AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition
Publisher's description of AVG
From AVG Technologies:
AVG Free Edition is the well-known antivirus protection tool. AVG Free is available free of charge to home users for the life of the product. Rapid virus database updates are available for the lifetime of the product, thereby providing the high level of detection capability that millions of users around the world trust to protect their computers. AVG Free is easy to use and will not slow your system down (low system resource requirements. Highlights include automatic update functionality, the AVG Resident Shield, which provides real-time protection as files are opened and programs are run, free Virus Database Updates for the lifetime of the product, and AVG Virus Vault for safe handling of infected files.
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Editor's review of AVG
This antiviral program offers rock-solid protection for no financial commitment. AVG Anti-virus Free Edition provides all the necessities, including a tool for scanning your hard drive and e-mail, as well as a real-time shield to prevent infections.
By default, the application is set to search for new virus definitions daily, but you always can use the scheduling tool to change this. Should a virus create serious system problems, AVG creates a rescue disk to scan your computer in MS-DOS mode. The program doesn't tax your system when scanning or when running in the background and always proved effective in our tests.
The interface can't be described as beautiful, yet it is mostly simple to navigate. Sure, you can plunk down a lot of cash for an antiviral application with more features, but AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition delivers the goods for free.
Avast Home Edition
Publisher's description of Avast
From ALWIL Software:
Avast Home Edition is a complete ICSA & Checkmark certified antivirus, Checkmark certified anti-spyware & anti-rootkit package. Avast includes the following components: On demand scanner with skinnable simple interface, just select what do you want to scan in which way and press the Play button; On access scanner, special providers to protect the most of available e-mail clients; Instant messaging--ICQ, Miranda; Network traffic--intrusion detection, lightweight firewall; P2P protection for Kazaa, BitTorrent; Web shield--monitors and filter all HTTP traffic; NNTP scanner--scans all Usenet Newsgroup traffic and all operations with files on PC; Boot time scanner--scans disks in the same way and in the same time as Windows CHKDSK does.
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Editor's review of Avast
This impressive software provides the same steadfast protection of well-known antivirus programs, yet it's surprisingly free.
Avast Home Edition guards your PC and the network with multiple shields that scan executables and files. You can select parameters for scanning, and even choose wildcards to exclude specific file types. You can adjust the sensitivity level for the program's detectors when it comes to scanning downloaded files, instant messages, e-mails, and a host of P2Ps. Its efficient interface opens up window after window to tweak its settings to your liking, for novice to advanced level protection.
Though it took quite some time to run, we're impressed with this application's boot-time antivirus scan. Fortunately, if you're in a pinch you can bypass it. If malicious contents are detected, Avast comes to the rescue with handy virus cleanup tools. Some decent PC controls are even handed out here. You can block certain URLs and file operations, such as writing to files or even renaming, deleting or formatting them.
With immediate real-time protection, clockwork updates, and much more, this free software is highly regarded in our book.
Microsoft Windows Defender
Publisher's description of Microsoft Windows Defender
Note: This product requires Windows validation. The Download Now link will take you to the Microsoft site for downloading.
Windows Defender is a free program that helps you stay productive by protecting your computer against pop-ups, slow performance and security threats caused by spyware and other potentially unwanted software.
The worldwide SpyNet community plays a key role in determining which suspicious programs are classified as spyware. Microsoft researchers quickly develop methods to counteract these threats, which are automatically downloaded to your PC, so you stay up-to-date.
This latest version of Windows Defender offers a new scanning engine for enhanced performance, simplified user interface and alerts, and support for 64-bit platforms.
This product is free of charge for licensed Windows customers. Users of 64-bit platforms should use WindowsDefenderX64.msi.
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Editor's review of Microsoft Windows Defender
With a full feature set and solid spyware-removal functionality, Windows Defender makes a good choice for keeping your computer clean. Along with a variety of scan options, Defender includes a scheduler, active protection, and a useful set of advanced features. Spyware scan times are reasonably fast and seem thorough. Microsoft has revamped the interface with this version--it includes back and forward buttons (similar to a Web browser) for navigation; and a home button makes it easy for users to get back to the Update definitions screen.
