Free/low-cost virus protection for Windows?
August 19, 2009 10:58 PM   Subscribe

I just got a raging beast of a new laptop. Runs Left 4 Dead like a dream. Problem: I've been in Mac-world for 7 years. Now that I'm back in Windows Land, I gotta be careful. What's the best free/low-cost/open-source spyware/malware/virus protection around?

Running Vista Home Premium 64-bit. Suggestions?
posted by GilloD to Technology (24 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
AVG, Spybot, and Ad-Aware used in tandem have worked very well for me.
posted by paradoxflow at 11:01 PM on August 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

avg, spybot, and sunbelt
posted by nadawi at 11:23 PM on August 19, 2009

Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware and Avira AntiVir has worked fine for me. Might want to look into a HOSTS file, as well.
posted by Dreamcast at 11:37 PM on August 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

If active protection isn't a must, I'd suggest ClamWin antivirus. It's open-source, low-footprint, and pretty much stays out of my way except for scanning my downloads or whatever else I want it to. It's a bit slow, but it's found things better than AVG in my limited experience.
posted by JauntyFedora at 11:39 PM on August 19, 2009

AVG, avast, and avira seem to be the popular free AV ones, but if you're willing to pay for it, ESET/NOD32 is excellent as an all around AV, firewall and anti-spyware 64 bit solution that has a small footprint for all three. I have Avast, Malwarebytes, and Comodo Firewall (which all work with 64bit Vista) running and have noticed little slowdown to warrant a change.
posted by palionex at 12:29 AM on August 20, 2009

AntiVir, Spybot, and (I guess) Microsoft's own Windows Defender / Anti-Malware.

If you use Firefox, Adblock+ and Noscript might be worthwhile addons.
posted by unmake at 12:44 AM on August 20, 2009

super anti spyware was able to kill something that avast and various pay ones couldn't. So I run that one in conjunction with Avast and adaware.
posted by legotech at 1:20 AM on August 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

I swear by Comodo since I discovered it, but I also regularly run SpyBot/Adaware, CCleaner, and ClamWin. I am paranoid.
posted by crataegus at 1:41 AM on August 20, 2009

Nthing SuperAntiSpyware which was the only thing that removed the subborn worm that DH picked up somewhere on a bike site. I tried at least a dozen other things before that had no effect; most had rather short lists of what they removed.
posted by x46 at 1:42 AM on August 20, 2009

I recommend AVG (have to watch this one and keep it from doing stuff that will lag you out), Spybot and Ad-Aware, too, but I hardly ever scan--maybe two or three times a year. Never find anything other than some annoying cookies. Using Firefox and not downloading anything that might be carrying a virtual STD is pretty well all that's needed these days. Using Gmail helps, too, since there's some auto-scanning for viruses. Updating your OS will typically help protect you against the worst viruses, should you get them.

When I'm helping a n00b (teehee) setup their computer, I tend to install lots of anti-whatever software, because it gives them comfort when it comes to the ebils of the intarweb. Even they hardly ever use it, if I've given them a few basics (mainly don't use IE6 or download files from Nigerians who wish to send you money...).

Only reason I wrote this was that I know a few Mac users gone Windows that freak out, security-wise, and it's pretty unnecessary, I think.
posted by metalheart at 1:54 AM on August 20, 2009

I'd check out: if you're having a hard time deciding.

AV stuff is one of the few types of software I pay for on Windows these days (free / open alternatives for most other stuff is fine)
posted by tkbarbarian at 2:24 AM on August 20, 2009

This might be of interest to you:

Lifehacker Pack 2009: Our List of Essential Free Windows Downloads

It's an article that links to various downloadable free anti-virus, spyware-detectors, uninstallers and a lot of other cool stuff.
posted by Cantdosleepy at 3:37 AM on August 20, 2009 [2 favorites]

AVG takes too long to do a scan. Avira has annoying nag windows but they can be disabled .
posted by Obscure Reference at 4:15 AM on August 20, 2009

I second Eset/Nod32, after using AVG for years I got tired of my system grinding to a halt every time AVG scanned. Eset is awesome, quietly works in the background and has loads of configurable options. Its not free but it is well worth the money.
posted by archaic at 4:28 AM on August 20, 2009

Avast for AV, Malwarebytes and Spybot S&D for malware scanning.
posted by deezil at 4:36 AM on August 20, 2009

I used to be an AVG guy, and then I tried Panda Cloud AV. It's new, free, and awesome. It even found malicious code inside a .php file inside a .rar file I've had sitting around for years.
posted by TomMelee at 4:36 AM on August 20, 2009

Immunet Protect, the only collective intelligence-based AV software. The most innovative AV software in 15 years. It doesn't have the name recognition of all the dinosaur packages yet, but it will.
posted by scalefree at 6:25 AM on August 20, 2009

I didn't notice anyone mention that you should keep Windows updated -- fairly important imho. I use Avast (more correctly Avast!) and it finds & cleans things that the work-imposed McAfee doesn't notice. The UI on free version Avast! is yucky though functional, but it works well. I don't bother with anti-spyware.
posted by anadem at 6:44 AM on August 20, 2009

I suggest fortifying your browser to have a flash blocker and norton security check. Both are free for firefox. The flash blocker can be annoying as you have to accept solid sites' flash content all the time, but its worth it in the long run.
posted by stratastar at 6:54 AM on August 20, 2009

I am a long-time AVG fan, but it's been spamming me with popups about the paid version a lot. I've been slowly transitioning to Avast! over the past several months, beginning with the computers I maintain for the less-techy members of my extended family. So far, no complaints from me or them.
posted by willpie at 7:16 AM on August 20, 2009

I'm a fan of both AntiVir and Comodo. AntiVir does hit you with a once-a-day nagware dialog box, but that's not really a dealbreaker for me.
posted by Citrus at 8:07 AM on August 20, 2009

I do not understand the fascination with anti virus software. I have never installed anti-virus software on my computer, EVER. And only once did I ever get a virus, which took me a couple of scans with free online software (BitDefender, Housecall) to clear it up. Firewall - definitely. Antivirus? If you're

1) not randomly downloading hacked exes from torrents and
2) opening everything that anybody ever sends you without thinking about it and
3) do your Windows update often,

you don't really need it.

That's like 10 years of Windows OS's with minimal trouble, and I'm a pretty heavy internet/computer user (programmer by trade).

/take that as you will
posted by bone machine at 10:39 AM on August 20, 2009


What I do is I let a portable version of Clamwin laying around and I check things manually from time to time, especially things I downloaded from sites I don't know much about.

Every Anti-virus I know of is a PITA.
posted by zouhair at 7:40 PM on August 20, 2009

Ended with AVG and Clamwin. Thanks dudes :)
posted by GilloD at 4:52 PM on September 20, 2009

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