Security compare

Five free tools to keep your Windows PC running malware-free

You know you have to stay on top of those insidious malware threats, but what's the most effective (and affordable) solution? Here are some solid options.

It's a constant battle, the protection of a PC against malicious software. The second you think you have your machine clean, something else appears -- no matter what piece of software you use to combat this plague. Even so, you still need to have some protection installed. So I thought I'd list the five tools I prefer for keeping Windows as malware-free as possible. They don't cost a dime, and they're about as reliable as a malware removal tool can be.

1: Malwarebytes

This is my go-to tool when there's a malware issue. It's fast, it's always reliable, and it's free. The only downfall is that there's no real-time component. For the free version of Malwarebytes to actually be active and scanning, the user must run the tool. Now, if the end user is too lazy (or forgetful), I would suggest purchasing the non-free version, which does contains a real-time component. But the free version is certainly solid. Note that here are instances where the removal of a piece of malware by this tool will require a reboot of the machine.

2: ComboFix

ComboFix is the Mac Daddy of removal tools. It's also not a standard anti-malware tool so much as it is a major problem-solver. When you have malware that simply won't go away (and you suspect something a bit uglier -- like a rootkit or Trojan -- that keeps re-infecting your machine), you want this tool. I recommend ComboFix, but with a warning: It's powerful. Very powerful. Do not leave the executable for this tool just lying around. Use it and remove it. And unlike most malware removal tools, you (or the end user) won't be using the PC while this tool is running.

3: Spybot Search and Destroy

Spybot Search and Destroy is one of the most popular anti-malware tools. If there's a piece of anti-malware software on a machine, it's probably going to be this one. Now, I will say that S&D is not the most powerful of the anti-malware tools, but it's by far not the worst. I would actually rank it right below Malwarebytes with regard to reliability. And since there is no harm in having two anti-malware tools on one machine (unlike antivirus, which is a big no-no), using Malwarebytes and S&D as a one-two punch will catch most every piece of malware. The one thing S&D has over the free version of Malwarebytes is that it has a real-time scanner.

4: Avast Free

I like Avast. I like it for antivirus. I like it for anti-malware. The best thing about this tool is that you can have them both, at the same time, for free! Not only is the anti-malware portion of the tool safe and reliable, the antivirus is one of the tops of the free suites. So this one is a win-win for sure. Yes, there are paid versions of the same software suite, offering anti-phishing, safe-shopping, SPAM protection, and the like. But if you're looking for solid anti-malware and antivirus, just download the free version of Avast.

5: AVG Free

For the longest time, I was a big advocate of AVG Free for antivirus protection. Now? Not so much. AVG Free's ability to keep viruses at bay is less than stellar. But it does a fairly good job of removing malware. What I like about AVG is that it's unobtrusive. When a scan is running, you will hardly notice. The big downfall of AVG is that, should you have to run ComboFix, you can't just turn it off. To run a tool like ComboFix, you actually have to completely remove AVG. That is a real pain.

The safe side

Here's my honest take: If your machine is a personal (home) machine, slap on AVG Free and Malwarebytes and be done with it. Or if you want an all-in-one tool, use Avast. But always keep a copy of ComboFix around just in case those tools miss out on some of the nastier uglies creeping around. Regardless of which way you go here, just make sure you have (and use) protection. Practice safe computing!

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

94 comments
rajarshichakrabarti
rajarshichakrabarti

I would request a comment on Avira free version. That seems to be a good one.

allan_leake
allan_leake

I really like Avast. However, after an update it suddenly would not work with Zone Alarm. I reported the issue, got no resolution so I switched to AVG.

sightsandsounds
sightsandsounds

Thanks Jack, In some 12 years Ive been a home plunker, Ive never read such a Down To Earth Understandable Insight/ Advise Piece, such as this one. Even your assesment of NewEgg low price on Pro Malwarebytes, Ive bought one for $11 for my #1 PC. The others Malware Free and Micro Ellements. are Fine. I first read about these combos about a year ago in somebodys "Comments" and now I have it Confirmed. I can also say that all the good things about Micro Essentials we read are True, It has to be as most $70 programs nowadays are desperately selling their software for $35 or $45 and you get that back with a rebatr, IF you go thru with it. I say GREAT, those programs have been gouging our pockets for a long time. Oh, In the time Ive run these two ( Malware Free and MicroElements, Ive had 2 at 1 time Catches, Malware snapped them Down ! Good Stuff !

