October 20, 2016

Send Faxes From the Web: Three Services Tested

Though you might be tempted to ditch your office fax machine, you probably have to send out at least a few faxes every year. Windows lets you fax from the OS itself; but it requires you to use a landline that your small business may not want tied up, and it lacks security and mobile features that your business may need.
Luckily, a number of services can keep you covered even if you don't have a fax machine connected to an old telephone line. I took three Web fax services for a quick test drive. Here's how they fared.


FaxZero is a bare-bones fax service, with no options for receiving faxes or for faxing from your mobile devices. Nevertheless, as long as your fax is less than three pages long and you don't need to send more than five faxes a day, FaxZero is free and doesn't require any type of sign-up process. Just enter your contact information and the fax number you want to send to, and then upload the document you want to send. FaxZero should send your fax in a matter of minutes. When I tested the service with a two-page document, I received a confirmation e-mail about 3 minutes after I pressed Send that my fax was on its way. The fax arrived at its destination moments later.
If you plan to fax a lot of documents, however, FaxZero isn't your best option. It charges $2 for each fax that exceeds three pages in length and for each one beyond the company's limit of five free faxes per day. That isn't much of a burden if only a fax or two each week aren't free, but if you plan to use the service as a replacement to a regularly used fax machine, the overage fees can add up quickly.


MyFax is a feature-rich fax option that's great for users who need more than an occasional fax machine replacement. The company makes sending even international faxes by email easy; all you have to do is address your fax to @MyFax.com. When you sign up with MyFax you automatically get a fax number in your local area code for receiving incoming faxes. The service automatically converts faxes into PDF files and stores them on MyFaxCentral, the company's easy-to-navigate Web dashboard. When I sent my two-page test document from MyFaxCentral to myself, I received the fax along with a confirmation email message almost immediately after pressing Send. If you don't want to use MyFax's site for some reason, you can arrange for all incoming faxes to go to your email address as well as to five other email addresses you choose. MyFax even has mobile apps available that let you send and receive faxes on the go via your Android or iOS smartphone.
MyFax's base plan, which costs $10 per month, lets you send 100 faxes a month and receive another 200 faxes. If you exceed those limits, the company charges 10 cents per page for the surplus faxes--but it also offers $20-per-month and $40-per-month plans that establish higher send and receive ceilings.


eFax offers many of the same features as MyFax. The two companies have almost identical sign-up procedures that involve first picking your free incoming fax number, then tying your account to an email address, and finally providing billing information. eFax's methodology for faxing by email is nearly identical to MyFax's. too. Both companies have Web-based dashboards that support faxing even to international numbers, and both offer Android and iOS mobile apps. My test fax with eFax yielded a nearly instantaneous transmission plus an email message confirming that my fax had been sent.
Despite the similarities, eFax has some powerful features that MyFax doesn't. One is that eFax supports digital signatures, which can save you time and trouble if you often have to sign forms and return them via fax. The company also lets you digitally encrypt your faxes for an extra layer of SSL/PGP security over traditional faxing. That feature is particularly important if you work with sensitive information and must comply with regulations such as HIPAA, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, or the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. eFax permanently archives all of your sent and received email messages, too (MyFax deletes older faxes after one month), and it offers storage for files as large as 1GB.
[Related: "Digital Signatures Let You Ditch That Old Fax Machine"]
On the other hand, to use advanced features such as digital signatures, you must download eFax's eFax Messaging Software (Windows or Mac version). The application is fairly easy to work with, but having to open it is a minor hassle. eFax is also significantly more expensive than MyFax: The lowest-level eFax Plus account costs $17 per month for 150 incoming and 150 outgoing faxes a month. The higher-volume rate is $20 per month for 200 incoming and 200 outgoing faxes, for $19.95 per month. A 10-cents-per-page overage fee kicks in if you exceed the limit on either plan.

The Verdict

Web faxing services
If you're in a hurry and just want to send occasional short faxes, FaxZero is your best option among these three. It's easy to use, it sends faxes quickly, and it's free. If you need to send longer faxes regularly, however, MyFax probably delivers the best bang for your buck. MyFax's $10-per-month price is significantly lower than eFax's for many of the same features. But if your business requires secure transmissions, eFax may be the way to go, since it allows encrypted faxing. (And as a bonus, it lets you store larger files.)

