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Free antivirus programs

Symantec and McAfee would have us believe the best antivirus protection for the PC is something that must be paid for. That should come as no surprise as they are in the business of creating, selling and profiting from security-related software.

The reality, according to a June 2010 report from OPSWAT, is that competition in that area is alive and well with approximately 42 percent of users surveyed employing solutions that are absolutely free. As a matter of fact, the top four applications in use today are all free versions. See the full report at www.oesisok.com.

Number four on the list, and quickly gaining market share, is a vastly improved application from Microsoft called Security Essentials. Anyone running a genuine copy of XP, Vista, or Windows 7 can obtain Security Essentials free of charge via a download. All users have to do is validate the operating system before proceeding with the download and that is as easy as a mouse-click on a button.

I am a long-time user of Avira AntiVirPersonal, which is number two on the list of the top four free applications mentioned above. I have used Avira for so long I cannot remember what I used before. Despite complete satisfaction with Avira, when setting up a new PC at home this past June I opted for Security Essentials for malware protection.

Nearly three months later, I'm happy to report complete satisfaction with the application. It has started correctly during each boot, updated itself on schedule, and not caused any issues on shut down. It hasn't caught any viruses but that's due to the relatively safe surfing habits employed by the user.

Users happy with their current application should probably stay with it. Users wanting to try Security Essentials can find it at microsoft.com.

Ron Poland is a professor in the Computer Information Systems AAS program at Clinton Community College. Poland is certified in computer repair and networking by the Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA). He is also a Cisco certified network assistant. Questions may be sent to him via e-mail at ron@ronpoland.com.

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