Choosing the best free antivirus can be a difficult feat. There are numerous choices and aspects to consider when deciding on the best way to protect your device. We’ve gathered all the best antivirus software that won’t require you to shell out money. This list will help you decide which one will best suit your needs. Whether you’re looking for a free antivirus for Android devices or desktop computers, we have the best choices for detecting viruses and other cyber attacks.
Why You Need An Antivirus
Online privacy and cybersecurity have been points of contention since the boom of the Internet. Smart devices and other Internet-connected gadgets have certainly made our lives easier — so much so that most people have a strong dependence on them. This is evident in how people browse social media apps and stream the best movies on Netflix. It also manifests in essential errands, like online banking and online shopping. With all that said, it’s clear the Internet has definitively become a major part of our day-to-day lives.
On the flip side, however, the more we integrate these gadgets and websites into our lives, the more data passes through them. This could potentially put our devices and selves at risk.
That’s where antivirus software comes in. An antivirus is a program that runs in the background of your devices. It blocks, flags, and removes software viruses, alongside other malicious malware and adware. Besides protecting your device’s performance, the best antivirus software can also ensure that the contents of your devices are safe.
If you’re wondering what is the best free antivirus for your device, wonder no more. We’ve compiled our top picks of free antivirus programs for different types of devices.
Best Free Antivirus For Windows
For years, Windows has been the most widely used OS for desktop units. Because of this, most viruses and malware are tailor made for it. Unfortunately, Windows’ latest version — Windows 10 — isn’t an exception. Here’s our list of the best free antivirus for Windows 10 to keep you safe from cybercriminals.
Panda Dome is a lightweight and easy-to-use antivirus program from Panda Security. This free antivirus software uses the cutting-edge technology in scanning and protecting users’ devices against all types of cyberattacks. The Panda antivirus is the best antivirus for PC that offers all the key-points that a great antivirus software should have without any complicated tune up or setup. Users can simply install and let it run in the background. This makes it perfect for non-tech savvy individuals.
Moreover, it doesn’t store files or perform daily updates. Thus, it provides a maximum level of protection without slowing down your device.
Panda Dome comes with several key-features, including automatically scanning external devices when plugged into your computers. It also comes with a free virtual private network (VPN) with a daily 150MB data limit. While it may not have the best free VPN, it’s a great teaser for those who may want to purchase Panda’s paid VPN service.
This free antivirus software for PC has three scanning options:
- Critical areas – Scans the computer memory, currently running processes, cookies, and other areas where active viruses can hide. This process only takes a few minutes to complete.
- Full scan – This option conducts a thorough virus scan of your Windows device and may take several hours to accomplish.
- Custom scan – Allows users to select folders and files to scan.
Panda’s clean and easy to navigate home screen display certainly makes it one of the best free antivirus for Windows if you prefer a fuss-free antivirus program.
Hailed as the top rated product in 2019, by AV-Comparatives, AVG Antivirus is one of the best antivirus for Windows 10. This free antivirus is an impressively well-rounded program that’s lightweight and won’t impact the performance or speed of users’ PCs.
The AVG Antivirus free version covers not just the basics of cybersecurity. It also offers more advanced bonus features that are usually reserved for paying patrons. This free antivirus software also shields your desktop computers against other types of malware, such as spyware, trojans, and adware.
Straight off the bat, the main window of AVG Antivirus already shows you the basic protection it offers. On top of that, it also comes with web and email protection. These additional features block unsafe email attachments, downloads, and harmful links. Additionally, users are also given an extra layer of protection against ransomware.
AVG Antivirus offers six types of scan options:
- Smart Scan – quick yet comprehensive scan that checks for viruses, malware, and the like.
- Deep Scan – a more in-depth scan that also goes through your computer’s storage drives and memory.
- File or Folder Scan – allows you to choose specific folders you want to scan.
- Boot-Time Scan – scans your PC for threats before Windows’ next system startup.
- USB / DVD Scan – scans all removable and external devices that are plugged into the PC unit.
- Performance Scan – aids in your unit’s system performance by searching and detecting useless data and system junk.
Undoubtedly one of the most popular antivirus programs, Avast Free Antivirus protects its users in real-time against viruses and malware. It also detects performance issues and tells users how to resolve it immediately.
Additionally, it comes with advanced features such as Behavior Shield, which not only monitors the applications you installed, but their behavior as well. It also offers remote assistance, browser cleaning, and a Do Not Disturb Mode. This special feature blocks any pop-ups when playing the best free Steam games or streaming videos online.
The Avast Free version has almost an identical interface and has many of the same features that its paid counterpart possesses. The only difference is, with the paid version, users get two extra features. This includes a secure Domain Name System (DNS) and a sandbox that securely tests out questionable programs. Unless you truly need these two additional features, the free version of this antivirus software already has ample features for basic and more complex protection.
