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There is far too much spyware, adware, malware in general. Unfortunately, all of this can be easily received involuntarily. Unfortunately as well, many people do not have sufficient enough programs to make sure these pieces of junk are removed properly and your computer is safely restored. Here I will show you the best free applications to keep your computer secure.

Anti-Virus

AVG Anti-Virus

AVG Anti-Virus AVG Anti-Virus – AVG has been around since 1991, and have been updating their program since then. This program as well is definetely one of the best anti-virus programs out there. (See MUO Poll on Best Antivirus Software Top Antivirus Software. What's your Favorite? [Poll] Top Antivirus Software. What's your Favorite? [Poll] Read More ). AVG has numerous features that most certainly assist in keeping your computer secure, including periodic scans, built in email scanner, the ability to heal some virus infected files, and a “virus vault” that holds virus’.

Mark previously wrote a review on the new AVG 2008 Antivirus Grisoft Rolls Out 2008 Version of Free AVG Anti-Virus Grisoft Rolls Out 2008 Version of Free AVG Anti-Virus Read More here.

ThreatFire

ThreatFire – ThreatFire is an extremely sweet Anti-Virus application. It does not only do all of the things many Anti-Virus applications do, it also addresses problems differently. On a regular Anti-Virus application, numerous different steps need to be taken to find and destroy a threat, unlike ThreatFire which automatically detects threats and malicious behavior, and addresses them automatically in the background while keeping logs of this.

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On their website it states that ThreatFire has 243% more protection then traditional Anti-Virus applications in tests and that ThreatFire has examined 17,836,589,477 programs for suspicious behavior!

Avira

Avira Anti-Virus – Avira AntiVir is one of the highest rated Anti-Virus applications out there.

It runs in the background checking for malicious behavior and runs occasional checks, while checking opened and closed files.

Anti-Spyware

Windows Defender

Windows Defender – Microsoft created Windows Defender which is an incredibly awesome Anti-Spyware application built into Windows Vista and is available for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003.

It includes many features that make it one of the best applications out there, including: Monitoring start up applications as well as system configuration and Internet Explorer, monitoring applications as they run, etc. Again, check out our poll what’s the best spyware removal Do you have a Spyware Removal Program? Which one? [Poll] Do you have a Spyware Removal Program? Which one? [Poll] Read More .

Spybot Search and Destroy

Spybot Search and Destroy – This program has been around for a while now. I use it for many things as a general security suite as well.

Spybot removes Adware, Spyware, keyloggers, trojans, usage tracks, shreds malicious programs, the option to get back the programs that have been removed, etc.

Secure File Erasers

Eraser

Eraser – Eraser is one of the most used file removers. It can erase files and folders, password protected files, temporary files, internet cookies, paging files, internet cache, compressed files, etc. It adds an option to “Erase” something to the right click menu when you click on a file or folder.

You can check previous MakeUseOf review of Eraser here How To securely Retrieve and Delete PC files How To securely Retrieve and Delete PC files Read More .

UltraShredder

UltraShredder – UltraShredder is another one of the most used secure file shredders. It overrides files with random characters, while saving it to the disk, and then removes the file without the recycle bin of course. Thus, if a file recovery service attempted to access the file, all they would find is random characters. See our earlier round-up on free file shredders 4 File Shredders to Make Deleted Data Unrecoverable 4 File Shredders to Make Deleted Data Unrecoverable Read More here.

Keeping your computer fast

CCleaner

CCleaner – CCleaner is one of the most essential tools for keeping your computer fast. It takes up an extremely small amount of space and should be used often. The specific use of it is to remove and/or fix temporary internet files, cookies, other types of temporary files, fix the Registry, and fix applications.

It includes an extra start-up list to allow you to edit and an uninstall option to replace the standard Windows Uninstaller.

Defraggler

Defragger – This application is from the same company that created CCleaner. It is an incredibly awesome disk defragger that replaces the standard Windows Defraggler. Unlike many defragging applications, Defragger allows users to defrag a certain file or folder, and not an entire drive if you like.