Source:  http://www.pcworld.com/article/249237/send_faxes_from_the_web_three_services_tested.html

September 30, 2016

The best desktop office suite, LibreOffice, gets better

The new LibreOffice release has improved its looks and added even more interoperable features.

OK, so maybe Microsoft's Office 2016 for Windows is perfect for Windows 10 users, but for the rest of us, LibreOffice 5.1, the full-featured, open-source office suite, is a better choice.
LibreOffice 5.1 is better than ever.
I make my living from writing and poring over data in spreadsheets. For me, LibreOffice has long proven to be the best desktop office suite choice.
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This new version offers a reorganized user interface. Unlike Microsoft Office, which long ago embraced the annoying ribbon interface, LibreOffice has stayed with the tried and true menu-based interface that any Microsoft Office 2003 user will recognize at a glance.
What The Document Foundation, LibreOffice's parent organization, has done is reorganize the menus for Writer, Calc, and Impress -- LibreOffice's word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation program. They're designed to provide faster access to the most-used features.
Guess what? It works. I found all three programs to work faster after only a day or two of getting used to the new menus. The trio also got new top-level menu selections -- Writer "Styles;" Calc "Sheet;" and Impress "Slide." These make all three core applications easier to use.
LibreOffice 5.1 has also added integration with remote servers. The supported servers include Alfresco, FTP servers, Google Drive, Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft OneDrive, and WebDAV. This means you can create, edit, and save files to these cloud and Internet services just as easily as if they were on your PC hard drive or local area network. LibreOffice should work with services that supports the open Content Management Interoperability Services (CMIS) protocol.
First you'll need to set up a remote service. Once that's done, you can easily access your remote files with the File Menu's "Open a Remote File" and "Save to Remote Server" choices. If you're like me, and you keep a lot of work papers on cloud services, this makes LibreOffice more useful than ever.
The new LibreOffice also comes with improved document format support. Besides its support for Open Document Format (ODF) 1.2, LibreOffice 5.1 also boasts improved compatibility with Microsoft's Office Open XML (OOXML) format, Microsoft Office's default file format. Technically, Microsoft's OOXML format is an ISO standard. Technically.
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In practice, no version of Microsoft Office, including Office 2016 has ever used the "strict" version of the standard. Instead, Office saves documents using a "transitional" version of OOXML by default. As the Document Foundation's Italo Vignoli points out, this is a transition that's been going on nine years. The Document Foundation says this standard tends to change with each new release of Microsoft Office, often in big ways, making it a challenge for LibreOffice to keep up.
For that matter it makes using the same document difficult between Office versions. So, if you think only Microsoft Office can fully support Microsoft Office document formats, think again.
LibreOffice also boasts improvements for importing old Microsoft Office documents in binary formats: DOC, XLS, and PPT files. It also does a better job of importing RTF files and Microsoft Visio projects. The program also now supports importing Microsoft Write (.wri) documents and Apple Keynote 6 (.key) presentations, and Gnumeric spreadsheet files.
LibreOffice 5.1 has also been improved "under the hood," thanks to the work of hundreds of volunteer developers. Besides better file and cloud support, the change you're most likely to notice is that LibreOffice is far faster than before.
Want to see for yourself? LibreOffice 5.1 is totally free, runs on Linux, Mac OS, and Windows and can be downloaded today.

Source: http://www.zdnet.com/article/the-best-desktop-office-suite-libreoffice-gets-better/
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August 26, 2016

8 Surprising Windows Notepad Tricks You Must Know

We can all agree that the Windows Notepad is basic and usually gets shunted out in favor of feature-filled alternatives. But Notepad is more powerful than it looks and we’ll introduce you to some of its hidden tricks. Soon, you’ll want to keep this ancient Windows program handy at all times by turning Notepad into a sticky note.
Note: These tricks have been around from the time of Windows 7. I have tested all of them on Windows 10 as well. They still work!


1. Use Notepad as a Journal

Did you know that you can program Notepad to add a timestamp? This makes it perfect for adding journal entries when you have a few minutes to spare during the day.
To get an automatic timestamp, create a new text document, type in .LOG, and save the file. The next time you open the file, you should see the current date and time appear within it. Hit Enter, start recording your thoughts, and save them. As expected, every time you open the file, a fresh timestamp appears.


