What is the Best Free Anti-Virus Program to Meet Consumer Needs?

What is the Best Free Anti-Virus Program to Meet Consumer Needs?This morning I wandered upon an article giving consideration to the different available anti-virus programs that are being offered for free, and which one was the best at protecting consumers’ computers. I must admit that I began the article with extreme prejudice for two free anti-virus programs, AVG and avast!, that I have personally used since 2003 without ever being infected with a virus or malware.

The author of the mentioned article reviewed several programs and came to the conclusion that first place belonged to Ad-Aware Free Internet Security 9.0, second place to avast! free version 6.0 (which I currently use), while AVG Anti-Virus Free 2011 ranked in third best. In my opinion, the results were close enough that any of these three free versions will meet your needs in protecting your system from being attacked by either a virus or malware.

Some of you who are reading this article may question whether a free version of any anti-virus product can protect your computer as well as a paid version, but it is my professional opinion and personal experience that gives me the confidence to recommend these particular products to you. In addition, however, to having a good anti-virus program, we need to also practice safe surfing, which means avoiding sites that offer pornography or sites that want you to download free copyrighted programs. Rogue sites such as these or those that are inclined to want you to click on every link, whether it comes from an email message or Facebook, may still create problems with your computer.

The reason that there is so much to guard against on the Web is that hackers and worm creators have refined their trade and now employ a variety of different software mini-programs that can disable any anti-virus program, whether a paid commercial version or a free version. Therefore, protecting your computer is like having safe sex, meaning that just because you think that you are protected does not guarantee you and/or your partner a 100% safe journey. Likewise, just because you are using an anti-virus program, no matter how highly it is rated, can 100% guarantee you that your computer will not fall victim to infection.

For what it is worth I used AVG for about six years and loved the program. Unfortunately, when the 2011 edition was released, my computer, which was using the Windows 7 OS, began to run sluggishly. This was about six months ago, at which time I switched over to using the free version of avast!. I am not sure if AVG has addressed the problems that affected the first release of its free 2011 program, but for now I will use avast! since it seems to work well for me. Like everything in life, however, your experience may differ.

After reading the article earlier today, I decided that I will be testing out Ad-Aware Free Internet Security 9.0 to see how it functions. Once I have had time to fairly evaluate it, I will post a blog article as to my findings.

Comments welcome.

PC Magazine: The Best Free Antivirus Software

Article Written by

I have been writing for LockerGnome since relocating to Missouri seven years ago, where I continue to be a technology enthusiast who enjoys playing with the newest and latest gadgets.

  • http://www.bytehead.org/blog/ Bryan “bytehead” Price

    I’ve given up on AVG. It screams too much about some of the tools that I carry, just because they are “suspicious”. I have turned in too many false positives only to be told that they are true, when they are OBVIOUSLY false. I have a program called VFAT that was used to defrag MSDOS drives, and I’ve had it for literally decades. It’s of zero use today on NTFS volumes (and I think even Windows 95 was problematic back then, long file names…), so it’s not really an issue, I’ll never run it again. Another is a program to kill processes, by name (which can get you into trouble if you don’t know what you are doing). And no way I could find to mark the file as safe anyway.

    Microsoft Security Essentials works for my wife and me. My daughter, who runs Avast, has managed to get infected (running Avast in Safe Mode solved the issue, but why did she get infected in the first place?)

    And before MSE came out, my wife was running McAffee. She got hit with something that redirected all her Google searches. In Firefox. IE was fine, and Chrome was fine. A DLL got installed (with the same name as a legit DLL), and was managing to invisibly proxy Firefox. I sent it to VirusTotal, and McAffee STILL wasn’t thinking it was a virus. In fact, only half the engines at the time thought it was.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks Bryan for sharing your experience with us.

    • http://about.me/sandmaxprime Lionel Faleiro

      When you are doubting a file or your AV, VirusTotal has always been a great resource to clear your doubts.

      • http://www.bytehead.org/blog/ Bryan “bytehead” Price

        When only three (or less) AV engines are flagging it as a virus (right click, Send to, VirusTotal, and instant results), that’s when I’m going to call them false positives. :)

    • http://about.me/sandmaxprime Lionel Faleiro

      When you are doubting a file or your AV, VirusTotal has always been a great resource to clear your doubts.

  • http://www.bytehead.org/blog/ Bryan “bytehead” Price

    I’ve given up on AVG. It screams too much about some of the tools that I carry, just because they are “suspicious”. I have turned in too many false positives only to be told that they are true, when they are OBVIOUSLY false. I have a program called VFAT that was used to defrag MSDOS drives, and I’ve had it for literally decades. It’s of zero use today on NTFS volumes (and I think even Windows 95 was problematic back then, long file names…), so it’s not really an issue, I’ll never run it again. Another is a program to kill processes, by name (which can get you into trouble if you don’t know what you are doing). And no way I could find to mark the file as safe anyway.

    Microsoft Security Essentials works for my wife and me. My daughter, who runs Avast, has managed to get infected (running Avast in Safe Mode solved the issue, but why did she get infected in the first place?)

    And before MSE came out, my wife was running McAffee. She got hit with something that redirected all her Google searches. In Firefox. IE was fine, and Chrome was fine. A DLL got installed (with the same name as a legit DLL), and was managing to invisibly proxy Firefox. I sent it to VirusTotal, and McAffee STILL wasn’t thinking it was a virus. In fact, only half the engines at the time thought it was.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks Bryan for sharing your experience with us.

