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The Best Free Antivirus Programs for Windows PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brett Brewer   
Friday, 12 September 2008

People are always asking me what the best free antivirus solution is for Windows. I'm happy to say there's a variety of solutions out there, including free web-based scanners from various commercial software companies, but web based scanners don't really solve the problem of permanent full-time protection for your email and files. Fortunately, there's two products for Windows that work great alone or together.

The first is Avast Home Edition . It's a commercial antivirus solution that is free for home users. You can download the installer from www.avast.com and use it for a while without registering. If you like it and want to use it for more than 60 days (and you probably will), you simply fill out the registration form and they will give you a free serial number good for 1 year. You have to download a new serial number every year, but there is no cost. If you don't want to give them your real email address to receive the serial number, simply use a temporary address at mailinator.com . I've used Avast for at least 4 years now and it does a pretty good job of catching most viruses. If you do a lot of downloading of files from suspect sources then you might want a second layer of protection, but it should suit most PC users. If you do want a second layer of protection, you can install my second favorite free antivirus solution for Windows, called ClamWin.

ClamWin is the windows-friendly release of the open-source (GPL) ClamAV project for UNIX. I cannot really comment on the quality of the ClamAV engine in its thoroughness, but ClamWin is definitely resource-friendly and doesn't slow my computer down in the slightest. If it's like most other open-source software I've come to rely on, it is probably as good or better than any commercial releases. It integrates with MS Outlook to scan attachments and email and downloads virus database updates automatically just like all the nice commercial stuff. In terms of having a small unobtrusive footprint it blows away any commercial offering I've ever used. It does seem to pop up virus update promts frequently while I'm trying to watch videos, but other than that I have no complaints. It even gets along great with other antivirus programs, so if you've already got another antivirus program installed and just want some added protection,  it probably won't hurt to install it. With both Avast Home Edition and ClamWin installed, your email, files and operating system should all be well protected.

If you already have an infection from a virus, worm or trojan, you may need to bring out some bigger guns. Specialty software such as Safer-Networking.org's SpyBot Search & Destroy , LavaSoft AdAware (free version) and TrendMicro's free HijackThis are valueable tools to have in your arsenal. You can run SpyBot Search & Destroy and AdAware to take care of most annoying browser hijack tricks, and if all else fails, run HijackThis and give the report to an expert on one of the free forums such as spywareinfoforum.com where they offer free help to people with really bad computer virus infections.  You'll want to read the forum rules before posting any requests there though, but once you know how to submit your questions to them with the necessarry info from your HijackThis reports, you can solve all but the most insidious computer virus problems. 

Last Updated ( Friday, 12 September 2008 )
 
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