Five Free Effective Antivirus Software for Windows 7

Windows 7 is becoming more popular these days, and its market share has already surpassed Windows XP this April in America. Since more people are inclined to use it, here we have recommend some Free Effective Antivirus Software for people to keep their Windows 7 system safe from any viruses. The list has been carefully selected by one of our editors, so it is sure to be of help!

1. Avast Free Antivirus

Avast antivirus software is available for free and commercial use. It provides complete virus protection for your computer. Antivirus engine is complemented by anti-spyware, firewall and antispam modules to protect you against phishing schemes, identity theft and internet-distributed web viruses. Automatic updates for greater user convenience and safety. Download

2. AVG Free Antivirus

AVG has been around in the Antivirus market for ages and gained a lot of loyal users to their kitty. They also provide a paid version which isn't cheap, but their free Antivirus program is great for the typical user. The AVG user interface is pretty simple and straight forward, and it takes a minute to install on your computer. Download

3. Microsoft Security Essentials

Microsoft 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. Download

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I personally still use Eset Nod. Though I know Avira and F-secure are the best, Avira has too many false positives and F-Secure leaves too many files after uninstall. Sadly these are paid AV but that is the price/plus for paying for something and using a free software. Yes I know not all paid services are great but those are just in the few from my experience anyway.

I've seen all of these AV client's owned at some point. The best protection is to turn off the internet and not use any removable media. For the folks that said common sense is all i need, obviously lack it if they do not have some sort of protection.

AVG sucks a fat one. I've seen more problems with it and false positives than anything else I've ever tried. NOD32 wins, Norton 2011 is right behind now - both fast and good detection. I've heard good things about Microsoft Security Essentials, so if I'd choose something for free, probably Microsoft. I personally used to use AVG, and thought it to be a semi-OK product in both free and paid, but it's turning into bloat (even though it looks 'thin') and the false positives are thru the roof....not to mention problems with legitimate detection that seems lower than average compared to what VB100 and others say... :-\

AVG should be shot. Used to be good now is loaded with crap and just junk. And I used to for years. Now using MSE and love it.

"The best part of Avira is that it is quiet outstanding in terms of finding malware. Few false positives about Avira is that it does not inlude E-mail scanner in free version, but if you open any infected E-mail, it comes again into action."

This is how the article ends. Quite and not quiet, but that's really just a minor typo; however, the bigger problem is that the last sentence does not make any sense.

amon91 said,
AntiVir... forgot that even existed.

I haven't used antivir since before I changed to Avast which was before I started using MSE v2 + Malware Bytes

My HUGE issue with AVG is when an infection bypasses it, and I go to run combofix to try to remove the infection, I actually have to completely disable AVG and rename the folder before I can run combofix. This is the ONLY AV product that forces me to do this.

I use MSE, but the funny thing is I've seen MSE, Avast, AVG, all of them running on computers that are loaded down with viruses and spyware and not catch it. Then you can run Malwarebytes and it finds a crapload of stuff. Just cleaned one of those annoying rogue antivirus programs off of a computer for someone and they had Norton, which said the computer was clean even though the malware program was popping up constantly. Malwarebytes found it right away and cleaned it off.

MSE is incredibly lightweight and works well. It also integrates perfectly with the operating system. Why wouldn't you use it?

I use to love microsofts but unfort after updating to sp 1 on windows 7 it no longer will install so I use norton 360 now and it works amazing

togerland said,
I use to love microsofts but unfort after updating to sp 1 on windows 7 it no longer will install so I use norton 360 now and it works amazing

You are using MSE V2, aren't you? It works perfectly on my machine with SP1 installed.

None of these products are Win7 specific so I don't really see the point of the article. That opening paragraph is just silly but begs the question of who actually wrote it in Neowin's continued blurring of source and repost - you really need to give Judy more visible credit and not Wendy.

Use common sense, keep your system up-to-date and install MSE as it's so lightweight.
Scan suspicious EXE files with VirusTotal.com before running them.
If you know it's malware but you *have* to execute it, do so in a VM (or sandbox).

Things to consider that often get overlooked in generic 'catch' reports and 'recommendations'...

