For many years I paid for an anti-virus program. Every year I doled out my cash.
On the other hand, my brother, whose income surpasses mine substantially, used the freeware.
I determined I would do the same.
On my new machine I use the free security suite my ISP offers. If I purchased it the outlay would be $160 per their statement.
However, on my old machine--which, if it were a car, would be considered a clunker--I went a different route. I had the ISP freebie on it, but that program, like so many, is bloated. It slowed my machine down to a crawl. BTW--my clunker only has 248k RAM, unlike the newer machines which have gigabytes of RAM.
So I went to www.cnet.com and clicked on the download tab. The best free anti-virus programs per cnet's recommendation and user recommendations are AVG, Avast, Avira, and MSE (Microsoft Security Essentitals).
I chose MSE. Why? It uses little resources compared to the other programs. Which means it won't hog my CPU and cause my clunker to get slow as molasses. Avira is notably less of a hog than AVG and Avast, but the latest version has a few cons that caused me to not choose it.
Hence, I downloaded MSE. The download went great and the program is intuitive--easy to understand and configure. But, it kept getting turned off. Every time I opened Windows it was off. After a little research I found out what might be needed to fix that issue. I imagine these would be good steps to take anytime you download new anti-virus software.
First thing of note: before installing a new av (antivirus) program you need to uninstall any other av programs on your machine. I did this using the add/remove program (prior to installing MSE). But guess what. That program usually leaves junk behind. Who knew?
The remedy? Go to the av web page and search for their removal tool. Download it, run it and let it remove every trace of the program. AND...if you have had your computer for a few years and over the years have used additional av programs, and you did not use their removal tools, run those too.
Having done that, the next step would be to run a good cleaner. I like the CCleaner freebie. You can get it a cnet.com as well. It is not a real time program--it only runs when you open it . It downloads quick and uses little resources or space. So--I ran CC so it could clean up the junk the removal tools left, and as well I ran the CC task that cleans the registry. You'd be surprised at how many registry entries are left behind when software is removed.
Those steps seem to have fixed my MSE issue and I am quite happy with MSE.
FYI--I also downloaded Malwarebytes to my clunker (also available at cnet.com). I run it periodically to clean up what MSE misses (MSE is a real-time anti-virus and malware program). I've used Ad-Aware freebie in the past but it is major bloat on an old machine with little RAM. Every time I'd run a scan it would freeze up. To it's credit though, it did fix a trojan that Norton let in and couldn't fix. Malewarebytes is a speed demon...scans in a flash..quarantines what it finds and lets you choose how to handle it. No bloat, no freeze.
If you're looking to save some hard earned cash, avail yourself of these free programs. It seems like a lot of programs but those in the know about smooth computing indicate that it usually takes multiple programs to catch what the others miss. And those who offer the freeware hope you'll buy the paid version.
BTW--be careful where you get your freeware. CNET tests theirs to make sure it is spyware free. It's best to go to their site and click their download tabs to be sure you're getting a safer download.