The actual application is small, around 1 MB, and thus can be put on a flash drive. After it is done, Defragger creates a map of your hard drive showing the parts that were fragmented and how much space they take up, etc.

Defraggler is a great disk defragmenter, though some people may prefer something else, for other disk defragmenting tool check out earlier article on 5 Disk Defragmenter Programs to Defrag your PC Five Free Programs to Defragment your PC Five Free Programs to Defragment your PC Read More .

Startup Control Panel

Startup Control Panel – Startup Control Panel is one of the most effective applications for speeding up your computer out there. It gives you a list of applications and other things that start on startup and allows you to remove those to speed up your computer start time.

Be sure not to uncheck your Anti-Spyware or Anti-Virus software, yet there are many things you can remove. It comes with the option to download the full program (59 kb) or a single executable (34 kb).

WinPatrol

WinPatrol – WinPatrol is another extremely helpful small program, that assists in not only speeding up your PC, but also keeping it secure. It runs in the background and monitors system changes to find added and taken away registry keys. Mark briefly covered it in an article Freeware to Speed up your Computer (Part 2) Freeware to Speed up your Computer (Part 2) Read More last year.

Is there anything I have forgotten? Anything in the list you disagree with? Let us know in the comments!

  1. Nostromov
    December 8, 2015 at 8:15 am

    Just btw., 'ThreatFire' ^^ was bought & destroyed by Symantec (Norton), as they (try) 2 do with any-and-all programs which are worth anything... As the story goes! ;$

  2. Joe Hamleton
    January 22, 2010 at 11:37 pm

    Sweet, I am downloading a bunch of the software that you mentioned thanks. I read all of the comments as well and they helped too. Thank you everyone!

  3. Antivirus
    October 19, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    I have used Norton Antivirus on my Windows XP and so far it has kept me free from any infection. I run a scan twice a week and a few times it caught some spyware, which it was able to remove on its own. I know that sometimes the software that comes with a computer is not of the highest quality, but in this case, I am sticking with Norton.

  4. AstralSin
    September 3, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    Avira is junk. The free version pops up these REALLY annoying popup windows advertising the commercial version every now and then and has a pretty crappy detection engine. Check out the free version of Blink from eEye Security. Not only does it have an antivirus, but it has a built in vulnerability assessment feature that checks your system for common vulnerabilities. I'm a security professional and I can't recommend it highly enough! Again, Google it, you'll find it faster than wading through eEye's website.

  5. cez
    August 6, 2009 at 9:54 pm

    can I install all of these and still keep whatever antivirus program that I have now? Mcafee on my laptop and norton on my pc.

  6. tayker
    May 7, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Comodo is nice, but it's a serious resource hog. I'm staying with ZoneAlarm.

  7. sherif_shaaban
    November 28, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    Sysinternals Autoruns is great when it comes to finding anything that runs at startup.

  8. iheart
    July 3, 2008 at 8:35 am

    unfortunately, comodo firewall and threatfire do not go along well.

    Do you think, i should uninstall comodo and use the PC tools firewall freeware version along with their threatfire, or should i rather uninstall threatfire, because currently, each time, when it pops up to tell me about a potentially dangerous program, that certain window does not go away, but got stuck on the screen, no matter how much i click in it, and say it should allow that program to work.

  9. Buffet
    June 22, 2008 at 4:07 am

    Personally, I prefer PerfectDisk's defragger. Try it and I believe you'll agree. As far as antivirus products go, after lots of trial and error, NOD32 is the only way to go. Ad-aware, Comodo Firewall, and of course, the program no one should be w/o, WinPatrol Plus. As for this Laurence cat, how truly naive you are my friend. You should immediately consult someone with some common sense who knows what they're doing, before it's too late. Good luck.

    • Dave
      July 6, 2008 at 6:56 pm

      I would just like to say, in Laurence's defense, that unless you are being completely damn retarded and downloading anything any website tells you to, as well as using IE, then a constantly running anti-virus program is basically a resource hog and nothing else. A once-weekly scan is all that should be deemed necessary.