1) How much CPU & HD performance is used, and is it smart or scanning every file?
2) How many services does are running to support the software?
3) How much RAM is being consumed by the services and interface?
4) How invasive is the product, i.e. extraneous features, network monitoring, hooks, non-standard hooks, messing with browsers and email clients, essentially doing things that are redudant or can cause system instability, etc?
5) How truly effective is the product, for example, some are great at catching realtime threats, but are horrible when doing full scans of the system?
6) Is the product affecting system stability or causing issues, is it messing with your computing experience in running great 90% of the time, but slow as a dog when running software XYZ, etc.


When you factor all these things, right now the best solution that is 'good enough' and 'the best' and doesn't harm the system is MSE.

It works with Vista and Win7 (and XP) as the OSes where designed, using the security APIs added with Vista, doesn't mess with things it shouldn't, is light on RAM use and CPU/HD performance, and won't cause problems as it acts like it is part of the OS, just like 'Defender' that is built into Vista and Win7 does.

So many times people fall in love with a product, but don't realize it is causing them problems. There are also times products can be great on the lastest computer, but eats enough performance from the CPU/HD and RAM use that it is worthless. AVG for example consumes almost 300mb of RAM, and on a 512mb or 1gb machine running XP or Win7 this is the difference between peppy and so slow no one will use it.


Also consider if you really need realtime protection turned on, scanning every file and messing with all incoming network packets (especially if you play online games.)

The majority of people can get by with turning off real-time protection and just manually check anything you download from the internet by saving it, and right clicking on it, and telling your anti-virus software to scan that specific file before you open it. Also then increase the frequency of your system scans to daily if you want. (And if all else fails, you can use system restore to rollback the computer.)

Another compromise to consider, if you are an advanced user, is to leave on realtime monitoring so it is checking for weird activity, etc, but turn off file scanning, so that it isn't wasting CPU and HD performance.

Realtime monitoring is subjective and can be debated either way depending on the user.


Again, for a simple answer and a simple product, MSE is right now the most well rounded, and it won't mess with Windows or cause problems.

Too often anti-virus software is the reason a person's system is glitchy, or slow, or causes software/hardware to fail, or causes crashes. And at the end of the day, it is Microsoft, Windows, or the maker of the software/hardware it is affecting that gets blamed.

Actually MSE does harm the system. It slows down certain directories when opening them. At first It thought my hard drive was dying.

max22 said,
Actually MSE does harm the system. It slows down certain directories when opening them. At first It thought my hard drive was dying.

I remember a bug in either a RC or early v1 build that was like this. Since the v2 rewrite, with the full OS integration, if MSE is slowing down directory browsing, there is something else in the system causing the problem or a redundant spyware/antivirus mechanism in the chain.

When MSE runs, it doesn't go off on its own and dig through things, instead it waits for the OS itself to hand it things to check.

Is there a performance hit with MSE using realtime protection, yes, just as there is with EVERY anti-virus software.

However, the hit with MSE is a baseline and consistent and because it isn't dealing with the complexities of I/O in Windows, it won't harm things or have vast differences in performance depending on the service/driver/application that is running that it is scanning.

I don't like any performance hits, so I reduce them as much as possible or completely by not using realtime protection, as the odds of it actually catching something that the OS itself, the browser in a sandbox, or the Firewall and other mechanism don't catch are very tiny. It would be like getting hit by lightning, and even then a nightly scan would find it. (Also right click and manually scan anything you download.)

Windows I/O is complex, it is not simplistic like UNIX (by definition) I/O is processed. Go look up Object Based and Windows NT, there is a reason why it is different and not generic I/O streams and basic dumb parameter based IPC.

There is also no reason that many of these anti-virus products are hooking into the kernel and files system and network stack and other areas, creating extra layers that could fail, when the OS has security API sets that will hand it the data, which is what MSE uses. Starting with Vista, and continued in Win7, the Windows has mechanisms to hand the data to 'protection' software, making it easy to scan the data and not have to deal with the complexities of Windows NT.

And again, even if you are not looking at the products through my 'glasses' of what they are doing and how this can cause problems, eats a lot of RAM to maintain exception and compatibilty lists, etc... Just consider that MSE is a solid performing product that doesn't crash and doesn't cause cascading problems with other software or hardware, which is not something that very many of these products can truly claim.

