Consider using an Internet service provider or email service that includes anti-virus and spam filtering as your first line of defense. Propagation of most malicious code (virus, Trojan & worm) is done by email and is designed to take advantage of weaknesses in Microsoft products. For a good overview, see Antivirus software, PC World Magazine, Australia, August 8, 2003. Anti-virus software is only as effective as its most recent update because it is inherently reactive treating "known" threats. So when you install anti-virus software, go to the vendor's web site and update the virus definitions immediately and then turn on the auto update feature.

Notable Comparative Reviews

bullet Antivirus: Norton Antivirus 2004 [editor's choice], also tested McAfee, Norman & ViRobot Expert, Jay Munro, PC Magazine, November 25, 2003
bullet Pest Zappers, best buys Norton AntiVirus, Spybot Search & Destroy, and Ad-aware, reviews included eight anti-virus programs -- Boomerang Software EXtendia AntiVirus AVK Professional, F-Secure Anti-Virus 2003, GeCad Software RAV AntiVirus Desktop for Windows 8.6, Kaspersky Anti-Virus Personal 4, Network Associates McAfee VirusScan 7 Home Edition, Panda Software Antivirus Platinum 7, Symantec Norton AntiVirus 2003, and Trend Micro PC-cillin 2003; and four anti-spyware programs -- Lavasoft Ad-aware Plus 6, PepiMK Software Spybot Search & Destroy 1.2, PestPatrol Software PestPatrol 4.2, and Webroot Software Spy Sweeper 1.5. Scott Spanbauer, PC Magazine, May 29, 2003.
bullet PC Magazine 2003, Viruses: New Threats, New Defenses, editor's choice Norton, comparative review of McAfee, NOD32, Norton, Panda & PC-cillin, Greg Alwang, PC Magazine, April 22, 2003
bulletTechTV Roundup -- McAfee, Norton & PC-cillin, Mick Lockey, June 12, 2002
bulletPC World Protect Your PC Eliminate Viruses -- Norton editor's choice, other products reviewed include ETrust EZ, Kaspersky, McAfee, Norman, Panda & PC-cillin, Robert Luhn and Scott Spanbauer, May 27, 2002
bulletPCPlus Safe from harm: anti-virus software, editor's choice Norton -- Command, eTrust EZ, Grisoft AVG, InDefense, McAfee, Panda, Softwin, Sophos & PC-cillin Frank Charlton, March 2002

More Comparative Reviews

bulletZDNet Consider these low-cost antivirus solutions -- Panda Antivirus Titanium, PC-cillin 2002, EZ Antivirus, Protector Plus 2000, F-Prot Antivirus, Quick Heal X-Gen, VCatch, AVG Antivirus 6.0, and AVAST32, Ray Geroski, Tech Republic, June 25, 2002.
bullet CNet's Antivirus roundup, part 2: the underdogs -- recommends Norman, also reviewed NOD32, F-Secure, EZ Antivirus & Vexira, Ken Feinstein, April 11, 2002; critique of review by eset (NOD32); also see open letter from Joe Wells to CNet concerning their September 21, 2000 reviews.
bullet CNet's antivirus roundup, part 1: four top apps, editor's choice Norton 2002, also reviewed Kaspersky, McAfee & Panda, Greg Keizer, March 28, 2002
bulletThe Naked PC, Evaluating Anti-virus Sofware for Ease of Use, series of articles on Grisoft, Norton, Panda & PC-cillin, Lee Hudspeth, January 2002
bulletAustralian PC Authority Labs Innoculate -- eTrust, Kaspersky, McAfee, Norman, Norton, Panda, PC-cillin, Sophos & Vet.

