Free Anti-Virus Programs

Have you heard that using Free anti-Virus programs is not as good as the ones you pay for? We don’t think that’s true. But, we’ve heard that opinion tossed around enough that we want to give you our opinion.

There are several Free anti-virus programs that we think suit most people’s needs just fine. They are:

  1. AVG free
  2. Avira Antivir
  3. Avast

AVG was a hands-down winner
A couple years ago – AVG free 7.5 was acknowledged by all the geeks we knew as the best antivirus software for personal use. We never heard any stories of people who had problems with AVG. It made our lives very easy! We could recommend AVG and move on to the next topic.

Then AVG came out with version 8. It was still an excellent product, but it added more features and thus became a little bloated. Some people had problems installing it. I was one of them. So, I switched to Avira. Avira worked just fine, it didn’t have all those extra features, but it popped up way too many screens trying to get me to upgrade to the paid version (that does have the extra features.) You can’t blame them, but it definitely was annoying.

What we use now
Jim is always reading and researching computer products and he liked the reviews of Vipre which is not free, but at $39/yr for 2 PCs (or $49 for any number of household computers), is certainly reasonable. That is what we are using now.

Does Norton slow your computer down?
Lots of people reported that their computers ran much faster when they removed the popular Norton or McAfee pay-for software. But that was also a couple years ago – those products have improved substantially now.

It’s not so clear these days what is best for you, but don’t let anyone tell you that the pay-for products are better by definition. I overheard one geek informing a group that Free Antivirus programs were inferior because they update their virus definitions less frequently. Although that may be true, here’s what ‘less frequently’ means: most free anti-virus software updates *only* once daily!

To Pay or not to Pay
So, why does anyone pay? For one thing, most free version software is for personal use. If you’re a business, you need to buy the business licensed version. The other main feature included in pay-for software is support. If something goes wrong, you have no one to call for help with the free versions.

For more in depth discussion and examples of specific software, see this article by Computer World: Can you Trust Free Anti-Virus Software? If you need to download an Anti-Virus program, we recommend When you download from there, you can trust that you’re not getting any junk along with the requested program. They list both free and pay-for software … read the reviews.

Keeping your computer safe
You need an anti-virus program, but that’s not all. You need to keep Windows up-to-date, and you also need anti-spyware. All this can be done automatically once you have the right software installed. Check your Security Center to see what is in place for your computer. Probably most important to keeping your computer safe is knowledge. Knowing what to click on, what not to click on and what to delete. Here are some videos to help:

You can also download our seminar handout for ‘Practice Safe Computing.’

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