Antivirus protection is an essential part of computer ownership, and thankfully there’s no need to break the bank just to stay safe online. We’ve reviewed the best free antivirus software around to show you what each of them can offer you and your computer in terms of protection.
It’s no surprise that the internet is a dangerous place. Among all of the online scams, hackers, and people trying to steal your identity, there are plenty of other things that slip by us unseen. Thankfully, antivirus software was created to stop these silent attackers and do so seamlessly in the background as we work.
This software, although beneficial, can also be costly, and most people make the mistake of thinking they surely can’t afford third-party antivirus protection for their computers. Some of us can afford buying the top models of laptop and don't think about purchasing a decent anti-virus software. In this day and age, though, there are some truly great free antivirus programs out there that offer just as much support as the costly premium products.
Finding one of these quality free versions can be hard to do, as there are literally hundreds of them online. It’s essential to choose one that’s reputable and genuine, and that’s exactly what we’ve done with our list of the best free antivirus you can download right away.
Do I Need Extra Protection For My Computer?
Most new computers you buy today come with some form of antivirus protection on them. This is usually in the form of a free trial that might last a month or two before it starts spamming you with reminder renewal notices and expensive plans. Once these free trials have dried up, you usually have some form of protection from Windows to tide you over, but this is far from extensive. With the amount of sensitive data that we share from our computers, investing in one of these free antivirus programs is an essential part of computer ownership and something you now have no excuse not to do.
What Can Antivirus Software Do?
Although the term is quite specific, there are actually quite a few functions that an antivirus program serve. Here are some things you can expect from a quality free program like the ones we have reviewed:
- Regular scanning of files and directories to look for suspicious or harmful content.
- Scanning specific files and directories as needed.
- Gives regular updates on the health of your computer system.
- Detects malicious files and programs and deletes them from the computer.
- Blocks malicious URLs and other harmful content.
- Searches for and removes malware, spyware, adware, and viruses.
The Best Free Antivirus Programs Out There
Antivirus programs are being released all the time, so it’s important to stay updated with the most recent ones to ensure protection. These are the best antivirus programs current in 2018(Also check our Top Ten Antivirus Recommendations From 2016), with most brands managing to stay on the list for the past few years as well. Lastly, since we are talking about FREE programs, Microsoft announced that windows user will able to Upgrade Windows 10 for FREE.
Our Top Free Antivirus Comparison Table
Here's Our Full Reviews Of The Best FREE Antivirus For 2018
Consistently rated one of the top performing antivirus software options out there; it’s no surprise that Avast is on our list. The only real downfall is how well their anti-phishing component works, but on all other fronts, it performs amazingly.
Avast is one of the only companies who doesn’t reserve their best features for a paid subscription as they gladly offer it all up for free. Not only do you get their world-class antivirus protection for free, but also a password manager, network security scanner, and secure browser to us, so it’s one of the best deals around.
This is one of those antivirus programs that feel like a paid subscription, and there are no hidden fees or special features you have to unlock with payment. You really get it all with Avast and they have millions of happy customers who agree, so this is one of the better options out there for sure.
If you’re someone who knows a little about tech and wants more control over your antivirus software package, Comodo might be right up your alley. This free antivirus program gives you some freedom during the setup stages so that you can get things just the way you like them, but it’s not for amateurs.
Comodo has quite a few layers of protection on offer, more than some of the competition. It works with real-time detection to find threats and if something is uncovered, it sends it straight to the sandbox in order to keep your computer safe. Not only that, but you can run entire programs and applications from the sandbox which means effectively you’ll never come in harm’s way again.
One huge downfall is that it won’t block suspicious URLs so you really need to be on your game every time you visit an unknown website. This aside, Comodo is a truly in-depth antivirus with plenty of room for configuration, so it’s better suited to those with in-depth knowledge of their computers.
Check Point comes from the geniuses behind Kaspersky, but this instead is their premium free service. There are some notable features that are missing from Check Point that you find elsewhere, like the phishing protection and a lack of suspicious behavior monitoring, but otherwise, it’s a serious contender.
Check Point has exceptional firewall protection so you can feel a peace of mind when you’re using it. This is the option to go with if you don’t need a full security suite but still want some third party protection. It’s not too heavy on the features but powerful where it counts.
