Avira vs avast vs AVG vs Panda Cloud vs Bitdefender vs MSE, review of best free anti-virus for Windows [4th Edition]

Here on dotTech, without a doubt one of the most popular questions we are asked is “which anti-virus should I use for my computer — what is the best anti-virus for Windows”? Often times the person asking is looking for a free security solution as opposed to a paid one. To address this question, we have created this review of best free anti-virus program for Windows and are going to directly address the issue of: what is the best free anti-virus program for Windows?

There are quite a few free anti-virus/anti-malware software for Windows. However, we picked what we felt are the top six best free anti-virus programs for Windows, tested them, reviewed then, compared them, and present you with our findings. These six are almost the most popular and most commonly inquired about, hence why we picked them.

Also, to be clear, to be included in this review of best free anti-virus programs for Windows, a program must have live protection features. Many free versions of anti-virus or anti-malware programs only have on demand protection and don’t have live protection (e.g. Emsisoft Anti-Malware), hence they will never be included in this review.

That said, when evaluating best free anti-virus programs and trying to decide which one you want to use, there are two main areas which you should look at: features and performance. So, lets get started.

This review is part of our Best Free Windows Software section. Check out more articles on the best free Windows programs from here.

Table of Contents

Summary of Update

Here at dotTech we’ve been reviewing and comparing the best free anti-virus programs for Windows for over four years. During this time, we’ve updated this review of best free anti-virus program for Windows multiple times; this review of best free anti-virus program for Windows is currently on its 4th Edition (fourth update).

This Summary of Update section provides you with a quick look at the changes we made to this review of review of best free anti-virus program for Windows in our updates.

4th Edition [Most Current Edition]

In the 4th edition of dotTech’s review of best free anti-virus program for Windows, the following changes have been made:

  • We’ve added Panda Cloud Antivirus Free and Bitdefender AntiVirus Free to our review of best free anti-virus program for Windows.

Note: We’ve had requests from people to include Comodo Internet Security, a free security suite that includes anti-virus, in our review of best free anti-virus program for Windows. However, we have not yet added Comodo Internet Security to our review of best free anti-virus program for Windows because we have not been able to find a reliable source that tests the performance of Comodo Internet Security. Comodo Internet Security is neither tested by VirusBulletin nor AV-Comparatives, two of the most trusted anti-virus testing organizations.

Comodo Internet Security is tested by AV-Test, but we don’t trust the results provided by AV-Test. Why? Because we’ve noticed AV-Test’s results have way too much variance in results for anti-virus programs despite doing very frequent and regular tests. In other words, one month you may see Antivirus XYZ perform well and the next month it gives average performance, despite there being no major updates to Antivirus XYZ between the two tests.

We feel either AV-Test has flawed testing methodology or they provide biased results, which is why we are not using their test results for this review of best free anti-virus program for Windows. If anyone can convince us AV-Test results are trustworthy, please do let us know and we will be happy to include Comodo Internet Security into our review of best free anti-virus program for Windows.

  • We’ve added a new Real-World Protection section.
  • We’ve updated all the sections from 3rd edition to reflect changes made in newer versions of each free anti-virus program and newer test results.

3rd Edition

In the 3rd edition of dotTech’s review on Best Free Windows Anti-Virus/Anti-Malware the following changes have been made:

  • Features Comparison section has been updated to reflect new features added to Avira Free, avast! Free, AVG Free, and Microsoft Security Essentials since the 2nd edition of this article was written. All four made tweaks and modifications to their existing features; the major new features are:
    • Avira Free – “WebGuard”
    • avast! Free – Behavior blocker, “Auto Sandbox”, “Script Shield”, “WebRep”
    • AVG Free – Largely unchanged
    • Microsoft Security Essentials – Behavior blocker, “Network Inspection System”
  • Performance Comparison section has been updated to reflect new on-demand and retrospective detection rates for Avira Free, avast! Free, and Microsoft Security Essentials. AVG Free did not participate in the latest retrospective tests so AVG Free’s detection rates have been updated only for on-demand tests.
  • Performance Comparison’s sub-section Speed and Computer Usage has been rewritten with a new source and renamed to Computer Impact.
  • Performance Comparison now includes a new sub-section, Malware Removal Effectiveness.

2nd Edition

In the 2nd edition of dotTech’s review of best free anti-virus program for Windows, the following changes have been made:

  • We’ve added Microsoft Security Essentials to our review of best free anti-virus program for Windows.
  • We’ve updated all the sections from 1st edition to reflect changes made in newer versions of each free anti-virus program and newer test results.

Features Comparison

review_best_free_anti_virus_windows_dotTech

(Click on the chart to view it in full size.)

In terms of features, as you can see in the chart above, all six of the best free anti-virus programs for Windows provide the necessary fundamental protection. However, it is worth noting that neither of the programs provide full/advanced phishing protection; you will have to cough up money for paid versions to get full/advanced phishing protection. Or, you could just be careful about what links you click… and double-check to make sure the website you are at is who it claims to be since phishing success heavily depends on social engineering and user ambivalence.

Furthermore, while all six best free anti-virus programs for Windows provide the fundamentals, avast! is the most notable one for going “above and beyond” the basics and providing a little extra bang for the buck (or lack thereof). In other words, avast! provides more “extra” features than the other five best free anti-virus programs for Windows, although AVG Free also has some nice extras. It also should be noted Avira Free’s “Website Safety Advisor” requires users to install Avira Toolbar, which is powered by Ask.com; avast Free and AVG Free install add-ons/extensions in your browser for their “WebGuard” and “Link Protection” features but those are add-ons/extensions and not toolbars. The difference, of course, is more in appearance than functionality (i.e. avast Free and AVG Free’s add-ons and extensions don’t put a literal toolbar in your browser while AVG Free’s toolbar does) but nonetheless a difference to note.

On the subject of toolbars, aside from its browser add-on/extension for “Link Protection”, AVG Free comes bundled with AVG Secure Search Security Toolbar. AVG Secure Search Security Toolbar is essentially bloatware and is very hard to uninstall once you get it on your computer; in fact, in my experience, the toolbar behaves like malware. If you end up opting to get AVG Free, I highly recommend keeping your eyes open while installing AVG Free and to uncheck and not install AVG Secure Search security Toolbar.

That being said, let me point out a fundamental difference between these best free anti-virus programs for Windows. Avira Free, avast Free, AVG Free, and Microsoft Security Essentials are traditional anti-virus programs; they operate offline, doing all the scanning on your computer and regularly downloading signature database updates. On the other hand, Panda Cloud Free and Bitdefender Free are cloud-based anti-virus programs. Although they both also operate when you don’t have an active internet connection, their main strength is that they leverage the power of the cloud to protect you: most of the hard work and processing is down via the cloud and not your own computer, and you never download any signature databases because it is all hosted in the cloud.

The primary advantage of using cloud-based anti-virus programs is they lessen the load — and slow down your computer less — than traditional anti-virus programs. However, the flip side is, you don’t get as good protection if you don’t have an active internet connection. Enough about that, though — we will talk more details about computer load and protection in the performance section below in this review of best free anti-virus programs for Windows.

Lastly, even though Microsoft Security Essentials is the only one to not prompt users with advertisements, it must be noted that the ads in avast! Free and Bitdefender Free are comparatively non-intrusive and less frequent than the other best free anti-virus programs – they are not as annoying as what Avira Free and AVG Free do.

Before we go on to the next section, I want to point out two unique things about Bitdefender Free as compared to the others.

Firstly, you will notice we did not list Bitdefender Free as having on-demand scanning capabilities. This is because, Bitdefender Free does not have the ability to initiate an on-demand scan of your whole computer — it only has the ability to initiate and on-demand scan of individual folders/files, which we feel is incredibly stupid.

Secondly, Bitdefender Free is an arrogant son of a gun: it does not give you the choice of what to do when an infected file pr website is found. As stated in our full review of Bitdefender Free:

When Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition detects what it feels is a malicious website or malicious file, it automatically blocks the file/website — you are given no ability to override the block. I can understand why Bitdefender behaves like this; they don’t want users to be infected because they wrongly overrode Bitdefender and allowed a malicious file to be executed or a malicious website to be loaded. So is a good thing for the average Joe who has no idea what button to press when prompted with a scary “malware has been detected message”. However, all anti-virus programs, including Bitdefender, are prone to have some false positives. Not giving users the ability to override Bitdefender actions or not giving users the ability to select what they want to do with a suspected malicious file means you simply have to live with any false positives Bitdefender detects, which is very poor form on the part of Bitdefender.

By behaving like this, basically Bitdefender is saying: We are always right and you are too stupid to make your own decisions. So bend over and take it. I don’t know about you but I ain’t bending over, and it has nothing to do with my wife getting jealous.

So while Bitdefender Free may have good features, you are handing over a lot of control to the program.

Performance Comparison

Detection Rates

on_demand_results

retrospective_proactive_results

When viewing the above test results, keep a few things in mind:

  • The On-Demand Anti-Malware Tests were done to see how many malicious files already on the system were detected by these anti-virus programs. With Avira, avast, Panda Cloud, Bitdefender, and MSE with their highest settings and all their features enabled (with all settings set to the highest possible); for AVG, the settings were left at default, which did not include the highest settings. All six programs had an active internet connection during this test, so the anti-virus programs that are heavily cloud-based (e.g. Panda Cloud) may not perform as well while offline.
  • The Retrospective/Proactive Anti-Malware Tests are tests done specifically on the security softwares’ heuristics capabilities; their capabilities to protect against unknown/new malware that have no signatures (aka zero-day attacks). It needs to be mentioned that heuristics is not the only feature that security software use against unknown/new malware. Other feature, such as behavior blocking, also help detect unknown/new malware; however only the heuristics feature (and no other features, such as behavior blocking) was tested in the Retrospective/Proactive Anti-Malware Tests. It is also very important to note that this particular test was done while offline — no active internet connection was available, which is a potential determent to cloud-based AVs. Finally, please note AVG opted out of being tested in the Retrospective/Proactive Anti-Malware Tests because AVG felt their product is heavily based on the cloud and without an active internet connection, it wouldn’t perform well in this test. I personally say this is bullshit because Panda wasn’t afraid to test Panda Cloud Free in this test and Panda Cloud Free is more dependent on the cloud than AVG. But, hey, let’s assume they aren’t trying to hide AVG’s traditionally low performance in heuristics that we’ve seen in past test results.
  • For the On-Demand Anti-Malware Tests
    • Microsoft Security Essentials had “very few” false positives; avast and Bitdefender had “few” false positives; Panda, AVG, and Avira had “many” false positives
  • The On-Demand Anti-Malware Tests test and the Retrospective/Proactive Anti-Malware Tests test are a few months old at the time of this writing. In other words, all six best free anti-virus programs for Windows may have improved (or degraded) their performance since these tests were conducted. Unfortunately, because of the intense work that goes into these tests, the tests are done once or twice every year and these are the latest results we have at our disposal at the time of this writing.
  • Both of the above tests were done with the free versions of avast, Panda Cloud, and MSE: avast Antivirus Free, Panda Cloud Antivirus Free, and Microsoft Security Essentials (which is always free). For Avira, AVG, and Bitdefender, the tests were done with their paid versions: Avira Antivirus Premium, AVG Anti-Virus (Pro), and Bitdefender Anti-Virus+. Please note the free versions of Avira, AVG, and Bitdefender have less features than their paid counterparts, so their performance will be a bit less than the above results show — especially Bitdefender Free, which is more dependent on the cloud than Bitdefender Anti-Virus+ and thus will likely not perform as well when offline, aka would not perform as well in Retrospective/Proactive Anti-Malware Tests. Nonetheless, the results are still important — for the purposes of a simple comparison — as indicators of how the six best free anti-virus programs for Windows perform and are the best and most unbiased test results we have at our disposal at this time. The chart below shows exact version numbers that were tested:

versions_tested

That all being said, the two above mentioned test results tell us one story: the results are a clear indication of Avira’s detection superiority. True, aside from Microsoft Security Essentials which has a significantly low rate of 90.1% and avast which has a not-too-low-still-provides-good-protection-but-is-surprising rate of 96.5% in on demand tests, all of the free anti-virus programs for Window provide excellent protection when doing on demand scans. However, when you factor in the ability to block zero-day attacks (Retrospective/Proactive Anti-Malware Tests), Avira shines above the lot with a commanding 84% block rate of new/unknown malware.

It is important to note that Avira’s high protection comes at a cost: Avira has “very many” false positives. Having very many false positives means Avira will block safe files more often than other anti-virus programs. So while it has the best protection rates, be prepared to use your assessment skills to determine if a file Avira thinks is malicious is actually malicious or not.

If the issue of false positives is important to you, then Microsoft Security Essentials is the best of the lot — but there is a trade-off, you get less false positives and you also get less protection. (Yep, nothing in life is without trade-offs.)

At this point you may be thinking: hang on a second Ashraf, doesn’t Bitdefender have tip-top protection in both on demand and zero-day protection tests? This is true; Bitdefender does show excellent protection rates — in fact, Bitdefender’s protection against new/unknown malware is better than Avira’s as per these tests. But keep in mind, the tests were done using Bitdefender Anti-Virus+ not Bitdefender Antivirus Free (aka Bitdefender Free).

Typically, as I’ve said above, the difference between paid and free versions of each anti-virus program is not important for the purposes of our simple analysis to try to determine which free anti-virus program is the best. We are, after all, using the best data results we have at hand. In this particular case, however, it is important to differentiate between Bitdefender Anti-Virus+ and Bitdefender Free for the Retrospective/Proactive Anti-Malware Tests. Why? Because there was no active internet connection while Retrospective/Proactive Anti-Malware Tests were conducted and Bitdefender Free is a cloud-based anti-virus whereas Bitdefender Anti-Virus+ is not as cloud-based.

As already mentioned, cloud-based anti-virus still work offline but, more often than not, they don’t perform as well. For example, Panda Cloud Free performs as well as Avira in On-Demand Anti-Malware Tests when internet connection was active but does not perform as well as Avira in Retrospective/Proactive Anti-Malware Tests when there was no access to the internet. This means, more likely than not, if Bitdefender Free was tested in Retrospective/Proactive Anti-Malware Tests then it would probably not perform as well as the 97% of Bitdefender Anti-Virus+. We don’t really know how well Bitdefender Free would perform but I venture to say it would perform in the late 70s%, maybe early 80s%, similar to Panda Cloud Free.

So, then, let’s cut past all the crap and get down to it: which is *the best* when it comes to detection rates? Frankly, there is no “best” — they are all good, with the exception of MSE. But, if I were to rank the best free anti-virus programs based only on detection rates, my top three would be Avira Free, Panda Cloud Free, and Bitdefender Free. After that, fourth is avast Free, following by AVG Free and MSE.

With that said, however, keep two things in mind:

  • The rankings I just gave are based on detection rates only; keep reading to learn how all of these programs perform when considering factors other than detection rates.
  • The detection rate tests were conducted in a lab setting for benchmark purposes. In other words, they don’t exactly reflect “real life”. In real-life usage the protection between all five program (not including MSE, which even Microsoft admits is not designed to perform as well as others) will be similar because most user activity will fall within areas covered by all five. I may be a bit bold when I say this but the differences between all five software will typically only be felt when conducting benchmarks or tests.

Now let’s get to the next category of evaluation, shall we?

Malware Removal Effectiveness

dotTech_AV_Comparisions_Removal_Chart

(Click on the chart to view it in full size.)

Being able to detect malware has value in and of itself; simply knowing you are infected is worthwhile. However, an anti-virus/anti-malware program that cannot remove malware is probably one you don’t want to have. Hence we look at the results of a malware removal effectiveness test.

Before we discuss the results it must be noted this malware removal effectiveness test had limited scope — it only used eleven samples. It is hard, and frankly not fair or logical, to draw authoritative conclusions based on a test that only used eleven samples. However, for the purposes of a non-authoritative indicator, this test will do just fine… as long as you keep in mind the limited scope.

Also remember, this test was conducted on the free versions of avast, Panda Cloud, and MSE but on the paid versions of Avira and Bitdefender. So it is goes without saying Bitdefender and Avira has a leg up on the others for this test because paid versions always have more features than free versions. Nonetheless, this is an interesting test to evaluate.

Oh and AVG apparently didn’t want to be included in this test either. Not really sure why.

That said, Avira and Bitdefender show they superior skills once again. Avast and Panda come in a seconds with MSE a relatively distant last. As I said, this test used only eleven samples so we can’t say only Avira and Bitdefender are good while the others are incompetent at removing malware. The results very well could have been different if different eleven malware samples were picked. (That is why having a large, randomized sample size is important in any test. The sample for this test was randomized but the size is a bit small.) However, the results are still interesting because they show one fact: no one single anti-virus program can remove all malware. Most anti-virus remove most malware but none remove all — at least not without external help, which comes in the form of a boot disc in this case.

Computer Impact

dotTech_AV_Comparisions_Computer_Impact_1

(Click on the chart to view it in full size.)

dotTech_AV_Comparisions_Computer_Impact_2

(Click on the chart to view it in full size.)

Note: Just like previous tests, for this test free versions of avast, Panda Cloud, and MSE were used and paid versions of Avira, AVG, and Bitdefender were used.

Generally speaking, the computer impact of all six best free anti-virus programs is about the same. True, avast does come out on top but only by a small margin — and this small margin will likely only noticed when benchmarking, not in real-life usage. Really if you take a look at the first graph, the six best free anti-virus programs perform similarly across the vast majority of tests. Indeed the Computer Impact test ended up with results that are too close to draw lines between.

What is interesting, however, is how Panda Cloud Free not only fails to top the rankings but it is at the bottom of the pack. Sure, as I just said, the differences between the results for each product is not very significant. However, one of the major selling points of using a cloud-based anti-virus is that it has less of an impact on your computer and does not slow your computer down as much as traditional AVs. That is the trade-off you are supposed to get for accepting under-performance of cloud-based AVs when not connected to the internet. These test results, however, seemingly contradict claims of cloud-based AVs — Panda Cloud Free, in this case — being more “lightweight” than traditional AVs. That is not to say cloud-based AVs, such as Panda Cloud Free, are more “heavy” than traditional AVs; however, these test results suggest they aren’t more “light” either.

That being said, keep in mind these test results are benchmarks and performance in real-life usage can vary. For example, despite avast topping performance tests, I’ve had a poor experience with avast Free causing slowdowns on my computer whereas Avira Free does no such thing. So while these results are important, you should always use them for what they are — benchmarking — and not let them hold sway over your real-life experience. Regardless of what benchmarks say, if you are using any of the six best free anti-virus programs and you notice your computer slowing down, don’t be afraid to switch to a different one of the best free anti-virus programs to see if it does not offer you better performance.

(For those that don’t know, PC Mark is a professional, industry-recognized benchmarking tool. The higher PC Mark score, the better. However, when it comes to PC Mark, few points here and there have no significant meaning. If PC Mark scores were drastically different, such as 5 or more, then it would be worth looking at.)

Real-Life Protection Rates

In our previous Detection Rates section, we discussed the ability of our six best free anti-virus programs for Windows to block known malware and unknown/known malware (zero-day) in a lab setting — a way to benchmark their detection rates. In this section we are doing something similar. However, we are testing the protection provided by the six best free anti-virus programs for Windows by trying to emulate a “real-life” setting instead of a lab.

The obvious advantage of testing the six best free anti-virus programs for Windows in a “real-life” setting over a lab setting is real-life protection rates are more relevant to end users than protection rates. A not-so-obvious advantage is, the “real-life” test results are a few months more current than the tests done in the lab setting; they are still a few months old at the time of this writing, but they are more current than the other tests. A disadvantage is the sample size of the “real-life” test is a lot smaller than the lab setting test; however, the “real-life” sample size is still statistically sound and larger than 1,000 for each product.

For the purposes of this “real-life” test, the ability of the six best free anti-virus programs for Windows to block known and unknown malware (files and URLs) was analyzed. Each program was left at default settings, had an active internet connection during these tests and the test was conducted over a span of four months, using the following versions of each program:

dotTech_AV_Comparisions_Real_Life_2

(Click on the chart to view it in full size.)

And without further ado, here are the results of the Real-Life Protection Rates test:

dotTech_AV_Comparisions_Real_Life

As you can see, the Real-Life Protection Rates test results are largely similar to the results shown previously: Avira, avast, Panda Cloud, and Bitdefender all provide excellent protection and MSE still falls way below the pack. The exception to this is AVG, which has seen its performance from lab setting test drop by a large amount.

Whereas in our previous Detection Rates test (the lab setting) AVG was running with the pack near the front, AVG is now near the bottom in the Real-Life Protection Rates test results. And while a rate of 95.7% would be acceptable in a lab setting, to miss almost 5% of malware in a “real-life” setting really makes me question AVG’s usefulness as an anti-virus program. Sure, blocking 95.7% of malware in a “real-life” setting is nothing to sneeze at. But it is also nothing to write home about, either. To make matters worse, the paid version of AVG was tested… so the free version is bound to have even lower protection rates.

Note: All tests referenced in all Performance Comparison sub-sections of this article were not conducted by dotTech. They (the tests) were conducted by AV-Comparatives.org, an authority on security software testing. I attained permission to re-publish AV-Comparatives’ results on dotTech when I originally wrote this article.

Final Verdict

And here is the section you’ve all been waiting for: the final verdict. After considering all aspects of the six best free anti-virus programs for Windows, which ones stand out above the crowd? Which one is the best of the lot? Which ones should be avoided? Let’s talk, shall we.

While there are some noteworthy aspects — such as Avira’s excellent protection and removal performance — there is no one “winner” between Avira Free vs avast Free vs AVG Free vs Panda Cloud Free vs Bitdefender Free vs Microsoft Security Essentials. To try to determine which one is the “best” is like trying to split hairs; it is hard to do and it hurts. Still, that doesn’t mean we can’t try now does it? :-)

After considering all the results — from our Features Comparison and Performance Comparison [Detection Rates, Malware Removal Effectiveness, Computer Impact, Real-Life Protection Rates] sections — I rank Avira Free, avast Free, and Panda Cloud Free the top three best free anti-virus programs for Windows (in no particular order):

  • Avira Free for its excellent detection and malware removal
  • Panda Cloud Free for its excellent detection, good removal, and the fact that it is cloud-based — an offering that allows people a viable alternative to traditional AVs
  • avast Free for its combination of excellent features with good detection and removal while having lower false positives than Avira Free and Panda Cloud Free

Bitdefender Free is also very good but I personally don’t like the arrogance of the program, i.e. not letting me pick what to do with detected malicious files/URLs and not having ability to scan whole computer on demand. Microsoft Security Essentials comes dead last and it should not be a surprise why: it provides poor performance when compared to the rest, even thought it has the least amount of false positives. AVG Free ranks before Microsoft Security Essentials but after Bitdefender Free; AVG Free is a decent overall package but has no notable aspects — it doesn’t shine in any categories and I personally question why AVG would not want to participate in some of tests we talked about in this review of best free anti-virus programs for Windows.

With that said, what program you should use comes down to your specific needs and desires. Want the most features? avast! Free is the way to go. Are you looking for the best protection and don’t care about anything else like features or false positives? Avira Free is for you. Hate ads? avast Free, Bitdefender Free, and MSE win out in that category. (Note: I don’t recommend MSE no matter how much you hate ads, but the choice is yours.) Are you a social network addict? Go with AVG Free for it has “Social Network Protection”. Hate false positives? Avoid AVG Free, Avira Free, and Panda Cloud Free and consider avast Free or Bitdefender Free. Download lots of software? avast Free’s “Auto Sandbox” may be your next best friend. Are you tech-unsavvy, don’t know what to click when your anti-virus flags a file or URL, and would prefer to allow your anti-virus make the decision of which file or URL to block? Bitdefender Free is your best pick.

As you can see, there are too many moving parts for us to tell you what is the best free anti-virus program for you. We have provided you with the facts; now the choice of Avira Free vs avast Free vs AVG Free vs Panda Cloud Free vs Bitdefender Free vs Microsoft Security Essentials is in your hands. So roll up your sleeves and pick one; if your first pick doesn’t work out, don’t be afraid to experiment and try out one or two more before deciding on your final one. Whichever one you pick, rest assured all of the best free anti-virus programs for Windows mentioned in this program are good (except for Microsoft Security Essentials :-).

