Free security software

Here is free software I’ve found helpful in keeping my own computers secure and rescuing computers that have spent some time on the dark side.

  1. Microsoft Security Essentials. Basic antivirus. Microsoft used to offer Microsoft Live OneCare, a security suite that included antivirus. They discontinued it in October 2009 but released its basic antivirus tool as Microsoft Security Essentials for free. Consider it corporate penance.
  2. AVG Free. Basic antivirus. I used to recommend this basic antivirus program first. Then AVG started confusing users with upgrade notices that pushed them toward the paid AVG Anti-virus product, while the basic AVG Free continued to be… duh… free. Clients would call asking if they should upgrade, and I found it difficult to coach them through upgrading without switching to a free time-limited trial of the paid service. That said, AVG Free is a good product that will protect your computer well. Just don’t get pressured into paying.
  3. Malwarebytes’ Anti-malware Free. In-depth occasional scans. This tool does a good job of scanning through the dredges of your computer’s storage. It seems to catch more adware and spyware than Security Essentials. A quick scan takes 15-30 minutes. A full scan can take hours.
  4. VIPRE Rescue. One-time in-depth scan. This command-line tool from GFI Software is useful for scanning and fixing issues—including rootkits—that grind your computer to a halt. A full scan can take hours.
  5. GMER. One-time rootkit scan. This tool scans for rootkits. Rootkits are particularly difficult to detect and remove because they intentionally hide their tracks. This tool is not for the novice.