Pros / This software offers free virus protection without creating drag on your system.
Cons / It lacks several protection tools like a personal firewall and password manager.
Verdict / For a free program, AVG AntiVirus for Mac does an excellent job of protecting against both Mac and Windows malware. It’s easy to use and doesn’t create slowdown on your computer during virus scans.
AVG AntiVirus for Mac is our pick for the best free antivirus for Mac. It performed perfectly in our in-house tests, protecting against all 165 Mac threats we exposed it to. This is significantly more than other free Mac antivirus programs that struggled to detect that many threats. AVG also scored high for detecting Windows threats and is one of the easiest programs we tested.
We were impressed when AVG antivirus for Mac quarantined the entire zip folder rather than waiting for each contaminated folder to open before stopping each individual threat. As it stopped the threat, AVG displayed a popup message letting us know what has stopped. When we let threats loose on our Mac, the program also displayed messages during virus scans when it found and quarantined threats. More details of each threat were included in the quarantine folder, such as where the threat was found. We were given the option of restoring files, deleting them or waiting until AVG permanently removed them after a few days.
As part of our testing we also tried to download Windows malware and watched to see how well AVG recognized and blocked these threats on our Mac testing computer. AVG AntiVirus for Mac did an excellent job blocking every threat. While these threats won’t harm your computer, it is possible to accidentally send them on to a Windows user and infect their machine. This is why having a program like AVG that tests well for Windows malware detection is so important.
During the virus scans, AVG was quick and didn’t cause any noticeable slowdown of our system. We were able to surf the web, watch videos and send files via email during these scans without any problem.
AVG is very straightforward software. Tools are represented with large icons, so it’s easy to get where you need to go. When a tool isn’t on, it shows on the dashboard as red. Once it’s enabled it turns green. These tools include a web shield that warns you if a site you want to visit harbors anything dangerous such as a phishing scheme or malicious download. There’s also an email shield that scans incoming messages for spam and attachments or links that are dangerous as well as and a file shield that provides a second layer of protection for important folders and documents from ransomware.
One unique feature of AVG AntiVirus for Mac is it uses its USB scanning function to check out devices that are connected to your Mac through a USB port. This means if your iPhone, iPad or another device has malware on it, AVG can find and remove it while it is connected to your Mac computer or laptop. While this is a little different that having a mobile security program installed on your device, we feel this is a great feature to further ensure nothing is accidentally transferred to your computer while also lending a hand in keeping your mobile devices clear.
Because AVG is a free program, it doesn’t include many advanced protection tools. For example, it doesn’t have parental controls, a password manager, personal firewall or safe banking tools. Most basic antivirus for programs for Mac don’t include these, though there are a few exceptions. For example, Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac includes all of these, though it’s not a free program.
This Mac antivirus software does have a vulnerability scanner that looks for weak spots in your system, like outdated software, and recommends fixes to keep your computer more secure from hacking and other threats. However, this is a separate program that must be downloaded and installed after the antivirus program is installed. AVG doesn’t charge you extra for this feature.
Overall, we are impressed with AVG and how well it performs, especially for a free Mac antivirus program. It includes just enough features to keep malware from infecting your computer through malicious downloads, dangerous websites, file sharing, email and transferring from your mobile devices. Being a basic antivirus program, it does lack a few tools, most notably a personal firewall and password manager, but despite missing these tools AVG AntiVirus for Mac is our pick for the best value in Mac protection.