Free Antivirus/Anti-malware

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Dopefish
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Free Antivirus/Anti-malware

Postby Dopefish » Tue Aug 28, 2012 9:18 pm UTC

I've previously had a subscription to Norton anitvirus, but it's my understanding that theres a variety of free alternatives that are just as effective these days, so in a couple weeks (when it runs out) I intend to switch over to one of those.

So, what's the best choice for free antivirus out there these days? I'm currently using Windows XP home edition, and it's rather ancient by computer standards (~5 years old) so it'd be nice if it wasn't particular resource intensive (relatively speaking).


Similarly, what's recommended in terms of (free) anti-malware programs? I feel like I've heard both recommendations to install multiple so theres extra layers of protection, and other recommendations saying you should only use one so you don't get conflicts, so I figured I'd ask you guys as these forums are ever so helpful and knowledgable about these things. I currently have Spybot S&D and Malwarebytes (that seems to be on trial, but it's lasted for what seems like ages...) and they seem to work fine, but I figure if I'm juggling with my security stuff I should investigate if what I'm doing is really the best option.

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Re: Free Antivirus/Anti-malware

Postby Xanthir » Wed Aug 29, 2012 7:46 am UTC

Actually, XP is about 11 years old, and even Service Pack 3 is nearing 4.5 years old. Probably the best antivirus you could install is Windows 7.

That said, the built-in firewall and anti-virus in windows, if you didn't turn it off, is pretty darned good. I've been running with solely that for some time.
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Jplus
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Re: Free Antivirus/Anti-malware

Postby Jplus » Wed Aug 29, 2012 9:37 am UTC

Does Windows have a built-in antivirus? When I switch on all security features (defender, firewall...) it still complains about a lack of antivirus.

Avira is a good antivirus that doesn't take too many resources and has a free version. For good independent advice, have a look at http://www.av-comparatives.org.
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hotaru
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Re: Free Antivirus/Anti-malware

Postby hotaru » Wed Aug 29, 2012 11:11 am UTC

Jplus wrote:Does Windows have a built-in antivirus? When I switch on all security features (defender, firewall...) it still complains about a lack of antivirus.

not built-in, but microsoft security essentials is a free download, and pretty good.

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Moonbeam
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Re: Free Antivirus/Anti-malware

Postby Moonbeam » Wed Aug 29, 2012 4:58 pm UTC

I use Malwarebytes and AVG on both my dektop PC (running on Win XP) and on my laptop (running on Win Vista).

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Re: Free Antivirus/Anti-malware

Postby cphite » Wed Aug 29, 2012 9:10 pm UTC

I've been using Microsoft Security Essentials for a few years now and I've been very happy with it. It's free, it's very easy to install, and it's very light in terms of the resources it uses. And the current version is every bit as effective as the paid AV scanners out in the market.

That, plus the default firewall, is adequate for most people.

I use MalwareBytes as a second line of defense, mainly to run a scan if something suspicious pops up when I'm surfing the web.

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Re: Free Antivirus/Anti-malware

Postby Sero » Thu Aug 30, 2012 3:59 am UTC

I also can recommend the 'Microsoft Security Essentials with Malwarebytes as backup' route. MSE has a lot to recommend it. Bear in mind, a paid AV scanner has an interest in convincing you that it's being effective and useful and worth the money, which tends to mean it's more intrusive. Microsoft, on the other hand, has the sole motive of wanting you to have a smooth and positive, virus-free, Windows experience, which means it tends to just do what it needs to do with a minimum of muss and fuss.
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Re: Free Antivirus/Anti-malware

Postby Jorpho » Thu Aug 30, 2012 4:17 am UTC

The only catch with MSE is that you have to install Windows Genuine Advantage in order to install it in XP. (Or at least that's what Microsoft wants you to think. There are, of course, ways to get around it.)

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Re: Free Antivirus/Anti-malware

Postby Xanthir » Thu Aug 30, 2012 5:44 am UTC

Sero wrote:I also can recommend the 'Microsoft Security Essentials with Malwarebytes as backup' route. MSE has a lot to recommend it. Bear in mind, a paid AV scanner has an interest in convincing you that it's being effective and useful and worth the money, which tends to mean it's more intrusive. Microsoft, on the other hand, has the sole motive of wanting you to have a smooth and positive, virus-free, Windows experience, which means it tends to just do what it needs to do with a minimum of muss and fuss.