And Microsoft knows Windows NT and wants the user experience to be great, and thus puts a lot of work into MSE working well.

shinji257 said,
I used the paid version of Avast. It let a virus through that MSSE caught easily.

Sometimes it just depend on when the AV program was updated. Why do you think they update every day, sometime even 2 or 3 times: because they're new threats every day.

I used to swear by AVG. Then I switched to Avast and swore by that. Now I'm on MSSE and wouldn't go back. haha.

Just don`t let random stuff run on your computer, do an on-demand scan now and then and scan what you download. AV`s just cannot keep up with the amount of malware that is coming out on a regular basis. Heuristics/algorythms only catch ~5% of non-signature malware the rest just flies by if you let it!
There is no best imo, they all have their ups and downs, pro`s and cons

Haven't had a AV in a good 5 years now besides common sense, but install MSE on any computers I fix for family or friends. Never had one issue, before that it was AVG but MSE seems to use no memory and has a lot cleaner interface.

I prefer avast. The free version includes an email scanner, network shield, script shield, behavior shield, autosandbox, etc... . Never had a false positives and I don't notice that it's running at all. I tried avg and avira, but avg lacks to many options and both of them have just to many false positives. (and avg also seems to really slow my system down)

KavazovAngel said,
MSE or NOD32... Together with Malwarebytes. Nothing else is "required".

and running two AV's at the same time isn't a good idea

Athlonite said,

and running two AV's at the same time isn't a good idea


1. Malwarebytes' Antimalware is not a AV program, technically.
2. Unless you buy it, the free version doesn't run in the background.

rubbish, avast free is crap detects nothing, scans even less and when malwarebytes detected a ton of viruses, avast would turn off because it finally got eaten by the virus ...

have not tried any of the other ones including mse ... but bitdefender does its thing quite nicely by letting you know if something is off (although too late to do anything)

XP_2600 said,
I think Avira should be No.1, the only drawback is its nagging screen which popup from time to time.

i was using Avira prior to MSE but switched to MSE and have not looked back.

the main problem i found with Avira was that it had to many false positives. plus not to mention the 1 popup-ad everytime it updates basically.

i think the best thing about MSE is it's simple and effective.

XP_2600 said,
I think Avira should be No.1, the only drawback is its nagging screen which popup from time to time.

I'd agree. Avira beats Avast anyday, IMO.

What nagging screens? The only screen I ever see is when it updates, even on computers I have it running in real time, which I don't have on my computers. Manually update and scan everything.

XP_2600 said,
I think Avira should be No.1, the only drawback is its nagging screen which popup from time to time.

I'd agree. Avira beats Avast anyday, IMO.

What nagging screens? The only screen I ever see is when it updates, even on computers I have it running in real time, which I don't have on my computers. Manually update and scan everything.

cork1958 said,

I'd agree. Avira beats Avast anyday, IMO.

What nagging screens? The only screen I ever see is when it updates, even on computers I have it running in real time, which I don't have on my computers. Manually update and scan everything.


It used to be a big thing. It seemed like they improved a lot since I last used it.

cork1958 said,

I'd agree. Avira beats Avast anyday, IMO.

What nagging screens?

Avira free used to have a nag screen that popped up every time it updated, but they removed that quite some time ago.

Interesting article, but why bother with these free ones when the best solutions such as Kaspersky are so cheap, I've been paying £3 for retail boxed versions, I bought 10 licences for £30 and shared with friends & family (and sold a few to clients for £10 to get my money back!).

Sadly, I think most people don't look beyond the normal retailers and see the likes of Kaspersky at £30-£40 for 1 PC, which then makes these free ones mentioned above more attractive.

Exosphere said,
Interesting article, but why bother with these free ones when the best solutions such as Kaspersky are so cheap, I've been paying £3 for retail boxed versions, I bought 10 licences for £30 and shared with friends & family (and sold a few to clients for £10 to get my money back!).
Sadly, I think most people don't look beyond the normal retailers and see the likes of Kaspersky at £30-£40 for 1 PC, which then makes these free ones mentioned above more attractive.

The problem with Paid subscription is so many people forget to renew with free AV's you don't need to worry

PassionForGod said,

I found nothing wrong with this article. It's straight forward and easy to understand.

