The best free antivirus: a comparison

This posting will discuss which of the following three programs deserves the title of “best freeware antivirus program”: Avira Antivir, Avast, or AVG.

My conclusion: all three are very worthy contenders that can hold their own or surpass any heavyweight for-pay antivirus; however Anitvir and Avast are definitely in the first tier, while AVG is a close second tier.

There’s been a vigorous debate going on in the little “cbox” message box (in the sidebar) over which freeware antivirus program is best.

This posting will explore this issue more closely. The objective is to go beyond the ubiquitous “I have used program x for y years now and it has kept me completely virus free” to a more substantial comparison.

Free Antivirus Comparison

The findings presented here are not my original work but come from a single source: AV-comparative.org’s antivirus comparison tests conduced in Nov 2008 (test #20) and Feb 2009 (test #21), which are the latest as of this writing. It is somewhat difficult to reference these as sources because the av-comparatives site disallows direct linking to the test results and requests that all links be to its root domain (presumably because new tests are always published and they do not want links to results that may be obsolete).


The choice of programs: Antivir, Avast and AVG are the most used and most well known freeware antivirus programs, and I use or have used all three for long periods of time. They are also most likely the top three best freeware antivirus programs. The reason I am not expanding this discussion to other programs is because it is much easier to limit the scope to software tested in AV-comparative.org’s tests, where there are hard numbers to back up any claims. Having said that I would have personally liked the addition of at least two more: Comodo Antivirus and Rising Antivirus(both of which have a lot of fans).

By way of comparison and to provide some perspective I will also include some of the numbers for two of the best paid antivirus programs: Kaspersky and ESET NOD32.


Summary of findings: Antivir and Avast and both have excellent and comparable detection rates. Not only are these on par with the best commercial program, Antivir in fact has the best detection of any program free or paid according to AV-comparatives.org’s numbers. AVG, however, lags behind the other two somewhat in that area (although it is still by all means an excellent program). Antivir has what seems to be a significant advantage in terms of predictive, behavioral-based “heuristic” detection (for brand new threats that are so new they have not yet been added to the antivirus program’s database).

Where AVG has a good advantage is in the number of false positives (lower than both Antivir and Avast, both of which exhibit comparable numbers of false positives). However, AVG scores another strike against it in terms of its scanning speed, which is significantly slower than the other two.

The freeware version of Antivir displays an advertisement on every update, which is rather undesirable; however, this can be easily disabled (look here, here, or here). It also “does not support email scanning”; however, this is also a non-issue in my opinion, a red-herring designed to scare less tech-savvy users into purchasing the paid version. The reason I say this is a non-issue is because although Antivir may not scan your email for virus as it downloads, it will still protect you from it afterwards, not just during normal scans as it will also intercept it once it is on-disk and/or if and when it tries to act up.  In fact email scanning as such may be completely redundant and a waste of time; see this article for more info.

Antivir is my favorite freeware antivirus. It is best in terms of performance and, with the recent addition of an antispyware component it has become even more desirable. However, if asked to recommend a freeware antivirus Antivir comes with too many caveats and explanations (the nag screen, the email scanning (non)issue). It is easier to recommend Avast, as it provides comparable protection and performance, and is an excellent product.

AVG is my third choice. It also provides excellent protection and has the edge with respect to the least number of false positives, but its performance and detection rates lag behind the other two.


 

The numbers (and other issues considered):

  1. Detection Rate / on-demand scans
  2. Detecton Rate / predictive “heuristic” detection
  3. Number of false positives
  4. On-demand scanning speed
  5. Versions tested
  6. Links and downloads

 


1. Detection Rate / on-demand scans: this data comes from AV-comparative.org’s Feb 2009 test (#21). The programs tested were subjected to 1,274,928 instances of malicious code collected between Apr 04-Apr 08. The reason: any malware collected prior to this is considered fairly well known by now

  • Avira Antivir: 99.7% detection rate
  • Avast: 98.2%
  • AVG: 93.0%
  • Kaspersky (*): 97.1%
  • ESET NOD32 (*): 97.6%

* Note: no free version of these offered. They are listed here to give ’perspective’.

The data seems to show that overall the detection rates are very similar (the differences are unlikely to be meaningful), with the exception of AVG which has a somewhat lower rate of detection than the others.


2. Detection Rate / predictive “heuristic” detection: this measures the program’s ability to detect new threats (based on their behavior), before they becomes known and are included in the program’s updates. The data in this section comes from AV-comparative.org’s NOV 2008 test (#20). The programs tested were subjected to 45,831 “new” instances of malicious code collected between Aug 4th-31st 2008 (4 weeks in total).

  • Avira Antivir: 71% (over 1 week), 67% (over 4 weeks)
  • Avast: 40% (over 1 week), 39% (over 4 weeks)
  • AVG: 43% (over 1 week), 40% (over 4 weeks)
  • Kaspersky(*): 71% (over 1 week), 60% (over 4 weeks)
  • ESET NOD32(*): 54% (over 1 week), 51% (over 4 weeks)

The results above seem to show that when handling yet unknown threats (malicious code that is so brand new that it has not been added to the program’s database), Antivir and Kaspersky have an advantage over the others.


3. Number of false positives : false positives can be as much of a problem (or even more) than undetected malware, in that deleting innocent files can cause unpredictable errors and problems. This data comes from AV-comparative.org’s Feb 2009 test (#21).

  • Avira Antivir: 24
  • Avast: 28
  • AVG: 17
  • Kaspersky (*): 14
  • ESET NOD32 (*): 13

Interestingly, Avast and Antivir have significantly higher false positives than the two paid programs, with AVG having the lowest number of false positives of all three freeware antivirus programs.


