The Ultimate Guide to the Best Free Antivirus Software

Selecting the Best Complimentary Antivirus Software :

There are lots of totally free antivirus choices, but not every one of them will certainly make our checklist. That’s not an issue of list size or total quality, however of function. Some antiviruses, such as Malwarebytes, do not protect from threats in real-time. They’re utilized solely to eliminate malware already on your machine.

Those alternatives are overlooked of this listing. Our very first standard is that an antivirus scans your machine, but likewise offers real-time monitoring. Cybersecurity has to do with prevention, as well as the free choices that check your maker fail on that front.

Clearly, we’re looking at rate. The anti-viruses must be free, not a trial or restricted variation of the paid software application. We are also looking at upgrade courses, however. It’s expected that some functions will not be consisted of with a totally free offering, so we intend to see a logical way to buy them.

Attributes issue, but not as long as a few other areas. As long as an antivirus provides real-time defense and also malware removal, we’re content. Extra features, such as the long listing from AVG, obtain bonus factors.

Lastly, we’re checking out protection. We’ll be using the numbers from our anti-viruses reviews for reference where we checked paid counterparts. Free antiviruses are around 1 to 2 percent less effective, generally. When laboratory results for a free anti-viruses are available, however, we’ll make note of it.

Free vs. Paid
There’s a location free of charge anti-viruses software application. They execute slightly even worse than their paid counterparts and commonly included a restricted feature set, so they’re best when used on a test basis.

There are a few factors behind our reasoning. The first is zero-day malware. Those are attacks that arise the same day a make use of becomes known. Due to the fact that the malware isn’t in the antivirus’s database, it can not reference it to know if the software application is a danger or otherwise.

Antiviruses make use of habits surveillance to attend to the concern. If software program is acting like malware the antivirus has actually encountered, it’ll flag it for evaluation. Frequently, the free monitoring system isn’t as advanced, leaving you susceptible to zero-day assaults.

Similarly, you’re getting a basic firewall program, fewer defense procedures and also a much shorter listing of checks during a scan. It depends on the antivirus and the difference only represents a couple of percentage points in efficiency, yet it’s still there.

Beyond much better security, paid anti-viruses included a larger set of functions, most notably phishing and ransomware defense. Some anti-viruses, such as Kaspersky, have pushed for much better cam defense, also. It was our first choice in our overview on how to secure your cam.

The much better security scores and also larger checklist of positive safety and security determines greater than warrant the cost. If you’re a qualified internet individual and consistently monitor what’s on your hard drive, though, a free antivirus will protect you. That stated, if you keep sensitive data or download a couple of films with our ideal VPN for torrenting, upgrading to a paid anti-virus deserves it.

1. AVG Anti-virus Free

A report has surfaced revealing that Avast and its subsidiaries accumulate individual browsing information from more than 100 million devices. We can not, in good faith, advise Avast or AVG products till we look better right into the concern.

AVG is our go-to pick for a free anti-viruses. It does not do whatever incredibly, yet it covers all the bases in a manner that couple of others do. You get a full protection lineup, including numerous scan alternatives, real-time security as well as performance scanning.

The essentials are AVG’s data as well as habits guards. Every file entering your disk drive is checked, whether it was downloaded and install from the web or moved from an outside hard disk drive. Applications on your computer as well as websites you go to are monitored by the habits guard for harmful activity.


AVG additionally includes its web and e-mail guard. The web guard secures against downloads and also web attacks that might not need customer input. For instance, it would certainly obstruct a destructive drive-by download that you really did not start. The email shield works against phishing, as well as dangerous pictures and also add-ons.

AVG calls these “elements” and also you can tailor each. You can transform them on or off and establish exactly how they work on your machine. For instance, the file guard gives you options for when a scan occurs, exactly how deep it ought to go as well as particular actions that happen when malware appears.

The scan modes are impressive, too. AVG has six choices: basic scan, deep scan, USB scan, file or folder check, efficiency check as well as boot-time scan. We’re thrilled by those choices on a paid basis, much less a free one.

It has good lab results, too. AV-Test observed 100 percent blockage of zero-day and widespread malware in its May assessment. AVG had problems with zero-day malware in June, though, blocking only 98.3 percent of samples.

MRG Effitas agrees with those findings, awarding AVG a Level 2 certification in its Q1 full spectrum analysis. When we went through the data in our AVG review, we found that it didn’t allow malware through, it just took time before it was blocked.

As it is an all-around great free antivirus, we recommend AVG. It comes with a free 30-day trial of Internet Security, too, which comes with protection from ransomware, webcam exploits and more.


Six scan options
Component system
Web & email protection

Not as secure as other antiviruses
Solicitation to upgrade

2. Kaspersky Free Antivirus

Kaspersky doesn’t advertise its free antivirus, but it’s available for download for anyone willing to look. It has what Kaspersky describes as “core protection,” meaning it blocks suspicious websites and common viruses.

In the real world, that translates to using Kaspersky’s cloud database of malware to scan your computer. It provides real-time protection, too, but not behavior monitoring. In most cases, though, that suffices.

The free version of Kaspersky’s software is simple. There are buttons for scanning and database updates on the main screen. Clicking on “more tools” at the bottom reveals more options. You can activate the on-screen keyboard to protect against keyloggers, view your quarantined files and monitor Kaspersky’s database statistics from the menu.

You’ll find many other options, as well, but they are reserved for paying customers. Among the locked features are network monitor and Kaspersky Rescue Disk, which is a way to clean your machine when it’s critically infected.

