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How Do I Choose the Best Free Computer Security Software?

Antivirus and other security software can help reduce the chances of a computer being infected by a virus or other malware.
Downloading free computer security software from a reputable site can help ensure malicious software is not downloaded along with it.
Anti-spyware programs can thwart attempts to lift passwords for a computer.
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  • Written By: S. Gonzales
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 04 November 2014
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Free computer security software is something that every computer user should be aware of. Normally, all of the features that are available in commercial, expensive security software can be found in their free alternatives. Users should note that there is a difference between free security software which is actually free and shareware which is usually free on a trial basis but requires a purchase after a specified amount of time. The following are a few tips to find and download the best free security software available.

Be wary of memory consumption. Downloading big, clunky programs may disrupt activities on a user's computer. Check available memory before downloading programs that consume a specific allotment of memory resources. Be aware that security programs will be running in the background of a computer and may effect the functionality of a computer. It is possible for a user to download a security program and then see a significant decrease in the computer's response time due to memory issues.

Look for software with all-in-one capability. Unfortunately, though comprehensive solutions exist for single issues, free computer security software usually takes care of one problem per program. For instance, users may find themselves having to download a separate program for anti-virus, anti-spyware and anti-spam protection. When possible, users should consider downloading software that protects against several security issues at once to avoid conflicts between programs.

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Since many free programs are limited in their nature and are only dedicated to one specific function, users are encouraged to identify their needs before finding and downloading free computer security software. Anti-virus software protects a computer against worms, Trojans and other malware. Anti-spyware programs make it difficult for personal information like credit card numbers and passwords to be lifted from a computer. Anti-spam programs can keep irritating advertisements and other unwanted intrusions at bay. Determining specific security needs can narrow choices down between free computer security software services and point a user in the right direction.

Check technology forums. Blogs, message boards and other websites dedicated to assessing and comparing free computer security software may be the ticket to finding software compatible with a user's needs. Message boards devoted to Internet browsers may be especially helpful, since browser users often mistake a security issue for a browser problem. Often, moderators and fellow users advise users to download free computer security software to help eliminate security issues as the source of the problem. As a result, users may find solutions in the form of free computer security software suggestions.

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Discuss this Article

Charred
Post 4

@NathanG - That’s a good point. I would just add that you should also avoid computer security software that is subsidized through banner ads and popup ads.

I think it kind of defeats the purpose to get anti malware programs, only to discover that these programs offer their own annoying ads. If you consult the message boards you can find your safest bets in this regard.

NathanG
Post 3

@miriam98 - I’d like to offer a “buyer beware” (even though you’re not buying) for anyone downloading antivirus software off the Internet. Be aware that some viruses actually masquerade as antivirus programs!

If you ever visit a website and suddenly get a weird looking popup telling you that your computer has been infected and that you need to download the antivirus program, don’t click on the link. That is a virus, trying to download itself to your computer.

My friend had this happen to him and the virus brought his computer to a halt. I spent hours getting his system cleaned up. I used real antivirus security software, anti malware software and even stuff to clean out his registry.

I had to reboot in Windows “safe mode” too so that no viruses would install upon startup. So the moral of the story is only get antivirus software by going to a reputable vendor’s site, not by responding to some popup.

miriam98
Post 2

@allenJo - Yeah, you have a lot of options for antivirus security software. You can go online and find some of the best tools out there. Read user reviews to see what others think.

The one thing I would point out is that whatever tool you use, you want to ensure that you keep your virus database updated. New viruses are constantly being created and if you don’t update the database your program will be vulnerable to new threats.

Most antivirus programs will try to update themselves periodically but just be aware of this.

allenJo
Post 1

I just want to reinforce that point about memory consumption with free PC security software. I’ve had a terrible experience along those lines.

Actually it wasn’t free software; it was a well known name brand (I’ll leave it nameless) but this thing was a total memory hog. It brought my computer to a crawl.

I could understand that it was operating in the background and trying to do everything to protect my machine, but still, there is no reason security software should consume so much memory.

I eventually disabled the program and went back to using free antivirus and anti malware tools that I got off the Internet. They work fine and don’t weigh down my computer resources.

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