Oct 162017
 

“Fortify your PC against all manner of attacks—for free!”

This PC World article “How to build the best free PC security software suite” (October 16, 2017) is one of the best digests of the topic that I’ve encountered. The article offers a ready summary of what you need to cover various security risks on your PC. For those not wanting to purchase an annual computer security subscription (with auto renew, eh) — but not go potluck — and willing to blend together a solution, the recommendations agree with my research and experience.

Antivirus software is the key component of any security suite, and for good reason—it’s going to be your primary defense against malware. Windows offers its own built-in anti-virus program called Windows Defender for Windows 8.1 and up—Windows 7 users can download and install Security Essentials. Windows’ solution offers fairly good basic security, but most third-party testing firms find that it falls short of third-party security suites. The upshot is: If you’re a security-aware user who’s willing to occasionally run a scan with Malwarebytes (see below) then Defender may be enough.

Avira Antivirus Free Edition and Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition are two free products worth your attention. According to recent benchmarks published by the German antivirus testing firm AV-Test, paid products for both Avira and Bitdefender won top marks on all three of the firm’s major testing categories including protection, performance, and usability; both did a perfect or near-perfect job at stopping malware and other threats. Avira did score one false positive from AV-Test when it identified legitimate software as malware during a system scan.

And, as for any free PC app, there’s a caution:

… free products can include browser toolbars, extensions, or other desktop programs that you might not want. Freebies can also have ads that help their makers pay the bills. Be mindful while you’re installing free programs to avoid also installing bloatware you don’t want, which is often flagged for installation by default.

Read the full article for recommendations to safeguard your PC in other ways.

  4 Responses to “Best free PC security software”

  1. This free option requires a little bit of elbow grease if you want to have complete protection.

    And if you’re curious about just how well Microsoft’s built-in Windows Defender compares to other anti-vitus products, PC World published an article today on that topic: “Windows Defender review: Basic protection at the right price.”

    In 2006, Microsoft added built-in security software to Windows for the first time. Since then, it’s appeared under various names, but currently it’s known as Windows Defender Security Center (WDSC). What started out as a basic antivirus detection feature has slowly grown into something that resembles a security suite. It doesn’t have anything close to the features you’d see in a third-party suite, but it does a fair job at antivirus and malware scanning.

  2. And if your PC is hit with malware (or you suspect such), this PC World article summarizes the steps to take: “How to remove malware from your Windows PC.”

    Safe mode, delete temp files, get malware scanners, run MWB, fix web browser(s), recover personal files if Windows corrupted.

  3. And if you want to go beyond free PC security products, here’s PC World’s review of paid (subscription) programs: “Best antivirus: Keep your Windows PC safe from spyware, Trojans, malware, and more.”

    So what should you pick? Our recommended suggestions strike a balance between excellent protection, a worthwhile selection of features, and minimal impact on your PC’s performance.

    This season, their “Best overall antivirus suite” choice (out of the 5 reviewed products) is Norton Security Premium.

  4. Recently (January 12, 2018), PC World posted this review: “Avira Antivirus Pro review: Great performance, but the free version is probably sufficient.”

    Avira Antivirus Pro is great for detecting viruses and offers minimal impact on your PC’s performance. Still, you don’t get that much for $45 per year compared to the free version.

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