Best Free Anti Virus Software and Anti Spyware Program

Published 9/25/09 (Modified 3/8/11)
By MoneyBlueBook

For the last week or so, I've been battling a particularly feisty spyware/virus infection on my home personal computer. I was using my desktop computer to browse the Internet like any other day when my PC's performance suddenly started acting strange. One minute I was browsing the web, and the next minute my web browser was redirecting my Google search engine queries to a series of shady looking websites. Even my attempts to visit well known sites such as CNN.com or NYTimes.com by typing in the URL addresses directly into the web browser were mysteriously being redirected to adult themed websites or other advertisement filled home pages. Very soon after, a cleverly designed but obviously fake Windows Firewall alert message started popping up to warn that my computer had been infected by a Trojan virus - advising me to click on the provided link to access a supposed anti virus/anti spyware program that could get rid of it. Unfortunately, it wasn't until days after it all started that I finally realized that my computer had been maliciously hijacked and infected with either a worm or malware virus of some sort.

Dismay and concern immediately set in as I bemoaned the shear number of times I had used the compromised computer during the span of the last few days to check my Yahoo, Gmail, and business email accounts, and used the workstation to log into my confidential online bank and brokerage accounts. Who knows the number of confidential user login names and passwords I had unwittingly submitted using my infected computer that could very well now be in the hands of unknown criminals and evil-doers.

For those never infected by a computer worm, Trojan virus, or spyware download before and aren't familiar with the telltale signs, you know your computer's been infected when - strange things start happening when you're simply doing routine work, files you originally had suddenly start disappearing, the operating system starts acting slow, or unfamiliar applications start installing themselves or strange alert messages start appearing on your screen. As a big fan and frequent user of music and movie P2P file sharing programs like LimeWire and Bit Torrent, I came to the conclusion that one of the files I had downloaded in recent days must have been infected and must've somehow bypassed my firewall filters and punched through my existing spyware programs and installed itself onto my computer as a parasite. While I had Trend Micro installed on my computer for some time now, I realized that I had neglected to renew my subscription and had not updated my virus definitions for some time, which may have been a contributory factor as to how the virus/spyware managed to infiltrate my computer's defenses.

Scan Your Computer Regularly With Free Anti Spyware and Virus Software

When reality finally set in that my computer had been hacked, the first thing I did was grab my spare laptop computer (presumably clean and spyware-free), and log into all of my various email, bank, and brokerage accounts to change the passwords. Fortunately, none of my important online accounts appeared to be compromised, and no strange identity theft activities had taken place without my authorization - at least according to MyFICO ScoreWatch, the program I use to monitor and track changes to my personal credit reports. Next, I went about the task of figuring out which of the free anti virus and anti spyware software packages out there would do the best job of cleaning up the infection and ensure that such an occurrence would never happen again.

While in general, the very best online security programs such as Norton, McAfee, and TrendMicro usually require members to pay a subscription fee to gain access to their virus and spyware prevention products, there are quite a few comparably high quality alternatives out there that are available for free. Because each of the following tools utilize its own different and unique detection algorithm to scan for viruses and spywares, I recommend downloading a combination of two or three to get the maximum benefit. After spending a day or so of downloading and trying out most of the best programs, here are my recommended selections that I felt did the best job of completely ridding my computer of���� pesky spyware bugs and viruses:

Best Free Anti Virus Scanning Software

  1. AVG Anti Virus Free Edition: Strangely and rather interestingly, I've noticed that the free AVG virus/spyware algorithm frequently provides for a more thorough scan than that offered by paid software programs like Trend Micro. Go figure. AVG AntiVirus catches quite a few viruses that the others miss.
  2. Avast! Home Edition: Highly recommended. Avast! Home Edition is not only light on system resources, but it also provides excellent real time scans for free.
  3. Avira Anti Vir Personal: Great free application that automatically scans for and removes both viruses and spywares that lurk on your computer.

Best Free Spyware Detection and Removal Software

  1. AVG Anti Spyware Free Edition: Scans for both viruses and your run of the mill malwares. Easy to use and does a very nice job of keeping your computer clean.
  2. SUPER Anti Spyware: The aptly named SuperAntiSpyware program is truly super and highly recommended. The free edition is 100% free and will detect and remove thousands of spyware, adware, malware, trojans, key loggers, dialers, hi-jackers, and worms. The only downside is that the free version does not provide real time blocking or scheduled scans.
  3. MalwareBytes AntiMalware: I recommend running both MalwareBytes along with Super Anti Spyware. Each is likely to pick up spyware not readily detected by the other due to differences in their detection algorithms.
  4. AdAware Free: AdAware by Lavasoft is one of the oldest free anti-spyware programs available on the Internet and much of it remains the same. For no cost, the program offers a pretty decent, albeit stripped down, manual spyware detection option for your computer.