From the article:


They also provide upgraded version which is very costly but I believe that their free Antivirus program is great for users having personal computers.


The best part of Avira is that it is quiet outstanding in terms of finding malware. Few false positives about Avira is that it does not inlude E-mail scanner in free version, but if you open any infected E-mail, it comes again into action.

Sounds like a kid wrote it. I don't even understand that last sentence.

empty said,

Sounds like a kid wrote it. I don't even understand that last sentence.
The author's Chinese (according to her bio) so give her a break!

empty said,
Who wrote that article - It's terrible!!

Well, it's basically a list of some of the available protection software for Windows 7, not an article. To be honest, I don't really see the point, it would have been interesting to know the strong and weak points of each, how effectively they protect and how they perform against the non-free software...

Still, it provides three links to the download pages...

This link is much more informative yet concise: http://www.av-test.org/certifications

For example, you can clearly see that Avast 5.0/6.0 and Microsoft Security Essentials 2.0 should not be taken too seriously.

Edited by noahfeb, Apr 23 2011, 12:07pm :

Mischiew said,

Well, it's basically a list of some of the available protection software for Windows 7, not an article. To be honest, I don't really see the point, it would have been interesting to know the strong and weak points of each, how effectively they protect and how they perform against the non-free software...

Still, it provides three links to the download pages...

This link is much more informative yet concise: http://www.av-test.org/certifications

For example, you can clearly see that Avast 5.0/6.0 and Microsoft Security Essentials 2.0 should not be taken too seriously.


http://www.av-comparatives.org/en/home disagrees. Avast has plenty of false positives but good detection rates, and MSE has almost no false positives but slightly lower detection rates.

Jedimark said,
The author's Chinese (according to her bio)

err I spose who better to know whats good and whats not in an AV product but someone from China

virtorio said,
Avast - too many false positives
AVG - probably safer with the virus

AVG has a lot of false positives too (And wouldn't know if you had a virus either)... In fact AVG has actually taken down Windows with a few of their "updates"... :-\

PassionForGod said,
MSE for the win. A light effective security solution from Microsoft highly recommend it to everyone.

Yeah, same here. I use Norton myself due to what I have on this machine, but for a free alternative I don't think anything is as good as MSE... I used to recommend AVG, but it has so many problems I now recommend MSE.

I've never personally had any issues with AVG, is there a major problem with it or something? All I've heard about is the linkscanner issue that you can just disable.

Solecs said,
I've never personally had any issues with AVG, is there a major problem with it or something? All I've heard about is the linkscanner issue that you can just disable.

It's just heavy.

dead.cell said,

This, and they've been known to have some bad false-positives.

Yep, AND in my experience, it seems to let a lot through. Most of the machines I've worked on that had virus' had AVG installed...

AVG is crap... Been using MSSE since it came out, and its great The only thing is that they could change the UI so it would fit the rest of the OS

I recommend MSE to just about everyone. Other free AV may have extra features, but the reason I recommend MSE is how simple it is. It protects and there's a button to scan, that's all your basic user needs.

Kushan said,
I recommend MSE to just about everyone. Other free AV may have extra features, but the reason I recommend MSE is how simple it is. It protects and there's a button to scan, that's all your basic user needs.

+ no license to worry about. Even if the other are free, you have to input a license every year. And that seems to be a huge mountain for some users.

@ Mjedi - All that proves is that your virus scanned hasn't been able to find the virus you have

I have to ask as well; Why do people still mention AVG?

SHADOW-XIII said,
COMODO Internet Security is free and comes with Antivirus, Firewall and other neat stuff (overflow protection, spyware detection)

+1 I wouldn't touch most of those listed from experience of using them before, I've been using CIS for quite a while now and it works really well, plus you can install it in separate states with either just Firewall or just AV if you prefer other products instead.

SHADOW-XIII said,
COMODO Internet Security is free and comes with Antivirus, Firewall and other neat stuff (overflow protection, spyware detection)

Yes. They forget COMODO!

mjedi7 said,
Avira AV, 3 years without infection and counting

No AV and MSE for the past 2 years, 12 years without infection.

mjedi7 said,
Avira AV, 3 years without infection and counting

Exactly same here, but I got almost 4 years. Avira free edition is great indeed.

n_K said,

No AV and MSE for the past 2 years, 12 years without infection.

