Dave has been into computers and electronic gadgets for most of his life. When it comes to technology, Dave knows the latest and greatest. Seeing technology evolve over the past quarter century, Dave has seen how important tech has become in our everyday lives. He reviews tech from being in the IT field for almost 20+ years so if you disagree with him, your opinion must be wrong.
OF THE WEEK
August 12th, 2010
Author: Dave G, Technology Specialist
What is The Best Free Antivirus?
What is The Best Free Antivirus?
I get that question about once a week so I figured that, from now
on, when someone asks me I can simply have them read this article.
There is a real need for the average computer user to protect
themselves against all forms of malware online. Threats to your PC
and your data can come from anywhere. Viruses can be embedded into
the macros of documents, attached to emails or downloaded
accidentally and just a single careless click can infect your
system, with potentially damaging results. There are several free
security solutions out there and I’m sure many of them are
excellent. I will just be focusing on a few of the programs I have
personally used. I have found them to be reliable, easy and, best of
I am going to start simple because most of the people that ask my
advice want or need things to be easy. AVG Antivirus fits that niche
it you will have a combined antivirus and antimalware engine, a
LinkScanner, and you can set it up to monitor your e-mail. AVG Free
9 has a few new features, with improvements focused on performance,
including claims of faster scan and boot times.
Next on my list is Avast!
The core antivirus/antispyware engine got a complete makeover for
the new edition, and it also got some new components for the war on
malware. A new heuristics engine watches process behavior to detect
malware that signatures won't catch. A new code emulator lets avast!
evaluate behaviors without letting a process run, and it also lets
the app examine programs that are compressed to conceal their
contents. My personal favorite is the new gaming mode that
suppresses pop-ups when it detects a program running in full-screen
mode. Other notable features include boot-time scanning, wake-up
from sleep mode to scan, and automatic scanning of files received
through e-mail, IM, and P2P applications.
Last but not least, there’s Comodo Internet Security.
It’s mainly a strong contender because of its excellent firewall.
The antivirus catches malware that slips through other antivirus
programs, however sometimes manages to miss the ones that the others
catch. That said, it's almost certainly good enough to stop most
malware that you're likely to encounter in the wild - and that's
what really counts. Additionally, while Defense+ is brilliant in
theory, in execution it can be overly sensitive and actually can
hinder the user experience for a novice. If you know what you’re
doing you can configure it to be more lenient. For example, the
Sandbox is a nice feature that will “isolate” applications from
damaging the operating system. By default it wants to protects all
apps but I advise most people to turn the feature off and use it
(say, on your browser) when visiting one of those “questionable”
Whether you're looking for protection for a new PC or one of the
many unhappy Norton users looking for an alternative, you should
definitely check one of these out. Certainly all of these would make
a great choice for people looking for easy-to-use, no-cost
protection for their PCs.
Finally, I would like to recommend Spybot Search and Destroy.
http://www.safer-networking.org/en/mirrors/index.html While it’s not
really an antivirus program it is a great scanner for Spyware and
Malware. No matter where you look you find that it’s always a good
idea to have more than one kind of scanner. Spybot comes with a nice
option called “Tea Timer” that acts like a “spyware shield” that
prevents harmful changes to your system.
The best and most secure way of protecting your computer from
viruses is to ensure you have the most rigorously tested, up to date
Internet security software for your machine. Not only does this
‘lock the back door’ to thwart the hackers, but installing it
immediately provides peace of mind when surfing online, allowing you
to enjoy your computer experience exactly how it was intended. Don’t
delay, get yourself - and your computer - covered as soon as
- Dave G.
Author, The Tech Review
Very good review. My Norton expired a while ago and I noticed my computer
started having a mind of its own. Now I am an Avast user and very happy.
22 Aug 2010, 13:55
Get a Mac. No virus software for the last 20 years. Ads up!
27 Aug 2010, 12:01
First, "No virus software for the last 20 years." That's because most
software companies don't make software for Macs, only real computers.
