What Is the Best Free Antivirus?
There are many excuses users come up with for not using cybersecurity software. Arguably, the primary reason is that their macOS or Windows are bulletproof enough. Unfortunately, the respective corporations have you fooled since no OS is safe on its own, including Macs.
Danger lurks behind every click you make on the Internet. The problem isn’t just about identifying malware that has already ended up in your OS. Nowadays, 24/7/365 virus protection is required while being connected so that PCs don’t get infected by a malicious code that can siphon data in a split second.
We did the tedious work of reviewing different antiviruses in your stead so that you could pick the best free antivirus programs. Our picks offer not only thorough scans. They also ensure you’re not affected by ransomware, adware, Trojan, and other dangers creeping at you while you browse and P2P.
Below, we suggest our top 8 of the best free antivirus software in 2020 that offers great real-time best antivirus and malware protection. These eight products will keep your PC’s digital vanguard tight and secure:
- TotalAV Free Antivirus;
- Avast Free Antivirus;
- McAfee Free Antivirus;
- Kaspersky Free Edition;
- Avira Free;
- Norton Plus Free;
- Bitdefender Antivirus Free;
- Windows Defender.
1. Total AV Free Antivirus – Solid security for beginners and experts in 2020
While being the ‘new kid on the block’, TotalAV stands its ground firmly and has already received quite a fanbase, speeding up to compete with long-time sharks in the world of cybersecurity. While TotalAV isn’t the most well-rounded and artillery class antivirus software, it has all the basics covered to let you enjoy your Web-time calmly.
- Formidable antivirus and malware protection;
- Personal Firewall;
- Device booster;
- Compatible with Windows, Android, iOS and macOS.
Perhaps, this antivirus software has no email protection, anti-spam, parental controls, and certain sophisticated protocols, but it has the essentials an average user needs. TotalAV is visually appealing. It also has an understandable interface that is easy to use and runs invisibly in the background, letting you do your thing and worry about nothing.
TotalAV is like your best friend — intuitive, fun and fresh. It’s friendly to use, despite being packed with valuable features. It will detect viruses, spyware, Trojans, and other Windows malware that may have made a foothold on your PC and will help you deal with it effectively.
What is probably most appealing about TotalAV is that it runs unbelievably smoothly. Whether you commence a manual or an auto-scan, you won’t feel it since TotalAV doesn’t impact your PC’s performance during its work. It is a big ‘pro’ on its list.
While protecting your from most of the common threats on the Web, TotalAV is very apt in constantly checking for issues in your PC performance and ensuring that it runs smoothly. While the free version won’t let you have a taste of the best functions, it will allow you to scan and clean-up thoroughly.
If you want a simple, user-friendly antivirus software that doesn’t require extra efforts to mount it and offer the necessary basic virus protection — this is the one. The TotalAV free package is available right after you install it. This package will allow using its scans and clean-up, which you can run periodically to keep your device healthy and fast.
2. Avast Free Antivirus – Best anti-malware in 2020
One of the leaders in the security suites market, Avast antivirus is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to safeguarding your PC from any cyber-attacks or malware. It won’t let your enjoy its outstanding features in paid version. However, Avast Free antivirus program will make sure that no malware or spies seep through your network onto your PC.
- Network Security Inspector;
- Detect and block spyware, ransomware, phishing and malware;
- Smart Scan;
- Compatible with Windows, Android, iOS, and macOS.
The list of extra features may seem similar throughout these comparisons, but it is the context and content that matters. Avast Free antivirus program was named Product of the Year by AV-Comparatives in 2018, so it does mean something. Despite the free version not having real-time protection and other fancy features, it will do its job decently.
The Avast Free package will grant you access to its scanner which is to die for. It will identify any malware, from Trojan to spyware, that may end up lurking in the darkness of your files and will help you deal with it. It will also keep a tab on your applications just in case they decide to go rogue at some point.
The Password Manager is an impressive Avast feature that will enhance your cybersecurity by helping you create and store foolproof passwords. It will have limited features and quantity to its functions but it’s better than just entrusting your random browser with such crucial private information.