The settings are where Kaspersky shines in its free offering. You get control over scans with quick, full and targeted options, as well as automatic scans for external devices. You can also configure the different areas of protection, such as the phishing filter.

Kaspersky got excellent marks from the labs we reference. It received a perfect 18 points from AV-Test during its June assessment in protection, performance and usability. It performed better than the industry average in performance tests, meaning it shouldn’t slow down your machine much.

There’s a lot to like in Kaspersky’s paid variant, though, including webcam protection and the network monitor. Still, the free plan is great for what it is, though. You can read our Kaspersky Anti-Virus review to learn about upgrading.


Excellent lab results
Real-time protection
Easy to use


Lacks features

3. Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition

Bitdefender is our first choice for the best antivirus software for many reasons, including its slick interface, excellent protection scores and included password manager, even though it’s not on the level of the best password managers.

The free version doesn’t get that credit, though. It’s great, but not quite as great as the paid counterpart. Even so, it’s able to earn a number three spot on our list for a simple-to-use user interface and the same excellent protection the paid version offers.

It includes scanning and real-time protection against malware known to Bitdefender’s database, as well as behavioral monitoring based on what Bitdefender has encountered. The broad protection will shield against dangers such as ransomware, but the free version doesn’t have features targeted at different threats.

Mainly, you’re missing out on multi-layer ransomware protection. Paid versions of Bitdefender shield specific folders from being accessed by unknown applications. That protects against the nasty file encryption that crypto ransomware aims to accomplish.

Still, there’s a lot to like. Bitdefender Free includes anti-phishing and anti-fraud protection. The phishing protection monitors websites you visit and warns you of potential schemes. Anti-fraud protects you against phishing attempts that aim to redirect you from a legitimate website, which is known as pharming.

Bitdefender’s interface is too simple, though, and that’s why it takes a lower place on our list. You can scan your entire system or drag and drop files to scan them specifically. It’s an easy system that we can appreciate, but there’s not nearly the level of control you get with Kaspersky or AVG.

It has excellent protection scores, as we saw in our Bitdefender Antivirus review. It was 100 percent effective against zero-day malware and widespread malware in AV-Test’s April analysis. The industry average at the time was 99.5 percent.

It also received a Level 1 certification from MRG Effitas in its Q1 2018 full spectrum analysis. Out of the 18 antiviruses tested, only four received that high-level certification, meaning Bitdefender blocked all threats.

Bitdefender Free has some missteps in its options, but it’s difficult to complain without spending a dime. It still has excellent protection and proactive security, with a simple-to-use interface, to boot. It’s a good idea to download it and see if upgrading to a package, such as Total Security, is worth it to you.


Easy to use
Strong lab results
Phishing & fraud filters

Lacks features
No targeted protection

4. Windows Defender

Windows users are in luck. The popular operating system comes with one of the best free antiviruses pre-installed. Windows Defender includes full system scans, targeted scans and real-time protection on your desktop and browser.

It comes with SmartScreen, too, as long as you’re using Microsoft Edge. That’s where browser-based protection comes from. If you’re using something else, you’re out of luck, but we found Chrome to be the most secure browser available, anyway.

Defender uses cloud-based protection for your device. New malware it encounters is uploaded to the cloud database, which Windows references for its scanning. The database is updated almost every day.

Real-time protection monitors your active processes and uses behavior monitoring to determine if something is malicious. You can turn off real-time protection, but Defender will turn it back on after a short period of time.

If you encounter malware, you can set Defender up to report it to Microsoft. The setting, thankfully, can be turned off and you can submit samples manually. Some samples contain personal information which Defender will ask you about before sending.

It includes ransomware protection, too. The setting is called “controlled folder access.” Instead of adding folders for the antivirus to protect, Defender automatically blocks anything that seems suspicious from modifying your files. You can add exceptions, though.

The ransomware protection seems good, too. Defender blocked all 29 of MRG Effitas’s samples during its Q2 2018 full spectrum analysis. Overall, it was awarded a Level 2 certification, meaning it blocked at least 98 percent of all the samples.

It had issues with potentially unwanted applications and adware, though, missing one of the 20 samples tested. Kaspersky, on the other hand, missed a shocking nine of the samples during the same test. It’s had better results in the past, though.

Unlike many Microsoft services, you aren’t forced to use Defender. If you install another antivirus, it will take over and some of Defender’s features won’t be available. That includes the Microsoft firewall if your antivirus comes with one.

Setups where you want to use a different antivirus, but still want to use the Windows firewall can be difficult to configure.

As an antivirus included with Windows, it’s hard to knock Defender. It’s surprisingly good at blocking malware in real time and comes with decent features, to boot. While not on the scale of other antiviruses, it’s a nice tool if you have nothing else.


Included with Windows
Ransomware protection
Decent, but not great, lab results

5. Avast Free Antivirus

 A report has surfaced showing that Avast and its subsidiaries collect user browsing data from more than 100 million devices. We can not, in good faith, recommend Avast or AVG products until we look further into the issue.

Avast acquired AVG in 2016 to the tune of $1.3 billion. They share the same security infrastructure, but maintain different interfaces and features. We like AVG’s interface more, but Avast gets a lot right, too. Its free package has excellent protection scores and a good list of features, to boot.

There are four scan modes, with a custom scan area for configuring your own settings. You get full scans, targeted scans, boot-time scans and, our favorite, smart scans. A smart scan will sweep your computer for malware, performance issues, wireless threats and more. It’s a one-stop shop for PC tuneup.