Download Links

Avira Free Antivirus

Supported OS: Windows 2000+ (32-bit and 64-bit)

Avira Free Antivirus homepage

avast! Free Antivirus

Supported OS: Windows XP+ (32-bit and 64-bit)

avast! Free Antivirus homepage

AVG AntiVirus Free

Supported OS: Windows 2000+ (32-bit and 64-bit)

AVG AntiVirus Free homepage

Microsoft Security Essentials

Supported OS: Windows XP and higher (32-bit and 64-bit)

Microsoft Security Essentials homepage

Panda Cloud Antivirus Free

Supported OS: Windows XP and higher (32-bit and 64-bit)

Panda Cloud Antivirus Free homepage

Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition

Supported OS: Windows XP and higher (32-bit and 64-bit)

Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition homepage

Originally written on February 14, 2010. 2nd edition posted on December 3, 2010. 3rd edition posted on December 18, 2011. 4th edition posted on February 22, 2014.

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496 comments

  1. Daphne

    Thank you for such a fantastic review. I am currently using Microsoft Security Essentials, at the advice of my beloved local geeks, but I have read so much about how Microsoft is lagging in recent years that I want to try something new.

  2. qqamresh

    You’ve done quite an exhaustive study. But there are many antivirus softwares like kaspersky, quick heal, comodo etc that are quite good. I have personally used both kaspersky and quick heal over the years and both have worked well for me.

  3. Jacob Thompson

    I have personally had many more false positives with inbound emails or web traffic using Avast Free than I have so far with Avira Free. I am now going on a month since the change over. Just thought I would share

  4. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    Sorry folks it took me so long to delete that comment. It is a bit hard to run three websites and monitor comments as well. Doing the best I can.

    If this happens again, just shoot me an email — it gets to my attention quicker.

  5. David Roper

    [@Ghost] I started downloading and the agreements scared me to death. Stopped in the middle of it. download in 1 minute for $12 or 35 minutes for free. That’s the scheme here I fear.

    Thanks but no thanks. I am with MikeR on this questionable software.

  6. Jay

    Wow, Bitdefender FREE EDITION rips most of the categories. Winner indeed.

    FYI: it has now an option to continue(at your own risk) to the blocked site and there is now commands in quarantine objects like “restore” “delete” and “open file location”. Full system scan is just a right-click away on the taskbar icon then select “Full System Scan”. The best hassle-free, effective and intelligent product you’ll ever have. FREEEEEE!!!!

    Have a happy life people… stay safe while intrusive free.

  7. JohnG

    These kinds of reviews may be a little help for the unenlightened but are far from realistic. e.g. Avira’s false positive rate is so high that the product becomes completely unbearable in a very short time. That’s bad enough for a “normal” user but for programmers, where it’s normal to have Avira complain about at least 1 in 5 of the software you create yourself, it gets removed very rapidly.

    I’ve used Avira, Avaste and AVG (amongst many others) in a business environment and can tell you that the success rate of the first two is nowhere near as high as reviews such as this seem to indicate. On the other hand, their false positive rates are disproportionately higher. So high in fact that I get nothing but complaints from the users. AVG is an excellent product because it’s success rate is higher that this review would have us believe, while its false positive rate is much lower that the other two.

  8. Pete Thompson

    The arrogance of Bitdefender, is because they want you to upgrade for the fatures – thats what its there for, set it and forget it (ideal for relatives with limited IT knowledge).
    Also, Bitdefender DOES include on demand, you right click the icon and go FULL scan. Clearly the winner in all tests and constantly on top from all tests along side paid kaspersky (free with a barclays bank account).

    Conclusion is, people, Bitdefender wins.

  9. MikeR

    [@BearPup] Interesting observation, BearPup, re David’s own observation, but you’re actually referring to “choice”. And for too many seniors, “choice” doesn’t come into it where computing and the Internet is concerned. It’s not that they’ve done the equivalent of driving a car and then decided not to bother any more. Rather it’s that they’ve never done the equivalent of that. They’re (unjustifiably) frightened of computers and (unfairly) terrified of using the Internet as a way of mitigating the isolation into which so many of them plunge. It took me quite some time to get an 82-year-old friend to understand that Skype and video calling is not a means via which evil scammers will ransack their wallets but a way for her to chat with her son and daughter, and her various grandchildren, online.

  10. BearPup

    [@David Roper]Whether from fear or other choice, not everyone needs to be online. Its no different than any other choice one may make no matter the reason or the popularity. I have chosen to not have a car and not to drive, rural public transit with all its limitations works for me. You needn’t be happy or sad, just accept that its his way.

  11. David Roper

    [@MikeR] MikeR, they buy the junk because of Educational Computer Vacuum, ECV. I just had my 72 year old friend call me about how to save something to his FlashDrive (I gave him) instead of Floppy 3.5 inch. He’s running XP and I bought him an illustrated Book on XP use.

    He will never see this because he is not connected to the Web and will not budge because the Radio Internet Goddess has scared him silly about spies and people sneaking onto his computer while he sleeps.

    These are the people when finally connected will buy anything from the store which promises security.

    I do not know whether to cry or laugh. I have given up on him EVER connecting to the web. The Goddess has scared him so much. But he calls me on the phone and I will go there Wednesday to help him once again on his XP. Sad. Happy.

  12. MikeR

    I agree with Rob: Avast Free, once the rightful favorite of so many but now a money-hungry pile of intrusive junk, is actually the most beneficial software around for stimulating cerebral activity amongst senior brains.

    I have now had to uninstall this crap from not one but three computers, each time in Safe Mode using Avast’s own uninstaller ‘cos doing it any other way won’t succeed. On each occasion, the senior owners of these computers have said things like oooer, look at that, ‘Safe Mode’, never seen that before, and since then have regularly interrupted Windows boot-up by key-pressing and finger-jabbing and generally having the most fantastic fun, realising — for perhaps the first time — that they are the masters, not the sodding computer. And definitely not, grubby bloated software like Avast Free. Not sure if it does keep Alzheimers entirely away though: I mean, there has to be an explanation as to why some people actually buy Avast. . .

  13. RobCr

    I reckon Avast is the best.
    It is so good that every yearly renewal they try to trick the elderly and the feeble minded into getting the paid version.
    I am both (elderly and feeble minded), so the yearly test helps keep Alzheimers away.
    Rob

  14. conceptualclarity

    [@J PC genius] I suspect the next best free choice would be avast! or Comodo Internet Security or Panda. Or if you’re able to overcome the reasons to distrust an AV company that’s tight with the hacker-loving People’s Republic of China government (http://malwaretips.com/posts/208713/, http://malwaretips.com/threads/av-comparatives-may-performance-and-real-world-test.28272/page-2#post-208693), then Qihoo has the best test results for any free anti-virus.

  15. J PC genius

    Bitdefender is hands down the best free anti-virus software in 2014. However, I cannot get it to work on my laptop. I think it may conflict with my other programs. Anybody know of a close second I could try? Thanks

  16. conceptualclarity

    [@ RobCr] Thank you very much for making this contact with Noscript’s developers. I recently installed it, but it was too much for me. I disabled it till I really have time to sit down and study it in detail.

    I understand there is some sort of anti-script extension available for the Chromium family browsers. I don’t know how good it is.

    I know avast! afforded me some degree of script protection in 2013. What about other anti-viruses and anti-spyware programs?

    Firefox does have a lot of problem recognizing that it has finished loading a page, and it keeps on in loading mode needlessly. Nonetheless the Gecko family browsers can handle large numbers of tabs without eating one’s system resources alive far better than any of the Chromium family browsers.

    [@ David Young] My on-demand scanners have Babylon Toolbar blacklisted. I don’t why AVs would not.

    [@ BearPup] Thanks for the info on Bitdefender and the firewalls.

  17. RobCr

    Firefox is a bit slow these days (slow loading pages), and NoScript can be a pain in the butt.
    However anyone who is not using that combination for their unsafe browsing is an idiot (sorry, but I am trying to get the attention of the Chrome worshippers out there).
    By all means have another browser (eg IE) for your safe trusted sites, but FF + Noscript is the only way to surf safely
    Rob
    PS I have been in touch with the Noscript creators to give us a quicker way to allow a web page, that we decide we trust. Currently you have to click ‘allow’ many times, as cascading scripts appear (Allow one set, and then more want to run, and need another click).
    However the creators feel we are children, and cannot be trusted to do that ‘allowing’ quickly.

  18. melen001

    [@David Young] [@David Young]
    WOW….. well yes, those programs everyone knows that they are nothing but walware but what about what we don’t know ??? And how about all that sneaks up and you can not see or detect? Sure, i know what you mean but still, i rather have my antivirus in place just in case.

  19. David Young

    You really don’t need antivirus, none of them stop when you click on malware programs like regcure pro, registry optomizer pro, babylon toolbar, conduit, search protect. I remove these viruses from PC’s that have full versions of Norton, McAfee, etc., they are useless, you just have to know what NOT to click on.

  20. BearPup

    [@Bonosio] Everyone has their favorite firewall. I’ve found that Online Armor free works well with just about everything provided you’re running Win 7, SP1 (gotta have SP1 installed and running smooth). I had previously used Private Firewall, which worked really well, but it was a resource and memory hog, causing long delays during startup. Hope this helps you. BearPup.

  21. Bonosio

    Excellent article Ashraf. I was running Bitdefender free on a desktop w/Windows 7 64bit fast and smooth.
    Before this I was using Avast free & was annoyed that it was slowing my startup. Replaced Bitdefender free for Zonealarm Extreme Security and my problems started, I changed IE 11 for IE 10 and every time I try to shutdown I get a notice that there is an update to do. When I install it my computer goes off the network and have to use the troubleshooter to fix it, then it will work until I go to shutdown and the episode keeps repeating. Zonealarm had me reinstalling it & it repeats over & over. Can somebody suggest a solution? I am thinking about removing zone alarm & reinstalling Bitdefender free an IE 11. Any suggestion for (free) firewall, antispam, & anti-phising. Open to any recommendation for improving & fixing what I have. Thanks.

  22. BearPup

    [@RobCr] Cliches aside, I wasn’t really looking for advice, but more relating my most recent experience with Bitdefender, which I had installed when I lost my year-long trial of AVG 2014.

    But to be complete, this is what my current computer is comprised of: Magic Micro AMD FX-4300 Quad Core 3.8 GHz; 12 GB RAM; Graphics: ATI Radeon R7 260X 2G GDD5 memory. 500 GB SATA 3 Hybrid SS/HDD; 500 GB SATA 3 HDD.
    Thermaltake V3 Air Cooled Case. LG IPS LED Monitor. MSE is not running (defeated via a hack from The Windows Club). OS is Windows 7 Home Premium, x64.

  23. RobCr

    BearPup,
    I am ‘probably teaching my grandmother to suck eggs’ but you should mention which version of Windows you have, and what you did to ensure that MS Defender (aka MSE) was not also running.

  24. BearPup

    I recently purchased a new computer and needed a new antivirus application. I initially tried Ad-Aware Antivirus, but when Bitdefender offered 6 months free I figured I’d try it out. All of a sudden my new, smoothly running machine started acting weird – programs wouldn’t run correctly, access to control panel disappeared, and I couldn’t shut my machine down without crashing the system.

    As the only thing that I had changed was antivirus applications, I quickly uninstalled Bitdefender and reinstalled Ad-aware. My system has run smoothly ever since. Perhaps you could include Ad-aware antivirus in your next round-up.

  25. KamYar

    Mr. Ashraf this is a good article but Bitdefender Free has the ability to initiate an on-demand scan of your whole computer!!!
    Just right click on the taskbar icon of bitdefender and find full system scan!

  26. Nani

    Folks, I could really use your help!

    Perhaps overjoyed by the perf of OA + Avast on my Vista laptop, I jumped the gun and attempted a similar change on an XP desktop… first uninstalled Outpost Free Firewall, then disabled Avast shields (as recommended by the OA installer but with some trepidation) :P and then installed OA.

    Unfortunately, after a reboot, my Start button and Taskbar vanished into thin air!

    Pressing the Windows key does nothing. Ctrl-alt-delete brings up the narrator screen instead of the Task Manager. System Restore doesn’t work (get an error msg to the effect ‘cannot restore, please reboot’). Rebooting doesn’t resolve anything. Rebooting in Safe Mode w/ networking simply brings up a black screen (similar to the CMD screen), but still no Start button or Taskbar.

    However, Windows+R does bring up the search box from which I can run commands. OA seems to be on, but scarily, Avast shields are turned OFF and cannot be enabled even when I bring up the Avast UI and try from there.

    I am able to run Chrome from the search box and access the internet, but the top few recommended solutions from a Google search (such as Ctrl+Esc, closing and restarting the explorer.exe process, editing the winlogon>shell entry in regedit) have all failed to yield positive results.

    I am thoroughly handicapped without the Start button and Taskbar. Would truly appreciate a solution from you wise folks!

    Cheers,
    Nani

  27. CCR77

    I have used Avira for years, with no issues. I’ve also used Microsoft Security Essentials on other PC’s, and also never had any issues. Your internet security really depends on your behavior.

  28. Nani

    Excellent article with practical tips. Great job, Ashraf! After putting up with a year+ of incessant alerts from Outpost Free Firewall, I’ve just switched over to Online Armor Free and it’s a breeze running simultaneously with Avast Free Antivirus and WinPatrol.

    My 64-bit Vista laptop is now booting up delightfully quicker. In the past, I’ve used (and jettisoned) ZoneAlarm, and AVS firewalls, settling in favor of Outpost despite the annoying pop-ups. Comodo just wouldn’t download/install properly on my machine, much to my chagrin after 2 painful 200MB downloads! :P

    Likewise, I’ve tried and abandoned AVG, Avira, and BitDefender antivirus. Avast just seems to work better on this machine. I’ve now reset Avast shields, as per MikeR’s recommendations… thanks, Mike! And yes, File Shield is ON. ;)

  29. melen001

    [@conceptualclarity] Hi
    conceptualclarity
    ….

    Nice to see that the Dottech community is responding to the latest comments concerning Norton and that you are open at discussing of what is going on with Norton security products and how are they performing in real time. It’s like you say when you mention food and people, some may like it while others don’t. Such is life in the PC world. Hope to hear from you soon……

  30. melen001

    [@MikeR] Hi MikeR…..
    Thank you for the “stimulating” comment on my English. I live in Puerto Rico and my native language is Spanish so it’s good to know that I am expressing myself in a correct manner. Thank you for taking me up on my suggestion on revising Norton and performing a comprehensive review would certainly be welcomed and maybe we can get an idea of what Norton is offering the PC community and if Norton can live up to the standards of a well defined antivirus suite. Just hope Ashraf sees the comments that have been recently posted and a review of Norton could be scheduled in the near future. Definitely a good idea where we can all benefit and leave behind any negative thoughts and experiences which we might have concerning Norton security products. May I ask, you mention “Your command of the English language is manifestly greater than that which I find in far, far too many. . . English” , am I to understand that when you mention English is it that you are from England? Like I have mentioned before, if it weren’t for “spell-check” I would be practically lost. Well, thanks for your feed-back and your suggestions are more than welcome and hoping to hear from you soon…..

    George (melen001)

  31. conceptualclarity

    I agree with MikeR. I’ve long felt that software and computers are like foods and people. The same food that serves many people quite well is detrimental to the health of some people and must be avoided by them. Software programs seem to work the same way with computers. I have a friend whose computer got sick after he downloaded Malwarebytes and recovered after he uninstalled it. I have a friend who is very happy with Norton, but the negative buzz keeps me away from it. PC Advisor ranks Norton at the top, and of course they get a lot of grief for that.

    If Mike and I are right it would be interesting to discuss the reasons why this might be.

  32. MikeR

    [@melen001] Ye Gods, if that’s how well you can write in your second language. . ! I’m using my first, and only, so kudos to you! As for a re-visiting of Norton, what an excellent idea. Everything has a time, a season, and I’d be really interested to see if Norton’s time has come around again: a comprehensive review would at the very least be a real comment stimulator! Thanks again, melen001 — and no: you didn’t say anything that “sounded funny”. Your command of the English language is manifestly greater than that which I find in far, far too many. . . English.

  33. melen001

    [@MikeR] Hi MikeR…..
    Nice to see someone not “bashing” me or Norton for an instance. Like you say, no 2 computer user’s experience are alike and that happens to be my case. I can understand the dissatisfaction that my Dottech friends have experienced and that is just fine. I’m not trying to convince anyone on the merits that Norton might have or not. It’s just my personal experience and that’s all. I see that you understand that there is no such thing as a “typical” computer and, of course, that being said, experiences will differ. Maybe a actualized review of Norton would be a good idea. Just in case, I’m not an employee or anything like that of Symantec or Norton nor am I a professional software reviewer or IT technician of any sort. I consider myself a normal PC aficionado and my technical skills, I would say, are rather limited. That doesn’t mean that I am not able to make a judgement on how my PC is operating. Just wanted to get that out of the way. And it’s like you stated, no two computer users’ experiences are going to be the same. So in the hopes that maybe someone might take me up on my suggestion on reviewing Norton on non-bios terms, we can really find out if Norton is really offering an authentic product that can satisfy our security needs. Isn’t that what it’s all about? Thanks for you comment and hope to hear from you guys soon…….

    PS: In case I’ve said anything that might sound funny, English is my second language ( thank God for “spell-check”).

  34. MikeR

    Absolutely. I’m amazed to learn of melen001′s experience because though it’s the first favourable, detailed post of its kind I’ve come across, it’s obviously genuine — an authentic reflection of the reality that no two computers are the same (which is why I’ve always advocated staying well clear of ‘registry cleaners’ and ‘registry optimizers’, seeing as how they’re based on some developer’s idea of what a ‘typical’ computer actually is. . . when there ain’t no such thing as ‘typical’.) All I can say, speaking from experience, is that while I wholeheartedly concur with the thrust of melen001′s remarks about Norton / Symantec, I did find Peter Norton’s software considerably more than half-way useful in days of old — when it was still the good doctor’s personal baby. After that, well . . . melen001 is talking about a two and a half year period from October 2011 and in that time, I’ve probably had to deal with half a dozen instances — yup, I know, doesn’t sound a lot, but then, I’m not running a computer business, just helping out friends as and when such is possible — where Norton has slowed computers to a crawl and hasn’t even performed anything like as well as freeware alternatives. It’s not, then, the distant past which has left me so averse to Norton, rather that in 2011, 2012 and in 2013, I was still finding reasons to get the stuff stripped out. Ultimately, what melen001 says sheds a welcome fresh light on the reality mentioned earlier: that no two computers are the same so really, no two computer users’ experiences are going to be the same, either.

  35. David Roper

    We’re not bashing melen001 here. We are bashing Norton AV. The furst thing I do when setting up a friend’s machine is (try to) remove Norton AV. A least the guts of it. Then Glary and CCleaner and get fir of what’s left. then install Avast, avira, or AVG sometimes flipping a coin in front of the user. I let AVG win most of the time.

    I side with RobCr for if Norton paid me $50 a MONTH I would not let it near my PC. The only other drug my PC wants and uses, er, I mean software, is Adobe Flash. OMG when will it ever end?

  36. RobCr

    I have a couple of PCs.
    However I have one main one that is used 95% of the time, and all my important computing is done on, and resides in, one PC.
    If Norton offered to pay me $50 a year to to install their program, in my important PC, I would refuse.

  37. melen001

    [@MikeR] From what i see none of you guys like Norton’s software and it’s difficult for me to understand. And to find “anyone anywhere on the entire internet who has had a satisfying experience” sound like bull to me. I do know that the only answer I can give is that Norton and Symantec spent better than a decade of vending crapware and resting on their laurels. Not to mention their arrogance in refusing tech support to anyone unless they were willing to get totally gouged. Oddly Norton was a half way useful product in the days of win98, but for win95 and XP, it was totally worthless. And after Norton spent a decade pissing the knowledgeable off, its somewhat absurd to assume that many will ever be willing to forgive Norton so soon and that’s understandable. I guess that’s all i have to say. Either way i will stick Norton.

  38. MikeR

    Interesting to see that someone here has had a satisfying two-and-a-half year experience of Norton. Actually: it’s interesting to find anyone anywhere on the entire Internet who has had a satisfying experience of Norton from October 2011 thru to today. Congratulations to melen001 then for being what would appear to be a real winner in life’s software lottery, and particularly for being able to renew Norton not once but four consecutive times for absolutely nothing at all. Just goes to show, there’s an exception to every rule — the rule (or at the least, the advisory) being not to go anywhere near this bloated resource-hogging intrusive ineffectual expensive parody of Peter Norton’s original, elegant work.

  39. melen001

    “Norton’s in charge”???… are you joking or what???… of course I’m in “charge”… I have never had any “intrusive behavior” issues with Norton. I see that you are referring to Wins 98 and I assume that if you experienced that behavior with Norton that was some time ago. And if is or was true this is the first time I have heard about such a thing. You seem to imply something like “remote access” by Norton on your PC and that really sounds quite strange may I say. And “snail mail”, I’m guessing that you actually received physical mail at your home or something like that. The answer is NO, never, not even email or pop-ups or on-line and as a matter of fact, any kind of nuisance at all from Norton. Like you stated, “The wall that Norton comes up against is their behavior of old..” , you said it, old. You state that “millions” have experienced that behavior from Norton and I quite doubt that assumption you have stated as “true”. I’m not saying your experience is doubtful but that has not been my case in the last 2 1/2 years using Norton. I am quite pleased with there software and support service which I have used and quite frankly is excellent. Can i say that they have changed?… no, I can’t say that because I have never had any such issues with Norton. I appreciate you comments so thanks for your concern and I will stay with Norton Antivirus 2014 for now. You never know if something better comes around.

  40. BearPup

    [@melen001] The wall that Norton comes up against is their behavior of old, and not knowing differently, maybe still? The behavior I’m referring to was their intrusiveness into a person’s life and computer. And I’m being quite literal here. I got snail mail from Norton the one and only time I signed up for their service. And online was just as intrusive – - I literally had to wipe my hard drive clean and reinstall the then-operation system of Windows 98.

    Because of that experience, I vowed never again. And given my experience (and millions of others), these questions are asked: can you honestly say that they have changed? Do you feel your computer is still yours, or does it feel in someway that Norton’s in charge?

  41. melen001

    Hi RobCr……

    Thanks for your concern and the OS I am using is Wins 7-64. I was using Norton before with the same offer, 180 days (6 months) with free product key. It doesn’t cost me a single penny to use Norton. And about your concern after the 180 days well I just sign-up again but with a different email address. I did that last year so that’s not an issue. If you are wondering why I tried the other Antivirus brands it’s that after seeing all the different reviews and the excellent scores they received that led me to try them out and maybe change to what seemed better protection at the moment. But after experimenting and using them with different settings and “what-not’s” I discovered that my best bet was Norton and of course FREE for 6 months. We all know that there isn’t such thing as “ONE BEST antivirus”. They all do a wonderful job at what they where designed for and each one has it’s pro’s and con’s so I don’t consider choosing among them a big deal. You can go and see for yourself if you would like to try Norton, just go HERE…. http://www.tiploot.com/norton-antivirus-2014-180-days-product-key-for-free/

    Thanks for your help.

  42. RobCr

    [@melen001]
    You should tell us what version of windows you are using, and whether it is 32 0r 64 bit, as some of your discarded ones can perform differently, depending on which OS we have.
    Over the years many of us have become gun shy with Norton.
    Rob
    PS Many of us are too tight to pay the $50 that Norton will want at the end of your ’180 free days’
    What are you planning to do at the end of your 180 days ?

  43. melen001

    I tried Avast and dumped it then I installed Avira and dumped it also and finally went with Bitdefender and the same results, got rid of it too. So what do I have on my PC? I installed Norton Antivirus 2014 with 180 day product key for FREE. This might sound weird but the others where slowing down my PC and I just got tired changing and using different settings trying to make them perform well but not to bog down my PC speed. I was experimenting for over a month and the only one that does not compromise my PC speed is Norton. I don’t know why but that is my experience and, for the moment, have not encountered any issues with Norton. Sure all the mentioned antivirus perform admirably but I don’t like when antivirus software will compromise my PC speed. So if you are interested in Norton Antivirus 2014 with 180 day free product key just go HERE >>>> http://www.tiploot.com/norton-antivirus-2014-180-days-product-key-for-free/ and follow simple and easy instructions. Enjoy…….

  44. David Roper

    [@wikus] Funny, but there *IS* a cafe in Raleigh NC named “Irregardless” regardless of the correct English. I have eaten there many times when I lived there years ago.

    I think these days, both words are acceptable, much like Flammable and Inflammable because of their common usage.