4. On demand scanning speed : this data comes from AV-comparative.org’s Feb 2009 test (#21). The throughput rate is in MB/sec.

  • Avira Antivir: 13.6 MB/sec
  • Avast: 15.4 MB/sec
  • AVG: 6.8 MB/sec
  • Kaspersky (*): 13.3 MB/sec
  • ESET NOD32 (*): 13.2 MB/sec

On this metric AVG significantly lags behind the others, who are otherwise very similar, with Avast having a slight overall advantage.


5. Versions tested: note that the versions tested were the paid versions. I am assuming that the basic engine is the same in the free version as well, and that the results apply there. For Antivir, the freeware version is different in that it does not perform email scanning and displays a nag screen, but these have already been addressed above. Also, as of this writing the newer version of Antivir includes an antispyware component.

  • Avira Antivir: 8.2.0.374 (test 21), 8.1.0.362 (test 20)
  • Avast: 4.8.1335 (test 21), 4.8.1229 (test 20)
  • AVG: 8.0.234 (test 21),  8.0.156 (test 20)
  • Kaspersky (*): 8.0.0.506a (test 21), 8.0.0.454 (test 20)
  • ESET NOD32 (*): 3.0.684.0 (test 21), 3.0.669.0 (test 20)

6. Links and downloads: go to the respective program pages to download the latest version. Note that the freeware versions are for single computer home use. License(s) required for commercial use.


 
 
 
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  • http://www.404techsupport.com Jason H

    Two good technical sites (one of which you included):
    http://www.av-comparatives.org/images/stories/test/ondret/avc_report21.pdf

    http://mtc.sri.com/live_data/av_rankings/

    Personally, I’m a big fan of Avast and recommend it to family and friends. It’s easy and comparable. I’ve only had one problem with it in that it detects a false positive inside of Microsoft’s Hyper-V as a virus, but not many people are likely to have that problem.

    The other problem with most free anti-virus programs is that they do not only allow the free home use AV to be installed on a Windows Server OS, even when it’s for single, home use.

  • spooz2

    I tried a free trial of Avira Premium Security Suite. It sure has all the bells and whistles. However, Avira’s forums and customer service were so frustrating that I decided to uninstall it forthwith.

    Emsi’s A Square coupled with Online Armor and Avast does the trick! Freebies too!

    The point is that there is more to software than features. Technical virtuosity means little if the user cannot easily get all the functions to operate as advertised.

  • http://quarckster.blogspot.com/ Quarck

    Hi! And what about Comodo Antivirus?

  • xdmitrix

    at work, we get TONS of viruses, and avast 4.8 pro is absolutely horrible, while avg gets everything or nearly everything.

    i don’t know what crack you’re smoking, but you’re not in the REAL IT world, and in the REAL IT world, AVG is the best hands down.

  • http://tenasillahe.wordpress.com/ g

    I’ve been a faithful follower of Avira for quite some time (moving to it from avg). Avira is but one of my weapons against malware/adware/viruses in my arsenal.

    Also, if you are uprgading from v8 to v9 avira, and you have the notifier disabled, make sure to revisit your settings because v9 puts the program in a different folder so you have to rename it in your deny settings.

    i have directions at my website to disable v9.

    btw, great website here and i visit regularly. much appreciated.

  • http://blog.calumnist.com/ Danny

    What I don’t like about avast is the lack of scheduled scanning. I’d have to create a schedule using the command line tool of avast, which is troublesome. Which is why I’m sticking with Avira.

  • http://www.hacksomnia.com macobex

    Good decision on elaborating more about this issue. My personal choice is Avast, but after reading this article I’m somewhat confuse, especially on the false positive part. So it’s better to stick with paid programs, since I think they offer much reliable services. Anyway, nice article.

  • Carbonize

    I find it funny that Rising is using a URL almost identical to that used by Avira – http://freeav.com – which makes me not trust it all all. That’s the sort of trick these fake anti virus programs use.

    If you are going to pay then I highly recommend NOD32.

  • http://www.oldcodger.org The Old Codger

    I live and compute in China, which is well known for viruses. For some reason, hidden deep in the Chinese psyche is an uncontrollable need to go out and find every virus known to mankind. There is some speculation that the computer viruses somehow are transferred to their hands, and every computer, flash drive, disk, etc. that they touch will immediately become infected as if by osmosis.

    They bring their computers to me when they no longer function properly. I simply remove any antivirus program that they are running and install Avast and Threatfire. These two programs working together will virtually make eradicating viruses virtually fool proof. Once they have learned how to quarantine a virus, I rarely see them again. Makes my life much easier.

    AVG I have not used personally, but have serviced many computers that have been negatively impacted by AVG, especially if someone selects the option to have AVG scan for viruses at start up. It is a major drag on system resources. I will always switch the user over to Avast.

    I have never tried any of the other programs mentioned being a firm believer that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The only inconvenience with Avast is that it has to be re-registered once every 16 months, which is a negligible inconvenience. I particular like the fact that Avast automatically updates every time that a new version is released. Downloads are quick and very painless.

    About this site: I recommend it to everyone. Best reviews in my opinion.

  • http://techmalaya.com Syahid A

    Glad to have the same voice as Samer. My favorite of the lot is also “AntiVir”. I love to hear the “bleeping” voice when it successfully detects something where others have failed. Keep it free!

  • Kane

    I switched from AVG to Comodo AV recently and so far have been happy. I’d like to see some tests on accuracy but I can say that I never see Comodo hogging all my CPU time like AVG often did.

  • Tharkis

    “5. Versions tested: note that the versions tested were the paid versions. I am assuming that the basic engine is the same in the free version as well, and that the results apply there.”

    Not to get picky, but if you were going to back up the premise of your article with hard numbers, you’d have used the free versions. You can’t just assume that the programs are the same. I’m a little disappointed in this article to say the least.