Second, it looks like your perfect Mac has no spell check or grammar check
because you spelled "Ads" wrong. And, if you read the article, I was
reporting on FREE antivirus programs. So what "adds up"?
27 Aug 2010, 22:02
Hiram is one of those geeks that stands in line for 24 hours to buy a phone
that drops a call when you hold it..good luck with the iphone 4-the next
time your iphone drops a call use a gmail account to place the call.
29 Aug 2010, 11:08
Good one Roy. iPhones are the AOL of mobile tech.
13 Sep 2010, 00:10
Dave after reading your post above I have now lost all respect I had for
you. First Mac's are real computers and in some ways are better then
windows as is Linux (Opens the floodgates for Linux noobs to try and flame
me because they think they are different). Most software companies do make
software for Mac's :O the main reason people don't use an Antivirus on
Mac's is because they don't need it the market for Mac's and Linux is so
small compared to windows people generally don't bother making virus' to
affect the file system as its completely different to the windows FS.
Second are you that desperate to flame him you have to pick out one tiny
little typo? as for your article you make yourself sound like a pathetic
fanboy mentioning all the good things but none of the bad except with
COMODO where you mentioned the small problem with its defense +. Now before
you try and flame me about what OS I use or anything like that I personally
dual boots windows 7 professional 64 bit and Xp Home 32 bit while I wait
for my new hard drive to arrive so I can add a Linux OS. If all games were
made for Linux instead of Windows I wouldn't have a windows OS on my
computer as it beats the hell out of any windows OS.
06 Oct 2010, 11:27
1. Please name the ways Macs are better. Not your opinion but documented
facts. Also, I can always find software for a Windows machine, less often
for a Mac. A simple search will show you that.
2. Just because you're a small target doesn't mean you shouldn't have
protection. (It's just common sense)
3. Picking on the typo was a little petty, I admit ;) I was just
surprised to see a mistake come out of a Mac.
4. I have not really had any problems with these AV packages, that's why
I'm recommending them. I have been using them for years and have not had
any resource hogging and I have not gotten a virus under their protection.
5. I agree that Linux is probably the best OS out there.
And, lastly, I want people to remember I used the word FREE for a reason.
He said he was getting a savings because he didn't have to buy AV. Silly
Mac user only seeing what he wants to see.
Thanks for playing.
07 Oct 2010, 15:41
Dave G, if you agree that Linux is the best OS, and I think we all agree
that the Mac OS has the best out of the box GUI. Albeit gnome/kde, compiz,
cairo-dock and window animations make it a close call. That means that Mac
OSX, built on BSD (Unix) is the best OS, when you combine stability,
usability and security.
As for the software, of course there is tons of windows software, but 99%
is crap. The software that people really use, not just geeks (which tend
to lack the virus and spyware issues of regular users) is plentiful.
Also, Mac's are better, plain and simple. Price for performance, Apple is
a great buy for an out of the box solution.
Fanboy disclaimer: Dual boot Ubuntu 10 and WinXP SP3(the last good windows
OS). I don't currently own a Mac, but my GF is running a dell mini 10v
with Leopard. Oh and her mini boots in under 30 seconds and has done so
for over a year with absolutely no AV or spyware protection.
17 Oct 2010, 11:26
Hey I thought this was an article about anti virus not OS's. Quit arguing
guys, every OS has it's problems, fans and haters.
Comodo is my favorite by the way ;)
17 Oct 2010, 14:01
For those of you that want to add to your arsenal of Malware Killing tools,
here is a nice list of online scanners you can use. I have tested many, but
not all of them. Enjoy.
if apple/macs are so great why dont they dominate the market?
26 Oct 2010, 15:09
Jason seriously mate go research before you post stupid things like that
comment MACS don't dominate the market for too reasons 1. because Bill
Gates stole some features of apples OS before they had a patent on them and
so their OS was made faster and took the market. 2. Because the layout is
different every idiot can use a windows interface but no one wants to try
and learn a mac interface so they go for windows. Also MAC dominates the
smart phone market
Macs getting attacked? Unheard of. If only someone had predicted that.
