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QOTD: Is Free Antivirus as Good as Paid Software?

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 166 comments

Does free antivirus do just as good a job?

This week there's been an awful lot of talk about free antivirus. Between Microsoft officially launching its Security Essentials software and Symantec essentially saying free antivirus sucks, there's been no shortage of differing opinions on the matter.

Symantec's view on free antivirus software

Microsoft isn't the first to offer free antivirus. MSE aside, you've got Avast and AVG, software that many of you say you use and much prefer over the likes of Norton or McAfee. That said, most of you know your way around the web and wouldn't be clicking on the big, blinking signs that say you've just won a cruise to the Caribbean or seven billion dollars in stock options.

Today's question of the day is do you think free antivirus is enough for the average computer user?

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Top Comments
  • 54 Hide
    Lavacon , October 2, 2009 4:21 PM
    All Norton and Mcafee seem to do is cause more headaches than they solve. Compared to Avast and AVG most paid solutions seem to be nothing more over priced bloatware.
  • 36 Hide
    hellwig , October 2, 2009 4:25 PM
    When I bought my copy of Win XP Pro x64 a year after it had been released, Norton didn't have a product to support me, which forced my switch to Avast in the first place.

    I currently run Avast on all my personal computers. It supports Windows XP, Windows XP Pro x64, Vista 32 and 64-bit, and now has Win7 support. It even has a Linux clinet (no real-time scan though), so I can check files I've downloaded.

    I'm never switching back to Norton or McAfee again. As I type this on my work's PC, McAfee is consuming 150MB of memory out of my 1GB, and I'm not sure what its doing with that memory either.
  • 28 Hide
    festerovic , October 2, 2009 4:26 PM
    I haven't had a problem that a mix of free programs couldn't fix, so I would never pay for AV software.
Other Comments
  • 54 Hide
    Lavacon , October 2, 2009 4:21 PM
    All Norton and Mcafee seem to do is cause more headaches than they solve. Compared to Avast and AVG most paid solutions seem to be nothing more over priced bloatware.
  • 36 Hide
    hellwig , October 2, 2009 4:25 PM
    When I bought my copy of Win XP Pro x64 a year after it had been released, Norton didn't have a product to support me, which forced my switch to Avast in the first place.

    I currently run Avast on all my personal computers. It supports Windows XP, Windows XP Pro x64, Vista 32 and 64-bit, and now has Win7 support. It even has a Linux clinet (no real-time scan though), so I can check files I've downloaded.

    I'm never switching back to Norton or McAfee again. As I type this on my work's PC, McAfee is consuming 150MB of memory out of my 1GB, and I'm not sure what its doing with that memory either.
  • 28 Hide
    festerovic , October 2, 2009 4:26 PM
    I haven't had a problem that a mix of free programs couldn't fix, so I would never pay for AV software.
  • 20 Hide
    Romaniac , October 2, 2009 4:26 PM
    Indeed. Any AV will slow down a system a bit, but Norton can really kill one. They had to make their own "removal tool" for pete's sakes.

    Comparatives, and other independent tests, will show that free Anti Virus software can perform on par or ABOVE paid anti virus software.

    AVIRA FTW!!! Works great. Caught more than AVAST or AVG (which is becoming bloatware apparently).
  • 13 Hide
    thearm , October 2, 2009 4:27 PM
    I'd like to see some testing on this topic. I wouldn't trust people on the net (nor myself) to make this kind of judgement.
  • 9 Hide
    Romaniac , October 2, 2009 4:29 PM
    PS: http://www.avira.com/en/download/index.html
    And yes, it supports Linux.

