More Free Software Please
We are not done yet: there are more free software tools out there in the big “world wide web” to help you keep your personal computer (PC) operating safely and protected from many of those nasty viruses, malware and bugs. In the previous article: Improving Personal Computer Performance with Freeware: Part 1 of 3, we covered an overview about free security software and its availability of on the internet. Even if you don’t have the money, or choose not to spend money, for your PCs safety, as well as your personal data, there are several great free tools available that can still provide you at least a basic level of security. These free programs will help you keep your computer clean, safe and minimize the amount of junk files that naturally build up over time.
Anti-virus software is “absolutely-must-have”software
As stated in the previous article, anti-virus software is “absolutely-must-have” software. And, we presented several great options for you to tryout. Remember, just because it’s free it does not mean it’s ineffective; free-stuff just has a few less features and controls offered in the pay-programs, pay-programs usually have automatic updates, faster scan times and more tweaking tools for the more advanced computer folks. Plus, paid versions (usually) are free from advertising integrated into the free programs. In other words, some freeware auto-downloads advertising and unwanted programs from the program’s sponsors. Rarely, do these advertising create a significant headache for the user, but if they do you can delete/remove them through Windows Tools or CCleaner.
What the Expert Say
The focus of this second article in the series are free programs endorsed as top choices by CNET(dot)com. CNET is an industry leader in the evaluation of computer hardware, software, internet equipment, televisions, stereos, well just about anything that has either wires, electronics, software, communications and so much more. You will find great product reviews in both texts and videos. And even better, they have download links for access to all the programs listed in this article. There are certain must have software utilities for every PC user: these include antivirus software, adware removers, registry cleaners and various other general PC maintenance operating software. The software programs discussed in this article are “freeware” software and I’m sure we all like the sound of free; especially if we can be sure it is still quality stuff. Here are a few recommendations for free software that will help maintain your PC’s operation and performance.
Top Rated Free Security Software Based on CNET(dot)com
Avast Free Antivirus 2015: A World-Class free antivirus program with over 3.65 million downloads through CNET(dot)com. The free version is excellent as is; however, don’t be afraid to pay for the upgrade to premium to really capitalize on all the extra features, functions and capabilities of this powerhouse software. Avast Free Antivirus 2015 has a comprehensive set of security tools. The Smart Scan detects vulnerabilities in your home network, checks for program updates, and fixes PC performance issues with just one click. This software package will analyze to determine if you need software updates for installed programs and it includes anti-malware protection.
You can find all these free software at their parent companies or all these applications can be found at cnet.com; a website that provides a warehouse of software applications.
1. Ad-Aware Free Antivirus+
Here is a free program that has been downloaded over 390.5 million times and is considered by many (especially CNET) as the #1 free Anti-Spyware. It is a Lavasoft product that incorporates both (as its name states) Ad-Aware protection and Antivirus protection. This program offers some of the same features as our previously discussed software tools: real-time antivirus and anti-spyware engines, rootkit protection, download protection and web filters for safe browsing, and combines Bitdefender's advanced scanning technology with anti-spyware. Unlike some security programs, this is not a memory hog; you will be able to surf the web and scan your PC with little to no noticeable performance reduction effects. On the downside, some CNET tests have reflected lower real-world performance that the other AV products. This is primarily a real-time threat awareness/resolution issue since this program doesn’t use cloud based collective intelligence system for detecting and disinfecting viruses. Note: the full version, unfortunately, requires additional activation after the first 30 days.
2. AVG AntiVirus Free 2015
CNET’s #2 in Antivirus Software with 552 million total downloads. AntiVirus Free includes AVG's antivirus engine, Link Protection, and File Shredder. A basic security kit with a bonus: AVG AntiVirus Free can fulfill your everyday security needs with its powerful antivirus scanning engine, software behavior tracking tool, and link and email scanner. AVG AntiVirus Free 2015 appearance is button-centric, streamlined interface, and the app is paired with AVG's Zen for managing scans remotely. The large overlay buttons separate tool categories, and quick toggle buttons are easily accessible for both touch navigation and traditional mouse and keyboard. Downside: The menu is a bit cluttered; AVG placed large submenu icons over the more functional buttons. Aggressive and annoying advertising in the free version; to escape them you’ll have to upgrade to the paid version.