  • Carbonize

    @Tharkis – Samer hardly has the resources to go testing the three programs mentioned. If nothing else he’d need a sandbox computer and access to thousands of known viruses.

    The results for the pro versions of a program should be a reasonibly good indicator to the performance of the free version.

  • http://neverguessrangefinders.com/ Old Man Dotes

    I’m in the real IT world, and before Sophos added support for 64-bit OSes, we used the commercial (paid) version of Avast on our Engineering workstations. Detections rates and protection levels were identical between Avast and Sophos within our network.

  • Tima

    Thanks Samer for your article, I do agree with you 100%!
    Just wanted to add that Avast updates its virus database even with slow internet connection and Avira (sometimes) has problems with updates even with normal (sometimes even with fast) wireless connection.

  • http://www.simplesmente.com Ricardo

    Well, what about resources taken from the computer (memory, CPU) when running on the background, doing “on access” scanning?

    This I thought was the big plus of KAV and NOD32 over the free ones… but I may be wrong.

  • gregmoran

    For freeware antivirus and antispyware solution, I prefer ThreatFire + ClamWin combo. ThreatFire it has the top-notch behavior detection engine, with less false positives (than AVG and Antivir) and is very lightweight excellent for monitoring the system 24/7. For Scanner on Demand, ClamWin is the best to complete the combo, its detection engine is very efficient, it detects more Trojans than Antivir, Avast, NOD32 and Kaspersky, and isn’t a resident memory program so it doesn’t takes memory.

    I recommend test this combo, if you need the best protection, freeware and very low in system resources consumption.

  • TheCoach

    First, thank you for your great efforts to help us.
    Well, in my opinion ans based on my experience I think that the best one is kaspersky. The only inconvenient is that it isn’t free. I used after avira and it worked good (especially it didn’t consume memory), but unfortunately I discovered that there’s some virus on my pc. Since that I installed Rising antivirus 2009 and till now it is working good without any problem.
    This is a link to Rising home page : http://www.rising-global.com/default.html
    It’s free.

    At last, sorry for my english.

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  • boony

    xdmitrix: Your comment sounds like it was written by a child, which I suspect it was (TONS of viruses? REAL IT world?).
    They are all good AVs, anything else is preference. Any one of them, plus common sense , will keep you safe. Any one of them, minus common sense, will lead to TONS of malware.

  • http://billygirlardo.com BillyG

    Nice comparison of free anti-virus software – until it wasn’t!

    “Versions tested: note that the versions tested were the paid versions. I am assuming that the basic engine is the same in the free version as well”

    I was so ready to uninstall AVG based on your work – not that I’ve ever had a problem anyway – but then it fell apart in the end. Shame, shame…

  • http://www.404techsupport.com Jason H

    It was clearly stated at the beginning of the article:
    “The findings presented here are not my original work but come from a single source: AV-comparative.org’s antivirus comparison tests conduced in Nov 2008 (test #20) and Feb 2009 (test #21),”

    There was no control over whether the version was the commercial version or the free version. How their commercial products perform should still be a good indication of the free offerings from these companies. I highly doubt they write two separate engines for paid and free or handicap the free versions in any way.

  • deanmitc

    Based on the information in this post I made the switch from AVG 8.5 to Avast 4.8 after using the AVG software for about a year. There are two differences that were very apparent right away. First, when AVG runs a scan it hogs all of the resources of the computer and slows everything down. Avast does not do that and I notice no slowdown due to scans that it does. Second, when AVG performs a scan it leaves behind a significantly fragmented drive in certain areas. Avast, on the other hand, has no apparent impact on the hard drive fragmentation.

    Thank you for the post.

  • Skooter1121

    I am also curious about the resources these products use up. I have many customers with older PC’s with limited RAM (256 or less) that just want to E-Mail and surf. My testing of AVG shows it is quite a hog at 20 -40 meg. I’ve had best results with Avira 14-20meg. How do the others compare?

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  • lesle

    One advantage of Avast! and the reason I use it: it has Automatic Updates.

    A small, unobtrusive popup in the lower right screen will tell you when Avast! updates itself, which is at least once daily. I don’t have to worry I’m not up-to-date on my AV.

    AVG does not have Auto Updates, AND, when you think you’ve updated it, there often are more updates still behind the first one that you don’t know about unless you click update again.

    I don’t know about Avira.

  • idodialog

    The idea – expressed here in these comments – that the free programs are in some way not as reliable or solid (see macobex comment) is hard to shake. It is of course untrue. The test from which this is extracted actually put
    Avira and Avast ABOVE many of the fully paid “famous brand name” programs and many of those had more false positives.
    Fact is I went back to Avast after spending time with a handful of other paid and free programs – catches everything, updates frequently and seamlessly, very fine useful adjustments possible for each type of scanner, low and unobtrusive use of system resources, oh and it’s FREE. May not run full scans as fast as the new Norton but then I don’t often run a system scan and it beats Norton in most of the other tests.
    I’ve installed it on tons of machines – lot of happy users.
    Other possibility is toss your virus programs ENTIRELY. They are all pretty well useless against the sort of attack that will infect your computer.

  • http://lerevefrancais.blogspot.com/ starman1695

    I used Avast for a couple of years and found it very efficient. But I was having trouble with a French, web-based radio site. It would re-buffer every two-three minutes, which I found extremely annoying. I got the idea that Avast might be the problem, so I shut it down and sure enough, the site ran flawlessly. I have since deleted Avast and installed AVG. I get good anti-virus protection (hate the scan time) and I can listen to the French radio with no problem.

  • Samer

    Ok let’s see if I can answer some of the issues raised here:

    @Quark, Kane: I would love to see a comparison that includes Comodo, as I know some people who use it and like it. I do not have access to such data, unfortunately. If you come across a comparison let me know.