  45. wikus

    the term is Regardless not “irregardless” because the ir- and the -less would cancel each other out which makes it devoid of meaning. however the article and the information itself seems accurate and goes into full detail for maximum satisfaction along with some humour and discusses in detail the upsides and the downsides so all-in-all very satisfying

  46. David Rosen

    [@David Rosen]
    To elaborate about BitDefender, I strongly believe that, for the average (unsophisticated) users who don’t want to have to answer any questions, nothing beats BitDefender Free. It *does* do scheduled scans — it just doesn’t give you the choice of when to schedule them. And it includes a good Web Sheld just like Avast’s.

    The criticism in the article about BitDefender blocking something without asking is mainly a concern for the knowledgeable user (like most of us leaving comments here). This will rarely be a problem in practice for the unsophisticated user, who anyway isn’t really qualified by themselves to determine that the file is safe and that BitDefender is wrong. At least they can report it to BitDefender and hopefully the false positive will stop in an upcoming definition update, which of course would be an unacceptable delay for people like us who know what we’re doing :-)

    In any case, being a sophisticated user, I don’t use BitDefender Free myself. I use ZoneAlarm Free with its Kaspersky engine as my primary a/v. I use Avast Free as a secondary a/v, by using the installation options of Avast so as to not even install its real-time protection, except its Web Shield feature since ZoneAlarm doesn’t have this. Thus most things get scanned twice: once by Avast’s Web Shield *during* the download, and a second time by ZA’s Kaspersky engine when the file is written to the filesystem.

  47. ss

    Final Verdict, at present- Avira.
    Depends on what you are looking for in an antivirus. For me detection rate without compromising system performance is the most important feature.

    If Ashraf is talking about “av-test.org” not being reliable, I fully agree with him as per my own experience.
    In comparison, I find “av-comparatives.org” results trustworthy.

    As far as false positives are concerned, every antivirus suffers from the drawback. So it is incorrect to say that this is avira’s problem. In recent past, it is the other antiviruses which are suffering from this drawback more than avira.
    Check File Detection Tests at “av-comparatives.org” for the last couple of years & carefully look at FALSE POSITIVE RESULTS. You will have no reason to pin point Avira. Other Antiviruses are worse.

    Nag screens in Avira are a past. I don’t see them anymore. On rare occasions I do see some message about Avira Internet Security near the Avira icon in the system tray which I don’t find intrusive at all but acceptable.

    If Avira continues with the same features in future versions with similar top detection rates, my vote will always be for Avira.

  48. Mags

    [@BearPup] Like you I was an Avast user for many years (aprox. 12 yrs) until a few months ago. I stopped using it for similar reasons. Plus I didn’t like the direction they were going etc. But for me the final straw was something really small. I had a small legacy software on my pc which I have had almost as long as I’d been using Avast. Then for some reason Avast suddenly decided that it was a virus and would automatically move it to the chest. Didn’t matter what I tried to prevent it with Avast it still kept doing it. That was when I decided it was time to get rid of it.

    Thanks to SOS I was able to get Bitdefender Total Security (3 user license) for 82% off and now I’m a happy camper.

    BTW, it is still available on SOS if anyone is interested.

  49. David Rosen

    I’ve tried many but settled on ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus. It uses the Kaspersky antivirus engine; Kaspersky always gets top-notch marks in testing! Also it comes with a very good (two-way) firewall that doesn’t constantly prompt you like some others. It does display the occasional ad (not every day), unlike Avast/Bitdefender/MSE.

    But for the 80% of the general public who just want to “set it and forget it”, I advise them to install BitDefender Free instead!

    (Though admittedly risky, I also install Avast Free, with no real-time features except the Web Shield, alongside ZoneAlarm Free. This gives an independent first- layer of protection for web browsing, without additional performance impact since it scans during the download rather than after. I also schedule on-demand or screensaver scans in Avast. When installing two a/v’s like this, I minimize potential conflicts by going into both a/v’s and disabling their self-protection features and also whitelisting one anothers’ scanners so one won’t flag the actions of the other.

    This combo has worked great for me for a couple of years with no problems.)

  50. Virtualguy

    I’ve been using Avira Free for many years, and recommending it to others. The adverts can be mildly annoying, but it’s a small price to pay for the excellent anti-virus performance and protect it provides. Thanks for all the work, and sharing the information with us!

  51. MikeR

    [@David Roper] What a delicious vision that conjures up! Brilliant, David. Personal testaments are what count though: direct experience of a product over a long period always outweighs any third party test result — we’ve all seen enough over the years of allegedly independent reviews and allegedly flawless test protocols to know they’re as rare as snowballs in the Sahara.

  52. GF

    An observation that I consider important.
    We often read “I use the antivirus XXX and I have never had an infection”.
    I am always curious to know if he/she has never had infections as he/she never bumped into them or as the antivirus blocked them.
    Nobody specifies it.
    In the first case, it’s luck only, therefore the matter is irrelevant and the antivirus has not credit.
    In the second case, antivirus XXX deserves to be took into consideration.

  53. BearPup

    [@Jj] I agree with your implied sentiment on software spying on me – its why I don’t use Google, or Twitter, or Facebook, or ‘The Cloud’.

    Its my life, and I and I alone choose who gets to look at my personal information, and that list is damn small. Avast violated that approach and that’s why I dropped them after years of usage. So far AVG has asked for and taken nothing. That’s the way it should be, and as long as they stick to that regimen, we’ll get along just fine!

  54. Jj

    I have been using Avast Free for years. Along with Malwarebytes Pro, and SuperAntiSpyware Pro, and I have never had an infection as far back as I can remember.
    If a web page is blocked because of suspicious activity, then stay away.
    If you are worried about Avast looking at your personal information, but use Google, then your information is being collected anyway.
    I remember when everybody was up in arms about Google collecting personal information, but most people still use Google anyway. Why? Because they are the best at what they do.
    So for the same reasons I still use Avast Free. They are the best at what they do. IMO.

  55. BearPup

    Hello All, with a special nod to Ashraf for the on-going analysis of free and effective. Based in part on Ashraf’s articles and other reviews as well, I had no problem in selecting a new AV application.

    I had been a confirmed Avast Free user for many years, until last November when they made some changes to their Code which put Avast in control of my computer, and when they refused to talk about it with myself and others, I elected to walk to a competitive company, AVG. So far I’ve been impressed, and have received 3 warnings about malicious files in just the first few days of operation.

    For a fuller explanation of the events leading to my switch see Comment #406 in this log. I made my choices based on actual usage of the software and behavior of the company behind the software, so far, I’m very satisfied with my choices.

  56. Midwest guy

    Ashraf,
    Just a suggestion: I’m wondering if the reference solely to avast in the following linked (and older) article needs to be updated. Not only that, the linked article recommends as alternatives AVG and MSE…both of which are no longer among the best ranking products. http://dottech.org/3174/top-6-programs-that-will-provide-the-best-security-for-you-and-your-computer-for-free/

    Now a side comment: Over the past year, I have grown to trust what I read on dottech and Shareware On Sale. “Trust” is hard-earned, particularly in the shadowy world of the internet. From what I’ve observed, integrity and honesty are guiding principles in what you write and in the business you conduct. In the long run, you can’t go wrong sticking with those principles.

  57. sgrams

    Thank you for the extensive article. I have been using Microsoft Security Essentials for years now and I haven’t had any problems. In the past I’ve used other free and paid programs the latest paid being NOD32 and I haven’t seen any difference at all except no subscription charge. I use a router for my computers so maybe that is good insurance?

  58. unknown71

    I use Avast Free on my Win7 older pc and have for years and no infections and actually no performance issues with it.
    I am now using Trend Micro Antivirus+ with Win 8.1 Pro since it was included as a “Bonus” with the pc purchase. In the first few months, I lost out on a lot of good programs because it flagged the .exe file as malicious but through forums, I determined it to most likely “false positives”. Since updating to the 2014 version of Trend Micro, I am not seeing these false positives with installs, so looks like this has been worked out with them. Actually, Trend Micro Antivirus+ is a good one and I would like to see them included in the review sometime.
    Thanks Ashraf for all your reviews. I find myself coming here often for advice not only from your reviews but from the other users opinions having more knowledge on these matters than I do. I’m still in the early-learning phase and need all the help I can get! Thanks to all for the unbiased opinions.

  59. conceptualclarity

    Great article, Ashraf.

    I think Qihoo 360 deserves consideration among the top free anti-viruses based on some very impressive outcomes. I hope more of the testers will be including Qihoo and Comodo in the future so they can be brought into this comparison next time.

  60. MikeR

    Some quick comments:

    (i) Congratulations to Ashraf on a great job of pulling all this data together: the report is comprehensive, articulate, and easy to follow;

    (ii) Nothing changes more quickly than AV software reputation. As this, the 4th edition of the dot tech AV analysis, renders its predecessors obsolete, I’m wondering if the earlier 400+ posts relating to those predecessors can be moved off this comment thread and archived? It’s awkward / misleading to see this current page beginning with a post from April 2013: could not this 4th Edition report of February 2014 have its own feedback thread?

    (iii) The caveats issued in Ashraf’s article are well worth noting, and especially in regard to the fallibility of even the most well-respected test labs. That fallibility — no, let’s be blunt about it: that sheer unreliability — is at its most evident in the “Computer Impact” results, as scored by AV-C and PC Mark, where the outcomes for Panda Cloud are — in my extensive personal experience of this AV — absolute rubbish.

    The key phrase there is “extensive personal experience”. The kind of experience that only individual AV users develop, that only individual dot tech readers develop, not in some test lab somewhere or other over a week or two, but in their homes over periods of months and years.

    For which reason, the true value of this 4th edition analysis resides *not* in its existence as a definitive reference resource but as a catalyst for responses from other dot tech readers, of which my response — that the PC Impact results for Panda Cloud are so downright laughable that every other result in that particular panel is open to question — is but one.

    Nothing in this 4th edition of the dot tech analysis gives me any reason to change from the lightest and least intrusive AV of ‘em all, an outstanding invisible fortification from Panda that interlocks perfectly with Malwarebytes PRO and WinPatrol PRO, all three of ‘em *always running simultaneously* on my computer. . . and without the slightest performance impairment.

  61. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    [@Yochanan] Welcome! Thanks for the feedback :-)

    [@Flyfisher] Emisisoft Anti Malware isn’t free so it was never considered for this review. True, it has a freeware version but the freeware version has no live protection so it is relegated to second line of defense (along with Malwarebytes) and not a main anti virus in my book.

  62. Yochanan

    Thanks Ashraf, very comprehensive once again. I’ve been using avast Free for years now & am not disappointed. It’s lightweight & non-intrusive so I always install it on older systems I work on for friends & family. I used to work for the largest US reseller of NOD32 & also used to use Kaspersky, however for avast can’t be beat for free.

  63. Mostafa

    [@Laura] “Comodo Internet Security Premium”I use it and I like it. It has everything free, firewall, antivirus, anti-malware, etc. Fast, easy to use, powerful, Fast update, …/ I have tried all all all free antivirus (and some paid) and finally ended up with it.
    Just give it a try.

  64. BearPup

    [@Mardel53] I’ll add to your “paranoia”- its why I just switched from Avast to AVG (1 year free trial still available @ sharwareonsale.com). On November 23rd 2013, Avast issued an Emergency Update that required the user to actuate this Update every time they rebooted their computer.

    Despite 6+ pages of commenters asking for clarification and trying to separate fact from fiction, Avast has been completely silent (its been 2 days and counting). Another of their tricks: requiring users to opt out of providing free advertising for Avast. How? By turning on by default a tag line message placed at the bottom of each mail or other user communication that that communication has been “protected by Avast”.

    And with AVG on sale at SharewareOnSale.com for the whole Internet Security Suite, it was the proverbial “No brainer” to switch from Avast to AVG. Good luck to you.
    Regards,
    BearPup

  65. MikeR

    I’ve been running Panda Cloud AV for quite a while now (teamed with Malwarebytes and WinPattrol.) All three sit happily together.
    Panda has recently undergone a major transformation, resulting in four major upgrades on a daily basis — massively frustrating, seeing as how the computer had to be re-booted immediately after every one. But it has now settled down again with silent automatic updates.
    I opted for Panda Cloud precisely because of that: when I’m travelling by car, I don’t want my enjoyment of the moment intruded upon by noise from, engine, exhaust or tires. Same with AV. Panda runs silentlly, lightly, and non-intrusively. Since putting the Panda-MBAM-WinPatrol trio together I’ve had no infections of any kind and, so far as it’s possible to tell, not a single false positive.
    I occasionally run a BitDefender click-and-go online scan (the BitDefender scan is installed as a simple Firefox add-on) and, for greater depth, Trend Micro Housecall online.
    The one scanner I’d strongly advise everyone to stay well clear of is HitmanPRO. It claims high accuracy by drawing upon three separate AV resources, and is available free of charge for up to 15 days: just enter your email address into the activation box and that’s it. Or so you’re led to believe.
    A friend recently ran a free HitmanPRO online scan. It identified several threats and one actual infection. When he clicked ‘next’ to deal with the problems, HitmanPRO told him to ‘activate’ or register with his license code. He attempted to activate the 15-day “free” period by entering in his email address but that failed to work: HitmanPRO said his activation period had expired — even though it hadn’t even started.
    Curious to see what was going on, myself and a colleague checked out HitmanPRO’s ostensible free activation. We spent time downloading and scanning — and in my case, encountering a spectacular false positive in the form of a Trojan allegedly buried in winpatrol.exe — but neither of us were ever able to qualify for the “free” offer, despite using a wide number of email addresses, including several we made up on the spot.
    All that HitmanPRO did was replicate the behaviour of typical scareware: claim to find all kinds of stuff wrong on a computer and then, when the user tries to act on that information, say that money has to be paid before any clean-up can begin.

    * As to Mardel53′s query: if Avast is “sharing with 3rd parties” personal or user behavioural data without the consent of the user then it’s surely time to say goodbye to Avast. I have happy memories of it when it was much less bloated than it is now — and much less impressed with itself, too.

  66. Mardel53

    Ashraf, I am curious to know what comments you may have regarding the latest warning in upgrading the free avast program to the newest version. I get a warning that they now monitor the software and collect information and may share it with 3rd parties. They claim they won’t give out personal information. Not knowing if the other free anti virus programs do this without telling you, I am now curious if I should upgrade with avast or go with another anti virus.

  67. Sputnik

    Hi !

    There is a special page on AV-Comparatives where you can get a complete awards overview for all the habitually listed antiviruses. The address of this page is :
    http://chart.av-comparatives.org/chart2.php

    You may get the data for different categories like Anti-Phishing Test, FileDetection Test etc, over a certain number of years. All you have to do is to chose a category at the top of the table and after that you click on the antivirus of your choice on the right of the table.

    If you do a special check for the FileDetection Test, you will clearly see that Avira is really one of the very best antiviruses on the market since a couple of years…

  68. Sputnik

    Hi !

    For those who are interested, I have left a comment here :

    http://dottech.org/102416/why-i-switched-from-avast-to-avira-better-computer-performance-and-speed-opinion/comment-page-4/#comment-1002586

    concerning the comparison between Avira, BitDefender, Avast and AVG.

    This comment illustrate the nature of things at this present moment about this subject.

    But I will let you know right now that Avira is actually the best antivirus amongst the four I’ve just spoke about…

    Personally I’m running Avira Free with Malwarebytes Pro and making scans with these one but also with the free version of Emsisoft Anti-Malware.

  69. MikeR

    [@Ashraf]

    I’m having an off day here. In fact, I just can’t get on with it. Or I’m having an on day and can’t get off with it. Or, or, or. . . Thanks for highlighting my inability to type two simple letters; please take it that yes, that which I said was off is in fact on, and why I went off track and typed off when I meant on must mean I’m on something but I’ve no idea what it can be. Red wine, seems like. But I’ll check for malware in my supper tray, too. . .

    @ Sputnik: hi sputnik, thanks for that. Re File Shield which I said was off but is on and should’ve read on not off. I’ve just tried to explain to dear Ashraf, but failed. I can’t face the prospect of another embarrassing failure here. So, just to clarify: the File Shield is ON and my brain is OFF, and may very well have been all day.

    Oh, something else. I now see that OnlineArmor is causing a serious boot-time delay and blue screening. I think I may just go back to quill pen and ink pot.

  70. Sputnik

    [@MikeR]

    Hey MikeR,

    I forgot to tell you something about that peculiar thing you said : “Hi Sputnik: I’ll steer clear of the ‘discussion’ you and ovl had on the other thread.”

    I fully agree with you and I will also add that this is a wise thing from you… ;-)

  71. Sputnik

    [@MikeR]

    Hi MikeR !

    When you say, about BitDefender Free : “the way things have gone today, and the sheer time-wasting involved, has left me unwilling to go near that developer ever again — regardless of how well it seems to do in AV comparison tests”, it’s your full right to think like this. I will never say that you are wrong : this is simply a personal matter.

    Personally, even if I am an old Avira fan (I use their freeware version since about 6 years), I will not say that I will never use BitDefender Free : if BitDefender brings a couple of changes to their free antivirus and if they correct all the little initial problems, maybe I will use it instead of Avira Free.

    Concerning the problem that one of your friends had with the Raymond’s solution about the Ask’s toolbar, I must admit that I also had about the same problems at the beginning, but I have finally solved these problems. Concerning the .reg file : when I downloaded this file, this one came with a .txt extension, which I only change to .reg and that solved the problem.

    I also understood that you must first uninstall Avira Free before merging the previous .reg file and installing again Avira Free. Some people will surely find this solution very fastidious, but it just took me about 5 minutes to do the whole thing…

    Concerning the exact configuration you choose for Avast so to avoid a slowing down of your system, I would suggest to you to go at the Avast’s forum to talk about it with other Avast’s users so to have their opinion about it. Don’t take only one opinion, but wait till you will have received a couple : after that make your own mind on it.

    If you feel fine with the final configuration you will have choosen, that will be OK like that…

    If you have problems with Online Armor Free, which is a very good firewall, you may try PrivateFirewall or COMODO Firewall…

    I am also running Malwarebytes Pro, it is continually running with its full protection and I have no problem at all in relation with my regular activity.

    I also own WinPatrol PRO but I have stopped from using it a couple of years ago.

    I also use Sandboxie Pro almost the way you do, in fact I will maybe change my way of using it so to be the same that you do…

    Continue all the experimentations you are doing, listen to other’s opinion and make your own final choice.

    Just before sending this actual comment, I saw that Ashraf send you a comment about the File Shield. I was thinking exactly the same and that’s why I suggested to you to go to Avast’s forum. You should really go there anyway…

  72. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    [@MikeR] File Shield is one of those you *don’t* want to turn off. From what I understand, that is your live protection against malicious files — the stuff that is traditionally thought about as anti-virus protection.

  73. MikeR

    [@Sputnik]

    Hi Sputnik: Yup, my BitDefender AV Free experience has proved not to have lived up to expectations: the way things have gone today, and the sheer time-wasting involved, has left me unwilling to go near that developer ever again — regardless of how well it seems to do in AV comparison tests.

    I note your points about Avira and yes, you’re absolutely correct — when I had Avira, I finished up using a workaround to get rid of the nag screens. And a few months ago Raymond published on his website a link to the Avira Ask Toolbar registry fix (although when a friend of mine downloaded it, the .reg file wouldn’t merge nor could he import it — I don’t know what went wrong there.)

    Avast I always favoured but dumped because it was, absolutely, definitely and without a shadow of a doubt, slowing my system to a crawl on too many occasions. Today, however, I’ve reluctantly gone back to it because I knew how good it was (as an AV, not as bloatware) and this time have run a custom install to stop the sheer pile-up on this machine of so many “shields” that I’m so weighed down with armour-plating that nothing can move.

    My custom install of Avast Free has been of:

    File Shield: NO
    Mail Shield: NO
    Web Shield: YES
    P2P Shield: YES
    IM Shield: NO
    Network Shield: YES
    Script Shield: YES
    Behavior Shield: NO
    Browser protection: YES
    avast gadget: YES
    avast remote assistance: YES
    Browser cleanup: YES
    Software Updater: NO.

    Selection has been based on the teaming of Avast Free with Online Armor Free, which is currently running thus:

    Firewall: ON
    Web Shield: ON
    Program Guard: ON
    Anti-Keylogger: ON

    Also running is Malwarebytes PRO (but note: I don’t run MBAM PRO all the time as it proved to be as great an impediment to this computer’s performance as Avast did in its former guise) and, finally, WinPatrol PRO is also running at the same time, too. That’s four defence systems in place representing rather more than a mere four layers of protection.

    Finally. . . although I have the darn-near essential Sandboxie installed, I don’t run it all the time but if / when I come across something I think I’d like to download and try, then I switch to the Sandboxie/Firefox browser and DL and install and play with there — not a security consideration, I know, but an indication of how this computer operates to avoid crap programs and apps as well as malware. (Quite why anyone who uses, for example, giveawayoftheday opr bits du jour *without* sandboxing the downloads escapes me, but that’s by the by — in fact, with bdj it’s just about mandatory.)

    I’m going to run this set-up for a few days and see what happens. It’s pretty much brand new really, seeing as how Online Armor Free was only installed yesterday. Fingers crossed that all of them now play nicely together — which BitDefender AV Free certainly seemed to be doing, until today’s developer-mishandled problems.

  74. Sputnik

    [@MikeR]

    Hi MikeR and thank you for your answer !

    As I wrote in this comment :

    http://dottech.org/102416/why-i-switched-from-avast-to-avira-better-computer-performance-and-speed-opinion/comment-page-4/#comment-1001803 ,

    the choice of a security software is a kind of very personal matter and this applies also to your personal choice.

    But concerning Avira Free, I will just say that you can easily get rid of the nag screen with a very simple manipulation and also you may get the Web Protection module without the need of installing the Ask’s toolbar with another simple manipulation.

    Concerning the “serious update glitch in 2010 which it consistently and repeatedly refused to acknowledge”, and also “in view of its nauseating behavior in teaming up with Ask and trying to finesse the entire toolbar issue even in its own user forums…”, I will agree with you that this is something which is clearly hurting many people.

    Personally, as I have solved the problems of the nag screen and the Ask’s toolbar and as I personnally never had serious problems with Avira and that it has always well protected my computer agains threats, I am still sticking to this antivirus, according to the fact that this is a very personal matter…

    Note that even if a manufacturer of antivirus should eventually have better business practices than that of Avira, this is not a warranty that you will not have any problem at all with their antivirus solution, as this is the case for you with BitDefender Free.

  75. MikeR

    [@Sputnik]

    Hi Sputnik: I’ll steer clear of the ‘discussion’ you and ovl had on the other thread. All I will say is that BitDefender AV Free editioin today hit some kind of problem that evidently affected a large number of users worldwide. The developer seems not to have managed the issue at all well, seeing as there are complaints about lack of communication on BitDefender’s own forum and there even appears to be a continuing confusion as to whether the problem has been fixed anyway.

    As to Avira, well: one lives according to one’s experience, and after Avira failed consistently thanks to a serious update glitch in 2010 which it consistently and repeatedly refused to acknowledge (until the time came when it, er, finally had to), and after all the nag screens, and in view of its nauseating behavior in teaming up with Ask and trying to finesse the entire toolbar issue even in its own user forums. . . thanks but no thanks, I wouldn’t go within a country mile of Avira, free or paid-for.

  76. Sputnik

    [@MikeR]

    Hi MikeR !

    When you wrote that BitDefender Free was mentioned in the thread about the firewalls, I think you were maybe thinking about this other thread :

    http://dottech.org/102416/why-i-switched-from-avast-to-avira-better-computer-performance-and-speed-opinion/comment-page-1/

    In this thread a certain “ovl” extolled the merits of this recent new version of BitDefender Free which has an active shield against viruses and he was saying something like that this was the best free antivirus on the market.

    But if we now follow its own logic, the one from its comment #50 on the thread I’ve just spoke about, where he was saying that Avira was not a good antivirus maker because they had a problem at a certain moment with their paid version, we must now conclude that BitDefender Free must be dumped right now by everyone who use it because it’s now proven that it is only a piece of s..t.

    Note that I don’t personally really say that BitDefender Free is a piece of s..t, I am just saying that it is what we must conclude on the basis of ovl’s logic…

    Because BitDefender was still a relatively new product, that’s why I said, in my comment #62 : “If this is the case, I think it would be a good thing to wait for the surely upcoming reports on this new version before using it as our main antivirus solution…”

    It’s a good thing from your part, MikeR, that you uninstalled BitDefender Free for installing Avast Free, an antivirus which made its proofs. If Avast is slowing down your system at certain times, you should at this moment consider to use Avira Free.

