With today’s tough economy is a good idea to save money wherever possible. Your anti-virus software is no exception. We have tested several of the top free options and we have some great news about all three. They all performed just as good if not better then some of the top paid brands such as Norton, McCaffee and Trend Micro. In fact, installing most of these paid products can lead your computer to Death Valley.
Not only can it slow you down to a crawl but they can often block you from doing some everyday tasks as well. There is no need to spend big bucks to have good security on your system. Remember, if you use a router, you already have the best firewall possible already built into the router. You do not need a third party software firewall.
Avast Free Anti-Virus
For several years, I have always put Microsoft Security essentials as the best free choice in anti-virus. The only reason I am putting Avast at the top is because Security Essentials will not be available for download to XP users after next April. It is uncertain if Microsoft will continue to provide definition updates or not to existing users.
For me, Avast is a close match to Security Essentials. According to many experts, the detection rate is higher then that of Microsoft Security Essentials. I tested it on an older XP machine that requires a relatively light on resources type of protection. I must say that it fit the tab perfectly. I did have some slow down initially after install but after updating and performing the first scan, it ran perfect right after the first reboot. I have had no performance problems at all. The performance and CPU cycles that the product uses is very compatible to that of Security Essentials. The product will scan and check your all of your file downloads as well as your e-mails. In order to keep it light, be sure to use the custom install option and uncheck all the extra tools. By default, it will install the Google Chrome browser but if you do not want to use it you can easily uninstall it later.
Avast is now the preferred free solution for many techs and the detection rates are right up there with some of the best. The product requires a free registration and once a year you will have to renew that registration. The registration process is easy and is a small price to pay for this great product. There is also a paid version but we almost always tell you to stay away from that because the program starts to become too heavy and will slow down your computer. Stay with the basic free version.
Microsoft Security Essentials
If you are running Windows Vista on up, Security Essentials is the pick for you. In our tests, its performance is outstanding and it has caught quite a few bugs that it removed successfully without any major consequences. We have seen some of the top name products like Norton remove parts of Windows, which could create a no-boot situation for your computer.
Not only is this product light on resources, it has a simple user-friendly layout. Some products are so confusing and you have to read a manual just to find the settings. Microsoft did an outstanding job with this product and most people that we talk to that are using it really like it. We use it on many of our office machines.
The product needs minimal user interaction and makes the right choices on what to do with an infection for you. It has good detection rates, but does come up short compared to Avast. Remember, these tests are done in a laboratory and not in the real world so there is probably not that much difference that an ordinary user would notice.
The only annoyance I have found is that occasionally the product will turn yellow and tell you have not performed a scan in a while. Once you perform the scan, the product will again turn green and tell you everything is OK. When doing scans I recommend the quick scan for most purposes. If you decide on a full scan, you might want to let the scan run overnight, as it will take a long time to finish. In most cases, the full scan is not needed.
Panda Cloud Antivirus
Panda Cloud is quite unique in the way that it operates. It never actually downloads the updates to your computer. The user interface is extremely simple and it is relatively light on resources as well. I do not see it as being quite as light as the Avast and Security Essentials but it is if compared to most of the bloated paid software. The detection rates are good and the product usually detects and quarantines the bugs quite quickly. I have seen a few cases where it produced a false positive and also where a Malware file got “stuck” and would not remove. This produced a looping effect of remove and reboot, remove and reboot, remove and reboot.
This product has the advantage of being a cloud product, as you do not have to wait to download updates to get the latest definitions. As soon as the definitions are loaded on the Panda server, your software is already finding them. If for some reason your Internet connection is blocked, this can cause issues with Panda locating the latest definitions. For these reasons, I have listed Panda as the third best free anti-virus program. Its performance in finding bugs is just as good as most of the paid products if not better.
AVG Free Anti-Virus
In the past, we used to really like AVG free but today’s product is extremely bloated and buggy. In the old days it was a simple product that was easy to install and maintain. Now it can be confusing to install and sometimes if you make the wrong choices, you wind up with a trial version instead of the free version. I would probably avoid this product for now. We have seen lots of computers get frequent infections while using this product along with some buggy side effects.
As you can see, you do not have to spend a fortune to get great protection. Save your hard earned money and use one of the top choices above. Not only will it keep your cash in your pocket but also making a smart choice will keep your computer running smooth while keeping you safe.
Article posted by Ross Deprey