The feature-rich versions of popular security program AVG have been updated, with AVG Technologies claiming faster scan times, faster boot times and other under-the-hood improvements. While version 8 introduced a consolidated product line, making those features work better together takes the attention of AVG Internet Security 9.0 and AVG Anti-Virus 9.0.
AVG is making some bold claims for these updates. The company is touting scan times that are "up to 50 per cent" faster, based on marking files safe until their file structure changes, and boot times that are "10 to 15 per cent" faster. Memory usage is also expected to be "10 to 15 per cent" better, as well. The built-in firewall, available only in the Internet Security version, uses a new database for automatically determining if certain programs are safe to access the internet without user input. This trusted database, called TrustedDB by AVG, should be less intrusive by querying for user input 50 per cent less often than in the previous version, says AVG. Also, the installation process has been shortened from 22 screens to 11.
There are few wholly new features available in version 9, but an interesting one is the Identity Theft Recovery Unit. Included in AVG Anti-Virus and AVG Free, but only for users in the United States, ITRU is a business partnership with Identity Guard which provides "consumer identity theft solutions". Accessible only from the browser toolbar, which only works in Firefox or Internet Explorer, the service provides "a dedicated identity theft recovery unit with fraud experts", to assist handling, getting and analysing a credit report, enrolling in credit file monitoring and offering report-filing support.
AVG 9 looks very similar to AVG 8. Most of the changes are under the hood. (Screenshot by Seth Rosenblatt/CNET)
In hands-on testing last week, we found AVG to be relatively easy to navigate around, although the interface could be simpler. When you click on one of the items in the main window, you must double-click on one of the features to access more information on it. A single click, or even a mouse-over pop-up, would make the experience faster. Before we even ran our first scan, AVG detected icons associated with Pidgin as threats.
Double-checking them against Avira and McAfee revealed those detections as false positives, and when we finally ran the Fast Scan it took longer than 20 minutes. That doesn't compare favourably to competitors, some of which can complete a first Fast Scan in around 60 seconds. We were also surprised to find that Mozilla Thunderbird was not automatically approved to go through the firewall, despite the new firewall trusted database. While the installation process offers to install the browser toolbar for you, it doesn't seem possible to opt out during the installation and then install it later from the AVG interface, a strange oversight.
AVG Internet Security 9.0 is available for AU$99.99, and AVG Anti-Virus costs AU$46.99. Both come with a one-year licence and a 30-day trial, although AVG Anti-Virus lacks the firewall, identity protection, anti-spam and system tools that come in AVG Internet Security. Fans of the free version of AVG 9 will have to wait a bit longer, as AVG always delays the release of Free until after the full suites have been made public.