gunsmoke234
gunsmoke234

I had MSE after purchasing new computers and received 2 viruses. Installed McAfee on laptop and AVG on the desktop and been OK since. JM

Zevel
Zevel

Avast is the only tool that will scan your hard drive before windows boots. Beat that.

cbermund
cbermund

AVG Free was our favorite until it installed its toolbar and changed search preferences which are not easy to remove or change. It also conflicts with other antivirus products. No other alternative except to remove it

greg
greg

No such thing - AVG is more of a false sense of security for a novice user. There are excellent paid (under $24/year) AV software available, don't be lazy or ignorant - you get what you pay for!

30yrsIT
30yrsIT

I see several commentators saying they run CCLEANER. I do run it on every machine as a system optimization tool but not as A/V. I have never even seen where Piriform bills it as being an A/V tool. If my customers want to pay for A/V I sell them Kaspersky Internet Security. If they want free, I install MSSE. I have almost totally automated scripts written for cleaning infected machines where I boot from a cd or thumb drive that starts a PE environment that then executes a batch job that maps to a network drive containing updated utilities and: runs a ghost image backup, runs chkdsk, defrag, runs emisoft CLS, copies utilities like MBAM, CCLEANER and several others to the c: drive along with another batch file copied to the startup folder after the PE environment finishes it's work. The batch file in the startup folder installs and runs MBAM and CCLEANER. It then executes among other things Hijackthis and Sysinternals Process Explorer (dangerous tools) so I can manually verify the infections are gone.

pkrudnik
pkrudnik

A couple more tools to use: Kapersky Rescue Disk - http://support.kaspersky.com/viruses/rescuedisk VIPRE Rescue - http://live.vipreantivirus.com/ Free 30 Day trial with VIPRE Internet Security VIPRE Internet Security 2012 - http://www.vipreantivirus.com/VIPRE-Internet-Security/ These tools are mainly for infected computers, but will help out with removal! Anymore, free Antivirus programs are limited and may not be able to get the job done adequately . You are better off to pay for an antivirus program and if you do get infected the company should be able to help you remove without being on your own. You also pay for support with the paid antivirus programs, so get your use out of them!

BruceAnd
BruceAnd

As a pro IT guy, the last 100 machines from which I had to remove viruses were running mostly AVG with a few using Avast. Security Essentials is fast and I have yet to have one come in virus laden. There's another very good spyware program SuperAntiSpyware I would use before Malwarebytes as it will find more resident cookies than Malwarebytes.

psmithers
psmithers

Avast was fine but developed a tendency to be "in your face" too much. MSE runs quietly and effectively for me.

sonnystarks
sonnystarks

Seems to catch all those that Malwarebytes and Norton Internet Security miss.

anatoliyshudrya
anatoliyshudrya

Very well article, very well said! These are the top antimalware tools for the current day. Use all of them to some extend, not all at once, but definitely to clean PCs and keep everything in shape. Yes, they have its pros and cons, but with this list you can clean most of malware out of your PC. One of the last AVG quirks; that they disabled automatic scheduled scan every day by default installation, and now you would need to go to options and enable that manually. I believe they have had that by default auto in previous versions, like 2011 etc. Anyways, good article, 100% agree on the list of tools.

Kevin Morrison
Kevin Morrison

OK yes it is free but your statement that you can set it and forget it is wrong. The free version does not run in the background keeping you safe. You have to manually run it to find out if there is anything bad on your computer. Also why would anyone use AVG when you can use Microsoft Security Essentials and not have all the advertisement? Not that I endorse it and anyone who needs real security should get a copy of NOD32 or some other security software (anything but Norton/Symantec anyway).

