Free vs costly. Old reliable vs new experimental. Several different programs vs one do-it-all wonder. I've read lots of different articles online and wanted to hear some opinions on how best to keep my computer safe. From what I think I know, you need 3 different tasks to be accomplished: 1) anti-virus program to make sure don't get one and if you do that it can be taken care of 2) firewall to keep the bad guys out of your computer and make sure only the programs you want to have internet access have it 3) anti-spyware/spam to take care of all the little stuff that the anti-virus program doesn't get Please, correct me anywhere I'm wrong or missing part of the picture. I myself have felt free can be just as good as programs that are paid for. I for several years have used: 1) Symantec AV Corporate Edition (free from my college) 2) Zonealarm 3) Spybot and Ad-Aware I've never had any serious issues. But I frequently run into family members who have the McAfee all-in-one installed that came free with their ISP, or something similar. They ask but I'm never sure, is that better than my setup, and if it is better, in what sense? I also know that Symantec AV constantly runs a system scan in the background taking up huge amounts of memory. Are most AV programs like this, and does it really help? Lots of questions I know but if you can help answer even one, I thank you.