It’s that time of year again and your anti-virus subscription has expired. Windows starts to generate alerts warning you that you aren’t protected from viruses. The world is coming to an end! Well, not quite. But aren’t you sick of purchasing a new anti-virus subscription every year? Fortunately, there are a few websites where you can download free anti-virus software.
Why would a company offer their anti-virus software for free? Well, the free version of their software has limited functionality and doesn’t include features like anti-spam, a firewall, or technical support. If you want this additional functionality, you will have to fork out some cash for the full version. Most of the time, the free version is sufficient for your security needs. As an added benefit, the free version typically uses less memory than the full version, so your computer doesn’t slow down after you install it.
I recommend that you supplement your free anti-virus solution with a hardware firewall (router), anti-spyware software, and link scanner like SiteAdvisor.
Alright, let’s get to it. How do you get free anti-virus software? There are dozens of free anti-virus programs available on the ‘net but I’ve narrowed them down to the top three. These are well known anti-virus programs in the tech community and I guarantee that you’ll find at least three geeks who would recommend them to you! I’ve included links to their download pages for your convenience.
1. AVG Antivirus – This is probably the most well known among the top three. Many people who have upgraded from AVG 7.5 to 8.0 complain that it made their computer slower. It shouldn’t be an issue if you have a new computer with lots of memory (At least 512MB), but if you have an older machine, you may way to try one of the less memory intensive alternatives below. Note: AVG 8.0 Free Edition now includes anti-spyware protection as well.
2. Avira AntiVir – I did a little bit of comparison research and this one came out on top more times that I can count on one hand. This is a good alternative to AVG if you are running an older computer without much memory. Unfortunately, you will get annoying popups asking you to purchase the full version whenever you get a virus definitions update.
3. Avast! – This one got mixed reviews. Some people love it and some people hate it. Anyways, PCWorld rated it as second best (behind Avira) of the FREE Antivirus programs. Again, it’s a good alternative to AVG if you have an older computer with limited memory.
You can also scan your computer for viruses (and usually spyware too) at the following websites: