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augustlan's avatar

What is the best free anti-virus/spyware protection available for Windows?

Asked by augustlan (46577 points ) August 13th, 2009

My anti-virus/spyware protection (which I stupidly paid far too much for) is about to expire. I know I’ve seen references to free downloads here, but am unsure which is the best for me.

Also, I understand that I need to uninstall the existing stuff before I download the new, is that right? How does one go about such a thing? If it matters, it’s CA Security Suite and I have Windows XP. Thanks!

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30 Answers

marinelife's avatar

I like AVG.

PerryDolia's avatar

It is a matter of personal preference between AVG and Avast!

dynamicduo's avatar

AVG for viruses (but I uninstall it after cleaning because it annoys me to death).
Spybot Search and Destory as well as Ad-Aware for spyware, using the two of them is exactly like using a double layer of cheesecloth, they catch way more that way.

You shouldn’t have to uninstall other virus protection before installing and using another, but it’s generally good practice. You uninstall it by going to Start -> Control Panel -> Add or Remove Programs, and find your antivirus.

To find the free programs I’ve listed above, Google them, they will be the first hit.

eambos's avatar

Avast! Is my favorite of the free AVs.

If you are willing to pay a little, NOD32 is really great.

But, the best, and only truly necessary antivirus, is Common Sense ‘10

jeffpetersen's avatar

Avira has the best detection rates of the free AVs. And MalwareBytes is currently best of the antispyware. It can get rid of some nasty stuff the others can’t touch.

dpworkin's avatar

Comodo is also free and has a decent firewall. You might want to run a Spyware Doctor scan and an AdAware scan once in a while.

limeaide's avatar

Who is your Internet provider most give you free name brand anti-virus these days, I’d be happy to try to find out for you if they do. Also, use the Microsoft Windows Defender for spyware, it has realtime scanning that other free ones usually don’t offer. Microsoft is starting to give away their anti-virus suite free, it’s in beta now but I’ve like what I see very light weight and fast, they’ve stopped letting people download but I found it here still: Microsoft Security Essentials

Avast and AVG are also good.

limeaide's avatar

@jeffpetersen MalwareBytes is fantastic and I run on clients PCs all the time, only down side to it is that you have to pay for it if you want real-time scanning.

ragingloli's avatar

i personally use the comodo internet security.
but you should go with a avg – comodo firewall combo

futurelaker88's avatar

avast HANDS DOWN.

NEVER had one virus, and i’ve given this to at least 5 people and they have never had any problems either. its VERY easy, you just install it and thats it! and its COMPLETELY free! dont worry about searching…you’ve got your answer.

drdoombot's avatar

Avira Antivir consistently beats out the other popular ones (Avast and AVG) in the percentage of viruses it catches. Once a day, you’ll get a pop-up window with an “okay” button to click. I think it’s worth it.

dpworkin's avatar

I’m sorry, @futurelaker88, I just can’t agree. Not about Avast, which is fine, but about “not worrying”. I think everyone needs a combination of solutions. No two virus protection schemes will errorlessly scan the same computer with the same results. If you don’t have at least a small battery of different solutions (a root-kit scanner, a virus scanner, a malware scanner, a trojan scanner) you are probably at risk. NoScript on Firefox is useful. The Comodo Firewall is OK, Avast is OK, AVG is ok, none are complete. And I don’t care much for the big-box solutions: if you ask me Symantec (Norton) programs are worse than the viruses.

augustlan's avatar

My provider gives you Mcafee for a year, and I hated it. Caused me more trouble than it was worth. Keep in mind, I am technology deficient and have no idea what the hell I’m doing. I do have Firefox and gmail these days, but only because the fine tech people here urged me to leave my IE/AOL comfort zone. I’m thrilled that I did, but that’s the extent of my ‘skillz’.

martijn86's avatar

Look into opendns.com too, it will protect your entire network with a blacklist of bad IP’s for free. I use AVG Free as anti virus and comodo’s firewall.

After adding the URL’s that got the most hits in AdBlock to opendns and take a week to set comodo for every application, you are virtually worries free. I use this combination for over 5 years and never seen a virus/spyware!