If you are choosing Avast Antivirus, it is important to take note that in late 2019, the company was involved in a security scandal. Major web browsers removed Avast Online Security extension from their stores. This was due to allegations that Avast and its subsidiary Jumpshot were gathering and selling users’ browser history and data.
Subsequently, Avast announced that they terminated collecting and sending user information from its browser extensions to Jumpshot.
Microsoft Windows Defender Security Center
We can’t talk about the best free antivirus for Windows 10 without mentioning Microsoft’s own Windows Defender Security Center. This free antivirus comes pre-installed on all Windows PCs. The Windows Defender antivirus program keeps users protected when browsing the web and maintains your device’s performance. This is done by performing periodic scans from potential threats such as viruses and malware.
On par with the best free antivirus programs out in the market, Microsoft’s built-in Windows Defender offers excellent protection from the start. It’s a truly free antivirus program that doesn’t put any security services behind a paywall since it’s an in-house program for Windows 10.
Specifically designed for Windows, all users of this operating system have access to all its security features from the get-go. It’s perfect for those who don’t want to install third-party antivirus programs. Windows Defender already provides all the essential levels of protection needed. It can shield your device against viruses, trojans, ransomware, and other forms of malware. Additionally, it has built-in features that not many free antivirus programs have. This includes a firewall, game mode, and a parent control.
Best Free Antivirus For Mac
Apple offers tight control over their hardware. However, that doesn’t mean that their products and Mac devices are always safe. More and more attackers are aiming their malware towards Apple products. Thus, the chances of them hacking into your Mac devices are growing. But worry not, we have listed our top picks for the best antivirus for Mac to better secure your devices.
Sophos Home is a splendid choice for protecting your Mac computers at no cost. The free version of Sophos antivirus keeps configuration to a minimum and features a simple interface. It’s also a lightweight program that doesn’t slow down users’ devices since it’s web-based. This means that users can control most features from the online dashboard of Sophos Home.
This free antivirus for Mac has a great Web Protection feature that cross-checks the websites you visit to their SophosLabs blacklist database. It automatically blocks and prevents users from accessing web pages that might be compromised.
With that said, Sophos Home is also the best free Mac antivirus for parents who want to monitor their young one’s Internet usage. Its Parental Website Filtering feature allows parental control over the websites and content their children see. Parents can thus block inappropriate and potentially dangerous websites that kids might come across upon.
The TotalAV antivirus provides a good deal of protection against malware. It features cleaning and device optimization tools that do both a quick and full system scan of your Mac’s system. Users can rest assured that this antivirus protects their device against all the latest viruses and threats.
The free version of this Mac antivirus also boasts of improving your device’s performance. Users needn’t worry that their Mac’s performance is downgrading. This is due to TotalAV’s advanced utility tools that are specifically developed to clean overloaded hard drives, cached data, and stored cookies. It also has a Disc Cleaner tool that searches users’ system files to determine which ones are unnecessarily slowing down their device.
However, unlike Sophos, this free antivirus for Mac doesn’t provide a real-time scanner.
Overall, TotalAV antivirus for Mac offers all the basics needed for a competent antivirus. It may have limitations, but it’s still an ideal choice for those who want to enhance their device’s performance without spending a cent.
Bitdefender free antivirus for Mac offers a comprehensive security suite that protects your devices. This free antivirus program can detect downloaded files that may have malicious content and suspicious email attachments that reach your inbox. From ransomware, adware, viruses, keyloggers, and trojans, Bitdefender antivirus can detect and block them all.
This Bitdefender antivirus free version is as easy to use as it is to install. It offers real-time protection against viruses and reacts automatically by flagging and removing threats to your device. Additionally, it also offers protection from ransomware by keeping your documents and personal videos and photos secure against cyber attacks.
Users can get the same amount of features and functionality in the free counterpart compared to Bitdefender’s paid version. However, the paid version offers a few premium features. These include a password manager, a secure browser, and a VPN.
Nevertheless, the free version still contains all the key essentials that the best antivirus programs offer. It has a powerful main antivirus engine that detects suspicious activities in real-time. On top of that, it also has a URL filtering tool that can block malicious websites.
Best Antivirus For Android
More often than not, we’re glued to our smartphones. In 2020, Statista recorded that Android’s operating system holds a 87% share in the global market. This is a massive comparison to Apple’s iOS with only 13%. Thus, it’s no surprise that most viruses and malware target Android devices. Consequently, Android phones and tablets are more vulnerable to cyberattacks compared to computers and Apple devices.
However, there are options to better protect your device and files against malicious users. Here are our picks for the best Android antivirus that won’t cost you a penny.