Free Online Virus Scanners

The following services offer premium virus scanning from popular brands via online interfaces. They're all very easy to use and generally offer high detection rates. The major downside is that some require you to pay a membership fee to initiate a virus removal after one's been detected. But nevertheless, it's still a good idea to run a full computer scan on occasion using each of the following services to ensure a clean computer.

  1. Panda Security Free AntiVirus Online
  2. Kaspersky Lab Free Virus Scan
  3. Trend Micro HouseCall
  4. Eset Online Anti Virus Scanner
  5. BitDefender Online Scanner
  6. Symantec Security Scan
  7. McAfee FreeScan
  8. CA Online Threat Scanner

If you want maximum protection, I recommend using Norton or Trend Micro, along with at least one or two of the free anti virus and anti spyware programs listed above. When it comes to your precious computer files like personal photos, important Word documents, and applications you have saved in your hard drive, it's always better to be safe than sorry.

  • Trend Micro Promo Offer: Trend Micro's currently offering a limited time 10% discount on its virus and spyware program with Trend Micro promotion code: "trendpro"
  • Norton Anti Virus Offer: Norton by Symantec is also currently touting special promotional savings deals for new customers.

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12 Responses to “Best Free Anti Virus Software and Anti Spyware Program” 

  1. Christine says:

    Don't forget, McAfee is free if you have internet through Comcast or AT&T.

  2. Marcus says:

    Well I'd recommend always using Firefox browser whenever possible. Use Firefox or even Google's Chrome browser and your chances of getting infected with a virus will be much lower. The default Microsoft Internet Explorer is the main way most people get hacked in the first place simply because nearly all of the spyware and viruses currently written are designed to exploit the security vulnerabilities in IE. That's also the reason why Apple OS users never get viruses - not because Apple or Macs are so much more secure, but because most current viruses aren't written for those operating systems yet

  3. Marcus says:

    Another common sense way to avoid viruses and malware programs is to simply not share files through Limewire or Bit Torrent as you apparently do. P2P files contain a lot of viruses embedded into fake MP3's, pics, and warez files. I myself got infected one time by sharing files as well.

    Also, watch out for spam emails that contain suspicious looking files. Email text messages cannot themselves contain viruses as the text portion of the message is just text and does not contain damaging system codes. If, however, you receive an email message with an attachment, be aware that the file attachments, if executed, can launch virus attacks. Beware of file attachments with file extensions such as ".exe", ".bat", ".dll", etc.

  4. Mr. ToughMoneyLove says:

    Considering that most of the activity on "file sharing" sites involves unlawful infringement of the IP rights of others, it's neither surprising nor disappointing that you and other users of such sites would be attacked by malware. What goes around comes around.

  5. Michael says:

    You can add Cox Communications to Christine's list of ISP's who give subscribers McAfee's Security Suite for free. It is unobtrusive and works great with WinXP SP2.

  6. Lloyd says:

    I second Mr. ToughMoneyLove's comment. Saving money shouldn't involve illegal activity.

  7. Jamie says:

    Unix-based systems (OSX, Linux, etc.) are actually more secure, but on top of that there aren't as many viruses written for them. You should have an Anti-virus, anti-spyware, and firewall. The best anti-virus is NOD32 - the only one that passed the leak test recently. Free is fine, but if you go paid, get that. Don't have more than one anti-virus program. They will work against each other. Malwarebytes is great for anti-spyware. For a firewall, Online Armor or Comodo would be best. For P2P, use an IP blocker like PeerGuardian, which will block those giving out harmful information. I also only accept encrypted peers.

  8. John DeFlumeri Jr says:

    I don't depend on automatic scans, I do it manually frequently too, especially after a lot of searching

  9. Financial Samurai says:

    Great list! Thanks for highlighting. More important than ever. My wife is going to eat this up.

  10. Greg says:

    We recently discovered a two year old virus on our home PC. Norton never picked it up. Loaded Avast and it found and removed 3 others as well.

    Contacted Norton regarding my displeasure. Have to give them credit as they credited us back over $100 for software that failed to do the job!

    Unless I missed something... an attorney using P2P.... tsk tsk tsk... (sorry couldn't help it!)

    Oh, I forgot what my best friend (and attorney) told me, It's only illegal if you get caught!

  11. Raymond says:

    Nice one Greg :)

    Well for what it's worth...I engage in a variety of other "illegal activities" as well, such as speeding, occasionally texting when I drive (sparingly of course), and sometimes even (gasp) changing lanes without properly signaling.

    I wonder if us file sharers did a good thing in the long run though. I think it was the whole P2P file sharing movement starting with Napster that finally compelled the music industry to wisely embrace the more convenient MP3 format. Otherwise, the industry would never have innovated and would have remained stuck in the caveman age of compact discs and DVD's.

  12. Jim says:

    Watch out for these fake antivirus and spyware programs being downloaded around. Many of these scam software programs come with legitimate sounding names like Antivirus 2010 and SpywareGuard 2008. These fake programs often often have alerts that appear to warn the user of viruses when in fact they are ways for thieves to steal your identity or take control of your computer and passwords. Beware!

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