Cyber attacks have become prominent all over the world and for now, there seems no possible end to it. In fact, as technology advances, the number of attacks and their variety will only increase. Unfortunately, either we ignore the need of a good antivirus for our gadgets or we are unable to decide, which is the best antivirus. These factors, combined with the cost incurred to buy an antivirus, delays our decision to install one on our system.
Why Pay When You Can Get It For Free?
Having established the need for an antivirus, we also understand that most of them come with a price tag attached to it. Today, most of us have multiple gadgets and to buy an antivirus can cause quite a dent in the pocket. Not to forget, this cost will be incurred again everytime you renew the subscription. But who says that we necessarily have to purchase antivirus software everytime? Did you know some of the best antivirus software have free versions as well? Surprising! Isn’t it? That’s why we’ve compiled a detailed list of the top 10 free antivirus that are available today. However, before we move ahead, let’s have a look at the advantages and disadvantages of using free antivirus.
Let us look at the top 10 free antivirus for 2018 that you can use to protect your Windows system:
1. Microsoft Security Essentials
Our top choice in the list of free antivirus software, Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) is a great option if you are a Windows 7 and Vista user*. With basic yet robust features this free software has given some tough competition to the paid software available in the market. Some of its key features include:
- Scan Options: It offers three types of scan options, Quick, Full and Custom. It also allows the user schedule scan according as per their convenience.
- Regularly Updated Definitions: This is one of the best features that the software has to offer. It regularly releases updates of their virus and spyware definitions, thereby protecting the system from even the latest threats.
- Real-Time Protection: The system is protected from any type of malicious threats in real-time.
- Default Action: Allows the user to choose the type of action to be taken by the software depending on the type of risk that the threat poses to the system.
- Exclusion: The user can exclude files, folders, processes and locations from being scanned for any viruses or spyware.
Apart from these basic yet sturdy features Microsoft Security Essentials offers these advanced features as well:
- Scan archive files and removable drives
- Create restore point before running scans
- A complete history of the type of infection with the date it was found and the location
Our View: There are many reasons why this software is our favorite, to start with it is very easy to download and install. It is light on the system. This free antivirus can be used by someone who does not have much technical knowledge. The best part of this robust software is that it regularly releases updates and has no irritating advertisements or popups.
*Note: Windows 8 and 10 users can also continue using their bundled Windows Defender Antivirus since it’s the rebranded variant of MSE for all Windows systems post Windows 7.
Avast, has an established name over the years and has been a trusted brand since 1988. We love how it has debunked the thought process of a free antivirus having just limited features. This free antivirus for Windows is loaded with excellent features, some of which are offered by companies in their paid version only. Its key features include:
- Scan: The antivirus offers, Full Virus Scan, targeted Scan, Boot-Time Scan and Custom Scans
- Smart Scan – On installing the software, it offers to run a Smart Scan, which scans the system for weak passwords, virus, vulnerable software, browser add-ons, network threats and performance issues.
- Wi-Fi Inspector – Scans the network for vulnerabilities and security threats.
- Software Updater – Outdated software are vulnerable to malware attacks. This ensures that the all the software are updated.
- Core Shields – This further includes, File Shield, Behavior Shield, Web Shield and Mail Shield. It ensures that any file opened or added is scanned, suspicious activity of any app is notified, web attacks, unsafe downloads and suspicious email attachments are blocked.
- Virus Chest – Scans selected files and locks away the detected threats for further action.
Performance issues, in Smart Scan further include:
- Broken registry items
- System Junk
- PC health problems
- Junk programs
- Programs slowing down your PC
This free antivirus software also offers:
- Password protection
- Webcam Shield
- SecureLine VPN (However the trial is available only for 60 Days)
- Game Mode
This amazing free software is available for Windows 10, 8.1, 8, 7, Vista and XP. It is also available for Mac and Android as well. Adding cherry to the cake, you can try out the paid version of their best selling software on 30-day trial period as well.
