Free Anti-Virus Comparison: 5 Popular Choices Go Toe-To-Toe

Matt Smith 25-09-2012

antivirus comparisonWhat is the best free antivirus? This is among the most common questions we receive at MakeUseOf. People want to be protected, but they don’t want to have to pay a yearly fee or use bloated security suites with unwanted features. I myself am a free antivirus user for these very reasons.


Discovering the best anti-virus isn’t easy, however. There are a lot of points to consider including the user interface, resource and overall effectiveness against the baddies. Let’s take an in-depth look at five popular choices (Avast!, AVG, Ad-Aware, Avira and Microsoft Security Essentials) to see which is best.


Our performance testing in this article consisted of a selected scan of a single 500GB mechanical hard drive that was approximately half-full. We used the full scan option. Our gauge of memory usage is based off the memory the software uses while running in the background and is the rounded average of what I witnessed over three minutes of use.

Protection information comes from AV-Comparatives and AV-Test, two leading sources for information about antivirus effectiveness. The specific studies referenced are AV-Comparative’s March 2012 Detection Test and AV-Test’s June 2012 round-up.

All testing was done under Windows 7 64-bit.

Lavasoft Ad-Aware Free Antivirus+

antivirus comparison


Lavasoft’s rather wide main menu does a good job of providing information without overwhelming the user. Most of the features are turned on or off using sliders and the big, bright “Scan Now!” button makes it immediately clear where a user needs to click to perform a scan.

I was somewhat confused by the custom scan options, however, because individuals drives can’t be selected before a specific box in the options is checked.

Lavasoft tries to lure users in by displaying advanced features that can’t be used until the full version is activated. It’s a bit disappointing to find a feature is not available, but this approach is less bothersome than the sidebar ads used by AVG.

Performance didn’t prove to be a strong point. A full scan took a tad over twenty minutes, the second-longest result. The background application consumed about 32 megabytes of RAM while idle. That’s not enough to drag down most systems but it is by far the worst result among the software evaluated here.


AV-Comparatives still does not include Lavasoft products in its file detection tests. AV-Test does test it, however, and found that it was able to handle 99% of recently discovered threats during the most recent round-up. The only flaw is 0-day attacks. Lavasoft detected just 80% of those threats, which ties Microsoft Security Essentials for last place.


antivirus software comparison

Avast! features an interface that appears smooth and modern relative to most competitors. Its large window includes a lot of free white space and provides all the information you need to know about your computer’s current protection.

I really like the software’s real-time shield menu. It lumps all of the different threat vectors which Avast! protects against into one menu and shows you how much of each have been scanned. It even updates in real-time as new potential threats are checked.


Advertising is included but is mostly restricted to the installation process and the main menu. The computer scan and real-time shield menus, which users will deal with most frequently, are devoid of ads.

A full scan of our test drive required about 15 minutes, the second-best result. The background process required 3.5 megabytes of RAM at idle, which is technically the middle result.

Avast! missed about 2% of all samples thrown at it in the last AV-Comparatives malware detection test, an average result. The last AV-Test comparison agreed with those findings.


antivirus software comparison


The interface of AVG is simple. It provides a list of icons, each representing a form of protection, and places the scan functions to the sidebar.  The “Scan Now” link is literal. Click on it, and AVG will starts to work on your entire computer without any additional prompts.

While the basic anti-virus features are easy to use the additional components are a bit bewildering. AVG includes everything from e-mail protection to rootkit protection. A lot of these components are handicapped, however, and direct you to buy one of AVG’s paid solutions. Other icons direct users to AVG products on other platforms, like Android.

AVG posted the least impressive scan time result. It required almost 23 minutes to chew through our 500GB test drive – about 75% longer than the quickest competitor. The background process, however, was the second smallest. It consumed just 2.4 megabytes of RAM at idle.

AV-Comparative’s last file detection test found that AVG missed about 3.5% of all threats thrown at it, one of the least impressive scores in the test group. AV-Test, however, found that the software detected 99% or recent threats in its last round-up.


antivirus software comparison

Avira has a confusing interface. For example, performing a specific scan requires that the user go to the System Scanner menu, then click on an option, then click a very small magnifying glass icon. Alternatively you can click the gear button on the main menu, but this opens up another menu that declares you must be in “expert mode” to change settings. Uh, what is expert mode? The big fat “Scan!” button used by competitors is more intuitive.

In-app advertising was light, but I was hit by a pop-up advertisement immediately after installing the software. Pop-up ads on my desktop are extremely annoying and not something I want to see, ever. There are also many features which are visible, but disabled until you buy the full version.

Avira blew away the competition in our performance tests. It required just over 13 minutes to perform a full hard drive scan and its background process consumed a measly 1.8 megabytes of RAM at idle. This software is clearly the best for users who prefer protection that is light on system resources.

Avira did extremely well in the last AV-Comparatives file detection test. It missed less than .5% of all samples and scored second-best overall, beating all other free solutions tested. Avira also detected 99% of recently discovered threats in the last AV-Test roundup.

Microsoft Security Essentials

antivirus comparison

Microsoft Security Essentials is different from the competitors because it’s not a marketing tool. All the other vendors offer their free anti-virus in an attempt to earn name recognition and impress users, but Microsoft has no paid anti-virus to sell. This makes for a clean interface that’s not cluttered by advertisements.

