Best Free Antivirus 2017 : Avast, AVG, AVIRA!!!!

Best Free Antivirus 2017 : Avast, AVG, AVIRA!!!!

DETECTION ENGINES:

The key part of any antivirus software is its detection engine. Such engines use a vast library of data on known threats and compare it to the files on your computer and web pages to see if they look like, or behave like, threats. Detection engines are at the core of most antivirus companies’ business, and you’ll generally find that a company’s free product uses the same engine as its paid-for version, although the latter may be equipped with additional features, such as firewalls and system optimisation tools.

Modern antivirus software constantly monitors your PC and scans software, files and websites in real-time to detect potential threats, but you can still run manual and scheduled scans for extra peace of mind. By default, most AV programs run an optimised scan that checks the files most likely to have been compromised. By comparison, running a more thorough scan will take longer; our reviews list the amount of time a full scan takes to run on a freshly installed Windows 7 system with two 2.1GHz Xeon cores and 8GB of RAM.

1.Microsoft Windows Defender

Windows Defender W10

Microsoft Windows Defender – the default free antivirus tool built into Windows 7 and above – has historically been a decidedly no-frills option when it comes to malware defence. But it actually provides a reasonable level of protection on those systems that you haven’t had time to install anything else. Low-power systems that lack the resources to run extra software in the background also benefit.

FEATURES:

While previous versions simply reported on Defender’s protection status, let you run scans and little else, the new Windows Defender Security Centre provides access, settings and reports for multiple modules to do with the security of your PC. The homescreen provides an overview of your protection status, including when Defender last updated itself and scanned for malware.

It also now includes dedicated tabs for different features. Virus and threat protection is home to your usual quick, full and custom scans, plus a new, intensive offline scan mode in its advanced options, designed for hard-to-remove threats. You can also manually update virus definitions and enable or disable options such as cloud-based protection and real-time protection.

The device performance and health section monitors anything that might go wrong with your system over time and offers up a ‘Fresh Start’ option that reinstalls Windows while retaining your files and most of your settings. Firewall configuration and control is now easy to find in its own tab, where you open ports, configure notifications, and set different settings for private and public networks.

There’s no indication that the underlying virus databases and heuristic scanning rules used by Defender have changed relative to previous versions, so the results from AV-TEST and SE Labs in recent months can still be regarded as representative. However, with Microsoft now positioning Defender as a fully fledged security centre, we’ll be watching for potential performance improvements with interest.

PROTECTION AND PERFORMANCE:

Windows Defender uses the same malware detection engine as Microsoft Security Essentials for Windows 7, and AV-TEST and SE Labs’ results were obtained from that version. It put in an impressive performance in AV-TEST’s recent real-world testing, scoring 100% in both January and February.

When it came to detecting malware in a reference set of samples, it picked up 99.3% in January and 99.6% in February. It also did well in AV-TEST’s false-positive test, with only three false detections from over a million samples of benign software. It scored 84% in SE Labs’ live malware exposure tests, and avoided most false positives, giving it an overall score of 94%.

While AV-TEST found that Security Essentials under Windows 7 had a notable impact on system performance, giving it a score of 5 out of 6, in our simple performance test of a PC running Windows Defender with real-time protection enabled it produced a small performance boost when compared to other free antivirus suites. Running a full malware scan on our reference system took a somewhat extended 32mins 33secs.

        2.AVAST FREE ANTIVIRUS

Avast 2017

Avast’s Free Antivirus product has been slimmed down and polished up since we last reviewed it in summer 2016. A clean, dark interface sits nicely with the general look and feel of Windows 10’s Modern UI, but won’t look too out of place on a Windows 7 desktop, either.

FEATURES:

A status screen shows whether you’re currently protected and lets you instantly run an optimised Smart Scan. At the top right, you can sign into your Avast account – but the company has finally dispensed with its requirement that users register for an annual free licence to use it. Now ‘registration of the latest version of Avast Free Antivirus is no longer necessary.’

We’re pleased to see this, since the registration requirement made the program rather unfriendly for inexperienced computer users, who were easily confused by the difference between a free registration and upgrading to one of Avast’s paid-for versions.

Avast still shows that its free product has only a one-month licence, although this is now being updated on a rolling basis so you’ll still receive updates even if you don’t register.

The company informs us that all traces of the old registration system will be removed in the near-future, and that they can safely be ignored for now. If you have other devices running Avast products, registering them all to the same account will allow you to view the protection status of them all, but provides no other major benefits.

Adverts for Avast’s paid-for products are unobtrusive. They concern adding features such as a firewall, data shredder, system cleanup utility, a VPN and a sandbox mode that allows you to run suspicious programs in a virtual environment, cut off from your main PC.

PROTECTION AND PERFORMANCE:

Avast performed well in the latest virus protection tests carried out by both AV-TEST and SE Labs, identifying 100% of malware in two of AV-TEST’s real-world exposure tests, and 100% and 99.9% in successive months’ tests against a reference set of recent viruses, earning it a 6 out of 6 protection score from the testing firm. AV-TEST saw only a single false positive in a set of more than a million tests, netting the firm another 6 out of 6 score.

Avast was the best-performing free antivirus package in SE Labs’ real-world detection tests, protecting against 87% of malware in a challenging live test environment that included both general threats and targeted attacks. However, a couple of false positive responses to legitimate software gave it a relatively low total accuracy rating of 92%.

