.” Choose the free protection and press the “Next” button.

AVG will then download some installation files and begin installation of the new version.

Accept the license agreement.

Keep pressing the “Next” button to proceed through the installation – but you most likely want to UNCHECK the box that says “Set Yahoo! as my default search engine and notify me of changes.” (You’ll probably still want to install the AVG Security Toolbar.)

You’ll need to close your browser (or have AVG do it for you) in order to keep going.

If installation fails for any reason, try restarting your computer and trying again. I actually had to reinstall the “MSVC Redistributables” on my system to get it to work.

(I downloaded these from: http://www.microsoft.com/Downloads/details.aspx?familyid=200B2FD9-AE1A-4A14-984D-389C36F85647 ).

On the final screen, there’s a box to check if you want to provide anonymous scan and usage information. I usually uncheck these, but it probably doesn’t make much difference one way or the other.

Finally, after you’ve upgraded, they’ll present you with a web page informing you of some of the features of their toolbar.

Method 2: Go to your web browser’s address bar, type in “free.avg.com ” (instead of “www.avg.com”), and press the Enter key.

This will take you to a web page where you can download the new free version of AVG.

There are several ways to get there on this page. Maybe the easiest is:

* Click the blue “Get it now” link under “Basic Protection.”
* Go to the bottom of the next web page and click the red “DOWNLOAD” button just under “Free*.”
* On the next page, click the green-symbol “Download Now” link on the left.
* And do the same on the next page.

Once you’ve gotten the installation started, follow the prompts and proceed as in Method 1 above.

If You’re Using AVG’s Paid Version

AVG won’t bug you quite as much to upgrade if you’re using the paid version (this is probably at least partly because the upgrade process, for free customers, is a sales opportunity for them, whereas if you’ve already paid, it isn’t).

In fact, on restarting my computer, I didn’t see the upgrade notice, although I’d seen it previously.

However, when I double-clicked the 4-colored “patchwork quilt” AVG icon in the lower right of my computer screen, I was able to find a link to the left that said: “Click here to easily upgrade to the new enhanced AVG version.”

I would first close any browsers you may have open (Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc.), and then click the link.

When the upgrade process asked if I wanted to run the upgrade in advanced mode, I told it no.

Then it’s just a matter of stepping through any few screens, and you’re done.

Some Alternatives to the Free Version of AVG

Although its overall detection rate doesn’t quite match that of some other antivirus programs, AVG’s free version overall seems to do a pretty decent job. And the latest version (9.0) includes some basic rootkit protection as well. This is new from the version you’re upgrading from, so it’s good news.

However, if you’d like to step up your protection a bit, here are a couple of alternatives.

1) The Paid Version of AVG.

I continue to like AVG, for three reasons:

a) the free and regular antivirus versions don’t bog your computer down like some other antivirus programs.
b) their ease of use.
c) their price has historically been better than the so-called “market leaders” (but see below).

The paid version would appear to be a bit better than the free version, because (according to AVG’s info), it contains more in the way of rootkit protection. I don’t know how much more, but any additional protection from rootkits can’t be bad.

You should also use the paid version rather than the free one if you’re using it on a business computer or for business use.

Having said that, it looks to me like the antivirus market is narrowing a bit. And it’s true that both Norton and avast! (see below) have at least a bit better detection rate than AVG.

In the best recent antivirus test I’ve seen, in a general “test scan,” AVG found about 94% of viruses, avast! found about 98% of viruses, and Norton Anti-Virus found about 98.4% of viruses. This has caused me to take another look at the perenially-hated Norton, and at avast! too.

However… it’s also very important for an antivirus program to detect new threats that have just come out.

In this regard, in another fairly recent test, AVG actually performed the best of the three products, catching 45% of new threats. Avast! was second, at 42%, and Norton trailed at only 35%. So there’s not as much difference as first appeared.

I think the bottom line is: choose what you like and what works for you.

If I were going with the paid version of AVG, personally, I’d probably stick with the antivirus itself instead of the whole “Internet Security” suite. Same with Norton. This (plus using Windows Firewall and supplementing a bit with immunization from Spybot S&D) has been my policy on any of these antivirus products. And this approach still seems to be working pretty well for most people.

Pricewise, AVG has historically been less expensive than Norton, but the prices have narrowed lately, especially for multiple computers.

If you want the paid version of AVG (the antivirus only instead of the internet security suite), you can find it by going to www.avg.com and clicking on “Home Security” *in the top blue bar.*  It’s listed as “AVG Anti-Virus 9.0.”

Your best deal is for multiple years and multiple computers.

If you want the product for more than one computer, click on “Find Out More” instead of the big red “BUY NOW” button. and then click on the “Add more computers” link.

2) The free or paid versions of avast!.

The second alternative is either the free, or the paid version of avast!, which you can get at www.avast.com.

The chief advantage here is that avast! seems to have a little bit better overall detection rate than AVG.

And even the free version of avast! includes rootkit protection.

The disadvantages are its user interface (which in my opinion isn’t nearly as user-friendly as AVG’s), and the fact that it seems to bog computers down a little bit. And you have to submit your email address every year for registration.

If you’re a home user with a slower computer, and you like AVG’s easy-to-use interface, want to hang onto your email address, and /or don’t do much on the internet that’s likely to get you into any trouble, you may want to stick with AVG.

On the other hand, if you’re a home user with a computer that’s a bit faster, and you don’t mind giving an antivirus company your email address, don’t mind a bit more cryptic user interface, and want a bit better protection, you might like avast!.

What’s the difference between the free and paid versions of avast!? Not much, from what I can tell. Except of course, that the free version is for home and non-profit use only.

In the paid version, avast! tends to run a bit more expensive than AVG. It’s also (a bit surprisingly) a bit more expensive than Norton.

3) Norton Anti-Virus

Again, if I were to go with Norton, personally, I’d choose the Anti-Virus only and then supplement that with making sure Windows Firewall is on, and immunization from Spybot S&D. Personally, I would NOT go with Norton Internet Security.

Advantages of Norton? I’m trying to think of some. It’s a paid program that seems fairly comparable to the free version of avast!. So if I were a home user choosing between the two, I’d probably pick the free avast!.

Still, it might be worth looking at if you want a paid product and have 2 or 3 PCs to protect, simply because Norton has gotten aggressive on their pricing lately. A lot of the boxes, maybe all of them, give you a license for 3 computers. But be sure to compare pricing for multiple years, as companies like AVG will give you a break there, and I don’t think that’s the case with Norton.

Other Products, and a Few Final Words

Yes, there are other decent antivirus products out there. I debated about saying a few words about McAfee. But in the end, I think it’s enough to talk about these three, because if I were personally picking an antivirus, it would be one of these.

This is a much more complicated post than I had originally intended to write. But somewhere along the way, I decided to update my antivirus recommendations. So I hope that you will find some of the more detailed information helpful!

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