      I have never had a virus, I still do a once weekly scan with absolutely zero real-time protection, and I most certainly am not naive to anything to do with the internet. It is, quite honestly, beyond me how so many people can get viruses, adware, spyware, whatever. You must be doing something wrong, huh? :)

  10. OZ
    June 9, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    I'll give Defraggler a try, but I've been very happy with Auslogic's defragger (as found here on MakeUseOf). The less fragmentation, the better!

  11. Aman
    June 8, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    Laurence: You must only be going to your email and the yahoo home page if you've never seen a virus in your life. Or perhaps you don't notice the fact that they are there?

    Generally, I am a strong advocate of free surfing, not limited by fear of threat from virus. I am more than confident enough that my computer's security procedures can handle anything thrown at it.

    • Laurence
      June 15, 2008 at 10:39 pm

      No I am constantly on the internet and I download heaps. It's not that Ive never seen a virus, it's just I've always managed to avoid getting any without using stacks of software and scans, just decent firewalls.

  12. Ashutosh Mishra
    June 7, 2008 at 1:43 am

    Dunno why you missed out Avast!, it just works so much better than AVG and a tad better than AntiVir as well.

    And there are no firewalls mentioned as well; I agree that they are really NOT security tools, but you still can't do without them whereas you can actually do without an antivirus / antispyware if you know what you're doing.

  13. Laurence John
    June 6, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    Nice article Will, but I disagree that all this is necessary. I browse the net constantly and I've had one virus in my whole life. A decent second firewall (comodo) + UAC turned on should keep you safe.

    • Mark O'Neill
      June 6, 2008 at 2:35 pm

      well then you're very lucky Laurence! I strongly disagree with your assertion. Everything that Will recommends IS necessary! Browsing the net without these things is like covering yourself in honey, jumping into a bees nest and hoping they don't sting you! In other words - VERY RISKY!

      At the very least, you're eventually going to encounter a website that tries to covertly install a spyware program or a trojan horse on your computer. It happens to everyone sooner or later.

      • Laurence
        June 7, 2008 at 2:47 am

        I used to worry about all of these things... but I honestly think now that if you browse with an eye out for potentially suspicious sites, you make sure you have at least 2 firewalls (the included windows one and another) and UAC turned on so that nothing can install without you being notified then I fail to see how something (excluding a targeted attack or hacker or something) could managed to get in.

        I'm probably wrong :) but seeing as AVG simply slows down your comp and spyware detectors have rarely picked anything up on my comp Ill save myself the hassle. Oh, i do run one program occasionally which In really like...

        It's great.

  14. Ryan
    June 6, 2008 at 8:32 am

    Don't use Defraggler. Two MUCH better options are available. No offence to Defraggler's producers. I really like CCleaner for what it does, but Defraggler is wimpy compared to it's competitors.

    I've "test" drive most of the free defraggers and there are two that do very good jobs if not better than commercial defraggers:

    1. JKdefrag - very smart, but command line operated. Get "JKdefrag GUI", read the documentation. Very nifty functions.

    2. Ultimate Defrag Freeware Edition - Don't go to the offical website. You won't find the freeware version there. Google it and you'll find the free version on download.com. Arguably better than JKdefrag and has better gui. A lot of features that aren't very obvious. The PDF documentation has very useful information on defragging. Read it.

    PS. You forgot the firewall category such as ZoneAlarm, etc.

  15. Rohit
    June 5, 2008 at 10:40 pm

    I am using avast for over a year, and very happy with this program. Also it's free.

  16. Altzan
    June 5, 2008 at 7:32 pm

    Nice list. I downloaded a few of those and that's helping me a lot. However, Defragger's link is incorrect. It should be http://www.defraggler.com (you left out the 'L')

    • Aibek
      June 8, 2008 at 2:57 am

      Thanks for heads up, it's fixed.

  17. Bonnie
    June 5, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    Just wanted to thank you guys for the post. I've been trying for months to find a program strong enough to remove the threats of Virtumonde and so on. So many programs delete the problem but do not get to the root of the issues. Threatfire finally did it! And much fast than so many of the others. thanks you guys!

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