MemphisGuy
MemphisGuy

MicroSoft Security Essentials. doesn't slow down your system doesn't miss viruses. I've used all of the major free virus scanners. MSE is much better. When I help someone, I replace all of the virus scanners with MSE. That includes the major brands. Thuroughly tested by Fred Langa of Windows Secrets. That's good enough for me. http://windowssecrets.com/top-story/is-your-free-av-tool-a-resource-pig/

mla_ca520
mla_ca520

Mbam comes with chameleon, which has very positive reviews on cnet. I'm curious if you've tried chameleon to clear a system that won't load anti-malware software? For my clients, I usually install Microsoft Security Essentials and Avast. I also try to educate them about safe browsing practices.

menocky
menocky

I like using Avast with MalwareBytes. On so may systems that I have worked on, I will open up Avast's real time file monitor and then start up MalwareBytes and then watch the files click away. One more than one occasion, as the malware scan is going down the folder hierarchy Avast will detect a bad file as a nasty file tries to write itself to a location that has already been scanned. You also can't forget about rkill. It's small and quick killing all questionable process so you will be able to install and run your anti-virus and anti-malware on badly infected machines. http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/download/rkill/

therealjunkman
therealjunkman

I got the full Monte paid for version, and it like to drove me nuts, and also, ruined my machine to the point I gave up and bought a new hard drive and started over from scratch. Don't leave the .exe laying around" indeed!Don't even install this piece of crap. It IS WORSE than the 'disease' it's supposed to 'cure'. And I PAID for the full suite. What a sucker I feel like. I finally got rid of it off my machine, and I will NEVER install it again. An expensive lesson learned the hard way. Junkman

RNR1995
RNR1995

None of the free AV's score well. MBAM is for malware and the paid version with real time protection is excellent. I know everyone will groan at this, but Symantec Corporate scores the best of all the major brands, we run this with the paid version of MBAM, they do play nice together. Eset which I rarely see compared, is also an excellent product that I would recommend for home users or older PC's. Your best defense is keeping your equipment up to date and ditching JAVA, Flash and Acrobat.

WDMARKPC
WDMARKPC

I know and appreciate your emphasis is on the " free tools" and, without question Malwarebytes is among the best. It plays well with most any Anti-virus or Security Suite (paid or free), that is out there. However, IMHO, the paid version is essential, as, it will proactively prevent the Malware attack rather than retroactively removing an infection that may well have caused harm far beyond the PC's operation (e.g. data loss,password or identity theft, etc.). When properly configured for both real time protection and routine automated definitions updates and automated scans, Malwarebytes will likely save far more in $, time, support expense that often results from a successful attack, than it will if used only with hindsight. For these reasons (and respectfully to Jack) paying the modest one-time license fee for Malwarebytes is the best free advice I can offer to anyone interested in their systems security. On the Free side of AV software to compliment Malwarebytes, I echo earlier favorable comments on Microsoft Security Essentials for Pre-Windows 8 machines. As I understand it Windows 8 will "essentially" have a renamed equivalent built in. DISCLOSURE : I provide in home and remote PC tech support and though it may be counter-intuitive for my business, my personal experience with Malwarebytes makes it the one program I routinely encourage my customers to purchase. Other than the CrossLoop products, it is the one paid product license I choose to "sell" at my CrossLoop profile.

craigkra
craigkra

I cannot understand why Emisoft Anti-Malware is never mentioned in articles like this. I have used the free version for years and it picks up problems that Malwarebytes and other programs such as SUPERAntiSpyware and Spybot Search and Destroy never seem to even smell. If you try it you will see the difference in any scan comparison.

adennya
adennya

AVG Free can be disabled temporarily... doesn't have to be uninstalled. Go to Tools-Advanced Settings-Temporarily disable AVG protection. You can disable until the next boot, or for a specified length of time. I wonder if temporarily disabling AVG is sufficient for Combofix?

Alienwilly
Alienwilly

If you keep your windows and MS Security Essentials, Adobe and java products up to date along with safe practices and you won't need any of the rest.

h_mansoori
h_mansoori

Antivirus - Avast (Free version) - strong engine, good shields Antimalware - Malwarebytes (Free version) - strong engine Firewall - Comodo Firewall (Free) - zero day protection, sandboxing, fine grained control System - Advanced System Care (Free version) - advanced system utility Cloud Internet Security - OpenDNS (Free Home package, Optional) - in case worried of fraudulent sites. Alternatively, you can use Comodo DNS servers from within Comodo Firewall. Comodo Dragon browser - build on top of Chrome, skims off nuisance from Chrome and adds additional layer of security blanket If you like, you can replace Avast with MS Security Essentials. The results are fairly satisfactory (the detection rate to me has been same with both), but my preference goes to Avast due to various shields that it offers.