If you want to add a quick timestamp on the fly, you could take a shortcut and hit F5 instead. This corresponds to the Time/Date item hidden in the Edit menu.


2. Get Line Count

You’d like to view the number of lines in a Notepad document and you know that you’ll have to display the status bar for that. But a quick peek at the View menu shows you that the Status Bar option is grayed out, if you’re not on Windows 10 that is. What do you do now? It’s simple — head to the Format menu and turn off Word Wrap. Now you should be able to display the status bar from the View menu, and once you do, you can see the line count as well.
To jump to a specific line, hit CTRL + G to bring up the Go To Line dialog, type in the line number you’d like to jump to, and hit Enter. This works even if you haven’t displayed the line count, because Notepad’s numbering system is active at all times.


If you’d like to keep the status bar active all the time, i.e. with or without the Word Wrap option disabled, you’ll need to delve into the Windows registry and edit a specific key value. At this point we should warn you that if you tweak the wrong registry setting, it could mess up your Windows installation. To know what you’re getting into, read our guide on how to use the Windows registry and how not to accidentally mess up the registry.
Ready to proceed? Great! Enter regedit into Windows search and hit Enter to open the Registry Editor. Next, look for the following key using the sidebar navigation: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Notepad. Once you have it selected in the sidebar, double-click on StatusBar in the right-side panel. Done? Now in the dialog box that has popped up, change the DWORD value from 0 to 1.



3. Add a Header and a Footer

If you want to insert a header and/or a footer into a Notepad document, go to File > Page Setup…. In the dialog box that opens up, look for the Header: and Footer: fields and type in the content that you want to display in the header and footer.


Can’t see the header and footer in the document itself? Don’t worry — that’s how it’s meant to be. Those elements will show up when you print the file.
Since there’s no way to save the header/footer content from the Page Setup dialog, you’ll have to add it manually every time you print the file. Also, you can’t set up different headers and footers in Notepad like you can in Microsoft Word and other word processors.
What’s cool about this Notepad feature is that using a few special commands, you can insert the filename, a timestamp, and page numbers in the header/footer and even align its contents left, right, or center. Here’s a snapshot of the commands you get to use:
For example, if you want to display the current date (&d) and time (&t) on the left (&l) and the file name (&f) on the right (&r) in the header, this is the text that you’ll need to paste into the Header: field: &l&d&t&r&f


4. Find the Windows Product Key

The easiest way to retrieve your Windows product key is by looking it up on the printed sticker that you’ll find on some part of your laptop or desktop, usually on the base or at the back. If that sticker is worn out or inaccessible, that’s not a problem. You can still retrieve the key from the Windows registry, as long as you haven’t formatted the hard drive, of course.
To view the product key on your computer screen, you can use a third-party program like Belarc Advisor or even a Visual Basic (VB) script that retrieves the key from the registry. We’ll show you how to create such a script. First, open up a fresh Notepad document and paste in the following bit of code:

Set WshShell = CreateObject("WScript.Shell")
MsgBox ConvertToKey(WshShell.RegRead("HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\DigitalProductId"))

Function ConvertToKey(Key)
Const KeyOffset = 52
i = 28
Cur = 0
x = 14
Cur = Cur * 256
Cur = Key(x + KeyOffset) + Cur
Key(x + KeyOffset) = (Cur \ 24) And 255
Cur = Cur Mod 24
x = x -1
Loop While x >= 0
i = i -1
KeyOutput = Mid(Chars, Cur + 1, 1) & KeyOutput
If (((29 - i) Mod 6) = 0) And (i <> -1) Then
i = i -1
KeyOutput = "-" & KeyOutput
End If
Loop While i >= 0
ConvertToKey = KeyOutput
End Function

Now save the file using the extension .vbs (instead of .txt). And that’s the VB script that will give you the product key when you run it! To run the script, double-click on the .vbs file that you just created and saved. You’ll then see a popup window with your product key. Hit CTRL + C if you’d like to copy the key.



5. Test Your Antivirus Software

Want to find out if your computer’s antivirus program is working okay? You can use what is known as the EICAR test file to do the checking for you. Don’t worry, that’s not a virus-laden file we’re unleashing on your computer. It’s a simple text file that you’ll be creating in Notepad, with the following piece of harmless code saved to it:
Your virus scanner should pick this file up as a virus and deal with it accordingly. If it does, it’s a sign that the antivirus program is working as expected. Of course, this does not guarantee that you’re protected from all viruses.



