Get top-flight antivirus without spending a dime

Scott spanbauer By Scott Spanbauer

Protect yourself from viruses and other online threats while skipping the annual subscription fees.

These three antivirus freebies may lack some of the costly bells and whistles (and associated system slowdowns) of commercial alternatives, but they stop malware unobtrusively.

No frills but first-rate virus detection

As a long-standing tightwad, I’ve gone years — decades even — without paying an antivirus-software subscription. First off, my browsing and e-mail behavior reduce the threat of attacks: I avoid using Internet Explorer and recently switched from Outlook to Gmail. Also, my home network uses a hardware router that blocks access to my PCs from the Internet.

Unfortunately, these steps alone won’t prevent every Internet-borne threat. Venturing onto the Web with no virus protection feels like that bad dream where you realize you’ve gone out in public dressed only in your underwear.

To avoid this overexposed sensation, I use a free antivirus program. Until recently, my favorite antivirus freeware was Grisoft’s AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition. Grisoft recently introduced version 8 of the program and discontinued virus-definition updates for the previous version 7.5.

Instead of downloading and installing the new version of AVG, I took another look at two other free antivirus utilities that I had used prior to switching to Grisoft’s offering: AntiVir Personal from Avira and Alwil’s Avast! Antivirus Home Edition.

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2008-06-26: