The debate goes back and forth as to whether antivirus or firewall software are more important. In terms of what you need to add to your system many computer users will find that in a real world situation their choice of antivirus software is the most important. The reason for this is that many systems are already protected to some degree from outside intrusions by routers that have powerful firewall capabilities and also Windows XP and Vista have limited firewall capabilities built in. For those systems that are not behind a firewall router or are without the firewall feature of Vista or XP then adding a software firewall is just as important as adding a good antivirus application.
There are a number of very good free antivirus programs available from a variety of sources. When considering free antivirus software be sure it is as good as a paid program or look elsewhere, because free does not have to mean low quality or limited features as you will see from the following selections.
Comodo AntiVirus (Comodo)
This great free antivirus application can eliminates viruses, trojans and even worms from both desktops and networks. It offers constant protection with on-access scanning working in real-time. A powerful feature is the proactive heuristic analysis that can even intercept unknown threats. Updates of virus definitions are provided automatically on a daily basis. Any suspicious files it identifies are isolated in quarantine thereby preventing infection. This antivirus software is very easy to install and use. We have used this on all of our test systems and currently use it on a number of our computers! >> Windows XP(SP2) / 2000(SP4)
PC Tools AntiVirus Free Edition (PC Tools)
This is a new free antivirus application from PC Tools. It can detect, quarantine, disinfect and destroy viruses, worms and trojans. This free edition even includes real-time protection and comprehensive system screening to keep your system running safe and virus free. >> Windows Vista / XP / 2000
McAfee Security Center (AOL/McAfee)
This free product is offered free by AOL. You need to complete a free registration to get this product but the few minutes spent are well worth it. This is a multi purpose suite that includes antivirus, firewall and antispyware components. >> Windows Vista / XP / 2000
AVG Anti Virus Version 7.5 Free Edition (Grisoft)
Download the new version 7.5 of this top free antivirus product. This new version has an improved virus detection engine based on more accurate heuristics and NTFS data stream scanning. It also has a smaller installation ‘footprint’ and an improved user interface. >> Windows Vista / XP(SP2) / 2000(SP4) / NT(SP6a) / ME / 98SE
avast! 4 Antivirus Free Home Edition (Alwil)
This antivirus program is available free for home users. It is a complete antivirus solution and will do a great job protecting your computer from viruses. This newest version features better detection levels, together with higher performance. You can expect 100% detection of ‘In-the-Wild’ viruses (viruses already spreading between users) and even excellent detection of trojan horses. >> Windows Vista / XP / 2000 / NT(SP4) / ME / 98 / 95
AntiVir PersonalEdition (Avira)
Use this antivirus download free! It can reliably protects your private computer against dangerous viruses, worms, Trojans and costly dialers. This program uses very few computer resources so is especially good for older computers. AntiVir can run in Windows Safe Mode so can be helpful if you are unable to get Windows to boot! >> Windows Vista / XP / 2000 / ME / 98