Also it’s good to note that you are the best protection there is.
– By not downloading from P2P but from trusted bittorrent networks where you can read comments about the contents.
– By carefully reading user experiences when looking for and installing new unknown software.
– By disabling third-party cookies in your browser so you won’t get tracked (keylogged/spammed).
– By visiting porn in a safe browser’ privat mode or even better with a different profile that allows different settings and add-ons. http://support.mozilla.com/en-US/kb/Profiles
– By making complete system back-ups with Windows’ back-up manager.
– By using password protected accounts for all users so if someone else messes up, your files are less likely to be infected.

Those things worked for me.. I’m clean from viruses and spyware, everywhere around the house for five years. And that with using the least amount of system resources.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

Anything by Symantec is garbage. I have been using PC Tools Antivirus and Firewall for about a year and have had no problems whatsoever. There is a pay version, but the free version is just as good. It updates automatically, and also comes with Threatfire, which is a real time anti-malware anti-adware program that comes with the others.

Comodo used to be a good program, but I got tired of it not doing what it was supposed to do. It pesters you too much with stuff you already cleared as safe.

sandystrachan's avatar

Scrolls past all above sorry if been mentioned above
AVG it is a neat little package and works rather well , i saw avast being mentioned . Can i say i had avast and it totally screwed my pc , it let in all the bad things and didn’t inform me of them . My database was uptodate

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

Avira, coupled with a router-based firewall that hides most of your ports. Don’t use IE (6,7, or 8) for anything unless you have a page that absolutely will not load in FireFox. Uninstall Outlook Express – for that matter, don’t use any POP or IMAP email client. Read your mail on the Web. I like gmail.

Turn off autoplay for all optical and removable drives. And stay up to date with the MS security patches.

lercio's avatar

I use Avira . I tried AVG but it made my ancient PC run too slow.

futurelaker88's avatar

@pdworkin. that’s true. i use ad-aware and spybot as well. my point was merely that since using avast (5 years) i have never been infected.

Joe_Freeman's avatar

Lots of decent answers here. There are three main free anti-virus solutions, Avast, Avira, and AVG. I liked AVG but on two occasions, updates of AVG seriously screwed up my XP machine, so I switched to Avira and it’s been excellent. Perhaps I will try Avast some day. I agree with those who advise you to avoid Symantec/Norton stuff – it’s the pits, very intrusive and hard to remove. (You need to use the NRT tool to remove it.) Actually, I’d avoid all the non-free packages, especially anything from CA.

For anti-spyware, the trusty combination of Ad-Aware and Spybot has always been good to me, though they are a bit of a pain to use manually all the time. Remember that Windows Defender is there too so you should be safe.

Don’t forget that using Microsoft Update is essential to keeping your system current and free from vulnerabilities. Perhaps more important than anything else: Back up your system or you’ll be sorry. I maintain several backups of various types – online, hard disk, DVD, on-site/off-site, etc. – so I know my precious data is safe.

sandystrachan's avatar

I uninstalled Norton a couple years back , it still shows up in the program list :@

augustlan's avatar

I downloaded Avira, and have already screwed something up. How do I ‘undo’ a “deny access”? I can’t play my game (that I’ve had for years) now! :(

I also downloaded malwarebytes, but it slowed my computer down so much I have already gotten rid of it. I’ll try one of the others mentioned in this thread.

Joe_Freeman's avatar

@sandystrachan Yep, it’s very tenacious. But once I used NRT all traces of Norton were gone. Doing a straight Windows uninstall of Norton is not going to get rid of that toad. That’s why Symantec created NRT. It works.

sandystrachan's avatar

That NRT was what was used , it still shows on the hard drive .

DAVETHERAV1D's avatar

Super anti spyware and spybot search and destroy are two free programs I use on my computer and they work realy well and recently stopped a new virus from attacking my computer.just run them once a week to scan your computer and remove any problems.

philosopher's avatar

Malwarebytes.org get the free program.

Joe_Freeman's avatar

I recently uninstalled Avira and replaced it with avast!, hoping it would obviate the need for me to continue using Ad-Aware and Spybot Search & Destroy, but avast!, though quite good, does not seem to catch all the spyware I was hoping it would, so I continue to run Ad-Aware and Spybot from time to time. I think both Avira and avast! are of high quality, but I really wish there was a single comprehensive free anti-virus/anti-spyware scanner to make my life simpler.

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