One of the most common questions that people ask me is, “What anti-virus to you recommend for Windows?” or “What anti-virus do you use?”. Any good IT tech will tell you that the anti-virus solution to use is the one that you are most comfortable with. For many people, they prefer to use Symantec products. There is also security products from McAfee and Kaspersky that work just as well. For others, they prefer to use what is free and don’t really care about paying for support. For me, I prefer both support AND free! But just like Mick Jagger said, “You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you just might find what you need.” Software companies are not out to make free stuff and provide free support, and expect to make money. With this in mind, there are trade-offs. I support my own PCs so I am OK with using the free stuff. Here are my primary recommendations for some free products:
I have been using this anti-virus since the first time I used Windows 2000 (almost 10 years!) and it is rock solid. The previous name for this was “Anti-Vir XP Workstation” so if you are familiar with that product, this is just the new iteration. The updater checks in for updates twice per day by default so this product is up-to-date as long as you configure the client to be that way. There is only one annoyance where a pop-up appears onscreen during the update process. Good news though, it isn’t ad-ware or spyware! The free edition does not require a license key to install\use so installation and use is a breeze. Avira works with Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7. There is a 30 day trial edition for Servers as well. If you want to buy the Professional edition pricing starts at $50 per server license and $20 per workstation license. The pricing alone makes this a very economical purchase for an individual or a business!
AVG Free Anti-virus
AVG has been around for a while and many people like it. Simplicity is the name of the game with this product. It has a very easy to understand user interface and it updates at least once per day automatically. AVG was the first to get their AV product working on Windows 7 and has done a good job of keeping their software compatible with a bunch of different Windows operating systems. They offer the free edition without support, but you must register for a key code on their site in order to use it. The free license lasts for one year, then you must re-register for another key. Regardless of the registration, it is a very good anti-virus solution.
Avast! Anti-virus Home Edition
Avast is almost identical to AVG. It requires registration to install and use, but you must register every 18 months instead of 12.