questionscan "free" be as good? better?!?!?!?

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In my experience, the Microsoft Security Essentials is just as good, if not better, than the personal antivirus options out there. At my company, we use a Trend Micro Server thing that is probably better than MS. But, I have had multiple instances where a Norton or Kapersky (sp?) product wasn't finding issues but MD Security Essentials did find them and solved the issue. I always tell people not to waste their money paying for antivirus products.

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I 100% agree with @benyust2. Unless you are surfing in an unsafe manner and opening sketchy emails, Microsoft Security Essentials will do what you need. Constant updates, runs in the background, does not slow machine speed at all, works great, etc.

http://www.downloadinfo.co/review/microsoft-security-essentials/?kw=microsoft+security+essentials&subid=DIMSUS&cust=microsoft+security+essentials&type=msec&gclid=CICjmbHo1rUCFYxDMgodOHQApA&utm_campaign=DIMSUS&fwd=1

If you need more than that you are probably not acting safely on a computer.

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It's been my experience that Norton clogs up the works all-to-be-damned. I ditched it and use avast free anti-virus, which has worked well for several years.

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http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2388652,00.asp (page 2)

Here is a good article that discusses different free anitvirus software in several catagories including preventative and clean-up. This should help you decide what you need, no matter how safely you surf the internet.

I've used most of those listed and they are all great as long as you keep them updated.

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I used the free versions of Avast and Zone Alarm for years, and now MSE, and haven't ever seen a virus at home. At work we use expensive professional software that lets something nasty in every once in a while.

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I have never run a "paid" A/V on my home systems.
There are so many good free options that it just doesn't make sense to pay the "protection money" to these guys.
Currently running (not all on one system) MSE, Avast, AVG, Comodo. With Windows 7 Firewall Control to flag any app that tries to open a connection without my knowledge.

j5 j5
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No studies I am aware of, but I use microsoft security essentials. but i also hardly use windows for anything other than gaming.

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i've asked the same question to multiple IT guys i work with and they always say to just use the free versions of AVG and Malware bytes. they say they are better than Norton or Macafey

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Free better than paid? Sometimes Yes
Free best? No

Eset is the best internet security IMO.

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I've used the free version of AVG for years and have never picked up an icky. I also run Ad-Aware every week or two.

Tried Avast but ended up uninstalling it; there were just too many conflicts and too much slowing-down of my system to live with it.

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Here's an article from PC Magazine on the best 2013 security suites. http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2369749,00.asp

I use Norton Internet Security and have for many years (since it was revamped). I get it free after rebates for 3 users from Fry's or Newegg. Search on SlickDeals for a current deal or enter a deal alert and they will email you when one is added.

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I looked on SlickDeals for you and there is a current deal for Norton Internet Security 2013 (3 users) at Newegg for free after a $50 rebate. 2 Day Shipping is free with ShopRunner. All SlickDealers have a free ShopRunner account! You also get a free gift: Corel Winzip 17 Standard - Product Key Card (value:$29.99)

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832408396

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I'm happy with the "paid" kaspersky anti virus suite. it's usually around $40-$60, but you can get it free after rebate at staples, newegg, etc all the time. Nice thing about getting it "free-after-rebate" at staples is you can buy it with ink recycling rewards which are then converted to cash through the rebate. double-score!

Personally, I hate norton and have for years.... Macafee used to be my choice, but for the last few years Macafee has been annoying the crap out of me by hogging system resources, flagging stuff as malware that isn't, and being tricky to fine-tune.

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Viruses happen, no matter what you use.
That being said do not go without protection.
I have used McAfee, Norton, MSE, AVG, Nod32 and Avast.
I used to have multiple AV on different machines that would scan each other on my home network. I eventually switched to all Avast. I found Nod32 fantastic and Avast just as good. Avast was free, so now all I use is Avast. MSE was heavy and found it scanning when I needed to power of my PC.
You should have some good spyware removers like malwarebytes (often targeted by malware) so a back up with be superantispyware, yes I know the name sucks but it will usually clean the PC well enough for malwarebytes to run.
Side note if all you do is internet, chromebook does not need any of this.

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My vote goes for installing the following.

Nod32 - Best AV out there in my opp.
Microsoft Security Essentials - Its free and gets along great with Nod32.
Malwarebytes Anti-Malware - This little gem is good at picking up suspicious files based on content, eg: It picked up a txt file that was being used to store plain text keylogger entries a month or two ago... None of the other scanners gave the file a second look.