Our View: As a free antivirus software, Avast offers much more than what is usually expected and we can’t really complain about the features that are for purchase. Using the software, we found that it is simple to use. We are absolutely in love with this free antivirus. If you are looking for a trusted software, loaded with features, then this surely is a great option.
One of the most elite free antivirus software for Windows, AVG AntiVirus Free, runs neck to neck with Avast. With superior antivirus features, it definitely deserves a place in this list of best free antivirus software. The basic protection offers Computer and Web & Email protection. Full protection, that is the paid version also includes, safeguarding from attacks by hackers, safe online shopping, and privacy. These can be availed on a trial basis for 30 days. Once you click on Scan computer, the software scans the Browser add-ons, Viruses & other malware and Performance issues. Performance issues include:
- Removing Junk & free up disk space
- Speed up PC
- Update software
- Extend battery life
However, the catch is that PC TuneUp can be availed for free only for 30 days.
Computer protection includes:
- File Shield – The software scans all files that are added or opened on your system.
- Behavior Shield – It will warn the user if any app behaves suspiciously
Web & Email protection include:
- Web Shield – Protects the system against web attacks and downloads that are unsafe.
- Email Shield – Blocks email attachments that are suspicious.
You can also try AVG Secure VPN, which includes, private surfing, secured Wi-Fi and disuising location to enable accessing websites around the world on 60 days trial period.
AVG AntiVirus Free software also offers File Shredder feature that permanently deletes files and folders that you want to get rid of.
It is functional with Windows 10,8, 7, Vista, XP SP3. It is also available for OSX 10.8 Mountain Lion or above and on Android 2.2 or above.
Our View: Undoubtedly one of our favorite choices amongst free antivirus for Windows, AVG, offers quality security features for free. We especially loved how easy it was to install and use it. It is a great choice, if you are looking for a trusted and easy to use free antivirus for Windows. But unlike Avast, it does not include free Game Mode and Password Manager.
The 2018 version of this free antivirus software for Windows has us impressed to no ends. Avira Free Antivirus 2018 offers a quick scan, which runs a quick scan on files, directories and archives. Some of the features of this free antivirus include:
- Real- Time Protection – It scans all the files for malware and any other external threats.
- Firewall – Safeguards against Internet or network access not authorized by user.
- Scan – It offers 4 types of scans, Full scan, Quick scan, Custom scan and Scheduler (wherein use can schedule their system scan).
Other added features include:
- Software Updater: Updates software that are outdated thereby protecting Windows system from newer threats.
- Avira Password Manager: To help create strong passwords
- Avira Phantom VPN: To browse the Internet safely
- System Speedup: Enhances PC performance by getting rid of junk files and fixing processes that are faulty.
The 2018 free version is definitely worth giving a shot for all the features that it offers.
On starting the app you can either drag and drop the file or folder that you want scanned, or run a full system scan. If you are into gaming or your desktop activities are resource-intensive, or you are often required to edit images and videos then this is one of the best free antivirus to download for your PC. It might not have a laundry list of features, unlike most popular antivirus software. Nevertheless, its power lies in its efficiency, as this free antivirus software for Windows will quietly keep running in background without interrupting or slowing down any activity on your computer.
It is compatible with all Windows OS, i.e. 10, 8.1, 8 and 7. It is also available for macOS and Android.
We certainly loved the snazzy looking yet very simple to use interface of Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition.
Our View: A great choice for gamers or those who have resource heavy work on their system, Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition is extremely easy to install and simple to use. We are floored by its unobtrusive style of functioning. It may not have the extra features that other free antivirus software offer, however this makes it stand apart from the rest. Basic and minimalistic yet effective!
What we Loved the Most: What stands out about Kaspersky Free is that it is a basic free antivirus minus the frills yet effective in doing its job, getting rid of external threats! The free software, offers Core Protection which will protect your system against:
The software offers four types of scans:
- Full Scan
- Quick Scan
- Selective Scan
- External Device Scan
Users can also schedule automatic scans (Full or Quick Scan). It also updates malware databases time to time, making your system resistant to attacks.
