What is the best free antivirus software?

Nicholas Pellizzari March 16, 2011

There seems to be a lot of options. I want one that uses few system resources and I’d also like it to not assume that I know what I’m doing on my (Windows) computer. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance.

  1. Ajay
    March 31, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    I think Avira and Avast go on hand to hand.They are both very good in finding and cleaning viruses.

  2. Chcurtis
    March 25, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    For Windows, I think Avast is the best (seems most others do here, as well). For Macs, check out Sophos. It's excellent for Windows, as well, but the Windows version is not free. Good security newsletter, as well.

  3. Nahla
    March 25, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    I personally both use Avast and MS SE...great programs!

  4. Brainpup
    March 23, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    I have 2 computers of my own running daily and do the setup/building/upgrading and maintaining the Online Security for 2 small business and both have bought big name big name Anitvirus suites. Over the last 2 years I have found that Mcfarts is so full of holes and slow to update/scan/remove that its practically useless. ( point in case: in December with Mac fully updated 1 system caught a drive-by trojan from a Bellsouth.net homepage and it wiped over a hundred files from the companies database...Malwarebytes found the culprit and removed it, then I removed Mac and installed Microsoft Security Essentials and they've never had a problem again)
    NOTE: I have seen Macfarts sell for as low as $19.95, which is still a ripoff. BOA will give it to you for free if you have a bank account with them. yippee, quick way to lose your bucks.
    CA ( Computer Associates) is free from TimeWarner ( my connection: Road Runner Turbo) and I had it for weeks and got 32 different pieces of malware/spyware and 3 different Trojans. dumped it fast.
    AVG was installed on one machine for American Agencies ( one of the companies I do IT work for and after 5 months it it got hit with a Virus that stuck it in a boot loop and the whole time it was stuck in this loop it erased every document on the harddrive. Boy was the company owner pissed.

    Over the past 3 years I have found that Avast and MS Security Essential to be the best of all the "Free" antivirus programs you will find. Neither one hits your system hard and both are fast at scans and update daily with no impact on your system.

    If you like what you have and "THINK" your protected well, go and run F-Secure's free online scanner, I guarantee you it will find things that your current security program didn't. Panda's got a good "Free" online scanner, as does Bit-Defender. All 3 of these will remove what ever they find too, although Panda is the slowest.
    Bottom line: go with either Avast or MS Security Essential( oh and run Windows Defender too ) and if you have some cash to burn F-Secure and Bit-Defender are about as good as your going to get. Norton's getting better at not being a known resource hog but still needs work.

    This advice comes from someone who has being building computers since 1998 and the first PC I ever had was a TRS80 (with the pretty green screen and giant sized floppy's). Plus I have tested all kinds of security programs worthiness at some of the worst Pornsites out there.

    • Chinmoy Mitra
      March 24, 2011 at 8:31 am

      Hi, you have not written anything about Panda Cloud antivirus. Is it not worth writing about or you simply forgot?

      • Tina
        March 24, 2011 at 4:23 pm

        Maybe nobody thinks it's 'the best'? Why do you think it should be mentioned?

      • Chcurtis
        March 25, 2011 at 6:02 pm

        Brainpup said "Panda's got a good "Free" online scanner" -- is that what you mean? Or do you mean another product from Panda?

  5. Victorh2007
    March 23, 2011 at 9:58 am

    With no doubt, Comodo Internet Security is the best of all.

  6. Saic34
    March 23, 2011 at 7:45 am

    kaspersy is the best anti virus......
    it is very osum..1

  7. Kiritjani
    March 23, 2011 at 12:54 am

    Obviously AVG 2011

    • Dovewoman52
      June 7, 2011 at 10:53 am

      AVG 2011 is when all my problems started. I have a mess right now. I have posted for help, so I wont' go into it but I think it had a virus riding on one of it's download bars. The AVG pc cleaner upper or something like that. A 30 day trial. I wonder if it is from AVG. Also AVG won't work with 2 of my programs it says. I use Mozilla Firefox & AVG 2011 says it is incompatible. 

  8. Beosro
    March 22, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    Snow Leopard

    • Esger Jellema
      March 28, 2011 at 7:31 pm

      I know there's a firewall in Snow Leopard, but no antivirus as far as I know...

  9. Rosebud6642
    March 22, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    When I had a windows-based PC, preferred Comodo. Now with a Mac....little to zero worries!

    • Flatlinebb
      March 22, 2011 at 10:13 pm

      Thinking that your Mac does not need anti-virus software is ignorant and wrong. Just like any operating system it has its own vulnerabilities and it should be protected. And it is exactly this kind of ignorance that people producing viruses are preying on. Please do the rest of the Internet a favor and get your Mac an anti-virus package, so you are even less likely to get infected and then start infecting others.