I can tell you, from the perspective of a Chrome team member, that anti-virus companies are mostly lying assholes who do stupid shit that crashes your programs just so they look like they're busy. *So* many Chrome crashes can be traced to anti-virus programs hooking our processes and doing crazy, unnecessary shit in them. (Our sandbox preferentially produces crashes when crazy shit happens, because the alternative is malware getting privilege escalation.)
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Re: Free Antivirus/Anti-malware

Postby Nick G » Thu Aug 30, 2012 9:04 am UTC

Microsoft Security Essentials. Get it.

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Re: Free Antivirus/Anti-malware

Postby freakish777 » Thu Aug 30, 2012 6:24 pm UTC

Microsoft Security Essential, AVG, and Malware Bytes have all been good.

That said, I'd recommend also getting Spybot Search & Destroy. Anti virus/malware is good, but there's other things out there as well, one of the best features of SD&D is the ability to tell it to not allow any registry changes without your express consent. Most of the malware out there alters your registry (think the fake Antivirus programs that tell you to hurry up and call some number and give them your credit card to buy their virus removal program, or browser hijackers that redirect your browser), and this helps prevent that from happening. That said, it can be a little cumbersome when installing an app from a not entirely trusted source (got some new program you want to try out, but don't know what/why/where it's changing the registry and whether it's necessary for it to do it's job?).

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Re: Free Antivirus/Anti-malware

Postby Dopefish » Mon Sep 03, 2012 6:33 pm UTC

Alright, so it seems that MSE is the winner, so I'll get that unless anyone shows up giving a compelling reason to get something else instead.

As far as windows genuine advantage goes, provided that I do have a genuine copy of windows, is it worthwhile to jump through various hoops to avoid it, or is it mainly an issue for people who may have acquired their copy of windows through questionable means? An extremely quick google tells me that it has been known to cause issues even for people with legit copies of windows, but I don't know how widespread those issues are or if the've since been dealt with.

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Jorpho
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Re: Free Antivirus/Anti-malware

Postby Jorpho » Mon Sep 03, 2012 8:10 pm UTC

If I'm not mistaken, the original incarnation of Windows Genuine Advantage has been superseded by "Windows Activation Technologies", even in XP. So, I guess the early bugs may have been sorted out.

On the other hand, if you've gone this long without having to bother with WGA, why not keep up the trend? :)

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Re: Free Antivirus/Anti-malware

Postby bluejello » Thu Sep 13, 2012 2:29 am UTC

I know that a couple machines had trouble with it that I have worked on, but by far it has not been a issue (WGA) not sure what the issue was on those computers. And for what it is worth, I recommend microsoft security essentals, and if you go to the windows update website (accessed through IE, either security or tools, and windows update) do custom instead of express and under optional updates it should be there. may not if you currently have a anitvirus though.
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Re: Free Antivirus/Anti-malware

Postby screen317 » Wed Oct 17, 2012 4:45 pm UTC

I cannot emphasize enough the benefits of a layered approach to protection.

I use MSE and Malwarebytes Anti-Malware as others do above. I have the PRO version of MBAM, however, which provides realtime protection and a slew of other features. Used in combination, any computer is much more secure than without either. :)

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Re: Free Antivirus/Anti-malware

Postby Dopefish » Fri Jan 11, 2013 6:57 pm UTC

Same questions as my OP now, except with a laptop running windows 8.

I think windows defender is built in to windows 8 (although I'm still quite unfamiliar with windows 8), and I'm lead to believe the windows 8 version of defender works as both anti-virus and anti-spyware.

Should I be seeking out anything further, or should ensuring defender is step-up proper be sufficient?

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Re: Free Antivirus/Anti-malware

Postby cphite » Mon Jan 14, 2013 10:53 pm UTC

Dopefish wrote:Same questions as my OP now, except with a laptop running windows 8.

I think windows defender is built in to windows 8 (although I'm still quite unfamiliar with windows 8), and I'm lead to believe the windows 8 version of defender works as both anti-virus and anti-spyware.

Should I be seeking out anything further, or should ensuring defender is step-up proper be sufficient?


I just got my missus a laptop with Windows 8 and was wondering the same thing, so I did some research... It appears that indeed, Microsoft Security Essentials (now called Defender again) is built into Windows 8 at the OS level. I don't believe you can uninstall it, but it disables itself if you install and activate another active scanner.

