The Top 10 Best Free Antivirus Programs 2012

As summer 2011 comes around the security vendors cast their eyes to the following year and start releasing the paid for versions of their products. For most people I would definitely recommend handing over a few dollars to get a good level of protection but, for some people, that may not be necessary.

With that in mind it is time once again for me to look at what free alternatives are available.

Over the next couple of months I will be writing some new reviews for what I believe are the best quality antivirus programs you can get in 2012 without parting with your cash. I’ll be looking at programs from the usual suspects, including -

  • AVG
  • Avira
  • Avast!
  • Comodo
  • and, assuming no fingers have just fallen off, 6 others.

[box type="yellow"]1. AVG Anti-Virus Free 2012

This is the one I’m sure all of you are familiar with as AVG Free is arguably the most popular AV program available today. It offers effective protection and, in independent tests, it even beats some of the paid alternatives.

Its quick, its free, its low on system resources. Well worth checking out.[/box]

[box type"gray"]2. Microsoft Security Essentials

Made by the company that makes your Windows operating system so its bound to be good, right? Lets hope so as MSE is (rightly or wrongly) likely to be the most used security program next year when it comes as standard in Windows 8.

Capped CPU usage, very easy to use and its free. Might not be well suited to business users though.[/box]

[box type="yellow"]3. Avira Free Antivirus 2012

A few false positives take the shine off but otherwise its pretty good.

This particular program is quick, accurate and offers pretty good detection rates.[/box]

[box type"gray"]4. Pc Tools Antivirus Free v9

Low memory usage but high CPU usage – strange!

If you are someone who schedules scans rather than using them on demand then this may be a good choice but I myself will steer well clear of this one.[/box]

[box type="yellow"]5. Avast! Free Antivirus 6

Detection rates with this program certainly aren’t the best that are available this year.

That said, however, it does boast the lowest memory and CPU usage I’ve seen yet which is good news if you have an older PC.[/box]

[box type="gray"]6. Panda Cloud Antivirus version 1.5.1

I’ve hated previous versions of this program due to some insane resource usage but this year’s offering is much, much better.

It also benefits from some of the best detection rates I’ve seen amongst free security programs this year.[/box]

[box type="yellow"]7. Comodo Free Antivirus

Offers excellent malware detection and cleanup rates which is, of course, the main thing you will be looking for.

Unfortunately, high CPU usage may pose problems for some users though.[/box]

[box type="gray"]8. IObit Malware Fighter

A bit of a mixed bag this one – spotted problems other programs missed but I’m not entirely convinced that virus definitions are updating properly.

If they are then this is well worth consideration. If they aren’t then you will likely want to skip this one.[/box]

[box type="yellow"]9. HitmanPro 3.6

The previous version I looked at left me feeling somewhat underwhelmed due to some of the items it flagged up as being potential problems.

This newest version of Hitman is much improved though and now offers a viable “2nd opinion” scan.[/box]

[box type="gray"]10. Avast! Free Antivirus 7

Upsell, upsell, upsell.

If you install this program on your computer then you’ll quickly realise that Avast! are rather keen on getting you to upgrade.

If you can can get past the in-program marketing you’ll find a capable AV program though which has a great interface and gets the job done.[/box]