The internet is a glorious and exciting world, but unless you're properly protected with a good antivirus application, it can also be a dangerous one. We've come a long way since the days of Norton, with handfuls of excellent freeware software that can keep your computer safe from malware just as well as their bloated, more expensive counterparts. Earlier this week we asked you to share your favourite antivirus application, and today we're rounding up the five most popular answers. Hit the jump for an overview of the five best antivirus applications.
AVG Anti-Virus (Freeware and Shareware)
The lightweight AVG Free provides protection against the various nasties floating around the internet. Like many of the options in the Hive Five, AVG provides freeware (with limitations) and commercial versions of their software, but most users find AVG Free is all they need—though many users prefer versions prior to the most recent 8.0 release.
NOD32 is best known for its speed and small system footprint, but users also swear by NOD32 as a comprehensive and bulletproof solution. At US$40/year for a home licence, it's not free, but NOD32 die-hards claim the pricetag is well worth it.
Avast Antivirus (Freeware and Shareware)
Available in both freeware (Home) and shareware (Professional) flavors, Avast Antivirus is the happy home of many an AVG-switcher. Avast is slightly heavier on system resources, but users argue its excellent protection more than makes up for the increased footprint. The freeware version will cost you an email address to get a free registration code from their website.
Avira AntiVir (Freeware and Shareware)
According to many of its users, Avira is the go-to freeware app for detecting viruses and other malware that other antivirus apps miss. Like several of its peers, Avira is available in both freeware (Personal) and shareware (Premium) versions, and most people find the freeware alternative plenty to suit their needs. One downside to Avira on install is pop-up ads enabled by default (adware, anyone?), but you can disable the ads with a couple of clicks.
Kaspersky Anti-Virus (Shareware)
Fans of shareware antivirus app Kaspersky point out its consistently strong ratings in malware protection as well worth the US$60 licence. Kaspersky also boasts an extremely quick response time to new viruses, earning it a special place in the hearts and system trays of its users.
This week's honorable mention goes out to ClamWin, the only open-source option featured in the bunch.
If you've got more to share, whether your antivirus-app of choice made the list or not, let's hear more about your favourite in the comments. If you give a new antivirus app after reading through some of your other options, you may want to check out the harmless EICAR virus test to see what your new antivirus tool looks like when it catches a new virus.
Adam Pash is a senior editor for Lifehacker who loves a good antivirus app. His special feature Hive Five appears every Thursday on Lifehacker. Subscribe to the Hive Five RSS feed to get new installments in your newsreader.