martinv@flux.co.za
martinv@flux.co.za

I love the way I hear people say they haven't had a virus in x amount of years. In my experience, that mostly means you are not aware of the virus(es) on your machine, especially when you are only using the recommended list of software you find scattered all over the net. The base problem is still the blacklist approach being used by AVs instead of an active whitelist. It's becoming more and more common for malware to use some form of polymorphism which means literally thousands of different variations, the broader the algorithms become, the more false positives we'll see and vice versa with detection rates. This will completely depend on user requirements, but if you know what you are doing, the best way is going with DEP or some other whitelist approach, which is next to impossible to manage in corporate environments at the moment, which is exactly the point we should be debating on. The host file entry suggestion hit near the mark and this can quite easily be integrated into the gateway of a corporate network, which will prevent a number of nasty scenarios but then you are again looking at a blacklist, at least it???s an holistic approach... As far as the best AV go, we're back to an opinionated discussion, rather than any actual facts which can educate people on how to proceed, which means we're getting back to a list you can find on Yahoo Answers rather than among a group of IT professionals. We should be discussing new approaches, not picking the most successful loser or reinventing the wheel. Stuxnet proved beyond any doubt that our existing approaches will not weather the storm to come. We aren't talking about 16 year old kids that start out with a bit of C++ and slap together pieces of code from online articles anymore, it isn't innocent anymore, we are talking dedicated professionals looking for monetary gain. They are knocking on the doors and our blacklist locks won't keep them out forever. They are knocking on the doors and it won't be long, they are coming.

Garreth49
Garreth49

I too work on computers all the time. For my personal machines, I use a combo of MS Essentials and the free McAfee Internet Security Suite that comes with my cable internet subscription. They do not interfere with each other and I have yet had malware get past them. For customer machines, I use a combo of Superantispyware (free edition) and MS Security Essentials. They coexist peacefully and work very well. I keep a copy of both on a flash drive to use on house calls, especially when i get a call for virus removal.

bhwong1
bhwong1

AVG is slow and miss most of the malwares. Worse is some updates actually cause Windows unbootable! I have since switch to Microsoft free anti-virus. It's fast and reliable. For malware, Malwarebytes is the best! It can remove even stubborn malwares that none other anti-malware can remove.

Kilroy199
Kilroy199

I've found that the most effective way to keep malware and spyware from infecting a system is to use an updated HOSTS file, see http://winhelp2002.mvps.org. This keeps them from "calling home" to download thier payload by redirecting them to the local host. This along with Trend Micros' Worry-Free Business Security on the enterprise has reduced infection by over 95%!!!

AmraLeo
AmraLeo

On my wife's computer, I've got Avast!, Malwarebytes, and CCleaner, and they seem to do just fine. I had AVG on there, but it seemed to use a lot more resources than Avast!. I'm pretty motivated to keep her computer running well, as I'm the one that has to fix it. I don't have to worry much about my computer, as it runs SimplyMEPIS Linux. Haven't had a problem with mine in years, wish I could say the same about hers...

Shadeburst
Shadeburst

A few months ago, I was on contract at a site that switched from Symantec to (paid) AVG. Non-stop problems (network logins mysteriously disabled, exchange server hidden, network paths inaccessible), then a really heavy-duty piece of malware crashed the disk system. I sat there for three weeks getting paid for doing nothing while they tried to get the server running again. Yes this could be a coincidence, but it's a classic case of the new IT guy trying to make a name for himself and shooting himself in the foot. Before you make any big changes, firstly back up everything at least twice, and have a disaster recovery plan in place.

gorman.mi
gorman.mi

I have to say I have used Malwarebytes exclusively, the licensed version with real-time protect on my own PC's and have not had any infections during that time (18 + months) Also use the free version to clean up client PC's-it is just brilliant.

JCitizen
JCitizen

that is because you did the trial version with firewall activated? You can't have two firewalls going at the same time. ZoneAlarm as a software firewall has become too bloated and fails most of my tests compared to Comodo's. I'd dump ZoneAlarm before getting rid of Avast. Avast has a better perimeter blocker that the actual firewall that ZoneAlarm has. I've been using Avast on hundreds of computers, and all my clients love it and never have any problems what so ever. To have a blended defense that works, you need to use the best utilities that are DESIGNED to work together with other venerable products. In my best case scenarios, using any security product that is intolerant of other defenses, has resulted in nothing but FAIL!

