Six Clicks: Free antivirus and anti-malware scanners for Windows

Six Clicks: Free antivirus and anti-malware scanners for Windows

Summary: Here are six top-quality scanners that will help you clean up systems and keep them safe in the future. There are tools here for systems ranging from Windows XP to Windows 8.1.

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  • Introduction

    Is your system riddled with viruses?

    Antivirus program out of date?

    Need a decent – but free – security program for a loved one who doesn't see the point in paying for protection?

    No one wants malware on their PCs, so antivirus and antimalware scanners are a must, but a quality scanner need not cost the earth. In fact, there are a number of free solutions out there that will help keep your digital empire safe.

    Here are six top-quality scanners that will help you clean up systems and keep them safe in the future. There are tools here for systems ranging from Windows XP to Windows 8.1.

    Previously on Six Clicks:

    Six Clicks: How do you keep track of all your passwords

    Six Clicks: Encryption for your webmail

    Six Clicks: How sites secretly collect your data – and how to stop it

  • avast! 2014

    A product with a heritage going back over a quarter of a century, avast! Is use by more than 200 million people.

    The free tool comes with:

    - Antivirus protection, including DynaGen technology

    - Antimalware protection, including anti-spyware and anti-rootkit technology

    More info.

Topics: Windows, Security, Software

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34 comments
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  • Switched from MSE to Avira

    MSE was just lame and should be avoided. We had a terrible variant of shortcut virus on some computers at work and MSE could not do a thing to remove, neither Malwarebytes. Switched to Avira which has great detection, although it can be a burden on underpowered systems, it does a good job of keeping the system secure. I do recommend, if you are dealing with a infected Windows system, clean it up first with ESET Removal tool. Some measures you can take to minimize infections is to disable Windows Script Host, its the number 1 vector for infection.
    adacosta38
    • Bad experience...

      My brother-in-law bought a new PC 2 months ago and he installed Avira on it. I've had to nuke it and rebuild it twice for him, because it was full of spyware, search engine hijackers and other malware.

      I've no idea where he finds the stuff! I've never come across any of this malware. But Avira let it all through. MalwareBytes did a reasonable job of cleaning it up, but a couple of the things were really pesky and kept coming back, so I did a factory reset, which held for a couple of weeks...

      The best free anti-virus is to change the users password and not tell them what it has been changed to!
      wright_is
      • Avira vs MSE

        I liked avira 4-5 years ago, each year it becomes more and more like the rest of the big boys. Minor things, like when they added pop up ads to the free version (Can be circumvented, I know). Then they started displaying ads on the paid version, typically small ads in the bottom right corner of the desktop on start up.

        More troubling is the fact that each year they totally re-arrange and rename their versions to something completely different, which is not the end of the world, but is annoying. Avira also does a very poor job of letting the user know they are not adequately protected. No, a folded umbrella in the notification area is not adequate. I have seen people completely clueless to the fact that their avira protection expired 2 years ago. Finally, my biggest gripe with Avira, the constant timeouts the RTP module experiences (usually on startup). Not to mention the many, many files it flags but is unable to properly identify or remove.

        Finally I have noticed far too often that Avira Online protection seems to have a nasty habit of corrupting the winsock catalog whenever it runs into a hiccup, and that is a real pain in the ass.

        I am glad it works good for you, but I wouldn't recommend Avira to anyone. Aside from the ads it is a great program, until something goes wrong.
        SovereignTechnology
        • Gawd, what rubbish

          Avira is laughably better than MSE (although that's not saying too much), most especially in removing malware. The only real drawback with Avira is that the newer versions started coming with annoying pop-up ads and "notifiers," although supposedly they've been toned down a bit.
          JustCallMeBC
  • Microsoft relies on AV to provide secuirty.

    So actually critiquing AV or blaming AV for infections is not the correct action.

    Neither is blaming users for their selection of content or blaming applications for security issues.

    A lot of people have been influenced by MS propaganda over the decades and unconsciously accept their false teachings.

    The bottom line is always the OS is allowing the infections and access to system files. Forget AV, software, user browsing habits, updates, etc.

    Many articles have been published at ZDNet over the years blaming users and applications for security maladies.

    Unless you completely remove yourself from the MS ecosystem you are doomed to repeat history and spend a lions' share of time, money and energy to continually try a fix an intrinsically defective OS.

    There are proofs out there if you are interested. At least download a Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon .iso file and burn it to a DVD, boot from it and try it in the LIVE mode where no changes are made to the computer.

    I've been various Linux distros for 14 years without ever using AV. The many MS arguments about software causing security issues are eroding away, I can use an unpatched IE-6 on Linux and it does create a security threat. People are constantly being fooled by Microsoft lies.

    http://smetona.net/Zdnet/IE_on_Linux.png

    Did you ever hear of any Linux user complaining about being infected?
    Joe.Smetona
    • Correction.

      "I can use an unpatched IE-6 on Linux and it does create a security threat."

      Should read: "I can use an unpatched IE-6 on Linux and it does NOT create a security threat.
      Joe.Smetona
      • hmm

        that is great you can use an unpatched ie6 on Linux and it does not create a security threat. Hmmm I did not know internet explorer ran on Linux. So ya I can see how you would not have a security threat, just like if I ran a computer with no connection to the internet.
        schultzycom
        • IE6 can be run under Wine on Linux.

          But don't fret, MS has made sure that newer versions of IE cannot run under an unmodified WINE instance.

          Running IE 6 under WINE became popular in the early 2000's when XP had horrific malware issues, and many corporate websites only worked with IE6, forcing those corporations customers to use IE 6. Putting IE 6 on a Linux/WINE system was, and still is, the most secure way to use IE6.
          anothercanuck
    • I wondered....

