How to use AVG Free version
OK. First off this program is my pick of the free antivirus and antispyware crop at the moment. Typically 80% to 90% of all repairs that we carry out here involve PCs infected with spyware or viruses. Many don’t even have basic protection.
Despite being a free product, AVG is very capable and in our tests outclasses much of the competition – even paid for products with subscriptions of up to £60 per year.
You will see an AVG icon in the system tray (the bottom right corner of your screen).
A9 TOP TIP: Hover your mouse over your tray icons to see their description.
The AVG icon in the tray will be in one of two states:
All running well = A four coloured square
Needs attention = A four coloured square with an exclamation mark on top
RIGHT click the icon to pop up a menu then LEFT click “Open AVG User Interface” at the top of this menu. This opens the main control centre. Once there you will see large icons showing a little tick next to them if they are healthy. If not you need to resolve the problem. In general the only thing AVG complains about is missing a scheduled update. Remember – your antivirus needs updating to be effective against threats (viruses and spyware) that have been released today.
A9 TOP TIP: If your PC is not turned on and an update or scan is scheduled to occur then neither will happen. This is not a big problem as it will take place at the next available scheduled time.
Close the AVG box. Now let’s force AVG to do an update.
AVG will update automatically at scheduled times which are set in the program but you can do a manual update if required. To update manually, RIGHT click on the tray icon and select ‘Update now’. If it needs an update it will pop up a box entitled ‘AVG Update’ showing you the updates available. Simply click on ‘Update’ to download and install these.
OK, so now we know how to keep AVG updated I’ll talk you through a ‘real-world’ example of how to use this valuable tool to keep your PC clean.
Downloading and installing or running files.
This is the way that most PCs become infected. Please take the time to read this, it will prevent disaster in the long run.
First we need a file to download. Let’s use this one as it’s commonly available:
Save it to your download folder when prompted. Now let’s presume this file has a virus in it. Don’t worry, it doesn’t…
If it contained a virus, it would still be safe even downloaded onto our computer UNTIL WE DOUBLE CLICK ON IT TO LAUNCH IT. This is what many people do with the files they download (and this helps to keep me in business…).
So what can we do to check this file has no viruses or spyware? Simply go to your desktop where you downloaded the file and RIGHT click on it. Up pops a menu offering choices like ‘Open’, ‘Explore’ etc. We want the ‘Scan with AVG Free’ option. Left clicking this invokes a scan of that particular file, no others. Very quickly the scan will finish where we should see AVG report ‘0 infections found’. Obviously, had this file been a virus, then AVG would have prompted you to ‘Heal’, ‘Move to Vault’ or ‘Ignore’.
If in doubt, select ‘Move to the virus vault’. This is a special area of your computer where the file can do no harm. If it was an important file that was infected, say your company accounts for example, then you can pass the file onto virus experts (like us) to have it professionally cleaned.
You can scan complete folders in the same way as you scanned this file.
Here’s a common scenario. You have a PC and a family member or friend (we’ll call him Fred) comes round to show you a ‘great new program’ he has found or some holiday photos on a CD. It could likewise be a USB pen drive or USB memory stick. By all means let him show you, but insist that you scan his CD first. Viruses like to propagate by passing onto removable media like CDs. If his computer is infected then yours probably will be in a few minutes!
To scan Fred’s CD, insert it then open ‘My Computer’. Right click on the icon for the CD and select ‘Scan with AVG Free’. Allow some time if there are several files on the CD. Again, you want to see ‘0 infections found’. Now you can open the CD’s contents and let Fred show his 800 holiday photos. Hopefully one day AVG will add a boredom scanner…
Limewire and other file sharing tools
If you have teenage children then you probably have Limewire installed on your PC. If not you may have an equivalent file sharing program such as Azureus, Emule, Utorrent, BitComet, Kazaa, Edonkey, BearShare, Shareazaa….the list goes on. Some of these programs actually contain adware or spyware and are dropping their payload on your machine when you first install them. All of them will link you to repositories of files on other people’s PCs across the globe. And do you really think that everybody has virus free machines? No of course not. But by downloading the files that you find on these programs and not scanning them afterwards you are effectively saying “I want to download files from anywhere in the world with no knowledge of whether they are infected or not”.
So using the Limewire example, let’s look at where these files go. If you have Limewire installed, open it up. From the menu at the top select ‘Tools’, ‘Options’ then on the left panel select ‘Saving’ then ‘Basic’. Here you can select where you store your downloaded files. My location for example is:
C:\Documents and Settings\A9ComputerServices\My Documents\LimeWire\Saved
Yours will be similar substituting your username of course. So now we simply need to navigate to this folder and give it a quick scan to be happy that our Limewire downloads are virus and spyware free. Open up ‘My Documents’, then double click the ‘Limewire’ folder. RIGHT click on the folder called ‘Saved’ and select ‘Scan with AVG Free’. When the scan returns no infections then you can be happy that you have done all you can to protect your PC. You can now launch the file you have downloaded.
This information should empower you to keep your PC clean. Please understand that as free software AVG requires a certain amount of basic knowledge to help keep your PC free from infection. It does monitor the opening and downloading of files in the background but by observing a few basic precautions as listed above it will help to serve you better.
Occasionally there may be times where the update fails. This means that the program could not connect with the server. Please remember, AVG is a free product and there are millions of users all asking for updates at similar times. It is bound to fail occasionally but is generally reliable.
To set a scheduled update in AVG Free
* Open AVG main control centre by double clicking the icon in the tray (bottom right of your screen)
* Click on ‘Tools’, ‘Advanced settings’, then click the small + sign next to ‘schedules’.
* Click on ‘Virus database update schedule’ and set a time here that is a time your computer is most likely to be on
* Click on OK to save your settings
The update will then happen at that time, or within 2 hours following that time, each day. For the UK, if the update happens in the morning there is more chance that the American users will be asleep so this is preferable as the US market is huge. Aim for about 10:00AM if possible. If your PC is switched off around that time then don’t do this or you will never update automatically.
Ticking the box to ‘apply the update when your computer restarts’ will resolve this although it means occasionally your startup will be a bit slower. A worthwhile trade-off.
Upgrading to the full protection of an Internet Security package
My pick of the suites would be Kaspersky Internet Security which has great detection rates and a slick, easy to use interface.
Should you wish to link to my tutorial in your webpages, please do so. All text is Copyright A9 Computer Services 2007 to 2013 and should not be duplicated without our consent. We accept no responsibility for damage that you may do to your PC as a result of our tutorials.