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Security Windows Technology

What Free Antivirus Do You Install On Windows? 896

Posted by timothy
from the is-clamav-no-longer-good? dept.
Techman83 writes "After years of changing between AVG Free + Avast, it's coming time to find a new free alternative for friends/relatives who run Windows. AVG and Avast have been quite good, but are starting to bloat out in size, and also becoming very misleading. Avast recently auto updated from 4.8 to 5 and now requires you to register (even for the free version) and both are making it harder to actually find the free version. Is this the end of reasonable free antivirus, or is there another product I can entrust to keep the 'my computer's doing weird things' calls to a minimum?"
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What Free Antivirus Do You Install On Windows?

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  • DBAN (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 18, 2010 @01:46PM (#31526018)

    fdisk works in a pinch.

  • Re:Microsoft (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Locke2005 (849178) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @01:48PM (#31526062)
    I use it at home because it's free, and probably doesn't contain malware itself. Can't really say how effective it is because it has never found any malware on my machines.
  • by Telecommando (513768) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @01:51PM (#31526138)

    Techman83 writes "...AVG and Avast have been quite good, but are starting to bloat out in size..."

    Um, in case you haven't noticed, more viruses, exploits and malware are coming out all the time.
    I'd be very surprised if ANY antivirus software got smaller.

    In fact, I'd be highly suspicious.

  • Re:Uh...Avast? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cp.tar (871488) <> on Thursday March 18, 2010 @01:56PM (#31526256) Journal

    Yes, the registration process has been greatly simplified. If only I didn't have to dig through the options to disable voice announcements...

  • None (Score:2, Insightful)

    by AceJohnny (253840) <.jlargentaye. .at.> on Thursday March 18, 2010 @01:58PM (#31526278) Journal

    Seriously, no antivirus. But then, I only use Windows occasionally to play games. I'm surprised I only had one (1) virus problem over the last 5 years in Windows, which I fixed thanks to a targeted tool. Apart from that, I practice Safe Computing, and that appears to have kept me out of trouble.

    However, for all that I know, my windows system may be part of a few botnets that don't cause me any problems :\

    On my family's computers... I forced Ubuntu upon those I could, and left the others to fend for themselves.

  • Re:Why free? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Brit_in_the_USA (936704) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @02:00PM (#31526314)
    I used to used to get my parents to buy Norton for their home PC and remote support them. But if the years subscription was up they wouldn't have the latest protection until I was around to do the upgrade.

    I eventually went free as Norton started causing more problems than it was supposed to solve. Originally I rolled out AVG but that too had yearly requirements to upgrade. I switched all the family members I support a few months ago to the microsoft solution and "it just works", having the definitions and program updates rolled into the windows update has saved a lot of hassle. It being low resource usage is also a major plus. Everyone is happy.

    ...I wish 3rd party software would integrate into the windows update system, it would save a lot of bother (and pop-us, nag screens and update checking tasks loaded at startup).
  • by C0vardeAn0nim0 (232451) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @02:00PM (#31526324) Journal


    you're gonna get a lot of this here. so let's get this out of the way, shall we ?

    now, if you REALLY need to run some kinds of windows apps, since your computer probably came with windows already, no need to put it to waste. move it to a virtual machine with sun's excellent virtual box, plus fork some more cash for crossover office.

    here at my job, I got fed up with windows, so after the company replaced our old notebooks by newwer dual core machines, i moved to linux, office (i can't get rid of outlook yet.) runs on crossover, some proprietary tools run on windows xp inside virtual box, that i fire up only when needed.

    the good thing about virtual machines is that you can make snapshots. create a snapshot of yours right after installing windows. then use it whenever you need, just be carefull not to open anything funny, avoid using a browser inside it. even if all these precautions you get infected, discard the current state and boot the last clean snapshot.

    everything else, run on the linux host. this way you don't need an anti-virus any better than microsoft's own.

    i never used any virtualization solution on macs, but if vmware's fusion product is anything like the windows/linux counterpart, it certainly have similar functionality.

  • Re:Microsoft (Score:4, Insightful)

    by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @02:01PM (#31526348)

    I mean, if anyone knows about viruses, it'd be Microsoft.

    Caring is another matter. Given their long history of "lightning fast" responses to security problems, I'm not overwhelmed with confidence in their commitment.

  • Re:Uh...Avast? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by magsol (1406749) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @02:03PM (#31526386) Journal
    and I have gotten a virus in ages.

    That you know of.
  • Re:Microsoft (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fm6 (162816) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @02:06PM (#31526440) Homepage Journal

    If a product even bothers to tell you about tracking cookies, it's more about religion than security, and should be avoided.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 18, 2010 @02:06PM (#31526450)

    I still use Spybot S&D, but I also use Symantec Corporate Edition. You really need more than one AV these days. The NoScript plugin for Firefox helps a lot when it comes to random internet browsing. Prevention is the best protection.

