I am, have always been and will always be, a supporter of high quality free software. When that software works equivalently to commercial software and is equally usable, there’s really no reason to pay. Enter anti-virus programs: I’ve had a long-standing hatred (alright, a bit strong there, let’s say “dislike”) of commercial offerings from McAfee and Symantec/Norton. The programs tend to be bloat ware, clog up system resources, and may not actually catch viruses much better than free offerings. Sure the commercial offerings used in companies may have value (central management through a server running their software, support, etc.), but for the home-user, these solutions can safely be avoided.
When buying a new PC loaded with McAffee or Norton, the first thing I suggest doing is following the RTG principle – remove that garbage (generally RTS, but I’m trying to be remotely pleasant). There are offerings from Microsoft and other vendors which work just as well, putting less strain on your computer (and your wallet). The following list is in order of preference:
If you’re under the impression that because you’re paying a yearly subscription, the software *must* be better or higher quality, don’t kid yourself. Just looking at recent news (LifeHacker – McAfee Fubar, April 21, 2010) , a “serious” (read: non-gratis piece of software) deleted an essential windows component, preventing computers from successfully booting up.
My only disclaimer is for Avira: occasionally (I believe on update), it shows a pop-up window, advertising for the company. There’s a way to disable it, but, given the product is free, it might be a small price to pay, should you enjoy their product.