AOL Active Virus Shield is actually a stripped-down version of the top-rated Kaspersky Anti-Virus (*est. $60). While you'll get the same virus protection, the catch is that you have to agree to accept occasional marketing e-mails from AOL and its partners. You don't get as much user control as with a paid antivirus program, but reviews say that overall, Active Virus Shield is an easy-to-use, effective alternative. Experts say AOL Active Virus Shield is light on system resources, and we didn't find much evidence that it conflicts with other security software. Some reviewers recommend it over Avast! 4 Home Edition and AntiVir PersonalEdition, which are also free.
AOL now offers free security software to anyone with an e-mail address, whether or not they are AOL members. Notably, AOL's antivirus engine is based on an older version of the highly rated Kaspersky Anti-Virus (*est. $60). Although we did not find a huge number of reviews for AOL Active Virus Shield, WebUser.co.uk and CNet.com do compare it to others. Both sources cite its association with Kaspersky as a big plus.
1. PC Tools
WebUser's reviewer writes that AOL Active Virus Shield is a "solid performer in tests." He inaccurately criticizes the program for not offering scheduled scanning. The software, which is based on Kaspersky Anti-Virus, is said to be very light, so system drag isn't a problem. Conflicts with other software isn't addressed.
Review: AOL Active Virus Shield, Mark Wilson, Dec. 10, 2006
According to CNet editors, AOL Active Virus Shield is pretty good for a free antivirus program. It lacks some customization features, but does have real-time scanning and scheduled scanning. It also checks for signature updates every hour, while competing free programs check only once a day. Robert Vamosi adds that the antivirus engine is actually an earlier version of Kaspersky.
Review: AOL Active Virus Shield, Robert Vamosi, Aug. 8, 2006
Most of the nearly 150 users posting reviews here say they're not having any big problems with AOL Active Virus Shield. Several contributors note key differences between AOL and Kaspersky. Notably, the AOL version doesn't scan your web cache and can't create a rescue disk. Overall, users give AOL Active Virus Shield a high score.
Review: AOL Active Virus Shield, Contributors to Download.com