Can You Trust Free Antivirus Software?

Free antivirus program are as varied as insurance programs are paid on the quality of their protection. And frugal computer users hunting for any cost of antivirus software - already faced with tons of choices - will have even more to choose again when the free offer from Microsoft and Panda join the programs currently available from ALWIL (Avast ), AVG, Avira, Comodo and PC Tools.

To help you find out what free antivirus security application is right for you, we offer packages to all companies through its paces. Our partner testing, of Germany, used his vast "zoo" collection to test malware detection rates and scanning speed. Then poked and pushed to see which applications stop malware was an easy task, and that made it feel more like drudgery. For a summary of our results, see our classifieds for free antivirus software chart. For our in-depth evaluations, see the individual reviews, related in this story and in the table.

Some - but not all - for nothing

While the free antivirus programs give some value, do not have everything you paid a security application can offer.

On the one hand, you do not have anyone to call if things go haywire, or need help in disinfecting the event that something does not sneak past the defenses of your PC. Most applications that support only free online forums, but Avast offers email support (and when Microsoft plans to release the safety of Essentials); Avast users can submit support tickets online, too. AVG provides support for payment of telephone, but the U.S. $ 50 per call fee costs more than antivirus applications more closely.

Do it yourself can often find good advice on useful websites as Wilders Security Forums, but even there should not wait to talk to anyone for help with free antivirus application. (Unless you can bribe a techie friend, that is.)

In general, free applications are less frequent malware signature updates that do paid products, which may leave a window of opportunity for the brand-new bad to evade detection. Most free software applications that attempt to update its database of signature only once a day. Microsoft Security Fundamentals, however, also look suspicious samples that do not match a signature installed in particular through the implementation of the sample firms online latest Microsoft. And as long as you have an Internet connection, Panda Antivirus Cloud controls everything against Panda's servers, so always use the new firm. (If you have an Internet connection, the Panda returns in local cache.)

Some free utilities have fewer options for exploration of applications for payment of the same company do. For example, the program paid Avira antivirus scan HTTP traffic for Web capture malware before it reaches the hard drive, but the company's free AntiVir Personal version does not. And the bonds paid AVG application for instant messaging programs for additional security, while the AVG 8.5 Free does not.

Finally, some things are free programs you do not want. The application of AVG and Comodo Internet Security, both default to install search toolbars or browser unnecessary social networks (you can opt out during installation of the program), and many free applications to buy ads urging the versions payment. Avira daily pop-up ads that are more intrusive, but Avast, AVG and PC Tools Antivirus Free Edition Show all ads in some way too.

Despite all that, when choosing a free antivirus utility, you can get decent protection and earn at least $ 30 a year, if you're willing to go without a nonessential years. For many people, that's not a bad-off.