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Which free anti-virus program is best?

- September 26th, 2011

Computer viruses, spyware and malware are a bigger threat than ever and we all need an anti-virus program to protect our important data. But if you`d rather not pay anything for virus protection, you still have some good options.

In this segment, I take a look at two popular free anti-virus programs, AVG Free 2011 and Microsoft Security Essentials. Find out which one you should download.

Source: Mike Agerbo, GetConnected

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27 comments

  1. Garth | September 30, 2011 at 1:10 am

    Avast is by far better than both of these!

  2. Wil | September 30, 2011 at 1:57 am

    The best antivirus…is a Mac.

  3. George | September 30, 2011 at 7:48 am

    I use eset and I’ve never had a problem. Highly recommended.

  4. Murray Studer | September 30, 2011 at 8:11 am

    I would be curious to see how AVG stands up to Avast!. I’ve used them both in the last couple of years and I’ve developed a preference to Avast! I haven’t seen any formal tests done comparing the two yet, though.

  5. Jim | September 30, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    Neither have spyware and malware protection. They may say they have it and they even build in the algorithms to remove it.. but they don’t have it because realtime scanning for malware is pointless. Its on your computer and has disabled your virus scanner before the scanner can even scan for it.

    I remove viruses for a living. Doesn’t matter what antivirus you have, its going to do a horrible job at blocking it. This is clearly an advertisement for a substandard virus scanner. I would go with MSSE anyday over AVG simply because AVG is a PIG on resources. MSSE isn’t. If you want to pay for a virus scanner go with Eset NOD32. Its lightweight and powerful.. and it doesn’t catch malware any better then the rest. You can’t stop malware from getting on your machine 95% of the time. You can only remove it and the only good tools for that are MalwareBytes and Combofix. ALWAYS remove malware in safemode. And expect reboots.. you got a virus for crying out loud, remove it properly. Most of these infections run memory resident and as soon as its off the disk it will rewrite itself. The reboot helps remove the threat from memory. Don’t be afraid of a reboot, reboots are good they allow the scanner to remove it before anything else can load up on the machine. There are many other tools in my repertoire but those two get rid of most of the viruses I encounter quickly. Avast is just as good as MSSE and NOD32 but it can be a little bit of a resource hog sometimes. AVG’s Linkscanner is bunk.. google will do the same for you, as well firefox. Its hardly innovation… its just marketing. The more ‘features’ the scanners have, the more they make you feel safe. The more features they have, the higher the chance is that they will cause problems on your PC. The is the problem that Norton has had for years.. they try to do too much.

    If you think a Mac is the fix.. you are wrong… and I am typing this comment on a mac. Macs get viruses.. not as many.. but they still get them and there are more and more coming out of the mac every day because people are starting to use the Mac more often. Don’t believe the hype. Buy a mac because its a pretty computer at twice the price with a relatively nice OS on it. Not because they “don’t get viruses’ because that is a flat out lie.

    I suggest anyone using a PC should run the built in firewall in windows and Microsoft Security Essentials for a virus scanner. Nothing more. From there, scan weekly with MalwareBytes. Only use combofix if you have an infection and MalwareBytes hasn’t removed it and ALWAYS remove malware in safemode.

    Hope that helps!

  6. Jim | September 30, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    One final comment.. if you have malware (ie, a fake antivirus saying you have a lot of Trojans etc). You need to do more then just run a malware scanner like MalwareBytes. Search the malware name in google and look for removal instructions from bleepingcomputers.com and read them.. do what they say for removal. Bleepingcomputers.com is the greatest resource I have ever come across for virus removal because it helps you find out what files need to be removed. So when you run malwarebytes and it removes your virus you can then manually look for the files that come with it and delete them. This is more advanced but its about making sure you aren’t infected anymore, so if you can’t do it.. bite the bullet and call in a pro. Not little jimmy from down the street who says he knows everything. He doesn’t.

  7. Steve | September 30, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    I agree with the previous posters who mentioned Avast! It is also free for non-corporate use, and is fully featured and easy to use. I recommend it to anyone who asks, and since I am in the tech support business, that’s a lot of people…

  8. bob | September 30, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    Good luck when the first one hits. Eventually their market share will be big enough to make them attractive to hackers and a lot of Mac user are going to lose everything because they’ve bought into the myth that Macs are virus proof.

  9. Lee | September 30, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    Microsoft Security essentials is great. I recommend it for friends and relatives.
    AVG has become slow and bloated over the years (like Norton and Mcaffee before it).
    MSE is lean and works well.

    ESET’s NOD32 is good too, but for home users, MSE’e price is hard to beat.

  10. Marcel Beaudoin | September 30, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    It’s all well and nice to see how they do on a system that is already infected, but the primary use of these programs is to *prevent* infection. It would have been awesome to see how each program does for that as well. Also, how about system resources? Ease of installing software with anti-virus program enabled? To say that AVG is best based solely on one test is shortsighted, at best.

  11. Wally | September 30, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    Keep in mind that most of the free antivirus programs will only protect you from about 60 to 70% of the viruses that could infect your computer. Paid antivirus programs such as Kaspersky are in the 95 to 98% range. You get what you pay for or don’t pay for.

  12. Geo | September 30, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    I’ve been using AVG Free edition for quite some time now and for added security (and a little redundancy – for peace of mind mostly) I also use Spybot Search & Destroy (also free). Since I started using these programs I’ve never had an issue with viruses or malware. I’m extremely pleased with the way they perform and how simple they are to use. In all the years I’ve owned a PC I’ve never had to take one into a shop to have the “pros” deal with my issues.

  13. J | September 30, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    This is the correct answer. Not free but it’s worth it.

  14. J | September 30, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    Avast over AVG any day.

  15. akapipe | September 30, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    Right on; get a Mac & be safest of all!

  16. majormoe | September 30, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    i use esetnod32 and never have a problem

  17. cb4 | September 30, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    ive used avg free in the past, and after awhile, it always seems to let you know that the free trial has ended, and then BOOM!, i get bombarded with malware and viruses. i dont use limewire, and wouldnt recommend that to anyone wanting to keep their PC’s clean, but i, like anyone else, like to make use of my computer’s abilities and download the odd thing here and there.

    im at the point now where im debating: pc or mac. mac because they seem to last longer, from everyone ive ever talked to who has owned one. im tired of buying a computer that runs like a ferrari, and then a year later it drags and seems in major need of repairs. i defrag it, back things up, run virus and malware removal scans (ive used avast, avg, norton, mcafee, adaware, malware removers galore….etc). in the end, i always seem to have a problem, whereas my mac owning friends will report that even years after they’ve purchased their computers, that everything is still as fast as ever. im not sure about the virus or no virus aspect of the macs- any computer im sure is susceptible- but for longevity, they have it beat.

    my only question or concern other than the obvious price, can a mac run pc software, because i have some old school games i wouldnt mind digging out someday from my PC?

  18. Laura G. O'Connell | September 30, 2011 at 11:44 pm

    I use both AVAST and Spybot. I figure, that if a fifty-something female can figure out how to use it, anybody can use it. They have not failed me yet. I have tried McAfee (HATED it!) and Panda (even worse!), and put out big bucks for both, but AVAST has them both beat (in cost, and ease of use). Once you install AVAST, you just have to reapply every 14 months (I think, and they remind you!). It automatically updates when you are on-line. Love them both!

  19. Jim | October 1, 2011 at 11:12 am

    Macs a great, don’t get me wrong.. I love my Macbook Air but only because it is a simple surfing machine. I surf the web, I check email and I even play WoW on it. I wouldn’t say they have more longevity but I would certainly say they are well built. Seems like PC’s still haven’t been able to beat mac at the actual physical design of their computers. Even the Dell Slimline machines seem big and clunky next to my Air. The bad side is price.. this machine wasn’t really worth the $1300 I paid for it. It was worth probably about $900 to $1000. At the same time though.. the SSD in it makes this thing blazing fast.

