And the best free Anti-Virus program is...

When I recently grew discouraged with the popular Windows anti-virus program AVG and considered the alternatives, little did I know that an overview was coming of the free anti-virus programs.

According to this review, I'm not the only one who's found AVG doesn't that good a job anymore. I'm also pleased to report that this crew, who did a much more scientific study than I did, agrees with me that if you want a good, free A/V (anti-virus) program, you want Avira.

Now, if Avira would only kill their daily pop-up ad, I'd be happy. It's not that I begrudge them looking for customers, it's just that, well, it's one honking, big pop-up ad. And, as Erik Larkin of PC World points out in his review of A/V software even its paid interface is a bit daunting for non-techie sorts. On the other hand, it delivers the best protection out there so I can live with ads and a hardcore techie front-end.

Larkin also looked at one A/V program I didn't look at it: Avast Antivirus Home Edition. This also, according to his tests, delivered good protection. But, Avast's interface makes Avira looks beautiful. Given that, and that it took second place in the all important finding and blasting malware category, I don't see myself trying Avast anytime soon.

He also glanced at another program, ClamAV, which some people have asked me about because it's, to my knowledge, the only open-source A/V program out there. It didn't make his grade since on Windows because it doesn't run automatically. On Windows, if you don't have your shields up at all times, you might as well be running without any protection at all.

I'll give you another, even better reason: ClamAV on Windows is no longer supported. ClamAV is fine if, for example, you run it on a Unix or Linux-based mail server to scan mail going to Windows users. I do that myself with the servers I run. But, these days it's really just a tool for network and system administrators, not end-users.

Finally, ahem, "If you were running desktop Linux or using a Mac, you wouldn't have these problems." That said, if you're running Windows on a budget, two out of two experts agree: Avira's the program for you.

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