6. Create a Password-protected Folder

With this trick, the idea is to create a deceptive file that you can use to unlock and reveal a secret folder as and when you need it.
To begin with, create a new Notepad document and paste this code into it:

title Folder Private
if EXIST "Control Panel.{21EC2020-3AEA-1069-A2DD-08002B30309D}" goto UNLOCK
if NOT EXIST Private goto MDLOCKER
echo Are you sure you want to lock the folder(Y/N)
set/p "cho=>"
if %cho%==Y goto LOCK
if %cho%==y goto LOCK
if %cho%==n goto END
if %cho%==N goto END
echo Invalid choice.
ren Private "Control Panel.{21EC2020-3AEA-1069-A2DD-08002B30309D}"
attrib +h +s "Control Panel.{21EC2020-3AEA-1069-A2DD-08002B30309D}"
echo Folder locked
goto End
echo Enter password to unlock folder
set/p "pass=>"
if NOT %pass%== your_password goto FAIL
attrib -h -s "Control Panel.{21EC2020-3AEA-1069-A2DD-08002B30309D}"
ren "Control Panel.{21EC2020-3AEA-1069-A2DD-08002B30309D}" Private
echo Folder Unlocked successfully
goto End
echo Invalid password
goto end
md Private
echo Private created successfully
goto End

Replace your_password in the code above with a password of your choice and save the file as a Batch file named locker.bat. I’ll digress a bit here to point out that you can automate various repetitive tasks with Batch files.
When you run the locker.bat file (by double-clicking on it) for the first time, it creates a folder named Private in the same location as the .bat file. This folder is where you can stash away any files and folders that you’d like to keep to yourself.
Now run the locker.bat file again. This asks you whether you want to lock the file. Hit Y, followed by Enter to confirm. You’ll see that the Private folder is no longer visible.


To access the folder again, run locker.bat and when prompted, enter your password (the one you added to the code while saving the .bat file). If you have forgotten the password, drag and drop the locker.bat file into Notepad to view the password.
This trick is fun, but it’s not foolproof — anyone who knows where to look and what to tweak can find the secret folder with ease. To display the secret folder yourself without running locker.bat, go to Folder Options > View and…
  • …uncheck the box next to Hide protected operating system files,
  • check the radio button for Show hidden files, folders, and drives.
The folder might show up with the name Control Panel.{21EC2020-3AEA-1069-A2DD-08002B30309D} instead of Private.


7. Remove Formatting from Text Snippets

Copy-pasting text snippets from one app to another comes with the problem of messed-up formatting. It’s better to paste in unformatted text and then format it using styles from the app that you’re pasting into.
To do so, you’ll first need to strip the formatting from the copied text. The quickest way to do that? Use CTRL + SHIFT + V to paste unformatted text directly or, you could first paste the text into Notepad, which supports only plain text, and copy-paste it from there.
Of course, that’s just one way to strip formatting when you copy-paste text.

8. Make Your Computer Speak

You can get your computer to read a piece of text to you with a simple VB script that we’ll create using Notepad. Begin with a new document and paste in the code given below:
Dim message, sapi
message=InputBox("Repeat after me")
Set sapi=CreateObject("sapi.spvoice")
sapi.Speak message

Use the File > Save As command to save the file with the extension .vbs. Now when you open the saved file, you’ll get a dialog box with a blank text field. Type in something for your computer to read aloud and hit OK. You’ll also want to take a look at these five other ways to get your Windows computer to read to you.
In the code above, you can replace the text Repeat after me with a message of your choice and that is what you’ll see as a prompt in the dialog box when you run the script.


Notepad Magic

Who knew Notepad was capable of all these tricks? It has stayed more or less the same over the years, but it has turned out to be cooler than we thought.
Do you have a Notepad trick or two up your sleeve? Share it with us!Source: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/8-surprising-windows-notepad-tricks-must-know/

July 2, 2016

Improve Your PowerPoint Presentation with Excel Data Visualizations

Ready to present your findings? Find out how to visualize your data using Excel and PowerPoint.
We’ve all sat through boring PowerPoint presentations at one point or another, and they’re no fun. You can use countless ways to liven things up and something as simple as a chart made with Excel can go a long way.
Here’s everything you need to know about creating a data visualization in Excel and exporting that content directly to a PowerPoint presentation — you might be surprised by just how easy it is.