  • by Peter Simpson (112887) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @02:06PM (#31526462)

    Why do they make you download it?
    - it's to preserve their "partners'" (Symantec & company) market

    If MS was really, truly concerned about keeping malware off your PC, there'd be a free AV program installed when you got your PC, with automatic updates.
    But that would kill the market for independent AV software. And MS isn't really concerned about malware, except when it influences their profits. MS is certainly not concerned about the quality of your computing experience unless it involves you not purchasing any more MS products. // don't mind me, I run Linux, because I'm fed up with MS. // kids have switched to Apples for the same reason.

  • None... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AdamTrace (255409) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @02:09PM (#31526528)

    At some point, I got fed up with running anti-virus software on my Windows XP PC. The benefits never appeared to outweigh the hassle. And AV software IS a hassle.

    After a year, I can't see any downside to this.

    Note that I'm a smart computer user who keeps everything patched and up to do, as well as knows how to configure a hardware router/firewall.

  • Re:I dont use... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by WinterSolstice (223271) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @02:10PM (#31526546)

    I think your first analogy is more apt.

    Anti-virus may not protect against the 'heavy artillery' style attacks, but it does protect against the millions of older ones.
    Naturally, just like the Marine Corps can't protect people directly from shelling, it can protect them against some of the small arms fire, random bits of flying debris, and (most importantly) help keep them in contact with their command structure.

    Running a computer with no AV exposes you not just to massive malware, it exposes you to everything. It's nice to at least get an alert "Hi, program XYZ is attempting to send emails. Is this ok?" It also provides information back to the vendors (or should) regarding the most commonly found attacks.

    Just because you can't be 100% safe with any given product is no reason to abandon it entirely. You should still wear pants even though they don't stop bullets :)

  • AVG + Common sense (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SheeEttin (899897) <> on Thursday March 18, 2010 @02:11PM (#31526556) Homepage
    I use AVG's free edition for on-access scanning, just for a little extra protection, because I am generally able to avoid getting infected with anything. (Even if something does slip by me, I can often track it down through a service it installs, entry in startup lists, or running processes.)
    If I'm downloading something that has a big potential for being a virus (e.g. a no-CD crack), I'll scan it manually with AVG, and also upload it to a scanning service like [] or [], which take a file and put it through a number of anti-virus products.

    Natually, AVG has also been making it harder to find the free edition. They, of course, want you to buy the full AVG Internet Security package. (To find AVG Free, you have to go to [], and look for the less-flashy, more hidden buttons.)
  • by kgo (1741558) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @02:13PM (#31526584) Homepage

    It's also the whole monopoly thing. They got into big trouble for bundling a free browser into windows. Because, I mean, what OS actually comes with a browser? (Of course things were a little different in 1995.)

  • by TheNumberless (650099) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @02:16PM (#31526650)
    You mean I can download my anti-virus software from an oddly named third party that I've never heard of? Forgive me if I pass.
  • by adwarf (1002867) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @02:16PM (#31526654)
    More likely, they don't want to find themselves with another antitrust suit from the western governments.
  • Re:Uh...Avast? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pojut (1027544) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @02:17PM (#31526676) Homepage

    Yeah...if I'm gaming, I want to game. There are enough configuration issues as it is running them in their native environment...I don't need to be adding WINE into the mix.

    I run Linux on my laptops, but my gaming rig runs Windows 7.

    Viruses? I only see viruses when I'm cleaning out friends' Windows machines. Nobody else gets viruses.

    I only see viruses when I'm cleaning out machines belonging to friends that surf the web willy-nilly without using common sense.

  • Re:None (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 18, 2010 @02:18PM (#31526688)

    Ditto, I have not (personally) used AV for ~10 years. Yet to see a virus. Most vulnerable point would be running cracked game EXEs (makes me nervous, I crack them myself when I can; otherwise, I scan them online). Browsing => VM or other limited user account.

    Is it bad that I consider AV products worse than the viruses themselves?

    I wouldn't say that I have never been rooted however. Rootkits are extremely hard to detect unless you know exactly what you are looking for. And fwiw, neither have I seen unusual network traffic. Though one that calls home 1x/24hrs could easily bypass that.

  • Re:Uh...Avast? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GIL_Dude (850471) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @02:18PM (#31526700) Homepage
    I'll second the plug for MS Security Essentials. My current machine came with a three year subscription to McAfee. It was basically "free to me" - but it was utter crap. It wanted me to reboot about once a week to install something (at one point they even emailed everyone registered with a "we're sorry" note because it went through 2 weeks of a reboot every day). I removed it in favor of another "free to me" version - Symantec. That one was because our work license has provisions for home use. It was better than McAfee in that it didn't ever ask for a reboot, but as people know it slows your machine down more than it should. As soon as MS Security Essentials shipped, I dumped that "free to me" Symantec and have never looked back. My wife, both kids, and my machine are all running MSE. I even signed up for the perpetual beta so I am testing the newest version on the machine I am typing this on. I really wouldn't even bother with any other one at this point.
  • Re:Uh...Avast? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Pojut (1027544) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @02:22PM (#31526772) Homepage

    ...seriously? Conflicker? Dude. There are many ways to prevent Conflicker at this point, the easiest of which involves a patch directly from Microsoft.