Who Am I Really
Who Am I Really

while it's true, AVG -free has become a turd since at least V.8.x when they removed rootkit detection from the free product other AVs will always conflict when multiple AV products are installed however, you can have multiple various anti-whatever products eg. install MSE and MBAM, and SpyBot S&D and no conflicts will occur but install more than one of the following on the same system AVG, Avira, McAfee, NAV, ect. and you will certainly have conflicts

JCitizen
JCitizen

is only $24 FOREVER; and it is better than AVG, in my estimate!! I can't count the times my clients have either been hosed by AVG itself, or the malware it missed!

JCitizen
JCitizen

most IT techs and the businesses they work at, run in a Windows limited privileges environment. As long as you keep ALL applications and the OS completely updated religiously(Secunia PSI); and you stick to the NT protections that restricted accounts give you - you can quite literally get away with only running CCleaner - especially, at least before a reboot, log off, or shutdown, so it can clear any malware that may be planning an injection into the startup folder. I have tested CCleaner in my honey pot lab, and after my various tools detect malware in the temp files, I scan after using CCleaner, and they are all gone! If Microsoft would do a better job building an even more secure environment, AV and AM would probably go the way of the dinosaur. But we all know the crooks will continue to do their homework, and social engineering gets better and better by the day. So I'll always recommend AV and AM solutions, and even others that work completely different, to operate in an infected environment, despite the presence of malware.

JCitizen
JCitizen

it sucked! It would slow my PC to a crawl each update, which was every 15 seconds, and this condition would last about that long. I just had to uninstall it. Avast still RULES!!!

JCitizen
JCitizen

where the clueless user runs all the time as Administrator; I run MBAM in safemode first, as it is pretty good at resisting attack from the very thing it is supposed to get rid of. Then I run Super Anti-Spyware(SAS). If that can't take care of it - I nuke it from space using Avast and Kaspersky's Rescue discs. I leave ComboFix to the experts - TDDSKiller is available online while using Kaspersky's Rescue 10, so it is already convenient to that process. Some have pretty good luck running ESET's free online scanner - I couldn't get it to work a few years ago for x64 systems, but it will probably work fine now. What we need are better kernel level heuristics to stop malware before they get a foot hold on the PC. I need to try Threatfire, but some have good luck with the paid version of Emisoft's Anti-malware. As I've said earlier, I need to revisit Comodo's Defense +. Are you sure you can run MSE and Avast at the same time? Or are you turning the real time protection off, on one or the other?

JCitizen
JCitizen

that has been a technique I've used for years, to flush out bad actors, and take advantage of Avast's good behavioral heuristics. However, I haven't needed this tactic for quite a while, because NT5 and NT6 under 64 bit protection, has made limited accounts practically invulnerable to viruses. Now malware that don't need special permissions to do their damage are the threat. A new order in detection, or in the case of Lavasoft's product - obfuscation - is in order. It is really sad that company went to the hogs(so to speak).

JCitizen
JCitizen

is the way the do the tests. All they seem to care about is scanning! If you got to wait until the virus is on your PC to scan it, you have already failed! Avast does the best all around job keeping even some unknown viruses off the PC in the first place; but always gets bad marks for scanning - which is true - I never scan with it, because it always pops the virus once the definition comes in. BUT Avast is not a malware tool, so AdAware used to be king there, but no more. The problem with real time protection on anti-malware, is that it doesn't work on limited accounts where it can do the most damage. MBAM at least blocks outgoing attempts to contact malicious servers when malware enters the temporary files on limited accounts. Comodo firewall with Defense + may do the same job better, but I've not tested it again for several months. Comodo was having trouble blocking DRM modules used to watch your entertainment, and I couldn't use my cable service or blu-ray; so I dumped it for a while. I think it is time to try it again.

JCitizen
JCitizen

to work without disrupting your machine(paid version); you probably won't believe the performance! I use Mamutu, because it is less intrusive - it found all my "legal" DRM spies in seconds. This utility can totally block any invader that tries to startup in your machine. Winpatrol is pretty good too, but you have to watch the free version to make sure malware are not manipulating it.

