I am a bit of a tight bum when it comes to buying software so when it came down to needing to get some anti-virus software I did a bit of research. I was using Eset but didn’t want to pay anymore so I tried a lot of free antivirus applications to narrow down the good and bad. What I am after is a great anti-virus with no extra padding.
The paid antivirus from, say, Norton and McAfee, should be worried because, honestly, no-one really needs to pay for their bloated programs anymore – and I can see that Norton and like will start using scare campaigns to make beginners think they have to buy to be protected – especially when the Microsoft Security Essentials comes out.
Here is my ultimate guide to the top 5 free anti virus programs for Windows Vista (and Windows 7). I hope the review helps you.
Avira AntiVir Personal Free Antivirus
What I like best about AviraAntiVir Personal Free Antivirus is simple to use and works great – exactly what you want and a good choice for beginner or expert users. It doesn’t try and install all the bell and whistles that big suites have which is good because you don’t need them, they just slow your PC system down.
It always is near the top of antivirus ranking sites so will stay as one of the best freeware anti virus programs you can find. I use it to scan both my internal and my external hard drives even do a rootkit scan. This version has, as mentioned, anti rootkit, as well as anti spyware and anti phishing protection on top of the usual anti virus stuff.
The interface changed a little in version 9 but not much. There is still the option of Expert mode that gives you many more settings, have it unticked if you are not to sure about things to make it an easy choice. There is a scheduler for scanning and updates that other free antivirus programs don’t but I can only set the scanning to be every day and just adjust the time – I don’t want or need to do a full scan every day.
And there is a nag screen that pops up definition file updates to try to talk you into buying the full version – stick with the free antivirus, it works great and if you don’t want the AntiVir pop up ad you can remove it by following my instructions here – Turn Off the AntiVir pop up nag screen. I use AntiVir.
Avast Home Free Version 4
Review of AvastAntivirus Home Edition For Windows which available free for home and non-commercial use. Avast 4 has been around for ever it seems and version 4 was the version I tried a year ago, it is still v4 – no need to change something that’s not broken I suppose. I am not keen on the interface, they have tried to make it different, I guess, but in doing so makes it awkward, slow and actually looks dated a bit like software mp3 player. There are other skins available but most are junk (the Vista skin looks fine). A big plus is that Avast works fine with Windows 7.
The software needs registration even it is free. After you download it and install in your computer you need to register it by enter your details and an email address – Avast will send you a register code to your e-mail which can be used for about 1 year. I don’t see why they need to do this except for send emails to sell some product (you could use a free temporary email address). Avast Home Edition now has a spyware and rootkit guard now so your PC is fairly well protected. Setting it up you can select parameters for scanning, adjust the sensitivity level for the program’s detectors when it comes to scanning downloaded files, instant messages, e-mails, and file sharing programs (P2P). I like how it goes about updating itself when the Internet connection available automatically but there is one more negative from Avast Free Antivirus, it doesn’t offer scheduling of a normal scan – you have to remember to run a scan yourself!
AVG Free seems to be the name that everyone thinks of when talking about free antivirus software. I used to have it installed ages back when it was version 7, once it went to v8 and now v8.5 it just got too cumbersome and slowed down my PC noticeably.
Features like the LinkScanner and the Search scanner as well as a toolbar just tacks over my web browsing style and slows things without giving me any benefit – useless features added to scare people and hoping they will buy the paid version. The LinkScanner is meant to scan the links on web pages and on search pages, for example you search for something with Bing or Google and it gives you a Tick saying the link is OK – I don’t need it and , really, neither does anyone else, just slows things down dramatically.
One good thing is that this version of AVG free antivirus runs well on Windows 7 and Vista. Good because a few are not compatible with Windows 7 yet, AVG is.
Microsoft Security Essentials
This will be big, a free security suite (spy-ware, anti-virus) from Microsoft – all free and for Windows 7 and Vista. At the moment it is only for the United States, Israel (English only), People’s Republic of China (Simplified Chinese only) and Brazil (Brazilian Portuguese only).
It is a simple looking and easy-to-use free antivirus program from Microsoft and great for most people because it seems to cover all the bases. It has a tabbed style interface that allows you to get to setting, run scans etc nice and easy.
Remember that Microsoft Security Essentials doesn’t have a firewall but Windows 7 and Vista has a good one built in so that’s fine. You can schedule a scan for whatever date and time and even when the PC is not in use – which is good because a lot of free anti virus programs don’t let you (I guess they want you to pay for the full version). If you have ever used Windows Defender you will be perfectly at home with this. This is great and here is over 100 more win7 tips and hints.
Comodo Free Antivirus
Comodo has a free antivirus, I think a stand alone program but now it is part of their security pack – still free but I am not after a whole security suite, especially another firewall. It is not compatible with Windows 7 but Vista is fine. The free antivirus program has a clean and clear look with the interface showing me an overview of the security settings, the status of the program and the date of the last full scan.
Comodos free antivirus has the usual real-time and email scanner as well as heuristic scans just like most of the other free antivirus programs reviewed here. They update the virus definitions daily and automatically like it should be and it is good that I can schedule when I want Comodo Antivirus to scan my PC because this is usually missing or limited (can only have preset dates or times to scan) in free anti-virus programes.
One thing I do not like is that the Windows Security Center doesn’t detect Comodo as a valid antivirus application so then the Windows has it’s warning shield pop up in the system tray asking you to install a valid antivirus. You need to change this setting so Windows doesn’t monitor it any more. A great thing is that there is no nag screens and adverts trying to sell upgrades, good news everybody.