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I know this question is looking like an easy question or not a question at all but it's not really easy question. I'm not related to security and anti-viruses and just don't trust every provided anti-virus.

So first question is a real question - Is it OK (safe) to not use anti-virus at all. I know how to use firewall, usually I use only trusted connections and surfing trusted sites. My chances to get virus is really low. Even I've got a bit outdated PC and don't want to pay the performance for it. I can do monthly scans without having one installed - is it OK to be safe ?

If not can you recommend a good free antivirus solution?

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4 Answers

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Is it safe? Well, that depends on how you use your computer (I'd guess you browse, download applications, in which case, no, it's not really safe). For what it's worth, nowadays most AV's are less system hungry, are free and you will barely notice them running. For the small download and small maintence it just makes sense too.

This guide shows how to install security essentials and other information regarding viruses. Security Essentials is a solid AV.

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No it's NOT safe to run a computer connected to the web without any antivirus.

It doesn't matter how careful you are and how computer savy you are, accidents happen. The number of attack vectors grow each day.

And to only scan once a month means that your computer is able to send millions of spam before you find out you are infected.

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I've been running without an (anti)virus for years... –  Mehrdad Jun 10 '12 at 5:48
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@Mehrdad - I have never been in a car crash. Should I stop wearing a seatbelt? –  Nifle Jun 10 '12 at 8:21
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No... other people can crash into you. :-) But viruses don't magically start running on your system by themselves... –  Mehrdad Jun 10 '12 at 8:30
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@Mehrdad - Yes they do. If you are unlucky enough to encounter a zero day exploit. I have been lucky so far, no one has crashed in to me. And it appears you have also been lucky not to have run into a zero day exploit. The difference is that when the day comes and I am unlucky I have protection, you on the other hand..... –  Nifle Jun 10 '12 at 8:56
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That's certainly true -- if there is a zero-day exploit, and it targets you, and your antivirus catches it, then I'd be the one who gets screwed! :-) But I don't think it's as common as you'd imagine. I've seen tons of people get viruses on their computers because of lack of attention to what they were doing (typically, opening an executable attachment). But I've never seen anyone actually get caught by a zero-day exploit (let alone an AV catching it!), even though I know they exist. So IMO that's so rare that it isn't a compelling reason why home users should bother installing AVs. –  Mehrdad Jun 10 '12 at 9:15
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1: NO. No matter how safe you think to be in you internet habits you still have to run a virus-scanner.

2: No, Microsoft Security Essentials is not mandatory, but....

3: Security Essentials is one of the best free, fast and light-weight anti-virus programs so you might as well use it anyway. Of course: It does require a genuine Windows installation. I hope you have one.....

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  1. You should always use an Anti-virus. Even if you surf safely there are still attack vectors you can't defend yourself against. I'm thinking primarily of worms. A good AV is another line of defense.

  2. You don't need to use MS Security Essentials. There are a ton of free AV programs.

  3. Security Essentials seems to fit your needs. I barely notice it's there on the two computers I use it on. One newer and one older (Athlon64 3200+, 2 GB of RAM, Win7 Pro)

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