I don't know much about Windows, but my girlfriend has a windows Vista laptop and it seems to get frequently bogged down by the McAfee virus/malware protection she has installed and it becomes almost completely unsreponsive for minutes at a time as a result.

So my plan is to ditch McAfee and install something that will sit quietly in the background and not get in the way too much when she actually wants to use her computer. I would therefore appreciate suggestions for free (or low cost) virus/malware protection that actually works, but which doesn't hog CPU and disk bandwidth.

  • Would one of the closers please be so kind as to explain why this question is off-topic for SuperUser ? Thanks.
    – Paul R
    Dec 28, 2012 at 10:20
  • 1
    I agree with @Paul-r; this question seems to fit the scope of allowable questions as detailed in the "defined by the community" link below. Nothing in that link that says that asking for software recommendation is disallowed. Jan 17, 2014 at 17:39

4 Answers 4


My personal favorite is Microsoft Security Essentials: It's pretty lightweight, very easy to use, has relatively few false positives and a decent detection rate.

If you prefer to make an informed choice rather than foloowing my recommendation, I suggest the you red the Ant-Virus Comparative -Summary Report 2011 from AV Comparatives.

  • +1 for MSE. Great detection rate, free (with no annual hoops to jump through unlike AVG), minimal performance impact (very unlike Norton) and a really slick user interface. Mar 1, 2013 at 1:11
  • @Dan: A +1 is much more meaningful if you actually +1. :P
    – Dennis
    Mar 1, 2013 at 1:24
  • 10 more points must surely be a drop in the ocean when you're approaching the dizzy heights of 20,000! Here you go! Mar 1, 2013 at 1:30

You can use avast free antivirus for basic protection. It is very lightweight and goes smooth with your PC.

Source : Been using it since 3 years and no complaints.

  • Avast has a high false positive rate. I’ve seen it once bork an XP installation.
    – kinokijuf
    Dec 25, 2012 at 15:10

ClamAV/Immunet is going hardcore, but Nod32 is a good 'have-hard-feelings-about-what-McAfee-Was' alternative. Kaspersky isn't bad, and generally more user-friendly, but Nod32(apologies if you're not Canada/US with that link; since I'm apologizing, you can guess from which country I am) will remove the taste of McAfee from your mouth.


Unresponsive computer because of AV software generally means AV software is misconfigured, at least for me. If you selected the option "Scan archive files" but did not put restriction on file size, you may end up with unresponsive computer easily.

I haven't used McAfee software for at least ten years. I prefer Kaspersky products. But whatever product you choose be sure to check settings menu.

  • Valid point. A lot of AV software is set to do frequent routine scans by default, despite having a realtime agent running anyway. Total waste of time and system resources. For many applications the default settings qualify as being "misconfigured" in my book. Mar 1, 2013 at 3:01

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