There’s no denying that the internet can sometimes be a dangerous place for PC users, especially Windows users. No operating system, including Linux, is antivirus/malware; if you’re a Windows user, your chances of getting infected are higher. To protect your computer from malware, there are many antivirus software available. In this article, let’s go through some of the best free antivirus software options to help you choose the best.
“But does antivirus really work?” Well, the answer is yes and no. If you’re using Windows 10, Windows Defender is more than enough. If you’re on an older Windows version, many free scanners (like Bitdefender, Kaspersky, Avast, etc.) do a decent job at the best free virus protection. Needless to say, their paid counterparts offer some advanced features and dedicated support. That’s why I’ve also added links to some noteworthy advanced options. Be sure to review and keep your device safe from threats in 2021.
What to look for when choosing the best antivirus software
Performance, resource consumption, privacy, and features are some of the key factors to consider when choosing the best antivirus software. Most of the time, if your PC has less horsepower, it may be lagging due to antivirus software. Therefore, choosing a lightweight antivirus is crucial.
Most “free” antivirus software is often accused of stealing data from your computer. Therefore, before installing the software, please read user reviews of the software.
Although Windows Defender was introduced back in Windows XP, it didn’t do much to protect users beyond scanning files and reporting malicious ones, and some even said this feature was broken. Before Windows 10, Windows Defender was little more than an application that took up space on your computer.
In addition to the overhaul, Microsoft has focused on adding important security features like real-time scanning, firewall and network protection, system performance reporting, parental controls, and more. Best of all, it’s completely free and built into Windows 10.
- Virus and threat protection proactively scans files for malware and threats
- Use Core Isolation to protect the core parts of your PC
- With domain network, private network and public network firewall
- It comes with a section to monitor device health such as storage capacity, battery life, apps and software, etc.
- Prevent apps from accessing personal data
- Allows you to track your child’s activity and their digital health.
- Overall, if you’re using Windows 10, you don’t need additional antivirus software; Windows Defender should suffice.
As of today, Microsoft Defender is only available on Windows 10.
- No installation required
- Scan your device in the background
- Family digital well-being integration
- For Windows 10 only
- Virus scanners are not the best
- Not the most feature-rich software
When you’re looking for free antivirus software to maintain the integrity of your computer and protect you from all kinds of malware and hackers, Avast proves to be the undisputed leader of all solutions. Below are some of the features that the software offers.
- This “smart antivirus” detects malware, viruses, ransomware, and phishing, among others. With intelligent analysis, threats can be stopped early.
- “Cyber Capture” is a cloud-based scanner that sends suspicious files for further analysis in the cloud. If this turns out to be a threat, all users will be protected in the future.
- “WiFi Inspector” can find flaws in your home WiFi and make it more secure.
- “Smart Scan” detects security holes of all sizes on your machine.
- An automatic “Game Mode” ensures that all notifications are put on hold.
- “Behavior Shield” keeps an eye on applications and their behavior to make sure they don’t harm your machine.
Overall, Avast is a feature-rich antivirus compared to other entries on the list, including the well-known Bitdefender and Avira Free Antivirus software. You can also get a free password manager called Avast Passwords. The company claims to include machine learning-driven protection that can learn and improve itself over time. The user interface of this top free antivirus of 2021 is also unlike any other antivirus you will come across on this list.
Avast’s paid antivirus products also have additional features such as ransomware protection, firewall, antispam, sandboxing, and more. These features are perfect for any small startup or home user looking to ensure full protection. It comes with a 30-day free trial, so if you want an extra layer of security, give it a try.
Avast’s best free antivirus software solution for Windows, Mac and Android platforms. You can choose them from the official website according to your needs.
- Free version includes many features
- Easy to install
- Easy to use and intuitive user interface
- It tends to slow down your PC
- Block safe websites
Romanian internet security solutions company Bitdefender needs no introduction in the world of cybersecurity. The company offers top-notch products for homes and businesses, and Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition is no exception. This creates stiff competition for Avast’s solution. It’s a serious free computer antivirus with all the major features you’d expect from a top free virus protection program. Its main features include:
- “On-demand virus” scanning ensures removal of different kinds of worms, trojans, viruses, ransomware, rootkits, spyware, and more.
- “Anti-phishing” allows you to protect yourself and control your online accounts in the best possible way.
- With “Behavior Detection,” your application is actively monitored and immediate action is taken.
- The “Anti-Fraud” feature warns you when you visit a website that is trying to trick you.
In tests by different independent security labs, Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition performed well. This free virus scanner runs in the background all the time and comes with an easy-to-use interface. This top antivirus protection of 2021 also installs quickly and takes up your device’s resources.
