Far too often these days you come across not only reports of malicious programs taking control of someone’s computer, but the lack of protection against these attacks. The most awful computer worm lately is Cryptolocker, which still has no known ways to resolve the damage it has done. As if this is not obvious, the best ways to avoid getting this virus, or many others like it, is a line of defense. However, paid services (eg. McAfee, Norton) can be pricey, and many free security suites are just as good, if not better than these. Thus I begin my comparison of these products:
AVG AntiVirus Free2014:
AVG is a security company that has for a long while offered free security. And it has almost always been impressive. AVG offers all the features you would expect, very flexible scanning capabilities, browser addons , and a nice ui . A major plus to AVG is its allowance of the user defining resources allocated to a scan. This means that if the user desires to scan very quickly, and will not be using the computer, they can speed up the scan. On the flip side, if a user is working on the computer at the same time it scans, they can slow down the scan, but make less of an impact on the speed of their computer for the duration of the scan. A major downside to AVG, however, is its lack of real time protection. While some exists, it does not cover your computer proactively to such a degree that other products may offer.
Avast Free Antivirus 2014:
Avast is often seen as a user friendly, all inclusive antivirus program. And it is, admittedly, very much all inclusive for a free program. It is currently the most downloaded free antivirus software, beating AVG by several hundreds of thousands. Avast has most of the features you would expect: Scanning ability, additional tools, browser addons which evaluate web security. Like many other programs, it has a feature which scans files as they are run, which adds an extra layer of security to everything that you do. However, the main thing that sets Avast apart from other comparable software, is that it also scans the webpages that are loaded in your browser, at the same time that they reach your computer (and thus create a potential for attack). This adds another layer of security, quite a useful one considering how often attacks are made from the web. In addition to this is has an email scanner, which will also check emails before being opened. Unfortunately, however, as is the case with most (if not all) free antivirus suites, it has no formal firewall. This is made up for, however, by the file, email, and web “shields.”
Microsoft Security Essentials:
Microsoft Security Essentials is a very simple, straightforward antivirus program that is offered to all Windows users, free of charge, and without any annoying popups asking you to buy the paid version. Some of the major pluses to MSSE is its simplistic design, lightweight installation and resource usage. Like most antivirus software MSSE offers basic utilities such as scanning, and real time protection. MSSE gives the user a large advantage over hackers and malicious users, being that it is from Microsoft, who can respond to a threat and deploy an update faster than most any company. It also has its merits in real time protection, which are performed in the background, and use a nearly negligible amount of system resources. This makes it ideal for users with slow, or old computers. MSSE is a robust program which do exactly as it is designed: protect your computer.
The Bottom Line:
Free antivirus software is a must-have for any computer user. However, for users with a modern computer, I would recommend Avast. It offers the most protection, and the most ease of use for people who aren’t tremendously tech savvy. The company also offers automatic sandboxing software, which means that risky programs will be checked in a safe environment before being run on your actual computer. So go: enjoy the world of safe computing!