    Anyway.. to answer your question about old PC games running on your mac, the short answer is no. The long answer is yes. In order to do that you need to use bootcamp and run a copy of windows on the mac but that means you have to switch between OS’s whenever you want to play the games. Another option is virtualization, which means running VMware or parallels on the mac which essentially allows you to run windows within a window on the mac. Problem is that you are essentially running an OS on top of an OS which is fine for running things like quickbooks or word but may not be overly great for running a game… depends on the game.

  20. nichideas | October 13, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    i use avast and its ok.

  21. bob | December 24, 2011 at 2:30 am

    Anyone one recommending a Microsoft product is delusional or trying to sell it to you. I wouldn’t give you a nickel for any anti-virus program, they’re rip-offs and just as bad for you as the viruses they don’t prevent. I’ve always used AVG but I’m interested in trying Avast. MacAfee and Norton are no better than thieves and are huge system resource hogs.

    As for all the deluded Mac users, good luck when you get a virus, and you will. The smart ones have anti virus for their Mac, the rest of you are a hackers wet dream.

    AVG for me now but I think I’m at least going to give Avast a try.

  22. Robert Pearson | December 24, 2011 at 8:26 am

    I can’t help but get the feeling that one of the many “Mac haters” lurking hereabouts will eventually create their own nasty Mac virus just to prove a point.

  23. BobFrantic | December 24, 2011 at 8:56 am

    Unbelievable that the test didn’t include Avast. Avast is by far better than these two put together…. maybe AVG and Micro$oft paid to not have avast a part of this LOL….

  24. qwerty | December 24, 2011 at 10:02 am

    The best way to get rid of viruses for good. Is to low level format your hard drive re-install your O/S then disable your network connections cancel your ISP subscription and stay off the internet. Also do not install programs from friends cd’s, dvd’s or FlashDrives etc.. etc..

    Other than that, What Jim say’s is absolutely right. I’ve tried them all and now I just use MSSE basically because nobody knows Microsoft better than Microsoft. In addition to MSSE I use CCleaner daily and so far so good.

  25. bob | December 24, 2011 at 11:02 am

    You’re right qwerty, nobody knows Microsoft better than Microsoft. So who better to find their weakness’s and create anti-virus software for it. Question I have to ask is why are they creating anti-virus software instead of fixing patching the holes in their OS?

    Microsoft has yet to release an OS that doesn’t need 2-4 years on the open market before all it’s problems are worked out why would anyone think the same would not be true of an anti virus program?

    I’ll stick with the free stuff, not only is the price better so is it’s performance.

  26. Paul Seelig | December 24, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    I do what Jim does, among other tech things, and I think that simpler is better. One of the oldest and most basic Windows issues is clogged resources. The more of these your A/V is using, the slower your machine runs. AVG is a prime offender. MSE is simple but not so good at catching things. Avast is ok but also a bit hoggish. On balance, MSE will do most of what is needed. Malware needs Malwarebytes. At the moment, that is by far the most serious threat. Face facts. Nothing is going to save you if you don’t surf safely.
    I use both Mac and PC and each has its points. Macs are not immune to viruses however so please enjoy your false sense of security while you can. Also, because of its nature, a Mac is much harder to clean once it catches one.
    Windows Firewall (or Zone Alarm free), MSE A/V, and Malwarebytes with realtime (this does cost about $30 for life). Combine that with basic safe surfing and you likely won’t need our services.

  27. Puccagirl | December 24, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    As some have commented… I’ve been using ESET since they did a comparison between all the major antivirus programs. ESET and Kapersky beat pretty well all the others.

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