The modules in AVG Internet Security 2011 work in much the same way as modules in similar suites. The firewall, for example, comes pre-configured to allow well known applications such as browsers and email software gain access to the internet. When you use software that AVG Internet Security 2011 doesn't think is safe, a notification pops up asking whether you want to allow the application to access the internet, and if so, whether to allow it just this one time or permanently.

You can also tell the firewall in AVG Internet Security 2011 whether to allow the application to access the internet on every network you use (home, work, WiFi hotspots and so on) or only on networks known to be safe, an especially useful feature.

Similarly when the antivirus module comes across what it perceives as threats, it notifies you and moves the offending software to a vault, where the software is disabled. You can leave the software in the vault, or else delete it or restore it if you decide the software is safe.

We found AVG Internet Security 2011's initial scan to be painfully slow, taking more than three hours. During the time the scan was being performed, it also slowed down our system and the operation of other applications. In later scans, we set the priority of the scan to be low, but even then it affected system performance.

Email attachment checking and anti-spam functions integrate into email applications, including Microsoft Outlook and any application that uses POP3, IMAP or SMTP. We tried it with Outlook and didn't find the anti-spam feature any more or less effective than the one already built into Microsoft’s email client, although it did seem to err very slightly on the side of identifying too many legitimate messages as spam.

AVG Internet Security 2011's System Tools module, which shows you all of your currently running processes, network connections, browser extensions, along with the software that runs on startup, is somewhat useful. But the module is barebones and offers no help. For example, it shows the names of files that run on startup, but doesn't explain what they do, or whether they can be safely removed.

AVG Internet Security 2011's link scanner installs as a toolbar into the Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox browsers and reports whether the page you're currently visiting is considered safe. But the toolbar also has a Yahoo! search box and link to Yahoo! Weather, which has nothing to do with keeping you secure and everything to do with whatever business relationship AVG has forged with Yahoo. In fact, during the installation process, your default search provider will be changed to Yahoo! unless you uncheck the box that does that.

Installing unnecessary Yahoo! features is annoying enough, but even worse is the way in which AVG tries to sell you other services, in what almost feels at times like a bait-and-switch scheme. For example, the main AVG Internet Security 2011 screen shows a PC Analyser module. Click the icon and it will check your Windows Registry, check your hard disk to see if it is defragmented, check for broken shortcuts and see whether you have "junk files" that can be deleted to free up drive space.

However, when you tell it to fix the problems, you are sent to a web page that offers a download that will do the fix for a single time - the next time you use it, you'll have to pay an additional annual fee of £22.

We also found the results of the PC Analyser somewhat suspect, and wondered whether it overstated the severity of the problems that existed on our system. It reported that we had 677 Registry errors, while RegistryBooster 2010 reported 25 Registry errors, Lavasoft Registry Tuner reported 21 Registry errors and CCleaner reported eight Registry errors.

OUR VERDICT

AVG Internet Security 2011 offers all the modules you would expect in a comprehensive protection suite, but its annoying habit of trying to sell you additional services, and its tendency to slow your system down during anti-virus scans, make this software less useful than it otherwise would be.