Today I am going to discuss various FREE Anti-Virus products which I have tested personally. The problem with AV software’s is that you could never trust one brand for long. As soon as you like one brand it starts to screw up here and there. As a rule of thumb I use one AV and stick with it for as long as possible. But sometimes this methodology doesn’t work as experienced firsthand back in 2004 when my Norton AV failed to detect a Trojan horse.
From that point onwards I decided not to rely on one AV product only. I used various security tools and some of them were pretty unique and offered various options but in the end they just slowed the system down and became the virus. Remember virus makes your system unusable and using a poorly coded or optimized AV can do the same thing.
Lessons from the past were enough for me. So, when the time came to decide another AV I went for Eset [Nod 2.7/3.x/4.x] which in my opinion is the best AV but it’s not free and I am tired of using cracks and looking for serials. Don’t get me wrong if I had some money or a way to get one by paying I would buy it ASAP. But as it turns out I live in Pakistan and if you haven’t heard from your local News channels, Pakistan is a 3rd world country which is plagued by recession.
For a whole year I tested various AV products on different platforms and Eset Smart Security was the winner when it comes to system load. But the latest version 4.0 does use a lot of Processor time and it sucks when you’re using a low-end system
Here are the products (Free Ones) which I tested and I would recommend:
AVG Internet Security/ Anti-virus: Probably one of the most famous AV in recent times. AVG is preferred by many because it has a free version which is fairly powerful and it does include spyware scanner. AVG version 7.5 and below were light when it comes to memory usage and majority of users liked that bit. When they moved to version 8.0+ it became a bit bloated. The Link scanner bit was overkill and users decided to try other alternatives. AVG 9.0 supports Windows 7 but I would recommend you try some other AV’s. The Internet Security suit is pretty decent and the firewall already has a while list of applications. [Applications can access Internet if they are on the white list without user confirmation]
Avira AntiVir 9.0: Avira Anti-Virus is by far the most reliable of the lot. I have used it on many systems and it always delivers when the time comes. But it’s not that light when you’re running it on a low-end system. You feel the lag when it scans some applications and I don’t like the interface very much. It does have update issues but overall it performs well. It works pretty well with Windows Xp and later but when you’re using Windows 7 it’s better to get a decent AV which supports e-mail scanning without paying for it.
Microsoft Security Essentials: The MSE which was previously included in the Windows OneCare package is pretty good when it comes to detection. Its light on the resources but it lacks some key features which would be awesome to have. My biggest complaint is the interface. It’s pretty simple but for an advance user it doesn’t feel right. I know it’s free software and you only need genuine Windows to install it but I still don’t like the feel of it. I do notice some lag when I open any folder with an executable program which I don’t see in other AV programs. Also, it’s not very verbose meaning I don’t see any activity or confirmations. If you don’t have any AV installed I would still recommend MSE because it can take care of the nasty viruses and it can also protect you from Windows vulnerabilities.
Avast! 5.0: Avast which I installed on my PIII surprised me. The new version is surprisingly fast and it can easily detect viruses without any problem. On the feature side it has support for IM, WEB, P2P and E-mail scanning. The engine is fast and the memory usage is low. I am currently using Avast and I love the GUI.
So, far it looks solid and hopefully after some weeks it will remain solid. The gaming mode is by far the best option. I would recommend anyone using the free alternatives to try Avast! 5.0. It’s free and it works.
Comments and suggestions are welcome.