Monday, June 02, 2008

Freeware: Antivirus for Personal Use

Antivirus applications were always a critical element for computer beginners and for people who might expose themselves to threads by downloading something from not so much trusted websites. Almost 10 years ago I made my first choice of choosing antivirus software. There was not so much choice at that time. Most popular ones were Norton Antivirus and McAfee. I talked to my friends (there was not so much available internet at that time to read the reviews) and Norton became my choice. And it was my choice for a very long time. It was about a year ago or so when we got a notebook for Marie and I really thought to look if there is a freeware version of the antivirus protection software for the home/personal use. I also noticed that the thing I do not like in Norton is the interface. Just like when I dropped WinAmp and started using Foobar, that says, "The quality of the sound is not skinnable," Norton provides a pretty heavy interface for the application, that loads pretty slow and has a heavy installation pack while you access it not so often and usually just see the icon in the notification area. So, "The quality of the security is not skinnable" either. Obviously, it is a matter of personal preference.

So, going back to the Antivirus software, I am currently using Avast. That was the first software that would work with Vista x64 that I have at home. After reading a review on 3dnews, I am thinking about giving a try to another antivirus software (that was actually almost hated in the computer lab during my college years for not being able to handle/scan the macros in the Word and Excel files but I think they had improved during the last years).

Anyways, if you are looking for a free antivirus solution for home, it might be a good choice. It's free for personal use, it is rather light and has a good reputation.

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Levon Levonian said...

Choosing an anti-virus is very tricky. It is not like with all other software, e.g. image editors, where you can install one, immediately open a sample picture, and see if your chosen editor can do this and that. The anti-virus is put to the test only when some major security threat strikes. I remember choosing McAfee back in 1998, only to discover several months later that it didn't pass the big test. The ubiquitous CIH95 virus infected many files on my computer and McAfee was helpless to fix them. Norton Antivirus not only installed on an infected system, but also fixed all the infected files. From that moment on I stayed with Norton. Until they started improving not the scan engine, but "improving" the UI -- every year changing to a new user interface, more and more bloated each time, useless, slower and more resource intensive. After that I switched to Symantec anti-virus and am very happy.
At that time the first "free" anti-virus software started appearing on the market. Many companies chose them because of the "price". I personally believe that it's a bad strategy, but I can't decide for them. Many magazines started writing about antiviruses and compiling the "Best Antivirus" lists. I think that claims that some antivirus is the best are invalid, especially when judging by the price.
I know that the best anti-virus is the one that can protect you against some brand new threat. Alas, there are no such antiviruses in the world yet. The second most important thing is to protect at least against all known threats. That should be a no-brainer -- check against a database of all known threats and just do your job! But even in that not all antiviruses perform properly. The question arises: why buy an antivirus then, if they can't perform? Or, with the so called "free" antiviruses: why waste computer resources on a piece of junk that just sits there in memory?
Some of my friends told me to my big suprprise that they don't use antiviruses at all. After giving it some thought I kind of agree with them. If they use a computer just to do their job, never install new and unknown software then they have a greater chance not to catch a virus than people relying on an antivirus, but downloading and installing stuff left and right. But I think that it's still wiser to use an antivirus, just in case, you know. 'Cause those cases can be different. :)

Genadij Trimailov said...

Thanks for the reply. Well, I am not sure where you got your copy of Symantec AntiVirus Corporate Edition but they do not sell it to individuals. The main purpose of the story was to show that some good free antivirus applications exist. For Symantec you will also need to pay for the subscription of the updates which becomes quite a cost. Well, if you paid 100$ for your copy of Symantec, that's good. If not, then I believe your strategy is not fair.

Genadij Trimailov said...

If you are using a freeware antivirus tool but still have a good feeling about Norton/Symantec, there is a free Symantec tool called Norton Security Scan that will load the latest virus definitions and will scan the system at the required time. It does not give a real time protection (it will not scan that are getting saved into the hard drive right away) but it will do a proper normal-symantec-antivirus-like scan upon request without spending any money. Norton Security Scan can be obtained via Google Pack ( There are some other interesting applications for you to look as well.