Based on everything I've read, it's basically the same product as the previous MSE... which has always been (in my experience) as good or better than most of the commercial AV products out there. It also has a much smaller footprint than most of the AV programs out there. Our new laptop came with McAfee pre-installed and is noticeably snappier now that it has been removed.

In my opinion, you're good leaving Defender in charge of your active scanning. I can't think of any AV programs that I'd use instead; few of them are going to be any better at detection, and none of them (to my knowledge) are going to have as small a footprint. And MSE is free.

That being said, I strongly advise you (and anyone else) to download something like MalwareBytes or the like and keep that handy for periodic scanning. No AV is perfect, and it's a good idea to have another "set of eyes" so to speak. I typically run a full scan with MalwareBytes about every two weeks, or whenever a website or application does something odd.

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Re: Free Antivirus/Anti-malware

Postby Jorpho » Tue Jan 15, 2013 1:52 am UTC

...Has anyone here actually seen or heard of anything virus-like lately? The closest thing I've seen was the "BetterInstaller" from the last time I tried to install IZArc.

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Re: Free Antivirus/Anti-malware

Postby cphite » Tue Jan 15, 2013 4:25 pm UTC

Jorpho wrote:...Has anyone here actually seen or heard of anything virus-like lately? The closest thing I've seen was the "BetterInstaller" from the last time I tried to install IZArc.


Overall activity is fairly normal, there just haven't been any "big" ones lately in terms of popularity. At least not in the wild.

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Re: Free Antivirus/Anti-malware

Postby HugeCartoons » Sun Feb 03, 2013 5:00 pm UTC

Another one for Microsoft Security Essentials. I've been using it for 2 or 3 years. It doesn't display annoying popups all the time like 90% of other AV I've used, and it's free!

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Re: Free Antivirus/Anti-malware

Postby championz » Thu Feb 07, 2013 10:09 am UTC

HugeCartoons wrote:Another one for Microsoft Security Essentials. I've been using it for 2 or 3 years. It doesn't display annoying popups all the time like 90% of other AV I've used, and it's free!

wow its so easy to identify viruses and best thing is that its not heavy to my laptop..

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Re: Free Antivirus/Anti-malware

Postby josinalvo » Thu Feb 14, 2013 12:55 am UTC

I like avast.

(I mostly use ubuntu, though ... So, not an expert)

Avast does not seem to slow my computer down much (and I have a 3 years old netbook) and it reports changes in a very agreable voice (I am slowly disabling it, as it gets annoying, but it is quite pleasant the first few times =P)

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Re: Free Antivirus/Anti-malware

Postby movsx » Thu Feb 28, 2013 1:26 pm UTC

I use Avast and Malwarebyte Anti-Malware.

The only issue is that Avast sometimes likes to analyze my code when I run it, because the "file prevalence/popularity is too low."

Bootable USB containing Precise Puppy and #! as well, along with an external hard drive with Ubuntu, just in case something gets out of hand and I can't log in

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Re: Free Antivirus/Anti-malware

Postby peterdavidson99 » Wed Jul 16, 2014 11:49 am UTC

Malwarebytes or Immunet are the best.

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Re: Free Antivirus/Anti-malware

Postby Dopefish » Tue Jul 29, 2014 5:25 am UTC

So as long as this decided to be bumped, do people still endorse Malwarebytes as a good anti-malware option?

It was good for awhile, but at some point it decided it wanted to update itself to do more things (act as an antivirus too I think?) and then I guess my trial expired or something and it started being annoying with it trying to get me to upgrade and not working right. I've been primarily using Spybot S&D and more importantly haven't really been venturing beyond sites I trust this past year so I'm not terribly hard up for another layer of protection, but it'd be of interest to me to know if I should give it another shot down the road.

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Re: Free Antivirus/Anti-malware

Postby Jplus » Tue Jul 29, 2014 3:31 pm UTC

If it is annoying and doesn't work properly, just dump it. There are enough alternatives, even very good ones that are free. Let me again refer to http://av-comparatives.org.

Malware scanners are your nth layer of protection (at the very least after being careful, installing updates and running a firewall), so it isn't really necessary if you have your prior layers of protection in good shape, but it does add some security.
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