Another essential feature is the Network Security Inspector that will help manage your home network. It’s tough to know whether your device is lagging or something’s wrong with the network. People can piggyback-ride your home network and secretly tap into your data. Avast Free antivirus will help avoid such situations.
The Avast Free version will also include a scanner and a clean-up tool that will not only detect and block Windows malware. What’s great about this scanner is that it aims to enhance your security. It will also search for any breaches or cracks that may allow malware to slip through them and damage your privacy and performance.
The owner company has truly been generous with Avast Free antivirus, including its primary features, though, with limitations, that will still keep your PC secure and running like a stallion, and Avast has a good software updater. Consequently, you’ll get to enjoy the awesome scanner, inspector, and manager algorithms it has without CPU getting overloaded. Check out Avast Free antivirus now and claim the security of your home network experience for yourself.
3. McAfee Free Antivirus – Scanner and real-time protection for your PC
One of the best-known antiviruses on the market. McAfee is in the ‘heavier’ cyber security software list, but it certainly compensates with the extra features the user is able to experience. The McAfee Free Trial Version will offer you a taste of a multi-dimensional antivirus experience that may just leave you asking for more.
- Real-time Antivirus;
- USB Virus Scan;
- Personal Firewall;
- Parental Controls;
- Email Protection;
- Safe Browsers;
- Compatible with Windows, Android, iOS, and macOS.
We’re not planning on luring you into a marketing trap: McAfee offers only a one-month free trial version but it what a version it is. You may easily switch to any other best free antivirus software after that month or, decide to acquire a subscription. Regardless of your choice, your PC will be bulletproof while McAfee protects your OS.
AV-Comparatives, a reputable independent cyber security software testing lab, revealed that McAfee did flawlessly on all conventional antivirus test results. The McAfee free trial will arm you with a perfect malware/virus scanner and formidable antivirus protection, ensuring you are as safe as in a bunker while surfing with a breeze.
Email Protection is an enjoyable feature that invests into your cybersecurity significantly. Our inboxes get bombarded with spam and emails with malicious codes that can carry different threats to the PC simply by opening them. McAfee Free will ensure you avoid stepping into those traps and that no malware seeps through.
The Safe Browser is another desirable feature since it allows the user not to worry whether their digital identity is safe during browsing. Secure browser will watch that you don’t end up on suspicious sites. Also, secure browser will keep adware and spyware out of your OS, and that no one unwanted spies on your surfing experience.
McAfee is less seamless than TotalAV, for instance. Nonetheless, it’s packed with really awesome antivirus tools / antimalware algorithms. Additionally, it has a scrupulous scanner and additional real-time tools to enhance your cybersecurity. Try out McAfee free now and see how much more confident you’ll feel once it has your digital back safely guarded. It is really a good antivirus program for Windows.
4. Kaspersky Free Edition – Basic features & exceptional quality
Wouldn’t we all want Kaspersky to grant us with blissful cyber-peace while we are totally protected from any possible online threat for free? It would be too good to be true, but there is something close to it the company has. Kaspersky Free Edition offers its basic features that are of exceptional quality for our free use.
- Basic antivirus protection;
- Malware detection and blocking;
- Web Filter;
Although these few features may seem like not much, do remember which brand they’re coming from. Kaspersky Lab is among the top-three international cybersecurity software leaders when it comes to paid version. The free version may be tuned down, but it has enough to offer solid routine virus protection.
Kaspersky Free includes the basic antivirus program which will protect your PC from most of the common threats your device will encounter while it is connected to the Internet. The database is frequently updated so your computer will be safeguarded from the routine threats that you meet while browsing and downloading stuff.
Keeping your computer away from malware is another task it performs well. Kaspersky Free will protect your Windows from popular malware, preventing it from getting into your system. Even at its basic level, Kaspersky Free is great at scanning files and apps for malicious codes.
Web Filter will make sure that you don’t access any malicious URL. Average users and their unprotected PCs are simply easy prey for thousands of malicious websites out there, which they don’t even identify as such. Kaspersky Free will become your best pal while you browse, malware protection, blocking you from entering unwanted territories.
