I had Symantec antivirus software (network version that I got free with Sify internet connection) running for the last six months and my system got affected more than 3 times with viruses, which are mainly from external USB drives. Before that I had AVG Free, which also failed to recognize few viruses.
A month ago, I came across a report from AV-Comparatives analyzing around 16 antivirus software available in the market. It has divided the tests into 8 categories and ranked the products as Gold, Silver, and Bronze. As usual, I have gone through the report and the products to see whether they have free versions for my system. What caught my eye was free antivirus tool from Microsoft (yes it is free) called, Microsoft Security Essentials. It has secured 2 Gold ratings and one Bronze in overall 8 categories. So, I wanted to give it a try and the results were amazing! To date, my system has not been affected by any virus and has even cleaned the viruses from System Restore Folder. Detection is too fast and now, I am free of USB virus worries.
â€œMicrosoft Security Essentials provides real-time protection for your home PC that guards against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software.
Microsoft Security Essentials is a free download from Microsoft that is simple to install, easy to use, and always kept up to date so you can be assured your PC is protected by the latest technology. Itâ€™s easy to tell if your PC is secure â€” when youâ€™re green, youâ€™re good. Itâ€™s that simple.â€ says Microsoft on its website.
The best things I have noted in it are:
- Small in size. Around 9 MB. Updates are around 40 MB in size. (AVG Free installation file itself is around 76 MB)
- Simple graphical interface.
- Good detection of USB viruses.
- Able to clean the viruses that are in System Restore Folder.
- Free (I am crazy of free software)
- You need to have genuine copy of Windows. Before installing it, software verified that you are running genuine Windows OS.
- You cannot clean or delete the viruses until it finishes the scan. So, if power failure occurs in between, then you need to start again, which is really irritating.
- Sometimes it does not turn green (which tells that it is running) automatically, though it is running. We need to click it open to turn it green.
Except those down sides, which I hope Microsoft will update in the future upgrades, it is the best free antivirus I have run ever. It is much better than Free AVG version. Few of my friends told me that installing it made the system slow down, though I never experienced it on Windows XP running on 512 MB RAM. Make sure that you installed the latest .Net Framework (3.5 SP1), which I think is the cause of slow down. Try it and tell me your experiences in comments section.