Virus protection is the most important thing for you your online computer. There is malware, spyware, etc. out on the internet that can destroy a machine. If you have protection from that, just like protection from being pregnant too young(lol), your machine is safe on the internet. I have a lot of experience with protecting networks; I did it for NASA for 13 years and the DOD for 2, and every network I setup was the best in the country while I was there! I challenge any NASA official to dispute that statement(Jim?)
Point is that virus protection does not have to cost you! Many provide the protection for malware and spyware even if they say they don't. I am talking the free versions. That is not to say that the added scanning features are not good, but for the novice computer user or home user you really need to have a reliable virus software on your machine. Many cannot afford to pay for additional protection so here is what I give you from my 24 years experience:
1) Avast Antivirus - This this the very best on the market right now. One of the best features is the boot scan!! They were the first to do it, well I should say in the real windows operating system era anyways, which is a huge deal if you consider some viruses or trojans that block your virus scanner (eg. anti-virus 2000 pop-ups). Only way to remove this bastard was with someone like me who knows how to use bootable cds etc or a scanner that can run before the OS actually loaded. Same as chkdsk /f or /r : you pick the parameter. You can get the free version at www.avast.com
2) AVG: This scanner has always been up to date and user friendly. I believe they now have a boot-time scanner now as well. Not as easy to register and obtain but a very nice second, goto avg.com
3) Trend Micro - Trend is the very best at centralized computer protection! If you are a business and have 100 computers you need to protect with a central control these are your guys. For personal protection, not so much anymore. Thier "free stuff" is not so free anymore but the protection is still good. I put them above Mcafee and Symantec(aka. Norton) because those 2 companies lost focus 10 years ago.and tried to be like Internet explorer from Microsoft! Almost impossible to remove from a machine and their advertised protection was not and still is not very good.
Point is that the top 2 for sure are up for debate and the 3rd has now adopted subscriptions to a detriment but still provides some of the best protection out there.
Please comment on my advise, let me know your thoughts and/or tell me if you think I am full of shit or on the mark. Thanks.