What's the best free virus/spyware protection?

I just got my computer up-and-running again and I need something fast. I'm not ready to buy anything in a store. I'm using Windows 7 on an HP notebook.

Can anyone recommend a decent free protection program, or combination of such programs, that I can download from the net until I buy the real thing?

Just for the record, I've heard that even the "for pay" protection available doesn't really work.

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If I had a nickle for every time

this question has been asked over the years, I would be rich. Happy If you want to do a forum search you will get a few thousand opinions. My answer is always the same, there is NO best. Different things work for different people, operation systems, surfing habits etc.

You comment "Just for the record, I've heard that even the "for pay" protection available doesn't really work."

I am not really sure what you mean but if you are under the impression that ONE program whether paid or free will protect you completely, you are mistaken.

Some of the free antivirus programs are avast, AVG, and antivir. They all have paid versions also. 2 of the better antimalware/antispyware programs which also have both free and paid versions are Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware and SUPERAntiSpyware. ALL of these work well but NONE will protect you completely.

The best protection is the user, if you do P2P, porn, etc, you WILL get infected at some point regardless of which programs you use.

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Here some help deciding
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Summary Based on Experience
roddy32 and TWB404 are right on the money. Nothing will give 100% protection 100% of the time. My first antivirus program was VET (later named CA). I used that for years before subscribing to BitDefender for a couple of years then moved to Webroot. These all did a reasonable job. Late last year (2010), I started using Avast (free) and so far have no complaints. Recently, I downloaded Malwarebytes (free) and use that once every couple of weeks for peace of mind. I am certainly no worse off with these latest tools than before.
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What about Windows defender coupled with spyware?

I'm using a cheap HP 62 notebook, the version that came out last year. Concerning my surfing habits, I don't visit porn sites, but I do tons upon tons of google searches. I'm big on researching a wide variety of issues. I'm also hopping from one news site to another.

What's your hunch about what combination of protections I should use? I'll go with your guesses. I'm not a techie and really don't know what to try.

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Once again, this is a choice question, There

are many combinations that should work for you but what works for one person, may not work for another. Windows Defender should probably work with whatever else you decide on.

Just for an example. I will post what I use which works fine for me but might not for you. Both of my computers are XPSP3 and I have the same setup on both.

1. avast free with active protection ON.
2. Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware as an on demand scanner
3. SUPERAntiSpyware free also as an on demand scanner
4. WinPatrol (paid) version which is simliar to Windows Defender but takes much less resources and works better IMO. It protects against system changes but is not a scanner. It is on in the background and scans for changes automatically. There is also a free version which is excellent.
5. I use the Windows Firewall which came with XP2 which only protects from incoming and not outgoing but if you don't let anything in, then nothing can get out.
6. SpywareBlaster free which does not run in the background but set killbits and blocks certain websites. In other words, it takes no resources.
7. TrojanHunter paid. Not really necessary but I feel safer with it.
8. WOT which is a must IMO, especially seeing as you do a lot of googling (I do also do that). It is free and there are version for both Internet Explorer and Firefox. It shows green, orange or red on weblinks. Grey if WOT has not investigated the particular site yet. If a site is green, it means it was safe at the time that WOT investigated it. If it shows orange or red, I would not go there. It also shows up on Facebook links of you use that.

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No site is totally safe

Do not assume because your not surfing porn sites and just doing a lot of Google surfing that your safe. Just last week a friend of mine got attacked while visiting a site he goes to daily. Thankfully his AV and his firewall alerted him and he did not take a hit. When choosing a firewall, you want one that will allow you to choose what is whitelisted and what is blacklisted. This is what saved my friend because he had a program set " must ask permission to access the internet" so it could not do any auto downloads on him. He was alerted that it was trying to access the internet when it was not suppose to an he was able to stop the attack. The good news is that his combination of protection saved him. It is my believe that a lot of people take a hit because they allow firewalls to do an auto whitelist and they do not totally understand what has permission to do nasty things to their system. Below is a link to free Firewalls on The next link is for free AV software.|platform=Windows&filterName=licenseName=Free|platform=Windows&tag=pe-searchFacetsTile;navForm|platform=Windows&filterName=licenseName=Free|platform=Windows&tag=pe-searchFacetsTile;navForm

You can use the link I gave above in my first reply to evaluate the AV programs.

It is my opinion that free anything is ok but the best protection comes from buying good malware programs.

You can get by, if you choose to, to go with a free Firewall but I would buy a good AV program to have a little extra security. Keep in mind that Windows 7 Home premium and above comes with AV and firewall ( at least mine did ). Since you have a netbook you might have Windows 7 starter and I do not if that comes with Windows security. In my opinion, the words MS Windows anything and security are oxymoron's. lol Click on the link I posted in my first post and open Retrospective/Proactive Test May 2011 and go to page 6 for the summary on how they handle what I call unknown threats. They call it proactive. It is easy for a AV program to catch something that has already been found in the wild but to stop something that is not in it's virus definition data base is totally different . That is where true protection comes into play. The other thing I will point out is that if I am not mistaken the ones that are at the top of this list are not free AV programs. You can check that if you like. After looking at this look at the On Demand testing. This is a test to catch what is a known threat and they have the signature in the data base. You will see they give rating such as standard, advance, and advance +. The only ones I would recommend are the advance and advance + that also placed high in the proactive testing.

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@ kenmore3233

I personally have Windows Defender turned off. I did that when I was using Webroot anti-virus/anti-spyware program.
Defender was about 70% effective in XP but improved quite a bit in Vista - probably the only redeeming feature of Vista!
Although there is an overlap, anti-virus and anti-spyware are two different applications. Consequently, I still have my Defender turned off because it appears Malwarebytes does a far better job these days.

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