    • http://about.me/sandmaxprime Lionel Faleiro

      When you are doubting a file or your AV, VirusTotal has always been a great resource to clear your doubts.

      • http://www.bytehead.org/blog/ Bryan “bytehead” Price

        When only three (or less) AV engines are flagging it as a virus (right click, Send to, VirusTotal, and instant results), that’s when I’m going to call them false positives. :)

  • http://twitter.com/nicktherat Nick the Rat

    Microsoft Security essentials is all you need. and if you still get a virus, use malware bytes, spybot and microsoft system sweeper.

    • Anonymous

      I tested MSE, and got the VM (virtual machine) infected in a few seconds! :((

      • http://www.bytehead.org/blog/ Bryan “bytehead” Price

        How did the VM get infected without infecting your machine first? Did you run something that you knew was bad to start with?

  • http://twitter.com/nicktherat Nick the Rat

    Microsoft Security essentials is all you need. and if you still get a virus, use malware bytes, spybot and microsoft system sweeper.

    • Anonymous

      I tested MSE, and got the VM (virtual machine) infected in a few seconds! :((

      • http://www.bytehead.org/blog/ Bryan “bytehead” Price

        How did the VM get infected without infecting your machine first? Did you run something that you knew was bad to start with?

  • http://about.me/sandmaxprime Lionel Faleiro

    I have been using Avast for 3+ years on Windows machines and it has always gotten the job done. In the office we used to use McAfee Enterprise which was totally junk. Whenever a machine was infected, the only fix was installing Avast and running a Boot Time Scan.

    I did try AVG but its detections weren’t as great as Avast and it was a memory hog and had crash issues.

  • http://about.me/sandmaxprime Lionel Faleiro

    I have been using Avast for 3+ years on Windows machines and it has always gotten the job done. In the office we used to use McAfee Enterprise which was totally junk. Whenever a machine was infected, the only fix was installing Avast and running a Boot Time Scan.

    I did try AVG but its detections weren’t as great as Avast and it was a memory hog and had crash issues.

  • http://gislikarl.com Gísli Karl Gíslason

    Of all the antivirus software I have had Microsoft Security Essentials has been the best.

  • http://gislikarl.com Gísli Karl Gíslason

    Of all the antivirus software I have had Microsoft Security Essentials has been the best.

  • http://twitter.com/JohnVClifford John Clifford

    AVG free was terrible, high resource use, slowing computer and no easy was to disable any features in my testing on quad core win 7 64 computer, Currently use Norton Security 2011 which is free from Comcast but noticed that you have to uninstall and re download app to get full updates to 2011 version . On my other windows computer the 2010 Norton Comcast version it updates antivirus regularly but user icon and core program features never updated. if you have comcast account check it out. I like some of Firewall features in Norton Internet Security 2011 Comcast free version. it is easy to turn it off antivirus or firewall to save resource for video editing etc.

  • http://twitter.com/JohnVClifford John Clifford

    AVG free was terrible in myu testing on quad ocre win 7 64 computer

  • Harry Hill

    I use Norton 360 4.0. Was not a fan before because they got in the way. Now…hardly know it is there. No problems.

  • Harry Hill

    I use Norton 360 4.0. Was not a fan before because they got in the way. Now…hardly know it is there. No problems.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JMLULJ7CH5G5SUB4M5YNNYLEG4 FredC

    I have had AVG for more than 6 years without a hitch. I don’t even think of viruses (virusi?) and am not that picky about how fast my machines are running. Spending time sweating demons also slows the operation.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JMLULJ7CH5G5SUB4M5YNNYLEG4 FredC

    I have had AVG for more than 6 years without a hitch. I don’t even think of viruses (virusi?) and am not that picky about how fast my machines are running. Spending time sweating demons also slows the operation.

  • Norbert ( Bob ) Gostischa

    Hello Ron,
    As you probably already know, I visit computer and other clubs with my lecture on “Protecting yourself and your identity online.” The main part of this seminar revolves around the use of avast! free which I’ve personally used since 2003.
    Through the use of layered protection, the free version of avast! can be matched against any of the big boys and probably beat them in it’s all around protection and performance ability.
    It does an excellent job of keeping your system safe while being light on resources and thereby allowing excellent system performance.

  • Norbert ( Bob ) Gostischa

    Hello Ron,
    As you probably already know, I visit computer and other clubs with my lecture on “Protecting yourself and your identity online.” The main part of this seminar revolves around the use of avast! free which I’ve personally used since 2003.
    Through the use of layered protection, the free version of avast! can be matched against any of the big boys and probably beat them in it’s all around protection and performance ability.
    It does an excellent job of keeping your system safe while being light on resources and thereby allowing excellent system performance.

  • Anonymous

    i have XP and avg 2011 is still plague , went back to ver, 9 it’s avgisdagent was to aggressive for my cpu with 66% usage

  • Henrique Vaamonde

    I started using Avast after MSE couldn’t detect a virus. It’s been two years since that and I have to say Avast is great.

  • Anonymous

    i have XP and avg 2011 is still plague , went back to ver, 9 it’s avgisdagent was to aggressive for my cpu with 66% usage

  • Henrique Vaamonde

    I started using Avast after MSE couldn’t detected a virus. It’s been two years since that and I have to say Avast is great.