Anti-Virus Software Products

bulletAnti-Virus Freeware

AVG AntiVirus


AntiVir Personal Edition


Avast! 4 Home Edition



bulletAnti-Virus Payware
bulletSoftWin BitDefender Home Edition $30 download
bulletCommand AntiVirus $25 download; CD version sold as Safeworld Anti-Virus 2003 by Encore.
bulletMary Landesman review,
bulletComputer Associates eTrust EZ Antivirus $20
bulletCNet review, Jeff Bertolucci, March 19, 2003
bulletIT Resource Guide review, October 2002
bullet DrWeb Anti-Virus Home Edition $25
bulletThe "Real world" anti-Trojan tools comparison -- Dr Web, Kaspersky Antivirus, NOD32, Norton Anitvirus, The Cleaner, TDS, Tauscan, Pestpatrol, PC DoorGuard, Digital Patrol, TrojanHunter, TrojanRemover, AntiTrojan & Antiy Ghostbusters, PC Flank, July 4, 2002
bulletEset NOD32 $39 download
bullet Eset Offers Well-Balanced Virus Protection Software, Vincent Randazzese, CRN, October 17, 2003
bullet PC911 review Alex Byron, June 18, 2003
bulletClaymania review May 7, 2001
bulletFrisk F-Prot Antivirus for Windows $25
bulletMary Landesman review,
bulletKaspersky Anti-Virus Personal $46
bulletPC911 review, Alex Byron, January 28, 2002
bulletPersonal Computer World review, David Ludlow, February 12, 2002
bulletInDefense MailDefense $40
bulletSC Magazine review, July 2002
bulletMary Landesman review,
bulletMcAfee VirusScan Online subscription $30 per year; VirusScan CD $40 includes firewall
bullet McAfee Anti-Virus Gripes, April 2003
bulletCNet Home Edition 7.0 review, Jeff Bertolucci, September 12, 2002
bulletPanda Antivirus Platinum 7.0 includes firewall, download $70; or Titanium $40 download
bulletCNet review, Jeff Bertolucci, November 20, 2002
bulletVnuNet review, Ashley McKinnon, June 18, 2002
bulletMary Landesman review,
bulletSymantec "Norton" AntiVirus 2003 $50, download or CD
bullet Norton AntiVirus 2003 Gripes
bulletCNet 2003 review, Jeff Bertolucci, August 20, 2002
bulletVnuNet review, Jonathan Bennett, May 7, 2002
bulletMary Landesman review,
bulletTrend Micro PC-cillin 2003 $40 download; includes firewall
bulletPC Advisor review, Jason Whittaker, June 2003
bulletCNet review, Jeff Bertolucci, January 3, 2003
bullet Trend Micro Updates PC-cillin, Sean Captain, PC World, November 18, 2002
bullet PC-cillin Virus Protection Goes Mobile, Sam Costello, PC World, March 12, 2002

Anti-Virus Testing -- The importance of the information provided by these organizations is explained in Independent Antivirus Lab Testing, Michael Muchmore, PC Magazine, April 22, 2003; and in Continuous Protection, Cade Metz, PC Magazine, June 11, 2002.
bullet Checkmark Level
bulletICSA Labs Certification
bulletVirus Bulletin 100% Awards

Welcome to,  your source for free anti-virus and internet security information!

You may also be interested in free information and software to prevent and remove SPAM and SPYWARE
Proper setup for virus protection varies wildly with different operating systems, machine users, security requirements, and personal preference.

1) Use common sense

Most problems associated with viruses and malware can be avoided by simply using some common sense. Don't download attachments from unknown parties and run them! Don't leave your machine online when it has no need to be using the internet - unplug the ethernet cable or better yet turn your machine off. Back up everything important! Storage space is cheap and even if you have avoided malware your hard drive can still crash.

2) Don't overreact

Computer viruses and malware are a threat to almost all computer users, but quite often computer users overreact to this threat and and as a result suffer more negative affects such as down time, software problems, and spam. Fake or out of date forwarded virus and worm warnings continue to circulate around the internet, acting like worms themselves. If you are spending far more time and money maintaining anti-virus software (waiting for scans, installing, dealing with compatibility issues) then you have spent cleaning up after malware attacks, you are likely overdoing it.  Don't forward antivirus emails unless you have comfirmed their accuracy!

3) Maintain a security policy

Anti-virus and anti-malware decisions will be easier to make if a security policy is in place. Does your machine have any data on it that if leaked would pose a security risk? Does your machine function in a mission critical process such as a single server? If the answer to these questions is yes, you should keep a strict security policy - for example perhaps avoiding internet browsing entirely on these machines, and maintaining top of the line security and anti-virus software. If there is no top-secret data on your computer, and if a crash will not mean the end of the world, you will be better off with a relaxed security policy.

Best Free Anti-Virus Software

There are two equal recommendations in this category. First there is AVG Antivirus 7.0 Free Edition. This product [1] has been continuously refined since it was first released in 1991 and now offers very impressive protection capabilities. Additionally, it's relatively small, light on resources, has regular automatic updates and handles email scanning. There is a free and a pro version, the only difference being that the free version has a few non-critical features disabled and has no direct technical support. Even so, it's an impressive package and offers the financially challenged a real alternative to the major anti-virus suites. Equally impressive is the free Avast! scanner [2] though its funky media player style interface is not to everyone's taste. Avast! also required periodic re-registration while AVG does not. A possible third option is AntiVir [3]. It offers slightly better detection rates than either AVG or Avast! but the lack of email scanning precludes general recommendation. However it's the perfect choice as a second on-demand scanner. If you use it in this role, make sure you disable its resident virus guard during installation to prevent it interfering with your main AV scanner. [1] [2] (5MB) [3] (6.8MB) [4] <= review of the effectiveness of free security software

(Above information also available at how2setup)