Lots of companies offer software that's supposed to stop worms, viruses and other malware for free. Based on the October 2009 issue of PCWorld magazine, they tested nine such security programs to find the ones you can really depend on.
According to PCWorld, free antivirus programs vary just as much as their paid counterparts do in the quality of their protection. And frugal PC users on the hunt for no-cost antivirus software - already faces with tons of options - will have even more to choose from when new free offerings from Microsoft and Panda join the programs currently available from Alwil(Avast), AVG, Avira, Comodo, and PC Tools.
Among the above mentioned antivirus software programs, Avira's Antivir Personal claimes the top spot. It excelled in malware detection tests and boasted the top scan speed. Its interfacve could be better, though, and you have to put up with daily pop-up ads.
In AV-Test-org tests, AntiVir's 98.9 percent overall malware detection rate was the best among the software on the chart (Panda's unranked program outperformed it). AntiVir was also tops in proactive-protection tests that use two-and-four week-old signatures to simulate detection of new, unknown malware, with rates of 52.7 percent and 45.5 percent, respectively.
The strong performance of continued in disinfection. AntiVir found and disarmed all of the rootkits and other infections tossed at it, but (like all the free software here) it tended to leave remnants, such as relatively harmless Registry chances, in place.
Avira's program was not just the most thorough tool, but also the fasted. It led in speed tests for both on-demand scans (which you schedule or start) and on-access scans(which occur automatically during tasks such as copying files).
Such less-than-friendly default behaviors make Avira's AntiVir a better choice for tech-savvy users who know how to muck about in the settings. If you're willing to put up with a some what clumsy interface and the recurring pop-up ads, in return you'll enjoy topnotch, free protection against malware. It's not a bad trade-off by any means.