    @The Coach: I would love to see comparison numbers for Rising Antivirus as well. In the meanwhile you can check out Freewaregenius contributor Carbonize’s experience with it on his blog.
    http://carbonize.co.uk/wp/2009/04/19/rising-antivirus/

    AVG:
    ====
    For all those who love AVG: use it, by all means. More power to you! It is an excellent product; I am not saying that it isn’t. All I am saying is that the test numbers indicate that it is not quite on par with the other two. Also note that these tests numbers come from the latest two tests conducted by Av-Comparatives. It may be that AVG had better detection in the past or whatever (I don’t know), but the most recent numbers are the ones shown in the article above.

    Last thing I will say about AVG: I stopped using it since v8 as IMHO it became a resource hog and started slowing down my system.

    @Old Codger: thanks for the compliments! I too think Avast or Avira coupled with Threatfire is an unstoppable combination.

    @Tharkis, BillyG: two things here
    (1) The assumption that the free vs. paid versions of this product have the same engines is perfectly safe. If you want to verify go to the Freeware versions and check the version numbers for the engine, then compare it with the engine version number on the paid version.

    (2))the idea that a blogger such as myself has the resources (and the expertise) needed to conduct a true A/B comparison of these programs is just silly. It would be extremely difficult for someone in my position to perform a valid comparison.

    (3)The point here is that these comparisons can give us a fairly good idea as to which program *may* be better than the others, not that it is the absolute and utter truth. It is merely an indicator and IMHO a very good one at that.

  • XD

    You can’t really rely on just one AV. I have Antivir always running and additionally Bitdefender free and AVG free installed. I can scan my system with any of these provided that only one of them is active at any given time. For example I can disable Antivir and enable Bitdefender via Services to scan my system with Bitdefender or the other way around. I also installed AVG free 2 weeks ago, disabled the other AVs and scanned my system with it. It found things the others missed, so I won’t rely on one product only.
    Otherwise what tests claim today may be a totally different story in a couple of months.
    In case of doubt you can always submit to http://www.virustotal com or http://virusscan.jotti.org/ to have files checked against +15 av engines

  • Carbonize

    Comodo is not being included in comparisons at present as apparently it still does not have a heuristics engine.

    Best anti virus is, and always will be, common sense.Don’t download and install stupid crap.

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  • http://www.thefreewarejunkie.com Rob Dunn

    I don’t know why the whole AV or Spyware protection comparison thing is like ford/chevy|apple/PC. Everyone gets so possessive and defensive about their particular favorite.

    For me, I like Avast! because of the following:

    Memory/CPU footprint is smaller than AVG
    Updates are not as intrusive
    Boot-time scan
    Screen saver scan

    True, there is no scheduled scanner, but for me, the screensaver scanner is not unlike a scheduled scan.

    What I don’t like about Avast! is the fact that you have to re-register the program every year. Not a big deal for us technically savvy peeps, but for mom & dad (and doctors), it is apparently too much for them to do.

    I do have to say that AVG isn’t bad (we use it at work for our network edition scanning solution), but when 8.0 came out, it was a real bear to get working properly.

    I do like Avira’s capabilities with the easy-to-build boot CD and the advanced heuristic detection system, but as Samer said, too many caveats to make it as unobtrusive as Avast! or AVG.

  • http://www.404techsupport.com Jason H
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  • chris

    I have found layered security best and after much trial and error have following setup. Comodo for firewall (best) and secondary scanner, a squared antimalware for antivirus scanner and trojans etc but also for realtime behavioural scanning, and trusteer rapport running on top that stops any keylogging and screen captures independently of anything else. Run all at same time at full security. You will b surprised at how stupid this makes single protection and other products look and how vulnerable you were before with all they stop and find.

  • Sujit Kumar Singh

    You all are wrong !!
    The reason is given below–

    1. Avira— I agree that Avira is a good antivirus, it detects almost total viruses from a computer after a scan. Its update speed is also good(with wireless also). But I think it has a problem in direct detection of virus in any file. Which means if you work with an infected file, Avira will not automatically detect Virus from that file. But if you scan that file virus will be found.

    3. AVG— I think AVG is more better than Avira in malware, spyware etc..etc protection. But its detection rate is same as of Avira.

    I a leaving other Antiviruses

    I suggest you all to use “Quick Heal”. It has all features you want in an Antivirus.
    But you may face updating problem (sometimes with wireless connection)

  • Dan Sharp

    I have Avira plus free PrevX which is programmed not to interfere with Avira but rather to complement it. PrevX checks files via online connection and will hopefully catch stuff Avira misses.
    Then I also have free Comodo Firewall’s Host Intrusion Prevention System activated. As a last line of defense I have also Comodo’s free BoClean installed (now part of Comodo Firewall Suite).

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  • cheap kaspersky activation key

    I personally feel that Kaspersky is the best antivirus and internet security software. I said this from experience since i used it from version 6.0 no serious complaints so far.

  • The Watcher

    My humble 5 second evaluation: There are 4 main criteria:
    False Negatives: No difference here between any of them. In fact any name brand (basically) will protect you.

    Interface: Some programs seem to go OUT OF THEIR WAY to make life difficult. Avast comes to mind, here.

    Resource Usage: If you’ve got limited system resources/memory, think twice about AVG…it ain’t for you.Of the remaining listed here, not much difference otherwise.

    False Positives: This is the biggie. If you DL lots of suspect files, forget about the free ones…they all suck. Stick with Kaspersky or Nod32. The problem is that with the free ones, you’ll get so many fp’s that you’ll start ignoring the warnings. And that’s when you’ll get infected. PS: If Kaspersky or Nod32 alert you, believe them. Otherwise, if you behave yourself, the free ones will work just fine.

