Antivirus has become slightly less of a problem over recent years with the new generation spyware seeking to make proffit out of you!. However unless you're running Linux and more likley running Windows, here's a list and review of what we believe are the best free ones available at the moment.
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Microsoft Security Essentials.
Launched earlier this year, Microsoft's security essentials package has gone from strength to strength since coming out of beta testing. The package is completely free to users of 'genuine Windows machines' – ie it'll verify your copy – and three versions are available, for XP, Vista, and Windows 7.
The software's unobtrusive and provides quick, and increasingly comprehensive protection from viruses, trojans, rootkits, and spyware. While Antivir below provides marginally better cover in tests, most casual Windows users won't go wrong with the firm's own offering, since it feels and operates like part of the regular operating system rather than an added extra.
It's the free anti-virus software of choice for techies. Antivir's won many tech publications' free antivirus round-ups by providing both the most thorough software protection and the fastest. Yet the reason it doesn't top our list is that it's slightly less user-friendly than the Microsoft offering, with some of the settings requiring some technical knowledge to get right. Yet if you've the know-how, it'll do everything you want it to.
Avast! 4.8 home edition.
Alwil's Avast! home edition offers great detection of known malware, but it's usually beaten by Antivir in tests. The latest version's a good all-rounder, providing all the features you'd get with a paid-for program, but its interface still isn't the best on offer.
AVG has a long history, and has been through loads of modifications to provide a better service on its way to the current version, AVG 9. It's protection is reasonably thorough, though it doesn't offer any real tech support.
AVG's quite unintrusive, doesn't use too many resources, and will regularly auto-update. It includes LinkScannner – real-time threat detection which checks links out when you're surfing the web (via Firefox and IE only), and marks unsafe ones with red flags so you know not to click them. LinkScanner is also available separately as a sub-1MB sized plugin for those who already use another anti-virus suite.
Comodo Antivirus 5.0