Free Anti-virus Programs
The virtual arms race between malware creators and designers of antivirus programs has been raging for years. As a result, those who make Trojans, Ransomware, worms, and many other sneaky, damaging programs have had a lot of challenges and time through which to perfect their craft.
Hackers may be after money, looking to steal personal information, or simply have a desire to cause as much chaos as possible and maybe see their malware featured on the evening news.
All this makes it incredibly important for computer users - just about everyone these days - to find the best antivirus software they can.
As such, we're setting out to provide thorough reviews of many of the computer security programs available today.
In this post, we'll take a look at ClamWin, which is designed to operate on Windows versions 10, 8, 7, Vista, XP, and 2000.
Let's dive in.
ClamWin is based on the Clam AV engine, which it uses to uncover and eliminate malware.
The first thing you need to know about the program is that it's open-source. This means ClamWin's source code is freely available, so you can modify it if so inclined.
Some people prefer open source because they feel it's safer - there's no way to, for example, hide code that could be collecting information from your computer, which is a definite perk if you're trying to boost your system's security.
Just like most open-source software, ClamWin is completely free to use. There's no enhanced paid version that includes more features, so what you see is what you get.ClamWin's antiviral features include:
Downloading and installing ClamWin should only take you a few minutes.
You can download the program at SourceForge.net. Once the download is complete, open the setup file to begin the installation.
At the end of the installation, the program will automatically download a database of known viruses (the one that's consistently updated) to offer your computer the most thorough protection possible.
A lot of top-tier antivirus programs are designed for people who know their way around a computer - ClamWin, on the other hand, can be as simple or complex as you want it to be.
For those who have no experience with antivirus software, ClamWin has an intuitive user interface that makes it easy to scan your computer and find malware. All you have to do is highlight one of your drives (for instance, C:) or specific folders on your drives and click the "Scan" button. The program will then compare your files against that massive virus database and alert you to any matches.
ClamWin offers a free, open-source antivirus program with some good features like targeted, scheduled scans. While there is no live support should you run into problems, there is a fairly active forum where users will be happy to answer any questions you have.
Since ClamWin is free to use, the real question we should be asking is "How does ClamWin stack up against other free antivirus software?" The answer, unfortunately, is "not that well."
One major drawback of ClamWin is that it doesn't scan files in real-time - in other words, if you're accidentally downloading a piece of malware, it won't alert you. While the ability to set scheduled scans offsets this drawback somewhat, it's clearly very important to know immediately if a file has hidden viruses!
You'll have to manually scan the file once it's downloaded, which you may not remember to do every time.
ClamWin also does not provide protection against phishing, nor will it alert you to malware present in e-mails or chats. It doesn't protect against spam or Adware, either.
Another potential drawback is that it's only compatible with Windows - Mac and Linux users are out of luck.
The folks over at AV-Test Institute lived up to their name and put ClamWin to the test. What they found is that the program only detected around 50 % of the malware programs they exposed it to, including Trojans and data stealers.
Basically, they came to the conclusion, ClamWin has a below-average detection rate when it comes to antivirus programs, even free antivirus programs. This is a glaring problem since the whole point of the software is to guard your computer!
VirusGR also did a test, and had a similar result - ClamWin detected about 55 % of present malware.
Before we announce our final verdict, however, let's lay out some of the pros and cons of ClamWin.
1. It's free to download and install, and some anti-malware protection is better than none.
2. The continually updated virus database helps your computer defend against "new and improved" viruses.
3. Ease of use for people who don't have in-depth knowledge of antivirus program.
4. Since it's not very resource-intensive, ClamWin can be used alongside other, more robust antivirus software.
5. Users can modify source code - an excellent option for people who want to understand just how antivirus software works.
1. If you're looking to get some free virus protection ClamWin is not the best option you can get. The features of the free version are limited compared to, say, the features of Avast's free version.
2. It has a relatively low detection rate compared to other antivirus programs.
3. Doesn't provide protection while you're browsing the web.
4. Doesn't provide real-time protection against malware, only scans that can be either initiated on demand by the user or set to begin automatically at scheduled times each day.
ClamWin is certainly a valuable tool, efficient enough to give your computer some protection from malware.
However, the only thing that makes it really stand out from other antivirus is that it's open-source, so if you're the sort of person who's passionate about open source software, you may want to give ClamWin a try. Additionally, if you're looking to learn about how antivirus programs work, being able to view and manipulate the source code is a nice perk.
If you want to protect your computer from viruses, however - and we're assuming you do - ClamWin will probably not be strong enough to do this on its own. You'll need to download another antivirus program to supplement it, ideally one that can detect threats in real-time.
As long as it's backed up with another, more complete program, you've nothing to lose by trying out ClamWin for yourself.