Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

There is a reason that virus protection developers are not offering installations for systems still running XP SP2. The upgrade to SP3 protects your system from numerous security problems.

I can't install the 2012 edition of Avira personal, free, anti-virus on my PC because it requires Windows XP, SP3, 32-bit or higher. I'm still using XP, SP2, 32-bit and I'm not planning to upgrade in the short run. My question is: what alternative free, anti-virus software (2012 edition) do you recommend to run on Windows XP, SP2?

In this excerpt from Answercast #32, I look at a system that has not been upgraded to SP3 from SP2 and the security implications of keeping the older system.

Protecting XP SP2

You can try Microsoft Security Essentials. It's very possible that they also will require SP3, but that's what I would start you with. If that doesn't work, I'd probably have you look at something like ClamWin because (if I understand it correctly) they even still support Windows 98.

Upgrading is recommended

In reality, my real recommendation is something entirely different:

  • My real recommendation is that you give serious consideration to installing Windows SP3.

There's a reason that a lot of these manufacturers, and quite possibly Microsoft themselves, are requiring SP3 as a baseline for their products to be supported.

  • SP3 added significant security enhancements to the operating system.

  • You want those fixes!

Security upgrade

So, I'm not sure what's keeping you from upgrading to SP3; but ultimately, I would strongly recommend that you consider it.

  • Backup first in case there's a problem, of course.

  • Then, go down the path of whatever it might take to get you to SP3.

Then, the question of prerequisites for something like Avira go away. Obviously:

  • You've met their prerequisites by installing SP3

  • But more than that, you've increased the security and overall stability of your system with SP3.

End of Answercast #32 Back to – Audio Segment

Article C5553 - July 5, 2012 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?


Niklas T
July 7, 2012 3:48 AM

Running MSE with only SP2 has been smooth. Still, I realize the need for an upgrade. I´ve tried several times to install SP3, but it always fails, even if I temporarily shut down the firewall and MSE. Advice much appreciated!

Terry Hollett
July 7, 2012 11:01 AM

I believe Clamwin will work on older systems but it doesn't have a real time scanner.

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