Top Free Antivirus Software

There is a lot of antivirus software available on the market. A good portion of it offers protection, but you have to pay for that protection. Thankfully, there are some antivirus/antimalware applications that you don’t have to pay for to get decent protection. We’ll take a look at some of them, and rate them according to their effectiveness and speed. Some of them we’ve chosen not to list, because even though they are free, their detection rates are subpar, they throttle the system so badly that it’s not worth installing them, or there are no free versions of said product.

In another article, we discussed that TrendMicro offers an application called HijackThis. They also offer a service called “Housecall”, which is a free online version of their top-rated antivirus scanner, and there is also a 30 day trial version as well. The only downside is that in order to use TrendMicro’s Housecall, you’ll need an internet connection, a minimum of 200MB of free disk space and at Windows XP, Vista, or 7. The scans are typically quick with almost no false positives, regardless if you use Housecall or the 30 day trial version of their software. TrendMicro’s detection rate is one of the highest on the market with an average of 99.5%

Clamwin is another great antivirus solution that implements ClamAV.net‘s open source database. Admittedly, it doesn’t have realtime protection or as many threat definitions as some of its competitors, advanced users have the ability to add their own customized definitions to the database, which greatly increases the chances of catching malware. The speed and efficiency of which ClamWin implements ClamAV.net‘s database is nothing to be scoffed at either. Due to the fact that ClamAV.net is basically an open source project, new features and improvements are constantly being added and improved upon. There are also dozens of various third party projects involving ClamAV, which extends support to several operating systems, and not just windows. Although it may not be THE top notch client, for those who are looking for a solution to add their own level of expertise to, ClamWin/ClamAV is definitely something worth looking into. Detection rates vary depending on how modified the databases are from user to user. On average, one can expect the detection rates to fall within the range of 90%-92% against active threats.

Much like TrendMicro’s Housecall, Kasperksy also offers an anti-hijacking/rootkit tool called TDSSKiller. Their most prominent product, however, is their virus scanner. Kaspersky offers a 30 day trial of their software, much like TrendMicro, and they also offer a free online scan as well (available at www.kaspersky.com/virusscanner). Kaspersky AntiVirus has a well-earned reputation for being one of the top antivirus products in the industry, and with good reason. Even though their scantimes are around 20-30 minutes (sometimes more, depending on the system and files being scanned for), they have a very low rate of false positives, and in most tests, KAV usually averages around 98% when detecting active threats. Most of the other competitors fall significantly short of this by detecting anywhere from 88% to 95% of active threats.

BitDefender is another product worthy of notice as well, because of its high detection rates. BitDefender offers a free version of its product to consumers who are interested in free, basic protection. BitDefender Free Edition does not offer realtime protection, and sometimes slows system performance a bit, but it offers detection rates slightly higher than that of Kaspersky, while being slightly lower than TrendMicro, placing it at a comfortable mix between its two major competitors.

While all of these products listed have their advantages and disadvantages, I would recommend that the average user has at the very least either BitDefender or ClamWin installed, while making use of TrendMicro and Kaspersky’s online scanners. With all four of these products at one’s disposal, there isn’t much that can get through this line of defense and compromise your system.

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