Anti virus programs - differences?

  ukthesis 14:40 10 Oct 2006

I am going to get a XP Home Edition package. What's the difference between anti-virus programs for this? I've seen some very good reviews of free anti-virus items, like AVG. So why should someone pay for one? Are some more effective at stopping hacking, for example? How do I tell how effective they are, in comparison to each other? Thanks.

  MichelleC 15:09 10 Oct 2006

AVG is as good as the paid Norton's (which some find is a troublesome resource hogger). To help stop hacking you'll need a good firewall too (xp's isn't very good but turn it off if you install another). I use Zone Alarm firewall but there's other freebies too.

  anskyber 15:18 10 Oct 2006

Most here will recommend the free versions as you suggest, indeed AVG and Avast are the current favourites of many. Thats AV. you will also need a firewall and ZoneAlarm (my choice), kerio and others are supported by many.

The relative merits of the programs are hotly debated and depending on which review you read you will get differing views. PCA (the mag) reviewed recently for example. The main difference between paid for and free are things like automatic features and extra facilities. To give an example I have the paid for Diskeeper which works in the background defragmenting my HDD whenever its needed. (usually once a day) The free version must be used to manually defrag.

I have read that the free AVs may also not be completely up to date with the virus definitions so having a small vulnerability. The real issue with viruses and the like is sensible surfing, if you go to less savoury sites your risk increases substatially for example. Likewise opening e-mail from unknown sources is similarly risky. So there is a choice about how much you wish to be protected.

The final point is that even the best can fail so spyware scanners like Spybot search and Destroy are useful back up and removal tools. AdAware Se personal edition is another.

  anskyber 15:29 10 Oct 2006

Have a read of my opening quote from PCA click here

  anskyber 15:32 10 Oct 2006

I need to clarify my point about the main differences between free and paid for being the features, some reviews do point to a difference in performance as well.

  DieSse 17:28 10 Oct 2006

Most modern AV programs are good at stopping the viruses that are in real circulation. Where they differ a lot is in efficiency at stopping unknown viruses, and how efficiently they do their job.

One AV that stands out in these two areas is NOD32 click here

AVs are not the tools for stopping hacking - this is more in the realms of firewalls, and Anti-spyware programs.

A good free firewall is Kerio, and for Anti-Syware I rely on the free editions of Adaware and Spybot (be sure to use Spybots immunise feature).

As a long stop you could use a "behaviour analyser" such as Cyberhawk - I do, though it does get mixed feedbak, I haven't had any problems with it.

I do rely on NOD32 which IMO is well worth the yearly fee. Before long there will be a complete security package (inc firewall) from eset, which I am almost sure to use as my experience has shown them to always have an excellent product.

  Jimmy14 17:44 10 Oct 2006

is an excellent piece of software and has major improvements from the 2006 version I believe. It's certainly worth paying the money for. I currently have the 2006 version and will be upgrading to the 2007 when my subscription ends very soon.

  harry1888 20:24 10 Oct 2006


Its like the perfect friend. Easy to get along with, does the job for you expecting no payment, updates itself and is there when you need it. Paid for software, however thorough, is like the mob. Hampers your business, wants protection money regularly and gives you scarey messages when you dont.

Download the AVG exe and save it to a disc then when you get your new pc, reject that 3 months free trial the wolves at the door are offering install AVG and get surfing. You'll have no regrets I promise.

  Belatucadrus 20:49 10 Oct 2006

Most of the free AV programs are slightly pared down versions of standard Pro-commercial products. They lose a couple of bits of advanced control interface that to be honest you don't need. They are generally limited to one free copy per person and only for non profit home use. If you don't qualify you need to buy a copy. Use of the free copy in a commercial environment will have FAST come looking for you. As the free version is funded by the sale of the Pro license and the companies need the revenue from the sales, be under no illusions if you get caught abusing the free license, they will prosecute.
The exception to this rule is Comodo and while not exactly open source it's free to anybody, as many copies as they like, but as it's a Beta at the moment be wary of it.
My weapon of choice is avast!.

  it_girl 22:02 10 Oct 2006

If you have the money then go for McAfee 2007.Excellent.

  bluto1 22:13 10 Oct 2006

I use only freeware. Avast 4 for antivirus, SpyBot and AdAware for other malware, Comodo for my firewall and up to now I`ve got a clean PC. Hopefully it`ll stay that way.
In the final analysis the choice is down to you only. We can only pass on experienced opinions.
Best of luck

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