    No offense to you or your lady, but you should teach her safer browsing habits.

  • Re:Uh...Avast? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kelbear (870538) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @02:25PM (#31526844)

    Because hearing "VIRUS DATABASE HAS BEEN UPDATED" is a moodkiller during sex.

  • Re:None... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by QuoteMstr (55051) <> on Thursday March 18, 2010 @02:28PM (#31526908)

    That's right. If you:

    • run as a non-administrator;
    • keep your software updated;
    • don't run suspicious code;
    • and don't use known-buggy programs like Internet Explorer

    why would you be more insecure under Windows than you be doing the same thing under OS X or Linux? Sure, the greater market share of Windows leads to more effort being put into creating malware for it, and that presumably increases the overall risk slightly. But that's a minor point. In general terms, used properly, a Windows system running without an antivirus package is adequately secure.

    The problem is that Windows users tend to have terrible security hygiene. They turn security features off, never update, and click the dancing bunnies []. That's a separate, social issue. Never try to apply a technical solution to a social problem.

    These days, the Windows security model is pretty good; you can attach a security descriptor to practically any kernel object, and the NT kernel has supported ACLs since day one. Slashdot needs to stop living in 1999. We're not talking about Windows 98. You can't crash a machine by pinging it, and it doesn't blue screen every day. Hell, you can even keep it up long than 49.7 days!

    Bashing Windows today for the faults of the system a decade just makes you look ridiculous. It's like bashing Linux for not having hardware hot-plugging, or bashing Macs for not having preemptive multitasking. It's ludicrous. You want to bash Microsoft for pervasive DRM? Fine. You want to bash them for outrageous market segmentation? You want to bash them for their traditional embrace-extend-extinguish approach to standards? Fine. Want to bash them for still not having a real package manager in the OS? fine. Those are all still issues. But security and robustness aren't.

  • by nsstrunks (1763352) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @02:33PM (#31527002) Homepage
    I don't see how the topic of different OSes relates to the topic of AV on a specific OS.
  • Re:Microsoft (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bemymonkey (1244086) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @02:46PM (#31527288)

    That's because Windows 7 with 1GB of RAM is like crawling through a tar pit... the additional performance hit from MSE won't really be noticable.

    I'm running two systems with Win7, one with 2GB of RAM (ran on 1GB for a while... that was horrible) and one with 4GB, and both of them take a noticable performance hit with MSE running actively in the background. However, that performance hit is neglible compared to programs like AVG or Avira...

  • Re:I dont use... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by qortra (591818) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @02:54PM (#31527470)

    just like the Marine Corps can't protect people directly from shelling, it can protect them against some of the small arms fire, random bits of flying debris

    Another effective way not to be shelled, shot, or hit by debris is to stay out of war zones. This is one of the ways in which suburban dwellers can justify not wearing body armor (except those living in Gary Indiana). Similarly, I choose not to use a virus scanner either because I find it cumbersome, and a poor performance to safety ratio.

    It's nice to at least get an alert "Hi, program XYZ is attempting to send emails Is that nice? I find that when my computer constantly questions me about what I am trying to do, I can become annoyed. For instance, I much prefer my Debian based systems that don't generate a pop-up every time one of my programs tries to make an incoming tcp port live.

    You should still wear pants even though they don't stop bullets

    I guess it's your turn to make an unsuitable analogy (perhaps the emoticon indicates you were doing so purposefully, I can't tell). Not all people should wear pants. Those who should wear them do so because it because (a) it's cold, (b) social pressures encourage modesty in some venues, or (c) local laws or dress codes sometimes require them. None of those has to do with safety. Virus checkers, unlike pants, don't really have any upsides beyond the supposed safety factors - don't pretend that any AV software is nearly as versatile as a comfortable pair of jeans.

  • Re:Microsoft (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Feanturi (99866) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @03:10PM (#31527826)
    My favorite "security threat" found on my PC once was in a keygen. I think it was AVG that "identified" it as "harmful" due to being a keygen. The extended details said that the "threat" to my PC was that it would allow unauthorized use of software. Oooh, scary! Also, VirusTotal is awesome.
  • Re:I dont use... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dskzero (960168) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @03:35PM (#31528354) Homepage
    You're talking as if you only get virus while actively looking for them.
  • Re:Uh...Avast? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 18, 2010 @04:08PM (#31528896)

    So did he return the favor by showing you where to find disease free hookers and needles?

