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  1. #1
    Banned - lol Scooter's Avatar
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    I recently received a PM from a member who wished to know, what is the best free antivirus program?

    Here is my response, for anyone else also wondering.

    Hey, I see your lots of tech posts [...] do you know which is the current best FREE antivirus programme? I'd really appreciate any input.

    Thank you!

    Hello [member], thanks for contacting me. I'll do my best to answer as fully and accurately as possible. (Brace yourself, here it comes... )

    First, you need to consider a few things. Mainly, how important is your computer's security to you? Are you comfortable with the risk that if you use a program that lacks features, your personal information could be stolen or your data damaged? Or that your computer could be hijacked and used to attack or spam other computers or email addresses?

    These are very real risks, especially with today's aggressive virus attacks and exploits, and security vulnerabilities.

    There are some excellent free programs available, but they all have two factors in common: firstly, nearly all free antivirus programs are limited in function (such as lacking a resident scanner that checks all files as they are accessed), and they don't test as being as effective as paid versions. Very few if any free programs actually make the effectiveness ratings in professional test results. And support is usually limited or non-existent. So, free=risk in many instances.

    Secondly, what platform are you using? Your operating system and computer architecture greatly decide what is available and necessary to you in particular. Not all free antiviruses are available for all operating systems (Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Mac OSX, Linux, etc.).

    Thirdly, have you considered an integrated solution? These are programs that combine a firewall, antispyware and antivirus program into one and work closely and effectively together to offer the tightest protection. An example would be Zone Alarm Internet Security Suite by Checkpoint, that combines solid firewall protection with the highest-ranked antivirus program (Kaspersky) and an anitspyware engine. These solutions are not free but are often not as expensive as you would think, and in the case of Zone Alarm can be installed on a number of computers with a single purchase.

    The best free standalone antivirus programs, according to my findings, are: Avira AntiVir and Bit Defender. Both are excellent and thorough programs with detection rates of 94.26% and 95.57% respectively. However, BitDefender does not have a resident scanner, meaning that you will need to manually set a scan. Avira is only free for use on one computer in a home setting. Also, neither free program offers customer support.

    Either of these should get you by in a pinch, but I strongly recommend Zone Alarm Internet Security Suite with the Kaspersy engine to do the whole job. It only costs $49.95 USD for 1 year of updates, or the same for 3 PC's for 1 year of updates. That includes upgrades & online customer support.

    Lastly, remember to not run more than one antivirus at a time. They will conflict with each other by interfering with detection and removal and leave you more vulnerable. Two antivirus programs does not mean double protection. Uninstall everything but one, and uninstall your current antivirus before installing another.

    Here are Links:
    ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite: http://www.zonealarm.com/security/en...rity-suite.htm. Check out the Features & Benefits. For Vista (32 bit only), XP (SP2 or 3)

    Avira AntiVir: http://www.free-av.com/en/download/1...antivirus.html. User manual available (click on Documentation link).
    For Vista (32 or 64 bit), XP Home or Pro, SP 2 recommended, Windows 2000 SP4 recommended

    Bit Defender 10 Free: http://www.bitdefender.com/site/Down...nVersion/1/42/
    Windows (All versions), Linux/FreeBSD

    For Mac: PC Tools' iAntiVirus: http://www.iantivirus.com/download/. Intel-based Macs only with OS X 10.5 or later. "But Macs don't get viruses!!" you say? Bull. Mac is taking market share and the virus writers would love to be the first to crack a Mac. Better safe than sorry. Also, you don't want to pass infected files to your Windows friends.


    I hope this helps!


    Have a great day,

    Scooter
    This thread is currently associated with: Apple, MAC Cosmetics, Microsoft
    Last edited by Scooter; Sat, Feb 7th, 2009 at 02:39 AM.

    Linux Registered User #426194


  2. #2
    Filibuster Vigilantly Jacq's Avatar
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    (Am I allowed to post in this thread?)
    I have to disagree with you on a few points, Scooter.

    On paid Antivirus:
    - I purchased ZoneAlarm for a year a while back, but I ended up uninstalling it after about 8 months because the lag on my system was excruciating. Also, I found no benefit to their firewall options over Windows firewall (I don't turn it on often in any case, but after SP2 for XP Windows firewall has been sufficient to my needs.) On that note, Kaspersky in itself is a ridiculous resource-hog. I tried the free trial of it for about two days. On day two, I installed some new hardware into my machine and Kaspersky caused my computer to hang on the Login screen - I had to go into safe mode and delete it. What a headache!
    - My recommendation is NOD32. I use it on my main computer and haven't had a problem with it, period. Hands down it's the best, fastest, and most resource-efficient antivirus on the market. Unfortunately that also means it's one of the most expensive.