        3.AVIRA FREE ANTIVIRUS 2017

Avira 2017

Avira comes with a range of extra features that are all accessible via the Avira Connect utility, which lives in your notification area and is designed to provide quick access to everything.

It shows your protection status, with tabs displaying any other devices you may have associated with your Avira account – assuming you’ve signed into it – and one that gives you the option of upgrading the free tools to one of Avira’s paid services. Quick-access buttons allow you to rapidly enable a VPN or run a quick virus scan.

FEATURES:

The complete set of Avira Connect tools includes Free Antivirus, a password manager; the free version of Avira Phantom VPN and System SpeedUp; and, optionally, Avira’s SafeSearch Plus sponsored search engine. You can use the latter as your browser’s default search and it will show only links that Avira as passed as safe – but we don’t generally recommend restricting your results by using sponsored search services of this kind. Plus, Google has become pretty good at eliminating dangerous links, so this addition seems overkill.

While these services and extensions are available by default when you install Avira Free, you can remove those that you don’t want to cut down on clutter. That includes the Avira Connect application itself – so if all you want is antivirus, you can make sure that’s all you have. This is worth keeping in mind if you want to use Avira on an older or less powerful PC.

Open up Free Antivirus and you’re presented with a slightly old-fashioned, cluttered but clearly labelled interface, from where you can run scans and enable and disable various modules. Unfortunately, in general the interface feels sluggish and slow to respond, particularly when it comes to options that spawn new windows.

Since this is the free version of Avira, numerous options are greyed out. For example, only default Internet Protection is available, without dedicated Web Protection or Mail Protection options, and there’s no pop-up-free Game mode in this version.

PROTECTION AND PERFORMANCE:

The Avira malware-detection engine scored well in AVLabs’ January and February 2017 tests, with 98.9% and 98.1% in real-world live malware-exposure trials, and 99.8% and 99.9% detection rates when scanning a reference set of recent malware. This earned it an AV-TEST protection score of 5 out of 6. It reported no false positives during AV-TEST’s latest test.

Avira is one of the most lightweight free anti-malware programs in terms of its impact on system performance. AV-TEST gave it a performance score of 5.5 out of 6. Meanwhile, our CPU-Z benchmark performance on a 2.1GHz dual-core system with 8GB of RAM revealed that only Microsoft’s integrated Windows Defender had less of an impact on system performance. A full system scan took 26mins 20secs.

Avira provides effective malware protection and is less of a resource hog than many of its free and paid-for rivals, making it a great choice for older PCs – particularly those running Windows 7, 8 or 8.1, which don’t have access to the improved Windows 10 Creators Update version of Windows Defender.

         4.AVG ANTIVIRUS SOFTWARE

FEATURES:

Unlike some of its rivals, AVG by default installs only the main antivirus package, saving on irritating clutter. However, it’s still necessary to click through from the general AVG client to access Antivirus Free to so much as view your protection status – which feels like a redundant extra step if you don’t use any of AVGs other products or services.

Accessible from the console too are AVG PC TuneUp, a paid-for system optimisation software that’s available on a one-day trial licence; AVG Secure VPN, available on a 30-day trial; and AVG Web TuneUp, a browser plugin with search safety ratings and ad-tracking blocking features. This is free, but also changes your default search engine, homepage and other browser settings, which you may prefer to control yourself.

Once you’ve clicked through from the general AVG client to Antivirus Free, you’re presented with a quick overview showing your protection status, the time of your last scan and update, a quick-scan button, and a couple of relatively unobtrusive adverts for AVG’s full Internet Security package.

The client fits in well with the default dark tones of Windows 10’s Modern UI. AVG Free provides real-time protection, and scheduled or on-demand scanning, but the client makes it clear that it’s missing some of the features of its paid-for version.

These include AVG’s Enhanced Firewall – no great loss, given how capable Windows Firewall is; an encrypted data safe, similar to that provided by free encryption tool VeraCrypt and Microsoft’s BitLocker; anti-phishing and DNS spoofing detection features.

However, all the core protection you need is included. Extra settings and options are available via a menu at the top right of the window, including a file shredder to delete items so that they can’t be recovered, plus access to your quarantined files.

PERFORMANCE AND PROTECTION:

AVG is one of the most popular free anti-malware suites around, but recent performance of its detection engine in tests by both AV-TEST and SE Labs has been slightly disappointing. In January and February, it achieved detection scores of 98.9% and 98.1% in AV-TEST’s real-world live malware-exposure tests, and 99.8% and 99.9% when it came to detecting malware from a large reference set, earning it a protection score of 5.5 out of 6. It threw up only a couple of false positives in response to over a million samples.

In SE Labs’ test, involving live exposure to both in-the-wild and targeted attacks, AVG got a protection score of 83% – which is fair, but lower than those of either Windows Defender or Avast Antivirus Free. However, AVG was boosted to a total accuracy score of 93% when taking false-positive detections of benign software into account – an important factor in terms of usability, particularly for those who are less tech-savvy.

It took just 14mins 35 secs to run a full malware scan on our reference system, but it had a somewhat heavier system load, as measured by CPU-Z’s benchmark performance. However, AV-TEST’s more involved tests found that it was on a par with lightweight Avira for performance.

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