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Poll: Free vs. paid security applications

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / February 20, 2008 6:09 AM PST
In your opinion, do you think free security applications offer the same amount of protection as paid versions do?

- Yes. (Please explain.)
- No. (Why not?)
- Sometimes. (How so?)
- It depends. (On what?)
- I have no idea.
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by A.L. / February 20, 2008 8:04 AM PST

For years I had Norton on my XP system,everytime I purchased a new version my computer slowed down a little more, I finally gave it up and installed AVG free, everything went faster after that. Since then I haven't had any virus or spyware so I can't say if it's actually doing the job but it sure is less bloated.
My Vista system came with Penicillin and I found it intrusive, lots of pop up messages. I replaced it with Avast.
In my opinion, the paid versions are bloated with too many bells and whistles to make it seem like value for money.
Having said that, I was so impressed with Avast free I bought the Pro version. Ann

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Free Security software
by Didaps / February 20, 2008 8:55 AM PST
In reply to: Yes

If the FREE ones work so well why do all the companies try to sell you a PRO version. if it really works that good you don't need a pro version. CORRECT.

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Pro for Professionals
by kellenjb / February 20, 2008 9:17 AM PST
In reply to: Free Security software

I have found, for at least AVG, they try to sell the Pro version for features that a professional or in some cases a corporation would want or need. Such as the ability to have desktops report back to a local server showing all viruses found, definition status, and the like.

With that said, the free version of Avast and AVG are great for home users. They are able to take care to viruses with a very light weight package to do so in.

Also you have to keep in mind, these are still companies making these free version. All Companies have to have a source of income.

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Free spyware or paid
by navjo1 / February 20, 2008 8:55 AM PST
In reply to: Yes

I think free spyware is great but my big issue is they do not automaticly check your system and keep you informed what is going on.

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One caveat on AVG
by hancamem / February 20, 2008 9:54 AM PST
In reply to: Yes

I've installed AVG on about 150 computers and agree that it is superior to Norton, if only for performance reasons. The only caveat with AVG is that I have noticed that on win2000 machines, AVG drastically slows down the machine for about 2 minutes when it first boots up. Task manager shows the winlogon processes running for a significant period of time, rendering the machine nearly inoperable for about 2 minutes. I've verified this on dozens of different machines.

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Prepaid Security Vs Unpaid Security
by steveflett / February 20, 2008 11:30 PM PST
In reply to: Yes

I have been building/maintain my humble pc since 1996 and although I have had the opportunity to purchase and use many types of Free amd paid for security systems, I would say that 80% of my usage has been in using free or trial usuage. I generally fing with paid software such as Norton or other security software which needs you to pay for their services (Norton

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Do Not Use Spybot!

Spybot is a very outdated and basically useless program. You should not use it. I recommend Webroot Spy Sweeper. It only cost around $30.00 and it is rock-soild

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avg vs avast and avira
by vincentgavin / March 13, 2008 1:19 AM PDT

best i used was norton, but it hogs a lot of resources. protection is tight though, then switched to avg free edition, was contented for while til i came across a worm that it couldn't control. so switched to avast, tight security, but slow scanner. full system scan takes forever. now, am using avira. no issues so far re: resource hogging and virus and worm control. so if you wana try a free av software, i think your best bet would be avira.

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Spyware,security & viruses
by hpjohn11 / February 21, 2008 7:50 AM PST
In reply to: Yes

I find and all my friends and neighbors that Tren Micro Internet Security 2008 is the best we have found. Since we have been using it which has a excellent Firewall, Spyware and Virus detector plus much more, we have had no problems for over two years. Others have missed many of the above. The other day I threw away a CD I had for several years from PC Magazine because Trend Micro found a Trojen on it and no other competitor had found it. I have used most of the free and the software you pay for and this is the best.

Message was edited by: admin to remove email address to prevent spam harvester from picking it up

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PC Magezine CD infected with a virus
by jake_speed / February 21, 2008 9:45 AM PST


I have been a regular subscriber to pc mag, and I found it quite helpful with many of its articles and reports about various hardware and software. when you scanned it with Trend Micro, what was the name of the trojan it detected?


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Not good idea to publish your email address
by Donna Buenaventura / February 22, 2008 1:35 AM PST

I requested to Forum Admin to edit your post by removing your email address.


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Trend Micro
by anna3333 / March 14, 2008 5:58 AM PDT

My experience has been that Trend Micro "finds" things that aren't there. They want you to buy their product to get rid of it.

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by 7aji88 / February 20, 2008 9:05 AM PST

I love the free software and open source software, but they aren't always as good as the non free ones; however since Norton System work 2006 (which I got for 20$ on a deal) I stopped installing this kind of software because I prefer to get a virus that would make me install a fresh copy of OS than having to deal with the performance issues that these programs make. I mean, Norton System 'WORK' isn't really making any good difference. And I never got any virus in my life because I know how to deal with files and websites, and using FireFox really helps in avoiding getting spyware and viruses from the internet.

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I agree - as far as I know
by aalake / February 20, 2008 9:19 AM PST
In reply to: sometimes....

I have a new computer with NOrton INernet security. My old computer has been relegated to #2 on my little household netowrk. It takes ages to boot and the last thing I downloaded/bought was whatever spyware Webroot Software sells (which I am reading off the package containing the backup CD I purchased - stupidly)and was going to install on my new computer. The NOrton product is reporting on various 'data miner' threats and everyting is going fine so far - I will keep this thing just in case but I am sick of the multiple products. PS. I bought this software because of fear of viruses etc but haven't really experienced any provable instances of those.

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You get what you pay for, mostly, but not always.
by Backup Bob / February 20, 2008 9:17 AM PST

AVG, Zone Alarm, and Spybot are free and operate without the performance hit that comes from Norton. They can also be removed from the system easily, which is not always the case with Norton.

The paid suites are generally updated more frequently than the freebies. If you absolutely cannot afford to take a chance I would suggest a paid package rather than a free one.

Support for any package is spotty. AVG, Spybot, and Zone Alarm have forums where people help people. At Zone Alarm, and maybe at the others, employees will drop in to help from time to time.

Support from Symantec is so bad you don't want to get me started. Let's just say that it is nearly impossible to get to a technician and when you do they seem to home in on a word or phrase and ignore whatever else you tell them. The Symantec Website is gorgeous but their search engine turns up little that is useful.

If you are setting up a relative with a cheap system or offering someone a cast-off computer the freebies make a lot of sense. They provide the protection that is needed with reasonably good updates.

If, however, you rely on your computer every day I would not take a chance on a freebie.

Well, let me clarify that. I have Zone Alarm Suite on line all the time. I will run Spybot and AdAware manually to ensure I did not pick up something my suite missed. I also use Webroot (paid) and Window Washer (paid) from time to time.

Sometimes you can pick up a suite dirt cheap or free. I bought my son the super duper version of McAfee for $50 with a $50 rebate. Basically I just paid the sales tax and the cost of a letter to claim my money.

I have also seen deals on multi-user versions that work out to less money per computer than the freebies ask for in donations.

Be careful with rebates. Some companies are very good at weaseling out of paying.

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what are you realy getting with paid service?
by Mr-Opinion / February 21, 2008 3:20 PM PST

I wish someone could answer that question
I used to be a Norton guy (when it was Norten - before Symatec)
But anything Norton now-a-days means instant slow down - to stand still

I currently use Avast - some little junky program that updates virtually daly and has kept me bug free for almaost a year now - it actively searches all incoming info - pops up when it hits and keeps me happy
I havn't heard too much good or bad about it, but it works for me

All this tap-dancing on these pricy programs has never realy shown me a single true benefit - other than having your system take an extra 5 minutes to boot (Norton), slowing down to outright freezing when the program finds some 'unresolvable issue' and I don't know how many times I used to see "Cannot be removed" from a $ 99 package - haven't seen that in 12 months from a freebe

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i believe
by williefst1 / February 20, 2008 9:19 AM PST

that alot of the free antivirus, spyware and firewalls actually offer better protection than the paid. i was using some of the paid utilities and then switched to the free. ifound that the antivirus and spyware i was using let alot of viruses and spyware pass right on through. when i changed to avast antivirus from att security, i found 7 viruses. spyware: att says they are the best on spyware. what a joke. spybot search n destroy does 100% better. just my opinion. i also use zone alarm free. no probs with it either.


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There is no free lunch.
by kymcam / February 21, 2008 5:56 PM PST
In reply to: i believe

There is no free lunch. However, there may be some exceptions to that rule. Paid Antivirus software ? if it is a good one ? is likely better than a good free one.

Norton?s support may be bad in some regions. In April 07 I bought a new Notebook (Vista Home Premium) with preinstalled Norton AntiVirus (60 days free trial period). After 4 weeks the program didn?t work any more. Consequently, I wanted to uninstall and reinstall it.

I asked the Support for Germany / Europe (had bought the Notebook in Germany) via email for a removal tool (compatible with Vista). They sent me a removal tool which did not work under Vista (the instructions covered XP only). They always sent the same unsuitable tool with instructions in different languages (German, French and Italian) but not in English (which I had asked for).