  • http://www.webix.name/beep-pc pc technician

    avast is the best free av,work fine for me!

  • Dennis

    Primary, I use AVG (for years and years) with Threatfire to fill the void for new yet undescribed threats. ZoneAlarm is my free firewall. I use Javacool’s SpywareGuard and SpywareBlaster. Free.
    Spybot – Search and Destroy with Teatimer active is my main malware protection. Free.

    This gives me almost no false positives with max real protection.

    If I have to quaratine something (I never remove anything from the computer immediately), I then use google and individual scans to find out if it is good or bad.

    I use occasional online scans from Panda and Eset to double check my system. Happy to say only false positives so far from these scans. And I use A Squared (A2) for backup scans for malware. Nothing here but false positives so far.

    I am using a Windows XP system DSL on 24/7.

    We all have to find what works for us based on our own skills and fears. False positives can play havoc with your machine the same as missed malware. Learning to quaratine then check out trapped malware is a must any more. And it is not hard. If it is malware and cannot be “healed” then it must remain in “jail” until you discover if it is a needed file. If it is, you must replace the clean version via restore, install disk, or online download from secure site. Then delete from within quaratine.

    Best of luck to all of us. It is a war.

  • Amir

    Hi!
    AVAST Antivirus free is Very Very Good !
    Because :
    Speed . Beautiful . Strong . inoffensive . Light .Free &…Good trait

    ——————————————————————-
    Always Live Avast :-)

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  • http://bestfreeantivirus4u.blogspot.com Vipul

    Yes, I agree with you but it does not a complete antivirus features in it. Which is why it lack behind. we cannot neglect that part.
    check it on my blog
    bestfreeantivirus4u.blogspot.com

  • Desperate Dan

    To Sujit Kumar Singh, judging by your comments do I detect a vested interest in “Quick Heal”? Also this article is entitled The Best FREE Antivirus, the one you recommend is a paid version only I believe.

  • Mr Maule

    Personally i use Avast free. Its unobtrusive, light on resources and it updates automatically and quietly. Ive never had a virus whilst using it. Although the best virus protector is yourself!

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  • dakeer

    AVG & NOD32 Is the worst Anitvirus system !
    It is better not to use it !
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  • http://jrl.scienceontheweb.net JRL Computing Services in Adelaide

    It is clear the best is Avira, it has the best rate in detection, is free and lighter than the others, this last point is very important and was missed in this article.

    jrl.scienceontheweb.net

  • Raja Subramanian

    I am Sure about Avast anti virus.Because am using that for a long time.its scanning speed and protection to the system is superb.
    and its available free for single system.

  • Edgar

    Well it isnt an AntiVirus Comaparison without BitDefender
    Its light, fast, awesome tuning tools
    and best of all
    affordable

  • Jammy

    East or West Avira is d Best

  • Bert

    I have used Norton and McAfee and both these are lumbering elephants, compared with AVG and Avast.
    I have Avast now for a number of years and found absoloutwely no problem. I like the setup though giving an audible voice update information.

  • Mr Jackson

    I have tried the Comodo combined firewall virus protection (on Vista) & it appears to do what is required of it effectively.

  • vijender singh

    I HAVE BEEN USING AVIRA AND I THINK IT IS OK ANTIVIRUS. BUT IT DETECTS THE INNOCENT FILES ALSO AND DOES NOT NOT AUTO DELETE THE VIRUS.

  • Taurus

    Soo…it comes down to Avira and Avast? I’m clueless, ’cause I have to put a little haste in my search for free antivir. before my McAfee sub ends (which isn’t fair)..
    I’m just looking for something that scans EMAILS TOO AND IS FAST AND LIGHT & RELIABLE..hope you folks can help me. Cheers,

  • W4L4CH1

    Yupzs it’s been a long time I’m still trust and using avast antivirus. For you Taurus… Avast can do what you want for you.

  • Rich in Ky

    I pay for NOD32 …..simply wonderful….never any problems….and it updates without a hitch ( and often …..don’t think this was mentioned much in the reviews )

  • Jim

    The big flaw in Avast is the terrible amount of memory and resources it hogs as you surf.

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  • http://community.gunadarma.ac.id/hanum hanum

    nice comparison review. Thank’s a lot ^_^

  • diwas

    kaspersky the best of bests

  • Bjorn

    Avira is exceptional in the fact that it crashes during boot sector scan (other tests work properly). And it seems that I am not the only one experiencing that issue. There are half year old reports of the problem on their site without solution. Some users report that bug seems to be introduced in version 9, as the same feature was working OK in v.8.

    Going back to AVG.

    BTW, nice anti-vir comparison. Thanks!

    Take care,
    Bjorn

  • http://antivir.oxyhost.com Antivir

    Yep, Avira 4ever! I am using this product for years and i am satisfied…and Avast is also not bad!

  • Shiw

    This comparison was very good!
    But I’ll prefer avast than avira because I think the free one don’t have antispyware!

  • Prashant

    KASPERSKY is the best of all antivirus if it is updated………
    no other antivirus can cath it….?

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  • James Bond

    How about using a Mac?
    Linux has a promising comparison as well.
    Let’s see. 60,000 known viruses for Windows
    40 ((Not thousand but only 40)) for Linux
    Approximately 5 or 6 for a Mac.
    Why? Linux and Mac’s both use Unix as their back-end. Funny enough but ask Microsoft what they use as their top web servers and you might be surprised to find out that some of them are Unix.

    Let’s see what the counter from Microsoft is: Yes but Windows is more widely used and therefore has more eyes on it, therefore has more viruses. Ok that would make sense for maybe 50 more? Maybe 100 more?? but 60,000. I hope that settles the debate on which Anti-Virus product is the best. It’s like saying “Which Syphillus cream will work the best on me?” I think the best solution will be to avoid the viruses altogether, but that is just my opinion.