Same here. No any antivirus and no any single infection since 1997. Had only once back then in 1997.

Head and hands are by far better than any antiviral program.

Have Dr.Web, Avira and AVZ (not to mix up with AVG, that's from guy who know works for Kaspersky, but keep updating his own software) though, just installed scanners without guards. But usually using http://virustotal.com and http://virscan.org to check files.

mjedi7 said,
Avira AV, 3 years without infection and counting

On a tech website, is it really worth boasting an accomplishment that you can avoid viruses, being we're the ones people go to when they get them? xD

mjedi7 said,
Avira AV, 3 years without infection and counting
Common sense, 20 years without infection and counting.

DPyro said,
Common sense, 20 years without infection and counting.

and you know your not infected how seeing as there are some quite brainy viri and malware out there you wouldn't even know if your part of a bot net or not

Athlonite said,

and you know your not infected how seeing as there are some quite brainy viri and malware out there you wouldn't even know if your part of a bot net or not


this

Anooxy said,
Wow that list is the crappiest I've ever seen. So many memory hogs there.

I don't know about any of the others but Norton Internet Security 2011 uses something like 10 MB of RAM for me. Not that I would care if my security software used 100MB of RAM, as long as it was fast and did its job thoroughly. But then different people have different requirements, some people want their security software free and possibly to run on older hardware.

WarioTBH said,
I use to be a big MSE fan.... but now ive been converted to Avast Free

Why? I tried avast years ago and wasn't impressed.

WarioTBH said,
I use to be a big MSE fan.... but now ive been converted to Avast Free

I use Avast to clean infected PC. The best way to do it is to take the HD out and connect it USB to another PC. Tried many, but they always seems to find some and leave some. Avast is the only one that find them all.

Sadelwo said,
Alot has changed, for one it no longer mimics a media player

lmao, I HATED that. Otherwise, it was decent in getting rid of any/all issues with the PCs I've worked on. I stick with MSE these days though, as it does a great job, quick to install, and easy for the people I work with to use.

WarioTBH said,
I use to be a big MSE fan.... but now ive been converted to Avast Free

Same, my reasoning was because MSE and uTorrent would not get on - caused high DPC latency. Gone once MSE was replaced with Avast.

Insig said,
Honestly, why do people still mention AVG?

I found that AVG is a resource hog. When customers complain their PC are slow, I usually find AVG installed. Take it out, install MSE or Avast and all is well.

.Rik said,

What's so wrong with it?

I hate using other people's computers that have it, because of how much it annoyingly integrates into your browser. Yes, Avast does too now, but it's my computer, and I can easily remove the Firefox extension.

Beyon_Godlike said,

the bad signatures they keep puttin out to cripple systems. Avast has done this to!

avast was just flagging HTML files, not causing the system to become unbootable. Unlike AVG

Beyon_Godlike said,

the bad signatures they keep puttin out to cripple systems. Avast has done this to!

avast was just flagging HTML files, not causing the system to become unbootable. Unlike AVG

Beyon_Godlike said,

the bad signatures they keep puttin out to cripple systems. Avast has done this to!

Yeah, plus anyone I know that's used AVG has gotten a virus... I used to recommend it, but won't anymore... It's junk.

Jebadiah said,
All anyone needs is common sense. MSSE, if you want more than common sense. LOL

Just as caution for cases in which common sense isn't enough

omganinja said,

Whys that? Do you lack common sense?

No, everyone has claims to have common sense in my experience doesn't. I don't know how many "computer experts" I deal with that have infected machines and don't have a clue because they got the idea from somewhere like Security Now with Steve Gibson.

They somehow get this false sense of security that if they simply don't visit the so-called bad side of the web (torrents, porn... whatever) they can't become infected... so they don't use an AV, no anti-malware... nothing... most won't even touch UAC and of course won't use a standard account.

Off course I really shouldn't complain because we charge pretty heavily by the hour, and lord knows we profit from over confidence.

Rule of thumb, if your computer is connected to a network, no matter the security or so-called common sense... it is compromised (one way or another). Those who believe otherwise are placing a lot of faith in their irrational day to day decision making, which as history shows us is very, very flawed.

Edited by azure.sapphire, Apr 24 2011, 6:07am :