The Avira Antivirus for Android comes with all the basics plus extra features. With the free version, users already get features which are usually reserved for the paid counterparts of most antivirus apps. Besides making sure your Android device is well-protected from viruses, it also has an Identity Safeguard capability. This feature checks a user’s email address and notifies them if any data of theirs is leaked in any data breaches. Additionally, it has a Network Scanner that detects smart devices within a user’s household and scans them for suspicious activities.
This free antivirus for Android also has anti-theft support that can track the location of your phone if someone steals it. Users can also remotely set-off an alarm and lock or wipe the contents of your Android device with this feature.
The premium version of this antivirus app does come with extra features such as extra web security, as well as camera and microphone protection. However, the free version already covers all the core essentials a user would need plus more. On top of that, the Avira free antivirus version also has a free VPN included with up to a 100MB data cap per day.
McAfee Mobile Security
McAfee Mobile Security is another great free antivirus for Android with theft protection tools. It’s one of the best free antivirus apps for Android that can take photos of the potential thief of your device. This antivirus can also pinpoint the location of your phone. Moreover, it can upload the photos and location to the Cloud before your device gets shut off.
Besides real-time scanning for malware, this free antivirus app also has anti-spyware, security lock features, and device optimization. It can scan the applications installed on users’ devices and flag down any apps that are possibly malicious. Furthermore, it also detects potentially risky websites and unsecure Wi-Fi connections.
Without a doubt, it’s one of the best Android antivirus apps that also comes with device optimization tools such as a battery optimizer and memory cleaner.
The premium version of this antivirus app includes a VPN and an ad blocker. However, there are options for VPNs and ad blockers that don’t come with a cost. These two extra features may be useful, but ultimately, the free version of the McAfee antivirus already has all the useful capabilities that a user would need.
Kaspersky Mobile Antivirus
Kaspersky’s Mobile Antivirus app is one of the best free antivirus for Android with remarkable security features. However, unlike other antivirus apps, Kaspersky’s free antivirus only offers an on-demand scanning option for malware. This means it won’t automatically scan new apps once installed.
However, what really makes Kaspersky stand out against other free antivirus in the market is its powerful security features. While it covers the basics such as tracking your phone if stolen, it also locks it if someone tries to remove the SIM card. Additionally, it will lock the device if someone tries to uninstall the Kaspersky Antivirus app.
Kaspersky also has a Call Filter option that allows you to block spam calls. Another notable aspect of this app is that the free version is not ad supported. Users won’t be bombarded with pesky ads when trying to access the app itself. Thus, this makes Kaspersky’s app the best antivirus free of annoying pop-up advertisements.
Overall, Kaspersky’s security app is the purest antivirus solution that is great for scanning and flagging down malware and viruses. However, it does lack certain useful features that other free antivirus apps offer. Nevertheless, it’s still worth checking out if you’re scouring for the best free antivirus for Android devices.
Paid vs. Free Antivirus
There will always be an endless list of recommendations for the best antivirus software. No matter what device and operating system you’re using, an antivirus program is vital. By now, you might be wondering: should you pay for antivirus? It’s important to learn the difference between a free antivirus and a paid antivirus program first and foremost.
Most free antivirus programs cover the basic core requirements of a good antivirus software. However, there are a few free antivirus programs that come with bonus features. Now, if you do decide to invest in a paid antivirus program, it’s important to take note that you’re not necessarily paying for more malware protection. What you are paying for is a broader range of features.
If you’re looking for an antivirus with VPN or an antivirus without ads, go for the premium versions.
Besides these additional features, users should also consider the other factors when deciding to purchase an antivirus software.
- Budget – A top factor for most, the pricing of an antivirus can be a deciding factor. While antivirus programs prices can range from relatively cheap to overpriced, users must take note that a higher price doesn’t necessarily translate to more efficient performance.
- Support – Paid versions of antivirus softwares almost always offer a 24 hour tech support, either via live chat or helpline. If you’re using the free version of an antivirus software and come across technical issues, you’re unfortunately on your own. Tech support such as hotlines and live chats are not available for free antivirus programs.
For those who are willing to invest in a pay for a premium antivirus program, here are our picks for paid antivirus software that’s worth every penny:
- Norton AntiVirus – best overall paid antivirus for all devices
- Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus – best lightweight paid antivirus
- Intego – best paid antivirus for Mac
- Comodo Windows Antivirus – best paid antivirus for Windows and Linux
Choosing The Best Antivirus For You
The top antivirus software can keep your device and family safe from cyber threats. Whether you work in the tech sector, run your own business, or just simply enjoy browsing the web, using the best antivirus program can prevent different types of harmful cyber attacks and data breaches.
With the options above, we hope we helped you in deciding what is the best antivirus software for you. After all, prevention is much more effective than curing. In this day and age, it is important to be vigilant with how we move and monitor the way we transact online.