  • http://www.open-tube.com technology reviews

    don’t know why people mention AVG, It will no longer be Free post Dec!

  • Windows

    Windows is the best OS EVER.
    That unix crap can suck a rock, everyone uses windows.
    Linux and Mac are for geek losers.

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  • Nosmiley

    I have tried all the top 4. I keep coming back to avira. I have had a paid subscription to Kaspersky for the past year, with a year left to go. I use free Avira instead. Kaspersky may be super high quality as advertised, but Ordinary People [ME] don’t know enough to program it to work up to its’ potential. Allowing the program to run in the default mode, it doesn’t catch as much as Avira. An ordinary Geek may be able to tweek it to work as its supposed to. It has all sorts of ways to change,add, or eliminate things,but clicking on these options, you’ll find if you’re honest with yourself, that you don’t understand the terms they are using, so you don’t know what you end up with.It’s nearly impossible to get rid of every bit of it,if you decide to uninstall.

  • Rhys

    I have used AVG for years. Talking to many people, like my friend which is a gammer he thinks avast is the best because it don’t use a lot of resources and doesn’t effect your gameplay at all. Having said this I have never had a problem with AVG, but to be honest it is a bit hungy but it has always kept my computer free of viruses. I haven’t had much to do with any other scanners. I think they are all great programs and all do a good job. I don’t complain because they all can make a better one than I can. So doesn’t matter, find one that you like and stick with it!!! :)

  • balakganesh

    Please check out Microsoft Security Essentials & rate it .

  • http://www.soumik.weebly.com Soumik

    I am Very happy with my Avira. I Think it is Best Free Antivirus…

  • larry

    i have used avira for 2 years now but recently a virus just entered in my system. the virus is just like a bot, im using yahoo messenger then suddenly it sends a message that hardly understand and it automatically sends to every online in my list of friends. its crap. damn. help me pls

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  • simmhan

    why should anyone look for freebee antivirus software products while microsoft offers its own free antivirus ‘microsoft security essentials’.its hassle free and has a significant number of satisfied customers…check it out….

    http://www.microsoft.com/Security_Essentials/

  • Tomasz84
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  • http://carbonize.co.uk/ Carbonize

    @simmhan – That makes no sense. Why look for free anti virus products when MS offers a free anti virus product? How would anyone know about the MS anti virus unless they were looking for an anti virus?

    Also Microsoft Security Essentials is still a very basic product.

  • Zulu warrior

    How many have heard about Vipre. There is one word to describe it. It leads, others follow. Speed, less resouces, user interface, available for free etc.

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  • Anonymous
  • Karim

    malware removal is also an important factor in deciding an anti virus tool. Detection is important but if your favorite tool can remove the malware with no adverse side effects that’s a winner. Else, what’s the point of detection.

  • Joe Davis

    Not sure if I overlooked the mention of the PC World’s results which can be found here http://www.pcworld.com/reviews/product/290836/review/antivir_personal.html. This shows that AVG has fallen behind and that Cloud Antivirus may be the next rising star in antivirus protection. It also mentions the ability of Avira to detect viruses better heuristically. I like Avira and feel that it meets my needs. In the past it has performed better than paid for products that my family have had on their computers. Maybe in time I will move from Avira to Cloud, just as I have moved from AVG to Avira in the past. Change is inevitable and holding on to outdated virus protection seems silly, but like many I have an aversion to change. For now I will stick with Avira while keeping an eye on Cloud.

  • Amir

    GDATA is the best,Do not waste youe time with other AntiVirus

  • MihaiSL

    BitDefender has a free version, which is better than Avira Antivir, Avast, AVG. You can download BitDefender 10 Free Edition from their web site. BitDefender, Kasperski, F-Secure … are the best. Norton and McAfee obtain good results in some tests because they pay that labs.

  • Scott

    I used to have AVG until they automatically reset my default browser to Yahoo, and crashed every time I switched it back. That kind of imposition has to be part of any comparison. Sometimes I wonder if the antivirus people spend too much time dealing with the darkside that a bit rubs off – the free Nortons can get pretty nasty too after the sample period runs out.

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  • Mark West

    I don’t think avira have a best detection and the best antivirus. I have used a avira and the detection for virus is so poor. I recommended you (A-Squared Free) it the best antivirus even the hidden virus can detect it.

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  • Cody

    Yeh AntiVira Is great on Its detections, to be honest I dont even think Avg can even have that high of a detection rate some of the multiple scans ive ran before and seen the difference in detection, God damn. But Had a strange possible Antivira false positive recently something with .Net Framework after a Hidden file was removed,it was real strange.

  • http://flitz.do.am FLiTz

    I’ll tell you, kaspersky is the best antivirus fi you wanna paid for it.

  • -

    using avira or KIS on normal-use pcs
    after avira discontinued av for win9x, have used avast4 on win9x (sort of a hobby/interest keeping old pcs safe & usable),
    don’t know how long avast will provide definitoins for avast4.
    also wonder if kernelex can allow any of these free av to run on 9x.

  • brousse.ouillisse

    Dear Samer,

    OMHO there is some inconsistency in your test:
    1/ if you want to review freeware antivirus, why did you test the paying version of Avira ???
    2/ Microsoft Security is also freeware and it would have been interesting to add it in your test
    3/ CPU and memory usage are also interesting criterias (though I admit that they should be considerated as secondary, as an antivirus is about security first)
    4/ it seems that as a conclusion of the iAWACS (International Alternative Workshop on Aggressive Computing and Security), no antivirus software can now advertise without being considerated as a fraud. French students with simple user Windows accounts were able to hack PCs with 6 different attacks. The best of all antivirus only stopped 2 out of 6 ! (all the major products were used). Yes, no admin rights, strong antivirus and PC always compromised !