Some of the cleanliness is due to a lack of features, however. MSE can scan for, detect, quarantine and attempt to remove a virus, but that’s all it does. There’s no mobile version, no e-mail protection, no bundled anti-phishing. It is, as the name implies, only the “essentials.”

MSE posted middling results in our performance tests. It required almost twenty minutes to fully scan our test drive and its background process consumed about 6.8 megabytes of RAM at idle.

Early testing of MSE How Reliable Are Default Windows Security Apps? The first computer my family owned ran Windows 95. It had just arrived, and we purchased a computer with it so that we could have easy access to this new-fangled thing called “the Internet.” At... Read More suggested it was surprisingly competent, but more recent tests have been less kind. MSE came in last during the most recent AV-Comparatives file detection test. It missed almost 7% of all samples. AV-Test found that it missed 5% of recently detected samples in its last round-up.

So Which Is Best?

Avira is the technical standout. It has posted excellent scores in recent protection tests and it also ran away from the competition in our performance metrics. The downside is a confusing user interface. I had to explore the software for a few minutes before I understood how to operate it. If Avira could make the software just at tad more intuitive it would have the perfect product.

Avast! may be a better option for users who want to fuss with protection as little as possible. It is nearly as good as Avira in our performance benchmarks and it offers a slick, simple interface. Advertising is kept to a minimum, as well.

Lavasoft and AVG are suitable choices, but both have a catch that may be significant for some users. Lavasoft uses far more resources than the competitors while running in the background and AVG has an unattractive interface loaded with advertisements for the full version and other AVG products. Both offer competent protection, however.

Last, and least, is Microsoft Security Essentials. It was not the slowest in our tests, nor did it eat the most RAM, but protection studies have shown it to be the least effective at stopping threats by a large margin. Missing 5% of recent threats in the AV-Test roundup doesn’t sound like much, but all other competitors missed 2% or less. Going with MSE makes you substantially more vulnerable.

Related topics: Anti-Malware, Antivirus.

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  1. Terry Delgado
    January 9, 2019 at 8:49 am

    I want the phone number to this company? Please!

  2. James
    September 28, 2016 at 9:26 pm

    What is meant by add I asked for getting
    Pop ups. And I'm get 40 plus pages of Xjzxo

    • Terry Delgado
      January 9, 2019 at 8:54 am

      I want these pop up stopped popping in my cell. I hate them!! They always interacting with my apps. And my listening 2 my music. & when i'm in my cell talking 2 somebody. Especially from out of town! I wanna know who is responsible for disproportionate?

  3. Tom
    December 18, 2015 at 5:45 pm

    Great post, most of my experience will agree, I found a great tool that allows you to keep the computer running smooth and fast, and you can optionally run the Avira Engine in the tool..

    360 Total Security, Its free, and it as been my goto Antivirus tool in my business for some time now. (Any paid antivirus I go straight for ESET nod32)

    • Tom
      December 18, 2015 at 5:47 pm

      Bitdefender is another Engine option inside 360 (tzvi) ;)

  4. tzvi
    March 17, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    I am currently using Bitdefender 2015 Total Security, Can you comment on this product?

    I am currently using a trial version, but to purchase it, is about 55.00 for 3 computers for 3 years.
    I am interested in finding a system that provides Full Protection, anti-virus, anti-malware, adware, spyware, or anything else that could pose a threat to our computers for our non-profit.

    • Tom
      December 18, 2015 at 5:48 pm

      see my post, you can try the 360 Total Security package.

  5. Ahmed Err
    March 14, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    I'm using AVG now, and i think it's doing very good so far, fast, easy to use and not a single problem at all, i'm satisfied !

  6. Todd Rickett
    February 9, 2013 at 2:13 am

    Thanks! I've been using MSE for years, and have never had any problems. I might take your advice and install AVG. I'll probably use it for scheduled monthly scans.

    Have you ever run two anti-virus programs at once? Did doing so impact performance?

  7. Tony
    February 3, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    Yesterday I ran a virus check and using Microsoft Security Essentials, AVG, Advanced System Care and Advast anti virus programs separately. Nothing came up until I tried Emsisoft Anti-virus. Guess what showed up.

    Java virus Trogan script 479801B
    Exploit Java CVE-2012-5076.F (B)

    After they were removed I removed Java completely from the system using Revo Uninstaller Pro. Come to find out you really don't need Java in your system. All Virus scans were ran in Safe mode with networking.

  8. eTechcrunch
    February 1, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    I think Vipre by Subnelt is best..It is light and efficient

  9. Jishnu
    January 28, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    Avast and AVG from your list.I personally like Kingsoft Antivirus .Great piece of Software .

  10. Kuriakopoulos Marios
    January 21, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    my panda antivirus is expiring in a week (at last) and this article is very helpfull for me!! thank you

  11. Usman Mubashir
    January 20, 2013 at 8:58 am

    no trouble at all with Microsoft Security Essentials

  12. jererrrrrererereremy
    January 15, 2013 at 8:35 pm

    I love avast it makes me so happy and it pleases me :D but why isn't malwarebytes free on there?

