I’ve been doing some PC support for friends and family these past few weeks.
Some have had expired ($) AV products on their systems and weren’t getting current DAT downloads. Others were running good free solutions.
I liked Bitdefender Antivirus Free when I ran it on my primary laptop at home for a while, but the whitelisting management was frustrating, particularly with my special tools that are often treated as PUP’s.
So I pondered this How to Install Free, Effective Antivirus Software (for Beginners) - post at Lifehacker that recommended Bitdefender Free again for general users and Avast Free for advanced users.
I then encountered an installation of Avast (2014) Free that one of those family members had on a PC they brought me. I upgraded it to Avast 2015 Free so it was current and generally liked what I saw.
It seems to have been since forever when I posted Freeware Anti-Virus Solutions for Windows so that led to this updated quick-reference post for Freeware AV solutions.
First, I recommend starting with the following resources to get some understanding of AV products and their general ratings/evaluations.
Neither of these will point you magically to the “perfect” solution, but it will give you some background on the lay-of-the-land across different AV vendor products.
My layered use of the following products meets my own household needs but may not be adequate for less-than-advanced users.
- Free Firewall Software by GlassWire - Monitors and logs network connections…more used for logging than “active firewall blocking”.
- Sysmon - Sysinternals core service to log application/network executions
- Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit - EMET - TechNet Security
- Microsoft Security Essentials - Microsoft Windows - Core AV protection
- Malwarebytes Premium - Supplemental real-time AV/AM protection
- (Optionally) Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit - Free Zero-Day Exploit Protection - browser layer protection
However, if all this is too much, and I had to offer alternative AV/AM freeware products for family or friends, here is what I would go with:
- Bitdefender Antivirus Free
- Avast 2015 Free (see this post that I found interesting: AVAST: NG causes high CPU load)
- AVG AntiVirus FREE
- Comodo for Virus Removal
- ClamWin Free Antivirus
- Microsoft Security Essentials (already mentioned above)
- Malwarebytes Free Anti-Malware (note that the free version doesn’t handle real-time protection/scanning. Only “on-demand” type of options. Still, even that offers a good backup tool to run manually.
I don’t tend to lean to the “Cloud-AV” protection camp, however, these cloud-based free AV/AM products might be worth considering.
Not directly related but I saw news this week that Google and Microsoft are working to create better whitelists for good files.
- Microsoft, Google join forces to tackle antivirus false flags - ZDNet
- Microsoft steps up in industry efforts on mitigating false positives - Microsoft Malware Protection Center
- Inside VirusTotal's pants: A first shot at false positives - VirusTotal Blog