  77. MikeR

    Following the discussion on the other thread about firewalls — where BitDefender AV Free was mentioned — I decided to install it. Last week. I was very impressed with it: it seemed light and effective. Yesterday, I installed Online Armor Free Edition. No problems. And it looks impressive. Both firewall and AV appeared to play nicely.

    This morning, I’ve been hit with various error messages and .dmp files from BitDefender AV Free. I (wrongly) assumed there was a conflict with yesterday’s Online Armor Free install.

    I spent a couple of hours this morning, messing around using the BitDefender Free ‘repair’ (which didn’t work) and an uninstall and then a fresh install. That effort achieved nothing. BitDefender AV Free isn’t functioning.

    I now discover, late in the day, that the developers of BitDefender AV Free posted on the user forum at around 10am UK time today that a problem is affecting it resulting in error messages and .dmp files which users are invited to upload for analysis (but not if you’re running the Free version, which has no Support back-up.)

    The problem isn’t specified. Users are, apparently, expected to, er. . . wait. Users are told that BitDefender AV Free is actually functioning — despite the fact that on my computer, it repeatedly warns that it is not. That there is *no* antivirus defence.

    I’ve just uninstalled it and installed Avast Free. The development team behind the BitDefender AV Free edition clearly have some way to go in maturing this product if it’s taking them all day to sort out a fix. (Note: though the developer is insisting today that only the Free edition is affected, other users are reporting that the registered, licensed, commercial version is also affected.)

  78. Sputnik

    Hi.

    For those who wouldn’t be aware of it, Ashraf recently wrote an article which could easily be considered as an addendum to the actual one :

    http://dottech.org/102416/why-i-switched-from-avast-to-avira-better-computer-performance-and-speed-opinion/

    In this article he explains why he left Avast (free) for Avira (free). I share with Ashraf the exact same opinion because I have experienced the exact same things with Avast and Avira.

    Some comments made about this article concerned a recent new version of BitDefender Free Antivirus which now includes an active protection.

    I invite everybody which is interested to read that comment of mine about this new version of BitDefender Free :

    http://dottech.org/102416/why-i-switched-from-avast-to-avira-better-computer-performance-and-speed-opinion/comment-page-4/#comment-1001632

    I must confess that I am an old fan of Avira which I use since 6 or 7 years I think. I have always been well protected with it, its impact on the system has always been minimal, there is a good bunch of options available and as long as things will go this way I will stick to this very good antivirus.

    That said, I have absolutely no problems at all in face of persons who would say they prefer another antivirus : it is a matter of taste and as is its a kind of personal point of view. I also have no problems about discussing, with respect, with someone who doesn’t share the same point of view than mine.

  79. kazan

    [@Alan]

    Other aspects may come into consideration on daily use. After thoroughly experimenting all three (Avira, Avast!, AVG) on realtime protection, I personally fixed my choice on the theoretically lesser performer, AVG. Simply because Avira would consistently block some current executable programs (dictionaries, etc.), and Avast! would turn my computer into an awfully slow machine!

  80. RobCr

    This post is semi related (anti virus protection).
    I browsed Comodo’s other free programs.
    We can download Comodo IceDragon, which is based on FF, but has some extra Comodo security built into the browser.
    AND during the Install, you can elect to make it a PORTABLE program (I did).
    Ashraf, you might care to post this on your other threads where DotTechies were desiring portable FF
    Rob
    PS Comodo also has a Chrome based version.
    (Chrome will never darken my PC door step again.)

  81. RobCr

    [@Carl]
    Ashraf and Gizmo both have something in common -
    Neither of them mentioned Comodo.
    Gizmo does have a separate (very) brief page where he says -
    “can be somewhat intrusive when first installed”
    Did you find that ?
    How intrusive is it now (for you) ?
    Are you using all it’s features (Firewall, Antivirus, etc) ?
    (What have you disabled, or avoided ?)
    Do you have a link to a comprehensive review ?
    How good is it’s antivirus detection ?
    Are you using any other security at the same time ?
    Have you turned off your Windows firewall ?
    What version of Windows are you running ?

  82. Rob (Down Under)

    I am fixing up a laptop for a friend (Win 7 Pro).
    It does not have an anti virus.
    I am using Avast on my XP PCs, and had serious trouble some time ago when there was a major program update (Not latest but the previous Program version jump).
    I notice on Gizmo there are a couple of comments concerned about Avast, and now some concerns about Avira are being raised.
    Those of you using Win 7 Pro, and either of those two free programs, which would you recommend (for gentleness to our Win 7 Pro system) ?
    Avira or Avast ?

  83. randyclap

    I found the people at MicroAge Laval to be very helpful. Especially for big businesses that have a lot of information to protect. It’s a little more intense than just downloading a simple virus removal program. This company will consult you with different options depending on how your business is structured. They also helped up set up our printer.

  84. Calle.N

    I really don’t find this analyze too trustworthy. Firstly, you use different versions in all tests, many of which are clearly outdated, and in some you even use pay-versions. Furthermore, it should be mentioned that any ASK-powered toolbar is not recomended as an install, as it tend to include unpleasant “visitors”.

  85. swadesh

    well said…i am also using MSE and i m very satisfied as it does not sucks or slow down speed.previously i have been using MCAFEE (licensed) but i was not satisfied…as it slows down my computer and not up to desired standard.MSE is best who has a licensed Windows OS and using upto date browser.spending dollars is meaningless.

  86. BarrysCool

    I run Windows 7 – 64bit and AVG and MSE in conjunction with each other, a very effective combination. MSE & AVG run side by side and do not conflict with each other and allow me to get on with my work and HOPE FOR THE BEST. :)

  87. Amillennialist

    Used to use AVG. Read Avira was better. Got rid of Avira because of all the intrusive pop-ups. Tried MSE, but when its Real-Time Protection was running, Start Menu icons took forever to load (I’ve got a lot of links in there). Tried Avira again, and it too, took forever to load Start Menu icons.

    Now I’m running Avast!, and my Start Menu icons load quickly. So far, so good.

  88. David R

    There’s newly-free option, Zone Alarm Free Antivirus, and unlike the others it includes a firewall. I tried it but I didn’t like the firewall because it tied up about 100MB of memory. The AV component is reputed to be supplied by Kaspersky, whose products are rated highly.

    @Ruffturn, you could also try AVG or even Panda Cloud, which both seem to be rated as more effective than MSE. I didn’t like Panda Cloud because it didn’t appear to have an on-demand or scheduled scan feature — it was real-time-only. Also I have doubts about the “cloud” aspect where it’s highly dependent on its connectivity back to its servers to be fully-effective.

  89. Ruffturn

    I installed Avira a week ago because I kept finding Avast turned off for some reason. When I tried to upgrade to a newer version (Avast 7.0), it failed to install and I had to find an uninstaller to get rid of it. They knew they had a problem and instead of telling the users about it, they let them find out and fend for themselves.

    That said, I uninstalled Avira today because once per day I get a splash screen asking me to be a reseller. I don’t sell anything as it is. I’m surely not going to get into the antivirus business. Next is the popups in the tray asking me to upgrade to the pay version or buy other products. Avira is gone now too. I have absolutely no idea if it’s a good AV program or not. I don’t want to be hounded all of the time.

    MSSE is the only one that seems to sit there and do it’s job in the background. Might be a little slow to the draw, but I really don’t care at this point.

  90. Annette Ashley

    I have MSE and every single time I run a scan it finds a trojan win 32. MSE cleans the computer so why is it still there the next time I run a scan? Sometimes I run a scan back to back so is it or isn’t it cleaning my computer and ridding it of this trogan?

  91. John S

    I think its worth mentioning that most modern browser now offer anti phishing tools. So I find Anti Virus programs not focusing on what is already covered. I like MSE in terms of effective protection and in terms of it using limited resources. As someone who believes a OS like Windows 7 and a modern browser up to date is more important then spending dollars on a Security suite. I think any of the free Anti virus solutions will work well.

  92. Ccleaner Download Free |

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  93. dabruro

    The test results from av-comparatives and other testing sites seem to have very little statistical validity or repeatability.

    If you look at two or three of the same site’s consecutive iterations of the same report (not to mention across different testing sites), you draw very different conclusions about which products are better. Is this because every few months different products pull way ahead of each other in effectiveness? I doubt it. Even if they do, unless you’re planning on installing a new product every few months, you don’t want to choose one solely because it got lucky on one particular test in the Quarter that you happened to buy it.

    Most of them don’t even pretend to do any statistical tests to see what the margin of error is on their results, or to see whether the difference between two products is just due to the random happenstance of exactly which set of malware they tested it against.

  94. CY

    More info about this problem:
    Even I install AVAST, it still happens. In other words, either MSSE or AVAST as antivirus program on this Windows 7 (64 bit) installation, this “Win 7 Antivirus” virus can install itself as the antivirus program, replacing either MSSE or AVAST originally installed. It may be a security bug in Windows 7, how can any program install itself as the antivirus program without prompting the permission from the user? Anyone has any similar experience or any suggestion?
    Thanks
    CY

  95. CY

    I installed MSE on my Windows 7 professional PC with the latest Virus update, after 1-2 days on the web (mainly Youtube), it is infected with the “Win 7 Antivirus” Virus, does anyone has such an experience? Unfortunately for me, I have made a “disk image” with Acronis True image I can recover my original clean installation. But this has happened twice in the past 3-4 days. Any suggestion what I should do to protect my PC?, what if I install Avira or avast or AVG? I appreciate any suggestions?
    Thanks
    CY

  96. Sputnik

    Thank you for this update, Ashraf !

    But it seems to me that the question still remains about which is the best anti-virus : Avira or Avast.

    In fact, if Avast could match Avira for its detection and removal rates I would go with Avast and if Avira could offer a little bit more options I would stop thinking to go with Avast…

    Season’s Greetings to all !

  97. Corno

    @Harry HAre:

    Yeah, I think Ashraf should do benchmark tests on memory usages. Memory usage is the only parameter that really matters when installing an AV on an older PC.

    Another matter: Avira detection rate is famous, but does Avira also manage to delete all that it detects?

  98. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @acr: Interesting. I read that thread but I am not sure if it is possible to censor a web page like that (i.e. you can visit the website bur it gives you a page not found). It may have been some sort of bug. Thanks for pointing it out.

  99. Jyo

    @Cooper: I got hit by several of these drive-by attacks while using Avira, and this is just purely from browsing. That is why I’ve opted to go with avast because I think a webguard is crucial for antivirus protection. And using a Chromium browser because of its sandbox technology helps too.

    Oh and make sure UAC is enabled!

  100. acr

    @Ashraf:
    Identity Protection is a behavior blocker. It was formerly known as Sana Security Primary Response Safe Connect but Sana Security was bought out by Grisoft (AVG). Identity Protection is really an “anti-bot” program, as that was it’s original purpose. AVG renamed the Safe Connect program Identity Protection. Also, AVG used to sell IP as a stand alone program but no longer does.

    Panda Cloud is getting very big as they seem to continue to have very good detection rates in malware tests. Panda Cloud also seems to be getting good reports across many of the security sites and blogs.

  101. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @greg bern: Installing in Safe Mode is a good feature to have; you are right it is useful to know which programs will do it. Also you should look at rescue disks — almost all vendors provide bootable rescue disks for infected comps.

    @acr: Does AVG 2012 have a behavior blocker? I could find not a mention in features list and I installed the program on my spare laptop and didn’t find it. (I will look again).

    Identity Protection was in AVG when I wrote the 2nd edition of this article, hence why it isn’t “new”.

    Has Panda Free gotten big? To be honest I haven’t been following it. I may add it to this article at a later date.

    @jayesstee: You are welcome!

    @vdw: Next update, hopefully.

    @Free Zer Burn: False positives are a problem.

    When I used to use Avira a few years back it was known to have lots of false positives. However, based off the tests conducted, Avira has “few” false positives so I couldn’t legitimately say “the tests say few but a couple years back it was like this”.

    That said, I also am a fan of avast!

    @Seamus McSeamus: You are welcome!

    @Muzikgod: You are welcome! And I’m glad you like dotTech :-) And yes, that is overkill :-P I’m guessing you have a really fast CPU to be able to run all that and not feel any decrease in performance.

    @Marc Weiss: I’m fairly certain MSE 2.1 is the stable version while MSE 3 (4?) is in Beta.

    And you are right some of the tests are slightly dated although I disagree with the sentimental “WAY” outdated. That is just the nature of the beast: Impossible to have 100% update-to-date test results simply because of how quickly software is being updated.

    @Frank J: Maybe I will add Rising to the next update. We shall see.

    @Cooper: Your first fault was using IE9 :-P Just kidding. MSE doesn’t have a “web guard” but you are right MSE should have stopped it. Not sure why it didn’t.

    @Donald Bock: Thanks for your “two cents”! :-)

    I know about av-test.org but I prefer av-comparatives.org. Maybe in the future I will change my source if there is a viable reason to do so.

  102. Donald Bock

    My two cents:

    1. AVAST has annoying file footprint database,which breaks and takes long to run, but is necessary?
    2. Runs in DOS Mode, Why needed?
    3. Has no boot disk for antivirus
    4. Antivir has boot disk ( you must remake it daily to be current)
    5. AVG has Surf protector, auto-updating boot disk, annoying pop-ups telling of updates, many false-positives -despite an Exceptions List.
    6.. See: http://av-test.org/ for most current info on viri.

  103. Cooper

    In my 15 years of home computing, i have never had any serious infections or malware takeover, etc., but i can’t claim that going forward… I’ve been using MSE since I got Windows 7, 2 years ago.

    Recently, while looking for a page to watch a specific new tv show episode from abroad, I got taken over by Windows 7 AntiVirus 2012, a malware which hijacked my IE9 & stopped me from doing much else than continually viewing fake alerts to convince me to purchase their “product”. I stopped it in its tracks & used everything at my disposal from Spypot to Spyware Doctor & AdAware, etc back to MSE, they cleaned everything out… My IE9 is kaput & thoroughly unsavable?!?

    BUT shouldn’t MSE have stopped it in its tracks in the 1st place when I keep it updated & fully functional on a daily basis? My trip to webpages did not include ANY downloading of programs but hijacked I was & IE9 is dead!

    Whatis there to do & shall I move onto Avira?

  104. Marc Weiss

    I’m running MSE 4.0.1111.0 (which is in beta, soon to be final) flawlessly on a Windows 7 Ultimate system. I download and test lots of software lots of which is crap. Instant virus detection by MSE, never infected. These test results are WAY out of date and shouldn’t be useful as a guide to the current AV versions. That’s always the problem with software test sites – software is updated too frequently that by the time tests are published they are out of date. Comodo free firewall provides a super extra level of protection – I highly recommend it.

  105. Muzikgod

    Thanks for the update Ashraf, btw love this site! I know your not suppose to run more than one antivirus program but I’m running 3! Doesn’t look like I have any issues but who knows. I’m running Windows 7 64 with 6 gigs of ram. Using Avast, MSE and Panda Cloud with Comodo Firewall.

  106. Seamus McSeamus

    Thanks for the update, Ashraf!

    When I got my first PC (a Tandy from Radio Shack, in the late 80s) I never heard of a computer virus, so it wasn’t until I bought my first Windows machine in the mid-90s that I even had an a/v. McAfee, of course. Over the years I have used many a/v products, but avast! is what I have settled on for the past several. What I like best about avast! is that it just sits there and does the job it is supposed to do without calling attention to itself. If not for the popup I see when it updates, I think I would forget it was there.

  107. Free Zer Burn

    FWIW:

    False positives are a *huge* problem; probably a bigger problem than false negatives because if you have too many fp’s then — sooner or later — you’re likely to assume an fp that isn’t.

    In my experience, Avira is *horrible* at false positives (that’s mostly why they’re so good at false negatives); MSE and AVG somewhat (but not much) better. In fact, Avast and (the payware Nod32) are the only *reliable* products for false positives. Basically, if Avast tells you something is infected, you’d better believe it.

    Are all equal in system impact? Not in *my experience*. Aside from qualitative observations about sluggishness (not at all with Avast and MSE; noticeable with Avira & AVG) there are also issues with *stability* on my systems. Although none of these products are as bad as Norton or Kaspersky, I have had *too* many problems with Avira to try it again.

    Bottom-line, for *years* I roamed between the payware and freeware antimalware solutions; burdening my system with all manner of AV, antispyware, behavior blockers, and firewalls…AND being completely disturbed by their performance; both in effectiveness and system impact.

    Just about 1 year ago, I did 3 things: I dual-booted Linux & Win 7; after using both I find myself relying on Linux more and more BUT I still use Win 7 quite a bit. Second, I dumped ALL security software on Win 7 and installed Avast Free; that plus a router is ALL that I need, everything is faster and easier and I’ve remained virus-free. Third I stopped using registry cleaners.

    The result of this is that I’ve not had to restore my Win 7 system (via a Paragon image backup) in over a year. Prior to that, I was restoring it *at least* every month because *something* was always going wrong. Mostly, this has been due to staying away from registry cleaning but it also is due to Avast and how it is effective without ANY noticeable system impact.

    Use what you want but I’m sticking with Avast.

  108. acr

    AVG 2012 should now include a behavior blocker. Their Identity Protection has been incorporated into the free version. The Identity Protection is essentially a white listing behavior monitor that flags potentially malicious activity of unknown programs, but is probably the most advanced behavior blocker of all the free antivirus programs. I’m not sure if the behavior blocker in Avast is really fully featured at this time. I believe it only logs what should be blocked but does not actually block anything (unless this has been added recently).

    Panda free version probably deserves mention as well with these other four. The free av market is starting to open back up. There are free av’s with the VIPRE engine and signatures and some with the Bitdefender engine & sigs, but that’s not in any English GUI. I think the free av’s you have mentioned plus Panda are still a ways ahead of the rest of the free av programs available.

  109. greg bern

    I am trying to install in safe mode on infected comp and mse want work in safe mode. avira does and avast I think will . so if no av and infected this tip could help. Ease of use is mse as avg is complicated and trying to get you to upgrade to more.

  110. Dan

    @Frost:

    Generally, no. But there are a few (such as Malwarebytes Free) that are somewhat recommended alongside another. My general rule has been only one real time scanner active at a time, the other installed to not be real time. Otherwise they can conflict, not to mention the system slow-down from two real-time scans going.

  111. hulkbuster

    Nice comparison: really all the products are freeware.
    I quite dont like Avast , on one occasion it detected an autorun.inf virus on my pendrive and later removed it but when i inserted it back it still detected autorun.inf virus.

    That PC was on a webcafe i sat, where as AVG later detected and removed it. But i still quite dont like it, my friend uses AVG on all his PC, he too runs Webcafe shop and although his PC is terribly slow due to AVG (but some of his rig are old with single core processors) it still protects and cleans viruses.

    For me i was using Nortn Antivirus 2010 with a paid license and on one occassion my external HDD got a nasty malare or a trojan virus and it later infected my home pc too, Norton wasn’t too helpful , i had bought Norton just 2 weeks back. But those Malware and Trojan was removed by Microsoft Security Essential, which one of my other friend had it on his PC.

    I tried MS Security essential it require Updating and the downloaded file was roughly 236 MB and would take almost 30-35 min, later i removed it and at present i am using AVIRA Free Edition.

    Updating it regularly, my pc runs smooth and the resources it not too consuming as compared to Norton .
    I have made backups and i will simply restore if the virus’s gives me too much head-ache

  112. Conrad

    Good comparisons, but it would be nice if the author updated it.

    People are still reading this thinking that it’s up-to-date, while Avast is currently on v6 and MSE is on v2.

    And now that Avira is bundling crap that itself used to flag as malware, I don’t really care what version Avira is on.

  113. Harry HAre

    Base upon the review, if you have a slightly slower computer, the best antivirus is Avast due to slightly quicker Windows boot times and less memeory useage when idle.

    I have alwaus used AVG until discovering that 2011 slows down computers. It has been ok on my laptop, but stuffed my partner’s computer. Am currently downloading Avast to try on both our computers……….

  114. Teejay

    Hi mate,

    Just thanking you for such a great article, really enjoyed all the graphs & commentary. I use MSE on my netbook and Avira on my PC, your stats reflect exactly the comparisons I find.

    THANKS!

  115. eric

    I’d rather choose, microsoft security essentials. the avast even i upgraded it to internet security, it fails to detect the test viruses i try to install to my pc. while the MSE upon downloading, it detects the virus and clean it! its a waste of money to buy the paid version as if the detection is not good, but more functions on avast internet security though.

  116. Antonio

    Hey, can anyone suggest firewall software that alerts the user when something wants to connect to the Internet. I remember having something called maybe ‘Checkpoint Firewall’ a while back, but I can’t find it. Zonealarm is another that comes to mind. I’m trying to find an all in one AV suite, with this Firewall feature.

  117. don erway

    The problem with this report, is that it took one snapshot, out of a whole long continuing history of detection reports, from nearly 1 year ago, and then draws all kinds of conclusions about it.

    MSE has never previously scored well, on these tests, and it is not now scoring well, on the most current tests!

    Basically, everything tested gets 95-99% detection, on demand tests, and there is no differentiation.

    But there is a huge difference in detection rates of the retrospective tests, and MSE looks bad dudes!
    http://www.av-comparatives.org/images/stories/test/ondret/avc_retro_may2011.pdf

    Avira gets 58%, along with ESET. kaspersky gets 50%, but MSE is down to 35%.

    The two times I’ve ever gotten hit by trojans and viruses, was when they were brand new, and updates are not out yet. That is what the retrospective test is testing!

  118. don erway

    The problem with this report, is it picked one snapshot in time, almost a year ago now, and draws conclusions from that. MSE, has never scored very well, on heuristic tests, in the past, and it is not scoring well again in the latest tests. Yet here you all are claiming to feel safe.

    You all need to look at the latest reports from av-comparatives, and then stop relying on MSE!

    http://www.av-comparatives.org/en/comparativesreviews/detection-test

    Basically, every system tested gets 95-99% of on demand scans, where they have time to send an updated pattern. No statistical difference.
    http://www.av-comparatives.org/images/stories/test/ondret/avc_od_feb2011.pdf

    But very few do even a decent job on retrospective detection!
    http://www.av-comparatives.org/images/stories/test/ondret/avc_retro_may2011.pdf

    Avira scores around 58%, along with ESET, and a bit ahead of kaspersky. MSE is down at 35%!

    BIG WARNING! I’ve been using avast and avira, (different systems) and AVAST has pulled out of the latest tests over at av-comparatives!! This scares the heck out of me. We need to demand they get back in!

  119. xcada

    After trying MSE I switched back to AVG. MSE failed to stop BitCom Defender fake antivirus, something AVG caught, stopped, and removed before it managed to infect anything. How MSE has a higher rating for real time virus threats is a mystery.

  120. Joe

    I trust antivirus-comparatives and right now MSE is second to Mcafee in false positives detection, in fact you can strip every AV out there and if you were to compare them all on simply the basis of false positives none of them win.

    Hats off to Microsoft!!

  121. acr

    @Jack Frost:
    I think you make a good point but it should be noted that in the AV-Comparatives Proactive/Retrospective review only the products’ heuristic/generic detections were tested. It’s my understanding that the paid and free versions of AVG and Avira have the same scanning engines and receive the same signature updates. Further I believe the scanners of each at the highest settings are the same. If that is the case, which I believe it is, then the detections abilities in this particular type of test should be nearly identical. Maybe the only difference would be the paid versions of AVG and Avira may have more frequent default updates, which could effect the available signatures in the product at the time of the scan. But I am not sure of the updates issue as I don’t have either product installed as of now.

    As far as the on demand detection tests of AV-Comparatives, I don’t believe any of the malware is executed in the testing, just scanned in its static state. So the above would apply here as well. Avira, Avast, MSE and AVG have behavior type monitors in their products, although I believe Avira only has it’s Pro-Active detection in its paid product. But most of the behavior monitors and pro-active features of even the paid products are still in their relative infancy in regards to being able to detect malware. AVG’s is most likely the most advanced. But AVG discreetly does not make public that their behavior monitor, called “Identity Protection” is also included in its free version. But anyway, if the detection tests do not have malware which is executed and running the behavior monitoring components won’t matter in the results.

    If I find out that AV-Comparatives tests executed and running malware in their tests I will try to add to this thread. If someone else knows that answer, be sure and post.

    Thanks.

  122. cypherinfo

    I own a laptop with had installed Avira; with it running I got a crash. I had to reinstall my operating system to fix. Since I have installed Avast! no more problems. The real issues come when using peer to peer programs. It is not enough to scan for viruses the new downloaded files; I got the crash even after the scan! Avast! offer a feature called: “sandbox” that is able to run the scanned application in order to test if it threatens your cmputer; so only after having tested it you may trust about its use.

