After testing two of the top free antivirus solutions on a virus-riddled machine for a day, I have to say that Avast comes out on top.
Seeing as how I've only been testing these for a day, I haven't exactly tested this exhaustively across multiple email clients, but I don't need to do that much research to decide which one works better for me. Using Thunderbird with an SSL encrypted connection to the email server, Avast was able to scan all of my incoming emails, while AVG was kind enough to pop up a message for each single email telling me that it was unable to scan it. Thanks, AVG, but I'll go with Avast on this one.
Avast has a much cleaner interface that seems to be designed specifically for Windows 8. It's very clean, intuitive, responsive, and fairly easy to use. It is even easier to find all those little settings that you occasionally need.
They were both fairly comparable in terms of memory usage, but AVG seemed to spawn an awful lot more background processes. Each of those processes seemed to be more likely to see a spike in their memory usage. Again, I did not do any serious benchmarks on this, but just based on my instincts it seems like Avast is better at memory management.
During system scanning, AVG seemed to use less memory, and took less time than Avast's scan. But I believe that is because Avast is able to search more deeply for more forms of malware, which brings me to my next point...
List of Malware
This is a big one. An antivirus program is only as good as its detection list. I didn't take the time to look into how exhaustive each solution's list is, but judging by what I've seen, Avast's is much more extensive.
So, after much callous testing of both of these solutions, you can see why I decided that Avast is a better solution. It plays very nicely as a background antivirus solution. One positive thing I can say about AVG is that it was very easy to uninstall.
David The Expert
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