Second: Waahh, MS stole my idea waaahh. Plus, it sounds like you're saying
that the Windows interface is easier than a Mac. That's a first from a Mac
fan-boy. Lastly, MAC does not dominate the smart phone market, RIM does.
Dave must you really further your ignorance on this matter im not a mac fan
boy get that through your thick skull. I use Linux not MAC and its not
unheard of MACs getting hit by malware its just rare as its generally not
worth their time to build malware to infect MACS as their market share is
much smaller then windows and generally mac users are more intelligent then
windows users. And yes Dave windows does have an easier interface. As for
your graph with some brief googling I see its as stupid as you are RIM
dominates nothing. and technically its not MAC in the smart phone market
its apple ios get it right. I wonder what the next thing your going to tell
me linksys are a separate company to cisco? d link make better switches and
routers then cisco? or matter your just going to further prove your
ignorance about macs.
01 Nov 2010, 13:02
You know what? I like when people comment on this article. It just brings
in traffic for me and this site so thank you for keeping the argument
going. Oh and I do stand corrected on the smartphone market shares.
Apple is doing well but...
"..the wide variety of handsets running Google's Android represented a
commanding 43.6 percent."
"Recent studies have repeatedly shown that Android-based smartphone
shipments have eclipsed Apple's iPhone in 2010. Some have shown that
Android's growth was not slowed by the launch of the iPhone 4 this
All of you guys who are dissing the macs have got it totally wrong! For
someone who has used both systems extensively, dealt with IT Pros and so
called half baked ( I am an IT expert/ got a MCSE ) mindset, I can tell
you that macs have definite real advantages over pc's. Not the king of BS
like PC's have 80,000 software titles and macs have only 20,000. Better
security, quality software and hardware, you get what you pay for. The
user experience, something you cant put a price on. Last but not lease, do
a google search on "Google ditches Windows"
03 Nov 2010, 12:18
Wow Equalizer, you have a certification. I know so many IT "experts" with
multiple certifications and they don't know their ass from their elbow.
Certs mean you're a good test-taker. As for "Better security"? I hope you
don't mean that Macs have better security because that's a good joke.
Pwn2Own my friend, Google that.
03 Nov 2010, 14:26
Dave going off what youve said so far you are one of those people who don't
know their arse from their elbow so far you have come up with one virus
that effects macs yet you claim windows has better security do i really
need to give you a list of virus' that effect windows and not mac because
thats a very very long list i can tell you that much
03 Nov 2010, 15:25
It only takes one virus to take down a Mac. The idiots that were not
protected could've avoided the hassle if they just had AV. But, no, Mac
users have the "I can't get a virus" mentality.
And just for good measure, PWN2OWN!
03 Nov 2010, 16:23
It also only takes one virus to take down windows so whats your point? the
difference is there are many more of those 1 virus' that can take down a
windows machine then there is for a mac therefore your argument is wrong
and despite all this and how many people tell you you are wrong you still
blunder around mindlessly supporting windows and flaming mac even though
you really dont have a clue oh and one more thing the majority of business
servers are moving away from windows if they havent already LINUX/UNIX is
mainstream now. Now I wonder why they are doing that hmmm?
05 Nov 2010, 13:39
I like your spelling, grammar and run-on sentences btw. I agree that Linux
is way more secure than Windows. I never said differently and it's no
surprise that they would move to it for security. ANYway, we're beating
this horse to death so here's a funny picture...
Ah Dave once again you fail to find anything to flame me about so you have
to pick on the little things. In response for 1 my spelling was flawless as
for the rest of it yes my grammar was flawed and my sentences long. And the
entire point of this argument is you flaming Linux as MAC OS is LINUX have
you learned nothing from all the people calling you a moron.
05 Nov 2010, 16:39
As for your funny picture i see your funny picture and raise you this.