  123. Ike

    Very well written article.

    We use Avast! on one netbook due to low RAM ceiling of 1 Gig.
    Another netbook (relative who is a senior) has MSE on it as it runs seamlessly and does all updates/scans without bothering user.

    Very little difference in performance unless doing a deep scan.

    Win7Home Premium 64 Bit Laptop uses MSE but as it has 8 Gig Ram on a Quadcore i7 chip … nothing slows it down.

    Have MSE running on a few friends 3 & 4 Gig RAM dual core AMD chip laptops (Win7Home Premium 64 Bit) and works very well for them.

    I have used all of these programs currently or in the past.
    AVG no longer impresses me with the pestering to upgrade to paid versions and the discontinuing some free features.
    Avira Free is not pro-active so its kinda limited at this time.

    Avast! is a great product with an annoying annual registration and a strange looking interface.
    MSE to my surprise has turned out to be a terrific product that actually surpasses every free protection suite out there.
    Other

  124. Jack Frost

    Ashraf, after reading this article all the way through, I’m not too impressed with you. You’ve republished someone else’s research (albeit with his permission) which compares the paid versions of Avira and AVG with the free versions of avast! and MSE – and you’ve totally hidden and disguised the fact that the comparison is not between free sofware all round. The headline is deceptive and so is the first 80% of the article. It would have been far more helpful of you to provide an honest summary, making it clear that the research you’ve borrowed does not provide a basis for deciding between free security solutions.

  125. Raven

    You can get a years subscription of Avira AntiVir Premium through Trialpay.Basically you sign up for one of the offers and once your order is confirmed you get emailed download instructions for the software and a serial/key.Then, if you are like me you immediately cancel your months free(though not always) subscription and you have legit software for a year for free.I have done this with other software and most of the offers even if you have to pay for a month of it is still a lot cheaper than the software you get for free!! Additional information…If you want to play with AutoDesk products apparently they do not like Avast.I was advised to un-install Avast,install AutoDesk AutoCad then Re-install Avast.Also if you are a student or unemployed you are eligible for a free 13 month licence to use upto 30 AutoDesk products.Search their site for a link to the Autodesk Assistance Program section and good luck!

  126. Wardbub

    I am thinking of possibly using Avira AntiVir Personal Free Antivirus. Could somebody please tell me: does it require registration to use it? I’ve read that Avast requires registration, but I’m not sure about Avira.

  127. tester

    this is only one of good research. however for personal use pc , paid antiviruses or spyware is look like powerfull and can protect user from any kind of attack. the fact is, none of antivirus or spyware can fully protect your pc. almost 20 years research for all kind antivirus. we never can find sucessfull virus removal. advise for all – never use any paid antivirus. never buy any spyware. use free antivirus/spyware. but always change your antivirus in a year. every release antivirus only can protect your pc older virus. how many people not infected by virus even they install antiviruses????? none. clear your mind and think. more you pay for antivirus.. more virus you will get.

  128. Uncle Albert

    Dual Boot: XP running Avast and Seven running MS Security Essentials. One double-checks the other.

    In the past used but dropped AVG (reliability issues) and Avira (annoying scareware-like ‘buy-me” screen)

  129. promytius

    First time to this site (from GOTD link) Awesome site! Will definitely return, Thank you for a great site!
    Please consider reviewing Ashampoo’s Anti-malware – not a free program, but worthy of consideration and I would like to get your opinion on it. Seems very nice, but I’m just a user, not an expert.
    This particular page post was excellent.

  130. s

    After trying Avast & MSE, I m back to Avira again as it has got solid detection rates , so I can have peace of mind with Avira and not worry about undetected malwares on my system as is the case if I have the other two antiviruses.
    If you trust reports from Av comparatives & virusbtn then you can conclude that its detection rates are consistently very high for a very long time now. Avira is at top in all sort of tests be it on demand or dynamic or retrospective much unlike other antiviruses. And with every test it has moved ahead & increased the gap with other antivirus softwares.
    I can also confirm that I am not getting any nag screens in the latest versions. Updates havent been a problem since a long time as they were slow earlier. Various reviewers have reported that updates r much faster now. False positives are in no way more than Avast, see all the reports of 2010 on av comparatives. Nothing more is left to criticize (including Nag screens).
    Those who dont want to see facts, they never will.
    Combine Avira free with sandboxie or returnil & u have ultimate protection. Protection requirements differ according to your usage, anyway.
    This is my personal view, for now. Others r entitled to theirs.

  131. Locutus

    @Giovanni: Did you read http://dottech.org/freeware-reviews/14151#detection? The detection rate is on par with all the other AVs tested, and it only barely stoops to Avira. Also, who cares about email protection? I don’t know anyone who uses a desktop email client outside of the work environment, only webmail. For that, only proactive scanners will work.
    Lastly, antiphishing is built into Firefox, Chrome, even Internet Explorer! So everything considered, I think that MSE could be good as PROACTIVE MALWARE and PROACTIVE ANTIVIRUS SCANNER along with, well, nothing.

  132. Giovanni

    hmmm if I’m not wrong MSE doesn’t provide any EMAIL and antiPHISHING protection unlike AVAST FREE EDITION and its detection rate is much lower when compared to both AVIRA and AVAST….right?

    So everything considered, I think that MSE could be good as ON DEMAND MALWARE SCANNER only along with EMSISOFT ANTIMALWARE.

    What do you make of it, ASHRAF?

  133. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    The chart and article have been updated to reflect the findings acr brought to my attention about avast! and AVG:

    1) I added the note about avast! Free’s “Behavior Blocker” not being fully functional yet.
    2) I added “Identity Protection” as a feature of AVG Free.

    I also corrected my mistake of not marking AVG Free down as including e-mail protection.

    Thanks acr.

  134. acr

    I think the “behavior blocker” area for Avast! needs an * as the behavior blocker is not yet truly part of the protection in the antivirus. See this link for the upcoming release of version 5.1-
    http://forum.avast.com/index.php?topic=67141.0

    specifically here-
    - Behavior Shield improvements – now with more sensors and able to detect exact offenders*
    and here-

    *The Behavior Shield functionality is still incomplete in this build. And even in the final v5.1, it will work only in “passive mode”, which means that the new sensors will be active but won’t be stopping the attacks, just reporting them to our backend infrastructure (unless you have opted out from the avast! community membership). This is to allow us to collect enough data before enabling the real thing in Q1 2011.

    I think it may give users a false sense of security to believe there is actually a proactive behavior blocker that alerts users in Avast!. I believe in time there will certainly be a behavior blocker available that will alert users as Avast is a high quality product. But for now, the “behavior blocker” area for Avast! needs to be qualified with an *. Just my 2 cents worth.

  135. newJason

    @mukhi:

    you should read this article
    http://www.avast.com/pr-autorun-for-malware-one-out-of-every-eight-attacks-come-via-a-usb-device?

    @John
    I have both Advanced System Care and Avast installed , but have never had a problem like what you describe. However, I had Avast ver4 installed first, then installed Advanced System Care. I have since upgraded to avast ver 5 and I must say I am vvery happy with both programs, and i can say that Avast detects and blocks threats BEFORE they enter your system.
    I do check very carefully the changes that Advanced System Care makes to my system. Everyone can not have the same configuration on thier system , so Advanced System Care can sometimes change things that will not benifit you in your situation, but so far, I have had excellent results from both Avast and Advanced System Care .
    The only gripes i have with Avast are this:
    1. The default setting for automatic virus pattern updates is set to check for updates every 72 min as i recall. True there do seem to be new updates that are available every 72 min, but that is a little extreme in my opinion, unless you spend all day on the internet of course. The setting can be changed pretty easy so it’s not a huge issue. How to change it? click on the avast icon in the system tray, at the top tool bar, click Settings, on the left side menu, click Updates, click the Details dropdown menu at the bottom, then you cn change the number in the Auto-Update Interval field. in minutes (I use 4300=about 3 days) . Right above that you may choose to disable the notification pop up box if you wish.
    2. In version 4 you were able to do url blocking with wildcard patterns. I used this very successfully for ad blocking. ecample: *s.web.informer.com* blocks all files from s.web.informer.com , *doubleclick* blocks any domain that contains doubleclick, like googleads.g.doubleclick.net, or doubleclick.me.com. In version 5 this feature is not included as far as i can tell.
    In the past 2 years, i can say, that I have never had a problem with a virus , trojan, or malware of any sort. Also never had a false positive. I am a regular user at givawayoftheday as i imagine many of you are as well.
    I had used Trend micro pc-cillin for a long time, with limited success. I then tried AVG, but lost it with my old system when I had virus corruption that AVG could not clean or fix. I tried Avast and was amazed at the real time features and how it did not lag my system. My vote is for Avast.

  136. mukhi

    @John:
    holy crap! as far as i know advanced system care is a very good SW (recommended by Ashraf), but this would freak me out for sure, glad that i never installed it in my new computer.
    @Janet
    i second you, no more nag screen of avira!
    @Pandora
    well, at least you are getting an AV/AS from a company for free who makes the OS, and that makes me feel that it should work better.

  137. Pandora

    Nice update to the ongoing debate …
    Nag screen on Avira can be disablled (or could, if its gone at latest version even better ) – and courtesy of the man himself ….http://dottech.org/tipsntricks/5812

    One point on latest review –
    “For both tests Microsoft Security Essentials had “very few” false positives, which is very impressive. Once again I have to give kudos to Microsoft for this.”
    Personally I dont see this a plus point (especially given the relatively low detection rates) – why?…
    If say you have 100 bad’uns
    AV1 ids 98 but ones a false +ve …oops
    AV2 ids 80 but no false +ve – great stats but it missed 17/18 real threats
    I would rather get told/have blocked a false +ve and have to research myself than let through a real nasty, or 10. If you push to the limit… occaisionaly you will overstep the line. If you stay a yard away from the edge you never fall off .
    And of course MSE comes from the evil empire [should wind somebody up!!]

  138. Janet

    I thought perhaps I should mention that since I got a new computer and installed Avira Free, I have NO nag screens…!!! I do go through all Options thoroughly–don’t know if I checked something there that did it…or perhaps they took to heart all the complaints…!

  139. John

    I have a word of caution when installing Avast Antivirus.z

    If you have installed on your PC the program Iobit Avanced System Care and you install Avast Antivirus you may not be able to surf the internet ! why well as far as I can tell it is either Avast or it’s Iobit that changes your TCP/stach and also changes Winsock under windows ! several members of the Avast forum have noticed this and have post many commentes to this problem. The only way to be able to surf the internet is to disable the ” Webshild” , however a solution has been found.

    Download a program called “XPCPT Repair”
    install and run option Reset TCP/IP Stack. Now run Repair Winsock Issues. re-boot your PC and now you should be able to connect to the Internet.

    I tried all this and had my PC back to nornmal. I think Avast is aware.

    Regards
    John

  140. mukhi

    @Jyo:
    i have no intention to hurt other OS users, but windows users don’t believe in security through obscurity. it is clear that windows has a much broader spectrum of software and users than any other OS in the market, and therefore, dealing with security is tricky. it is also evident that free software are doing as good job as the paid ones for general users. as they are all free, we only look for effectiveness, efficiency, footprint and other features. well, currently, these are my security software and observations:
    # avast! is my AV. real-time protection is ON. very nice except for its “virus database has been updated” audio comment and system-choking run while scanning. in my other laptop, avira is good (the nag screen stopped!). don’t know why but somehow liked avast! more (influence of ashraf, LOL).
    # malwarebytes: AS: on-demand scan if i suspect something. you can’t go without this. although rarely used by me, but saved me many times.
    # winpatrol: ON. the name tells you everything about it. warns you if something is trying to install itself without your knowledge, say, yahoo toolbar. well, i find it kinda nagging as it warns me every time i install/update a software. i normally do custom install, therefore, winpatrol sounds redundant for me.
    # keyscrambler: ON. saves you from key-loggers.
    # linkextend: ON. talks about the safety of the sites.
    # returnil: OFF. if i need to install an unknown software or visit an unknown site, i turn virtual mode on and reboot after done. you can’t go wrong with this.

    overall, i am happy with these guys. may want to switch to MSSE (MS product, may be better for MS windows) and uninstall winpatrol.

    my lappie:
    win7pro64 | P8700 | 4 GB DDR3 | 330M | 320 GB 5400 rpm

  141. Greg Bern

    All can be used fine. use avast now. but had good luck with avira. if not like nag screen ray use this.

    gnag.sourceforge.net to block it. only on reboot if memory serves me correct you get nag screen.

  142. Jyo

    @Jim Van Damme: Yes, I do need more RAM. But for the sake of the being “light on resources” argument, I’m just proving my point that MSE isn’t as light as many are boasting about, as least on xp (do note this 512MB Ram pc isn’t my only computer).

    And although I have used Linux, I don’t think users have to go to the extent of switching to Linux just for the sake of being more secure from malware – that’s just overkill imho. But that’s not saying Linux is bad, but telling average users to use Linux to be free from viruses is not very wise. But like you said, being “careful” definitely helps.

  143. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @Samuel: Yeah I suppose it is… Dang Bill Gates taught you well.

    @Jim Van Damme: I will take that comment as the end of this dumb verbal spat between you two. Any thing else will be deleted – you have been warned.

    EDIT: I just wanted to clarify my comment was at both Jim Van Damme and pfk2, not just Jim.

  144. Samuel

    TO ALL SAYING X IS BETTER THEN Y

    STOP IT, THERE IS NOT SUCH THINK IS THE PERFECT ANTI-MALAWARE PROGRAM. THE POINT OF THIS ARTICLE IS TO HELP YOU CHOICE THE RIGHT ONE FOR YOU.

    And I though that Apple/Mac vs. Microsoft/Windows was bad!

  145. Samuel

    @Ashraf: Well to solve the problem of backlinks, you could include in the top of the articles a link to the most recent one. As for the comments, hmmm, that one I’m not as sure about…though we could all just subscribe to the new one.

  146. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @Samuel: Yes you may suggest it =P

    To be honest I didn’t think about just creating a new post instead of updating my current one, but it is a good idea. The only problem is backlinks to this article are all over the Internet. If I stop updating this and just create new posts, the new visitors here may not understand that this article is outdated and there is a new article regarding the same issue.

    Plus, there are some important people that are subscribed to the comments here, if you get what I mean.

  147. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @acr: Are you 100% sure about the behavior monitor/identity protect in AVG Free? Their website does not list such features, but I will update the chart to reflect this if I can get some concrete proof. (No offense, I am not calling you a liar or anything.)

    @Leslie: I find it hard to believe avast! would spam, but I use my spam e-mail for such registrations so I cannot confirm or deny this.

    @Lady Fitzgerald: You are right — I haven’t used Avira in a while so I forgot to mention Avira’s annoying popup ads. I will update the post ASAP to mention this.

  148. acr

    I’m not sure if this has been mentioned yet or not – but the latest AVG free antivirus includes a behavior monitor. AVG included the Identity Protection although it’s not mentioned very well on the AVG web site. AVG Identity Protection used to be a stand alone product as well but is no longer offered for sale in that regard. Originally ID Protection was Sana Security Safe Connect but that company was purchased by AVG. The product is also included in some Norton products as the “Antibot” protection.

    On the other hand, the behavior monitor included in Avast! is still in its relative infancy and is not really much more than the anti-rootkit monitor. It is supposed to be enhanced in Avast version 5.1. There’s also expected to be a behavior monitor in Avira’s next free version and MSE version 2 is supposed to have a behavior monitor as well. MSE already includes heuristics and dynamic generic signatures.

  149. Jyo

    I always thought MSE wasn’t as light as everyone was saying. Sure it’s simple, and since I am a Windows fanboy I’m very proud of Microsoft’s achievement, but installing MSE on my 512MB Ram PC (from 4 years ago) did not work out well at all. I’m still with Avira, and I can say I won’t be switching anytime soon unless some significant thing occurs.

  150. Philippe

    Until MSE was on the market I was installing AVG free, but it was taking to much space and resources, so I started to install to all my clients the MSE. I use it too and it protect me well, time to time it jump out telling me that some thing is wrong and need to be cleaned.
    I install too another AV in parallel : Imunet AV http://www.imunet.com . It work on real time from the cloud and can be use with other AV. They timed with ClamAV an other free AV.

    Thank for the comparison, I allways was wondering how good or bad was the MSE.

  151. mukhi

    @all
    my avast!, is detecting autorun.inf malware in my USB flash drive, does anybody know whether it’s a false one or something i should take care of?
    i really want to switch to MSSE (better IMO, as it is offered by the OS maker only and by now MSSE should be smart and competitive enough), but don’t know whether it will do as good job as avast!/avira.

    NOTE: i have also noticed avira has stopped the nag screen (in my other laptop)!!!

    @Jim Van Damme
    i think having silverlight is good as it actually helps to bring a new level of interactivity wherever the web works…genuine advantage detects whether you are using a pirated OS or not, and IMO, it is their right to check before they offer you a free AV.

  152. MSGan

    Thanks for the article and keeping it current.
    The recommendation seems to be that any of the four will work well for malware protection. Given that, I wonder which is the “best” in terms of overhead. Which will have the least impact on the performance of my PC – browsing, email, etc.? I’d guess the answer could vary by OS and configuration (e.g., RAM), but I’d definitely be curious to see some test results and discussion on that.
    And since I’m in the process of setting up my Black Friday laptop purchase (and plan to replace the McAfee that came with it), this is a very timely issue for me.

  153. Lady Fitzgerald

    Tanner, whether you intended it or not, your use of gay is rude and insulting. Please knock it off.

    The catregory of no advertising is misleading and unfair. The only advertising I’ve seen with Avast is an unintrusive ad on the opening menu screen. Big deal. It’s a far cry from intrusive popups yet the chart does not reflect that.

    Comodo and ZoneAlarm both make good free firewalls. I’ve had good luck with Zone Alarm.

  154. Leslie

    I was happily using Avira free editon version 9 and then I upgraded to version 10 and then the problems began. The most noticeable problem was a significant slowdown of the machine. Using process hacker I could see that Avira would take 100% CPU time when I opened files. I also noticed that its memory footprint was significantly larger. On a less critical side of things, the new user interface is IMO a step backwards, the version 9 one was far better.

    Performance got so bad that I uninstalled Avira and downloaded Avast 5 Free edition. So far I am happy with it although I find that it takes too long to find out if an update is required and sometimes these updates are large.

    BUT the biggest problem with Avast is that since downloading it, I have since started to receive a lot of SPAM to the unique email address I used to register Avast – that’s why I use unique email address for each piece of software. I am not impressed at all, so everyone should keep this fact in mind when registering Avast. I have never received any SPAM to the Avira email address.

    For my other machines I am currently using AVG 9 Paid edition which I have no complaints about so far (its been 3 months since I installed it).

  155. blue

    FWIW, the latest (10/2010) VB-100 tests disagree with these results; not only placing all 3 of these at about the same level of protection but among the best available in both proactive and reactive protection. In fact AVG 2011 marginally outperformed both Avast & Avira. IMHO, any of these 3 are acceptable and while I’ve never liked AVG in the past, the new AVG 2011 is my current choice. It’s light on resources, has minimal false positives, very good detection and (most of all) has a terrific interface. Combined with the (free) threatfire HIPS, it has been completely trouble-free.

    My advice: Don’t let the (very) outdated article on this site dissuade you.

    http://www.virusbtn.com/vb100/rap-index.xml

  156. Ray

    I have Avira, Avast, Comodo, Sandboxie, MalwareBytes. Never had a problem updating Avira its very quick though dont like the nag screen. Avast tries to update while my machine is booting and frequently causes it to hang. Not alone in this. Cant even start ProcXP or task manager to kill the update. Avast is also the only app to be full screen in your face at boot time. If I use comodo firewall to prevent it updating it doesnt go quietly. Avast scans on demand very quickly though so dont understand speed complaints and will flag infected web pages but finds little else for me. Comodo seems to find things in Avast’s temp folders. Not sure if Avast is missing them or if Comodo just takes over. Comodos heuristics are trigger happy though sometimes something else will confirm a problem. In any case I have it for the Firewall and Defence plus rather than antivirus. Its sandbox can grab anything that starts unasked though it treats the same program in an archive as unknown each time its extracted and run from a different winrar temp folder. And if I want a list of my trusted programs or software providers Il handpick and add them thankyou. If you run two or several programs be aware that a slow scan in one might be slow because the real time part of other programs are interupting every open and close. Make sure they don’t mistake each others incoming virus signatures as problems. Constant references to Second Thought were very irritating till I sussed it. Sandboxie is terrific for trying out things you dont know if you want to keep or dont know if you can trust. Have also used A2, Norton + McAfee. AVG finds only cookies and was useless in the end. Running various programs at the same time is the ultimate test of what finds what and when. Best detector of substantive threats is Avira without doubt. The nag screen is a small price to pay.

  157. AshiixElainexx

    I am running both Avira and AVG on one computer, and it seems that despite Avira running a daily scan, AVG is picking up viruses left and right during a scan currently underway. I will say that Avira is (or seems to be) the first to detect the virus as soon as it’s picked up; however, everything I go into “My Computer” it beeps and says that it blocks auto-run because I always keep a game disc in my CD drive because I play the game constantly. I also have been having issues updating Avira since (What Avira is telling me) 11/11 of this year. After looking at all of these graphs, though, I kind of want to try avast! now.

  158. Jeff 18 year tech guy

    I have been in the bizz for a long time.
    as of todays date 11/26/2100 here are the top pics in order
    1 M.S.E
    2 Avira
    3 Avast
    4 Btdefender
    5 AVG

    Note: M.S.E is the lightest weight out of all of them and does out rank Avira in detection, Avira and avast are so close but Avira has such a slightly better detection rate.

  159. Damien

    Should update this and use Avira Personal ver10 and check it out with Avast free ver5.0.677 vs AVGfree 2011. AVG and Avast has Webguard/shield. Avira has none but detection is Avira hands-down.

    Would like to see a new test showing latest versions used.

  160. Pepe

    What about Avira frequently nagging with its pop-ups “recommending” upgrading to the paid version, which is almost spam in a sense? Yes, it is free, but I rather don’t want that.

    Between MS Security Essentials, Avast, AVG and Avira I have found that Avast causes the least payload to the system, with a good detection rate. Complement with MalwareBytes (paid or not), a good Firewall (there are good free ones), Virus Total, Sandboxie (paid or not) and and you are good to go.

  161. TheRube

    Along with Avast . . . Try the Free Panda Cloud Anti-virus which is not locally based in your computer but zaps malware from a server in the internet!
    (It catches the bad guys BEFORE it downloads into your computer.)

    Neat idea. Try it as it will NOT conflict with Avast – - and it’s FREE!!!

  162. deputu

    As a regular user, I have try three of these antiviruses. Agree that avast still serve a maximum protection. It block a suspicious file before I open it. AVG and Avira won’t do that. But I agree Avira has a fastest scanner engine. Unfortunately doesn’t have automatic healing of quarantine action. AVG does, but the virus scanner is slow.

  163. James Smith

    When I read about the professional/paid version one of the reasons Avast has to upgrade is a Firewall.  You do not mention anything about a firewall in any of the three.  Do the free versions not have a firewall?

  164. Dutta

    I plan to use my home desktop (Win 7, i5) only for playing games (not connected to internet), but CD/DVD/PDs will be used often. Occasional movies, MS office works will be done. Which one then you recommend for me? 

  165. Ratho

    I have a personal story to tell. We got a NASTY virus on our work shipping computer. Having just started up a side business cleaning up computers, I decided to do it for free in return for experience gained.
    I scanned that computer (in safe mode) with half a dozen scanners. (including Avast and AVG) I have always picked Avast due to the boot scan option and will continue to use that in my cleaning process of people’s computers. However, I ran Avira after Avast boot scan and Avira came up with THREE more trojan horses and a two KillApp critters.
    Just before scanning I called out a bounty to whoever could find the bug causing the problem. (yes I kinda talk to computers, lol). The program to find and solve the issue, would become the program I install on my clients (and my own) computer. After Avast missed 5 viruses… I went with Avast.
    Props to Avast for going above the call of duty with extras, but slower scans, and most important! missing viruses gave him the close second to Avira.
    Thank you SOO much for this article. Those charts and tests REALLY gave me a visual confirmation to pick Avira.

  166. Miltos

    At one time, I was using Avira free and also Avast free, having disabled the realtime engine and enabled only the webmail, P2P etc.
    Was that good-secure aproach?
    It seemed that I did not have interferance problems.
    Now I use only Avira.