    I am now getting paranoid: Who and what can we REALLY trust ?

    • Samer

      @ Brousse,
      My article was based on research done by AVcomparatives. Their comparisons did not invlude MS Security essentials and therefore I couldn’t discuss that. The article assumes that Avira paid and free are based on the same engine, and then goes out to point out some of the differences.

      CPU and memory usage are very relevant criteria and I would love to add them to the post (this post is about due for an update anyway).
      I also agree that an antivirus program by itself is not sufficient protection. Ideally you would want to be running a good antispyware suppliment (which both Avira and Avast have added to thier AV programs, and I recommend Threatfire), as well as a good firewall app (although I think that that’s not a critical component, although many would disagree).

      Re-reading your comment I will say .. remind me not to let any French students near my computer ;) I guess when there’s a will there will always be a way.

  • http://avp-blogs.com AVP

    AVG 9 is much more improved and is quicker in detection compared to earlier version.

    Just my 2 cents.

    Cheers,
    AVP

  • John Shelton

    I would love to see a repeat of this test, but adding Microsoft Security Essentials so there are 4 free antiviruses in the test.

  • http://www.microsoft.com/security_essentials/ VIMAL

    If you have a genuine version of Windows, why not go for Microsoft’s Security Essentials. It has one of the best engines, and full integration with the OS. It is never known to have caused a bluescreen or user mode errors, unlinke other free/paid antivirus tools, and it is one of the most frequntly updated.

    Its one of the lightest I have seen and when it comes to fixing flaws, who better to trust than the OS manufacturer them selves.

  • MAC

    Concerning the lack of viruses for UNIX and MAC:

    I am professional software engineer and believe me,UNIX is not virus proof. In some ways, it might even be easier to write viruses for UNIX.

    The only reason that there are thousands of viruses for Windows is the fact that programming Windows and in particular using things like root kits is VERY well documented on the NET.

    So, if you’re going to all the trouble to write a virus to steal bank accounts or nuke your former friend’s PC what are you going to write it for?

    The chances are the target is a PC running some version of Windows and that the base information for how to do it is readily available…

  • http://katz.cd Osama

    Security essential is a resource hogger, based on this http://www.raymond.cc/antivirus/idlemem.html

  • http://www.zenok.com Rogers

    I downloaded ZenOK Online Backup …..simply wonderful….never any problems….and it updates without a hitch ( and often …..don’t think this was mentioned much in the reviews ) so I would recommend it

  • Caroline

    AVG9 has performed well for me but AVG 2011 is a disaster, after they pushed 10.0.1170 I had two weeks of pain ending with me losing write access to my C drive and having to uninstall in safe mode and do a system restore. Since I’m using the free version, I can’t get any answers to my questions on the forums either. I’m looking for a replacement for AVG 2011 because they will stop releasing updates to AVG9 eventually and then I’ll have to switch. Beware AVG 2011. I’d love to see this article updated with information about the newer releases.

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  • jfjb

    @ Caroline

    Avast! will do a perfect replacement. I’ve been using it forever, saved my butts a few times. It’s light on memory, fast manual or preset scans. Has very good standards @ http://av-comparatives.org/
    My 2¢, of course.

  • http://deletemalware.blogspot.com Michael

    Interesting review. I use ESET NOD32 Antivirus at the moment. I used Avast! 4 before I got NOD32. Don’t know about their new products, but Avast! 4 was kind of slow. Anyway, the most important aspect of protection is zero-day threat detection rate IMO. Avast! has the best zero-day threat detection rate as far as I know. Avira and AVG are also good, but I would choose Avast. Cheers!

  • http://deletemalware.blogspot.com antimalware

    Interesting review. I used Avast! 4 before I got NOD32 Antivirus. I don’t know about their new products, but Avast! 4 was kind of slow. However, the most important aspect of computer security is zero-day threat detection rate IMO. As far as I know Avast! detects new threats quite well. AVG and Avira are also good, but I would choose Avast! Cheers!

  • Michael

    Sorry, for posting this twice. My bad.

  • Olaf Kofoed Berthelsen

    I have tried all of those free antivirus mentioned here except ESET and I don’t think none of them are working very well at all. Today I use ClamWin and have done that for about 4 or 5 years now and I think that compared to all the other ClamWin works better, and together with The Cleaner my computer fairly safe.

  • Ed

    I’ve used Avast for years. Now using Avast 5, even better. When I was using XP 64bit Avast had the only free AV that worked on that system. Seemed that Avast (Awil) were the only ones that cared about 64 bit users for a two year period. I like their product, their attitude, customer support. My automatic updates are announced with a throaty pirate voice, they know how to have a bit of fun while being serious about AV protection. Ran Avira 9 as a back up scan, never found anything. Did not like Avira 10, somewhat cranky. Using Avast to protect 3 machines including a dual boot Windows Me. (Version 4.8) Can’t wait to get version 6, will include sandboxing. Avast is the true winner for me.

  • http://www.google.ro LM

    Avira Antivir is the best freeware antivirus because have a helpful interface use max 20 mb ram for scan dont slow PC you can configure it to expert mode you can surf on the internet without any danger if you got a virus on the site will be immediately moved on quarantine or secure deleted
    Avast is the second freeeware antivirus because have 6 protections( this protections cause RAM crash and is good for nothing mail protection is a lie) 1 junk firewall uses aprox 200 mb ram slow pc on boot if you find a virus he delete only virus code on that file if you have virused your OS dont use it for devirused it causes crashing your pc or damage to hardware part.
    Use this tip: avira freeware version+ windows defender is the best protection for your pc

  • http://koowie.com Koowie

    AVG is still the best out of every free anti virus.