3. Avira Free Antivirus 2015 (Windows)
With over 146.5 million total downloads to date, Avira protects against viruses, malware, and phishing, and includes protection cloud technology. Avira Free Antivirus offers Real-Time malware detection, privacy tools and safety ratings for your search results. That real-time feature is often only available in paid versions of other similar products. Avira uses protection cloud detection and AntiAd/AntiSpyware blocks Adware programs and online snooping. The browser tracking blocker prevents people or programs from recording your online habits; a browser safety extension for Firefox and Chrome is also available. With an Avira account you can get a Dropbox that can be used for backing up your files. Another benefit of this free program is the ability to schedule routine maintenance tasks ahead of time so Avira will work while you're away from the keyboard. Two Downsides: First, there is no one-click-fix tool as found in other similar antivirus suites; the second is, the Avira's Internet Protection Firewall is basically nothing more than a variation of the Windows Firewall.
4. Panda Free Antivirus (Windows)
Panda has been downloaded over 7.3 million times through CNET website. This top scoring real-world protection includes a USB drive cleaner tool. It’s the first antivirus to use cloud based collective intelligence system for detecting and disinfecting viruses and other threats. That means it uses data from millions of users to find real-time threats as well as solutions to those same threats. CNET claims this antivirus has a 99.9 percent in real-world protection. It sounds a bit too good to this reviewer; however, even if it is anywhere close to 99% that is quite impressive. Panda Free Antivirus comes dressed up like Windows 8/8.1 metro tiles. Caution: When installing Panda be sure to use the opt-out prompt during installation or it will change your default browser search to Yahoo, and your home page will be taken over by MyStart.
5. ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus+Firewall
CNET reports that ZoneAlarm has been downloaded over .75 million times. For many years ZoneAlarm has been one of the most popular free firewall applications available. Now ZoneAlarm has integrated its firewall with an antivirus that protects a PC from unwanted intrusions, viruses, and other malware, but it also includes anti-phishing, site authentication, identity protection, and download management features. It's also available as a premium package. The free tool lacks the premium version's parental controls, virtual browsing, PC tune-up, and support features.
6. Comodo Antivirus
With CNET total downloads of over half a million, Comodo provides great “full-time antivirus protection and basic features comparable to similar freeware, including a desktop widget, firewall protection, Game Mode, drag-and-drop submission of suspicious apps for analysis, and cloud-based definitions, but it also comes with some unique extras, such as the Comodo Dragon secure Web browser, which is free, and the optional Geek Buddy support service, which requires a paid license.
7. Kingsoft Antivirus (last version update in 2012)
Kingsoft Antivirus has over 128,500 downloads from CNET. Kingsoft Antivirus scans and defends your computer against malicious files and hackers. The quick scan function is fairly speedy; however, the FULL Scan function is very slow. In a CNET test they report that it takes 90-120 minutes to complete (depending on your PC speed); that’s a bit too long. This antivirus software includes Defense and Anti-Hacker functions to help prevent or catch security risks online and on your computer.
8. UnThreat Free AntiVirus (latest version)
UnThreat has been downloaded over 86,000 via CNET. This free antivirus software solution uses VIPRE antivirus engine and offers basic protection from viruses, Trojans, rootkits, malware, adware, and other threats, as well as provides e-mail protection and anti-spyware protection. This free antivirus software is decent by itself – however, consider the paid version for tons of extra features. Version 6.2.37 is fully compatibility with Windows 8/8.1.
9. Baidu Antivirus 2015
Baidu with over 92,500 total downloads is easy on system resources while still providing decent protection, fast, and free forever. This relatively new product (two years old) protects PCs through an Antivirus and Cloud Security Engines and an Avira Antivirus Engine. Baidu Antivirus can be customized and can be run alongside other antivirus program; a useful option when you feel the need to run two antivirus software tools back to back. Baidu’s tool works on Windows XP and 8/8.1.
10. Avast Free Mac Security 2015 for Mac users
Avast for Mac has been downloaded over 3.7 million times via CNET. This is CNET’s #1 recommended Antivirus Software for Mac computers. It has a basic interface with only five primary buttons to keep it simple (and we like simple). You can scan both internal and external drives making the program great for insuring that you don’t load a virus into your system from an external drive. On the downside, it is a SLOW scan. CNET has reported that a full scan can take as long as four hours to complete. This is probably an overnight task for your Mac or something to run when you know you plan on being away from the system for several hours.
Next: Improving Personal Computer Performance with Freeware: Part 3 of 3