Kaspersky demonstrated a few false positives during the labs tests. It tried to block our HMA VPN application and put its system into quarantine. It was quite difficult to make the antivirus app “believe” that those files hold no harm to the system resources.
The free version omits payment sandboxes and sophisticated privacy-protection tools. In return, it offers no-nonsense, hardcore cyber protection. Kaspersky Free is easy to use and has only a few features running. But they are updated continuously and keep your PC tightly protected from any online threats or attacks in the spirit of best Kaspersky traditions.
You won’t enjoy the full Kaspersky antivirus protection, but the scanners and filters you receive in the free package will solidify your security suites. Kaspersky Free will keep the viruses and malware out of your system thanks to its outstanding algorithms and protocols, tested and approved by various independent labs. It will also be the trusty guide that steers you away from any malicious websites or files you encounter on the Web.
5. Avira Free Antivirus – High standard of protection
Germans like their standards and so does cybersecurity software Avira. The company’s baseline package, Avira Free Antivirus, includes the core antivirus, like in its subscription packages, which is already too-generous a feat. It’s a magnificent free antivirus that’ll keep snoopers and malware out of your PC yard.
- Personal Firewall;
- Browser Extensions;
- Limited VPN;
- Password Manager;
- Protection Cloud;
- Compatible with Android, Windows, iOS and macOS.
The most interesting and unique feature that distinguishes Avira Free from free packages of other brands is its Protection Cloud features. Once Avira identifies a suspicious file, it sends a fingerprint to its cloud where it scans it for malicious codes. If it’s safe, it’ll allow you to run it. It’s a sophisticated step others don’t offer.
Avira Free Antivirus also includes a Password Manager to help enhance your privacy online. Regular protection tests that browsers promise has got nothing on third-party password managers at all. If you haven’t been using a good antivirus and have been entrusting passwords to your browser, they’re most likely already on the darknet. Somebody just might stumble upon it and use for their benefit.
On top of that, Avira Free includes the core antivirus engine that will effectively detect and deal with different threats, including Trojan, adware, spyware, and other malware. The free version’s scanner will also keep an eye on your apps in case there’s a malicious code hidden and awaiting its time.
Your PC will enjoy a limited but decent malware protection, blocking suspicious websites before they load and letting you know about your browsing safety overall. Avira Free Antivirus performed well during standard labs tests for identifying viruses and malware related to online activity and file management.
Do keep in mind that it doesn’t support automatic scans for emails, files, USBs, and other devices/files that get connected. You will have to perform manual scans to check the files and devices before you run them. That being said, it’s not that big of a deal, considering that the version is free and is able to scan and protect Windows or Mac thoroughly.
Maybe it’s not the strongest point, but Avira Free has a VPN. Unfortunately, you’ll be limited to 500Mb per month, which means that you’ll have to choose when to turn it on wisely. That said, many other free packages don’t offer such a function. 500Mb is enough to check out some content or make some connections you want to remain hidden from the open Net.
Overall, Avira Free Antivirus is a great pick for a user who wants a grounded, tempered antivirus and a certain level of privacy protection tests without getting knee-deep into other cybersecurity features.
6. Norton Antivirus Plus Free – The Best for a Family Use
A contender to be remembered. Norton has been in the game for a long time now and still offers formidable antivirus features. It’s often remembered as the first antivirus people got early on and it is usually described as the best antivirus for home use. It has a sleek, easy interface and a good arsenal of tools to fend off most unwanted cyber threats.
- Norton Security Scan;
- Password Manager;
- Power Eraser;
- Personal Firewall;
- Compatible with Android, Windows, iOS and macOS.
Unlike in the Avira case, you don’t get a long-lasting separate free package here. You’ll be able to test drive Norton Antivirus Plus Free for 30 days and then either stay or move on to something else. Regardless of whether it’s a pro or a con, you can have some great internet security here, there… You get the drill.
Either way, Norton Antivirus Plus has a great database and algorithms that create a secure foundation for your PC to be connected to the world and other devices. It will identify and block out most known viruses and malware that your PC may encounter while you casually work or chill on the Net at home. Web protection is included in the form of browser extensions, so you do get the ‘real-time’ too.