Prepare Your Data

The first step to a professional chart is ensuring that we have all the necessary data arranged correctly. The following section will show you how to do just that for all the most common types of data visualization produced with Excel.

Column, Bar, Line, and Area Charts

The data for these charts doesn’t require much processing, just ensure that your data is separated into columns or rows, and properly labelled. These two examples below demonstrate that you can use either a vertical or horizontal layout for your data.
bar column line data

Pie and Doughnut Charts

For a single data series, lay out your data in one column or row, with labels in a separate column or row.
pie doughtnut data
If you’re charting more than one data series using a doughnut chart, just add another column or row containing the additional figures. Giving each series a label isn’t mandatory, but it will help you keep track of your information.
pie doughnut data multiple series

Scatter and Bubble Charts

For scatter charts, place your data for the X and Y axes in adjacent columns.
scatter data
For a bubble chart, include what size you want individual bubbles to be in a further adjacent column.
bubble chart data

Create Your Chart

Next, we’re going to create the chart in Excel — my example will  be a pie chart about pies, but the same concepts will apply no matter what kind of visualization you’re aiming for.
chrat data
Above, you can see that I’ve arranged my data in the correct format for a pie chart and highlighted the entire selection. With that done, it’s time to head to theInsert tab and click the pop-out button on the Charts section.
charts pop out
The resulting window is split into two tabs; recommended charts and all charts. The former option is helpful if you’re not sure what’s the best way to visualize your data, but otherwise you can simply pick the correct option from the full list. The All Charts tab offers up lots more options, so it’s really worth poring through the list to find the most appropriate chart.
Once you’ve selected your desired option, Excel will create a basic version of the chart — but it’s likely that you’ll want to make some edits for yourself.
stock chart
First, let’s change that title to something a little bit more informative. All we need to do is click the text once to select the text box, and another to drop our cursor into it so that we can make edits.
titled chart
Next, let’s take a look at the three icons that show up on the edge of our chart when we click on it. The box with a plus symbol helps us adjust Chart Elements, like its title and its legend. Marking the checkbox confirms that these elements should be included, while clicking the small arrow will offer up some more in-depth options.
chart elements
The paintbrush icon lets us adjust the chart’s color scheme, either choosing from pre-made styling templates or picking out individual shades. I’m not completely happy with the default color palette, so I’m swapping it out for a monochromatic chart.
chart colors
The third icon allows us to filter the data that goes into the chart, which is particularly handy if you’re working with more than one series. However, there are plenty of other uses — below, I’ve used the tool to quickly create a chart that only looks at dessert pies.
dessert pies
Once you’re all set with these adjustments, we can export the chart into PowerPoint.

Transfer Your Chart to PowerPoint

Exporting your chart from Excel to PowerPoint is as easy as copying and pastingit across — but there are a couple of pitfalls to avoid. Select your chart in Excel by clicking on the background, making sure that you’re not accidentally selecting a particular element, then use CTRL + C to copy the data to your clipboard. You can also right-click on its background to copy from the context menu.
copy chart
Once this is done, open up PowerPoint and navigate to the slide that you want the chart to appear on. Use CTRL + V to paste the chart in place.
chart in powerpoint
However, there’s one more step to complete if you want to do the job properly. While the chart might already look correct, now’s the time to make an important decision about how it’s placed in the presentation.
paste options
This small dropdown will help you decide if your chart is linked to the Excel spreadsheet it’s based on, a straightforward way of making your data available to viewers. Choosing one of the options featuring the phrase Link Data will link your visualization to the spreadsheet, whereas those that feature the phraseEmbed Workbook will make that document available as part of the presentation itself.
You can also opt to paste the chart as a picture, but this doesn’t offer any of the same fact-checking benefits as the other two. Once you’ve made this selection, you’re free to integrate the visualization into your presentation however you see fit.