    As for free antivirus programs, my recommendation goes to Avast. It's comparable with Avira in most cases from what I see online (I've never used Avira first-hand), but the GUI for Avast is infinately more fun, has a much better support base / "customer" service, and it gives me the lowest number of false-positives out of all the free antivirus programs I've used (okay so I've only used Avast and AVG).
    It's not an antivirus per se, but for security purposes I also really have to recommend the Noscript add-on for Firefox. It's the best.

    In the end, and this is my honest opinion, any of the top 3 free AV programs will work well. Avast, AVG, and Avira ALL have detection rates in the 90%s. For the other 10%, well, use that incredible gift we humans posess called common sense. Don't download files from people you don't know; don't click on overtly suspicious links, and don't put your personal information onto any website unless you've confirmed ten ways from sunday that it's legit. That mindset will make you safe from almost everything on the net.
    Last edited by Jacq; Thu, Apr 2nd, 2009 at 02:10 AM.

  3. #3
    Banned - lol Scooter's Avatar
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    We agree to disagree on ZoneAlarm then... I've never had an issue. However, any resident scanner will decrease apparent system speed since files are scanned before being read or written. This is an expected consequence of having added security at the read-write/execute level. The effect is noticed less on systems with faster proceesors and more memory.

    Also though, the software environment itself can affect performance. If there are any additional antivirus or antispyware programs installed, conflicts can occur that will degrade overall system performance or cause more serious conflicts. Sometimes as well, your particular setup combined with running background processes can lead to unfavourable results. I myself run with without other background applications or startup items, and have a large number of services disabled. This difference in setup might explain our different experiences.

    (To view and modify startup programs and backround items, get download SysInternals Suite from Microsoft and use ProcXP as your task manager and Autoruns to view and enable/disable startup and background items. It was developed independently by Mark Russinovich and M$ bought the rights after discovering just how useful the suite was. It's free.)

    And I agree on NOD32, I have heard a great deal of positive reports about this software.

    Avast is definitely one of the favourite solutions available with its efficient detection and simplified user interface. However when splitting hairs on detection results, I still prefer BitDefender and Avira for their higher percentages. All three however get praise from me for having versions available for Windows, Linux and Mac.

    NoScript is as far as I am concerned an absolute must. It can be tricky to get the feel for how to use it at first considering you manually select to allow one script at a time on each page, but is essential for barring malicious scripts from having free access to your system through your browser. The only other software that comes close is PeerGuardian, also very robust at blocking any data from your computer unless you allow it, and is an excellent compliment to any firewall.

    And yes, common sense is the utmost determining factor in computer security. Most viruses and trojans are allowed to infect systems when the user intentionally - with or without knowing the consequences - selects to allow an action or blindly follows prompts, or opens email attachments. Paranoia is your best friend when connected to the internet.

    A very good response, Jacq. Thanks for posting it.

    Linux Registered User #426194

  4. #4
    Smart Canuck mulock's Avatar
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    I have used McAfee (horrible horrible horrible), Norton (crazy memory hog), and now I am on the free AVG and have had no problems. Oh there are 'ways' to convert the free version to a pro version without paying. Google can tell you how.

  5. #5
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    I would suggest to add Microsoft Security Essentials to the list as well. Very impressive for free security software and the final version is now available for free download.

  6. #6
    Junior Canuck
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    Thnaks for this nice info so in your expereince which is the free and best antivirus for a HP laptop with window vista

  7. #7
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    The best free options would be Avira, Avast and MSE.
    Avira is great, but MSE is getting pretty rave reviews. I really suggest you to try it out.

  8. #8
    Junior Canuck
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    Quote Originally Posted by jampack View Post
    The best free options would be Avira, Avast and MSE.
    Avira is great, but MSE is getting pretty rave reviews. I really suggest you to try it out.
    how good is AVG?

  9. #9
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    i have used norton internet security ever since i got my computer..its pricey at 80ish bucksevery year..but i dont have to worry about anything

  10. #10
    Junior Canuck
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    Quote Originally Posted by trucks12trucks View Post
    i have used norton internet security ever since i got my computer..its pricey at 80ish bucksevery year..but i dont have to worry about anything
    thanks for the info but i am looking for good fee one

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