There are some great extras that Check Point offers which can be enticing, including 5GB of hosted online backup. This means you can keep your important documents safe without having to pay for a cloud subscription, so it’s a nice little bonus thrown in.
For those looking for some extra third-party protection on top of their Windows cover, Panda is a great lightweight option. There aren’t too many features, it’s relatively easy to run, and overall it will work in the background without you knowing.
However, according to some online reviews it has been failing in recent tests for its performance, so it’s something to keep in mind. In terms of what it could detect, it scored quite well, so this is a positive to consider, especially for those who use a lot of new files and are constantly downloading or moving things.
A huge feature of Panda is their anti-phishing protection which can’t be found on all of these free antivirus programs. It will effectively protect you from any fraudulent websites, emails, or anything else that tries to steal your personal information. For those who want the basics and don’t need a lot of heavy features, Panda is ideal.
When you’re not computer savvy and want to just trust the software you’re running to do the job, Sophos Home might be for you. There’s minimal configuration possible so keep this in mind if you like some control, however, what it does offer is more than enough for antivirus protection.
What makes Sophos Home such a cool alternative is its remote management capabilities which can normally only be found in paid subscriptions. It’s fairly simple to use and check results so anyone in the family can do it, but the lack of a quick scan feature tends to hurt its usefulness.
Another downfall is that their testing labs are rarely checking on Sophos Home so updates are few and far between. This software would better suit those after something lightweight that they can perform once a day and be done with it.
Adaware had a complete overhaul of their image and company, and their latest antivirus software definitely looks better than it ever has. It’s seemingly up to date with all of the new threats and has great updates, so for those who want reliable scans, this is a great choice.
Where it tends to fail is the detection itself, as reports found that the previous version actually did a better job of detecting threats. We hope that they’re able to rectify this because it seems a shame to let such a solid anti-virus software be pulled down because of something we know they’re able to do expertly.
Adaware has made an effort to go lighter with this version and we think it worked in their favor. No longer does it feel bulky or full of complicated features that you’ll never use. For a trusted name and simple interface, this is an antivirus software that won’t disappoint.
For those who take their antivirus software seriously, you want to choose the program that gets the highest testing scores. Avira is exactly that, as it never seems to let us down in terms of performance and detection.
There are some downfalls though, so you do need to weigh up the good with the bad. Their full scan takes up a lot of time so you’ll have to be patient. Their anti phishing cover isn’t up to scratch. But these are things you would be happy to look over considering how well it performed otherwise.
Avira only works with Google Chrome and Firefox so Internet Explorer users will need to make the switch. This in itself might turn some people off, but with the results that it scored, we think it might be a worthwhile change to reap the benefits.
Another of the biggest names in free antivirus software hasn’t disappointed in our review, and AVG is still a favorite among many. As one of the most customizable antivirus programs around you get complete control to adapt it to the needs of your computer so that it can work as efficiently as possible.
AVG doesn’t have a quick scan option so don’t use it expecting any fast results. But one full scan a day will do a very thorough job, as long as you have the patience to wait for it. There aren’t too many features either, which could be a pro or con depending on who you’re talking to.
The key to AVG’s success is simplicity, and they’ve managed to maintain this simplicity through all of its different versions. There are some cool extras like an inbuilt file shredder and extra malware detection, but other than that it’s light on features and heavy on protection.
Kaspersky is known as one of the leaders in antivirus protection, but not everyone can afford their standard suite. That’s why they created Kaspersky Free, a basic offering of their services that will serve you very well if you’re looking for a free software program.
Kaspersky comes with everything you’d expect from an anti-virus package, but with some amazing lab results. Their biggest benefit was the improved anti-phishing cover which keeps your details safe from fraudulent activity, and this nifty feature isn’t offered in all of these packages so it’s good to see.
There are some other notable mentions that Kaspersky offers including their USB protection and process monitor. In addition to showing great results with detection, these extra features make it one of the better choices out there for anti-virus software.
An Essential Part of Digital Living
For anyone who owns a computer, there’s no good reason why you should be without antivirus protection. These free programs offer just as much support as a premium service and they cost nothing to use, so it’s an essential product that you shouldn’t live without.
There are so many hidden dangers online and when we expose so much of ourselves and our personal information on the internet we need to know it’s protected. Using one of these antivirus programs will give you and your computer immediate protection and keep your sensitive data safe.