A Note About Free Antivirus
All of these companies are trying to make money. And handing out free antivirus isn’t going to do that. So there are a few things you should be aware of. Many of these companies, for example, will try to get you to upgrade to their paid software. You might see pop-ups or get emails telling you to upgrade. That’s one of the costs of free software.
Just keep an eye out when you’re downloading and installing these apps, and be prepared to occasional nagging to upgrade. If you’re prepared for it, it won’t be much of an issue.
Avira (Windows, Mac)
With a reputation for consistently solid performance and easy-to-use tools, Avira is a great choice. The most recent antivirus test from AV-Comparatives gave the pro version a 99.9% protection rate, and you can bet the free version packs similar power.
The simple interface won’t overwhelm you with options, and automation means you don’t have to actively manage it. It was also designed to be light on system resources, which is a bonus, as some antivirus apps can be resource hogs.
Download Bitdefender for Windows
Avast (Windows, Mac)
Although Avast secured a slightly lower protection rating than some other options (99.6%), it’s still very high. It has also has relatively low resource usage, making it unlikely to noticeably slow down your computer.
A simple, easy-to-use interface means you don’t need an instruction manual to get it set up. Despite ranking slightly lower on threat protection, Avast is a solid choice for anyone looking for a free antivirus. There’s a reason it’s one of the most popular options out there.
AVG (Windows, Mac)
Another free antivirus app that’s been very popular for a long time, AVG ranks well in both protection (99.6%) and system resource usage. And while they now offer unnecessary things like system cleanup and mobile antivirus, their core product is still one of the best.
AVG does have a reputation for some annoying nag screens, but many people find the occasional upgrade request an easy price to pay for solid antivirus performance.
Lavasoft Ad-Aware Free (Windows)
Lavasoft’s pro version of Ad-Aware scored a 99.3% protection rate in recent tests, making it a solid contender. And while that version did tend to use more resources than other antivirus options, it’s still a great choice for Windows users. Its focus on anti-adware and anti-spyware features are especially nice.
And although using a free antivirus app is going to be sufficient for just about everyone, the various paid levels of Ad-Aware are quite affordable, so if you’re looking to upgrade to something more fully featured, sticking with Lavasoft will be easy.
Download Ad-Aware Free for Windows
eScan Anti-Virus Toolkit (Windows)
This toolkit differs from the other options available in that it doesn’t require an installation; you can just download and run it. That means it can be run from a USB drive, and you can use it even if you already have another antivirus running. It never hurts to have backup!
Because there’s no installation, there’s no real-time defense or scheduling. So you probably shouldn’t use this as your main antivirus. But if you think yours might not be working, or you want to double-check, it’s a good choice.
Download eScan Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows
Trend Micro HouseCall (Windows, Mac)
Trend Micro offers a number of other free tools that you may be interested in as well, like the anti-ransomware toolkit, browser guard, and rootkit buster.
Malwarebytes Anti-Malware (Windows, Mac)
Malwarebytes has earned a strong reputation for excellence over the past few years. And its anti-malware app is no exception. It specializes in getting rid of adware, it’s a very small file, and it’s lightning-fast.
Unless you decide to upgrade, you’ll only get manual scan capabilities, and no real-time protection. But even with that caveat, it’s still a great app to have.
Download Malwarebytes for Windows (note: download the free trial; you can continue using the basic features after the 14-day trial expires)
Download Malwarebytes for Mac
Download Malwarebytes for Mac
Panda Free Anti-Virus (Windows)
While you’ll probably get quite a few nag screens telling you to upgrade to a paid version, Panda does have some advantages. For example, it offloads most of its work to the cloud, freeing up system resources.
Beyond doing work in the cloud, there’s not a whole lot to differentiate Panda from other things out there. AV-Test showed that it protects well but doesn’t have phenomenal performance results. It did score very well for usability, though, so you don’t need to worry about complex interfaces and configurations.
Download Panda for Windows
ZoneAlarm Free Anti-Virus (Windows)
Using an actual identity theft protection service (or even basic credit monitoring) will likely be more effective, but another layer of security is always good.
Download ZoneAlarm Free for Windows
Which free antivirus app do you use? How have you found it? Let us know your experience in the comments below!
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