Protecting over 200 million PCs, Macs, & Mobiles – more than any other antivirus

August 6th, 2009

Can you Trust Free Anti-Virus? (Part 2)

It seems that the article I quoted in my previous blog entry ( generated a fair amount of interest and disagreement. And the general opinion seems to be the same as what I posted in my blog entry—that the major free antivirus solutions are in fact very good.

Since my earlier posting on this subject, a few other items have been written that you may find interesting or want to pass around:

  • Larry Seltzer of PCMag wrote a very nicely balanced blog/article on the issue. He also points out how well the “Big Free Three” (avast, avira, and avg) perform on industry AV tests. Take a read; it is quite good:
  • VB100 came out with their most recent test results: This test/certification is kind of an industry standard although some argue that it is not as meaningful as it once was. There are a few interesting pieces of information in here:
    • Avast of course passed the test and received another VB100 award
    • Two major paid products did not pass the test—one of these is the paid product from the company that started this whole controversy about the quality of free antivirus
    • It appears that only one free product failed the test. Once again it is the free product from the company that started this whole controversy.

My objective here is to not malign that company or any of the top antivirus products. Most antivirus/internet security products on the market are quite good. We can all have bad days where a piece of malware is missed or a test is failed. It is easy to find failures for all of the major products. So we shouldn’t sling mud or demean any of the products—all are designed to protect users on the internet. That is a very difficult thing to do and success is not guaranteed.

But my position is that the simple fact that a product is free does not make it less safe or trustworthy than a paid product. That is like arguing a toll road is better than a free highway because one has to pay money to use it. Heck, the German Autobahns are fantastic and free—I have been on many toll roads that are in terrible shape.

So when you have the choice between a toll road/paid product and a free highway/free product—both of which are good—I am sure you will choose the free route.

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  • Big Daddy

    Nice post Vincent. I have been advocating Free Security Software used in a layered defense for several years. Avast is the product I use and recommend first. People always think Free AV is a scam because how could you stay in business if it was truly Free? Once I explain that the company makes their revenue from upgrades to paid versions with more user features or from selling to businesses then they are willing to try a Free product.

    Keep up the good work. I’m looking forward to the new version with the improved interface.

  • Tech

    Vincent, I’m pleased that you’ve discover our way of thinking very quickly. Someone is not better just because he bashes the other, but when he does (try to do) a good job. You write like an avast user, you’ve became one of us. Congratulations.

  • scythe944

    Good explaination. I can’t tell you how many customers ask me why a company would create a free product, and whether or not something that is free is good as well.

    This should help their understanding!

  • Björn Lundahl

    Do not trust Symantec

    Actually I think Symantec is just very very greedy. I do not trust them at all. They are fooling some users to pay a lot for “services” which they do not need. “Services” which “looks good” on the surface if you do not know anything but they are inclined to listen to those ads because they have “heard of Norton so it must be good”.

    I wrote this on your blog with the headline Why is avast! not pre-installed on my new computer?:

    My daughter Elinor lives with her mother and I paid for a HP laptop which she and her mother bought. Norton was pre installed and Elinor activated it. This was about two weeks ago. Now she is visiting me for a few days. Norton is a security suite and the subscription lasts only for a few months. She wanted me to “fix” the PC, that is installing Avast Home Edition and uninstalling Norton and some crapware. I deactivated Windows Defender too. I also installed some very good freeware. When I uninstalled Norton it left Windows firewall opened. That is very bad. I guess Norton did not want to pay for the extra programming which it would cost them to let Norton close the firewall when it is uninstalled. I was aware to check the Windows firewall after uninstalling Norton, but not all people are. A Windows PC connected to the internet without a firewall is no good. It proves Symantecs mentality. Nothing to trust.

    And what about this:

    Symantec, McAfee to Pay Fines Over Auto-renewals
    The companies will pay $375,000 each and improve business practices
    » Comments
    By Robert McMillan

    June 11, 2009 — IDG News Service —

    Antivirus vendors Symantec and McAfee have agreed to pay the New York Attorney General’s office US$375,000 in fines to settle charges that they automatically charged customers software subscription renewal fees without their permission.

    Björn Lundahl
    Gothenburg, Sweden

  • Ramjade

    I would like to give my suggestion how to improve avast. Where can I do that?

  • Vincent Steckler

    You are welcome to post them here. Or on the forums. Or send us an email. Email address is just the last name at avast…..

  • Vincent Steckler

    @Björn Lundahl
    Hi Bjorn. I think I had discussed (superficially) the New York State issue either on the forum or here. I was going to discuss it in more detail in an upcoming blog entry about autorenewals.

