Some may wonder why we recommend free anti-virus solutions like Avast and free anti-spyware programs like Malwarebytes when we pay $60 a year for BullGuard Internet Security. Well, many readers ask for free programs, and we like them too, but we’re willing to pay if something is really good.

Recently, for example, Joy’s Windows 8 computer crackled and sputtered something awful when the Spotify music service was running. Even at boot-up, her computer’s central processor would typically be running at 99 percent capacity. So a click on “live support” at BullGuard.com got an expert who connected to her computer through “LogMeIn” and she fixed the problem. She spent about half an hour, working fast, but there was no charge. The free tech service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

So what was the problem? In our case, the music sputtered because there were too many things running in the background. The chief culprit was Malwarebytes Pro, the paid version of an excellent anti-spyware program. The tech turned off their real-time anti-virus protection, since we already had that through BullGuard. She freed up a lot of stuff, and we’ve been listening to music comfortably ever since.

Our respect for BullGuard is not a lot of bull; in recent comparisons by independent testers AV-Test and AV-Comparatives, BullGuard achieved a perfect score for protection. It was tested against AVG, Norton and McAfee, which did not get perfect scores.

By the way, we repeat again: we have no financial or personal interest in the products we write about, and never have had.

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