JCitizen
JCitizen

Do that, and run as a limited account with NT technology, and keep ALL applications updated - as well as run CCleaner file cleaner properly setup, and I can just about call your model a success! Unfortunately, for most folks, the malware can still manipulate too many things to the point that a newbie could get confused enough to make a mistake. This does not include fake alert attacks, but CCleaner and the task manager can take care of that. Windows operating systems are getting so well locked down, that as long as you don't do any banking or shopping with personal information entered by keyboard; you are just about golden! IE 9 with its DEP, smart sense scanner, ALSR, and other page blocking attributes, will block, on average, 85% of the zero day threats. A good defense can reduce that risk to 97% secure - risk is risk -, no matter what you do, there is always a certain amount of it.

JCitizen
JCitizen

That is iObit( recently acquired by the Chinese) - correct? If this is so, you better not have any intellectual property to protect on the machine!! They are in court for ripping off Malewarebytes Anti-malware's kernel code. I just can't trust a company like that. Another venerable company, Lavasoft, has been bought out by questionable concerns as well. I have too many clients with valuable IP to allow shady companies on board. Sadly they were both outstanding companies - but we are in a world market, where very large criminal organizations can take over the most venerable security companies and ruin them, without our direct knowledge. It is a scary wild west right now.

JCitizen
JCitizen

(this on limited accounts) Tools like Rapport, LastPass, or Keyscrambler. Most other defenses will stop major pwnage, but the most dangerous malware will take over you bank account through the browser, key-log, or take video snapshots of sensitive SSL sessions or the like. If all you need is to protect SSL session with banks or major shopping sites, Rapport is enough to block keyloggers, or video screen capture; LastPass or equal password manager will sow up the rest of the holes. CCleaner is one of the most effective tools to use on a limited account - if you run the file cleaner at least before log off, reboot, or shutdown, it will help greatly. Run it more often, and you can offset many problems with malware in your temp files - they don't need special permissions or NT rights to do a lot of damage. Only a comprehensive blended defense can truly offset the risk. It is all how you measure your risk, to what you have to protect. No one client will need the same protection layers.

JCitizen
JCitizen

I'm not sure how many of my clients have been hosed by AVG. Maybe the new one is Okay, but too many other freebees are better anyway! You do need more than MBAM on the machine, unless you don't do any banking, and log on as a limited user on Windows. My other posts explain the rest. MBAM can only block bad IP on limited accounts; I say that is worth the lifetime $24 fee, though. (edited) - I am returning here to update MBAM's capabilities - it now has much more power to protect on limited rights accounts, now and has a new root kit detection and cleanup capability. It just keeps getting better every day, and so does Avast - Alwil added a software update tool to Avast v. 8, that works even better than Secunia PSI, although it is not automatic - it truly rocks!!!

JCitizen
JCitizen

on Windows(especially after NT6) will get your almost as much protection as Linux. But even Linux is vulnerable with a browser using javascript or flash equivalent. The lower the profile on Linux, the less code on board, the lower the threat assessment.

JCitizen
JCitizen

Enterprise grade security suites, were worse than single PC utilities. We had better luck using NT permissions and AD group policy - plus the usual locked down server techniques. Web white lists were pretty valuable there, just to name one. I must admit, that ESET's products were tempting, but I like UTM gateways with streaming service so well, it would be tempting to try an enterprise class of that hardware first. Maybe Barracuda?

pkrudnik
pkrudnik

We have VIPRE running on over 200 machine and needless to say we have had some problems at times mainly with the single core processors. This seems to be better than it was over the past couple years. Everyone has their own opinion, but we are basing our opinion on the facts in a real production environment. Avast is too bulky and a memory hog, we needed something fast and a small footprint. Make your own choice, business environments need the protection!

JCitizen
JCitizen

and expect to use Combo Fix without risk. It is better to use it under the direction of an expert on Mybleepingcomputer or similar site like WildersSecurity or some-such.

JCitizen
JCitizen

I may not have the latest i7 processor, but I do have a respectable quad core that I regularly load several duties including phone, cable DVR, banking/shopping, HD movie editing/authoring, and many more, and it takes it all without a hiccup! I don't know where people get this "memory hog" stuff about Avast - it uses WAY less resources that over half of the stuff out there, and definitely scores that way in the top five. I've NEVER been let down by Avast! I would probably prefer ESET, but since 95% of my clients can't afford paid security products, I decided I needed to take the same risk as they do - only I don't see the risk side of it yet. In over 5 years I've never had a major breech in my honey pot lab. Hell - IE9 stops 85% of the ZERO day threats I test with now!!