  13. Joseph
    December 22, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    Okay. I've only tried two out of the five 'free' anti-virus listed here (Avira and Microsoft Security Essentials). In my opinion, Avira was good. It had my netbook protected for two years. But, I had to uninstall it. There's a lot of anti-virus out there (some are free, most are free to try) and I want one of the 'best' anti-virus in my netbook. So, I've tried Microsoft Security Essentials. I didn't like it. The full scan takes a lot of my time and as you've said, it's the least effective at stopping threats. After that I've tested out ESET Smart Security and it detected nine threats. I liked ESET. The interface was pretty simple, it detected some threats that Microsoft Security Essentials hasn't detected and I loved how it blocks harmful website. Sadly, I have no money, since I'm just a student. I had to uninstall it and test free anti-virus again. As of now, I'm downloading the free version of Comodo (some of the comments says it's good). Although, it won't hurt if you try to supplement your PC with something like Malwarebytes.

  14. Roomy Naqvy
    December 14, 2012 at 6:22 pm

    I have used AVG for ages. It is normally quite good. I have also used paid AV such as McAfee, Norton and Kaspersky. Also Guardian.

  15. Denis Paley
    December 7, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    Thanks for the info as I.m thinking of changing the anti-virus on my wife's and my computers from MSE and I think I'll go with Avast. I used it before and I like its interface and it seems to be quite reliable in with its real time protection.

  16. Harry
    December 2, 2012 at 9:34 am

    Has anyone tested Kingsoft Anitvirus? I've running it for the last 3 months and I am very happy. It is running in the background without using to much resources.

  17. Hardik Ashar
    December 1, 2012 at 5:38 am

    good coverage... i feel avast is the best! using it since 7 years on my PC

  18. Jatin Rungta
    November 20, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    Whatever is theh thing AVAST is the best freebie you can grab out there. Althoug I use Bitdefender :P :D

  19. Harikumar
    November 16, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    avast is best free antivirus software forever then bit defender awesome antivirus software for internet users.

  20. Nicole ?
    November 15, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    I've used AVG for several years and I've never had any problems thank goodness ^-^

  21. Vivek Bharadwaj
    November 4, 2012 at 9:40 am

    I must say that AVG is very good although it significantly increases the boot and shutdown time. I'd like to know any AV that doesn't affect the boot time very much but offers all/most of the features that AVG offers like firewall, email filtering etc

  22. Marian Cimbru
    November 4, 2012 at 6:43 am

    Unfortunately Avast it seems to be more and more unreliable. Last night I've seen Avast Free being weak, for third time in the last month... This last time was a simple script which redirects Google Chrome pages to a ads page. Or maybe only Avast WebRep would be the weak part?!

  23. Nikhil Chandak
    October 30, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    I have Microsoft Security Essentials which good enough to detect harmful viruses
    & now , I have downloaded a new antivirus program which is Avira which is also good
    Avira detects viruses which are harmful as well as not harmful
    but thnx for the reviews of other antivirus programs

  24. Shubharup Ganguly
    October 22, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    Others have said it already, but I'll go ahead and say it again. Comodo should be on this list, and there is no denying that. I've been with computers for about 3 years now, and I've been using Comodo for most of the time without any issues at all. I have the full suite installed and running, and it is never resource heavy. I wrote a review for a certain website when I was eleven. I'm not aware of any rule that says that I'm not allowed to do so, hence I'll go ahead and link it. Please take the time to read through, and THEN judge Comodo. Because Comodo isn't the security suite for the average computer user. It has its knack in being one of the best suites out there, and its probably the best if "free" be added to the criteria.

  25. Susan
    October 17, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    Immunet is another a very good antivirus software. I have been using it from last 2 years and I am also satisfied with it.

  26. Anonymous
    October 16, 2012 at 9:01 am

    I've been using Avira for the past few years. It its very light and does it job very well.

  27. Raghav Gupta
    October 10, 2012 at 5:20 am

    I am using AVG(with some key found on internet) So I have AVG interet security full. Its more than 3 years now. Its the best

  28. Sameer N
    October 5, 2012 at 3:30 am

    Good one Matt :)
    Timely article for me. My MCAfee which came with Dell PC is expiring in 3 weeks. I don't want to renew it. Will go for Avast or Avira, and if it works great will go for the pro version.

  29. Hari
    October 5, 2012 at 3:02 am

    I am skeptical of the memory overhead reported for each process. Those seem really small, could you give more details on what you actually measured on what process for each AV software and what you mean by idle time?

  30. Ernest Figueroa
    October 5, 2012 at 1:51 am

    i have always preferred AVG with free security

  31. druv vb
    October 2, 2012 at 10:32 am

    I've tried all of them years ago. AVG was a mess. Avast was rather good at that time. Avira was better, but the interface is still difficult for new users to adapt. In the end, I recommend Avast free version for everyone requesting a decent anti-virus solution. Couple that with MalwareBytes Anti-Malware and HiJack This, and you are almost secure. Just the safety measures remain...

  32. Scott MacDonald
    October 2, 2012 at 12:08 am

    As a professional consumer computer technician, I love these kinds of articles. Keep them coming!

  33. Joseph Mills
    October 1, 2012 at 11:51 pm

    Super-anti Spyware? Saved my bacon a few times. Very useful review.

