The Best Free Anti-Virus for Windows XP or 7

What is the best overall free anti-virus software?
deklinmAsked:
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Run5kCommented:
On a Windows 7 machine, I think that the best free solution is actually Microsoft's own Security Essentials application.  It is very easy on the system resources, and it updates automatically with the Windows Update function:

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/security_essentials/default.aspx

For Windows XP machines, I would probably choose the free version of AVG:

http://free.avg.com/us-en/homepage
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johnb6767Commented:
My most effective solutions have been Microsoft Security Essentials, coupled with MalwareBytes Pro (not free). MSE on it's own is very effective, small footprint and almost no options to configure to get optimal protection... Ready out of the box so to say...
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RinilCommented:
I would suggest kaspersky
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BadPandaCommented:
I particularly like Avast, primarily because of the boot scan that it provides.  Small footprint, verry little resources lost.  Used it on many systems that were low on RAM and haven't had any problems yet.
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Run5kCommented:
Perhaps I am a bit behind the power curve, but isn't Kaspersky Anti-Virus actually shareware rather than freeware?
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anbu6119Commented:
I suggest Microsoft's own Security Essentials
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Arman KhodabandeIT Manager and ConsultantCommented:
Kaspersky is very nice and is free for only 30 days (activate the trial ver.)
Malwarebytes is good but you should update it manually if you want it free and it doesn't have realtime protection!
AVG is free too but I never tested it . . . though my friends use it and they see it's good.
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Dave BaldwinFixer of ProblemsCommented:
I use Avast on most machines, AVG on one or two, and Microsoft Security Essentials on another.  They all seem to work fine but I prefer Avast.  It has seemed more active and protective than the others but that may be just because it tells you about everything it does for you.  You can turn the sound off if you get tired of listening to them tell that they have just updated your virus definitions...
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ujitnosCommented:
I would recommend AVAST. Have been using it for sometime now. No issues as of now.
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nobusCommented:
i also use AVG free for years, but seeing that 2 EE top experts (first 2 posts) recommend MS security Essentials, i plan to test it
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brutaldevCommented:
I used AVG for a long time as well and then moved to MSSE almost 2 years ago. It's easy for non-technical Windows users to adopt without any learning curve so recommend it to most people. It's unbelievably quiet and hasn't given me a single issue since I adopted it.

MSSE is available for XP up to Win 7 as well.
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Dr. KlahnPrincipal Software EngineerCommented:
I use AVG free.  Regarding Microsoft Security Essentials, I trust no security solution from a company that had a security hole in their products for seventeen years.
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MeultjeCommented:
I am very fond of Security Essentials. Only for as far as I know it doesn't scan your e-mails. So if you use an e-mail client, I would suggest Avast. If I am not sure I temporarily install Security Essentials as well, update it with the last definitions and sacan the system. Afterwards de-install it. For malre I generaly use the free version of ad Ad Aware from Lavasoft. i also use this only if I suspect malware could be on my system. There is also Spybot Search and Destroy. Works fine with one downsite in my opinion. When you imunitize the system it puts a lot of sites to be bloked in your Restricted sites list, which kan slow down Internet browsing sometimes. I recently stumbled on Malwarebytes Anti Malware, which I am very fond off and has a free version as well. I can recommend that one.
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MeultjeCommented:
I am very fond of Security Essentials. Only for as far as I know it doesn't scan your e-mails. So if you use an e-mail client, I would suggest Avast. If I am not sure I temporarily install Security Essentials as well, update it with the last definitions and scan the system. Afterwards de-install it. For malware I generaly use the free version of Ad Aware from Lavasoft. I also use this only if I suspect malware could be on my system. There is also Spybot Search and Destroy. Works fine with one downsite in my opinion. When you imunitize the system it puts a lot of sites to be bloked in your Restricted sites list, which can slow down Internet browsing sometimes. I recently stumbled upon Malwarebytes Anti Malware, which I am very fond off and has a free version as well. I really can recommend that one.
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younghvCommented:
The first two posts pretty well nailed it, but keep a couple of things in mind.
MSE is giving you 24/7 "on-access" protection plus the ability to schedule both updates and scans. Not all 'free' protection will give you that functionality.

To my knowledged, MSE is the only product mentioned that can be legally used in a work/enterprise environment - with the caveat that you load it on no more than 10 systems. Protection for more than 10 systems requires the purchase of the MS Endpoint product.

Some of the recommendations above are for only anti-spyware - which is insufficient to protect any system. You need both anti-virus and anti-spyware; which MSE provides, but not to the extent as the combination of MSE and Malwarebytes Pro together.

Final comment: Don't rely entirely on free protection. For the cost of a couple of cases of beer, you can protect your system(s) with a very solid multi-level approach of "Defense in Depth".

Details here:
MALWARE - "An Ounce of Prevention..."
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younghvCommented:
"Only for as far as I know it doesn't scan your e-mails."

To clarify this.

MSE does not actually scan emails as they are downloaded, but the 'on-access' scanning function will protect you from any malware if you tried to open an infected attachment.

IMO scanning every email attachment is a pretty significant use of system resources - and unnecessary.
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