Whilst Windows XP was first released almost 10 years ago (in 2001), it is still the most widely used operating system on the market, with some research companies putting its usage at as much as 45-50% of the overall operating system market.
This relatively massive usage unfortunately means that many virus makers will target Windows XP. And whilst Microsoft are still creating security updates for Windows XP, they are aiming to stop supporting it (even if security flaws are found) in 2014. And even though this is a few years away yet, it is estimated that as many as 20-25% of people will still be using Windows XP in 2014.
Hence it is essential that good quality antivirus software is installed on your Windows XP system. Fortunately, there are many good, free antivirus software downloads for Windows XP available.
Below are four of the best free anti virus software for Windows XP, and our thoughts on each of them:
AVG are a very well known anti-virus software producer. They have three main antivirus products - two of which are paid-for software, whilst the other is their free version. The most recent version of this is called AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 9.0. This free service has two main features: the main anti-virus and anti-spyware component (which helps prevent your computer catching and spreading viruses), and also a link-scanner (which warns you when you are on the internet if a website you are viewing has any viruses on it).
The free version doesn't come with any of the more advanced features (such as components which scan any files you download, and protection against more in-depth threats like root-kits and phishing), however overall we feel that this free version will be sufficient for the majority of users.
Avast's free antivirus software comes with the essential virus protection components (for example continuous protection, website surfing protection and scanning of e-mails) which should be fine for the average user. However Avast's own website is quick to stress that its paid-for software should be used if you plan on going on high-risk websites or if you want to bank online:
"avast! Free Antivirus is perfect for people who send e-mails and surf popular websites, but do not store any sensitive data on their computers."
Hence if you use your computer mainly for typical day-to-day activities (word processing, surfing the internet, checking e-mails), Avast's free version should be fine for you.
Comodo's free antivirus software isn't as well known as AVG's, although it has a very good reputation nonetheless and its website claims that its antivirus software is the best at catching and eliminating viruses out of all the antivirus software out there. Its free version also provides more protection than AVG's and Avast's software. It has the standard antivirus and anti-spyware component which the others offer, although it also has a fairly comprehensive feature which protects your computer from viruses from a large range of sources.
This protection includes scanning and monitoring sources such as the internet, e-mails, IM, downloading files, inserting external devices (CDs, USBs, etc) into your computer, and more.
Overall we are impressed with the features in Comodo's free antivirus software. And considering Comodo's overall reputation and the fact that it is apparently the most efficient antivirus protector, we would recommend you consider using it.
The feature list on the Avira website lists 9 'features' that this product offers, although after looking at the list in more depth it's fairly easy to see that these 9 'features' mainly just amount to the core anti-virus/anti-spyware protection that all the above software offers, and unfortunately not much else. This software should be fine if you are just using your computer for mainly offline purposes and a little bit of web surfing, although the lack of e-mail scanning and web surfing protection features do mean that this free version isn't great for users who use the internet loads.
Overall if you don't use the internet much, this product could be great for you. Although we'd suggest to look at one of the three antivirus software programs above if you plan on using the internet.
It is also worth pointing out that there are a few good free online virus scans available. It's worth pointing out that they should not be relied upon (having an antivirus software installed on your computer is still a necessity), however using one of these scans as a 'safety net' might be a good idea. The three online virus scans that we would recommend are as follows:
Overall there are a range of good, free anti virus software products for Windows XP that we would suggest you look at. Viruses are a massive risk nowadays (and they have been for many years too) hence if you haven't already got a virus checker, we'd suggest you get one of the above urgently.
We hope that you found this article useful. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or suggestions.