Some of the free antivirus programs available are malware designed to steal your personal data. This is especially true for Windows, with so many users around the world it is the prime target for viruses and other malware. This is why it is essential not to get trapped by any of these common scams and only download legitimate softwares with a solid reputation.
But with the rate of cybercrime exploding, only a few free antivirus apps for Windows offer decent protection. I’ve tested over 80 antivirus solutions to bring you a handful of free Windows ant viruses that are superior to others.
While there is no unrestricted “free antivirus”, these 5 vendors offer a free plan that will help protect your PC!
1. Avira Free Antivirus – The Best Global Antivirus Technology
First, it allows Avira to keep its method secret, as the malware is processed on its own servers. Thus, Avira always keeps one step ahead of pirates, because the latter ignore what the publisher knows.
This then means that Avira can keep an extremely low impact on your system, using very few resources. In fact, Avira offers one of the smallest and lightest antivirus engines of any major antivirus vendor.
And thanks to this efficiency, even old Windows PCs can run Avira Free Antivirus without it affecting performance too much. If your PC seems sluggish and anemic when using apps, Avira might be the right antivirus solution.
Panda Free Antivirus combines network security and powerful antivirus functions. This is a great option if you often use your laptop in public places
2. Panda Free Antivirus – The best for online protection
I spend a lot of time connected to unsecured public WiFi networks, so all my private data is very vulnerable if a hacker infiltrates the network (which happens more often than you think).
A VPN redirects your internet connection to a secure server. It encrypts all data entering and leaving your device, which prevents hackers from accessing your internet traffic. This level of security is strongly recommended when using public WiFi, for example in a cafe or restaurant, where the shared network is not secure.
However, although free, Panda’s VPN is limited to just 150MB per day, this is only sufficient for browsing and sending emails.
Panda Free Antivirus combines network security and powerful antivirus functions. This is a great option if you often use your laptop in public places.
3. Sophos Home Free – Best for Families
Sophos Home Free includes great parental controls, something that is typically found in premium internet security packages, like Norton 360 Deluxe. Parental controls allow you to control the time your children spend on their devices and restrict their access to certain sites.
Sophos Home Free also includes real-time malware protection and a browser extension that prevents you from visiting malicious websites.
You can install the free version of Sophos on 3 devices. Which is very generous for a free product, but if you have more devices you will have to go for a higher plan.
Sophos Home Free is a user-friendly and powerful antivirus app, and the best antivirus in parental control.
4. Kaspersky Security Cloud (Free) – The Best in Additional Features
In addition to scanning for malware, performing a system cleanup, and using active scanning to spot new threats, Security Cloud also offers complete privacy protection through a VPN, a word manager password and dark web monitoring.
The VPN is fairly good, it didn’t slow down my computer too much and allowed me to access geo-blocked content with servers spread all over the world. Unfortunately, there is a 200MB daily limit, but it’s still better than the 150MB daily free VPN from Panda.
The password manager limit is more problematic only 15 different IDs can be registered, which is far from sufficient for most users. However, if you have 15 particularly important credentials, the Password Manager generates extremely complex passwords and automatically fills them in for an extra layer of security.
Monitoring the dark web is simple, yet effective. Once I filled in my primary credentials, she regularly checked the Have I Been Pwned database to see if my data had been shared on the dark web.
Kaspersky Security Cloud is a powerful free antivirus suite with some great additional features. VPN and password manager work great, but their usage limits make them less effective than dedicated products. However, since you get an antivirus suite and great additional tools for free, I recommend that you go to the Kaspersky site and give it a chance.
5. Bitdefender Antivirus Free – The best for easy protection on Windows
If you’re looking for extra features, like a password manager, parental controls, dark web monitoring, or a VPN, this isn’t a good product for you (you need something like Norton 360 for that). It’s still great antivirus software, however, and its minimal design means that it doesn’t slow down your PC at all.
As we stated in our full review, Bitdefender’s malware scanner is one of the most powerful on the market and the Advanced Protection feature now extends to ransomware detection, any suspicious behavior on your PC will be immediately obvious stopped. This scanner is fast, malware files and processes were detected as soon as I downloaded or unzipped them.
The phishing and fraud protection features are also quite good. Bitdefender spotted all the most recent phishing sites and notified me when asked to fill in private information on 3 different suspicious web forms.
Bitdefender Antivirus Free doesn’t include as many additional features as other free antivirus software on this list, but it is one of the easiest to use. If you are looking for a tool that detects all malware, runs in the background, protects your computer, and monitors browsing, Bitdefender is a good choice.
Author | Emily Forbes
An Entrepreneur, Mother & A passionate tech writer in the technology industry!