Poor Girl’s Guide: Free Antivirus and Internet Security


Whether it’s your New Year’s Resolution to beef up your computer’s security, or it’s because you had received a shiny, brand new computer for Christmas (or New Year), the first order of business should be getting some kick-ass antivirus/anti-malware onto your machine.  With spammers are looking to enslave your computer to do their dirty work , and everyone in the neighborhood is doing some kind of hacking, it is important you arm your computer with a good countermeasure or two (antivirus, firewalls and/or internet security suites).

Most basic internet security suites, which usually include antivirus (anti-malware) and firewall as standard features, cost around $30 a year.  More complete protection which includes features such as parental control, anti-phishing, anti-spamming, anti-spyware and/or data backup can cost anywhere between $50 to $90 a year.  Although most security software companies now offer 1 license for multiple computers (3 is the standard), it could still get expensive if you have 3 or more computers, or if you have multiple computers in different platforms (Windows and Mac).

Luckily there are now a whole array of free antivirus and internet security software available for even the stingiest of computer users.  And in contrary to common misconceptions, the good news is free DOES NOT mean useless.  In fact a lot of the free antivirus software rate very well against their more expensive counterparts.

So ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you…

A Poor Girl’s Guide: Free Antivirus and Internet Security

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Ad-Aware Free Antivirus & Antispyware

A totally free protection against viruses, spyware and adware by lavasoft.com.  It features real-time protection, advanced Genocode detection technology, rootkit protection, automatic updates, and much more — to ensure that you have the power to protect yourself online.

Pixie Notes: Ad-Aware seems to be able to exist with other antivirus or internet security suites without conflicting each other.  I have tried it with Comodo’s Internet Security (on Windows 7) and BitDefender Internet Security (Windows Vista) suites; and Ad-Aware has not caused any issues.

Image: Lavasoft.com

Ad-Aware Free

avast! Free Antivirus 6

avast! Free Antivirus outperforms many competitors´ paid-for products in independent tests, leading in both security features and scanning speed. In fact, AV-Comparatives.org rated avast! 5.1 the fastest out of 20 antivirus programs!

The feature set of avast! Free Antivirus is quite impressive as well. Although it is called an “antivirus”, it has other internet security features as well.

Pixie Notes: I have also tried avast! Free Antivirus with Comodo’s Internet Security suite. Both of them seem to work fine together on Windows 7.

avast! also offers a mobile security suite that is worth checking out. Even the Free Edition has one of the most complete feature sets out there.  I definitely recommend it.

Image: avast!


AVG Anti-Virus FREE

The original free antivirus, it’s one of the most popular free antivirus out there. It offers good protection against viruses and spyware. If you want more features, AVG also has paid version of internet security suite that includes a firewall, anti-spam and other online safety features.

Pixie Notes: AVG does not play well with other antiviruses. I tried installing it with either BitDefender or Comodo already in place, and AVG either had trouble running, or it wouldn’t even install — That was the case with Comodo. I got an error message saying Comodo is conflicting with AVG and was asking me to uninstall Comodo first.

AVG does offer a nice mobile antivirus for free. I would recommend it if you have an Android device.

Image: AVG


Avira Free Antivirus

An entry-level antivirus eliminates many forms of malware, including worms, rootkits and costly dialers.  The 2012 fared well in PCMag’s testing and in independent lab testing. In the rootkit removal test it missed some samples and didn’t completely remove some it detected, putting it a tad behind AVG overall.

Pixie Notes: Avira also has an antivirus for Mac in beta testing.  If you’re interested to become a beta tester for the Mac version AV, you can sign up here.

Image: Avira


Clam AntiVirus (ClamXav)

ClamAV is an open source (GPL) antivirus engine designed for detecting Trojans, viruses, malware and other malicious threats. It is the de facto standard for mail gateway scanning. It provides a high performance mutli-threaded scanning daemon, command line utilities for on demand file scanning, and an intelligent tool for automatic signature updates. The core ClamAV library provides numerous file format detection mechanisms, file unpacking support, archive support, and multiple signature languages for detecting threats. The core ClamAV library is utilized in Immunet 3.0, powered by ClamAV, which is a fast, fully featured Desktop AV solution for Windows.

ClamXav is the Mac OS X version. It uses the very popular ClamAV open source antivirus engine as a back end and has the ability to detect both Windows and Mac threats.

ClamXav can be setup up as passive or active: scan only the files you tell it to or your entire hard drive, whichever you prefer; you can also choose to activate Sentry to monitor your hard drive and scan new files as they arrive.

