Times we live in teach us to look upon cheap and free solutions whenever possible. Same applies to the computer security. More and more programs maintain to protect us efficiently, managing to stay completely free of cost in the same time.
We give you the review of 5 most popular free antivirus programs, with all their pros and cons.
Avira AntiVir Personal Edition 9.0.0
Works On: Windows 2000/XP/Vista/XP64/Vista64
According to the ratings from both reviews and users, Avira AntiVir PE holds a high position among free antivirus programs. Avira’s biggest advantage is scanning speed and high detection rate, with lower percentage of false positives. Also, what is very important, Avira provides real-time protection with AntiVir Guard.
If a virus is detected, user gets detailed information from the Avira database. This is handy for several reasons: user will find out the threat level of the malware, specific removal instructions if necessary, and chance to determine if found malware is a false positive.
Previous versions of Avira AntiVir were light for the system, but some reviews of recent build tell that Avira AntiVir PE can be a resource hog. We however, didn’t find any kind of annoyance on Windows XP SP3 system.
Avira AntiVir PE 9 now offers protection against spyware and rootkits, which was only available on the paid version before.
The bad thing about Avira AntiVir is “nag” screen that pop-ups after each update, asking users to pay for Premium Edition and get better protection.
Final verdict: Avira AntiVir Personal Edition is well rounded antivirus solution for free. In some aspects it shows even better results in detection and removal than some paid antivirus solutions.
Avast! Home Edition 4.8
Works On: Windows (All Versions)
Alwil’s Avast is another popular free solution that recently added antispyware protection and rounded its efficiency in war against malware. What makes Avast a good solution is its very good detection rate thanks to the help of powerful resident scanner, and decent removal of broad base of viruses and other malware.
Avast’s bonuses are so called “boot scan” that scans disks in the same way and in the same time as Windows CHKDSK does, and fast updates.
It doesn’t consume too much memory, except when running scan, so it can be labeled as light weight.
The only objection we encountered is scan on demand that can take a lot of time. Generally, Avast is not resource hog, except when it comes to scan.
Final verdict: Being among most popular free choices for years, Avast gets even better and better. Great choice as a resident scanner, and complete free solution against viruses, spyware and rootkits.
AVG Free Edition 8.5
Works on: Windows 2000/XP/Vista/XP64/Vista64
AVG 7.5 was probably the best free antivirus solution ever. But, obviously things not work that way anymore. Apparently, the slippery slope began with the edition 8 of this popular free antivirus. While previous versions of AVG Free were reliable, light and fast, latest edition hasn’t satisfied many users. The biggest problem with AVG 8.5 is resource hogging. It slows down the computer making it unresponsive. Other than that, it has decent detection rate, but the scan is painfully slow consuming sometimes more than 2 hours. Also, users have to update malware database manually, which is another problem with nowadays’ galloping malware.
However, the biggest flaw of all is lack of technical support for AVG Free Edition, which is unfair to the customers.
Final verdict: What once was the best free antivirus solution, became just Average Joe in the world of PC security.
BitDefender 10 Free Edition
Works On: Windows 9x/2000/XP
BitDefender 10 Free Edition comes without resident scanner, which means that it can be only used as on-demand scanner that doesn’t offer decent protection. However it has very good detection rate, and it can be useful as a secondary scanner with another antivirus installed. But, BitDefender 10 is bigger resource hog than most antivirus programs, consuming too much memory even after being enabled from the boot. Also, in some tests, it identifies too many false-positives. It doesn’t work with Vista and according to the reviews it’s painfully slow.
Final verdict: Because it lacks resident protection, BitDefender Free is only good as a secondary scanner. But being memory consuming and slow in the same time, it’s not worth the effort.
Works On: Windows (All Versions)
ClamWin is another free antivirus that serves only as on-demand scanner without real-time protection. It’s great advantage is its portability, so it can be used on USB flash drives, without installation on main drive. However, reviews show that ClamWin is extremely slow when it comes down to scan. ClamWin offers automatic download of updates to the virus definitions, ensuring that you are as safe as possible. It also includes a plug-in for Microsoft Outlook.
Final verdict: ClamWin is also good only as a second opinion antivirus, because it cannot offer full protection, due to lack of resident scanner.
Our recommendation would be using Avira AntiVir or Avast as main antivirus, with addition of ClamVirus or BitDefender 10 as a secondary scanner.
Because both Avira and Avast offer protection against spyware, additional antispyware programs like recently not-so-efficient AdAware and Spybot S&D, would be only burden to your PC resources. However, you may consider installing ZoneAlarm or other free firewall solution in order to maintain as much protection as possible.