Visualize It to Realize It

It’s not difficult to turn data from an Excel spreadsheet into a chart for your PowerPoint presentation — but this kind of visualization can really help your audience digest the information.
Microsoft has gone to great lengths to make its Office suite work as a cohesive unit, so using individual programs in tandem can produce great result. Just consider the strengths of each of its component parts; PowerPoint is great for presenting to an audience, but working with data is definitely a job for Excel.
While this guide put the focus on PowerPoint, you can use the exact same method to export charts to other programs in the Office suite — keep that in mind next time you want to include a visualization in an essay written in Word, or add it to your OneNote notebook.
Do you have more questions about using Excel charts in your PowerPoint presentation? Or are you confident enough to offer help to other users? Either way, head to the comments section below to join the discussion.

Source: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/improve-powerpoint-presentation-excel-data-visualizations/

May 12, 2016

The Best Free Antivirus Utilities for 2016

From PCMagazine.

More and more people are upgrading to Windows 10 as the July 29, 2016, deadline for a free upgrade gets closer, but some people would rather stick with Windows 8. If you're running either of those platforms, you do have antivirus protection built in, in the form of Microsoft Windows Defender. It's been doing better in testing lately, but it's still not very good. Don't worry: Even if you don't want to pay for better security, the best free antivirus products are far more effective. We've rounded up an impressive collection for you.
Quite a few of these products are free only for noncommercial use; if you want to protect your business, you have to pony up for the paid edition. At that point, you should probably consider upgrading to a full security suite. After all, it's your business's security on the line. And if you've grown beyond SMB status, investing in a SaaS endpoint protection system will let you monitor and manage security across your entire organization.
Your antivirus should definitely have the ability to root out existing malware, but its ongoing task is to prevent ransomware, botnets, Trojans, and other types of nasty programs from getting a foothold. All of the antivirus programs in this collection offer real-time protection against malware attack. Some take the fight upstream, working hard to ensure you never even browse to a malware-hosting site, or get fooled into turning over your credentials to a phishing site
Independent Antivirus Lab Test Results
Around the world, researchers at independent antivirus testing labs spend their days putting antivirus tools to the test. Some of these labs regularly release public reports on their findings. I follow five such labs closely: AV-Comparatives, AV-Test Institute, Dennis Technology Labs, Virus Bulletin, and MRG-Effitas. I also take note of whether vendors have contracted for certification by ICSA Labs and West Coast Labs.
Security companies typically pay for the privilege of being included in testing. In return, the labs supply them with detailed reports that can help improve their products. The number of labs that include a particular vendor serves as a measure of significance. In each case, the lab considered the product important enough to test, and the vendor felt the price was worthwhile. The labs don't necessarily test a vendor's free product, but most vendors pack full protection into the free product, enhancing premium versions with additional features.
PCMag Antivirus Test Results
In addition to carefully perusing results from the independent labs, I also run my own hands-on malware blocking test. I expose each antivirus to a collection of malware samples, including a variety of different malware types, and note its reaction. Typically the antivirus will wipe out most of the samples on sight, and detect some of the remaining ones when I try to launch them. I derive a malware blocking score from 0 to 10 points based on how thoroughly the antivirus protects the test system from these samples. Avast Free Antivirus holds the current top score in this test, tied with one of our Editors' Choice paid antivirus utilities.
Since I use the same samples month after month, the malware-blocking test definitely doesn't measure a product's ability to detect brand-new threats. In a separate test, I attempt to download malware from 100 very new malicious URLs supplied by MRG-Effitas, typically less than a day old. I note whether the antivirus blocked all access to the URL, wiped out the malicious payload during download, or did nothing. McAfee and Symantec, both paid products, hold the very best scores in this test, though some free antivirus utilities have done fairly well.
Useful Features
Just about every antivirus product scans files on access to make sure malware can't launch, and also scans the entire system on demand, or on a schedule you set. Once that cleaning and scheduling is done, blocking all access to malware-hosting URLs is another good way to avoid trouble. Many products extend that protection to also steer users away from fraudulent websites, phishing sites that try to steal login credentials for financial sites and other sensitive sites. A few rate links in search results, flagging any dangerous or iffy ones.
Behavior-based detection, a feature of some antivirus products, is a two-edged sword. On the one hand, it can detect malware that's never been seen before. On the other hand, if it's not done right, it can baffle the user with messages about perfectly legitimate programs.
One easy way to keep your PC protected is to install all security updates, both for Windows and for browsers and other popular applications. Starting with Windows 10, Windows updates aren't optional for consumers, but there are plenty of security holes in popular apps and add-ons. Scanning for vulnerabilities in the form of missing updates is a feature most often found in commercial antivirus products, but it does turn up in some free ones. In the chart above you can see which products include these useful features.
What's Not Here
This article reports only on free antivirus products that received at least a good rating in our reviews—three stars or better. Among those that didn't make the cut is Microsoft Windows Defender, with 2.5 stars. All of the independent labs I follow do include Microsoft in testing, but most use it as a baseline. If a product can't do better than the baseline, it's got real problems.
In order to make room for the much-improved Avira Anti-Virus 2016, I had to drop FortiClient from the chart. It did get three stars, but it's quite different from the rest. FortiClient is actually designed to work as a client for Fortinet's network security appliance, but is incidentally available as a free standalone.
Furthermore, I'm aware that my review of Bitdefender's Free Antivirus is getting long in the tooth, but the company simply doesn't update its free utilities as often as its premium ones. Rest assured, I'm in close contact with Bitdefender and I'll review its new offering as soon as it's available.
There are also numerous free antivirus utilities that work solely to clean up existing malware infestations. You bring out these cleanup-only tools when you have a nasty malware infestation. When the problem's gone, they have no further use, since they offer no ongoing protection. Our Editors' Choice in this category is Malwarebytes Anti-Malware 2.0, and it's definitely one you should try if you've got a malware problem. But since they're free, you can keep trying others if the first one doesn't do the job. When the scare is over, you'll need a full-blown antivirus for ongoing protection.
What's Best
Our current Editors' Choice products for free antivirus utility are Avast Free Antivirus, AVG AntiVirus Free and Panda Free Antivirus. All three get very good scores from the independent labs, and in our own tests as well. All three include some useful bonus features. Avast in particular packs a password manager and a network security scanner in its toolkit. If you do have a little cash in your budget for security, the best paid antivirus products do tend to offer more and better protection. If not, try a few of these free tools and see which one you like best.
Panda Free Antivirus (2016)

