As the free AV debate continues, how about a poll asking the question, 'which AV software do you use?'. The result would be a great help to the forum users who ask 'what AV should I use?' then they will see which is the most popular. I know popular doesn't always mean best (VHS/Betamax) but at least there will be more support for the commonly used ones.
'I know popular doesn't always mean best'...which really means the poll would be useless;-)) Anyone wanting free or paid AV need only ask the question and a host of replies will appear.
My take on it is, nearly every virus is easy to get rid of and is merely annoying not the end of the world. Tales of viruses eating hard drives and causing disasters of cataclysmic proportions are largely apochryphal on non-network computers as are tales of home computers being hacked.
All anyone needs is a decent AV (most are), eihter free or if one is really worried, paid. The most important thing to do is to make sure that it is updated regularly. There are no such things as good or bad AVs, only updated and not updated ones.
I have always used Norton and, (with fingers crossed and touching wood), can state that I have never been infected.
Sure, lots and lots of potential infections via e-mails, but Norton has never let me down. Any web download is scanned before I do anything with it. I now use Norton 2003, and constantly keep my definitions up to date.
Perhaps I have lucky, but I will stick with Norton.
I too have always used Symantec Antivirus and as you stated - it has never let me down. My only concern to new users is that they get into regular update habits and in all honestly, if free AV software (kept updated regularly) is just as good - why pay for the privilege?!
If you can get it for free, use the free one but keep it up to date!