The old adage “you get what you pay for” couldn’t be less true when it comes to virus protection software. Hundreds of free programs are offered for download to protect your computer from the ever-present baddies. When it comes to functionality, some of these free programs are unrivaled by their commercial counterparts.
The Online Scans
Some of us don’t have the computer space for yet another program. Luckily, we don’t have to. Several anti-virus companies offer free online scans that will thoroughly check your computer for viruses, and offer fixes for them. Here are some of the best available:
eAcceleration’s StopSign Anti-Virus
This company creates some really top products, including Anti-Virus, Popup Blocker, Spyware Remover and Spam Blocker. Each of these quality software products comes with a guarantee that most companies will never offer: “We guarantee to get you infection free”. eAcceleration members never pay for by-phone technical support, and they receive all the help they need including online virus repair sessions with skilled technicians.
With products like that, it would be easy for a company to say, “we’ve done enough”. However, they take it a step further and offer a full, in-depth online virus scan that is completely free.
Scroll down toward the bottom of their web page, and click the “Scan Now” button. You’ll be asked to accept a download which allows the StopSignPop-up scanner to be installed. The virus scan starts automatically, and will display results alongside virus removal options if you are infected.
PC Health Plan™
Once you have run StopSign’s virus scan, it’s time to take it a step further. Even if your computer contained no viruses, you probably have spyware hidden on your computer. How likely? Very likely; more than 92% of all computers have spyware crammed onto them. Many of these programs can cause an endless stream of pop-ups, slowed power, computer crashes, and other frustrating problems. They can also be used to steal your personal information and invade your privacy, if not to outright destroy your computer.
PC Health Plan detects and removes the most dangerous spyware programs hiding on your computer. These are little nasties that even the most popular anti-virus software cannot find. Spyware, adware, keyloggers, Trojan horses, and privacy invasions are all taken care of through their free online scan. In the process, by removing these nasty programs, you’re also going to boost computer performance and increase your internet browsing speed.
To start this scanner, just look for the “Click Here” link located right below the first paragraph on their page. Your first time running the scan will require a small download for the scanner itself, and the scan will start right away. When you go back to the site, you won’t have to download the scanner again.
Download Free Anti-Virus Software
Online scans are fantastic, but they do lack a few functions that make the download versions more popular. Most anti-virus software installed on your computer, for example, will allow you to right-click a file or folder and make sure it is not infected with a virus before you even open it.
Here’s the low-down on the top free anti-virus downloads:
Grisoft AVG Anti-Virus
By far the best free anti-virus software, AVG Free Edition is available free-of-charge to home users. Rapid virus database updates are available, providing the high-level of detection capability that millions of users around the world trust to protect their computers. AVG Free is easy-to-use and will not slow your system down (low system resource requirements).
• Automatic update functionality
• The AVG Resident Shield, which provides real-time protection as files are opened and programs are run
• The AVG E-mail Scanner, which protects your e-mail
• The AVG On-Demand Scanner, which allows the user to perform scheduled and manual tests
• Free Virus Database Updates for the lifetime of the product
• AVG Virus Vault for safe handling of infected files
AVG Free Edition is for private, non-commercial, single home computer use only. Use of AVG Free Edition within any organization or for commercial purposes is strictly prohibited.
AVG Free Edition is not intended for non-profit organizations. Grisoft supports discounts for:
• municipal and government organizations
Avast Anti-Virus Home Edition
Next in line is the avast! Home Edition, a full-featured and award-winning anti-virus software designed for home and non-commercial use. In this company’s opinion, the spread of global viruses can be prevented by the use of proper anti-virus software. This is the philosophy which has driven them to offer their software for free.
Institutions, both commercial and non-commercial, are not allowed to use the free version of this software. There are discounts available, though.
Final Virus-Prevention Tips:
Computer viruses are thriving because of how “connected” our society is. Combined with the fact that our software and the speed of our hardware, viruses are becoming ever more malicious; there is no question that everyone should protect their computer from viruses.
In addition to free virus-protection software, there are a number of free things you can do to keep your computer and information safe. The following tips should be completed regularly, in addition to your anti-virus software:
• Stay Up-to-date: This not only applies to your anti-virus software, but also your operating system, browser and email client. Most viruses take advantage of known security problems in your computer’s software. There is almost always a patch available for the software before viruses appear on the scene that take advantage of the vulnerabilities. If you use Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office, Windows Update and Office Update provide an easy way to keep up-to-date with security patches.
• Avoid Dangerous Neighborhoods: If you go looking for trouble, you’re bound to find it. Questionable sites like those with pirated software (warez, gamez, appz, etc.) hacker sites, or sites that promise you software keys and other ways to break the law are often land mines for viruses. I mean think of it this way; if someone is willing to “help” you break the law, what do they want in return?
• Don’t Follow the Crowd: Almost all viruses use the flaws present in Microsoft products. Try switching web browsers (Mozilla’s Firefox is an excellent one) and changing email programs. In everything that you can, stay away from Microsoft software that connects to the internet. It’s nothing against Microsoft, it’s common sense; virus writers want to attack the largest numbers possible, and this definitely lies in the Microsoft realm.
Use common sense. The safety of your computer affects the safety of others.