Norton Power Eraser is included in the Norton Antivirus Plus Free, which is a great tool to deal with threats once it detects them. Certain antiviruses leave a residue of deleting threats, but Norton Power Eraser successfully removes identified viruses or malware without leaving any traces behind.
The Password Manager is straightforward, similarly to most of the Norton Plus package overall, and simply allows you to create and store safe passwords. You don’t want the most important digital keys you got — passwords — to get into wrong hands through your browser. Norton will keep that data safe for you, allowing you to bypass any real damage to your privacy or finances.
With this in mind, Norton Antivirus Plus Free is exactly that: a straightforward, simple, and down-to-business antivirus software. It has a clear interface with the necessary tabs and won’t force you to tweak its scanning or protection features. Norton does not consume a lot of system resources. But an average user won’t care about the depth of file nesting; they just want the safety.
In the world of antiviruses, Norton Antivirus Plus Free is your homie. It’s been designed to appeal to the regular home PC user. Such a user wants baseline protection, scanners, understandable navigation, and a decent level of malware protection from unsafe websites and files.
7. Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition – Great for Gamers
The top free choice of most antivirus review services. Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition follows security suite in creating baseline protection for its free product but lets the user in on a little more than other brands do. Although it lacks some layers of advanced malware protection, Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition is an impressive package to consider.
- Personal Firewall;
- Phishing Protection;
- Compatible with Android, Windows, and macOS;
- Behavioral Analysis.
The most prominent feature of Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition is that its baseline free package includes the same core antivirus protection that its subscription packages enjoy. It doesn’t have all the layers and protocols included and combined to bring you the full gondola. Despite that, the said core will prove itself excellent in protecting the average user experience.
Notably, Bitdefender is widely known for its sophisticated scanning mechanisms that are significantly faster than the industry average. The automated real-time scanning will run smoothly in the background without disturbing your PC’s performance and your experience.
Bitdefender Antivirus Free also features an unrivaled antivirus database that will detect, block out, and prevent all the regular viruses and malware that PCs usually encounter on the Web. This package will serve as your free bulletproof shield that will keep malware and virus threats at bay.
Additionally, Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition also features a behavioral analysis feature. It will scan and keep a lookout for any suspicious behavior in the applications you install and run. Notably, if any malicious software kicks in somewhere along the way, Bitdefender won’t miss it.
You will get the option to thoroughly and deeply scan your device and other devices that get connected to it. The only issue is that the scan is fully automatic — you are left out of the process. On the one hand, it’s great because it’s always on, on the other — you can’t really track how it’s doing.
Overall, Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition is the option among actual antivirus protection database, protocols, and algorithms when it comes to free versions. It does lack some fancy features, like a password manager, protection cloud, or sophisticated phishing protection. However, if you want the best free core antivirus engine and malware protection with no extra sparkle added, then Bitdefender Antivirus Free is the way to be.
8. Windows Defender – Is Windows Defender Enough?
Why pay more or choose other options when Windows 10 already has a security tools built into it? Recent labs tests have shown that Microsoft Windows Defender performs on an average and offers some protection indeed. Everything depends on how you feel about it and what you want from your free antivirus program.
Windows Defender Security Center has a simple interface, but you need to break a sweat in order to get the hang of it. There are multiple sections and tabs, and you have to access each of them to either set the configuration or run a specific function. For example, you have to open the ‘Virus & Threat Protection’ tab and run the scan from there.
There is little configuration available to virus and malware protection and scans. It does identify common threats but not all of them. There’s also no real-time protection available that enhances cybersecurity and privacy. During the latest test results Microsoft Windows Defender had false positives with particular types of files. We had about ten files coming from external USB drive marked as dangerous viruses, even though they were only .jpg files. Nonetheless, the scan does an O.K. job in detecting usual threats.
Windows Defender Firewall is quite formidable. However, it will require some tweaking to make it more flexible, so you will need some extra self-educating to do. It does a good job at identifying and blocking out suspicious programs or processes, malware blocking, but it can also be overzealous and block out safe ones.
There is some basic ransomware protection present now. It’s a good thing because, usually, free antivirus editions often don’t have that. Nonetheless, it’s nowhere near the levels of ransomware protection you get from any third-party internet security tools subscription package.
