Exposing AVG Free Anti-virus: Get PUPs, Hijackers and more

By | November 3, 2014
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

As time goes by, there is less and less trust in this world. There ls less and less privacy in this world, and a lot of it is our own fault. There’s not much we can do about it now, it’s like a juggernaut that can’t be stopped. Pandora’s box has been opened and we will never close it back up.

Most computer users don’t know who to trust online. You have tech sites vying for readers and traffic to make more money and who are inclined to sensationalize just go get readers and visitors And it may well be that some of the things they publish are based on fact, but hyperbolized and sensationalized in an effort to exhort the reader to action or to scare the reader into buying something the site promotes.

So, who can you trust? I think one thing we should all be able to trust is our security software – our antimalware/antivirus software. You’d think that of all people the companies that make security software would be the last to try to trick you into installing malware or PUPs or garbage-ware. Right?


We just tested AVG (Free) anti-virus. And by default it installs PUPs and Malware, a search engine hijacker, a browser home-page hijacker, a browser toolbar, an unwanted (and poor) registry /computer cleaner and, makes it sound like if you give AVG your email address you’ll get extra free software – a PC speeder-upper program, malware, garbage ware, and a PUP.

While AVG pretends to be a legitimate company, its’free software installs questionable software — and they will counter that the end user (YOU) can untick  the box to not install the browser hijacker, search engine hijacker, home-pate hijacker and tab hijacker (Ask Toolbar). Indeed those who are careful and read every dialog during installation do have the option to uncheck the Ask toolbar installation, AVG knows a substantial number of people will not. And AVG makes misleading statements causing the user to think installing Ask Toolbar is beneficial and will enhance the user’s browser experience. Yes, you can opt-out of the Ask Toolbar malware – but you cannot opt-out of AVG’s installation of this junkware or the scam it tries to hook you with.

The rest of this we’re going to use pictures to tell the story – along with some descriptive text as to what AVG does or attempts to do. Please make sure you look at each image and read the descriptive text (where applicable):

I’m installing AVG on a brand new Windows 10 Tech Preview installation….

The download does not come from AVG but from Download.com …

Download.com tries to upsell you to AVG Pro Antivirus for $31.99 – you can get the best anti-malware and antivirus, Emsisoft cheaper – and its much more trustworthy and will protect your computer better – and wont’ hijack your browser, install PUPs, malware or toolbars.

Beginning AVG Setup…

If you give AVG your email address and register AVG you’ll get Quick Tune (a so-called PC optimizer, which you can be sure is a PUP if not malware). You have to give AVG credit – this takes guts.

I did not give AVG permission to install this on my computer – it’s junkware -supposedly a registry cleaner, junk file cleaner, etc. The button says “Fix Performance”- that’s the last thing it will do.

Notice above the text shaded green – if it’s hard for you to read, it says:

“Set and keep Ask.com as your default search provider, browser homepage and new tabs to enhance your searches”

Sounds beneficial but it’s really how hijacking happens. if you continue you’ll install this home-page hijacker, search engine hijacker and Ask toolbar malware – all courtesy of AVG. And why does AVG do this? Because they get money every time they trick someone into installing this.

Again, the Fix Performance button which opens PC Analyzer – which we did not have an option to install – it installs no matter what, is a PUP if not malware, and it’s certainly garbage. It makes the absurd statement: “PC Analyzer will check your PC to identify issues associated with registry errors, junk files, fragmentation errors, and broken shortcuts.”

I installed AVG on a brand new installation of Windows Technical Preview with only 4 programs installed on it and lo! and behold! This piece of junkware detected errors where there were none – could not possibly have been – and then offered to “fix” errors that don’t exist.

However, in order to fix these non-existent errors you need something else AVG is selling – so this isn’t really a registry cleaner, optimizer, at all – it’s a advertisement made to look like part of AVG. This is not only junkware – it’s a scam.

They want you to download AVG PC TuneUp to fix all these errors (which don’t really exist) – and generously offer to fix all these errors – which don’t exist – one time for free. Of course the next time you do a scan by clicking “Fix Performance” – it will find more non-existent errors and you’ll need to pay to fix errors that don’t exist. The beauty of this scam is that no one can ever prove the errors don’t really exist, Pretty clever!

AVG installs PUPs, malware, junkware, and tries to scam its users. This is supposed to be a company you can trust to protect your PC.

How can you ever trust AVG again?