  34. Tatenda Maisva
    October 1, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    love using avast tried avira and avg, avira worked well but avg didnt suit me

  35. Samarth Gupta
    October 1, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    In Windows 8, MSE comes preinstalled. Happy with that. :)

    • Matt Smith
      October 2, 2012 at 7:10 pm

      Hopefully they'll do a better job of keeping it updated with the latest anti-virus definitions.

  36. Shawn Ashree Baba
    October 1, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    I have never had any problems with MSE, but I guess it's never too late to be safe then sorry.

  37. Sethuraj Sivadasan
    September 30, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    Thanks a lot.

  38. Girish Sadananda
    September 30, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    Never use Eset Smart Security Antivirus. It takes a long time to scan and it slows down your PC

  39. Girish Sadananda
    September 30, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    I have been using Avira for the past 4 years and its threat detection is very good but for some reason it fails to recognize exceptions

  40. Corien
    September 30, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    I'm making $86 an hour working from home. I was shocked when my neighbour told me she was averaging $95 but I see how it works now. I feel so much freedom now that I'm my own boss. This is what I do,

  41. Sumaiya
    September 30, 2012 at 11:49 am

    Microsoft Security Essentials...the others just make my pc slower

  42. Jim Spencer
    September 29, 2012 at 7:36 am

    Hands down, I give AVG the nod on this one, with Avast a close second! I recommend AVG to lots of people when they have tight budgets! Hard to go wrong with these folks!

  43. steam
    September 29, 2012 at 2:16 am

    what? seriously,no COMODO?
    Comodo is the best AV i've ever used. Its far more customizable and protects the system from the most serious of threats. It is annoying indeed to configure the firewall and the AV to allow access to the network/execute safely,but once you are done with that,you can forget about your PC's security,they are in good hands.
    Go for COMODO,you'll not regret it.

  44. Andrew C
    September 28, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    Agree - can't believe you left out ClamWin (or the other platform versions of Clam).

    (BTW - I'm a former security pro, co-founder of an low-level server execution-encryption s/w firm here in Silicon Valley and former VP of a secure encrypted VPN provider. Former CTO of Symantec is a friend of mine. I know a little about this stuff. ;-)

    I switched from AVG (too slow) to Clam - been quite happy. I periodically run other stuff to double-check, as well as for adware and hijacking (NOT the same thing), and haven't found anything's slipped through. It's fast, in the background, and decent interface. I'm not sure why a full-scan performance is a big deal in your score - no reason to run full-scans often, manually, or daytime. Ditto user-interface - should be background mostly. THE two keys are detection accuracy and minimal performance hit in the background -- I don't much care how pretty the GUI is vs. whether I get zombied into some Bulgarian-Chinese spam/DoS ring.

  45. Edward Bellair
    September 28, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    Been using AVG for a while now and recommend it for my friends. Works well with people who don't totally understand but does give some protection.

  46. Gary Hiscott
    September 28, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Just spent all morning trying to uninstall AVIRA. I used it years ago and it messed up my PC big time, but thought this later version would work. I have an early version XP and AVIRA seems not to get on too well with it. When I retried loading a message did come up saying that my PC was not suitable ... I wish that had come up sooner.

  47. Deekshith Allamaneni
    September 28, 2012 at 9:01 am

    Want a minimalistic antivirus? Use MSE.
    If you need a balanced set of features and minimalism, then go for Avast.
    If you have over 4 gigs of RAM lying useless, then AVG and AVIRA are for you.

    • Matt Smith
      October 2, 2012 at 7:12 pm

      Why do you say these programs need more than 4 gigabytes of RAM? None of these products used much memory at all in my testing.

    • lesm
      February 13, 2013 at 1:32 pm

      What you need is a better microprocessor go get an I5 or I7 and be happy.

  48. echantrea
    September 28, 2012 at 6:06 am

    I am a Avast fan. Thank for the test benchmark.

  49. Jorge Sanchez
    September 27, 2012 at 11:56 pm

    Over the years I have used all of the AVs except AVG and AdAware, right now I'm using ZoneAlarm. Appearently is very quiet, it doesn't tell me if there's anything wrong I'm downloading, or isn't detecting any pop-ups that might be virus or malwares or anything. I think I'll be switching back to one I've used before which are either Comodo Antivirus or Avast. However what I was impressed was that since MSE is a very simple AV why didn't you include in the list Bitdefender Free and tested it out? That isn't a bad AV either. Just wondering.

  50. Ruthie
    September 27, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    Thanks! I use AVG on my computer, and will probably stick with it for now. But I will certainly think about Avira and Avast for any new computer I get!

  51. Jamie Wr
    September 27, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    AVG is the best.I have tried plenty of other programs over the years from A to Z.They all claim one thing or another.All my computers have AVG on them.I don't care how long a scan takes or how fast or slick the interface is.As long as it finds everything it's suppose to and kill it.Scan before bed and when you wake up your good to go.Very easy to do.

  52. Dave Parrack
    September 27, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    I personally use MSE and am very happy with it. It's disappointing to hear it fails to find a high percentage of problems though. I'll look at switching but I've found all the others I have tried to be too resource-heavy and intrusive.

    • Matt Smith
      October 2, 2012 at 7:13 pm

      I used to use MSE but I don't now that it is falling behind in protection. I really think you should check out Avast again. It doesn't strike me as being very resource intensive at all.

