AVG used to be a no-nonsense choice among free antivirus suites out there, but it seems the company's software has been suffering as of late. First hint came to our attention last month when one of our readers felt compelled to write us about AVG's painfully sluggish performance and noticeable bloat on its most recent version. This had gone unnoticed to me personally since I have long switched to Microsoft's free alternative Security Essentials, but the latest AVG Free weighs a hefty 140MB.
Then this week AVG released a mandatory update for AVG 2011 Free that has been causing severe issues, especially on systems running Windows 7 64-bit. This has been widely documented on the company's forums where it's been identified that the antivirus' database update 271.1.1/3292 (432/3292) will prompt you to restart, after which the OS will come to a halt, show a "STOP: c0000135" error and completely fail to boot.
AVG has promptly pulled the update from its website and come up with a set of instructions to bring your system back up. The fix requires the use of AVG Rescue CD that can also be used to boot from a USB drive.
Unfortunately this reminds us of the ZoneAlarm fiasco a few years ago. The ubiquitous freeware firewall turned awry at a time when Windows PCs where transitioning from XP to Vista and the software's erratic behavior potentially brought the whole OS down with it.