15 thoughts on “Exposing AVG Free Anti-virus: Get PUPs, Hijackers and more

  1. Muriel.S

    I’m SO SO VERY GLAD you guys (EB and TC) are around – and that you care enough and provide “extra” hardware to take the risks to download and test this junk out. It’s even getting more difficult for us to do our own due diligence in trying to keep ourselves safe online when we can’t even trust the majority of so-called Security software – even our ISP’s try to force security junk on us.
    AND – It’s not only the crap and deception used among the perpetrators of this junk, but more and more the distrust of the download sites. That’s my particular delemma thase days. I notice in your screen shots that CNET provides this AVG scam/scumware. I used to enjoy looking at CNET’s iistings for something new and interesting. I’m so glad you warned us about CNET and other popular download sites a couple years back.
    When I find something I’d like to download now, I look for the web address of the creator. When I find out even the creator’s website uses 3rd-party download sites, I just “walk away” So many good programs created, and so many “middlemen” ruining them.

  2. Nora


    I too am happy TC and EB are watching out for us. I have been with them for over 10 years and trust them explicitly. Sure, some programs they used to recommend are no longer trustworthy but that is not their fault. Its the fault of those “middlemen” that Muriel speaks of. Its’ all about the money! I hope I didn’t do something today that I may regret. Many years ago I downloaded FastStone Image Viewer as I thought it was one of the best photo editing programs around and I do believe it was recommended by Info Ave. I still find it very useful and downloaded the newest version as I had to get a new hard drive on my 7 month old computer! It was rather difficult to find which of the four files to choose from but I did go to the actual website and downloaded from there the exe (site 2) as the exe (recommended) took me to a site called Download.now powered by cnet. I hope I didn’t screw up by downloading the one called site 2.

  3. shari carter

    How fortuitous! Today, Darcy spent well over an hour on my laptop, and now I know why. I have Emsisoft, and I had AVG Free. She took it out once before, but of course I put it back in, because it seemed to find a couple of things that Emsisoft either didn’t find or didn’t worry about. Well, this time they got me in spades – I had it all: the search engine, the Ask bar, and a whole passel of stuff I’ve NEVER had before. In fact, I had so much foreign debris that I couldn’t even get my browser (or the offending one) to stay open long enough to download Chrome (her suggestion). I felt positively hog-tied! She took care of it all – thank you very much – and now I will remove AVG Free from my desktop – which is the next computer I’ve determined needs a Darcy visit. Will I ever learn? Let us hope…

  4. YvonneInBetween

    I know of a woman in Maine who sends a Computer Newsletter each week similar to Cloudeight. She ‘fixes’ computers in her shop. She’s produced this newsletter for years. Once I started reading Cloudeight Newsletters, I knew there was no comparison. She constantly pushes AVG to readers looking for antivirus software and I just shake my head. She doesn’t have half the knowledge of Cloudeight and I am happy I don’t rely on her advice. I read it now only to see in what direction she is steering people……. I’d like to copy and paste this article and send it to her; but she’ll only find an excuse to keep on doing what she is doing. Poor unsuspecting subscribers….

  5. Mary

    I was reading this in hopes of finding something about the Astromenda! However, I did not see it. I actually updated my HP and when I did the Astromenda was bundled in there. I used several anti malware to remove it and believe I did except for one thing. Every time I start my laptop this window opens and there it is a node webkit with Astromenda right there stating it is trying to unzip the files. I cannot get rid of it. I did download and use Malware Bytes but it is still there. Hoping maybe I will see how to do this on this website sooner or later.

    1. infoave Post author

      You have to remove it with a good malware cleaner, then you have to remove it from every browser you use manually. Then you have to clear all of your browser’s cache and sometimes you need to delete the shortcuts to your browser and make new ones. Sometimes your Internet connection settings are hacked and you have to reset those too. The article we wrote was not about specific malware it was about AVG installing malware — not every malware in existence though.

  6. Bigart

    Well peoples I have been using AVG free for years on some computers and have never had any trouble such as outlined above. All one has to do is NOT BE ASLEEP when you install this. Take nothing at face value and uncheck any boxes to install other things like the Ask toolbar.

    As far as the fix performance box, DON’T CLICK ON IT or anything else you do not understand. I have my old tried and true tune up tools I run periodically. I also have Avast free on several computers and have never had any oddities crop up with it either.

    For Heaven’s sake peoples, these programs are provided free of charge, do you know any businesses that provide all their services free of charge and stay in business?? If someone can’t handle installing these free programs with something attached that you can opt out of then pop for some money and buy a full edition with no junkware attached. Goodness, be realistic in life and keep your eyes open and brain in gear.

    1. infoave Post author

      Well Big Art , if what you say is true then malware bundled with freeware is good too – because Hey! It’s free. If someone gave you a car free if you allowed them to follow you wherever you go, and record everything you said while you drove it, would that be OK?

      Malware bundling is pandemic. One would think that one could trust a security program NOT to try to sneak things past its users. And it’s not that people are asleep – maybe their installing it when distracted or tired.

      I guess i’m amazed that you think that because something is free that gives the software developer the right to try to sneak things past the user in order to make a buck. Companies who value and respect their customer do not include bundled software.

      From what you wrote, we can tell at one time you must have clicked the Fix Performance button and learned it was a scam.

      But more important than that AVG is not rated highly on any independent lab tests we’ve seen.

      I am willing to bet you that your computer has a lot of malware on it — the bet is this:

      I will connect to you (no charge) and check your computer for malware — because if all you’ve ever used is AVG I know it will have plenty of malware. If I don’t find any malware on your computer I will publish it here and give you a free Cloudeight Direct Repair key — for future use.

      If you are so sure AVG is protecting your computer, you should accept my offer. Any day, any time during business hours, I will connect to your computer and check it for malware. If I find your computer is infected, I will publish those results along with your comments regarding AVG.


      1. Bigart

        Wow! deal it is. I have several computers here and the AVG protected computer is down due to a processor failure, hopefully it will arrive today or tomorrow and I will get it installed and be in touch. The computer I am using now is protected by Avast free I guess for about the last 7 or maybe 8 years and have had no trouble. Incidentally all my computers (except one with Windows 10 Technical Preview) are XP, not only do I not scare about no updates but I use free antivirus on all of them. I will be in touch.

  7. Arnie Brown

    Thanks folks for your advice folks. I’m NOT A COMPUTER WIZARD, far from it, and as such I have to trust someone, and I have learned to trust TC & Darcy. They call it like it is. TRUST THEM FOLKS you wont be lead the wrong way.
    Arnie Brown in Nova Scotia

  8. Donna Mae

    I agree with you Arnie….my trouble is that I am just a bit old—and I am afraid of having them (who I have trusted for years) into my PC because it is such a mess.
    I think I will take the proverbial bovine by the horns and DO IT. Thanks

  9. JoninOz

    I am long past helping people with computer problems who completely ignore advice from InfoAve, as they re-install the ‘garbage’ a few days after it was removed.
    They can have the ever-changing low-class standards of AVG, TC & EB advised members continuously several years ago when AVG changed tactics.
    It was discovered recently that Avast were spying on users with ad-ware, until they were exposed.
    Several people still send Incredimail email to me, ignoring warnings of bloating and insidious toolbars hidden inside, and if their computer malfunctions they can pay TC & EB, Mr Freebie here has retired.

  10. bob

    as so many others i went with AVG for my protection, but ever since i’ve gotten popup after popup about “you need to update” clicking on it shoots me to AVG shop, even thou everything it updated and i’ve disabled any kind of popup’s they just keep on coming up, even in-game despite AVG promise not to bother you while playing.
    after some time i got the worst popup trying to hijack my browser and sign away all rights to this and that.

    so DON’t EVER install AVG, not even if you are planning to pay for the product you’ll be off the hook, when you choose antivirus your basically putting your entire PC and data in their hands, there is no way i would trust my data to AVG.

  11. Donald Corrette

    I have used AVG antivirus free 2017 and It is good Rated excellent buy PC Magazine
    If you do not want some parts of the program the opt out

    1. infoave Post author

      We disagree with you and we almsot always disagree with PC Magazine. Their reviews also end up trying to sell something or in generating a lot of ads = money.

      We work on dozens of computers every week. If we see AVG on a computer we know 2 things are normally going to be true. The computer will have a lot of PUPs and probably malware, and some of the PUPs will be installed by AVG. There is no reason in the world why users should have to “opt-out” of brower hijackers, start page hijackers, and PUPs when installing a security program. While we have no doubt at AVG and just about every other antivirus out there – free or not can adequately protect you from viruses, viruses are very rare. Malware, PUPs, and ransomware are the problems today, and while you may trust your computer to AVG- we would never trust our computers or our families’ computers to it. You can use whatever you want, but we would never recommend AVG or any so-called security program that attempted to install PUPs or malware on a users computer. If you feel that allowing you to opt out is fair that’s your opinion. But that means that any malware that is installed by a program’s installer is fine as long as you have a chance to opt out.

      AVG’s Secure Search is a search engine hijacker. AVG Tuneup is a useless program that is installed with AVG and could be considered a PUP.

      We have seen AVG in action and we have removed a lot of pups, hijackers and malware from computers supposedly protected by AVG.

      It’s your computer and you are welcome to use whatever you like.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *