The OP (opening post) says: (my emphasis)
I had McAffee pre-installed on the new laptops and now they have run out of their free trial...so I have uninstalled them because I don't have the funds to pay for it...so I am looking for a good free alternative...I used to swear by AVG but not sure if it is still worth it!
So...What do you guys think? I currently have no AV installed, but do have MalwareBytes installed on both laptops and am using Windows Firewall for both in the meantime (As well as a router level firewall).
My general thoughts are these:
This is not a time to procrastinate.
- There are several possible and perfectly good alternatives for $FREE AV (Anti-Virus) products in the market.
- I have probably trialled approx. 80% of what is available in that regard, and they all have their good and bad points.
- The OP seems to be asking for advice as to what to do in a specific situation where a $FREE AV is required for new laptops, and where the OEM installed AV had been McAffee (now at end of free trial).
- What is "good" or "bad" about AV software product alternatives is not necessarily an advantage or criticism of the AV software per se, since it will generally depend on one's individual requirements criteria and the extent to which the AV software meets those requirements.
- One generally does not know what one's requirements for AV are until one has had the experience of a "suck-it-and-see" of some of the alternatives, which helps one to formulate one's requirements.
- From experience, there seems to be no definitively "best" AV product, since (as above) the requirements criteria would generally need to be used to establish suitability and fitness-for-purpose in any given case.
- The case for AV requirements will tend to differ not only between large organisational networks (e.g., corporate WANs), but also between smaller user-group networks.
- Win8 OEM installs generally include a third-party proprietary AV product on "limited free trial", because the OEM gets a $commission for doing so.
- This is despite the fact that Win8 comes with a Firewall (the Microsoft Firewall) and AV (MSE - Microsoft Security Essentials) already bundled as discrete, integrated components, consolidated into the Microsoft Windows Defender product.
- The AV bundled in the OEM install takes priority in the system and the MSE product is necessarily disabled. This is not done for the advantage of the user/buyer of the laptop, but (as above) for financial gain - $commission - for the OEM.
- Not having an AV product running on a laptop or other computer that is likely to be connected to the Internet (or to other computers that may or may not be so connected), opens up one's system to potentially serious, but largely avoidable risk of computer virus infection.
- This risk will generally be time-related - i.e., the longer the risk is there (the longer the window of opportunity for a virus threat is left open), the greater the chance of the potential risk occurring.
As a paranoid, I would therefore strongly recommend that, if you do not
have an AV product on the laptops, then install any
one of the more popular $FREE products ASAP, and worry about whether it is the "best" one for you
at some later point - when you are (say) better able to define/articulate your requirements criteria.
The reason I described MSE (Microsoft Security Essentials) as a "no-brainer" is that, in Win8, once you have expunged
McAffee/Norton/Symantec or whatever was in the OEM install, it will not take more than 30 seconds to go to Defender via the Control Panel, enable the AV component (MSE), and for MSE to set about updating itself (the AV "engine") and downloading the latest virus signature database. From memory, this may not even require a restart of the PC/laptop.The important thing is to close the risk "window" ASAP.
The quickest route to there in Win8 is to enable MSE, as described. Any other approach is likely to take longer and thus prolong the risk exposure - a risk which I was acutely aware of in my own situation (similar to the OP).
Whatever $FREE AV you end up using, do make sure that the OEM installed AV is expunged
first though, as it may otherwise leave hooks deeply embedded in the OS and Registry, which could interfere with another AV product's successful installation/operation (QED). This seems to be especially so in the case of Norton/Symantec (for which there is even a special removal tool, discussed elsewhere in this Forum - since the AV product is highly tenacious and persistent, almost like a malware/adware/virus in itself). For expunging:
In the link I gave in a comment above, I used RevoUninstaller
on setting 4 or 5 to scrub Norton/Symantec from the system, and then CCleaner
to delete all the obsolete references to Norton/Symantec in the Registry, and search Everything
to locate and delete all residual files/folders relating to Norton/Symantec in the file system.
After this you can trial $FREE MSE and all the other $FREE alternative AVs to your heart's content. Sorry I cannot suggest which might be "the best" though, and I don't engage in "pissing contests" about AV or other software. It is a pointless exercise since we all have different (and often unspoken/unarticulated) requirements criteria. "One man's meat is another man's poison".
Hope this helps or is of use.