Best free antivirus'/security software for Windows

I have been using AVG free for about 5 years now and sometimes get Spybot S&D every now and the to do a tidy up. I have also been using Avast free on a media centre laptop just to try it out. I was wondering what the consensus is on the best out there. I don't want to pay for security software and the free ones have served me really well, and if I do get a virus/spyware I know how to remove it and fix any problems.

Because I've been happy using AVG for so long and haven't kept up to date with the latest new software out there is there any new ones that are worth taking a look at - maybe ones that have less of a footprint but do the job just as well/a little better?

I hate the fact I have to have this kind of software on my computers that effectively eat performance, even if it is only a little

Fair enough, looks like a good website for reviews, just like Techradar is. I was just wondering also what people are using and what's considered the best by actual users.

EDIT: Can't see a report specifically for Free ones.

I'm pretty sure the answer to this question (on GWJ) has always been to just use Microsoft Security Essentials. It's awesome and very uninvasive. I've never had an issue with it.

Avast
MSE

Malwarebytes
Spybot

MSE isn't the Gold standard, but for a free program that doesn't use a ton of resources its great. Avast has too many false positives for me.

MSE probably requires using your head a little. I don't delve into the darker corners of the internet.

Yeah, MSE and Malwarebytes. Avast is a decent alternative.

AVG is really not good. Don't think it has been since version 2 or 3.

tuffalobuffalo wrote:

MSE probably requires using your head a little. I don't delve into the darker corners of the internet.

Actually, it is the closest to a no-brainer I've ever seen. I've been extremely happy with it. I've been running it for quite a while and we use it for our remote access machines at work. I've also had my worst "family support" cases install it. Our least technical employees and my mom can can manage it with ease, it's extremely non-intrusive (it has never required a reboot for a signature update for example), and it has made issues with their machines from picking up Lord knows what from all over nearly disappear. It doesn't bury you in false positives, either.

I have been using zonealarm due to the integrated firewall.

Zone alarm... now there's a name I haven't heard in years.

Pretty much everything has a built in firewall now, including windows itself since XP SP2.

I didn't even know Zone Alarm did anything but be a firewall. Huh, they've tried making it into an all in one solution.

tuffalobuffalo wrote:

I'm pretty sure the answer to this question (on GWJ) has always been to just use Microsoft Security Essentials. It's awesome and very uninvasive. I've never had an issue with it.

AV Comparatives is the best place to check for 100% unbiased coverage but just for the two cents of someone who deals with this stuff a lot, I am no longer recommending MSE. It's accuracy rating has taken a dive off a cliff lately, to the point where it went from having the second-highest rating on AV Comparatives to not even being considered. I have several clients who have gotten viruses lately that just slipped right by it. Their engine doesn't appear to be up to snuff any more and needs a re-write. Apparently the new version of Avast is very good both for performance and accuracy but I can't stand what they've done to the UI. It constantly nags you to buy the full version, has really obnoxious popups that you can't disable in the free version and it's just way too busy. Honestly, the best product by far right now is Kaspersky. It's not free but if you look around, keys for it can often be found super cheap. If you want free, I'd suggest Avast but if you can find it cheap, get Kaspersky. You could do worse for MSE but if viruses are something you're actively concerned about (I personally haven't run an AV product in years but then again, I do this for a living), I would avoid it. Just my two cents, that's about all they're worth.

Parallax Abstraction wrote:
tuffalobuffalo wrote:

I'm pretty sure the answer to this question (on GWJ) has always been to just use Microsoft Security Essentials. It's awesome and very uninvasive. I've never had an issue with it.

AV Comparatives is the best place to check for 100% unbiased coverage but just for the two cents of someone who deals with this stuff a lot, I am no longer recommending MSE. It's accuracy rating has taken a dive off a cliff lately, to the point where it went from having the second-highest rating on AV Comparatives to not even being considered. I have several clients who have gotten viruses lately that just slipped right by it. Their engine doesn't appear to be up to snuff any more and needs a re-write. Apparently the new version of Avast is very good both for performance and accuracy but I can't stand what they've done to the UI. It constantly nags you to buy the full version, has really obnoxious popups that you can't disable in the free version and it's just way too busy. Honestly, the best product by far right now is Kaspersky. It's not free but if you look around, keys for it can often be found super cheap. If you want free, I'd suggest Avast but if you can find it cheap, get Kaspersky. You could do worse for MSE but if viruses are something you're actively concerned about (I personally haven't run an AV product in years but then again, I do this for a living), I would avoid it. Just my two cents, that's about all they're worth. :)

Good to know! For me personally, I'm not really concerned with viruses, so I'll just stick with MSE since I don't notice it being there. I usually know what I'm doing.

Indeed good info on MSE, as I thought it was more then sufficient. I guess not so much anymore.

Sparhawk wrote:

Indeed good info on MSE, as I thought it was more then sufficient. I guess not so much anymore.