    PSS: Does anyone have another link to the video? The posted one reports as 'removed by user'.
  • 11 Hide
    leo2kp , October 2, 2009 4:30 PM
    I agree with thearm...there needs to be some more reviews on paid vs free AV protection.
  • 8 Hide
    commandersozo , October 2, 2009 4:30 PM
    I downloaded MSE and installed it on my newly replaced laptop just yesterday. So far I'm happy, but I'll withhold judgment until I see how it fares against viruses. I'm also a current user of AVG on my desktop, and I've dealt with the costly names like Sata- er, Norton in the past. Hands down, I've found the free antivirus to be more effective, as well as friendlier and easier to use. You won't catch me recommending Norton or McAfee.
  • 7 Hide
    overclockingrocks , October 2, 2009 4:32 PM
    I'd say yes yes it can be as good as paid software. Never ever had a problem that Avast couldn't catch. made the switch from AVG after I couldn't get the virus update one day and I've never looked back. Avast is great and does a wonderful job
  • 12 Hide
    antilycus , October 2, 2009 4:32 PM
    Speaking from a business stand point, both McAfee and Symantec SUCK. They don't auto detect anything and they dont invent and push the envelope on anything. NOD32 is always top notch, SuperAntiSpyware is even detecting viruses that Symantec can't and update my programs and defs religiously.
  • -9 Hide
    Anonymous , October 2, 2009 4:36 PM
    I just wish I could find a good AV solution that works with Windows Me.
  • 5 Hide
    antilycus , October 2, 2009 4:36 PM
    Plus even BitDefenders online scanner detects what other scanners cant. So far NOD32, BitDefender, SuperAntiSpyware and Avira have been the best I've seen. Kind of funny because I was recently at a security conference where McAfee was there and they were toating how much they are changing and blah blah blah and the main programmer from NOD32 was there and he could blow through the water with the knowledge he had compared to what any big corporate solution is.
  • 7 Hide
    wildwell , October 2, 2009 4:38 PM
    I think Microsoft has the resources to provide effective coverage for Windows. They need to approach it as "value added" to the OS instead of just "freeware." Have the OS ask to download updates on a regular basis. It means a little more investment in time and resources from MS but I think it could be very effective for most consumers. Apple keeps their users happy with a similar feature.
  • 7 Hide
    Anonymous , October 2, 2009 4:38 PM
    Well, I had AVG installed on my parents PC for over 2 months. That's the last time I will install a free antivirus software to a PC that is handled by IT "novices". I bought myself a Kaspersky 2010 license, and guess what: AVG scan reports no infection, Kaspersky found and neutralized over 10 different trojans that were seriously slowing down the OS. That PC finally breathes again.
    On the other hand we have the Norton solution at my company. That is seriously the worst piece of antivirus sofware ever invented. (I would elaborate, but I guess most of you already agree with me ;)  ).

    So, my conclusion is somewhere in between...you can have good and bad free software just as you can have good and bad paid ones.
  • 5 Hide
    Romaniac , October 2, 2009 4:41 PM
    There are PLENTY of recent comparatives done on a regular basis. Do some searches.

    Here's one: http://malwareresearchgroup.com/?page_id=2
  • 0 Hide
    ninjanik , October 2, 2009 4:42 PM
    AVG is by far, the best anti virus software i have used. After using bit defender, Norton(full security), McAfee, and Kasperkey, i have found nothing but head aches, and even discovered that Norton software uses root kits just like Trojan viruses. Trying to get a paid version of Norton off your computer without a complete reinstall is almost impossible (Norton 2005 that is). I will never go back to the terrible paid for service they provide, even if avg started to charge for its service, i would pay for it, its not a matter of cost entirely its a matter of how your product runs, and unfortunately the current paid for providers can't keep up to the freeware versions.
  • 14 Hide
    dextermat , October 2, 2009 4:44 PM
    +1 for free antivirus and spyware:

    How many clients that i got that whines there computer run slow and thinks its spyware / virus on system.....

    When i boot up i see 512 mgs ram + norton antivirus..... lol
    Call up to say you have to invest money on memory cause norton is hoggin up.
  • 2 Hide
    rooket , October 2, 2009 4:45 PM
    Avira and Malwarebytes are the best ones right now. Nothing else comes close besides norton SEP. Everything else is somewhat useless. Even kaspersky isn't top dog any more.

    Plus I still believe that Kaspersky pays Russian hackers to create virii and spread it on the internet. Just to keep that in mind, since it is also a Russian company that apparantly popped up out of nowhere 4 years ago.
  • 4 Hide
    soo-nah-mee , October 2, 2009 4:45 PM
    I see Symantec pulled the video! What kind of message does that send? I've been using MSE since the day it came out and so far so good. I was using AVG before, and MSE seems to use less resources.
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