Your antivirus should certainly have the ability to root out existing malware, but its ongoing task is to prevent ransomware, botnets, Trojans, and other types of nasty programs from getting a foothold. All the free antivirus programs we've selected here offer real-time malware protection. Some take the fight to the browser, working to ensure you never even browse to a malware-hosting site or get fooled into turning over your credentials to a phishing site.
Avast has been supplying antivirus protection for as long as there's been an antivirus industry. With Avast One Essential you get award-winning antivirus protection for free, and much more besides. All four of the independent testing labs we follow include Avast in their reporting, and it aces almost every test. It also takes high scores in our own hands-on testing. Other protective services include a permission-based ransomware protection system, a basic firewall, and a bandwidth-limited VPN.
Many free antivirus utilities work only on the Windows platform. Avast has varying degrees of protection for macOS, Android, and iOS. Its macOS edition earns high scores from the labs, and its ransomware protection, browser trace cleanup, and VPN work just as they do on Windows. On Android you get antivirus, VPN, junk cleanup, and privacy protection, among other features, though anti-theft is noticeably absent. As is common, protection under iOS is limited, but it does include VPN, filtering fraudulent and malicious websites, and extra protection for your photos.
If you spring for the commercial antivirus, you get vastly more features, more features than found in some security suite products. Among these are a basic password management system, a hardened desktop for secure browsing, a Rescue Environment to recover from malware that disables Windows, and a Wi-Fi security analyzer. None of these come for free.
Kaspersky Free is the free anchor for the new Kaspersky line; the not-free Kaspersky Standard, Plus, and Premium all build on the same antivirus engine. Kaspersky's antivirus prowess generally awes the independent testing labs, who routinely assign it perfect or near-perfect ratings. Unfortunately, we can't recommend it anymore. Here's why.
If free antivirus tools are so good, why should anybody pay? For one thing, many of these products are free only for noncommercial use. If you want to protect your business, you must pony up for the paid edition. At that point, you should probably consider upgrading to a full security suite. After all, it's your business's security on the line.
In addition, many companies don't offer full-scale tech support for users of their free editions. The first time you need extra help digging a particularly stubborn piece of malware out of your system, you might regret the lack of support.
Security companies typically pay for the privilege of being included in testing. In return, the labs supply them with detailed reports that can help improve their products. The number of labs that include a particular vendor serves as a measure of significance. In each case, the lab considered the product important enough to test, and the vendor felt the price was worthwhile. The labs don't necessarily test a vendor's free product, but most vendors pack full protection into the free product, enhancing premium versions with additional features.
In addition to carefully perusing results from the independent labs, we also run our own hands-on malware protection test. We expose each antivirus to a collection of malware samples, including a variety of different malware types, and note its reaction. Typically, the antivirus will wipe out most of the samples on sight and detect some of the remaining ones when we try to launch them. We derive a malware blocking score from 0 to 10 points based on how thoroughly the antivirus protects the test system from these samples.
Any antivirus should eliminate spyware along with other types of malware, but some products include features designed specifically for spyware protection. Features like encryption to protect your sensitive data and webcam control to prevent remote peeping typically show up in commercial products, not free ones. But some free products include features like a simple on-screen keyboard to foil keyloggers.
One easy way to keep your PC protected is to install all security updates, both for Windows and for browsers and other popular applications. Windows 11 makes it easier than ever to stay up to date, but there are plenty of security holes in older Windows versions, in popular apps, and in add-ons. Scanning for vulnerabilities in the form of missing updates is a feature most often found in commercial antivirus products, but it does turn up in some free ones. In the list below you can see which products include these useful features.
Numerous free utilities devoted entirely to ransomware protection have come on the scene in the last few years. Alas, many of those have fallen by the wayside, among them Bitdefender Anti-Ransomware, Cybereason RansomFree, CyberSight RansomStopper, and Heilig Defense RansomOff. In any case, these are useful companion products, but they don't do the job of a full-scale antivirus utility.
There are also numerous free antivirus utilities that work solely to clean up existing malware infestations. You bring out these cleanup-only tools when you have a nasty malware problem. When the malware's gone, they have no further use since they offer no ongoing protection. Our favorite in this category is Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, and it's one you should try if you've got a malware problem. But since they're free, you can keep trying others if the first one doesn't do the job. When the scare is over, you'll need a full-blown antivirus for ongoing protection.
Avast One Essential takes the place once held by Avast Free Antivirus as Editors' Choice for free antivirus utility. It appears in lab reports from all four labs we follow with almost universally perfect scores, and it includes many suite-level features. If you do have a little cash in your budget for security, the best paid antivirus software does offer more and better protection. If not, try a few of these free tools and see which one you like best.
Antiviruses are powerful pieces of software designed to detect, stop, and remove malware from computers. With vulnerabilities constantly emerging in operating systems, browsers, add-ons, and other programs, an antivirus is an essential security component for home users.
Whenever you download or launch a file, an antivirus program scans the file for malware. Most modern antivirus programs feature multiple scanning detection processes. The most basic detection process is known as specific detection. This is what most people think of when they think about how an antivirus works. Specific detection works by scanning a file for a specific set of characteristics and checking these characteristics against a known list of malware. This process is executed quickly and is an essential feature of an antivirus software, but it is also easy for cybercriminals to evade. Like a wanted outlaw in the old west, a cybercriminal can disguise a piece of malware to avoid detection. Modify the code slightly, and the malware is rendered undetectable.
The best way to protect your Android device from malware is by installing an antivirus from a trusted provider. Comodo offers a mobile security solution for Android-based mobile devices through Comodo Mobile Security (CMS). CMS protects your Android devices against viruses, unsafe apps, potentially risky settings and even from theft, and is available for free.
Historically Macs have been considered safer than Windows PCs, and many Mac users have done without an antivirus software. But recent studies have suggested that Mac malware is seeing enormous growth, and although Apple has increased security features and introduced Gatekeeper, which blocks unapproved software from running on your Mac without your agreement, Mac security features have been bypassed. Because of this, it is prudent to install additional protection on your Mac in the form of antivirus software from a trusted provider.
Featuring an on-demand scanner, "always on" real-time protection, and a continuously updated database of known malware, Comodo Antivirus provides superior protection against zero-day malware and other threats that your Mac may face. This is not a stripped-down version of a paid product, it's the real deal. Scan any drive or file. Get in-depth reports on viral activity. Even scan compressed .zip files. Comodo Antivirus for Mac is available for free.
The best antivirus for Windows devices should have features that keep your Windows PC protected against holes that Windows Defender leaves. Features like anti-spam, adware prevention, and safe browsing are essential for Windows users.
Although mainstream support for Windows 7 ended in 2015, 31% of traditional PCs running Windows are running Windows 7, and Windows 7 continues to be the most used version in many countries. Microsoft recently warned users that security updates for Windows 7 will come to an end as of January 14, 2020. Therefore, it is essential for Windows 7 users to install an antivirus from a trusted security provider to keep their computers and sensitive information safe.
1. Norton packs in everything but the kitchen sink (opens in new tab)Norton's antivirus products offer a password manager, unlimited VPN data, identity theft protection, parental controls and even online storage. If you're willing to pay full freight, you'll get almost every kind of digital security you could ever need.
2. Bitdefender offers the best value in antivirus software (opens in new tab)Bitdefender Antivirus Plus combines great malware protection with an assortment of useful features and an easy-to-use interface, all at a very affordable price.
If you want full-on identity protection, Norton offers three bundles with varying degrees of LifeLock service and even more online storage. Their subscription prices run well into the triple digits, but still cost less than if you were to buy the identity protection, password manager, cloud-backup storage and antivirus software separately. 2b1af7f3a8