A Guide to Free Antivirus Software: Page 2
AVG Antivirus Free Edition 2011
The AVG Antivirus Free Edition 2011 provides protection for home users against viruses, spyware, and rootkits. Its security functionality is fairly basic compared to the previous two solutions. Though there are a few notable features:
Link scanner: Displays safety ratings of links in search results to help you identify dangerous sites before you visit them. This is similar to what other antivirus solutions (such as avast) provide.
Desktop gadget: Optional small gadget that remains on the desktop of Windows. You can check the status of AVG, start a scan, and check for updates. There are also shortcuts for Facebook, Twitter, and a search box to use the AVG search engine. But keep in mind, the search box cant use other providers, like Google.
Browser toolbar: Shows the safety rating for the current website youre on. Youll also find an AVG search box and shortcuts to news and weather. It also has an email and Facebook notification feature that could be useful.
PC analyzer: Scans for Windows registry issues, junk files, drive fragmentation, and broken shortcuts, all of which can cause performance issues. But the annoying part is that have to download another utility to fix any found issues. Plus you can only run one free fix then you must purchase it.
Remember, AVG Antivirus Free Edition does not provide sandboxing. If something bad does slip by, it has a much better chance of causing damage. Additionally, it doesnt provide password protection in case you have children or other curious users.
Like avast, AVG doesnt automatically set a weekly scheduled scan. So make sure you do it yourself.
Microsoft Security Essentials
Microsoft now provides an antivirus solution: Microsoft Security Essentials. Its free for home use and for businesses on up to 10 PCs. It includes protection for viruses, spyware, rootkits, and other malware. Its security functionalities are also pretty basic compared to the avast and Comodo solutions we discussed earlier. Though there are two noteworthy features:
Network inspection system: Detects malware infections coming from network and Internet connections before they hit your computer. Behavior monitoring: Identifies and stops suspicious activity or patterns that could be dangerous.
Remember, Microsoft Security Essentials is a very basic solution. Even the two features above lack any logs or settings. Like AVG Antivirus Free Edition, it also doesnt have sandboxing or password protection.
In my review, I found avast Antivirus 6 and Comodo Internet Security 5.3 provide more security features than AVG Antivirus Free Edition 2011 and Microsoft Security Essentials.
Bear in mind, the actual detection and repair performance of each varies, which we didnt get into. For benchmark testing, check out AV-Comparatives, Proactive Security Challenge, Virus Bulletin, or AV-Test. Consider their testing methodology and all features of the product to determine which you think is the most secure and best fit for your home or business.
If your computer is for business use, youre limited to using either Comodo Internet Security with advanced features or Microsoft Security Essentials with basic features. If you have any untrusted users, use a solution with password protection like avast or Comodo.
For the free antivirus programs that dont include a firewall, using just the Windows Firewall in XP and later typically provides enough security. Otherwise, consider a free third-party firewall, such as from Comodo or ZoneAlarm.
Most free solutions also lack SPAM filtering, but many email providers and client applications provide some type of filtering. If not, consider free solutions such as Comodo AntiSpam, Spam Pal, or SpamBytes.
Eric Geier is the founder of NoWiresSecurity, which helps businesses easily protect their Wi-Fi networks with the Enterprise mode of WPA/WPA2 security. He is also a freelance tech writer. Become a Twitter follower or use the RSS feed to keep up with his writings.