  167. Douglas

    The last version (I believe it was 9) of AVG free came with the link scanner enable, which really cripples web browsing. I couldn’t find a way to disable it, how to disable it it V.8 was readily found in the programs control panel. When I remove AVG free, web browsing returned to normal. Having Aria on my portable, I knew I didn’t like the user interface, so I tried Avast! in mt desktop computer, from a casual review I have to say I like Avast! free better than AVG free.

  168. Tanner

    @eric: Uhm. Not to be rude but if you want your internet to be safe from viruses then use Avast instead of using some gay plugin that will most likely lag your internet more, use Avast it comes with internet security. And it does not even slow down and mogg my computer because avast is already open in the tray.

  169. Joe M.

    @janet:

    Oh, I see. Well, perhaps you are correct.

    However, that being said, please don’t get me wrong. There is
    no doubt Avira is a top-notch program. As I said previously, Avira
    did a great job on a virus I had on my computer when AVG did
    nothing at all to combat it. So frankly, there may come
    a day when I revert back to Avira. I read where Consumer
    Reports rated it higher than many paid AV software out there.
    So its credentials certainly can be considered impeccable.

    However, I still maintain, like most of us, that it is a product that
    could be improved upon in some respects. In quite simple ways,
    actually. At least, that’s just my opnion.

    Be that as it may, I don’t feel anyone can go wrong having
    Avira protecting their computer against malware. As I indicated
    prior, it is all a matter of personal choice.

    Your points are very well taken.

    Thank you.

  170. janet

    @Joe M.:

    1. With Avira you can choose either to update automatically or just be notified when new updates are available. In either case, you can choose to update Now or Later. They also let you know if you haven’t updated in two days, which I think is very helpful.

    2. I was only commenting on the fact that many folks seem to have trouble updating with Avira while I (lucky for me!) never have found this to be a problem….So perhaps it has to do with settings….

  171. Joe M.

    Well. Janet, you certainly raise good points. But it’s not so much
    complaining as it is pointing out facts. Even though, avast! would
    like you to buy their products, you’ll have to admit they aren’t
    telling you on a daily basis that you would be better served
    purchasing their products rather than running their free
    version on your computer. And avast! is versatile and configurable
    enough, that you can set it up so that they will ask you if you
    would like to update (as opposed to just aurtomatically
    updating). I mean, why does it have to be everyday that Avira
    does this? Couldn’t they just “nag” you once a month, or something
    in that time frame? Surely, we don’t have to be reminded day-after-day
    that they have a paid version available, do we?. Is our collective
    attention spans that short?

    At any rate, although Avira is a phenomenally good free
    product. I think it could and would  be even better and
    more popular if the folks over there would just rethink 
    a few things.

    Either way, in all seriousness, I must say you have a heckuva
    great product on your computer in Avira. (But avast! is good
    as well. To each his/her own, I guess.) And btw, don’t forget
    Avira has a paid version available also. But I’m sure they’ll
    tell you about that shortly themselves:)

  172. janet

    I’m always dumbfounded when people complain about Avira updates! I have the free version, and it updates quietly in the background whenever I boot up, and then lets me know in an unobtrusive window bottom right of screen saying that my system has been successfully updated and that it has installed x number of files…Yes, it first flashes the nag screen which I automatically click on, and then it updates with no problems ever….I consider the nag screen an alert to the fact that Avira wants to update and will be busy doing just that if I click to continue (as opposed to closing the window). By the way, I seem to recall that the nag screen is the “Notifier”, and that if you disable it , you will also be disabling the automatic updates…. And Avira will often update more than once a day. They always notify me when I need to update (asking me if I want to do it now or later), so there is never any issue of my not being able to reach them…..

    I have in an earlier post addressed the issue of the myth of not being protected from bad emails with Avira. I am always alerted to dangerous emails, and you get several options of how you want to deal with them. I always check ‘Deny access’. Yes, this is in the FREE version! This issue is dealt with at length in the Avira Antivir Free forum. It also alerts me to dangerous websites.

      

  173. lookmann

    avira’s major problem is very slow updates.sometimes it took hours, so i stopped updating.  then windows will say a-v is out of date.they say their servers are busy and could cater only paid users.this is a pressure tactic to sell pro version.
    its false+ forced me out of ssuite office, otherwise a feature-rich office suite. and horror of horror,it wiped out downloaded movies, after a scan. after an year, i returned to my tested avast ,which nicely updates on net connection.
    and lastly ,the a-v comparative study was criticized on ethical grounds,for accepting funds from participants. and avira was a major sponsor.

  174. Joe M.

    Actually, I have used all three. My first AV was AVG. I had it
    for a while and it seemed as if it was working pretty decently
    for a really long stretch. No complaints really. It was unobtrusive
    and the PC was just hummin’ along so to speak. Up until… a rather
    wicked, heinous, insidious malware named “Antivirus Live” took
    over my machine. Well – my system was now infected. And now
    it was time to see what tools, what line of defense(s), just exactly what
    capabilities AVG had in its arsenal to combat this “evil presence,”
    this “foreign body” if you will, that which was now making its
    home – on my computer. To be honest, this event took place a
    fairly long time ago, so exact specifics are somewhat hazy.
    However, I still remember the futile feeling I had as I had lost control
    of my PC. Web pages were opening without any actions taken by me.
    Homepages were changing. All I actually could do was watch as
    AVG was being, well, AVG (average). In other words, perhaps AVG is
    a first-rate Anti-Virus, but it was NOT with THIS virus (“Antivirus Live”).
    And NOT on MY computer at THIS point-and-time. So – what is my
    next step? What do I do now? Well…enter Avira.

    I had heard a lot of good things about Avira. Not the least of which,
    was a VERY favorable review given by that “leading consumer
    magazine.” I won’t divulge its name here as they may file a lawsuit
    against me for using them as a reference, and making their name
    public (Hey. ya never know, Ashraf might dime me out) :)  But I’ll
    give  you a hint: The first name is Consumer and the second name
    starts with an “R.” (Do we have any Wheel of Fortune
    afficinados in the house?). Okay, good, now they can’t get
    me *HaHa*

    At any rate, I turned to Avira because of word of mouth and
    the CR mag review. Aw, who am I kidding, I was frigging
    desperate! So, I downloaded and installed Avira. I turned to
    religion, clutched the rosary beads and cut loose this highly
    acclaimed AV prog on this dreadful intruder which by this
    time was quite comfortably nestled in BOB ( Buckets O’
    Bolts, aka my PC). Long story; short! Wow! Avira to the
    rescue! It found “Antivirus Live” really fast. It sprayed its
    pixie dust (OK, I embellished this part of the story. No pixie
    dust was used or harmed during the eradication of the
    virus) and wiped Antivirus Live right out! My PC was no
    longer in ITS hands anymore. I was now my computer’s
    ruler, king and sovereign leader! (I know, I know, I need
    to cut back on the caffeine). Alright, so Avira was good.
    I was darn good. But do we always need to be reminded
    how good it is and how even better it would be, if we were
    to only dip into our collective and respective wallets or
    purses and fork over the greenbacks to them once a year?
    In other words, to say Avira has nag screens would be as
    accurate as saying what a lousy economy
    we currently find ourselves in. Avira constantly
    was flashing their nag screens and trying
    to get me to “upgrade” to their paid version. And
    y’know what? That’s fine. It’s their company, they can
    choose to run it as they see fit. But conversely, I, too,
    have a choice. I can choose to look elsewhere, and seek
    out a AV program that will fit my needs. And I did.
    Enter avast!

    So – I have used avast! for a good long stretch now, and I
    am currently using it today. I have to register it once a year.
    But in the interim, unlike Avira, I don’t even know it’s there.
    Except of course, when it automatically updates its anti-virus
    definitions and tells me so by way of both a visual cue (a
    dialog box) and / or an audio cue (a female voice announces
    “database has been updated”). Oh and it also has
    “blocked” a number of malware from penetrating and
    doing harm to my machine. As this too, is also
    “announced” (visually and audibly) by avast!. So I say,
    all-in-all, Avast! is well… a vast improvement over what
    I had.

    Hey look, I understand Avira may be somewhat better than
    avast! at malware detection. But I don’t think it actually is
    that much better. And I happen to think that avast!, overall,
    is more comprehensive, with more features that have swayed
    me over to their side.

    Now, having said that, I do realize things in the computer
    world can change very quickly. So, I will try to stay on top
    of things and rely on knowledgeable people such as Ashraf
    to tell me otherwise. Or to give me a heads-up about
    how another product or products have now surpassed
    what I’m using at the moment. But until that time
    comes…I’m hanging my hat with avast!

    Oh, one last thing. I think a lot of people are taking avast!
    more seriously as well because when I last checked over at
    download.com, avast! had leapfrogged Avira and is closing
    in on AVG as the most downloaded app.

    Bottom line ( I lied. One OTHER thing): They’re all very worthy.
    I guess it just comes down to what’s best for your particular
    situation / computer at a certain given time.

    Joe M.

  175. TheRube

    @Diana: You make a lot of sense in your comments (as I have also tried BIT DEFENDER)
    I also had AVIRA at one point until they had the difficulty with supplying the FREE users with timely updates or none at all.
    I switched back to AVAST and have NOT looked back since.
     
    TheRube
     
     
     

  176. Diana

    Hi all:
    I loved the article, very thorough and informative. Thank you.
    I have used AVG in the past. My machines ended up with viruses. I went to a paid for anti virus for 2 years. Bit Defender. I thought it was good the first year but the second year was shear hell.
    I then went to Avast which I am still using today with out any problems.
    I’m always looking for something better. You know, the grass is always greener on the other side. lol
    I had checked into Avira and almost changed until I notice all the false positives. I don’t have time for false positives. I think the only reason they are rating a wee bit higher on the testing results is do to this false positive problem. Take that away and Avira would fall short of Avast, which I feel they do anyway.
    For now and probably a long time, I will stick with Avast

  177. TheRube

    MY Computer Security Defense currently consist of the Free Version of AVAST Ant-Virus 5.0 (Mad Good); OUTPOST Fire Wall (The BEST) and the paid version of MALWAREBYTES Anti-Malware (Better Than Any Other in its league)!
    I also have the paid version of ZEMANA Anti-Logger.
    I can sleep comfortably at night Knowing Full Well that my computer is highly protected!
    Thanks All,
    TheRube.
     
     
     

  178. Dean

    I’ve been using Avast! for about 2 years now. I switched to Avira when AVG had an upgrade and it slowed my machine to a crawl! I liked Avira until I noticed it didn’t scan my incoming email. I promptly looked for another good free antivirus program and came across Avast! It did everything I wanted and it didn’t slow down my PC like AVG did. I’m very happy with Avast!

  179. Roy

    In my experience the memory usage stats for AVG are way out. Raymonds graph doesn’t seem to take into account that AVG stores a copy of it’s database under the ‘SYSTEM’ process. On all PC’s I have seen with AVG  on the system process always consumes around 80-100MB (it should be <1MB) and never drops.
    Anyone else notice this?

  180. MikeR

    Be interesting to hear the experiences of MSE users, seeing as how this is now earning a lot of kudos for Microsoft.

    Me, I’m still continuing on with Avast: not a single false positive in 8 months, superb email detection and flagging, easy on resources and not a single update problem — unlike the horrendous experience of Avira, where insult was added to injury by its appalling splash screens.

    Avast Rules OK.

  181. smaragdus

    I have used all of these three anti-virus programs- first I had Avira, but it’s pop-ups just discouraged me to go on relying on it. Then I switched to AVG, but I ran across problems removing a trojan, then I moved to Avast and I keep it to this day (version 4.8, I didn’t bother to update it to version 5 because I am contented with what its old version provides- 7 shields, scheduled boot-time virus removal, good set of skins. It is the less obtrusive of these three products, it does not slow down my system, its scanner is not among the fastest ones, but there is no perfect anti-virus application. Avast plus Outpost (optional spyware cleaner- SpyBot – Search & Destroy) is the perfect security combination for me.

    P.S.

    I cannot say which is the best anti-virus, but I am certain which one is the worst, and this, by far, is Norton, the most horrible application I have ever had on my machine (I bought my laptop with it installed on it).

  182. Jojo

    I’ve been using AVG free for a while and it has worked for me.
    But a note of caution though:  The other day AVG did an auto update and it updated to the newest version, requiring a system reboot.
    However, after restarting, I began getting BIOS problems (an errant BIOS code on the LCD readout, beeping indicating that the CPU fan supposedly not working but it was).  Rebooting did not solve the problem.  I was scratching my head as to what to do.
    Then I decided to go into the BIOS.  Seeing nothing amiss, I did a reload of the BIOS (my ABIT IP35 Pro mobo easily allows this via the F7 key).
    After doing this and rebooting, no more problems!

  183. SDG

    Many thanks Ashraf for your review and to everyone for your comments. I’ve found AVG draggy – slowed things down on my desktop computer. For my PC tablet, I’m mulling over avast vs antivir. However, I’m going to try antivir and if those ‘orrible pop- up ads appear, I will go to that link you advised – thank you, Potanin. And thanks again for this website.

  184. Rob AC

    @blue: Just an FYI- AVG Linkscanner can be installed as a stand alone and separate addon for FF.

    You do not need to D/l and install the entire AVG prgm.
    I also use WOT in addition to the stand alone AVG Linkscanner.. they work well together.

    I have been using Avast for years and I find v5 is much better, polished and intuitive than the older versions. I recommend this to all my friends and co workers.
     
     

  185. blue

    @radek: Back in the day, Nod32 used to be very good. Now, not so much IMHO. It rarely does as well as even the free AV’s in the tests and it is noticeably heavy in my system.
    Kaspersky (heavy but better protection), Norton (light and much better protection) or Trend (very very heavy but good protection) are good alternatives.

  186. shyam

    asraf.. no offense buddy (i love ur site) but ur data is in conclusive. my reason is that this was between avast 5.0 and the other anti viruses, right?
     
    however the detection scan came ended up using Avast 4.8  which is not proper data.
     
    but i love the review.. and im not sure how many people check this out (but this helped me decid on avast

  187. robert

    i have used Avira now for years and find it the best. haven’t had an infection since it has been on my system.however….. when i tried to uninstall it to try out their security suite it removed a .dll file that windows needed.no big deal but a little scary at the time. does not slow computer like avg.  well worth the download.

  188. JimO

    Avast! five Home. It’s great. I even tested it with live viruses in a VM, and it removed/stopped execution of all that I tested. Has a basic firewall, too. I recommend it to everyone, and recommend they don’t have another piece of software for firewall, as Avast! has it covered.

  189. Fusion

    I’m coupling Avast! 5 with Comodo 4, which has Sandboxing features and Defense+ which I find very useful. With all these features activated, I do not notice an increase in RAM usage. In fact, a mere 1-2% increase is detected.

  190. Fusion

    I am a user of Avast! 5.0. Please note the full scans for Avast! can be shortened with the activation of the Persistent Cache feature (under Settings in the Full Scan dropdown tab). The first time scan for Avast!5 on my p8400 core2 duo PC with 4gb ram and Windows 7 64-bit took 40 minutes, which is a long time. However, conduct a few more full scans with Persistent Cache turned on, and it dropped to a mere 15 minutes by the 3rd full scan. In fact, this tip has been highlighted in the Avast! Blog here: http://blog.avast.com/2010/04/25/how-to-make-the-full-system-scan-6x-faster-in-10-days/

  191. Blue

    In terms of efficacy, basically among major products — including the freebies here — there’s little difference in the rate of false negatives; certainly not enough to guide a usage decision. It’s the rate of false *positives* that is far more important since when this rate gets too high, the temptation is to dismiss the warning. And THAT’S when you get infected.

    I don’t see the rate of false positives here but it is much higher among the freebies than the paid programs. While Avast *used* to be quite high on this, Avast 5 (from my experience) has calmed down quite a bit. Avira is still annoyingly high.

    The other important factor is system impact and — subjectively — on my machines Avira is much worse than Avast 5 on this measure.

    Bottom-line: Avast 5 is a great choice. In fact, the paid version (with a sandbox and an awesome firewall) is only one of two security programs that I would consider (Norton being the other).

  192. Janet

    1. I use Avira because it has the best detection.
    2. It very rarely gives me false positives.
    3. You are protected from bad emails even if you have just the free version without the additional email screener (see Avira forums)!!!!!! The email screener simply gives you and an additional layer of protection by getting it sooner. I get an alert as soon as I click on a contaminated letter in my Inbox, at which time Avira immediately gets rid of it for me. Have not had any infections during the years I have used free Avira, although it has warned me of many infected letters!
    4. It always updates regularly and quietly (pop-up box in lower r-hand corner of screen tells me it is updating). I have never had any problem updating.

  193. Doug

    I have recommended and installed avast! free on customers’ computers for about 5 years.  Considering the frequency of e-mail infections, an antivirus program that does not scan e-mail before opening them is useless.  The programs that perform within a few percentage points of each other may be essentially equal.  While some may miss an infection by a definition file, they may stop the infection when it launches by a behavior scan.

    False positives
    Some antivirus programs have higher detection rates but also falsely detect too.  When they break legitimate programs because they delete or quarantine valid files they can be as annoying and disruptive as a real infection.
    For users not willing to spend $40 annually for security, I recommend avast! free plus Malwarebyte’s paid version.

  194. mary

    I downloaded AVAST, when you first posted  that you were going to try it.
    But now I find it causes my PC to be very slow.  The size of it is 163MB.
    So I just deleted it from my PC. Hopefully it will start to act faster..
    Thank you for all the info on your site.. I always read your reviews, but often find that I really don’t need to download some of the giveaways that sound so great.. Again thank you, I so enjoy all the good and the bad. 
    Mary

  195. neotan

    I have been trying out the 2 anti virus and decided on avira. I have been using Ghost for backup and avast actually decides  that the backfiles are trojan files ( and I am under the impression that Aviria has a high incident of false positive)

  196. Dan

    I have used all of them and i stick with avira. AVG missed a piece of malware that almost made me kill myself, and i couldnt stand how slow avast’s scans were. avira scans in around 45 minutes and finds everything thats ever given me a problem. its the first thing i install on clients’ computers.

  197. Paul Thompson

    I’ve been using AVG free since it was version 8.0. The one thing I dislike about the newest version (9.0.801) is you cannot shut it down by right clicking the icon in the taskbar. If one wants to shut it down, one must do so by opening task manager and closing avgtray.exe in processes tab. This was changed  2 program updates ago. I’ve gotten my share of false positives and was having a difficult time with “popcap loader module” an active X used on some websites to play Popcap on-line games. AVG kept deeming it a PUP and although I instructed AVG to ignore, it would not ignore it. This new version of AVG doesn’t seem to care about popcap loader module. For a while (on an older version) AVG declared “Zipinst” from Nirsoft a problem and would not let me access it. Zipinst has been on my computer since I bought it in 2006! The newest version seems to have the bugs worked out and AVG free has stopped more than one bad program in it’s tracks. Since memory is not an issue, I’ll stick with AVG for now as I’m familiar with it and most important, I trust it.   Paul AKA magiccrpet

  198. Corno

    I have been using all three of the above AVV, but at different times, so a fair comparison is difficult. I like Avira best, but lately there was a report that while Avira outperforms most other AVV in terms of detection its ability to remove the detected malware is somewhat less than, say, Kaspersky.

  199. Dragonheart

    In the table of features above, I saw Avira v.9 provided Phishing Protection.

    Be aware that the new version of Avira, v.10 does NOT!
    It also doesn’t detect unknown viruses by behavior.

  200. Falkirk Computer Repairs

    The latest version of Avira is much improved and I seem to get computers in on a daily basis that have AVG installed and are very badly infected with malware. I used Avast previously before I found Avira was more effective at removal and detection, I will test it out again but I find Avira is light loading and quick.

  201. MikeR

    @ Electromikey:

    I’m now into the third month of using Avast! having switched to it from Avira. By coincidence, it’s also the third month of using Online Armor having switched to it from Comodo.

    The results have been better than I could ever have imagined.

    Not only am I free of the persistent nag screen Avira used to splash all over my monitor, I’m also free of the seemingly endless update failures chronicled by so many Avira users on the ‘Net.

    (The one or the other would have been bad enough, but it was clearly time to uninstall Avira when the point was reached where I was being bombarded with the nag screen but denied connection to Avira’s seemingly solitary update server.)

    Avast! updates are fast, timely, fuss-free and non-intrusive. So far, there has not been one false positive nor any breakdown in protection.

    Teaming Avast! with Online Armor has proved to be one of the best (if inadvertent) decisions I’ve made: compared to Comodo’s clunky obstructiveness and well-nigh impenetrable control set-up, OA has mirrored Avast’s reaction speed and deftness of touch.

    Like yourself, I too am now recommending Avast! to friends and family rather than Avira — and, of course, Online Armor in preference to Comodo.

  202. jumbi

    # eric

    active surf shield has incompatibility with some common applications, eg. Jdownloader

    So, its not a good idea to have it installed to customers.

    I use both avira (to netbooks and light installations) and avast (where I want pop email, msn etc protection).

  203. @Electromikey

    I’m a longtime avast! user, and have nothing but good things to say about it. It’s free, has kept every installed computer well protected (a few dozen computers over the span of my household and my friends’ and clients’ computers), and is generally non-intrusive (after turning off those annoying audio alerts, that is). I recommend it to everyone I meet, and it’s only gotten better over the years.

  204. Narcarsiss

    Avast 5.0 For the win

    Would not recommend AVG to an ant But it’s new look is kinda confusing also it dies from virus attacks quite easily we are forever removing it here at work to install wait for it…. AVAST 5.0

    Cant say i have ever herd of avira

  205. eric

    One thing not mentioned in the article is AVG’s link scanner/active surf shield.
    That feature is the reason I install AVG on all my customers computers.
    All 3 programs have a great resident shield, but AVG is the only one I’ve seen put an add-on in the web browser (IE and Firefox) for safer internet browsing. :/

  206. Ramesh Kumar

    @Bill3:

    Hi friend! :)
    Sorry for my late reply. :( I hadn’t visited this web page in a while. My fault. :(
    1) No. The Smiley keyboard instructions do not work on all websites.
    2)The link I am giving you answers not only point number 1 but will give you keyboard typing instructions for all smilies (other than the 91 which Yahoo uses).
    http://codex.wordpress.org/Using_Smilies

    Again sorry for delay in replying
    Ramesh :)

  207. s

    Its happening again.
    Now, that is the third version of his name, only this time its not by Spoutnik himself.
    It was expected but not exactly this way.
    Deletion of a vowel was what Spoutnik would have liked.

  208. Bill3

    @Ramesh Kumar: Hi Ramesh,

    thanks for the advice on smileys.

    1 Do the keyboard instructions work on all websites.
    2 Please can I have the instructions for the rest as the green one.

    Probably you have a Dottech link with all this on, and I’ll research the rest.

    SPOUTNICK RE 140 if you read my comments, you can find many free Start up Managers.

    Regards Bill3

  209. s

    @Ramesh Kumar:
    Don’t know much about my eyes being sharp. Its just that I was browsing through these posts and read Adrian’s comment no. 141 which I thought was very easy & simple way to say things in a humorous way.
    And I got interested in knowing how Spoutnik was going to reply. As I re-visited this page 3-4 times before Spoutnik actually replied, that was easy to spot.
    I wonder if he is going to delete ‘u’ or ‘i’ next time he posts.

  210. Charles

    Thanks Asraf for all the good work that you do :-)

    I always tell all my friends and family to do research on what ever program they want to install, and to look at your site first for free/better programs than work better!!
    first!
    Keep up the good work that you do!

  211. Ramesh Kumar

    @Ashraf:

    Hi Ashraf! :)
    Your comment no.145 was hilarious. I think s was referring to Spoutnik changing his name to Sputnik!

    Since once again this day started with a laugh I am sure its going to be yet another great day :arrow: :lol:

    Btw s – you do have sharp eyes!
    Ramesh :)

  212. Ramesh Kumar

    @Locutus:

    No need to be.

    You are sensible, humorous & helpful in equal measure & dottechies are lucky because of it.

    So let me say – Hail Locutus – Benevolent Monarch of all he surveys……..or some such thing.
    LOL
    Ramesh :arrow: :mrgreen:

  213. Ramesh Kumar

    @Locutus

    Hi Locutus! :)
    I’ve just made a commitment to our friend Bill3. I quote – “Locutus our administrator in http://www.dottech.org taught me that if you type : followed by ) you get :) & if you type : followed by D you get :D You can meet Locutus on our main blog or inside the forum. Locutus btw is sensible, humorous & helpful in equal measure.

    I do hope you won’t embarass me by disagreeing with me on this matter Locutus :D :D

    Regards,
    Ramesh :)

  214. Ramesh Kumar

    @Bill3
    Thanks a ton! A nice start to another lovely day!

    1)Thanks. I always practice a “pruned down startup” in Glarys. I also double check if it remains disabled in all other system optimizer apps too. On rare occasions I found that disablement was not automatic across apps. But then if software was a person it would be an eccentric genius – genius most of the time; eccentric aka temperamental occasionally :) isn’t it?

    2)Wow! Yes using mostly portable apps in this given context is very smart since it won’t affect registry. Like you I too create folders elsewhere on the hard disk rather than using “user log” within “C My Programs”. I choose to use My Programs & My documents minimally because both are on C Drive aka system drive. If C drive crashes that would make me vulnerable to it. Therefore I park the goodies box (installers not exe) elsewhere i.e. on another Drive

    3)Thanks. That simplifies matters for me :)

    4)”Google ” Services Tweak ” to Get XP running much faster”. Thanks I’ll put this tip to immediate use

    5)You are 100% right. Mercifully heuristics is there & most security apps use it. Had we only had signature method to fall back on our comps would have died several times by now simply because coders often find it difficult to write signature code fast enough to catch newer pests. The Conficker worm is a recent example. It defeated most security apps. Slimy guy. :( Fortunately that problem is now solved :)

    6)Thanks for tip no. 6. I’ll do this. Same goes for tip numbers 7, 8 & 9 too.

    Now for this Smiley thing you asked me. I learned there are 2 ways of getting Smilies – the safe way & the unsafe way. The unsafe way is “Smilie websites”. Some of those websites often run a promotion – for every smilie you download they give you one virus free with it. Just joking :D

    There are 3 safe ways:-
    1)Download 91 Smilies from Yahoo. It gives you a cheatsheet of how to type out the Smilie

    2)Take it from Codex. It gives you a cheatsheet of how to type out the Smilie – it also gives good WordPress tips regarding Smilies. Our blogsite btw uses WordPress

    3)Locutus our administrator in http://www.dottech.org taught me that if you type : followed by ) you get :) & if you type : followed by D you get :D You can meet Locutus on our main blog or inside the forum. Locutus btw is sensible, humorous & helpful in equal measure
    Regards,
    Ramesh :)

  215. Bill3

    @KL: Hi KL , thanks for the tip, here’s the results :-

    SANBOXIE TOTAL SECURITY SIMPLIFIED FOR NOVICES

    1 Sandboxie runs your applications in an isolated abstraction area called a sandbox, which is a secure area, so any nasties are contained away from your main system files. Under the supervision of Sandboxie, an application operates normally, and at full speed, but can’t effect permanent changes to your computer. Instead, the changes are effected only in the sandbox.

    2 Go to http://www.sandboxie.com/index.php?HelpTopics for tutorials, etc, that are really easy to follow. Now spent a couple of hours teaching yourself.

    Regards Bill3.

  216. Bill3

    @Ramesh Kumar: Hi Ramesh

    Thanks very much for the compliment, much appreciated moral boost. The other trick I use is being very conservative. You sound as though your pretty well up to speed, and competent, but the following may refine things a little :-

    1 In Glaries there should be a Start up manager, switch off programs there permanently from start up at boot. If not get IOBit Advanced System Care Free.

    2 Most of 1 to 14 are portable apps, that don’t install, but I make a folder for them in C:\Programs anyway for good housekeeping. These don’t launch on boot.

    3 There’s nothing in the Control Panel I use.

    4 Google ” Services Tweak ” to Get XP running much faster.

    5 Here’s a Wiki definition of heuristics, I’m still trying to understand it, so I hope it helps you :

    In computer science, a heuristic is a technique designed to solve a problem that ignores whether the solution can be proven to be correct, but which usually produces a good solution or solves a simpler problem that contains or intersects with the solution of the more complex problem. Most real-time, and even some on-demand, anti-virus scanners use heuristic signatures to look for specific attributes and characteristics for detecting viruses and other forms of malware.

    6 XPsyspad lets you easily find all XP’s hidden apps, if you haven’t already got it.

    7 Free registry defrag is excellent.

    8 Start > Run > msconfig > Enter = XP System Configuration Utility = What runs on boot up.

    9 Use Process Explorer to switch as much as possible off, prior to scanning, to optimize the scan, and speed it up.

    Now I would be grateful for a bit of advice :

    Where did you get your funky yellow smiley faces, and how do you put them in. I got smileys from Smiley Central, but they had 37 bits of spyware in so I erased them.

    Regards Bill3 from New Zealand.

  217. Bill3

    @KL: Hi KL

    No I don’t get regularly infected, but I was taught and found, that there are so many nasties, that no one tool can cover them all, so by using the specialist set in 1 to 14, you get the tricky ones, and this policy has paid off many times. However, I only do my ” BIG ” scan once every 6 months, and rarely scan in between.

    Thanks for the tip about Sandboxie, I only just learn’t of it in this review, so its on my ” Google to do ” list. I would be most grateful if you have any specifically good links, hot tips, etc, for me to teach myself.

    Regards Bill3

  218. KL

    @Bill3:

    Hi Bill, you use a list a lot of tools there! Is this because you get regularly infected?

    Do you use Sandboxie at all?

    If not then I think you should, it’s free and will save you getting infected in the first place.
    It’s highly regarded free tool and many would place it above any antimalware protection, in thatr it prevents you getting infected rather than protecting after you get infected, and as they say “prevention is better than cure!”

  219. Ramesh Kumar

    @Bill3:

    Thanks a ton friend. I understood your excellent examples & have all along been practicing them :)

    Examples 1 & 2 – Absolutely right. Win Patrol & Anvir Task Manager point out if some “bad boy process” is doing its thing. Example 3 – yes I quarantine that sys file in Avast 4.8 before passing verdict as to whether that process is good or bad. The finding out part I do using Glarys Utilities Pro on Google & within Glarys own database. Example 4 – jvPowerTools 2009 & WinUtilities Pro 9.41 helps me catch if a bad boy app is doing fishy things to the registry. Example 5 – I know if I have a phoner & if he is a bad boy app – “Anvir Task Manager” & “What’s My Computer Doing” tell me that.

    Thanks for the Process Explorer tip. I have used it. I’ll endeavour to use it even more savvily to prevent software clash. Hey! Wait a minute; your excellent post contained a “clue” so I could figure it out. Upon checking the gui of Process Explorer 11.33 I discovered there is no option to “delay a start up”. The only option is to “suspend” or “kill” a process. Got it Bill3. You simply suspend a process. You are a great suspender (just joking) :) Bingo!.

    That’s a neat trick. Using this approach one can well have more than one AV on one’s machine. QED! I intuit you are also using one other data execution prevention technique & that technique relates to the OS so it should be somewhere in Control Panel. I’ll try to figure that out.

    I entirely agree catching a bad boy app using signature rather than heuristics is the better approach.

    But Bill3 there is one thing you said. I just don’t agree with you on that point. “I’m only an amateur, with little experience, who just gets by, often with a lot of luck, and System Restore”. No Bill3 you are humble but not an amateur. You “get by” not because of your luck but because of your talent. Had it been the real world, I’d say “Bill3 its been a pleasure meeting you”; I am still saying it any way
    Ramesh :D

  220. Thom Porter

    Shouldn’t this article begin as “Without a doubt”, or are you doubtful that this is indeed the most popular question you are asked? =)

    I’ve been using avast for a while now and like it quite a bit. I’ve never liked AVG much, though I haven’t tried it for a couple of years. I have never tried Avira, but I’m setting up another W7 box here soon so I think I’ll try Avira out on it, I’d be curious to see the differences.

    I always run my full-scans as I’m heading to bed, so I don’t really mind the time it takes. And the delta on its memory usage is so much lower, it really makes it worth it to me. I can be running 10+ development apps at a time so my memory is precious to me!!

  221. Bill3

    Hi Ramesh Kumar,

    wow, do you ask some difficult questions, that would take ages to reply to, and really are down to experience. SO I’ll just provide some pointers, and people can google the rest :

    1 Comodo Internet Security that has real time, and registry monitoring, means it watches every change to the registry and your system, insisting on authorization from you to make the changes.

    Example 1 : AVG.exe is trying to make changes to the registry, do you wish to treat this as an installer. Obviously, Yes.

    Example 2 : Ditto with Video.exe. Obviously no, because this is an unknown download.

    Example 3 : With virus alerts, just quarantine them, then google, to find out what they are, then restore them as they may just be heuristic, or remove them if they are actually defined as a virus by Mcafee or another competent security expert. This is one I dealt with last week :

    W32/Obfuscated.BD!genr Google = Aliases Heuristic.LooksLike.Trojan.Chydo.J Detected by McAfee-GW-Edition

    so you have to be savvy enough to answer awkward questions. —-

    Example 4 Other complicated questions about the registry or happenings, are often easily answered by referring to the origination program. Open Office or JV16 would be OK, but the rest is really down to experience, which is where the novice falls down.

    Example 5 Something is trying to connect to the internet, rarely do you allow this, because it is a classic spyware action.

    2 You need to disable some of 1 to 14 from running on start up with your start up manager”. Is the mere act of removing some of them from running at start up adequate to prevent software clash.

    Yes, use Process Explorer to check whats actually running, and this will also verify the rest of your questions about this.

    3 I thought that it would not be because these apps reside on the RAM due to which just removing them from startup is not sufficient – after all they would still run parallelly in realtime wouldn’t they & clash because of that. Or are there additional configuring tweaks as well, apart from disabling from running at startup?

    No. Programs reside on the hard drive, and only work if XP loads them into ram, which is a computers work place ; just as people live in their houses, and only work if they drive to their work places.

    4 Also, you need to be very savvy, in dealing with the results, or you could easily wreck your system.

    Experience & insights please. See examples in 1. I’m sorry I cannot advise you further Ramesh, because I’m only an amateur, with little experience, who just gets by, often with a lot of luck, and System Restore.

    The above is the reason security software is simplified, and therefore, because heuristics cannot be accommodated, not so effective

    Regards Bill3.

  222. Ramesh Kumar

    @Bill3 – Good day to you! Wow!

    Would be grateful if you could share the following so we could learn from you:-
    1)I quote you – “Comodo Internet Security that has real time, and registry monitoring, so you have to be savvy enough to answer awkward questions”. Could you share some tips please.

    2)I quote you – “You need to disable some of 1 to 14 from running on start up with your start up manager”. Is the mere act of removing some of them from running at startup adequate to prevent software clash? I thought that it would not be because these apps reside on the RAM due to which just removing them from startup is not sufficient – after all they would still run parallelly in realtime wouldn’t they & clash because of that. Or are there additional configuring tweaks as well, apart from disabling from running at startup?

    3)I quote you – “Also, you need to be very savvy, in dealing with the results, or you could easily wreck your system”. Assuming “wishfully” for a moment that there are not too many “types of results” could you share your experience & insights please.

    We’d benefit from these learnings. I for one intuit there’s lots of good things I can pick up from you
    Ramesh :)

  223. Ramesh Kumar

    @JustAnothernoobie – This is a useful & absolutely new insight about AV software you gave! Therefore I am quoting you. It only underscores the point that ironically common sense is often regretfully “uncommon” :D

    “it would supposedly do a scan, report nothing detected, and yet the log file would indicate that actually no files were scanned at all (Files scanned “0?). weird”.

    Yes indeed it is useful to at least see if a log file of an AV after scanning is empty or not. Meaning even if the scan detected no threat even then the scan report still has to list out all the files it has scanned. :)

    There is no denying the fact that *everyone who has an AV software has to at least cursorily glance at its scan report*. When one is busy one can quickly save that individual scan report in order to cursorily glance at it later
    Ramesh :)

  224. JustAnothernoobie

    My past experience with the free version of Alvira was rather strange. I think a kid in the neighborhood was hacking me for fun for a LONG time but the Alvira would start acting dotty, the fail to load, and then when it DID load, it would supposedly do a scan, report nothing detected, and yet the log file would indicate that actually no files were scanned at all (Files scanned “0″). weird. I tried Avast, and it would just keep crashing. I now use the latest AVG 9.0(It didn’t do well either in the past) but at least it now APPEARS to be doing what it’s supposed to do (although the last 3 months it has detected only a couple of threats.) I’m using Private Firewall 7.0 now, and I tried to tweak out the ftp PP2P, and all that networking stuff, but who knows if I did it right? lol.
    When the hacking problem was at its worst, the only paid program that held out longest ( Norton’s, McAfee just died) was the PC-Cillin one, but it too gave out after a while.
    the kid is really a little pain in the @ss genius
    maybe I’ll try Avast again along with the Panda Cloud AV Maybe he hasn’t seen it yet to reverse engineer it…lol.

    I REALLY hate knowing just enough to be dangerous to my computer’s health lol

  225. Bill3

    Guday from New Zealand, an excellent site, and good instructive comments.

    SERIOUS SYSTEM CLEANING FOR XP

    I have found that no one anti-virus or anti-spyware is ” THE BEST “, but they all have different capabilities, and merits, so I scan with many of them, and get the best of all. After all it costs me little time, as I do my chores while the scan is proceeding. This policy has proved successful.

    Main running security :- Comodo Internet Security that has real time, and registry monitoring, so you have to be savvy enough to answer awkward questions. Comodo BOClean,which is a behavioral analyzer, put simply. This keeps my system fairly clean, but every few months I do a “big ” scan, and the extras are :-

    1 Norman Malware Cleaner….is brilliant
    2 Mcafee Stinger
    3 Sophos Anti-rootkit
    4 Avast Virus Cleaner
    5 AVG Virus CLeaner
    6 Parvark
    7 Vundofix
    8 HiJack this
    9 Alwil Virus and worm cleaner
    10 Curit
    11 Trojan Hunter
    12 A Squared
    13 Malwarebytes Rouge Remover
    14 Trojan Remover

    Warning : You need to disable some of 1 to 14 from running on start up with your start up manager. Also, you need to be very savvy, in dealing with the results, or you could easily wreck your system.

    Regards Bill3.

  226. Ramesh Kumar

    @KL
    Well put KL, well put. I got it.

    @Samuel
    In “some” ways is the “frequent security patch thing” a downer; aka if on the one hand it “protects” (i.e. security patch) does it on the other hand “break an app as well” – if the app is baked into the OS?
    Ramesh :)

  227. KL

    @Ramesh Kumar:

    Ramesh what I am saying about Sandboxie if
    Microsoft were to control it was that unfortunately
    Microsoft haven’t a great reputation of being able to secure their products and sooner or later Sanndboxie might get cracked and Microsoft would then have to issue countless security patches just to keep up.

    On point 2 Locutus has put it better than I can.
    I always thought that No Script was an unnecessary browser crippler.
    We all know that violent crimes take place, but does that mean we should all don bullet/stab proof vests every time we step out our front door just in case we get attacked?

    I am amazed at the amount of praise No script gets by its users on the Mozilla site, they seem to think No Script is the best think since sliced bread….hmmm somebody needs to give them a good shaking, it’s not needed, and they obviously have never heard of Sandboxie before!

  228. Ward

    Personally, I use Vipre – not free… I find it’s excellent – very quick, doesn’t slow down the system at all! There had been a number of false positives, but I emailed them the file and they quickly took care of the problem.
    As far as free versions go – I find that Avast at the moment is the one to use, but it’s not a permanent thing, as I’ve seen versions of AV software change so much over time that I change my recommendations based on responsiveness and effectiveness of the software. So, my recommendations will change as the software does….

  229. Ramesh Kumar

    @KL
    Hi! Am in total agreement with you on most points & seek a clarification only on 2:-
    1)Bundling sandboxie with Microsoft OS would spoil sandboxie because Microsoft has a propensity to spoil an app which gets baked in. I could not grasp why you say this?
    2)Disabling NoScript. I could not grasp why you say this?
    Ramesh :)

  230. Samuel

    @Ramesh Kumar: I think I’m going to have a permanent blush soon!

    Yes, it was on this thread I said it, though I think I also mentioned it on Ashraf’s “What AV do you use” poll. In addition, I wouldn’t use the term “savviness”, more like chutzpah.

    The rest is for Ashraf to respond to really. (Ashrad, that’s your que!)

  231. Ramesh Kumar

    @Samuel
    Chief I am delighted when you agree with me & equally delighted even when you correct me. I’ve articulated earlier on this blogsite that I admire your honesty & intellect & that everyone can benefit from it because it is somewhat rare finding someone who is a good human even though he is bright……especially nowadays!

    They seem to make very few of those nowadays or at least very few appearing jointly on a single blogsite at a single moment. Now we know why there are so much positive vibes on Ashraf’s site.

    I’ll no longer surmise “whether” backward integration in Microsoft is a trend or a fad. It is a trend.

    Chief I distinctly remember your using “3 AV’s together scanning real time” in your post on this very thread. I said what I did because as far as I know you are the only one with the savviness to do it & benefit from it.

    I fondly hope (once again) that after you are through with your 3 articles you’d do one on that since you found my thought/suggestion/request interesting! Once again I repeat that it would help many. Even you’d be surprised at how many would thank you either in writing or in their hearts. Incidentally it would also drive up user base of Avast, Avira & AVG.

    To supplement it with “commercial streetsmarts” Avast, Avira & AVG) could consider getting in touch with Ashraf for hosting those exe.s If Ashraf found that makes mutual commercial sense to this blogsite & to them then & obviously only then would Ashraf choose to host it.

    I say this because I intuit that this post & this blogsite has impressed developers &/or employees of Avast, AVG & Avira not only for its being a bright blogsite but also excellent positive vibes aka community spirit & honesty. Again in terms of commercial street smarts all 3 Avast, Avira & AVG would have sensed the enormous trust all visitors of this blogsite have placed in their trustworthy & lovable webmaster. Believe me that kind of equity is rare to find.When Ashraf says it is good, we download.Period.

    Btw just like there are very few “bright cum good humans” there are very few “bright cum good blogsites as well!
    Ramesh

  232. KL

    Ramesh, I think Sandboxie has come of age now and really should be right up there as far as recognition goes with Antivirus.
    Almost every novice user knows of or has heard of the term “antivirus”…….but not that many as a percentage of current PC users around the wold let alone novices have heard of the term “Sandbox”

    Incorporating Sandboxes with Operating System and antivirus set ups would be quite an effective way to get Sandboxing out to the masses.

    Another way to popularise it instantly would be for Google to buy out Sandboxie and repackage it as a Google application for the masses.
    Although I hear Chrome already runs in a sandbox, I’m not sure how this compares to Sandboxie and also as I mentioned earlier Sandboxie isn’t restricted to just protecting you whilst you surf but with other things like e-mail,opening video files, photos, using MSN messenger….the list goes on!

    The only problem with Sandboxie becoming too popularised is that, particularly under the control of Microsoft, sandbox technology may well be compromised as with nearly everything Microsoft touches.

    Right now Sandboxie is the best free protection and products like Ge Swall can’t really compete.

    If anyone is still using browser crippling extensions like No Script then its time you got
    got rid of No Script and start using Sanboxie that way you get your browser back and surf without worrying about malicious scripts and still stay safe!

  233. Samuel

    @Ramesh Kumar: For the recorded Win7 is actually a step away from integration, since a lot of programs that use to be built in are now extra downloads.

    As to integration being a “fad” for Microsoft, it’s not. Far from it in fact. One of the main reasons Microsoft is disliked by the EU and the DOJ is that Microsoft has a history of integration, which both think is illegal.

    As to integrated AV, both Vista and 7 have Windows Defender built in as well as Windows Firewall, though I admit neither is great. And IE8 be default is sandboxed.

    And don’t forget my system before you say you can’t have more than one AV.

  234. Ramesh Kumar

    I also notice one other thing from Microsoft.I do not yet know if it is just a “fad” or a “trend”. In terms of features, Microsoft in its OS seems to be doing “backward integration” aka baking into the OS added functionalities which earlier existed as standalone apps.

    At one time they added a browser into the OS (Internet Explorer), later they added an Email Client (Outlook Express) & in Win7 they added an app which calculates the no. of days between two dates. Earlier standalone 3rd party apps used to do this.

    If this strategy from Microsoft is not a “fad” but a trend perhaps in a subsequent version of OS Microsoft might offer a sandbox as well. Microsoft Security Essential is presently a standalone app which exists on an “apart-from-the-OS” basis. I wouldn’t be surprised if like other functionalities an AV also gets baked into their OS one day. Since 2 AV’s cannot co-exist (due to software clash) that one single action would not only improve Microsoft OS market share further but also incidentally & regretfully be a body blow to 3rd party AV’s. Perhaps anti-trust laws may not permit this e.g. Europe today protests an email client from being bundled in Windows OS licensed in Europe.

    Such a strategy (bundling AV) would also enable Microsoft to compete even more effectively with Linux or Apple; Who knows.

    Be that as it may I hope all AV’s now offer sandbox too by way of being proactive. Not only would it help the AV’s compete more effectively with each other but also with Microsoft future versions of OS as well. The consumer too would benefit.

    Of course this is assuming that future version of Microsoft OS “backward integrate proactively” aka feature benefit not like “ribbon” or a “new gui” but feature benefits like “Sandboxie”.
    Ramesh :)

  235. KL

    Whilst I still use Avira
    and Win Patrol with OnlineAmor
    and there seems to be some good advice by the comments I have read….
    Surely the best Free protection against viruses and spyware is actually niether
    Avira Avast or AVG but Sandboxie?

    Don’t forget you don’t have to restrict Sanndboxie to just browser threats, you can open e-mail and their attachments inside Snandboxie or you could open video/photo files in Sanboxie, in fact virtually any program….even MSN messenger or Skpe in Sanndboxie, safe in the knowledge that if a virus of spyware is picked up it won’t get further than the within the walls of the sandbox and therefore keeping your computer completely safe.

  236. Ramesh Kumar

    @Dean – I’d be very grateful to you if you could explain why you suggest that the next time around it would be worthwhile reviewing Microsoft Security Essential,Forticlient,RisingAV,ComodoAV,PCToolsAV,
    PreventonAV,Immunet & PandaCloud? Do they have some useful features which these 3 don’t. Grateful if you’d share it please because a larger mkt share app though reflective of consumer preference need not necessarily be the best. Therefore please share your thoughts.

    @Brockenstein – That’s a whole new, exciting & useful insight. AVG for old computers & Avast for new ones. Could you share with us as to why you feel so

    @Sujay – Absolutely right! If 2 AV’s are feature equivalent but one has a sandbox as well then the one with a sandbox pips the other to the post precisely because having a sandbox accomplishes things which not having a sandbox cannot accomplish. I do wish that from now onwards all AV’s offer a sandbox too! Splendid point you made.
    Ramesh :)

  237. Brockenstein

    I work on alot of computers and when it comes to older computers I normally put AVG for performance. If its a newer computer with more RAM I normally put aVast! I have for years now used aVast and recommend it. Years ago I wasn’t sure which one I preferred but over all aVast seems to work well with the other programs I use.
    I have never used Avira but most of my clients don’t know anything about computers in the first place and would probably freak if it has alot of false positives.

  238. Sujay

    @s:
    Protection against high risk files nor suspicious websites is done through sandbox. No free antivirus in this list provides this. In its previous version Rising free version provided sandbox feature. I don’t know whether it is in their present version.

  239. s

    Its amazing how this topic generates so much interest, I just keep returning to this.

    @Cad Delworth CEng MBCS CITP:

    correction in my above comments,

    Regarding scanning for malicious files , its a non issue because you dont really require this from either avira or avast especially when you have WOT…

    I meant ‘websites’ here, not ‘files’, sorry.

    @ Sam

    Just try WOT instead of Mcafee Advisor. You will see the difference.

  240. Sam

    I have tried Avira, and I felt it just didn’t have that many options besides virus scanning. avast! 5 just has so many more things to offer, especially when I’m surfing the web. So many times avast has blocked websites that tried to download crap on my computer, websites that mcafee site-advisor didn’t catch. I think avast, especially with their new interface, is one of the best anti-virus programs out there.

  241. Bob

    @Cad Delworth CEng MBCS CITP:

    Cad, you, like most other people, are only thinking about the most extreme cases. First of all, Avira is not going to suddenly pop up out of the blue and say that you have a virus. So get the idea of false positives out of your mind. If you do a scan of your computer, Avira may flag some files as being
    infected. Hell, my Spysweeper does that to and I am paying yearly for that. The good thing is that such files are put in quaratine. They aren’t erased. So, when yu come home, you can check and see if such files are good or bad and restore them if necessary. It is so much better to be safe than sorry.
    Second, no matter how well a security product claims how great it is at detection, the NUMBER 1 anti-virus product is you, the user. Don’t go to porn sites or warez. Be careful about downloading movies, or pics or music from file sharing sites.
    Don’t open attachments in emails. Don’t click on links in email messages. As far as malicious websites, firefox and IE already have website blacklists.
    It is far better to have a product tht catches 99% of bad things along with some good things than to have a product that atches 80% of bad things, but at the same time letting some bad things get through.
    Avira is a good product, but its detection rates are a little bit lacking. Don’t get avira because they made the interface pretty to look at. You should be more cocerned about its detection rates.

