Once upon a time, AVG was one of the best free anti-virus programs available. It was fast, thorough, and had a small footprint. Somewhere around version 7 or 8, however, AVG took a turn for the worst — that is to say, it started to turn into what is (unaffectionately) called “bloatware.” It quickly became clear that AVG now requires more of your computer’s resources to run, negatively affecting the operation of all your other processes. AVG 9 was supposed to rectify this by being faster and having a smaller footprint, but in recent weeks, I’ve removed the software from several computers because of the amount of interference it creates with normal operations. Much as I loved AVG in the past, I can no longer recommend it as a quality anti-virus program.
Fortunately, though, Microsoft also recently released a new free program called Security Essentials. Even before it was officially released, Microsoft Security Essentials was receiving rave reviews from beta testers and early previews. Subsequent tests have shown that the program catches up to 95% of viruses — and it has a teeny-tiny footprint. Even while running a full scan, you never notice that Security Essentials is there. Pair it up with Spybot Search & Destroy, and you have a winning combination.