Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Home Anti-Virus is Completely Free, as it should be

It's a real travesty that many home users are for paying for anti-virus protection on subscription, not realising they can obtain solid anti-virus protection for free. Commercial anti-virus vendors have been snaring home users for years by providing their commercial AV applications with new PCs, often pre-installing their anti-virus application onto the PC operating system itself as a free trial. Once the free trial has finished, home users end up signing up to the AV on subscription through fear, not believing they have any other free alternatives for anti-virus protection. However home anti-virus protection should be completely free, and it is completely free.

For many years it has been long my personal belief home anti-virus protection should be provided completely free of charge, and in the case of Windows Operating System (OS); the OS most plagued by viruses, worms, spyware and other malicious software (malware), it should be built into the operating system itself.
Malware: A term which is short for Malicious Software, the collective term for describing Viruses, Worms, Trojans, Keyloggers, Spyware, and Adware.

I believe free and built in anti-virus is a necessity to protect the individual PCs of non-security savvy home user, and to protect everyone else on the Internet as well. As 100,000s of PCs infected by malware affects and impacts everyone online. Malware infected PCs are used for everything bad, from sending spam Email messaging on mass, to the mass propagation of malware, to highly intricate network based attacks. It has been a long personal criticism I had of Microsoft, in that they didn’t provide built in anti-malware (anti-virus) protection right out of the box, well until now.

Yes the good news is at last Microsoft has finally got around to providing free anti-virus and anti-spyware with their Windows operation systems for home and small business users, the only proviso is you actually own a licensed copy. Over the last six months I have been trying the Microsoft anti-virus protection on a multiple of Windows operating systems and different hardware, and I have to say I have found it to be up to the job, and indeed I would say it’s on par with most home commercial anti-virus applications, in fact in one test I found it scans much faster than some of the commercial AV products. Now commercial anti-virus vendors will claim their specific product is better than everybody else’s anti-virus application, and that their product provides extra security protection, has won awards etc. However the truth of the matter is no anti-virus application can ever guarantee 100% protection, and it is a dangerous game to play to assume one anti-virus application protects better than another, given the fluid nature of malware threats which changes by the hour.

It is true many anti-virus products come packaged with additional security protection for your money, some are more useful than others. Many of these additional services such as web filtering and anti-spam can be obtained for free elsewhere. For instance home users should be aware Microsoft Windows 7 provides web filtering out of the box while email providers such as Google's Gmail have pretty good anti-spam built in these days. And as for operating system firewall protection, well that's already built into the Windows operating systems. Some of these extras can actually unnecessarily slow your PC operation down for very little security benefit, especially on older PCs.

Free Anti Virus: Microsoft Security Essentials

Aside from the Microsoft offering, there are several other good free Windows based anti-virus applications available, which have been around for a number of years, such as AVG and AVAST. However for home users I would recommend installing and trying out the Microsoft anti-virus application first, which known as Security Essentials. But that’s my personal opinion, the important thing is you install and use an anti-virus application on your Windows PC, regardless of who provides it, as it’s a vital component of home PC security.

My recommended Free Anti-Virus\Anti-malware Products are:

Microsoft Windows Security Essentials
Anti-Virus & Anti-Spyware
Requires licensed copy of  Windows
Requires Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7
Windows XP, a PC with a CPU clock speed of 500 MHz or higher, and 256 MB RAM or higher.

Anti Virus Protection

Anti-Virus Protection

Spybot Search & Destroy
Anti-Spyware/Anti-Adware Protection & Spyware/Adware Removal

Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool

Finally I would like to stress the importance of ensuring your anti-virus application receives updates automatically, without automatically updating enable with your anti-virus application, your PC won't be protected against the latest threats.  And equally the important, is to check Microsoft security updates (patches) are automatically downloaded and updated upon their release, these updates tend to be released on at least monthly basis.


stereoplegic said...

Personally, I think avast! should be at the top of that list. Immunet Protect, while still in beta, is an excellent, lightweight product that plays nicely with many existing AVs (confirmed w/ avast!) for an additional layer of security. http://immunet.com
You forgot to mention Avira and Panda Cloud Antivirus. I'm not a big fan of either, but they're both far better than AVG Free or MS Security Essentials. Spybot (and AdAware, for that matter) was once a great product, but that is no longer the case. The spyware protection built into avast! is better, without requiring additional resources.

microdave said...

I agree that AVG isn't what it was, I use Avast! now. Also whilst the Windows firewall may give basic protection it doesn't allow you control over which programmes have internet access in the way that 3rd party 2 way firewall software does. I'm dammed if I'm going to have Windows Media Player try and access the internet every time I use it just to play a video clip, for instance!

Free Antivirus Download said...

There is no difference between home antivirus and normal antivirus. free antivirus download

Dave Whitelegg said...

There is a different in deploying and managing anti-virus within a medium to large business setting is to that of a home AV. For instance the centralised management and reporting capabilities of the AV product has a significant bearing on which product you'd select.

For home users I still stand by using M$ free Security Essentials instead of any commercial or other free tool. No AV product is significantly better than any other, none can ever provide 100% protection from malware, however you certainly wouldn't want go without any AV protection on a Microsoft system.

essayhogwarts.com said...

I would say Avast! is way better then AVG. I personally have seen AVG not catch a lot of malware, but Avast! will alert you even as the malware tries at enter your system.