  242. s

    @Cad Delworth CEng MBCS CITP:
    I personally agree what you said about free avira not scanning files before these are downloaded.

    But most reviewers feel that the files will be scanned in real time when these have been downloaded and will be blocked if malacious and so shouldn’t make any difference.

    Regarding scanning for malicious files , its a non issue because you dont really require this from either avira or avast especially when you have WOT and such other free and best tools available.
    Even if you are using Avast, I suggest you install WOT (if not installed already). Its really good.

  243. s

    Sujoy,@Sujay:
    Thank you for this updated info. I will check the link and surely try it in future. Now, this will make me keenly await the upcoming test reports of Virus Bulletin and Av- comparatives. Only prob is that Virus Bulletin detailed report is made available very late to free members.

  244. Cad Delworth CEng MBCS CITP

    I used to use AVG but a techie friend told me about avast! some years ago and I’ve used avast! ever since.

    I upgraded to v5.0 of avast! with no problems whatsoever and I wonder whether the people on the avast! forum who had the problems are using Vista or Win7? (I use XP and see no reason to ‘downgrade’ to Win7.)

    I haven’t used or tried Avira but personally, I’d rather have lower FPs because this home PC is shared with less-techie people and though they are well-enough trained to basically shut it down if avast! ever throws up any messages, it’s still a pain and a waste of my time to deal with FPs later.

    I also note that the free version of Avira DOES NOT scan ‘malicious websites’ nor ‘malware downloads while surfing’ (their terms, not mine), whereas the free versions of avast! DOES scan and protect against both of these.

    So for me, I’ll stick with avast! unless and until Avira produce a truly comparable free version (and by the way, yes I *am* too poor to spend ANY money on software!).

    BFN
    Cad

  245. Sujay

    Hi S
    what u have said ‘was’ right. That’s why I shifted from Avast to Avira. But right now Avast 5 is out. It came with lots of changes, mainly in the field of customization. I would suugest you to go through this screenshots.
    http://www.softpedia.com/progScreenshots/Avast-Home-Edition-Screenshot-6474.html
    From here u can get ‘some’ idea about new Avast.
    In its previous release enhanced user interface was reserved for paid customers. But now there is no enhanced one. There is only one interface with all the customizations, yet not confusing…

  246. Bob

    Guys, the antivirus to use is Avira. Hands down. Avast is 2nd, but I would not recommend it. When you install Avira, choose high for the heuristics. Yes, high. In all honesty, I don’t really notice a difference between the recommend setting and high.
    Now, yes, Avira might give false positives, but a simple look at what it flagged as suspicious will tell you whether or not it is so. Let me ask you this: would lyou want an antivirus that captures almost 99% of viruses and bad things (along with some good things), or would you want an antivirus that sometimes allows viruses to get through, yet won’t flag some good things??
    Files that are flagged are put in quarantine, so you can easily go back and restore them if necessary. Lastly, to along with Avira, get Winpatrol. This program will alert you to any new program that wants to startup with your computer and any changes to bho.

  247. Samuel

    @Ramesh Kumar: I’m blushing now, all this high praise!

    I suppose the idea of multiple anti-malware programs all running fully at the same time is “mind-blowing” in the sense that It’s not usually done, and that’s with good reason. Having more than 1 can really screw-up a computer. As to a separate article on it, that is an interesting idea, but at the moment I don’t have the resources or time to do it. That and I already have three articles in the works that I should finish first.

    And for the recorded he said “I consider Samuel my granddad”. Now while I’m honored he said that, last I check we’re not related.

  248. s

    Hi Sujay,
    “If you need great customization, features and good detction go for Avast.”

    But what is the point if you cant even tweak the real time and on demand scan levels. I have not used Avast much but I think they do not let you use advance settings where you can customize the protection. If you cant even do that what control then you really have! That is the first thing that I dont like in Avast free version where advanced controls are hidden from you.
    Whenever I install Avira the first thing I do is open config. in expert mode & set its real time as well as on demand scanning to scan for all files, tick some additional settings which were off by default, in action for concerning files I set notification level to ‘combined expert’. And I set heuristics of both real time & on demand scanning to high detection level. And further down the menu I tick several other settings. I like it that way. Some one else would like to do it differently.
    Avira lets you do that in free version.
    What else do you call customization in an antivirus programme if it doesn’t lets you fine tune the most important thing , that is your protection?

  249. Ramesh Kumar

    @ tim suddaby :D

    Thanks friend. Glad I trusted my gut & did not move up from 4.8 to 5.

    Tim that’s why I keep a copy of the version’s installer as well. You’d already have noticed that some software sites remove the old installer & keep the installer of only the latest version. Cnet has started doing that. If you are in a fix go to http://www.filehippo.com

    Maybe this is a “recession-and-therefore-reduce-server-cost-thing”

    Some apps during the recession came up with this update to higher version epidemic.

    The updated version in many apps is a real goof up nowadays. I suspect it is not due to coding but some silly cost saving effort which failed. Sad but true. The guys should at least be honest & savvy with a changelog to match that updation. Let us both, as well wishers, hope that this was just one silly mistake from Avast which they won’t repeat.

    I ditto your views about Avast’s greatness & the greatness of boot scan too. In a word Avast is WOW! – Avast 4.8 that is!

    I ditto your views versus mbam & use it too. It rocks.

    This Win7 64bit not supporting realtime prevention is a shocker! Is it only for Avast5 or is it for all apps!

    Quite scary really – IN FACT A ROYAL GOOF UP!

    For various reasons I’ve therefore stuck to XP professional 32 bit. I’m glad I did that!

    Thanks for explaining the point about Avast boot scan.
    Ramesh :)

  250. tim suddaby

    @Ramesh Kumar: Hi Ramesh,I have used Avast for at least the last 7 years and have had no trouble at all. I am using 4.8 on windows 7 64 bit and it just does the job it needs too.
    I did update to Avast 5.0 a few weeks ago but had several issues with it.After going on to the Avast forum it seems that the latest from Avast is almost as bad as the old Norton that clogged up your system.

    I am a system builder and I tend to install Avast as a matter of course. I have several systems running Avast all with no issues.
    Avast can be a problem to uninstall fully but you can get an uninstaller from Avast website.

    Avast will do a scan on all drives or one drive it will also scan a specific file if you want.The Avast boot scan is excelent if you have a virus that is persistant.

    I also use Mbam as a stand alone malware scanner.
    This also works in 64 bit windows 7.
    Unfortunately realtime prevention is not supported in 64 bit windows.

  251. Sujay

    Dear Ashraf, you have not mentioned few important features of these AV s.
    1) AVG can scan USB drives when inserted, although this option is not activated by default.
    2) Both AVG & Avast can be configured to perform actions on detected threats in on access scan automatically. This feature is available in paid version of Avira.
    3) AVG can scan for tracking cookies in realtime/on-access.
    4) AVG can scan for malware related registries.
    5) AVG by default installs a toolbar in IE & FF. This is not necessary for the action of link scanner.
    6) Scan optimization for Avira is not available in windows xp.
    7) Avira and AVG checks update only once a day. But Avast by default checks at every 240min.
    8) Avira shows nagscreen during update, AVG shows notification in the main window and AVAST free behaves as trialware until registration.
    8) For those who use their laptop in two places, like in broadband connection and in a proxy server with authentication, face problems with autoupdate of Avast and Avira. For them these settings has to be specified. But AVG has a option to try to connect through proxy & if fails then connect directly. This solves the problem in autoupdate. I have personally faced this problems.
    9) Avast has screen-saver scanning, game-mode.
    10) Avast & Avira can create and schedule special scan.
    11) User can add suspicious files in quarantine in Avast & Avira and send them. Also they can report false positive. AVG has nothing like that.
    That’s all I can remember..!!
    I have used all three. But mainly Avast and Avira. None slowed down my computer.
    Scan speed of avast according to AV comparative is fastest but According to Reymond cc is slowest. But from my personal experience, Avast is slow in practical cases. Avast is slow in scanning media files. Otherwise scanning is really fast.
    Although Avira is known for false positives, I never had any problems. In recent times Avast did a major signature based false positive which affected many computer adversely. Also it did some heuristic based false positives (malware.gen). If u go through their forum u will know. As i don’t use AVG much I didn’t know much about their false positives. But they indeed missed some real malwares and as they have no valid forms to upload files, things get worse. I emailed a virus to them which were detected by all other scanners in virus total. But even after 7 days the signature were not able to catch that.
    Anyway in my opinion if you want a rock solid detection go for Avira.
    If you need great customization, features and good detction go for Avast.
    And if you work in two places where for autoupdate u have to change settings go for AVG. With this u have automatic scanning of USB Drives, which is very useful.

  252. Ramesh Kumar

    Could someone guide on this please.

    I haven’t upgraded from Avast 4.8 free to Avast 5 free simply because – the changelog was not clearly defined, the user comments of those who used 4.8 & moved to 5 was not very appreciative & in fact some user comments in fact suggested staying with 4.8 was better than moving up to 5. Avast had not rebutted the negative comments

    Ramesh :)

  253. Ramesh Kumar

    Could someone guide me as to whether the changelog of Avast 5 is so good that upgrading from 4.8 to 5 makes sense? I have not moved up from 4.8 to 5 because:-

    1)the remarks were not very appreciative
    2)some remarks were pointedly asking people to remain with 4.8 & not move up to version 5. The Avast guys never rebutted those remarks. :(
    3)cost reduction & cost control is on everyone’s radar – even for software developers!I did not want to give up a ripe fruit for one whose ripeness I wasn’t sure about :)

    BTW it is a known software trick to announce an upgrade in order to increase userbase and/or increase sales depending upon whether it is freeware or payware.

    Since the recession started I’ve observed this trick being practiced even by antispyware & even P2P clients. User comments have even cautioned against updating to the latest version. Therefore I was cautious. That’s all.

    I am not mindsetted. I’d be grateful if someone can correct my thinking or share user experience of Avast 4.8 free versus Avast 5 free.

    I’d also be grateful if someone could explain this “bootscan mode thing”

    Ramesh :D

  254. Ramesh Kumar

    @Samuel – Chief I intuit once again that you are a man of deep wisdom. This point you made about using 3 antivirus apps simultaneously is “mindblowing”. Look I admire wisdom of any kind.

    I never swear by nor swear at conventional wisdom BTW. I am not a blind votary of lateral thinking. Could you share this with us my dear friend – either by a post or (dare I get wishful! :D) by a seperate thread. Everyone here is interested in computer protection. Your article would be an excellent second innings in this wonderful cricket test match. You’d definitely be the Man Of The Match. :D

    @Ashraf – I can now put the pieces together. In the “WinXP Survey” thread you had posted that you consider Samuel to be a “senior relative” or is it “relatively senior”. Man, Samuel is like WOW! :D.

    As a savvy webmaster you do realize that this “insight & practice” of Samuel has perhaps not figured in any blog anywhere else. God, I am getting goosebumps! So just excuse me guys!

    Ramesh :D

  255. Ramesh Kumar

    Great review. :) I prefer Avast (after having tried AVG) & giving up AVG earlier.

    I chose not to choose Avira after reading the cnet review. :) That review pointed out “one thing” Avira does not have but quickly went on to say that it gets covered by something else. That “phrasing” did not go down well with me. I think it referred to email attachments but I am not sure. My pro Avast reasons are:-

    1)It tells you upfront that it offers protection from Internet Mail, Instant Messaging, Network Shield, Outlook/Exchange, P2P Shield, Standard Shield & Web Shield. This “upfront” thing leaves no room for guesswork. This feature rich product is obviously having a smarter “advertising agency copywriter as well”. :) Oh I am not being facetious. :) I noticed that the other apps were either pointing out the different genres of infection they caught – virus, trojan, rootkit, LSO etc etc, or that they could provide you different types of scans – quick, medium or thorough. They missed the important point (which Avast did not!) that in this case “genre-ising” should cover not only type of scan or type of infection but also type of “occasion”

    2)Avast also has this neat little round sphere which revolves when it is watching out or analyzing something. When it is idle the ball remains idle. Often times we go clickety click one-time-too-many & our comp freezes. I stop “clicketiness” whenever this ball revolves. No pun intended but the other apps just don’t have the balls but Avast does. :D :D

    3)Not too long ago Avast had a weakness which now it “might” not. If a file got virus infected you could not cure the file in Avast; you just have to delete it. Period. By the way AVG never had that weakness. The ability to cure an infected file is a great plus point for AVG. :D. I think Avast is not as good as AVG on that performance parameter. Please correct me if I am wrong.

    4)Unlike the others (I don’t know Avira) Avast also offers you a bootscan. I am not conceptually up to the mark on what is a bootscan but I have used it – happily. It feels like you are in “DOS mode in colour”. This scan tells you about all infections. It also tells you about all system file spoilages – CAB, DLL, OCX which form part of your OS or apps which are corrupted etc. I infer from this that savvy system users can then re-download just those system files, re-register those system files & even rebuild their OS “incrementally” rather than having to rebuild the entire palace. :D

    5)BTW the “bootscan” takes as much time or longer than the “non-bootscan” & it explains the problem in an even more thorough manner – even during the scanning. In the event of a major virus attack (thankfully rare) Avast itself tells you to use bootscan. This is a lifesaver – just like having recourse to the world’s most skilled bypass surgery surgeon if one requires a coronary bypass.

    6)Avast is the mkt leader in Europe & is growing sales & market share outside too. I respect this fact, because Europe has a very large number of developed countries. Common sense tells me that because of development those computer users would be both savvy & demanding. If it does well in Europe then Avast must be good.

    7)I regretfully & jocularly sense that their update servers are partial to Europe due to marketing reasons (& nothing else). :D :D Updates do take time & effort out here. :(

    8)Seriously there is one good thing – they provide daily server updates. I’ve noticed some antispywares (not antivirus) gently nudging us to accept P2P updates or Weekly updates. The former is bad & the latter is unacceptably poor frequency. BTW This trend started after the recession began.

    Perhaps Avast has a savvy owner who expands the capacity of his update server neither too fast to hurt his profits nor too slowly to lose his customers :)

    Ramesh :)

  256. s

    @karen:
    Yes, same here. No trouble with updates or false positives. there were probs with slow update servers for free versions earlier but that has been sorted out. Regarding FPs most home users shouldnt have any.
    And no there cant be any difference between Fps in the free version and the full one because Fps dont occur because of reduced functionality of the free version as these are wrong detections by the antivirus.

    But its a big trouble if you worry more about FPs than the viruses or trojans and let the infections enter your system because your antivirus with low FPs misses many infections, its detection rate being below to that of competitors in the business.

    I think you should be more worried about the malware if ur system has imp. data in it and you use your system for any type of financial transactions. Thats why it is more imp for me to defend my system from maximum no. of viruses and trojans and so I cant settle for anything which has less detection rate than Avira. At least independent and impartial testing tells you best about Avira’s detection rates. I will consider the results of future tests if these change. But for now its only Avira and its completely trouble free for me.

  257. karen

    I wonder if there is a difference between the false positives that get reported in the free and pro versions. I’ve been running Avira Pro for about 9 months and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a false positive. Of course, I’ve only had a couple of virus/malware alerts in that time too.

    I haven’t had any trouble with the automated updates either.

  258. Samuel

    @Ashraf: It is somewhat I suppose. First I must admit that when I started using this combo Webroot was just Anti-Spyware, so I really only had AVG as my everything. On top of that MSE is really the new version of Windows Defender which comes with Vista and 7 so MSE isn’t an extra more like an upgrade. As to why I keep Webroot and AVG now that Webroot is Antivirus too is that I’ve learnt that they play off each others strengths, for instance:

    AVG’s Email protection integrates with Outlook so that no matter how you get your email or if its encrypted or not AVG can stills can it. Webroot only scans POP3/SMPT port traffic, so no IMAP and no SSL/TSL scanning. On the flip side though, Webroot has a much more powerful program scanner, it will even load a program into protected memory, scan it, and only if it passes muster let it run. AVG can’t do that.

    Also helps that Webroot now has a Firewall along with a “File Cleaner” which removes unneeded files from your system, sort of like Windows Disk Cleaner on steroids. I got over 80 GB back on one drive (and then I promptly refilled it :D).

  259. Steve Hull

    Ashraf, another good review as usual. I think it is great the time you spend trying to enlighten people and hope that you will continue to do so.

    I found the comparisons quite interesting. I have been using AVG for the past few years with no problems and have not had to format and re-install due to a virus or any other bug. I have had very good luck with AVG and as of now, I will continue using it. I also have my daughter and her family using AVG with no problems.

  260. Harry

    @JCR:

    Thanks J – that’s appreciated. I did try
    Asrafs tip to remove the nag screen but
    couldn’t get that to work – will try again
    sometime!
    Avast seems to come out very well at the
    moment – will monitor the situation on
    another machine!

  261. Grr

    Ashraf, Thanks for putting together this article. I had been looking for a comparison between 2 basically, Avast & Avira. AVG was never on my Hit-list..:lol

    Well I go with Avast, the best after Eset I used lately..

    @ future hacker – no avast! doesn’t interfers with PC Tools Firewall Plus, as Vast doe not include a firewall of its own.

    Thanks,
    Grr

  262. Betty

    All this and the recommendations are so timely! After tripping over my old laptop for months, I finally decided to take it to the office and just set it up there. Lo and behold, my AVG subscription had expired. So I proceded to remove AVG and download the free Avast.

    Downloading went quickly but the first complete scan took forever – 1 3/4 hours! (Hopefully the caching will shorten that in the future.) Avast found one infected file in all that time in all those files!

    Keep in mind, this laptop has not been in use for months and the last scan was via AVG paid. Based on comments by all of you who are a lot more knowledgeable than me, no AV is 100%. So one missed file out of close to 90,000 files isn’t bad for AVG stats.

    At any rate, I will keep Avast on that machine and see how I like it. I do know I like the verbal “finished scanning” – maybe that’s just a girl-thing – but it will be handy.

    Thanks for all the great info!

  263. giovanni

    Hi ASHRAF!!

    Great review as usual!!

    Yes, I totally agree with you!!

    The new features of AVAST! v5.0 are simply amazing and have really intrigued me too as some of them are not present even in the AVIRA PREMIUM ($$$) version.

    And now I have a fancy that AVIRA will soon release a new version of its FREE flagship adding new features to it similar to those present in AVAST in order to avoid or at least to curb the migration of their users towards the new AVAST version….LOL!

    What do you make of it?

    That said, let me add a couple of notes that I think you missed in your review:

    1)on the AVAST FORUM (and BLOG) the developer said that the new AVAST version has bridged the gap with AVIRA as far as the lamware detection rate is concerned and the next AV COMPARATIVES report will publicly prove that, although on its last August report it had already downgraded AVIRA beneath AVAST (v.4.8) because of the AVIRA high false positive detection rate problem (still present now). One more reason to move to AVAST: do you agree with me??!!

    2) the AVIRA UPDATE SIGNATURES SERVICE gave me lots of problems in the past as I was often unable to update their signature database due to several problems occurred on their servers and this, if you don’t mind, is a big CON for an Antivirus program, isn’t it? I often complained about it on their SUPPORT FORUM but the only reply I got from them was to be patient or better still to move to AVIRA PREMIUM (and spend MONEY of course…LOL!!). On the other hand AVAST seems to work smoothly from this point of view. So I think you should add this fact on your review because, if you encounter problems to update the signatures database almost on a daily basis, the AV program becomes pretty useless or ineffective. Do you agree with me, buddy??,

    3) in addition to AVIRA, AVAST and AVG, I think it would be a good idea to write one day a review of the freeware PANDA CLOUD ANTIVIRUS talking about the PROS & CONS related to the new generation of AV programs based on the “cloud” technology that, as you should know, don’t need any signatures update to work properly while surfing on the web: are you aware of them??

    Please note that, according to the reliable PC magazine “PC WORLD”, PANDA CLOUD ANTIVIRUS is currently the FREE AV with the higher laware detection rate out there (an impressive 99.4%, so even higher than AVIRA itself) and, if PANDA CLOUD ANTIVIRUS has not been tested by AV COMPARATIVES till now, it’s only because so far the methodologies employed by AV-COMPARATIVES never included the cloud-scanning components of products such as PANDA CLOUD ANTIVIRUS that incorporate not only signature-based cloud-scanning but also cloud-heuristics (but it’s rumored that AV-COMPARATIVES will include this on their next report…so let’s wait & see…LOL!!).

    4) finally, why not write a post asking Dottech readers what combination of (FREE) security programs they use to protect their system?

    As everybody knows or should know, having a great AV software such as AVIRA or AVAST is not enough to protect your PC from malware when combined with a poor FIREWALL, ANTISPYWARE, ANTIKEYLOGGER, ANTIROOTKIT, HIPS program or whatever else extra layer protection available on the market.

    But, as you know, the problem is that many award-winning (free) security programs out there are not compatible between them, making the choice of their best combination more difficult.

    That’s why a review about this issue would be very much appreciated in order to establish which combination of security (compatible) programs is the BEST (and I’m quite confident to help you and your readers on this matter…you know, I’m not signing myself as “KING OF FREEBIES” for nothing….LOL!).

    Waiting for your feedback!

  264. o(o.o)o

    I’ve been switching between Avira and Avast! for the last year or so and could only say that Avast! was the one that satisfied my usability needs.

    Avira really have some problems with their update servers which for a realtime signature-based scanner is of major importance. Comparatively, my Avast! install hasn’t missed any updates whenever one is available everytime I boot up my computer.

    Another thing to mention about avast is that the new version 5 has caching systems which really speeds up things like application launches and re-scans therefore being really low when it comes to the I/O department. Rising AV had this feature too when I tried it but only limited to temporary cache and doesn’t have the persistent cache that avast5 has.

    The posted figure about avast taking long to scan a 13 GB drive was because there was no existing cache for avast yet. I’m sure the scan time will drastically change when the same files are re-scanned.

    As for detection and disinfection, well let’s leave those to the experts :D

  265. future hacker

    I’ve been using AVG for almost one year and I thought its detection rates were higher, a lot higher…This results show me the path I should take: Avast!
    I know Avast isn’t the best in detecting viruses and malware but it isn’t far away from Avira. I’ve always hated Avira for its offer window that pops from nowhere like a big bad virus that controls my computer AHHHH! I just couldn’t take it so I uninstalled it as fast as my hand could reach the mouse (Did Avira do the same thing for everyone?).
    Moreover, I’m a feature lover. Althought an anti-virus shouldn’t have those things, it gives a great touch of originality which I doubt is available in other AVs.
    I have an important question and I’m sorry if someone already asked: Does the features of avast! interfer with PC Tools Firewall Plus?
    Thanks for your answer.

  266. David Roper

    I am very impressed with Karel’s honest admission of whom he/she works for. I use free AVG and I have found no probs ever for 5 years.

    Maybe it’s like the gold brick I bought from man on the road once. Only $2000. He told me it would protect my house from Alligators and little green men from Mars.

    I have seen neither since I bought it.

  267. Karel

    While I am obviously biased (as I work for AVG), let me just point out that relying on a single tester for detection is in my opinion not the best approach. AV-Comparatives uses a quite obsolete collection of malware and the proactive detection is based on very old (one year) versions with a bit questionable approach. To get better results, I would suggest to at least have a look at some other good testing labs, such as AV-Test.org or Virus Bulletin. As an example, Virus Bulletin measures detection results for malware that really is prevalent and spreading, not some old collection of scripts (including batch files that only say ‘Booh, I am a virus!’). Their Reactive and Proactive detection results are available free on their website. Moreover, the simple ‘on-demand scan’ test does not reflect if a particular threat is blocked before it can actually infect your system – e.g. AVG LinkScanner block many threats that can only spread via web before they can reach your PC, thus minimizing the need to create definitions for them.
    Anyway, my key point is that any single test is biased and for a fair comparison of product performance, you should definitely use more sources. AV-Comparatives is just one of them.

  268. Samuel

    @s: I’ve been doing it for a while actually and all’s good. While have multiple real times can cause problems it really depends on which ones, and it seems I hit the nail on three that work togther fine.