  53. Hossam Khattab
    September 27, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    AVG is the best ever

  54. Alex Hernandez
    September 27, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Avast. i need start to use.


  55. Mark
    September 27, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    im using MSE, now i'll be switching it just because of this list. Didn't even imagine the stats it got...LAST? u're the expert, and im the user. so, im gonna follow the expert. But im still seeing which AV should i go for.

    how about Kaspersky? in my country, this Kaspersky banner is it good?

  56. Vishal Mishra
    September 27, 2012 at 9:39 am

    Avast is really good because it starts quickly and do not disturb like other antivirus (like avira), and it's basic free protection is good enough for a home PC.

  57. Tom
    September 27, 2012 at 6:10 am

    Just built my bil a PC and loaded Avast till he can get some suite that he wants to use.

  58. Andrea Kosteli?
    September 27, 2012 at 5:04 am

    I use free AVG for, like, 9 years now... I'm very satisfied with it, because it works on itself for many tasks - even upgrading to new version... never had any bigger problems with missed threats or anything you wrote here, just scanning whole computer is really annoying, because my 500GB disc is almost full with pics and books, so there's really a lot data to scan...

  59. Kathy
    September 27, 2012 at 4:52 am

    I've tried all of these except Avira!

    I recently went back to McAfee. I had some type of ad-ware of malware virus that they couldn't detect. One of their techs told me to uninstall Firefox! They just wanted to sell me more services rather than help me find the problem. I finally figured out how to remove the virus (Google Redirect Virus) on my own by doing lots of research. And it was so simple to fix!

  60. Tim Brookes
    September 27, 2012 at 2:31 am

    From personal experience (and personal experience only) I'd choose Avast! every time. Why? No intrusive adverts (Avira's great, but the advertising is a real bitch), simple enough for my dad to use and it has to this date never let me down. I even left their browser plugin running on my dad's PC because it's actually useful.

    I'm fairly sure it was the first to include a proper sandbox too, something which rip-off merchants like McAfee and Symantec charge the earth for. Irrespective of my personal opinion, this article is great as it provides a shortlist of truly free anti-virus options. Never pay! Free AV for life!

  61. belfastgirl
    September 27, 2012 at 2:29 am

    Great job guys! This did clear up some issues I had, therefore, I will stick with my Avast.

    Thanks again.

  62. Shane_West
    September 27, 2012 at 2:24 am

    AVG never let me down yet

  63. SydNyte
    September 26, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    AVG has a new more attractive interface for it's 2013 Free edition and offers a few more of the paid features for free than 2012.

    However if you use the 30 free trail of the paid version you may very well need to do a complete uninstall and reinstall after the 30 days.

  64. David M
    September 26, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    Anti virus is never FREE! The so called FREE AV software comes both at a price(slower performance a lot of the time) and a risk. That risk also has a cost, the cost of having to clean one's computer. So for a home user Free could be OK, for a business NEVER! I use NOD 32

  65. E'beth McKendry
    September 26, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    Thanks for this important information. I run MSE but obviously need more protection. Can I ADD Avira or will that cause conflicts? Should I uninstall MSE?

  66. Benjamin Trotter
    September 26, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    Avira is my pic.

    Adaware Antivirus seems to have a lot of installation conflicts. I installed it on my system, and it would not run. Apparently Lavasoft forgot to mention that their system digs deep into the registry, and if it finds any history of other antivirus programs it will cause a conflict.

    AVG was ok. I could find virus with it, but it would not quarantine any.

  67. Rajesh Kumar
    September 26, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    its awesome to know what we have to use .. i started using avira premium

  68. Sylanel
    September 26, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    This is a good article definitely worth sharing with all our friends and surrounding to improve overall security.

  69. Elton Woo
    September 26, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    It seems that the author of this article is unaware of Clam Antivirus:
    A free cross-platform open-source antivirus engine.

  70. Dee
    September 26, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    Is there a reason you do not include ClamWin? I have been using it on my home pc for four years with success.

  71. Shayne Selwonk
    September 26, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    very good article, I will go and try Avira

  72. Linda
    September 26, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    I've had AVG and Malware before, and am always looking for anything that works better.

  73. Linda
    September 26, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    On my new laptop Norton gives a free 6-month trial. Should I uninstall the temporary coverage? I've heard that Norton is terrible for the computer--is that correct?

    • Matt Smith
      September 26, 2012 at 5:15 pm

      Actually Norton is not -THAT- bad. If you do not think it is causing a problem, don't uninstall it. When you trial is over, though, you should consider going with a different product or one of the free options mentioned here.

  74. Vicky Gregory Moss
    September 26, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    I love AVG.

  75. Clive Richards
    September 26, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    I have used avast for a number of years ever since I found that AVG free seemed to clutter up my system. The free version which is fine for basic users is really very good indeed - but the paid version is well worh the little extra (the internet security one) it has an all in price that covers 3 PCs and if you look out for special offers you can often get two years cover for a very low price. The free version I think does open suspicious files in a sandbox (a protected area that cant damage your system) but with the paid version you can use the sandbox to open webpages and programmes that You are not 100% sure of. If something pokes a virus at you while you are using the sandbox then all you have to do is reboot your computer and it's gone. You cant save files permanently to the hard drive in the sandbox but with programmes I find on the internet I tend to install them once in the sandbox, try them for a bit to make sure they are OK and then if I am happy reboot my computer and install them again.

