by Thomas Hawk
I’m still genuinely amazed by the number of my readers who are still using paid for anti-virus programs after I have recommended time and time again a completely free solution. I’m assuming the reasoning is that the public believe that a free version of an application as important as a virus checker would be substandard and offer inadequate protection hence why I’m here today to try and change this perception. I think there’s no better way to change this perception than to ask a home user to look at the typical anti-virus software of choice used by IT professionals. Rather than using the larger commercial applications these people often choose to use products such as AVG and this is for more reasons than simply cost. Many in the industry are very much under whelmed by the quality of many of the larger paid for solutions and without singling out individual products I can assume that this is because as a rule of thumb they are often intrusive, bloated and have the additional downside that you have to pay for them yearly.
For years I have recommended the anti-virus solution AVG and coincidentally they have just released a major new upgrade, version 7.5 which is completely free to download and use from http://free.grisoft.com. The software is fairly small in size (16mb) so shouldn’t take too long to download on even a modest connection and once installed it’ll just sit quietly down in the bottom right hand corner of your screen and will only pop up to bother you when it really needs to. As you would expect the program continuously run in the background checking for viruses as you work but this isn’t a problem because it is such a small piece of software so doesn’t make a dent on the speed of your machine or resources available to other programs unlike many of the commercial products on the market.
The majority of the day to day tasks of the program can be automated so that you don’t have to worry about updating the virus database of performing full system scans as this will all be done for you – In actual fact most of the time you’ll probably just forget it’s there. A handy feature is that the software seamlessly integrates itself in to your e-mail client and rather than updating you on the progress of scanning each message it works completely transparently – if an infected message is found it is simply moved to the virus vault and you hear no more about it. In terms of the security it is reassuring to know that the team at AVG release frequent updates to the virus definitions database so that you’re always protected against the latest threats.
Recent certifications have been granted to the software by the likes VB100%, ICSA, and West Coast Labs Checkmark which provides additional piece of mind that you are dealing with a dependable product. You may well be wondering why they go to all this effort to produce this product and then give it away for free especially since it isn’t supported in anyway by intrusive adverts. Alas, this isn’t just out of the kindness of their hearts but in fact there is a more comprehensive commercial version which includes features such as an anti-spam and anti-spyware filter along with an integrated firewall. These are all fairly minor problems as Microsoft provide a firewall in Windows XP by default and Windows Defender is a capable Spyware filter that can be freely downloaded from www.microsoft.com.
Chris Holgate writes a weekly article of all things tech related. He is a director and copyrighter of the online computer consumables business Refresh Cartridges who sell cheap ink cartridges, toner cartridges, computer hardware and other computer consumables online. An archive of his work can be found at www.computerarticles.co.uk.