  • Vincent Steckler

    Thanks Tech. Loving being “one of us”

  • Pingback: Does free antivirus offer a false feeling of security? - Page 2 - Raymond.CC Forum

  • rockernault


    I can trust in free products.. there are good ways to protect yourself when you don’t need more than the AV engine and resident protection

    About Norton AV:

    Do i really need to prevent identity theft??
    do i really need all the thing that they offer?
    even when i only use the computer for home issues i don’t need all the things that they offer.. (there are people that feel they need it though)


    have you ever thought that Avast can have a built-in firewall?

    • Vincent Steckler

      Thanks Rockernault. On Identity theft, you do need it if you do any kind of commerce online or store your confidential information. The point there is that Avast and many other products do it. They just don’t advertise it. It is marketing and that is all. As far as a firewall, we will have that in Version 5–but in the new paid suite.

  • rockernault

    hi Vincent!

    i refer to identity theft when it happens inside the computer… i mean, when a virus try to steal your info, that happens when a virus pass through the AV resident protection..

    you know what i mean..? i dont need extra protection…. i just need a good AV engine to get that part protected

  • Vincent Steckler

    Rockernault, correct. Any security product that claims identity theft protection is doing just this. They are not monitoring your identity information (credit card numbers, national ID numbers, Social Security Numbers, bank account numbers, etc.) to make sure they are not being transmitted outside of the computer. Instead they are just watching for malware….just like we do. Is why I had said that identity theft was basically a marketing angle on malware protection.

  • mohd taher

    i’m used avast since 2 year’s and i trused it

    thank’s so mush

    mohd taher

  • Anawowo

    I am using the free Avast download. Is it just as effective as the Professional upgrade. In other words, does it protect my computer completely. Or do I need to download and purchase the professional upgrade?

    I also have the Spy-bot free download which is run on donations. I run it every night before logging off and it is great.

  • Anawowo

    i AM HOPING THAT SOMEONE WILL ANSWER MY QUESTIONS as I am a beginner and am not sure that my computer is completely protected

  • Anawowo

    I am hoping that someone will answer my questions as I am a beginner and am not sure if my computer is completely protected.

  • Vincent Steckler

    Hello Anawowo. You are quite protected with the free avast. The paid product does a couple of extra things. You also need to make sure your windows firewall is turned on. You might also go to the forum ( and there is plenty of information there.

  • Mats Blomqvist

    Talking about Norton 360, I was using Norton 360 earlier (preinstalled on a Dell machine). I decided to take it away and find another virus scanning program. Someone recommended me to use Avast so I installed it. I am satisfied so far. But, listen to this. I used Avast to clean out Norton and as far as I can se Norton was all cleaned out (including in the registry).
    Later on when Avast started an automatic virus scan, Norton was back. It looked as Norton was the scanning program, but if I don’t remember wrong the removed malware was taken care of by Avast.
    Norton is back in the computer as a scanner but without cleaner.
    I will have to check more on this.

  • Vincent Steckler

    @Mats Blomqvist
    Hello Mats. A couple of possibilities. First Avast does not remove Norton when it is installed. Avast can actually operate with other antivirus products on the computer. So if you did not manually remove Norton 360 it may still be there. Go to add/remove programs in control panel and you can remove it. If that does not work, the norton website has a “norton removal tool” (NRT) that will remove it. Or it is possible that you removed Norton 360 but somehow installed the Norton Security Scanner (maybe from google pack or some other source). Once again, just go to add/remove programs and check.

    Hope this helps

  • Mark

    I’m a retiree on a fix and limited income so the ‘Free’ in free is a nice surprise. I was wondering though, for those of us who don’t have a money pool to draw from but would like to contribute a ‘small’ donation for your service, if there was a PayPal link or similar that could be used to send a little bit of a thank you? If not, thank you anyways. ))

  • Dede Kimball

    I am runnng the free home version of Avast, whenever I do a scan it always has a list that says “unable to scan archive, what does this mean? I hope someone can help me with this??
    Dede Kimball

  • Vincent Steckler

    @Dede Kimball
    Hello Dede. Please go to and you can go to our support forums and someone can answer your question. Or you can create a trouble ticket and our support folks will help you.

  • Kafka Mária

    Csak magyarul zudok. A virus irtó, soha nem talál vírust, de a system32-között a microsoft errort észlelt, NÜMBER én nem értec hozzá, de a gépemen nem szivesen tárolok a gépemen valami ál programot.

  • Fielding

    Quote: Two major paid products did not pass the test—one of these is the paid product from the company that started this whole controversy about the quality of free antivirus
    It appears that only one free product failed the test. Once again it is the free product from the company that started this whole controversy.

    That did make me laugh, I like Avast but use Avira, I have an old PC,it’s a bit lighter and I’m skint…sorry. Nicely written blog, enjoy reading it, cheers.