Well, good try but the photo has been deleted or moved. And as for what to
flame on, this is going in circles. I don't need to flame you. Mac users
think they are completely safe from harm but, in fact, they are not. It
has been proven time and again. If you could fully comprehend what I wrote
you'd see that I'd bashing those that think they don't need AV. Go ahead,
tell me again that I'm a moron or something, it just gets me more traffic.
And, just to be clear, Mac is UNIX-based not Linux based. It's OK, I
understand the confusion.
05 Nov 2010, 18:23
Correction on the image. I corrected the link you posted, there is no
space towards the end.
Looks like this comment section is adding the space, weird. Oh well, never
07 Nov 2010, 09:16
updated AVG memory/process hog...
NOT to comment on the ensuing flamage..
I had problems running multiplayer Mechwarrior 40, after I installed AVG.
After I uninstalled it no problems...
AVG has been a FREE anti-V favorite of mine for years, but has started to
get a bit bloaty / resource intensive for my tastes...
FWI: Running P4 3Ghz 1G Ram..
07 Nov 2010, 13:09
Sorry to hear about that AVG User. The only thing I can think of is that
when you were playing there was a scheduled scan running. If so just move
the time of the scan. I've had AVG on my gaming laptop and had no hogging
while playing Crysis and Crysis Wars. Other than that I would say try
switching to avast!. That's what I'm using right now and so far no
problems at all.
07 Nov 2010, 16:22
Sorry Martin but Mac is the most insecure of the 3 operating systems. Any
real hacker can and will tell you it's easier to hack a mac OS than it is
to hack Windows.
Your confusing OS security with 3rd party vulnerabilities. Windows gets
hacked into because of insecure 3rd party software (browsers, plugins,
applications), not because the operating system is insecure. With Mac it's
the other way around. The pre-installed/bundled applications are a little
more secure than the windows counterpart applications, but the actual
operating system itself is full of holes.
Windows is not insecure, it's the applications that people use that are.
Linux is of course the safest operating system. Not because it doesn't have
vulnerabilities but because somebody out there will make a fix for them as
soon as they're found. Windows/Mac take weeks to months to release a
security update to an exploitable vulnerability. By which time, it's
already too late.
08 Nov 2010, 10:45
The one BIG difference between UNIX based OSX and Linux is the fact that
LINUX IS FREE! Don't get the two confused, linux runs on any hardware with
open standards while Mac is closed, runs legally only on proprietary
hardware, and presents a false illusion of security.
Fanboys are dumb.
08 Nov 2010, 13:26
AVG and AVAST are both pretty good. But you left out another huge one I
usually recommend instead, Dave. Microsoft Security Essentials. It works
very well, is simple to configure, and is light on resources.
09 Nov 2010, 19:32
Good points Greg and Linux. Travis, I don't think I ever really gave MS a
fare shot. I have heard good things but have not yet put in the time to
test it but I think I will. Thanks...
09 Nov 2010, 19:42
The General consensus here at work is that the new Microsoft security
essentials is quite good much better then avg which is quickly becoming
more trouble then its worth. AVG is now very resource hungry, not user
friendly if you want to close the damn thing and a royal pain in the arse
to download if you have a 64 bit os. Admittedly my computer runs it without
a care i dont even notice when it starts to scan (But my machine is also a
gaming machine i built myself) but my laptop on the other hand pretty much
dies when avg is installed same with my step dads pc downstairs. For about
3 weeks now i have run the new MS security essentials on my machine instead
of avg and i am rather impressed with it going off their latest products
for the pc(IE 9 and the above mentioned) microsoft are really cleaning up
their act if you look up their acid3 results for IE9 its doing really well
and its still only a beta still not at 100 but thats where they are aiming
before they release the full version
18 Nov 2010, 09:38
I put Comodo on a while ago and I like it. I was a little confused about
the sandbox but now I understand it. I use my browser in the sandbox when
I'm on "questionable" sites.
21 Nov 2010, 12:16
I dual boot Windows 7 64 bit and Linux Mint 10 ("Julia" 64 bit), Mint being
my primary OS. For Windows however, I've been using both Avast! anti-virus
suite (free) and the Comodo Firewall (only) together and both are more
effective and a bit less resource intensive than MS Security Essentials
plus the built in Windows Firewall.
