Which antivirus software should I use? After reviewing some of the free and not-so-free (here and here) antivirus programs on the market over the past few days, it’s time to give some recommendations. Before taking my recommendations at face value, I suggest stopping by the Web sites of each of the products reviewed and reading a little more about their products. You can also check some software review sites such as 6 star reviews or others than can be found by searching for “antivirus software review.” PCWorld.com has a recent review of numerous antivirus programs. Five extra minutes of reading will pay off in the long-run as you decide which antivirus product is best for you.
Free antivirus scanning
If you have not yet installed an antivirus program on your computer, I recommend you do. In the meantime, you can scan your computer for free using some of the free services by companies that offer antivirus software packages. Both McAfee and Symantec (Norton Antivirus) offer free scanning tools that are run directly from the Internet. Their purpose is to show you the need for having antivirus software installed on your computer. If you experience behaviors that may hint at virus trouble, and you don’t have any antivirus software installed, these free tools may give you a start at cleaning up your system. I don’t recommend, however, relying solely on the free virus scans, since they are much less powerful and thorough than an antivirus program running on your computer. Also, the free scans are often limited to one or two times, before the direct you to their software for purchase pages. McAfee, Symantec, and Trend Micro offer free scanning tools.
First, I recommend using a suite of security products if you don’t want too many programs to manage. From the ones reviewed over the past couple of days (here and here, either Norton Antivirus 2006 or McAfee VirusScan will probably serve you best. My recommendation isn’t based on the fact that these two programs are the most popular, but they will offer you the most hassle-free protection for your computer. If you can overlook the customer services issues of both (it’s a personal preference), you shouldn’t have much trouble with either one. I do sometimes wonder, however, why I have to keep paying for yearly licenses to be fully protected, but I’ll save my rant for another time.
If you don’t want to shell out $30-$50 a year for antivirus software and are looking for something free, I recommend Avast! 4 home edition. Its automatic updates make it stand a little taller than other free antivirus programs.
In the end, all of the antivirus programs I’ve reviewed over the past few days will offer most normal Internet users sufficient virus protection. If you often visit sites that seem shady or cause troubles with your computer, my last recommendation is to be careful where you direct your Internet browser to.