Image: LiveHacking.com


Comodo Internet Security

Complete protection against viruses and Internet attacks for Windows computers. Comodo offers one of the free, complete internet security suites on the market.  The feature list is quite impressive, and all for the price of $0! If you’re a Windows user, there is really no excuses not to have a internet security suite to protect your computer.

Comodo also has a free antivirus for Mac.

Pixie Notes: I am very impressed with Comodo Internet Security, so impressed that I ditched BitDefender for it. It works well with Ad-Aware and avast! on Windows 7.

I have also tried Comodo Antivirus for Mac, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to keep it. It seems to conflict with Intego Virus Barrier and/or Sophos Antivirus for Mac that I am already running.

Comodo offers a whole list of free products for both home and business users. Be sure to check them out, since we all can use some free products (that are not junk)!

Image: Comodo


Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free utilizes Malwarebytes powerful technology to detect and remove all traces of malware including worms, trojans, rootkits, rogues, dialers, spyware and more.

PC Magazine classified this as a “removal only” software since the free version does not provide real-time protection. However it did give the software high rating in effectiveness. So if you have some tough malware that your other antiviruses cannot get rid of, give Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free a try.

Image: Malwarebytes


Norman Malware Cleaner

Use this free and newly improved Malware Cleaner tool to scan and clean your computer from viruses, trojans and other types of malware. This simple and user friendly tool not only detects malicious software but also removes them from your computer.

This is also a “removal only” tool, as the Malware Cleaner is a solution when your computer is already infected. It does not have real-time protection (i.e. it does not prevent your computer getting infected). PC Magazine found it’s less effective than Malwarebytes.

Image: norman.com


Microsoft Security Essentials

Microsoft Security Essentials is a security suite to guard against viruses, spyware, and other evil software. It provides real-time protection for your home or small business PCs. It integrates with Windows Firewall to offer complete protection. Microsoft Security Essentials is free as long as you are running genuine Windows.


Panda Cloud Antivirus Free Edition

The first free antivirus from the cloud! Panda Cloud Antivirus is based on Collective Intelligence, a system that continuously collects and analyzes viruses and other threats gathered from the community of millions of Panda users around the world. It scans your computer over the net and provides real-time protection against all types of viruses.

No installations necessary, the drawback is it requires Internet Explorer to run.

Image: pandasecurity.com


Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac Home Edition

A free antivirus designed specifically for Mac, it offers full protection from viruses, Trojans and worms that specifically target Mac OS. It also stops threats that designed for Windows. This is to ensure not only is your computer safe, but files you send to other computers are safe from threats too.

Sophos also offer several other free tools, including Security Scans, Encryption Tool, Conficker Removal Tool, Anti-Rootkit, Windows Shortcut Exploit Protection Tool and Aurora Malware Removal Tool.

Pixie Notes: This is the first antivirus product that I installed on my Mac.  It works well with Intego Virus Barrier (no conflicts).  As Mac OS is becoming more popular, it’s inevitable that more malware will be designed to target it.  Even if you still believe Mac OS is immune to malware (and really should not), it doesn’t hurt to have an antivirus to protect your Mac, especially when it’s free.

Image: Sophos


SUPERAntiSpyware Free Version

SUPERAntiSpyware is one of the most thorough scanners on the market. Their Multi-Dimensional Scanning and Process Interrogation Technology will detect spyware that other products miss! SUPERAntiSpyware will remove ALL the Spyware, NOT just the easy ones!

The Free Edition is 100% free for personal use. It will detect and remove thousands of Spyware, Adware, Malware, Trojans, KeyLoggers, Dialers, Hi-Jackers, and Worms. SUPERAntiSpyware features many unique and powerful technologies and removes spyware threats that other applications fail to remove. A professional version is also available for $29.95, and it includes additional functions of real-time blocking, registry protection, scheduled and auto-scanning, automatic definition and software updates, free support and more.

Image: SUPERAntiSpyware


Do you have any good or bad experience with free antivirus and/or security suites?  I would love to hear about them… And if you know of any good free AVs out there worth mentioning, please do tell!  I love trying new stuff!

Source: PCMag.com

  • Grkey

    Great information. AVG is a very mature product and has been my old stand-by, but I’m also using Avast because it’s effective and seems less intrusive. My biggest complaint is that it seems multiple products are needed to fully protect one’s system.

    • Thanks! I have heard good things about AVG and I know a lot of people use it, but it’s just not working well with the other AV or suites… May be that’s due to its “intrusive” nature…

      On the other hand, I’m getting quite impressed with Avast as well. It’s definitely on my top 3 list, along with Comodo.

      And the good thing about free AV is, even when multiple products are needed, as long as they work well together, at least you don’t have pay for them with other than your time installing and configuring them. 🙂