I am a Windows power user and have the habit of regularly backing up my data, use a firewall, understand the pitfalls of bad internet behavior, regularly keep my OS updated with patches and do a lot of other stuff that other power users do to keep the system safe. However in addition to all of these points, I also use an Antivirus for my machine, just to add an extra layer of security.
Here is a short review and list of FREE Antivirus Programs if you are running Windows OS. Please note that this list is not comprehensive and contains only the Antivirus programs that I have used and tested on my machine.
IMHO, Microsoft Security Essentials is one of the best Antivirus solutions (in the freebee category) to guard your PC against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software. The automatic upgrades are smooth, the software is lightweight, runs quietly without constant interruptions and is very easy to use. You should have genuine Windows to install Microsoft Security Essentials. There’s also a new Beta for Next Version of Microsoft Security Essentials Now Available
OS Supported: Windows XP (Service Pack 2 or Service Pack 3)/Windows Vista (Gold, Service Pack 1, or Service Pack 2)/ Windows 7 (32/64 bit)
avast! provides good protection against viruses, spyware and other forms of malicious software. One of the features that I specifically liked was that avast runs in Safe Mode too, has a Boot time scanner, is easy to use and does not take a lot of my system resources. It’s free edition does not contain a spam filter nor does it provide any technical support, which I feel is a serious limitation.
OS Supported: Microsoft Windows 2000, Microsoft Windows XP/Vista/7 (32/64 bit)
Avira AntiVir Personal is a free antivirus solution against malicious programs such as viruses, Trojans, backdoor programs, hoaxes, worms, dialers etc. It’s free edition supports Netbook with low resolution, comes with a Generic Repair option for your PC and also includes customer support. Although I haven’t personally used their support, friends have given me a feedback that their support is very prompt. I found that at times it gives out false alerts ‘too frequently’ but that can be controlled by
OS Supported: Unix/ Windows 2000, SP4 and update rollup 1, Windows XP, SP2/ Vista (SP 1 recommended)/ Windows 7 (32/64 Bit)
Other Free Antivirus Softwares
Apart from the ones listed above, a quick search reveals some free antivirus solutions like AVG, ClamWin, Comodo etc. There is also a good thread on superuser.com that discusses free antivirus solutions.
If you are looking out for a paid Antivirus solutions then I strongly recommend to try ESET NOD32 Antivirus 4