    I dont know if the banking security thing comes with the free version or not - but it is in the low cost paid one and this is also great becasue it blocks all programmes from running while you are doing your online banking in their special version of chrome - so less chance of anyone monitoring your keystrokes or finding out your bank details.

    I have the free version on my android phone as well and it doesnt eat the battery, does its job in the background and has lots of other useful featurs such as finding out which apps you dont use much or which apps have access to the most information about you - very useful

    Lastly their email support has always been good, a little slower with the free version if I remember but usually within 24 hours using a proper ticketing system for the paid one. It is probably the best software I have evern installed on my computer

  76. k
    September 26, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    All of them eats alot of memory....
    the best si panda cloud....
    end of story....

  77. Robert
    September 26, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    I like AVG 2012. It works well for me. I can schedule scans and forget it. I do not like how AVG tries to take over my browser and become my search tool and search page. That is annoying. But I am sticking with AVG for now.

    Avira drove me crazy with the pop-ups. I control my computer. Pop-ups are the old school spam. I went to Chrome and Firefox because IE could not control pop-ups.

    Have not found a reason to try Avast.

  78. DrShowMe
    September 26, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    I installed Avast! on all three of my locally networked computers. It brought Internet access on two of them to a crawl - one effectively to a stop. Uninstalling it, which I did on all, was also not a breeze. Haven't tried the others, but I would definitely NOT recommend Avast!

    • lesm
      February 13, 2013 at 1:26 pm

      Really? I guess you need technical advise.

  79. Don
    September 26, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    I've been happy with Avira until the 2013 update came along. I kept installing it and it would tell me my PC needed rebooting for the changes to take effect, no matter how many times I rebooted: same message, I needed to reboot in order for the changes to take effect.

    I browsed their tech support and there didn't appear to be any other instances of this updating error reported. No solutions? So I had to dump Avira.

  80. Eduardo Van Beest Hermse
    September 26, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    Avast is simple and effective, for me it's the best

  81. Muhammad Ahmad
    September 26, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    Was advising my clients to use Microsoft Security Essentials, but thanks for providing us review. Now we will advise our clients to use Avira. I tested avira and it really works.

    • Matt Smith
      September 26, 2012 at 5:13 pm

      Just be careful of the pop-ups, they can be annoying. Avast! may be a better choice for clients.

  82. Darryl Gittins
    September 26, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    MSE is the only truly "free" scanner. The others will all at some point try to trick you into buying some alternate version. MSE is, and always will be "free".

    • Gamfigo
      February 23, 2013 at 12:59 pm

      Other than the ~$100 for Windows

  83. Bibi
    September 26, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    what about anti-viris for Mac?

  84. RamaKrishna RK Veluvali
    September 26, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    Avira is an awesome tool, I have been using this for about 10 years and had no issues with any. Now I'm the proud Premium customer of the tool :)

  85. Joe
    September 26, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    I used Panda Cloud free and found that to be very good. I'd recommend it to everyone.
    I've recently moved to Linux so now I don't need any AV.

  86. Sugadevan Rajarathinam
    September 26, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    im a long time KIS user, but after installing Windows 8 Windows Defender is doing great. no ads, no disturbances, protects well :)

  87. Scott
    September 26, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    I used to use Avast, but switched to Avira (mainly because of some conflict between Avast and some other program; it's been so long I really don't remember). Both programs worked very well for me and I'm very happy with Avira (despite the pop-up ads after updating).

    I downloaded, installed, used MSE *once* and that was enough. It took over 4 hours to run a scan. Buh-bye.

    I'm glad to see that my two preferred AV programs did well in tests. :-)

  88. Sebastian Hadinata
    September 26, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    Great review and comparison.. I've been using Avast for a very long time now, it's really great.

  89. LaShawnda Brown
    September 26, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    I've been using Microsoft but I guess I need to rethink that and go back Avast.

  90. Mary Lamb
    September 26, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    A missing criterion was "uninstallability". Specifically AVG stands out here as being very, very hard to get rid of. The tendrils twist through the registry and don't get removed during a windows install. I think that would be an important part of your evaluation because if one tries one product and decides to switch to another, it really does matter that the first one can be completely removed. Just saying. :-|

    • Claudio Cividino
      September 26, 2012 at 3:23 pm

      Not sure how you came to this conclusion but I have never seen anyone have an issue removing AVG from their system and I see a lot of computers.

    • Claudio Cividino
      September 26, 2012 at 3:29 pm

      Did the test of AVG allow it to go through it's first initial scan before timing the results of a full scan, the initial scan always takes a lot longer that any scans it does after that.

      This comparison was done after AVG 2013 was released, how does that compare with this group?

  91. salim benhouhou
    September 26, 2012 at 7:08 am

    i love avast which i'm using right now

  92. Timo Reimerdes
    September 26, 2012 at 6:43 am

    Using Security Essentials on the gaming computer. But prior to that I was using Avira, also I'd still recommend it to the less computer-literate that still run windows.

  93. xbalesx
    September 26, 2012 at 6:13 am

    i currently use a paid program, but i am forwarding this article to family...thanks for the information.