When it comes to Bitdefender free vs paid comparison, the paid version has features like a password manager, browser hardening, dedicated ransomware protection, webcam protection, social network protection, and more. A feature called Bitdefender Autopilot can be used to handle the entire cybersecurity itself. The plan also bundles VPN protection for added security while browsing the web. If this sounds like what you need, give it a try, as it also offers a 30-day free trial.
It is a cross-platform product supported by Windows, macOS and Android. Windows users can install it on Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10.
- Same virus scanner as paid version
- Precisely block malicious websites
- No advanced malware protection
Avira first appeared in PC protection in 1986 and has also performed well in tests by different independent cybersecurity labs. While it may not be as feature-rich as Avast Free Antivirus, Avira is known to deliver solid performance with a clean user interface. The new 2021 version marks itself as very lightweight up-to-date software. Some of the most notable features of Avira’s free solution are:
- Avira’s “Protection Cloud” is an early warning system that analyzes unknown files in the cloud to protect the community in real time.
- Its antivirus scanner can handle most types of malware, including viruses, worms, Trojans, ransomware, and more.
- With the help of the Avira browser security extension, you can get additional features like browser tracking blocker, safe browsing and price comparison.
- “PUA Shield” blocks unwanted applications from harming your system.
Avira’s protection cloud uploads digital fingerprints of malicious files to the cloud and checks them against the company’s database. Based on the test results, take further action.
Avira Free Antivirus is available for all popular platforms including Windows, Mac, iOS and Android.
Not long ago, Russian cybersecurity leader Kaspersky Lab launched a full-fledged free cybersecurity suite. The company’s home and business products are regularly featured in the annual top 10 antivirus software lists by various websites and experts. The free lightweight antivirus from Kaspersky Lab is a basic program with no bells and whistles and promises due diligence.
When it comes to its features, you get the core protection of this not-so-heavy antivirus, including protection from dangerous malware, viruses, phishing attacks, spyware, and more. Its web protection also ensures that notorious websites don’t trick you, and you also get email protection. If you need advanced features like cross-platform protection, safe online transactions, child safety, password manager, and more, you can try the paid version.
Kaspersky Free Antivirus is only available for Windows platforms. Android users can start with Kaspersky Internet Security, which is free in its basic version.
- Excellent phishing protection
- Blocks malware well
- Also available for Android and iOS
In September 2016, Avast Software completed the acquisition of AVG Technologies. While the two companies have enviable reputations in the cybersecurity industry, Avast is more popular in non-English speaking markets. After the merger, both products have maintained their appearance, and we can expect some technical improvements in both. AVG Free Antivirus is AVG’s popular free virus scanner, and it just keeps getting better.
The main features of AVG Free Antivirus are:
- Complete “virus scanning” and protection against different types of malware, including viruses, spyware, ransomware, and more.
- “Web protection” protects you from unsafe downloads and links. Email scanning is also included.
- It also scans your system for performance issues and notifies you.
- Real-time security updates are also provided.
In addition to preventing malware and unwanted programs, you also get a 30-day trial of the free AVG VPN tool. However, if you are looking for a dedicated VPN to protect your privacy, we recommend PIA or Express VPN.
A special feature of this security tool is the built-in file shredder feature that allows you to shred content with AVG and get rid of it completely. You can use this feature by directly right-clicking on the Recycle Bin or individual files/folders. This top antivirus software of 2021 also has a neat and clean interface that makes it easy for users to use the tool and fix performance issues of their computer efficiently.
While these features of one of the best free antiviruses should be enough for most users, AVG also offers more paid options in the form of AVG Internet Security (free trial available) and AVG Ultimate. These options ensure dedicated support, firewalls and Pro apps for mobile devices. AVG Internet Security also allows you to create personal folders with an extra layer of ransomware protection.
AVG Free Antivirus software is available for Microsoft Windows and macOS platforms. For Android users, there is a free option in the form of AVG Antivirus for Android.
- Comes with tons of useful features
- Malware scans are accurate
- Can significantly reduce startup time
Check Point’s ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus was formerly known as Zone Alarm Free Antivirus + Firewall. The company has renamed the product but kept the firewall features, making it the top pick on the 2021 top 10 antivirus list. Let’s take a look at its main features:
- Antivirus and antispyware software to remove viruses, spyware, bots, worms, Trojans and other threats. You can also prevent spyware from infecting your system through various online attack vectors.
- Personal firewall that keeps an eye on incoming and outgoing traffic and protects your PC.
- Customizable scan modes to run scans according to your needs.
- Player mode for uninterrupted game sessions.