Finally, after 6 unhelpful mails received from the Support for Germany, I asked the US Support for help (I have a Canadian residence). Within minutes they sent me the right removal tool. However, a friend had already contacted Kaspersky. Subsequently, I bought their Kaspersky Internet Security which so far works perfectly.

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by Hovi1768 / February 20, 2008 9:43 AM PST

Well this depends upon more than just software.
There are several things to consider.

1. Are you behind a hardware firewall?
2. Software saavy or not?
3. Processing speed, & memory
4. How much time do you have to attend to the scans?
5. What types of sites do you surf, what are your downloading & reading habits, when downloading progs?

If you don't have the time, or saavy, then an all in 1 suite, that auto-updates is probably the best bet.
However if your computer is slow, than most of the all in 1 security suites will really bog your system down.

If you're behind a secure hardware firewall/router, then a software firewall is a lot less imperative, & is a resource hog.
More important is that you have your router security settings turned on WPA-PSK with a strong password that you change monthly...

It's all really very individual...

I've used Avast with great success after uninstalling Norton back in 2003.
A truly good Virus prog..
All you need to do is to register, & you're good for over a year, then you just re-register.
It isn't as good as NOD32, F Secure, AntiVir, & Kaspersky AV, that flat out have the best detection, but it works fine for me.

For spyware i have the paid version Webroot spy sweeper, because it's just flat out the best there is right now.
The real time scanning is second to none IMO..
There isn't really a free product that gives this kind of protection.
Spyware terminator, & windows defender do an ok job, but i'd rather pay the few bucks to feel more secure.

Also be sure to do a scan for rootkits.. Wiki the term for a thorough explanation, as it is a newer class of malicious crap to look out for lol, then head to techsupportalert dotcom to read reviews on some of the free removal products out there.

"Rootkits are a special kind of software tool used to hide trojans, viruses and other malware from your anti virus scanner and other security products. Unfortunately, they are extremely effective which means that some of you reading this will be infected even though you believe your PC to be totally clean."

From Gizmo's site.. I def recommend what he says below..

"If you use Windows 2000 or later my top recommendation for safe browsing is a free program called Sandboxie that creates a special contained "sandbox" environment on your PC. While browsing within the virtual sandbox provided by Sandboxie you are totally corralled off from other parts of your PC. So any files you download are isolated to the sandbox. Similarly, any programs that are executed only do so within the sandbox and have no access to your normal files, the Windows operating system or any other part of your PC.
Usage is remarkably simple. To start a sandboxed browsing session you just click the Sandboxie icon from the Quick Launch tray and this will launch your default browser in the sandbox. You can then use it in the normal way to browse to sites or download files.
If you download a file it will install normally but again will be corralled off from your real PC as any new processes running in your computer memory or entries in the Windows startup areas will be sandboxed.
After you have finished browsing you can right click the Sandboxie icon and delete all sandboxed files and processes and your PC will be returned to much the same state it was in before the browsing session. If you want retain particular downloaded files you can save them permanently before clearing the contents of the Sandbox.
The advantage is clear: any spyware, trojans, keyloggers or other malware products that infected your PC while browsing will be eliminated.
Sandboxie works fine with all browsers but requires Windows 2000 and later. It can cause problems on some PCs so backup before installing."

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Tried a bunch - Comodo wins
by yarlq / February 20, 2008 9:45 AM PST

Last firewall was Kaspersky commercial - maybe it worked, maybe not. Bit Defender found a half-dozen worms and trojans but the real pain of Kaspersky is that it never shut up - every port visit was a personal call - and no learning curve - it would ask the same question time and again. I finally ripped it out by the roots.

Then came COMODO on auto - it just purrs along with the 'I'm learning, boss, I'm learning' in the lower right corner. After about four months all Bit Defender found was three low-threat cookies.

Go Comodo!

PS Bit Defender's free scan is very thorough - it once found a bunch of trojans hiding in a very old archive - but it is an overnighter, several hours at the least. But Good!

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Free all the way
by greenbrd / February 20, 2008 10:12 AM PST

Well, seeing as how most of the viruses are created by the companies who are *selling* the "antivirus" products, I'd say the free programs are more credible and leave your computer less vulnerable to attacks.

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That's a very serious accusation
by 3rdalbum / February 20, 2008 8:44 PM PST
In reply to: Free all the way

Do you have any evidence to back this up, or are you just a conspiracy theorist? That's a very serious accusation for you to be making.

Personally, I think free software is doing very well for security. Technologies like AppArmour can lock down a Linux system as tightly as you want, mostly without infringing on the functioning of your computer or causing performance issues. I don't believe there's any proprietary software on the market that uses this sort of fine-grained permissions control.

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free security software
by bonnieville / February 20, 2008 10:15 AM PST

been using avira-comodo firewall-sas ondemand for two plus years. used to have norton but have a lot of faith in these. frank.

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definetely no
by iliaden / February 20, 2008 10:20 AM PST

I don't believe that a free security program can possibly offer the same amount of protection as a paid one.
As someone working with Linux (Debian, Ubuntu and Maemo) as well as Windows (2000, XP), I found out that (surprisingly!) most free applications are either trials, either full of ads, or simply written by enthusiasts, while purchased programs are written by professionals working full-time in this field.
1) trials - categoric no since the trial support may finish when you're not expecting it, and you will have no protection at all.
2) ads - for some people they do not bother, but for me they cause an incredible amount of frustration since I sometimes mistakingly believe them being something harmful (may happen to anyone)
3) enthusiasts - the group I am most fond of, but with one sole inconvenience - everything has a a great quality, but a little too late, since the internet is changing too fast for someone to write it in his spare time.

In conclusion - purchased software offers better protection, when you need it.

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Free vs Paid
by swathingscientist / February 20, 2008 8:44 PM PST
In reply to: definetely no

I am of the feeling that thr free versions of any app are just as good as any paid version.Paid versions just have a few more bells and whistles of which none of us really need.
Any and all free versions must meet certain standards or wouldn't be around long.
The only paid version of anything I have is the jv16 Registry cleaner which has multiple features and there is no free version.
The Internet today is all about greed and many newer folks swallow it up,not knowing any difference,all a come-on far as I can see and have been around with puters since Apple lle prior to Internet.
Just my take and I'll stick with it.

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by gringojo / February 20, 2008 10:32 AM PST

I org thought they did till my Friend @ Geek Squad told me after professionally scanning my system & FOUND OVER 180 EVENTS! & I am useing the best free one called AVAST! so no the free ones are not as good @ ALL !

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They do a heck of a lot better !
by youdnever / February 20, 2008 4:49 PM PST
In reply to: NO ! THEY DONT !

With the exeption of maybe Kapersky, Some free anti spy / trojan catcher programs will run all over the paid gear. I have used AVG and pretty much most of the rest of the rest that have been mentioned here and really can say that Avira is waaay ahead when run with Adaware and a little known program "Remove It Pro " . Avira is the only program that has NOT been successfully hacked ( you can't update it so I am told )and AVG misses 40% more than Avira !. Remove it pro checks Windows system32 files and is a great partner for Adaware and Avira . My main point is that no single AV program is enough and we all need to find a mix that works Happy . My firewall is Comodo . Also sometimes I do a check with an online security Co such as Gibson Research or Trend Micro to see if they bust thru my walls .

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No! They Don't!
by i m appaulled / February 22, 2008 2:25 PM PST
In reply to: NO ! THEY DONT !


Geek Squad? So after finding these "events" did the friend encourage you to buy security products from their store? That is part of their job, you know. I think I would have requested a detailed list of these "events".....were any of them actually harmful, dangerous or doing malicious things to your computer? Hard to say the free security wasn't working unless you know exactly what was on the scan report.

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Free vs. paid security
by catmarc / February 20, 2008 10:39 AM PST

I had AVG and it blogged down my computer. It also wouldn't recognize certain files for a game that my son was trying to play. I went back to AntiVir - which I had for a long time but decided to try AVG - and my son now plays the game with no problems. AVG has updates, but if you aren't as knowledgeable about where to look for the update once you get to their web page, you could be buying their Pro version. I like AntiVir so much, that I have recommended it to everyone that I know. I did try Comodo, but wasn't very happy with it. I use a program called Outpost. And will stick with that!

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Free vs. paid security applications
by meistersmom / February 20, 2008 11:14 AM PST

I am not a technical person just a mom taking care or two computers . I used to pay for Norton but when you have the complete it ran so slow but I guess it was thorough. It was too slow for me. My son put in the AVG in hiswindows XP and I put it in my new Vista and it runs so slow and when I start up it scans the email and ties up everything. My startup programs drag to come up. On my son's new vista it missed a trojan and should have automatically taken it out. I scan weekly. I pay for Webroot and to me it works great but sometimes I think there is a conflict between windows and webroot. I also have ad-aware and scan with that weekly and check for updates. My computer runs slow like it did with Norton. I bought my son a Vista and instead of Webroot he has xoftSpySe by pareto logic and it works great.His runs a lot faster and seems to be a lot more thorough.I tried Avast but didn't work to good with my computer so put AVG back in. To me I think the free programs are using us as testing to fix the paid people lol!!

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