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Do the Antivirus Programs for Windows XP Actually Work?

Most of the free and low-cost antivirus programs for Windows XP are a waste of time and money. Only a few antivirus programs work; and many of those on the market are outdated because Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) only provides very limited support for XP.[1]

The good news is that there are a few good very antivirus programs that work well on XP. The bad news is that these programs are few and far between – so you will have to search for them. To make life easier we have listed a few of these programs here.

Antivirus Programs for Windows XP that Actually Work

Avast – The best thing about this good all-around antivirus program is that it only uses a few computer resources. That way it will not interfere with your normal operations. To add icing to the caking, Avast is easy to use and has a nice clean interface. There are a few good features including an effective security check program. Avast is the best option for most XP users because it can be downloaded for free in a fully online version.



AVG – This good basic program is stable and fast. Both the look and feel of AVG are dated. It also lacks some of the standard features found in most antivirus programs. One advantage to AVG is that both online installs and full versions can be downloaded from its website.


Kaspersky Free – Americans who are hysterical about Russia Gate will not like it, but this solution is still one of the best around. Kaspersky is the best antivirus program for dealing with a wide range of viruses and malware. More importantly, Kaspersky is one of the few free antivirus programs with a good website and support. There are also a lot of free security tools available from its website. The only problem we had with Kaspersky was that there is no free full online version.

Kaspersky Free

360 Total Security – The advantage of this antivirus program is that it comes in two free versions. Best of all it is a nice small program that takes up the lowest amount of computer resources of the solutions we tested. That means you will still be able to use your computer after it is installed. 360 Total Security offers both a bare bones version and a complete suite with a driver updater, firewall, and other features. The biggest advantage to 360 Total Security might be ease of installation, both the online installs and downloads load fast and set up quickly.

360 Total Security


Virus Removal Tools for Windows XP that actually work

Like the antivirus programs, most of the virus-removal tools for Windows XP do not work. Fortunately, there are a few virus-removal solutions that will work on XP.

The best of these solutions include:

RKILL from Bleeping Computer – will not remove viruses or malware but it can stop them from working. One feature about RKILL we liked was a list of the issues it will not fix. Note: it would probably be a good idea to run another antivirus program after RKILL to get rid of the bad stuff.


Malwarebytes – This is still the best basic malware-removal program for all versions of Windows around. It is easy to use and entirely safe. Best of all, Malwarebytes can be installed and run from a USB drive. That means you can download it from your friend’s computer, a computer at work, or a public computer – if your machine is badly infected. Malwarebytes takes about two hours to run but up to date versions will remove 95% of the viruses and malware out there. If you store Malwarebytes on USB, make sure you keep it updated to eliminate the latest threats.



JRT – We like Malwarebytes’ Junkware Removal Tool (JRT) because it is simple and targets the pestilence known as adware.  The Junkware Removal Tool is highly effective because it runs as an isolated text program on the coding level. That means it often finds menaces that other tools cannot see. Another great thing about JRT is that it only takes around 30 minutes to run, so it will take up your time. JRT is also a very fast download. Be careful because JRT will not find everything, but will flush out most of the malware and some other garbage.


Kaspersky Rescue Disk – This is the malware-removal solution of last resort you run when everything else fails. Always try some of the other solutions first; because Rescue Disk is huge it takes up over 300 megabytes (MB) of memory. Rescue Disk can fix most Windows problems because it runs on its’ own Linux-based operating system.

You will need some computer know-how to run Rescue Disk, and a day to waste, because it takes several hours to run. Another big advantage to Kaspersky is that you can load it onto a USB drive from the website. Make sure you follow directions and keep it updated.

Kaspersky Rescue Disk

Sophos Virus Removal Tool – This program is effective but it is slow and offers no additional features. It took us around three hours to use Sophos and we noticed that it did not catch any malware that rival programs missed.

Sophos Virus Removal Tool


VIPRERescue – A basic rescue tool that is effective but very cumbersome. You will have to run it as a Safe Mode administrator, which can be really cumbersome. VIPRERescue is also rather slow it took a couple of hours to complete its works. On the plus side, it did catch a few minor other issues other programs missed.


No matter which antivirus program or removal solution you use there is one vital piece of advice to always follow. Always get the latest version of the program, because the bad guys are hard at work creating bigger and more destructive versions of their malware. Not keeping your protection up to date can be fatal.

[1] Microsoft’s official line is that it will no longer support Windows XP, despite that the company has put out some fixes for XP problems such as those created by the WannaCry Virus in May 2017.