Deciding between AVG and Norton antivirus solutions is really a three-way comparison, with AVG's free edition performing admirably well against its paid version and Norton's commercial Internet security packages. Each product has its strengths, so your choice will likely depend on your priorities and the features you need most.
On the Windows 8.1 platform, Microsoft's most recent operating system at the time of publication, both AVG and Norton scored 15 out of 18 points overall in AV-Test Institute's Real World Protection testing in November and December of 2013. Norton scored 6.0 out of 6.0 for both protection and usability, but only 3.0 out of 6 for system load. Both AVG products scored 5.5 out of six for usability, but only 4.0 and 4.5 for protection, from Free and Internet Security, respectively, while Free scored 5.5 for system load to Internet Security's 5.0.
In the same 2013 evaluation, AV-Test used a malware reference set of over 19,500 pieces, collected the month prior to testing. Norton was once again flawless, detecting 100 percent of the malware instances. AVG's Internet security package detected malware 98 percent of the time and its Free edition found 97 percent of the malware reference set. AV-Test Institute noted that free anti-virus software in general is falling behind previous performance.
Internet product review site Top Ten Reviews compared AVG and Norton side-by-side in September 2014 and found differences in the packages. Norton won as the package to use when malware already exists on a computer. It was able to repair all damage done by malware under test conditions, versus only 75 percent for AVG. In a similar test in July 2014, AV-Test Institute scored Norton at 97.2 percent overall for total system repair, while AVG scored 96.1 percent.
AVG includes a feature called LinkScanner that assesses browser links and generates a score reflecting its projected safety of the source site. A video accelerator for YouTube and tools for optical disks and external drives are included, but parental controls require an additional purchase. Norton includes parental controls and user profiles as a standard feature and has a support infrastructure of technicians available around the clock. Other features include network monitoring and a two-way firewall.
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