The best free antivirus program

I was looking for the best free antivirus program for Windows XP. McAfee Viruscan and Norton Antivirus are both expensive, hog and slow down your computer, and are actually not that effective. See this report.

Before we get to the antivirus programs, you should have an anti-spyware program installed first and foremost. I recommend Windows Defender, although Lavasoft’s Ad-Aware is also a very good option.

Also, you should have a firewall protecting your computer(s). If you are using a router, it likely has a built-in firewall protecting your network. But also turn on the Windows XP firewall. Go to Start -> Control Panel -> Network Connections, and right click on the local area connection (if using a wired connection) or wireless connection and select properties. Then click the advanced tab and enable the firewall if it is not already.

For stronger firewall protection, you can also download the free ZoneAlarm
or Comodo firewall products.

Now for the antivirus. The top commercial option is NOD32, but here are the top free options: AVG,
AOL Active Virus Shield,
Antivir. AOL Active Virus Shield is the best at detecting known viruses, but AVG is better at heuristically detecting unknown viruses. However, AVG is only allowed on one computer. You aren’t supposed to install it on multiple computers at home. AOL Active Virus Shield and Avast have the advantage of also protecting Internet Explorer and Outlook, if you use that for your web browser and email (don’t, use Firefox and Thunderbird instead).

It is your call which antivirus you want to use. Since they are free you can try them all out (but I wouldn’t recommend installing more than one at a time). Right now I’d recommend Active Virus Shield. I’ve been using it a while now and haven’t had any issues with it. See these instructions on how to install it and configure it.

While we’re on this topic and you are downloading all this cool stuff, you might also be interested in OpenOffice, which can do everything Microsoft Office can, and more (such as export your word document to pdf).

See also:

  • Inkscape, a program for creating vector graphics like logos and svg graphics
  • Gimp, a full-featured image editing application similar to Adobe Photoshop (but free instead of $700)
  • UltraVNC, remotely access your or someone’s computer to do work on it or help someone else install all this software
  • VLC, plays all kinds of media files
  • Winamp, mp3 player
  • Trillian, chat on AOL, Yahoo, MSN, IRC, all from one app, although it doesn’t support some Yahoo features like video however (or plugins, there is a whiteboard plugin for Yahoo messenger)
  • CDBurnerXP, free CD burning software, no need to buy nero
  • Skype, free internet telephone, allows for free long distance calls as well
  • Filzip, 7-zip, Nvu, etc.
Posted in computers, software
3 comments on “The best free antivirus program
  1. Doug Holton says:

    Update September 2007:Active Virus Shield is no longer supported by AOL. You can remove a couple of lines from this xml file in order to continue receiving updates from Kaspersky (makers of the antivirus engine AVS uses):C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\AOL\AVP6\Data\aol-updcfg.xmlremove these lines:<site2 url=”” diff_url=”diffs” weight=”10000001″ region=”*” /><site2 url=”” diff_url=”diffs” weight=”10000000″ region=”*” />See this for more info:, I would recommend a free AND open source antivirus instead now called ClamWin (it also runs on Macs: ClamXav and in Linux: ClamAV): it is open source and free, we don’t have to worry about a corporation suddenly pulling the plug. Even if the developers did, others can continue supporting it.

  2. Adam says:

    The only problem with ClamAV (and I fully respect both the community aspect and the credibility of the product) is that it doesn’t have a realtime scanner, that means that you have to manually tell it to scan files that you download, or disks that you put into your machine.

  3. Jen says:

    I have Firewall, Anti-Virus and Anti-Spyware through my carrier AT&T.
    I did not renew my Norton acct. Do you think this is adequate? Thanks for the info.

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