Original post found in its entirety here: http://geekscheaper.com/index.php/security/24-goodav
What makes for a good free anti-virus? How do you decide? Did you even know there was such a thing as a solid free anti-virus? There are so many paid and free options out there on the market today that deciding on a reliable antivirus for your PC should be easier, but the case seems to be just the opposite. Combine the number of “free”ware promotional AV’s with the number of “rogue” antiviruses (digital “wolves in sheep’s clothing”) and the high numbers of people coming online that are relatively clueless about PC security, and you have a recipe for disaster. Thankfully there are a number of reliable solutions that, alone or combined, can keep your computer very secure and stable.
One enormous barrier to the new computer purchaser to getting antivirus protection is the cost – typically, “trial” antiviruses are installed on factory model PC’s that are bought from the store, and in order to continue using them the user must pull out their credit card and fork out $40-75 on average in order to continue securing their computer after a month or two. Some paid AV solutions are worth the money, but many of the most popular, namely McAfee, Norton and Webroot, suffer from their own popularity and routinely are targeted by potent virus infestations and fail. In other words, that slick antivirus the guys at Geek Squad sold you ain’t worth the plastic it was burnt on.
There are a number of free and reliable malware security solutions that cover the needs of most internet users today. I will list and review the most prominent in my own use as follows:
AVG is a powerful antivirus and anti-spyware tool provided at no cost for home use. AVG strongly believes that everybody has a right to good antimalware coverage, so they provide their free version with the same powerful antimalware engine as the paid version. AVG is set to automatically update every day and scan once a week, and other than that the only times you may see notices from it are when it actually discovers a prospective invader, or when it needs to restart the computer because an update for the program has finished. Once a year, AVG comes out with the new edition of their antivirus program – at which point they always emphasize an offer of their Pro (paid) version. In my experience, the professional version is no better than the free version, for most intents and purposes. AVG Free offers a number of handy features to keep internet browsers safe online, such as LinkScanner and even their own google search portal add-on for firefox. Most importantly it works very well as a “set-it-and-forget-it” antivirus and once it’s installed and configured properly (not much effort involved there) it does its job and leaves you in peace unless something really important comes up.
Immunet Protect’s name belies its nature – basically, it is a gigantic net of immunity that is cast around all its users. Immunet is a powerful cloud-based supplemental antivirus and antispyware solution. It’s based on a multi-platform network called the “Cloud” that maintains an ongoing comprehensive database of all known malware definitions. In other words, it knows better than most antimalware programs “what to look for,” because in stead of one “daily digest” that it downloads like clockwork from central command and you’re just “out of luck” if you get a virus that’s not “on the list”, your computer is instantly updated as is everyone else’s on the network the second a threat is verified.
Immunet plays well with others! Most of the time it’s not a good idea to have two antimalware programs running on the same computer – they get in each other’s way and usually end up slowing the computer down. Immunet, however, is specifically designed as a complementary scanner and protector – designed to run next to another antivirus such as AVG, Avira, or Malwarebytes.
A must-have in every Windows PC Tech’s arsenal. This beautiful, simple and powerful application has stormed the antivirus market and reliably kept malware at bay for several years now. The free version of MBAM won’t run in the background on your PC, so it can’t be used to protect your computer from threats as they emerge, but it contains a powerful database of virus and other malware definitions and a powerful scanning engine. Definitely, if you find yourself in a position where you need to remove a large number of viruses fast, install Malwarebytes, update it, and then run a full scan on your hard drive in Safe Mode to yield startling results! I keep Malwarebytes installed on my computer at all times and run it when there is any doubt about the integrity of my running antiviruses.
Malwarebytes’ paid antivirus version is one of the only that I can publicly reccommend as being worth the money.
Avira is another reliable one to have around and the free version is one of the best. I personally don’t prefer to have it installed as one of my running anti-viruses because it is rather chatty and annoying with popups and advertisements. Avira’s detection rates, however, are phenomenally high, especially for internet worms, java and other applet viruses, and things that other engines may miss. For this reason and others it’s a valuable addition to your scanning repartoir. Everybody has their opinion, but generally this antivirus is best installed at the moment’s need as part of a malware removal or routine sweep.
Clam started its life in open source, as a powerful scanner for linux. Since then it’s morphed into a powerful scanner for windows with a unique view into the world of open source computing. I feel that this gives ClamWin an advantage that other “more prestigious” antiviruses may not have in that most internet servers out there are powered by Linux – so logically, many of the worms and other nightmares out there that can be “caught” from those servers do not fit the patterns that normal Windows baddies follow. ClamWin is also lightweight and stable and although I don’t reccommend installing it to run in the background of your PC, I highly reccommend keeping it handy for those crunch-time malware removals.
Well, there you go. I may not have given you every free anti-malware program under the sun, but enough to get you started. Those of you reading this material that can grasp enough of it that it does you some good, if you are able to secure your computer and fix your problems, then the purpose for writing this article has been fulfilled. This did take me time to learn, and to write, and these are programs I would use myself for paid services – so if you find yourself in benefit of this information and have the ability or desire to give back, please consider donating. If for some reason you find yourself confused, please don’t hesitate to contact me. If you suspect your computer is infected with malware and you are unable for whatever reason to fix it yourself, please consult a professional.