Installing and using adequate antivirus software is a must if you want to remain safe while your computer is connected to the Internet. No matter how careful you are, viruses and malware can slip into your computer, forcing you to spend hours removing them or formatting your hard drive and wiping out your data. But with that in mind, it's also a must to use good Internet surfing and computer-using habits and protocols if you want to stay protected against all the threats out there.
You don't need to spend a lot of money to protect your system against viruses. In fact, you don't need to spend anything at all. Our top picks for anti-virus software effectively detect and remove computer viruses, use minimal system resources, and are completely free to download and use. Even though they are free, these programs offer protection on par with paid antivirus programs, albeit with less advanced features and customization options. Here are the best free anti-virus applications based on their detection rate, ease of use, and speed.
AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 9.0
AVG Antivirus has been the premier free antivirus program for quite a while now. What's made it so popular and highly regarded over the years is that it's reliable and features most options and capabilities you would need in an antivirus suite. And best of all, you get all this for the great low price of $0. AVG Anti-virus 9.0 Free Edition provides both antivirus and antimalware protection to help provide peace of mind as you surf the virus-laden information superhighway that we call the internet. There's also a LinkScanner and e-mail scanner for added protection while using e-mail and browsing the web. AVG Free comes with free and frequent virus definition updates for the lifetime of the software. Frequent updates means you will be protected from most if not all of the viruses, new and old, that exist out there. AVG 9.0 is less of a resource hog than previous versions, so you won't have to worry about your computer running sluggish with this application is running in the background or running a scan. The AVG Resident Shield provides real-time protection as you surf the web, run programs, and open files. For a free product, AVG Free provides excellent protection while taxing fewer of your computer's resources. This free version of the program will provide enough protection and suffice for the average Windows user that follows good Internet practices. Download AVG Free.
Avast! Free provides great protection against viruses and malware. It guards both your PC and your network from malicious threats using multiple shields and has several options to customize the protection of your computer. Various windows allow one to tweak Avast Antivirus at a novice level to more advanced levels. The redesigned UI is slick and much easier to use than earlier versions of Avast Home Edition. This is a speedy program that provides great overall protection, making it a solid choice. Download Avast Free.
Avira AntiVir Personal
Avira AntiVir is a great freeware antivirus program that regularly posts top marks in antivirus tests. It has a great detection rate of viruses but has an occasional annoying habit of returning false-positive results in tests. For most, false-positives will not be an issue, but for people frequenting the less safe sites out there it could become a tiny hassle. Though it may look simple on the outside, by checking one check box you can open up the advanced mode of Avira AntiVir and tweak it to your liking. Avira AntiVir is a great antivirus solution that is fast and reliable. Download Avira AntiVir.
Microsoft Security Essentials
Previously code-named "Morro," Microsoft Security Essentials is a newcomer in the antivirus software field. Though it's new, this antivirus suite performs admirably in a host of tests. It features a high detection rate with a low incidence of false-positive matches. It also has one of the simplest and easy-to-use user interfaces. Microsoft Security Essentials uses few system resources, so you won't notice any significant slowdown when using the application. Overall, this is an excellent pick for novice or casual users due to its simplicity and ease of use. For more power and options, go with AVG 9.0, Avast Antivirus, or Avira AntiVir. Download Microsoft Security Essentials.
Comodo Internet Security
Comodo Internet Security is not just an antivirus program but a full security suite that includes a firewall and a few other helpful programs. It's easy to install and has an interface that's full featured but not intimidating to new users. The one-two punch of antivirus and firewall protection prevents unwanted intrusion into your computer and blocks malware and viruses. Like any program, some malware can get past its defenses but it does a good job at catching those that other programs don't. Comodo Internet Security provides sufficient protection from most online threats and is a good choice overall. Download Comodo Internet Security.