    • Chcurtis
      March 25, 2011 at 5:59 pm

      If you have a Mac, get the free Sophos antivirus. Macs are inherently safer than Windows machines (due to the Unix file permissions system), but not bulletproof.

  10. Goran
    March 22, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    MSE, hasn't let me down yet.

  11. Roby Hartland
    March 20, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    AVG or AVAST...they have both done me well for years

  12. Mango
    March 19, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    Immunet, uses very little in the way of system resources, and does a great job of picking up stuff trying to get in. I also use Comodo Internet Security, which I am very happy with.

  13. Sudeep K. Bansi
    March 19, 2011 at 11:35 am

    Avast and MSE.

  14. Sudeep K. Bansi
    March 19, 2011 at 11:34 am

    Avast and MSE.

  15. Sudeep K. Bansi
    March 19, 2011 at 11:33 am

    Avast and MSE.

  16. Osama
    March 17, 2011 at 12:32 pm


    March 16, 2011 at 11:17 pm

    Hello, another vote for Microsoft Security Essentials and Avast

    • Dovewoman52
      June 7, 2011 at 10:48 am

      Can I use MSE if I don't use Explorer as my browser? I use Chrome or Firefox. Neither are performing as they used to. I'm not too happy with any of the browsers right now. I HATE that Bing keeps hijacking me. That makes me angry plus I don't like it! Anyway, can I use MSE and Avast with out using IE? Do I use them both or pick one only to use? Thanks for your input.

  18. Elliott Rodgers
    March 16, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    AVG hasn't let me down and have been using for years and years and years. A few years back my then flat mate got a virus on his PC using a well known commercial AV program begining and ending with the letter N. AVG found it, cleaned and all was happy.


    • Dovewoman52
      June 7, 2011 at 10:46 am

      I've used AVG for at least 2 years along with Malwarbytes. The computer store said they would not interfere with each other and to run Malwarbytes first. I had a good 2 years. (Another computer store at first told me I couldn't have them both, but then found they were good together.) I added some sort of AVG trail version and have had a problem ever since. i have taken AVG off and am trying another product. Now I am wodering if the AVG trail was a hack/virus and not really from AVG. Any ideas?

      • Tina
        June 7, 2011 at 4:07 pm

        It's almost impossible to tell for us whether or not that AVG trial version a) caused the problem and b) was in fact malware. Hope you were able to fix the problem. 

        Regarding your other questions in this comment thread, I recommend that you post a new question of your own instead of replying to an old question. You are not likely to get a lot of answers here.

  19. M.S. Smith
    March 16, 2011 at 6:15 pm


    Microsoft Security Essentials.

    I know. Microsoft making stuff that's good. It's crazy, but there you have it. For proof, check out AV-Comparatives: http://www.av-comparatives.org/images/stories/test/ondret/avc_retro_nov2010.pdf

    • Aibek
      March 16, 2011 at 6:21 pm

      I second Microsoft Security Essentials.

      And if you're looking for something that's not from Microsoft I suggest
      Avira or Avast. both come with a free version.


    • Mike
      March 16, 2011 at 6:45 pm

      I agree that right now MSE is one of the best AV Softwares out there. I also believe it will perform even better today then it did in the December AV Comparatives report.

      Since it was specifically asked for free Software:
      My personal opinion is that you should never pay for an AntiVirus Software unless your requirements or the Licence Agreement forces you to do so.

    • Xoandre Moats
      March 19, 2011 at 2:42 pm

      I am wondering what I am missing here... I tried using MS Security Essentials and it was useless in doing anything about virus PROTECTION. Sure, it can scan and identify spyware and virus problems, but it cannot remove them. It shows a listing of THIRD PARTY SOFTWARES (some of which are even spyware and virus hacks themselves) which you can download and install in order to remove the identified items...

      I found MS SE to be completely useless.

      • Mike
        March 19, 2011 at 8:10 pm

        That sounds weird.

        MSE identifies and removes/quarantines viruses just fine. The latest version of MSE includes heuristic analysis to increase protection.

        It sounds like a problem on your machine.

  20. Imran Kazi
    March 16, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    AVG 2011 is best light weight antivirus providing you with lot of options for windows !

  21. Daniel Shane
    March 16, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    Use a linux based operating system running SElinux & clam AV.

  22. Imrankazi111
    March 16, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    AVG Antivirus its free & the best antivirus

  23. LiewCF
    March 16, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    Panda Cloud antivirus. Light weight and free. Great in defense but not good in cleaning. Recommended to install on clean system (right after you install Windows OS)

    • Esger Jellema
      March 28, 2011 at 7:29 pm

      Panda Cloud antivirus for OS X has a very cute interface like I've never seen before, but it's not free :( How can they do that?

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