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Antivirus and Security

Free and Open Source Software Alternatives

You don’t have to keep paying every year to stay protected from viruses, hacking, and other security threats. There are numerous antivirus and Internet security programs out there that are completely free. Here are a few to consider:

avast! Antivirus: Includes virus, spyware, and rootkit protection. Monitors network and Internet traffic to catch infections before they hit the computer. The auto sandboxing feature automatically runs unknown files in a virtual environment so no damage can be made. Plus, a boot-time scanner can run before Windows loads to remove stubborn infections. Avast! also includes site blocking, email alerts, and password protection.

Comodo Internet Security: Includes virus, spyware, rootkit, bot, and firewall protection. The Defense+ feature shields system files and the auto/manual sandboxing runs untrusted files in an isolated environment. To keep your websurfing safe, auto website filtering blocks known dangerous sites. Comodo also includes advanced customizable polices, configuration management, and password protection. Unlike most other free antivirus programs, this is available for businesses in addition to consumers.

AVG Antivirus  Free Edition: Includes virus, spyware, and rootkit protection. The link scanner displays safety info about links before you click, while the desktop gadget and browser toolbar offer shortcuts and status info.

Most free security software lacks some of the features found in the commercial products, such as spam filtering and a firewall to stop intrusions. But spam filtering is usually offered by email providers and/or the email client software. For the firewall you can use the free Windows Firewall utility, which is included and active by default with all new copies of Windows.

Remember, educating yourself and being careful is just as important as running security software. Here are a few tips:

  1. Don’t open any attachments from strangers or even your friends if it looks suspicious.
  2. Don’t use links from emails; visit their websites directly.
  3. Verity any virus alerts you receive are coming from your installed utility and not a fake program.
  4. Remember to keep Windows and your security software updated.
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  • 3 Hide
    army_ant7 , May 12, 2011 9:00 AM
    You forgot to mention Microsoft Security Essentials. It's worth mentioning because it's actually supported by Microsoft and it's free (as long as you have a genuine OS). :-D
  • 2 Hide
    army_ant7 , May 12, 2011 9:05 AM
    LibreOffice would've probably been more welcome here than OpenOffice (because it's actually open source). :-)
  • 0 Hide
    army_ant7 , May 12, 2011 9:17 AM
    I was wondering that to, but I'm really not familiar with Glary. It didn't even show up when I Googled for a free optimization utility before. I use CCleaner now though.

    Also, in the backup section, the Windows bacup tools aren't mentioned.
  • 0 Hide
    army_ant7 , May 12, 2011 9:24 AM
    I'm glad to see that last line of this article. It's very refreshing to read it and know that there are actually people out there who care. :-)
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , May 12, 2011 12:36 PM
    The author of this articles confuses open source and free software.
    try wikipedia for the definitions
    True most open source is free (not all opens source is free). In this article I see mostly closed source free software.
    Change the article title cause it is misleading (or change job)
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , May 12, 2011 12:52 PM
    Three tools missing,

    Libre Office.
    Microsoft Security essentials.
  • 0 Hide
    ubercake , May 12, 2011 2:29 PM
    Avast is a great product.
  • 1 Hide
    egeier , May 12, 2011 2:39 PM
    Yes Ccleaner, Libre Office, and Microsoft Security essentials are good options too. Just didn’t want this to be a laundry list of software. I wanted to give some details about each and couldn’t do multiple alternatives for each category.

    Only gripes I have about Microsoft Security Essentials is that it lacks sandboxing and password protection. But I do like they offer it to small businesses for free as well, on up to 10 PCs.

    Does CCleaner support batch uninstall? I love that in Glary Utilities. Also Glary offers the simple 1-Click Maintenance and seems to include a bit more additional tools than CCleaner: file shredder, undelete file recovery, file encryption, disk analysis, duplicate file finder, and file splitter and joiner.
  • 1 Hide
    Tomsguiderachel , May 12, 2011 4:28 PM
    nobody123456The author of this articles confuses open source and free software.try wikipedia for the definitionsTrue most open source is free (not all opens source is free). In this article I see mostly closed source free software. Change the article title cause it is misleading (or change job)

    Thanks for your comment. Your point is a good one and we are looking in to a more appropriate descriptor for the applications discussed in this article. Some of these apps do not meet the criteria for the literal definition of "open source" which we would do well to adhere to. Keep an eye out for the headline change and our editor's update/correction.

    Luckily, we're glad to take your advice about the definition of open source, but not insecure enough to change careers on your suggestion that we do so.

    Thanks for reading.

    Rachel Rosmarin
    Managing Editor, Tom's Guide
  • 1 Hide
    phate , May 12, 2011 8:04 PM
    LibreOffice >>> OpenOffice

    Open Office is dead.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , May 12, 2011 8:46 PM
    No mention what so ever of Paint.NET for a free image editing alternative ?! As already mentioned CCleaner or DriveImage XML, Freebyte Backup and I agree Open Source and Free are not the one and the same. Also have to admit I too had not heard of Glary Utilities much before.. and Libre > OO any day/time.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , May 12, 2011 9:03 PM
    Apart from the packages already mentioned, Blender and Paint.NET would also be good suggestions.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , May 13, 2011 8:44 AM
    I stopped reading your article when I saw no mention of Ccleaner, which is only the most reliable, straightforward no bulldang, easy, coherent, usable and free software out there. Get real.
  • 1 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , May 13, 2011 5:23 PM
    libre office is better than OOO
  • -2 Hide
    ohseus , May 14, 2011 3:52 AM
    Are people really this stupid on Tom's? Free and open source confuses you in the title so you'd prefer it said free soft ware and open source software so as not confuse your tiny brain? Do you get upset if you go to a bed and breakfast only to find out the bed is not made from a large stack of pancakes? Try one iota of critical thinking.

    Laughably no one has bothered to point out that software that requires one to purchase Windows is not actually free.
  • 0 Hide
    ubercake , May 14, 2011 4:31 PM
    I'm a longtime Photoshop user. After reading this article, I downloaded GIMP. I have to say I'm pretty impressed with this product. For most applications, I can do in GIMP what I can do in Photoshop.

    GIMP provides 100% of the functionality 99% of the people out there require for image editing and composition. I'm pretty impressed with it so far.
  • 0 Hide
    verrul , May 15, 2011 10:41 PM
    spybot search and destroy cant beat it for preventitive measuere
  • 0 Hide
    verrul , May 15, 2011 10:59 PM
    i use ccleaner, spybot, and malware lite
  • 0 Hide
    verrul , May 15, 2011 11:31 PM
    gimp is awesome, blender rules for open sourced 3d program
  • 0 Hide
    verrul , May 15, 2011 11:32 PM
    panda 3d for game designing
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