  • http://removeit.info/ Removeit

    As for me the best free suite to defend your computer from different viruses and spywares is:
    1)AVG Antivirus
    2)Comodo Firewall
    3)Spybot Search&Destroy
    Use :)

  • http://removeit.info/ Removeit

    Forgot to say: use Safe Mode :)) it’s a best way!!

  • Gregory

    Seems Panda antivirus is giving away their pro 2012 antivirus software for a 6 month free license. So you can keep if if u like it or just throw away after 6 months.
    http://www.skipser.toolsbysk.com/p/2/p/free-panda-antivirus-pro-2012-license.html

  • http://www.majorgeeks.com javier

    Yawwwnn. I have used all three of these antiviruses. I guess they are good if you don’t know anything else. The best anti-virus freeware is called “Comodo”. It can be downloaded from http://www.majorgeeks.com. None of the antivirus mentioned in this article holds a candle to Comodo.

  • John

    Need to be updated.

  • Kent Dyer

    The biggest issue nowadays is rootkits..

    http://gmer.net which is used by ComboFix..

    Thanks,

    Kent

  • http://www.giuice.com Giuliano

    Yep, need to be updated, you can find last report here: av comparatives http://www.av-comparatives.org/images/stories/test/ondret/avc_od_feb2011.pdf Avast improved a lot!

  • http://Lifefive.com Pratik

    Now Microsoft Security Essentials has taken place in the top list of Free Antiviruses. I don’t know about it’s detection rate and False positives… Thanks for the Info.

  • http://xpdrivers.com/realtek/_2_135928.cfm Aston

    I have been using Avast for quite a long time already. This is after big disappointment with AVG. I am very happy for it.

  • http://none woody

    Forget all those virus only protection…get COMDODO INTERNET SECURITY…by far the best…why?…it adds a firewall, spyware, malware and whatever you consider ‘ware protection. And those skeptical can go to any site and test it. Comodo Internet Security is rated #1 at http://www.matousec.com it reached 100% and is practically bullet proof. Don’t take my word for it, just visit and see for yourself. Keep in mind that this program is for a bit more than basic users as it can be a little alarming due to the alerts it gives. Please all you CIS users give feedback so people can really be assured that they are protected from the hell hole that the internet is becoming lately.

  • Ejaz Mir

    There are numerous performance reports about best antivirus, which lead us to nowhere, as their top rankings differ widely. It appears to be more of an advertisement scam than something true. Can someone suggest the best antivirus with promising results and equipped with good PC clean up/tunner?

  • http://notionstudio.blogspot.com Dinesh

    I will go with Kaspersky.

  • DinmensionX

    Thanks but really, this post should be removed since it refers to reports 3 years old from collected data even older. Top rankings change almost weekly nowadays. but I’m with woody, and feel that Comodo’s free antivirus, HIPS and firewall suite called CIS Premium is the best free deal out there.

  • samit

    avast is great free antivirus…….and those who are suggesting comodo internet secuirty……really!!!!!!!!……it is antivirus with extremely high false positive and has very low detection ratio…..

  • Your Informer

    The best antivirus is McAfee, this antivirus can stop even the deadliest virus, the ILOVEYOU virus, with low pc performance impact, using just around 30-40 MB, and a scan speed of around 200-300 MB/s, it’s size only uses 150 MB space on your hard disk drive, it’s full of features, and its specifications are all 100%, the only disadvantage of this antivirus is because it’s expensive.

  • Damian

    I use Avast and Avira on two PCs and Microsoft Security Essentials on another. Both the Avira and MSE are free beta testing versions that I applied for and was soon permitted to try them out from their websites. Both I have been using for less than a week, so it is bit too early to report how well they both work yet.

    I also use Zone Alarm, PCTools Firewall Plus, and Online Armor for free software firewalls.since like trying out different software just to see how well they perform, just like the many browsers I often use, such as Chromium Dev, Chrome Canary, Seamonkey, Firefox Opera Tor, Kamelion, Orca, Midori, Avant, Palemoon, Iron, and several others. I also still use Comodo Dragon, but no longer like their free AV or bundled with firewall, as Comodo’s free versions have become very buggy to use over the past year or so, and I had a LOT of trouble uninstalling them, they left behind many registry entries and scanning tools that I had to manually delete (by using another portable software program called “ZSoft Uninstaller) from the Windows OS registry one-by-one. ]

    I also use ClamAV portable as a backup AV scanner, since I have discovered that it doesn’t conflict with the installed AV I am using, and it uses the “Cloud” to download its AV updates.

  • http://thefreewarejunkie.com Rob Dunn

    Comodo is OK, but has one advantage over others – you can install it on business servers for FREE. Not bad – for those who are extremely budget-strapped. However, if you are protecting your business critical data with free AV…then you should really putting that saved money into your backup and DR budgets.

    As far as how Comodo compares with the others on this list – it is far below all of them for proactive and reactive detection rates. I would say it is an average AV solution at best.

    See Virus Bulletin’s ratings here: http://www.virusbtn.com/vb100/latest_comparative/index – Virus Bulletin is a/the major authority on AV testing…personally I would not trust a site where they are paid by the security software vendors to test their solutions.

  • http://freeware-computer-protection-software.blogspot.com/ Simbad

    I put on my blog a few antivirus programs that I think are the best. Visit my blog and download that you like.
    http://freeware-computer-protection-software.blogspot.com/

    Thanks,

    Simbad

  • jimmy

    i have Zenok Free Antivirus :) i have to say is the best antivirus i install on my computer keep my computer safe .. i some one dont know about zenok try a check ;) http://www.zenok.com/en/free-antivirus/

  • vion77