An Antivirus is a program that can detect and remove malicious software (or malware) such as viruses, trojan horses and worms from your computer. Additionally many Antivirus programs are also capable of blocking adware and spyware from PC.
The Internet provides a number of free antivirus protection programs and many of these are just as good as the paid ones. Some of the most frequently used products are AVG Free edition, Avast home edition, and Microsoft Security Essential and are mentioned here in details:
AVG Free is one of the most commonly used free antivirus programs. It is small (taking less memory on your computer) but very efficient and user-friendly, provides good protection from a number of common malwares. It can work on a number of Windows platforms including 98, NT, ME, 2000 and XP.
AVG creates a backup disk after the first run so that you can recover your data if a virus ever crashes your computer. It also automatically blocks password-protected attachments to prevent e-mails containing malware.
The older versions lack the features for protection against spyware and adware but the latest AVG Free Edition 8.5 provides this feature as well as ‘safe search technology’ that prevents your computer from accessing harmful webpages. Also AVG updates quite frequently.
This is a free antivirus developed by Microsoft that works on Vista, Windows 7 and XP. Installation is effortless. After launch, the program checks whether your system is a genuine copy of windows and then proceeds to complete the installation.
You can download Microsoft security essential that is still available for download without registration.
After installation, the program updates its virus definitions and performs a quick scan and subsequently automatically scans updates and removes threats.
Avast home edition is a simple and easy to use antivirus capable of outstanding detection of Trojans and viruses. Installation is simple and there is a 60-day trial period after which you have to register for the free version.
Avast has a strong resident shield capability including e-mail shield (that scans your mails), web shield (scans webpages while you’re browsing), outlook/exchange shield (for Microsoft outlook/exchange), network shield and instant messaging shield in addition to the standard shield against known threats.
Avast also provides a recovery database for backup just like AVG but is not automatic and prompts the user for action frequently during routine tasks.
Some other free antivirus software available include Comodo, AntiVir, ClamWin and ThreatFire. For most of these, like AVG, paid versions contains additional features like technical support as well!