  • Re:Uh...Avast? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by c++0xFF (1758032) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @04:18PM (#31529076)

    I had a similar realization once. The way I explain it:

    Antivirus == Washing your hands
    Software Patches == Regular doctor visits

    On the other hand:

    Shady porn sites == Cheep hookers
    Clicking random links == Sharing needles

    A few easy prevention techniques plus avoiding the "seedier" places go a long way.

  • Re:Microsoft (Score:2, Insightful)

    by h3 (27424) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @04:24PM (#31529178) Homepage Journal
    I never used an AV product at all at home. Using most of them, the cure is worse than the disease. Many viruses use less resources than McAfee and Norton.

    If you think the only problem with viruses is that they slow down *your* computer, and that since they slow it down less an AV solution it is preferable, then I wish you'd unplug from the Internet.

  • Re:Microsoft (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 18, 2010 @05:38PM (#31530166)

    If a product even bothers to tell you about tracking cookies, it's more about privacy than security...

    Fixed that for you.

  • Re:I don't (Score:1, Insightful)

    by axor1337 (1278448) <> on Thursday March 18, 2010 @07:20PM (#31531148) Homepage
    YOU'RE an Idiot, 100% completely retarded. I think our a liar and know nothing about IT, Antivirus apps are essential. yes Norton, Mcafee and Trendmicro are a huge hassle and slow down your computer and don't work worth a shit, but AVG, AVAST, and MSE are all light weight free and easy to use. MSE is my fav. you need to stop giving bad advice.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 18, 2010 @07:29PM (#31531250)

    Between my job, some side work and friends and family I manage close to 70 Windows machines. I have been doing IT since 1992.

    Congrats, welcome to being a Junior Systems Administator.

    When I am asked this question my answer is always this. None. I think antivirus is more trouble than it is worth. First any new viruses will be undetected, second the pain of actually running anti virus outweighs any marginal benefit received from it.

    The crimeware industry is collectively thanking you for spreading your fantastic and totally bogus advice. Running a Windows box sans AV might be fine for you because you're so smart and have never found a rootkit on your machine, but I suspect your motivation for telling your less aware friends to use no AV whatsoever on a Windows machine is so you can generate some more side work. News Flash: Running a non-admin account will not even slow down some of the major botnet penetration rates - Depending upon what other apps you have loaded on your machine, Zeus can pwn non-admin run machines too, smart guy - Google "privilege escalation". At least with some freebie AV, you might be able to catch the variant that came out yesterday, but probably not the one that came out an hour ago...better then nothing at all which is what your advice amounts to...but telling them to run something that's even free, or simply educating them about defensive internet use is too much trouble for you, in your mind. A screen door and a clue is better then no damned door and at all.

    Your security insights to the those who don't know any better then to listen to you is dangerous, and your suspect motivation is even worse. You'd be better off with the standard "Install Linux and you don't need AV" or "Get a Mac" spiel or better yet, take your advice back to 1993-1994 (and you were in IT then, so you say) when it was last actually correct.....that's about the last time Windows was safe from *requiring* some sort of AV. You've probably never seen what happens to someone who's great at what they do in the outside world (IE rather intelligent), and has a semi-clue with computers, have to put their lives back together after their identity was sold for a pittance (the going rate for a stolen identity is around $15.00 USD) after opening a well engineered landmine of a mail. All that horseshit you see about LifeLock and whatnot....Doesn't do jack squat after you've had your life pwnd. It's pretty sad that one little click on an email with a zipped EXE masked as a PDF attachment that was on a up to date XP machine with Automatic Updates on with an exipred licensed AV client and an older version of Acrobat Reader installed run with non-admin rights can have such ugly up to date freebie AV client would probably have caught this little piece of trash....or have you told friends that Acrobat 7.0 Reader isn't really all that safe? I was told about it afterwards "when I clicked on the PDF it didn't do anything or launch Acrobat so I didn't think anything of it", she not knowing it had done its silent install and began mining away on her machine and was happy to report back her banking details to the C&C server. Her understanding of a virus was it would immediately alert her that she caught something like spring porn pop-ups all over the place (this isn't 2004 anymore) or change her background and tell her she was infected (she must have caught SpyFalcon or one of those fake AV types of rogue scareware once before) - do you educate your friends and users that these new viruses do whatever they can to not announce their presence, or is that also too much trouble for you? You were the hero with your free online tool and caught the one that did,'s your cookie. Did you get all of it.......?

    We live in a crime filled world, where some smart folks want to do as little as possible to make the fat bank and don't give a shit who's lives they ruin. Your identity sells for next-to-nothing on the underground n

Machines certainly can solve problems, store information, correlate, and play games -- but not with pleasure. -- Leo Rosten