Alternative Antivirus Programs to McAfee


McAfee programs, known for their various antivirus and antispyware security programs, detect, block and remove any security threats to a PC. There are two potential problems a user may experience while using these programs. The total cost, consisting of the purchase, yearly maintenance and upgrade fees, and the complaints and bad reviews of other users stating detection rates are not what they should be, means the protection may not be as good as McAfee states it is. These problems will usually prompt a PC owner to look for a viable alternative to the McAfee antivirus programs.

The Facts

  • Downloading one specific free program to meet all security needs is difficult because most alternative free programs do not contain every aspect of virus, adware, spyware, rootkit and other malware protection, detection and removal found in the McAfee suite of products, as well as McAfee’s many other features. Although one or two security programs on the market offer complete protection, most free programs have only one specific purpose, such as only antivirus detection and removal or only spyware detection and removal. Therefore, expect to download for multiple programs for complete protection.

ThreatFire AntiVirus

  • Download ThreatFire AntiVirus Free Edition, manufactured by PC Tools, from or and install it with another antivirus or antimalware program. This is one of the only free security protection programs offering complete protection for PCs against viruses, adware, spyware, rootkits and other malware threats, when used together with other antivirus software. Its detection and removal ability is well beyond that of a typical antivirus or antimalware program if used alone. Many security and product-review sites, such as PC Magazine, PC World and CNET--as well as many home users of the software--endorse it. It is compatible with Windows 2003, 2008, all versions of XP and Vista--with or without service packs--as well as Windows 7. The need for a base security program to install with it is the only drawback to using ThreatFire.

Avira AntiVir Personal

  • Download this program from the Avira home page or from This antivirus program is free and at the top of many lists for detection and removal of viruses. Avira also offers a paid version as well. The free version offers complete virus, Trojan and worm protection. It also watches and responds quickly to any threats detected. Although evaluators reported Avira as running slow on startup, it still received five out of five stars by the editors at CNET, as well as excellent user ratings. This program is compatible with the Windows XP/Vista/7 operating systems. Although this is the highest-rated antivirus, the user needs three other programs installed with it for complete protection.

Microsoft Security Essentials

  • Download this free alternative to McAfee on its home page or at This security program is one of the few free programs available that does more than just antivirus. It also detects and removes spyware, adware and other malware, along with virus protection. The only thing it does not protect against is rootkits. This program automatically updates itself for consistent protection from new threats as they arise. CNET stated the program is fast to start up and shut down but is much slower than other programs in terms of full scanning times. The only other protection needed when using this option is a rootkit detection and removal program. This program is compatible with Windows XP SP2 or SP3, Windows Vista Gold, SP1 or SP2 and Windows 7 operating systems.

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