  94. Lambvolution
    September 26, 2012 at 5:35 am

    i'm use AVG since 2008

  95. Chris Hoffman
    September 26, 2012 at 2:56 am

    Huh, I really love MSE's interface and lack of hassles, but I had no idea it feel so behind on detection rates. I suppose I may have to switch...

    • Claudio Cividino
      September 26, 2012 at 3:21 pm

      I work on several computers per day, the computers that have the most problems with viruses are the ones running MSE, I've rarely seen it actually detect a threat but on occasions where it does, it fails at actually removing it.

  96. ferdinan Sitohang
    September 26, 2012 at 1:59 am

    Each of AV has a plus and minus, but i choose avast for everyday use.

  97. 1hegame
    September 26, 2012 at 1:52 am

    This software is clearly the best for users who prefer protection (okay) that is light on system resources. LOL What are you saying? Avira is I found the most resource using antivirus. It is heavy weight and when installing files after download it almost freezes my computer. One can do nothing when files are being installed. It's best in detection, no doubt but it's never light weight on system resources. Also one problem that you may not now is that sometimes it comes up with problem of "endless updating". After checking for virus def. files it downloads them all then continues to download I dont' know what? Suppose you've to download 5MB data it'll continue to 25MB 40MB and so on. You'll never know when it's gonna stop. Many users stuck into this problem including me. It has also mentioned this in its forums:
    I've said so much. However this rarely happens. And people with fast download speed shouldn't worry.

    And thanks for revealing the truth behind AVG. It's unnecessary seemed like it's the best and most popular. But somewhere in mind I know that it's not that. Now I've seen this in public.

    • Matt Smith
      September 26, 2012 at 5:12 pm

      Avira seemed smoothest on my PC and used the least system RAM while in the background. I've had no problems or complaints with it on that front.

  98. rubenhiciano
    September 26, 2012 at 12:58 am

    Your evaluation shows very similar results as of other authorities like PC Magazine and PC World. I only want to say that Microsoft does have a commercial (Corporate) Antivirus product called ForeFront and it's very good.

  99. Pax
    September 26, 2012 at 12:52 am

    Every year I do a comparison check and try and select the best total solution (sometimes it means software from different companies). This year I switch over to Comodo because it's one of the few that really looks at security from all the angles.

    Comodo provides an integrated Firewall coupled with a real-time malware-scanner. They also have Defense+ for sandboxing applications (useful for new installs). I don't think you can look at security anymore and be satisfied with just a virus scanner. You also need support for ARP Poisoning (very easy to accomplish), Intrusion Detection, Port Stealthing.

    Comodo also offers a Programs Manager (for uninstalling apps) and a System Cleaner (akin to CCleaner which I also use). This is part of the reason I'm sticking with Comodo this year. They're looking at total system security and it's all free.

    Finally, Comodo also offers VPN (for a monthly fee). A VPN is the new *must-have* application, especially of you do anything at all over WiFi and/or value your privacy. I myself opted for a 3rd-party provider for encrypted VPN because I liked their privacy policy a whole lot more (and I could run it on Android and Linux).

    On the Browser side, toss in plugins like HTTPS Anywhere ('Swiss Knife' if you're an Opera user), LastPass for secure logins, MyIP (if you're using a VPN, to insure the connection didn't get lost) and a good ad-blocker.

    Sadly, this isn't a post by a paranoid user. All this options should be defaults on any modern system. That's the state we're in right now.

    PS: I'm not affiliated with Comodo in anyway. I just think that we've entered an era where virus scanning is often the least of our concerns.

    • Tina Wilkerson
      September 27, 2012 at 9:08 pm

      Thanks for the Comodo info. Kaspersky and Avast are the only ones I've ever actually purchased. Kaspersky was not very intuitive and I still wound up with a nasty virus. Avast has been terrific and I run it on all of our computers... however I have to use other separate apps to maintain everything which I hate. It sounds like Comodo might be the way to go once my license for Avast runs out in a couple of months.

  100. James Lewis
    September 25, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    Kinda pissed off with AVG's advertising, even I bought the full version AVG Internet Security they still advertise me to buy another :\

    • Matt Smith
      September 26, 2012 at 5:11 pm

      Really? That's a bum deal.

  101. Sapper82
    September 25, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    I've used Avira Premium for about 2 years now. But Avira was causing BSOD on my Dell netbook.might try Avast! again.

  102. sebastian
    September 25, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    I used Avira for a while last year, but it really annoyed me with frequent desktop pop-up messages (not just after installation). I got a new laptop and installed AVG - such a joy to use after all Avira's spamming.

    I read up on it and saw that it missed some threats, so I run Malwarebytes Anti-Malware every month or so as a double-check.

    No problems so far!

    • Matt Smith
      September 26, 2012 at 5:10 pm

      The Avira pop-ups are annoying. I am using it for now but may eventually switch to Avast.

      • Tug Ricks
        September 28, 2012 at 9:44 pm

        Perhaps I'm a terrible person, but there is a way to disable the pop-up ads.

    • Marian Cimbru
      November 4, 2012 at 6:45 am
  103. Robin in NC
    September 25, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    Thanks Matt! I've been using Avast & your article confirms that I've made a good choice!

  104. Chris
    September 25, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    Cloud Antivirus from Panda is free and great. How come it didn't make the list?