Conclusion: it’s O.K. but not good enough. There is lots of crafty and resourceful spyware, adware, phishing, click-jacking, and other malware present in the Web and app codes. Microsoft Windows Defender has been built into Windows but won’t be able to detect and protect Windows 10 from all of it. Third-party free cyber security software will perform better on all levels (AVG antivirus, TotalAV free edition, Avast Free antivirus, Bitdefender antivirus Free edition etc, ). And it’s a very bad choice for business antivirus software.
If you want to make your cybersecurity tighter and ensure you’re safe from most unwanted malware, viruses, or cyber-attacks, then Windows Defender Security Center isn’t enough. You will probably want to consider some of the options we outlined above.
Other good antiviruses which provide free versions
Here is other best free antivirus products you can use:
- AVG Antivirus Free – about it;
- Webroot SecureAnywhere antivirus – our review;
- Malwarebytes AntiMalware – also good choice;
- Eset Nod32 antivirus – good antivirus;
- ZoneAlarm free antivirus – our review;
- Adaware antivirus – good software;
- Sophos Home Edition – more info;
- Panda Free Antivirus – acceptable solution.
How to Choose Best Free Antivirus Software?
There are many angles to inspect an antivirus product from, trying to define its reliability and sturdiness. There are multiple ways that Windows malware, viruses, and unwanted snooping can infiltrate your PC. The end-result of your internet security will, of course, depend on the antivirus software package and the features it includes.
Look for well-rounded protection. More is more when it comes to internet security. Different threats require different layers of protection. Notably, a good antivirus tools will most likely fend off most common viruses but not ransomware, for example, which can prove even more devastating in the end result.
Search for more details and description. You want to see protection from Trojan, worms, clickjacking, adware, spyware, ransomware, and other malware. The more types are included, the more layers of protection provided in diverse ways. Packages don’t always include the whole list. As long as there are a few different threat types, it’ll mean that protection is more diversified.
Scanning is a must, and it is better when it’s manual, automatic, and scheduled. Scanning will provide the ability to shuffle through your PC files, tracking out any malicious software does that may jump at you once activated. However, you need more, and you need prevention!
Real-time antivirus protection matters. It should provide blocks for any viruses to get through the connection and malware from being activated within downloaded files. It also needs to state that it has protection from malicious URLs that won’t allow threatening websites to load and harm your PC.
Phishing protection and malware protection is another feature you want in your arsenal. Users type in their payment details on the Web all the time. It might so happen that some of these sites or your browser may get hijacked and your financial data will get stolen. Thus, you definitely want phishing protection to be present in your antivirus product.
With all these features present, nobody wants their PC performance to start failing. Be sure to search for statements that describe the software as seamless, lightweight, having no impact on your device’s performance. Certain products can be quite heavy or poorly designed and will slow you down.
Is that you won’t get the ultimate and heavy-duty cyber protection from best free antivirus packages, you have to accept that. Most antiviruses will provide you with a 30-day free trial, like the ones we mentioned above. Some will have free editions for your baseline protection, keeping most average malware and antiviruses away.
Nonetheless, this basic protection, despite great algorithms, databases, and protocols, may simply not be enough once there’s a cyber-attack or if you encounter hardcore malicious software. The Internet is just as dangerous and unpredictable to your cyber identity as real life is to your real one.
Choose any of the free options we’ve listed for you since they will act as a great precaution when average malware or viruses try to infiltrate your PC. Use them to scan your PC and keep at least some tabs on your online experience. See what the Web looks like through antivirus products filters, and you will understand how much complexity surfing the Net entails.
Many brands, like Bitdefender or TotalAV or AVG antivirus, offer amazing deals for a silly price that will grant you access to advanced functions that will make you forget about any online threats at all since they’re so solid.
Having reached this far down the article, you’ve got a lot to think about. But first: make those five to seven clicks, download any of the options, launch them and then take all the time in the world to think about your cybersecurity, whether you need a subscription or not and which brand to choose. In the meantime, stay cyber safe!
Main sources of lab tests: