Antivirus programs

Protection against Viruses and other Nasties

Microsoft Security Essentials
Not before time, Microsoft have come up with a very good security program.

In a nutshell

For non-commercial home use

As already mentioned, I currently recommend Microsoft’s Security Essentials or one of the three “A”s: Antivir, Avast!, or AVG. Here’s a brief description of these free alternatives.

Microsoft’s Security Essentials

I’ve been using Microsoft’s new Security Essentials on two computers since it was first released. I’ve found it excellent. Unlike many anti-virus programs it doesn’t hog resources so it doesn’t slow your computer to a crawl.

Fred Langa at Windows Secrets tested Microsoft Security Essentials exhaustively on nine computers for six months and gave it a resounding thumbs up.

It just works. What’s more it’s absolutely free for home and commercial use. Windows is the biggest target for the pushers of malware and its file system is not as secure as Mac OS X or Linux but at least Microsoft are now doing something about it.

Good job Microsoft. Not before time.


At the time of writing, Antivir performed well in most tests of free anti-virus programs. AntiVir is free for home use. Get it right here.

Avast! Home Edition

Avast! is free for for home use. It can be obtained at special discount prices for non-profit, charity, educational and government institutions. It runs a close second to Avira in current trials and it’s the program I used at home before I switched to Microsoft Security Essentials.

Get Avast! right here

I suspect that Avast! is as good as Antivir, but many testers don’t like its interface. I have no problem with it.

AVG v7.0 Free Edition

AVG is free for home use but last time I checked they would give a 50% discount to volunteer organizations. I’ve found AVG to be a little too proactive in trying to persuade you to upgrade to the paid version and unless you keep your wits about you it’s hard to find the free version. You’ll find free AVG here.

For commercial use:

Business users please note

Please note: If you’re a medium or large business running Windows you should probably be using Microsoft’s Forefront Client Security or an equivalent service. This is beyond the scope of Mistywindow. Your IT department should be able to advise. If they’re not on top of it, fire them.

If you’re a large or small business user, and if you value your data, and if the loss of one or all of your computers would be a significant problem, then you should be using imaging software or other forms of full backup. Anti-malware programs are not 100% bullet-proof, but if you create regular images of your machines and if you’re punctilious about backing up your data files you will have peace of mind which may be priceless.

If you’re small business user you should consider the products listed below. They’re in order of merit at the time of writing. They’re all very good, but there’s a range of prices. If you need a licence to use the program on more than one computer the relevant offers vary so you’ll need to do a comparison if you’re at all budget conscious.

Most commercial programs come in more than one version. There’s usually a basic version which includes anti-virus and anti-spyware, then there are more expensive versions which add extras like parental control and system tuning.

In addition to the free Microsoft Security Essentials (as discussed above for home use) the following are all very good programs:

G Data AntiVirus

G Data

German software company G Data is currently receiving the top reviews on most tests for their AV and it’s well priced for single PC or 3 PC licences.

Some users consider support to be lacking, especially for English language users. For most users support shouldn’t be an important issue but some corporate users may need it. Get G Data here.

Norton Anti-Virus

Symantec’s product is currently at or near the top of the reviews and allows you to install on 3 PCs with one licence. Symantec had a few years of bloat and high resource use for their products but they’re now back on track. Get it here.


BitDefender is a good price if you only need it for one machine. It includes anti-spyware and parental control. Get it right here.

Avast! Professional Edition

Get the Pro version here.

Commercial programs may be easily purchased on the Internet via the links I’ve given above or from your local computer software dealer.

Top security software reviews

PC World

The top standalone antivirus software for 2010 as tested by PC World in their latest review right here. You can see a detailed review of each of the top performers. More useful stuff from PC World right here.

Top Ten Reviews

Top Ten Reviews anti-virus page.

Antivirus Ware

Antivirus Ware Independent Antivirus Reviews & Testing.

AV Comparatives

AV Comparatives test reports.

Don’t delay, do it now!

Procrastination can be expensive, so install anti-virus software today, keep it updated and make sure that it runs automatically or manually on your computer at least once a week.

New pestilence is released continually. Each of the programs recommended regularly update their virus and spyware databases to cope. Your job is to download these updated definition files just as regularly.

With most of the antivirus programs I’ve recommended this can be done automatically. With some that only works if you have your computer switched on at the preset time. In each of these programs there is a button or other type of link which allows you to update the definitions. I always do this before running the program.

Related page

See Anti malware strategy. You need more than just anti-virus software to keep your computer safe.

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