  105. Kevin Johnson
    September 25, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    I always thought that MSE took up far less resources on a PC than the other free Anti-virus programs.
    This article, though very useful does not directly answer that question.

    Does MSE use less resources?

    • Matt Smith
      September 26, 2012 at 5:10 pm

      It does answer that question...I listed the resources I saw used. My conclusion is no, it does not use fewer resources. On the other hand, none of these programs use enough RAM or processor capacity while they run in the background to trouble a modern PC.

      • Zero
        September 26, 2012 at 11:56 pm

        Then can we have a table or graph for easy comparison? Thanks.

  106. Saurabh Shrivastava
    September 25, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    Avast & Avira

  107. Pavan
    September 25, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    I've been using Avast since last 3 years on my two machines and i'm quite satisfied with it. I tried avira and found it slow and cumbersome.

  108. S V Swamy
    September 25, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    Look at Zone Alarm too. They claim better protection than all these in the AV tests. I switched over to it recently.

    • Becky Murphy
      September 30, 2012 at 7:14 pm

      Zone Alarm used to be great, but I switched for several reasons - it wasn't as effective as Avast!. They changed their format to a non user friendly version. And one feature Avast! has that Zone Alarm does not is the real time protection you get while browsing the internet. That and Google Chrome together is really effective and protecting you from garbage on the net.

  109. Deekshith Allamaneni
    September 25, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    I am using MSE from over 6 months. It works well. It may not offer extra features like others but it does its work of protecting the system well.
    Infact, thats what I expect from an anti-virus software.

    My next recommended choice is PandaCloud.

  110. Dan Valentin
    September 25, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    I have tested many AV software over the years ( 99% of them ) and i agree with this top.No way for me to keep an AV like MSE.Now i use Panda Cloud.

  111. David
    September 25, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    this is a great comparison and resource for security software with detailed results.

  112. Drake
    September 25, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    What I think is hilarious is those who say they test the top 5 or 10 FREE Antivirus / Firewall Security Applications ...NEVER EVER list Comodo as one of the Contender's....yet, Comodo Internet Security is one of the best I have ever used. It comes with a simple interface, provides a means to check its own installation and functionality in case you think it is messing up, allows unknown files or processes to be submitted for analysis to Comodo for free, it also offers the means to redirect your internet connection to be routed through their secure severs for FREE!!! It Auto Updates...allows well as drive or file specific scanning...and they offer other FREE app's to keep you secure...Comodo is one of only a FEW companies that even offer a low cost WIFI firewall...for those who rely on a WIFI connection.
    So when I see them test Comodo up against all these other's ...then I will give credence to these kinds of bench test results.

    • Matt Smith
      September 26, 2012 at 5:08 pm

      I don't like Comodo personally. Their firewall kept messing with my games and causing several to crash, so I threw it out after using it for a few months. Your mileage may vary.

    • Dan
      September 30, 2012 at 5:52 am

      Drake, I agree with you. It's funny how there is this silent conspiracy to shut out Comodo. Not sure why, but you just never see anyone write about them. I've used them for years and they have been outstanding. And Matt Smith, Comodo is no good because their firewall messed with some of your games? That's a good reason to abandon an entire security suite, probably never asking tech support for help.

      • Becky Murphy
        September 30, 2012 at 7:11 pm

        A good free antivirus protection won't require you to call tech support for issues like making games crash. I'm sure there isn't some kind of silent conspiracy. Just because YOU use Comodo, doesn't mean it's actually a popular enough antivirus software to don these types of articles. It works for you, great. If a free antivirus is messing with my MMO games, I'm not going to call any kind of tech support. I'm going to throw it out and use something else. Thanks for playing guys... you can stop acting all butt hurt now.

  113. Juan Manuel Bautista Hoepfner
    September 25, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    You forgot Agnitum free

  114. GrrGrrr
    September 25, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    Avast is the best Free option

  115. Albert
    September 25, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    I used AVG for several years with no problems, but since recently i've been using Avast and it's way better for me, it feels faster, lighter, more secure, and overall better UI design.

  116. 100rami
    September 25, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    I use MSE in my notebook and Avast in my desktop. I´m hapy with both

  117. StavrosKeN
    September 25, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    Why not Comodo... any thoughts?

    • Samit Tandukar
      September 25, 2012 at 6:24 pm

      comodo is really light and has decent detection rates.....but it is more suitable for advanced users.....

      • Poundsmack
        September 25, 2012 at 8:12 pm

        Sure Panda's Cloud Antivirus is a worthy competitor. I use them and Avira (i use either one depending on which PC it is and what it's purpose is). Cloud AV is great.

  118. Ashwin Ramesh
    September 25, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    Thanks for your insights Matt!

  119. Trevor
    September 25, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    I've been using Avast for several years and am very happy with it.

    • 1hegame
      September 26, 2012 at 1:55 am

      Thanks. I'm new Avast user. It seems like effective than any other AV.

      • suneo
        November 30, 2012 at 9:32 am

        same here

    • Nezlo
      September 26, 2012 at 3:30 pm

      Same here, never had any issues with it and it does the job I need it to do.

    • Hatem Sindi
      October 1, 2012 at 9:04 pm

      Best experience here as well. Keeps the computer clean smooth with minimum amount of ads