5 Best Free Anti-Virus Programs

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A PC can be your best friend in the digital era, so treat it nicely. The first and best thing you can possibly do for your digital pal: Ensure that it’s shored up against viruses, Trojans, malware and other online threats. Naturally, dozens of companies such as McAfee, Symantec, Lookout, Kaspersky, Trend Micro, and Webroot offer retail anti-virus software that can guard your desktop or laptop – but just as many offer complementary solutions you can download at no charge. Looking for the best free anti-virus programs? The following list makes a great starting point.

Note that while traditional anti-virus options may cost more, or require ongoing subscriptions, costs often cover added functionality and expanded features or companion apps that can even extend coverage to your smartphone or tablet PC. But many of today’s best free anti-virus programs make a perfectly good alternative, offering solid protection against Internet threats and regular software updates with minimal fuss, and only the most periodic pop-ups or nag screens. So don’t let the price tag on either end fool you, or bias you against taking precautions: From free to paid options, there’s a metric ton of anti-virus software that is easy to download and provides first-rate protection for computers and mobile devices.

Here are five of the best free options, ready to grab over the Internet at no charge: 

Avast! Free Anti-Virus – Avast! is one of the best-known free anti-virus programs for Windows, and for good reason. It guards you as you surf the Web, check your email, and visit your favorite sites. Like paid solutions, it updates virus definitions automatically, and is free for private and personal use.

AVG – AVG is another well-known anti-virus provider, and, depending on whom you ask, its protection is just as compelling as Avast!’s. Like Avast!, AVG updates its virus database on a daily basis, scans your email for spam or malware, and is free to download for Windows as well.

Panda Cloud Anti-Virus – Popular software program Panda Cloud Anti-Virus works in the cloud, meaning that it handles the heavy number crunching on other computers and frees up resources on your own machine. You simply download a lightweight client from the Panda website, and it does all the heavy lifting once it’s installed. Also, its name invokes images of cuddly bears working hard to defend your computer – always a plus.

Avira AntiVir PersonalAvira protects your computer against the usual suspects (viruses, Trojans, worms, spyware, adware and more), and it’s free to download for machines running on Windows. There’s even a version of AntiVir Personal for UNIX operating systems as well.

Comodo Anti-VirusComodo Anti-Virus has a unique feature: Its “Defense+” technology automatically blocks unknown files that might be threats. While this option sounds like it would be a hassle to deal with, Defense+ is actually non-invasive and it does its job quietly in the background. 

For more information on free anti-virus programs, visit:

Freebies at About.com

2012’s Best Free Anti-Virus Programs at PCMag.com

The 10 Best Free Anti-Virus Programs at MakeUseOf.com

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About author

Nadia Oxford

Nadia is a freelance writer living in Toronto. She played her first game at four, decided games were awesome, and has maintained her position since. She writes for 1UP.com, Slide to Play, GamePro and other publications, and is About.com's Guide to the Nintendo DS.

View all posts by Nadia Oxford

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