      ... which of you would be the first to show up.

      smh
      Hallowed are the Ori
    • keep dreaming

      "it's the OS, not the user" is like saying "it's the car, not the driver that caused the accident" - believing that is about as far from reality as one can go.
      aesonaus
    • Speaking of propaganda, you dish a truckload yourself

      And Still using your used car salesman tactics to try and feed it to everyone else.

      How many Linux computers you up to this week in your house? 14? 15?

      ;)
      William.Farrel
    • Any OS

      that can execute third party applications and has network access is susceptible to malware.

      A few years ago on an IT forum, some Mac users were talking about how safe OS X was... It took two of us 20 minutes to come up with a trojan to demonstrate to them that OS X wasn't any different. You can do the same with Linux.

      Heck the first worm ran on UNIX and rootkits go their name because they could hide from root on UNIX...

      A PC is only as secure as its users and how tightly the admin can lock the machine down. Any PC, running any OS is vulnerable if anybody really care. Just look at the number of privilege buffer overflow and privilege escalation bugs that get fixed on a regular basis in Linux. Combine a buffer overflow in a network protocol with a privilege escalation and you own the PC, whether it is running Windows or Linux or anything else.

      Add in unexperienced users and you have a real problem. Linux is "safer" because it is mainly used by techies who know a bit about security and are likely to take precautions and likely not to surf dangerously or fall for a spear phishing attack...

      I've been using Windows, OS X and Linux on a daily basis for decades and I've had just as many infections on my Windows PC as on the others - none. I've received a couple of phishing mails and malware attachments, but I've never been infected.

      The same goes for my wife's PC, she doesn't know anything about PCs, but at least she is honest and when anything out-of-the-ordinary happens (phishing emails, for example), she doesn't just open them, she won't touch them until I have checked them out and given her the all-clear or deleted them...

      My brother-in-law on the other hand opens everything without question and clicks on anything he comes across and his machine pays the price.
      wright_is
      • wright_is: "his machine pays the price"

        As do you if you've nuked and rebuilt his PC twice in the last 2 months.

        Does you brother-in-law use software which requires that he use Windows? If so, why not gift him with a Faronics Deep Freeze install which you administer. If not, why not experiment with a GNU/Linux distro installed on his PC or a cheap Chromebook?
        Rabid Howler Monkey
    • What part of "for Windows"

      ... didn't you understand?

      There is a place to debate Linux's failure to achieve market share - but this isn't it.
      Heenan73
    • Correction for you

      Microsoft users rely on AV to provide security.

      Therein lies the problem that most Windows users do not know how to increase the security of their OS and habits. Running as a standard user for starters mitigates a very large % of malware, unfortunately for convenience Microsoft sets admin as the default profile.
      Alan Smithie
  • LOL

    Website Blocked by Trend Micro Titanium Maximum Security

    Dangerous Page

    Address: http://files.avast.com/files/rootkit-scanner/aswmbr.exe

    Trend Micro has confirmed that this website can transmit malicious software or has been involved in online scams or fraud.

    Please close this page.
    Hallowed are the Ori
    • Avast aswmbr.exe = Trojan !!!

      I was scammed and social engineered by false advertisement.
      I downloaded aswmbr.exe and scan my machine, but it wants to download some virus definition database which is 120MB++ in size!
      I scanned with VirusTotal = aswmbr.exe

      Kingsoft Win32.Hack.Undef.(kcloud) 20140716
      McAfee Artemis!9302D77A9F66 20140716
      McAfee-GW-Edition Artemis!9302D77A9F66 20140715
      Norman Rootkit.FZIF 20140716
      Panda Trj/Chgt.A 20140716
      Symantec Trojan.Gen.2 20140716
      TrendMicro-HouseCall TROJ_GEN.R047H07FG14 20140716

      the file is an Artemis Variant which will upload some of your documents until you stop/exit the scan. It won't finish, it will continously upload your stuff from your PC... Painful... ZDnet that was not funny! You should remove Avast link which is malware disguising as a security tool.
      Martmarty
      • False

        I have used aswmbr many times. Personally I think it is overrated, but it is not a virus and does not steal your files. The nature of the tool (Rootkit detection) is what causes it to be flagged as malware. False positive.

        The download of definitions is optional to keep the file size down, as it can simply be used to restore the MBR instead of actually scanning for rootkits. (I would assume anyway)
        SovereignTechnology
      • For both technical and business reasons,

        Malware and virus scans always seem to flag their COMPETITORS as malware. Unless you have access to results from security labs (which are mostly run by the makers of security software), you have no way of knowing which is which.

        The technical reason, as has been posted by others, is that virus definitions files, by their nature, have pieces of virus software within them as exemplars to recognize their active cousins, and malware removal programs, by their nature, have code that functions like rootkit malware. In a perfect world where everyone plays fair, they would all code their detection logic to let their legitimate competitors pass.

        However, the BUSINESS reason is that each one would like to get you to switch to theirs, and one way to do that is for the "free trial" version of each one to flag your existing (or even your old uninstalled) antivirus AS A VIRUS. And when you call the new product's tech support line, they dis your old product, deservedly or not, in order to sell you the paid version of theirs (or when you call the old product's tech support line, they tell you not to switch to that POS because it's a scam). Are they telling the truth and urging you to remove an ACTUALLY harmful other product? Or are they scamming you to make or keep a sale? Unless you are a technician who works on MANY other computers, you have no way to tell.
        jallan32
    • aswmbr.exe scanned as a Trojan

      Norton also caught aswmbr.exe as a Trojan
      WS.Malware.2
      Trojan.Gen.2
      Yuniverse