The free antivirus for Windows also offers:
- Cloud Protection
- On-Screen Keyboard
Our View: Being frill free and lightweight it will protect your Windows system from external threats. If you are looking for a simple software with basic functions then this is for you.
Panda Free Antivirus is one of the lightest free antivirus software available for Windows. The features that make it light on the desktop and thus popular are:
- All its working is done in the cloud thus does not consume any system resources
- Simple to install and configure
- Updates on its own at regular time intervals
- Offers Real time updates
- USB protection
It works for all Windows OS, i.e. 10, 8.1, 8, Vista and XP.
Our View: What makes it stand apart from the rest is that fact that it is very light on your system and has been designed keeping in mind the current technological needs. The software offers a one month trial of its Protection Advanced version, which includes features like ransomware and parental control. If you want you can give it a shot as well.
8. Sophos Home
Sophos Home offers a lot of features apart from taking care of virus threats. It will keep your system free of virus, malware and ransomware. This free antivirus software has the following features:
- Real – Time Antivirus – Safeguards against virus, malware, Trojans, worms, bots, PUA’s, ransomware etc.
- Parent Web Filtering – Helps control content that children view online
- Web Protection – Warns against blacklisted website by SophosLab
- Remote Management – Allows you to safeguard multiple devices using web interface
Apart from these features this free antivirus also lets its users try out the Premium features on a 30 day trial period. Some of the added features include:
- Advanced Real-time Protection
- Advanced Ransomware Protection
- Advanced Web Protection
- Banking Protection
- Privacy Protection
- Advanced Malware Removal
It is compatible with Windows 10, Windows 8/8.1, Windows 7 and Windows Vista and also Mac OS.
Our View: Sophos Home comes with some very amazing features that are usually offered in the paid version. This free antivirus is definitely worth a try!
This free antimalware does its work of wading off external threats like virus and malware. This free antivirus software also offers a built-in Firewall. It offers real time protection against, spyware, Trojan, worms and bots. Some of its features include:
- Basic Firewall : Safeguards against any illegal attacks and hacker attacks
- Updates Automatically: The antivirus will update itself at regular time intervals.
- Runs scans on scheduled time intervals: Offers three types of scans, Quick, Full and Full scan with Archive Files. Quick and Fulls scans can be scheduled as per the convenience of the user.
- Application Control : Keeps a tab and blocks suspicious Internet transmissions.
It has additional features that can be activated:
- Online Backup (5GB storage) – Backs up user data to a remote site which is secure.
- Identity protection – Monitors and alerts user against any identity threats
This free antivirus offers Scan Options and Scan Targets to further customize the scan. User can exclude files, folders and drives from scan. It also has Behavioral Scan Options that helps look for and identify malware that has not been scanned by anti-virus databases.
Bonus for gamers! ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus + Firewall offers Game Mode and can be found under Tools.
Our View: We found ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus + Firewall very simple and easy to use. One can easily maneuver around it and avail all the features as soon as you install it. The biggest takeaways of the software are the firewall and game mode.
Loaded with features, 360 Total Security Essential definitely had to make it on our list of best free antivirus in 2018. Broadly, the features of this free antivirus software are divided into 4 categories:
- Virus Scan: Scans all files to pick out the suspicious ones for further analysis.
- Speedup: Helps boost up system performance and time to start it up. Disables background apps that are unnecessary background apps.
- Cleanup: Clears up all the junk on the system therefore creating space and boosting the performance of the Windows system.
- Tool Box: Tool box has a plethora of tools to improve your system performance and make it more secure! It has some awesome tools like, Sandbox, Registry Cleaner, Game Booster etc.
Our View: We love how feature rich this free antivirus software is. While it may take some time to figure out about all the features. Power packed with features like Registry Cleaner and System Backup Cleaner definitely makes it worth giving it a shot!
Although, the top 3 free antivirus software are our favorite picks in this list, we however are convinced that all the 10 are great choices for any Windows system. Each of these antivirus software has features that would address the specific needs of users.