Best Free Anti-Virus & Anti-Spyware Solutions

AntiVirus & AntiSpyware ProtectionI get asked all the time from friends, family and even clients, “whats the best anti-virus program?”. Before the person asks however, they usually already have a problem. Therefore, this post will serve as a place to refer them when they need to prevent and/or remove pesky viruses, worms, Trojans, spyware, or other malware. I’ll update this post as needed – as I change my recommended software preferences.

If you know of any (preferably  ) solutions that should be included on this list, or you disagree with any of my selections, let me know in comments below.

If You Already Suspect a Problem Exists…

If you think you have an infected computer, the first thing you should do is run your current AV or AS program, even if it is not up-to-date. If you do not have anything installed, or if it doesn’t work, then try an online scanner. Always run an online scan prior to installing any of the software below, as many threats can hide from newly installed scanning programs. Note you should also disable Windows System Restore and run your anti-virus program again in “Safe Mode”.

Anti-Virus – Real Time Protection

A single real-time anti-virus application is a necessity on any PC that connects to the internet.

Microsoft Security EssentialsMicrosoft Security Essentials

Provides real-time protection from threats like viruses, spyware, and other malicious software. The free program is easy to use, keeps itself up-to-date and runs quietly and efficiently in the background—without interruptions or long computer wait times. Highly rated.

Alternative: AVG Free

Anti-Spyware / Anti-Malware

Unlike most anti-virus applications, the following programs can be run on the same machine, and are not usually run in real-time. I tend to use several of these while cleaning a system.

Malwarebytes' Anti-MalwareMalwarebytes’ Anti-Malware

An easy-to-use, simple, and effective anti-malware application designed to quickly detect, destroy, and prevent malware – such as viruses, worms, Trojans, rootkits, dialers and spyware.


Freeware program that detects and removes spyware, adware, malware, and many other types of threats. Also it is light on system resources so it will not slow down your computer.

Spybot Search & DestroySpybot – Search & Destroy

Detects and removes spyware. Spybot-S&D is free, so there’s no harm giving it a try to see if something has invaded your computer.

Ad-Aware FreeAd-Aware Free

Features real-time protection, a rootkit removal system, e-mail scanning, automatic updates, and much more – and it won’t slow your computer down.

Online Scanner

Note an online scanner should not be considered a substitute for a real-time detection virus or malware scanner.

Trend Micro HouseCallTrend Micro HouseCall

A highly popular and capable on-demand scanner for identifying and removing viruses, Trojans, worms, unwanted browser plugins, and other malware. It performs fast scans that target critical system areas and active malware.

Alternative: BitDefender


An Ounce of Prevention is Worth A Pound of Cure.


Prevents the installation of spyware and other potentially unwanted software, blocks spying / tracking cookies, and restricts the actions of potentially unwanted or dangerous web sites.

Secunia Personal Software Inspector (PSI)

A security tool designed to detect vulnerable and out-dated programs which expose your PC to attacks. PSI alerts you when your programs and plug-ins require updating to stay secure.

Other Tools & Utilities


A fast freeware system optimization, privacy and cleaning tool. It removes unused files from your system, frees up hard disk space, and contains a fully featured registry cleaner.


For advanced users only! Generates reports of registry and file settings, but it does not determine what is good or bad. Results give you the ability to selectively remove items from your machine. Also comes with several tools useful in manually removing malware from a computer.

AVG Rescue CD

The AVG Rescue CD is a powerful must-have toolkit for the rescue and repair of infected machines.


Scans for known malware, and when found, attempts to clean infections automatically. In addition to being able to remove a large amount of the most common and current malware, ComboFix also displays a report that can be used to remove malware that is not automatically removed by the program.

Posted on May 8th, 2010 in General.
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