Found great info regarding free security suites reading all your comments. I haven't decided which way I'm going to go yet, but I have 3 days until my AVG Internet Security 2012 expires. (I may be able to download a free version of the same, but I'm shopping around now in the meantime.) I run Windows 7 on a Dell Laptop and do online banking, lots of surfing & social media, but no gaming. I probably fix in that 3rd Group Mg4PNwVFoAs defined on 3/1/11 that has no idea what's under the hood and usually says no when asked if they want to continue connecting to an unprotected site when warned about possible security breeches.)
I'm surmising from what I've read that I will need to uninstall AVG before I can download whichever suite I'm going to choose. Seems I'll be left hanging out to dry during those minutes that I'll be searching and actually downloading new protection. Could someone outline the steps to making that switch?
You can download another security software while still running AVG. You only have to make sure you uninstall it before installing the new one. Otherwise you might end up two antivirus competing with each other for control of your system. It could cause strange problem such as really long boot time when the two security software tries to "kill" each other. Although there are some that play alone nicely with each other.
I personally uses comodo for firewall and avast for antivirus (in compatibility mode and using slightly more resource then just one security suit) but most good free security suits all do the job well enough. Microsoft security essential and AVG works well too. Its more important to be sensible with what you do online.
The best security suite is a smart user so it's always a good idea to start there. Following basic rules such as not downloading random files is sufficient to ward off 95% of all attack vectors. Microsoft Security Essentials will take care of the rest. To be completely honest, the only computers which "really" need security software on them are publicly facing servers run by companies.
Thanks to all. I used bits and pieces of several of your suggestions here. MSE was more than I wanted. Avast was my second choice, but when I found out that the difference between AVG and the free version of AVG was the firewall, I allowed Windows 7 to install its firewall and downgraded to the free version.
I did ad malwarebytes for extra insurance. Also found some ad-ons on firefox suggested here.
I tried Regclean, but found it was basically an advertisement. Does anyone swear by it?