For the linux Mint side of things, I run the standalone, on demand version
of Bit Defender to scan my email profile (Thunderbird) on a regular basis
basically for the benefit of Windows users that I send mail to and my Home
directory mainly to make sure certain non-repository downloads (including
images) are virus free since I often send these downloads to friends of
mine who are looking for a certain program, background or code (PHP, JS,
etc). The code is for those folks who are running WordPress powered sites
and I'm often called to help work out troublesome bugs and such.
22 Nov 2010, 17:59
I'm just a stay at home retired guy, rather than someone who claims any
special knowledge about anything. I had IBM with DOS and it ran
wonderfully. I replaced that with a PC with Windows and it ran horribly.
5 years ago my wife brought home an iMac and it has never given us one blue
screen--ever. (We pay for Norton; but so far, that has been wasted money.)
So why would I want to go back to Windows, when the iUniverse--iMac,
iPods, iLaptop, iPhone 4, and now iPad--work so well?
just a reader
22 Nov 2010, 19:13
mac is a good OS for non-power users. power users will get far, far more
out of windows. same goes for iphone vs. android, power users who are
willing to WORK a little on their product will see a better end result than
those who want a simple click and use product. it took me awhile, but now
my samsung captivate beats the shit out of my friends iphone 4, both in
hardware specs and in the way it runs. my windows 7 is customized, boots up
in 10 seconds to login scren (then another 4 secs to load startup things).
i know how to configure these, but a mac is better for those who cant (or
are too lazy to try and learn) how to optimize and keep their PC running
in short, it all comes down to your PC knowledge- if you know what you are
doing, and arent afraid of "adventuring" a little, windows is better than
mac. if you want something that will do basic things and run fine out of
the box, go for mac.
Linux does beat both- except for one issue- no real problem-free gaming. :(
22 Nov 2010, 19:52
Just some comments to the above.
Mark your mac will never give you a blue screen nor will linux it is
impossible for them to do so as the blue screen hasnt been programmed into
them knowing microsoft they probably have a patent on it lol.
Just a reader.
Although most of your points make sense your leaving out a few key factors
MACs are much better then windows for video/ audio editing/creating also
for those who dont know how to configure their computer windows is better
as its more of a "dumb dumb" os basically made for your average idiot
rather then someone more advanced like linux.
but i agree whole heartedly about your final comment lnux puts both to
shame if only it could game well
just a reader
22 Nov 2010, 20:12
i have heard that too, but it can all be done cheaper on a PC. for $1200
you can buy an amazing computer or order a custom one that will stomp a
mac. the software you use will normally even run much better. i have never
used software for that personally, but going on what i know are facts-
better hardware will allow it to perform better- it would be much more
cost-efficient on windows.
and i disagree, all of apple's products are designed for dumb-dumbs. the
iphone- limited, but so that it will work flawlessly for the few things it
does. windows is capable of more, but you have to know how to make it do
those things. my computer illiterate teacher's first computer is a macbook
pro, he can use it significantly easier than even windows 7. that's lately
been apple's focus- the people who don't know the difference between L3 or
L2 cache, they just want their PC to do what they want without having to
screw with it. you can run a mac with no AV as long as you dont look at
porn, download unknown torrents, or click on every damn popup you see. the
GUI may take a little to get used to for a windows user, but it is
inherently easier to use for most people. but, that's its downfall- its
simplicity and incompatibility limits its usefulness for power users. but,
you cant have both.
23 Nov 2010, 08:24
I have to say I disagree with you about the audio\video stuff on a Mac. I
did some IT work for a friend that runs a movie editing and music studio.
He originally had a few macs to do his editing and they ran fine. When he
lost a couple of machines to hardware failure he had to go to Windows pcs
because of cost. We found that the software runs perfectly (actually
better)on those machines. He has since totally switched to windows
machines, saved money and is a happier man.
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