Advanced tools include a Software Explorer for changing security settings for software on your hard drive; and Allowed items, giving you the choice to run applications that Defender has disabled. The scheduler is particularly nice, letting you customize scans at regular intervals, such as setting a deep scan to run every night at 2:00 a.m. By simplifying the interface and doing away with extraneous tools, this version of Windows Defender has become an exceptional spyware remover. Users looking for a solid antispyware utility should consider adding it to their security arsenal.
Avira AntiVir PersonalEdition Classic
Publisher's description of Avira AntiVir PersonalEdition Classic
Avira AntiVir PersonalEdition Classic is a comprehensive, easy to use antivirus program, designed to offer reliable free of charge virus protection to home-users only. Avira offers:
1. Extensive Malware Recognition of viruses, Trojans, backdoor programs, worms, etc.
2. Automatic incremental updates of antivirus signatures, engine and entire software.
3. Permanent virus protection, with Virus Guard real time monitoring.
4. Install and configuration in just a couple of steps, setup to protect your PC in minutes.
5. Virus protection against known and unknown threats, using an advanced heuristic system.
6. Scheduler where you can set the scanner to make automatic virus scans or updates on your system.
7. Forum and phone support, Knowledge Base with virus descriptions available on web site.
8. Vista Support.
9. Rootkit Detection and Removal.
Version 7.06.00.270 adds Rootkit Protection.
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Editor's review of Avira AntiVir PersonalEdition Classic
AntiVir's scans are flexible, allowing the user to fully scan all hard drives, choose a preloaded scan--for rootkits, for example--or customize a scan. Combining the antimalware with the antivirus is a luxury in a free scanner. After testing on several machines no viruses turned up, although several malicious hidden files did rear their heads. The heuristic scan can be turned on or off completely or partially, with three different intensity levels.
The quarantine is extensively thorough, too. The spreadsheet layout displays all relevant information about the quarantined file, and gives you options to scan it again, restore, delete, and more. The scheduler is fully customizable. However, the updater slowly chugs along, but thankfully updated definitions files are available at Avira's Web site. The help features in AntiVir were excellent, as well, with a description box relaying mouse-over information on each feature.
Initial concerns about the real-time Guard protection hamstringing system performance proved groundless. Although we could shut off AntiVir and its Guard, there was no way to remove the icon from the system tray or stop the occasional ad placement by Avira. The Complete Scan is numbingly slow, but it will stop midscan and let you know when it's found a threat. That's good for killing nasties, but it also means that you have to baby-sit it.
AntiVir's volume of features might take a while to get used to, but as long as the definitions file updates keep coming, this app's a keeper.
PC Tools AntiVirus Free Edition
Publisher's description of PC Tools AntiVirus Free Edition
From PC Tools:
PC Tools Antivirus Free Edition protects you against the most nefarious cyber-threats attempting to gain access to your PC and personal details. Going online without protection against the latest fast-spreading viruses, worms and Trojans can result in infections within minutes. Once infected, the virus will usually attempt to spread itself to your friends, family and associates by accessing your e-mail contacts and networked PCs. The infection may also allow hackers to access files on your PC, use it to launch attacks against other computers and Websites or to send mass spam email. That's why PC Tools AntiVirus Free Edition provides protection, with rapid database updates, OnGuard real-time file, Internet & e-mail protection and comprehensive system scanning to ensure your system remains safe and virus free.
Version 4.0 features new improved scan engine, smaller memory footprint and much improved system performance.
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Editor's review of PC Tools AntiVirus Free Edition
This novice-friendly freeware antivirus tool still expects a certain level of sophistication from its users. PC Tools AntiVirus Free Edition's interface presents a minimum amount of buttons to control the application.
Checking your PC status, scanning for viruses, and switching on or off real-time protection are all a matter of clicking a single button. Scan speed and memory requirements are average for applications in this genre. Basic full-scan scheduling is easy to set. The virus database appears comprehensive, and the program automatically downloads updates.
This is the freeware version of the publisher's antivirus tool, but the differences are minor. Updates are downloaded from a slower server with this version, but not so slow as to cause user irritation. E-mail message tagging options are not configurable. E-mail and phone support isn't available.
Our big concern is the very basic Help function. Novice users will find it tough to navigate. Intermediate users will wish for better information before tackling any configuration changes. Nonetheless, users looking for an antivirus tool that can be set with default protection and that updates silently will be happy with this freeware.