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Best Choices Of Free Antivirus

Updated on January 30, 2013

Computer security is a major concern of every user; viruses are modern and have changed much since floppy and DOS times. They will surely affect a system which is surfing the net unprotected, even if the user does not visit inappropriate websites. Worms, trojan horses and rootkit viruses are a serious threat to everyone and no single computer system should be left unprotected from malware like those.

Many computer users choose to protect their computers with software they find sold in stores. A large number of companies are widely known for producing strong antivirus solutions, like Mcafee, Norton and Panda, and they have a serious amount of customers who are able to pay much money to buy their security suites, or even their stand-alone antivirus programs.
Not all users however can opt to pay for an antivirus, (even for an excellent piece of software such as Kaspersky Antivirus) because they have already spent quite much for other software that is more needed, like the operating system itself and the Office suite. That does neither mean these users will not get any security shield around their systems, nor that they will have to opt for a cracked/illegal version of it. Actually, Illegal security software would generate loopholes and cause even more trouble. There is a wide variety of security software that fights viruses and does not charge users at all, completely free antivirus applications.

No computer system should be left without virus-countering security applications.
No computer system should be left without virus-countering security applications.

People might be worried that the free antivirus applications are just not as good as the paid ones, which is not really true. Each software of this kind uses different techniques and incorporates different heuristics, which means no-one can be really sure which is more effective. Of course, there have been tests from computer related magazines and websites, but you cannot be sure that the results are reliable. Testing and comparing security software effectively involve the most modern viruses, "clean" environments and stable PC systems; there has not been a successful and reliable attempt at this, ever.

Personally, I have used more than 7 different antivirus the last 8 years, both paid and free ones. In fact, 5 years ago I decided I will not pay again a single dime for antivirus. The reason is simple: after so many years, I could not find an antivirus that is perfect. One might be effective, but slows the system - other is lightweight, but can give false reports, etc. All in all, comparing the free ones to others, I could not understand why people pay for antivirus.
The most famous free antivirus solutions are AVG, Avira and Avast. These companies offer great free solutions for users who do not wish to spend much. All those three are really effective against viruses and are relatively lightweight, especially when compared to, say, Norton. All three of them offer a free version of the antivirus and a paid one that includes more features, but the free is really enough, at least for a typical home user. They all update their definitions daily, they can be used to scan on demand and they can run in the background as live protection. However, they are free for typical home usage, not for large companies.

Comparing them is not really easy. From personal experience, Avast is good at detecting, but it's got a rather uninteresting interface and is somewhat slow at scanning. Avira got this annoying sound from the PC case speaker when it detects a virus (you can disable it though) and a pop-up window every time it updates. AVG is very effective and a little faster than Avast and it is probably why it is the free antivirus that most people choose lately.

AVG is actually my choice on all computers that I have access to - this includes computers of friends who trust me for their software and hardware repairs. AVG is stable and strong, updates daily if not more often, has few false reports and is generally a wise choice.

These are not the only free antivirus software a user can find. There are more, but these are the most popular and the most effective, at least to my personal opinion. Combining one of these with a strong antispyware (like Malwarebytes - it is free too) and possibly a firewall (ignore the Windows one - it is not good choice) is a good start for a typical home user to protect his computer from threats.

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