Free at Panda Security While Panda Free Antivirus doesn't outperform the very best commercial antivirus tools, it's way better than the rank and file of for-pay solutions. It remains our Editors' Choice for no-fee antivirus. Read the full review ››
Avast Free Antivirus 2016

Free at Amazon Avast Free Antivirus 2016 scores high in independent lab tests and in our own tests, especially our antiphishing test. Bonus features like the new password manager and innovative router security scan make it an excellent choice for free antivirus protection. Read the full review ››
AVG AntiVirus Free (2016)

Free at AVG Technologies The latest version of AVG AntiVirus Free scores high with independent testing labs, and also fares well in our hands-on tests. Once again, AVG is an Editors' Choice for free antivirus. Read the full review ››
Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition (2014)

Free at Bitdefender You'll hardly know Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition (2014) is present on your system, unless it quashes a problem. Its tiny main window and unobtrusive style are great if you want a strong, silent, and free antivirus solution. Read the full review ››
Check Point ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus + Firewall 2016

Free at ZoneAlarm ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus + Firewall 2016 combines most of Kaspersky's powerful antivirus protection with a top-notch personal firewall. It's an excellent choice if you don't want to install a full security suite. Read the full review ››
Lavasoft Ad-Aware Free Antivirus+ 11

Free at Lavasoft Lavasoft Ad-Aware Free Antivirus+ 11 focuses on the job of rooting out malware and fending off future attacks, without frills. It does a good job, though it doesn't offer all the power of the paid edition. Read the full review ››
Sophos Home

Free at Sophos Sophos Home brings the company's sophisticated business-grade antivirus technology to the home user, for free. It scores very well with the independent labs, and in most (but not all) of our own tests. Read the full review ››
Avira Antivirus 2016

Avira Antivirus 2016 scores high with the labs and our URL-blocking test, but not in our malware-blocking and antiphishing tests. And its browser safety functions snub Internet Explorer. Read the full review ››
Qihoo 360 Total Security Essential

Free at Amazon Qihoo 360 Total Security Essential scores very well in our hands-on tests and in tests by independent labs, but only if you change its default configuration to enable all antivirus engines.  Read the full review ››
Comodo Antivirus 8

Free at Comodo Comodo Antivirus 8 offers decent antivirus protection and a whole raft of advanced security features. However, those advanced features are probably too complex for the average user. Read the full review ››
Source: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2388652,00.asp