- Real-time security updates and daily credit monitoring.
- Web Secure’s free Chrome extension warns you about malicious websites so you can be extra careful when downloading or uploading your favorite files.
This recommended antivirus for malware protection keeps your computer safer with real-time security updates. It allows the tool to quickly respond to critical threats and information from millions of users.
If you want to combine the benefits of antivirus software with a firewall, we recommend using ZoneAlarm’s free antivirus software. If you’re just looking for a firewall, ZoneAlarm has a separate free program. If you’re just looking for the best free antivirus software, choose a product from Kaspersky because ZoneAlarm uses Kaspersky-licensed antivirus technology.
Best Free Antivirus for PC In 2022
The company also introduced an advanced security product called ZoneAlarm Extreme Security. It protects you from identity theft, phishing, zero-day attacks, and more. You also get features for online backup, laptop tracking, identity protection, and home protection.
Zone Alarm Free Antivirus is available for Microsoft Windows operating system and supports Windows 10/8/7.
- Protection features taken from Kaspersky
- Introduce a two-way firewall
- Lacks typical antivirus features
TotalAV is a cloud-based antivirus program based on the Avira scan engine. The free version of this antivirus software offers the following features.
- All work is done in the cloud, making it a lightweight antivirus.
- Internet Security: Block Shady URLs and Protect Your PC
- Extensive virus definitions provide enhanced protection
- You can protect your identity with data breach monitoring
Overall, TotalAV is definitely one of the best free antivirus software.
The premium version, also known as TotaAV Premium, introduces more features like VPN, remote firewall, disk cleaner, cloud scan, ad blocker, and more.
TotalAV is only available on Windows platforms.
- Protection against malicious URLs
- Quick scan
- User friendly and easy to install
- Doesn’t offer as many features as other antivirus software on this list
Sophos is another well-known name in cybersecurity. Their Sophos Home free antivirus solution promises top-notch protection against the plethora of threats that keep budding to take control of your digital life. This top-of-the-line antivirus has been consistently tested by independent labs. Here are its main features:
- Advanced computer security that removes malware, ransomware, viruses, apps and programs to keep your computer clean.
- Use SophosLabs‘ real-time threat intelligence for continuous analysis of program and file behavior and activity.
- Lots of bonus features plus basic computer security.
- Simple interface and easy installation.
As mentioned above, Sophos Home PC Protector has many additional features that may interest you. It prevents your computer from connecting to malicious websites that are sources of spyware and other malware. You can also control what your family members access. Also, you can control it remotely from any web browser.
Sophos Home supports Windows and macOS operating systems. You can install it on Windows 7, 8, 8.1 and 10. Apple users can run it on OS X 10.10 and later.
- The gold standard for malware scanning
- Prevent malicious websites
- Improper implementation of parental controls
If you’re looking for a feature-rich antivirus that doesn’t cost a cent, you can try Qihoo’s 360 Total Security. A highlight of this free antivirus is the licensed Bitdefender and Avira antivirus engines. Additional features of 360 Omni Security include:
- Web protection includes download file scanning, website blocking and shopping protection
- Automatically scan files when they are saved or opened.
- Sandboxing and System Cleanup
- Anti-ransomware protects you from the growing threats of recent times.
While its core protection may not beat the market leader, 360 Total Security is a feature-rich piece of software. In addition to the above features, you also get webcam protection, keylogger blocking, USB drive protection, file system and registry protection, cyber threat blocking, and more. So, if you like the option to play, give it a try.
This security software from Qihoo is available for Microsoft Windows operating systems.
- Easy to use
- It does not consume a lot of system resources
- Nice interface
- Too many ads
- Tools are not very good
Adaware antivirus software was originally known as Lavasoft’s Ad-Aware. This free PC antivirus has been overhauled and rebranded. While it may not be the best virus protection you can get for your PC, some standout features of Adaware antivirus are worth mentioning:
- Protect your PC from popular threats like spyware, viruses, worms, Trojans, and more.
- Download Protection scans all files you download from the web.
- Files and processes are scanned and blocked in real time.
- Block your camera and microphone to make sure no one is sneaking up on you
- It comes with a cleaner and a driver manager
While most of the free computer protection software on this list offers some extra features, Adaware Antivirus 12 doesn’t have any. Since it’s free, you can give it a try. Nonetheless, I would recommend that you go with your preferred products like Kaspersky, Avast or Bitdefender.
You can install Adaware Antivirus 12 on Windows 10, 8, 8.1 and 7.
- Malware scanners are nice
- No protection against malicious websites
- Lacks many antivirus features
Best Free Antivirus for PC In 2022