That's the thing, especially with computer threats you need to keep abreast of the situation as it does change fairly rapidly.

Parallax Abstraction wrote:
tuffalobuffalo wrote:

I'm pretty sure the answer to this question (on GWJ) has always been to just use Microsoft Security Essentials. It's awesome and very uninvasive. I've never had an issue with it.

AV Comparatives is the best place to check for 100% unbiased coverage but just for the two cents of someone who deals with this stuff a lot, I am no longer recommending MSE. It's accuracy rating has taken a dive off a cliff lately, to the point where it went from having the second-highest rating on AV Comparatives to not even being considered. I have several clients who have gotten viruses lately that just slipped right by it. Their engine doesn't appear to be up to snuff any more and needs a re-write. Apparently the new version of Avast is very good both for performance and accuracy but I can't stand what they've done to the UI. It constantly nags you to buy the full version, has really obnoxious popups that you can't disable in the free version and it's just way too busy. Honestly, the best product by far right now is Kaspersky. It's not free but if you look around, keys for it can often be found super cheap. If you want free, I'd suggest Avast but if you can find it cheap, get Kaspersky. You could do worse for MSE but if viruses are something you're actively concerned about (I personally haven't run an AV product in years but then again, I do this for a living), I would avoid it. Just my two cents, that's about all they're worth. :)

Thanks for the info, I'll have a good look around and see just how cheap I could get it for, if not then I'll switch to Avast for all my PC's and Lappy's. I've been using it on my media centre and I've found it OK pop ups wise. Not too bothered about the Ads because that's what AVG have been doing for years.

Thanks for the info, Parallax, but I'm going to keep recommending MSE to my tech-averse relatives. It's just so convenient to be able to say: "If that green thingie next to the clock turns orange, click it and hit 'scan'."

No use in recommending a better AV if they won't use it properly.

I agree that MSE is one of the best in terms of minimalist, functional UIs. Kasperky's is way too busy too. The AV vendors are all paranoid that people will think their product isn't worth buying if it doesn't regularly show it's doing something. I do wish a product with a better scanning engine also had MSE's UI. I really hope that Microsoft gets the engine back in shape because I'd love to recommend MSE again.

The thing that annoys me about the free AVs, using Avast as an example is that they want you to register yearly (not an outrageous demand, given that it's free and a simple process) and the prompt screen to remind you about it is really hard to distinguish from a pop-up scam. Avast's one has had me scratching my head for a few minutes trying to decide if I want to trust it.

Scratched wrote:

The thing that annoys me about the free AVs, using Avast as an example is that they want you to register yearly (not an outrageous demand, given that it's free and a simple process) and the prompt screen to remind you about it is really hard to distinguish from a pop-up scam. Avast's one has had me scratching my head for a few minutes trying to decide if I want to trust it.

That's the one big block to me recommending Avast to non-technical users. Because it's a guaranteed recipe for their computer to start going without AV exactly 365 days later.

So evidently even MS is conceeding that only using MSE isn't the best way to go anymore.

mrtomaytohead wrote:

So evidently even MS is conceeding that only using MSE isn't the best way to go anymore.

No good Microsoft product goes un-ruined.

I'm sure not many here are still using it, but if you are on XP MSE tends to max out the CPU for no apparent reason (on the installs I've done).

I use MSE on Windows 7/8, but after the posts and checking out the link above I'm rethinking that and am going to check out Avast.

So now that MSE is out, what's the best thing out there?

Kaspersky Anti-Virus is cheap and works great. My only gripe with it is it's very slow to startup but once it does, it's light and very effective. We purchased the corporate edition (same engine) which we've been rolling out slowly and are pleased with so far. Kaspersky also gave us a bunch of home licenses to hand out to users and they've been liking it too. I've largely given up on recommending the free ones. AVG is garbage, MSE has become garbage, Avast has a terribly naggy UI and Avira has pop-up ads every time it updates.

Avast is the best free one if you are okay putting up with it flashing crap at you once or twice a day.

You updated your database? Fantastic, Avast. You do that every day. Jeez.

When you say it is slow to start up, what do you mean?

Also, how is it on older laptops? I like MSE because it doesn't slow my laptop down at all that I can tell.

mudbunny wrote:

When you say it is slow to start up, what do you mean?

Also, how is it on older laptops? I like MSE because it doesn't slow my laptop down at all that I can tell.

At least with my experiences with the business Kaspersky so far, when you boot up a system fresh, it takes a while for the application to fully initialize and your hard drive will be thrashing while it does it. After that point however, at least our work machines perform no worse than they did with MSE and unlike newer MSE versions, Kaspersky actually works. We actually have a 3 hour session with Kaspersky Professional Services on the 18th to fine tune our setup before we do a mass deployment so I'm going to ask them then if there's a way to tweak the settings to the startup is quicker.