Many of the best antivirus program developers offer free versions for home users. A single download can provide industry-leading threat detection technology for a Windows or Mac computer or an Android or iOS device. Here are the top 10 free antivirus programs based on independent evaluations and reviews.
1. Avast Free
Avast is a popular program that scans emails, files, P2P transfers, plugins, instant messages and websites for viruses and malware in real time. The Behavior Shield monitors programs for irregular activity. A Do Not Disturb mode prevents popups from interrupting games or movies.
This antivirus software is available for computers running Windows or MacOS. Yearly registration is required, but this version of Avast is free to use. The setup process may ask for permission to install a web browser or other programs or utilities, but these additions are not necessary to protect a computer. Ads for paid programs also appear in the interface.
2. Bitdefender Free Edition
The free version of Bitdefender stands out for its low system impact, fast scans and advanced detection capabilities. This software provides automatic protection from viruses and malware but does not give users the option to schedule scans. Behavioral analysis monitors programs in a safe environment before allowing applications to run normally. Software that accesses the internet and behaves suspiciously is blocked by an Intrusion Detection System.
Bitdefender free antivirus software is available for computers running Windows or MacOS, as well as Android devices. Some users report slow initial system scans. Tests have also found that zero-day attack protection from new threats is below average.
3. AVG Free
AVG offers free security software with a light impact and specific detection that names threats such as malware and viruses. This program automatically scans downloads, email attachments and links. Notifications appear in pop-ups, and the free version does not have a setting to stop interruptions.
Download this program on a Windows or MacOS computer or an Android device. AVG works particularly well on Google platforms, such as Android and Chrome. Some users remark on slow scan speeds and advertising for the professional version. This software quarantines but does not delete threats, which may raise reinfection risks.
4. Avira Free
For broad-spectrum protection against viruses, malware, phishing, ransomware, spyware and Trojans, users should consider Avira Free antivirus software. A feature called Protection Cloud submits anonymous fingerprints of suspicious files to Avira for further scanning and status reporting. The detection rate of this program is up to 99.7 percent.
Avira is available for Windows and MacOS. The free version includes bonus features such as a password manager and virtual private network that can encrypt up to 500 MB per month. Some users report slow scan speeds, frequent ads and a toolbar installation request. This software only provides browser protection for Chrome and Firefox.
5. Sophos Home Security Free
The free version of Sophos can be installed on up to three computers or devices, making it an ideal security solution for home networks. In addition to protecting users, this software also offers protection for networks and servers. Sophos allows for cloud-based oversight of security status and maintenance of parental controls.
Sophos Home Free is available for computers running Windows, MacOS or Linux, as well as Android and iOS devices. This software does not support scheduled or quick scans and no Master Boot Record protection is available. Customization options are limited to enabling or disabling real-time protection and detection in programs and downloads and on the web. Users appreciate that this program has a light system impact and does not produce many popups.
6. Panda Dome
Panda Dome, formerly Panda Free Antivirus, boasts a stylish interface and low system impact. This software includes a process monitor, password protection, parental controls and the ability to schedule and customize scans. A USB vaccination feature makes it easy for users to create a rescue boot disk. Panda Safe Web provides real-time internet filtering and monitoring.
This program offers virus and spyware protection for Windows computers. Additional settings include an option to avoid interruptions and the ability to schedule deletion of quarantined items. This program displays advertisements and will attempt to reset users’ browser home page and default search engine.
7. Adaware Free
Adaware is a lightweight program with a few industry-leading features, such as behavioral analysis. The developer, Lavasoft, licenses an anti-malware engine from Bitdefender. Adaware relies on its own anti-spyware scanner. This software allows for quick or full scans, and a silent mode is available.
This free antivirus software is available for Windows computers. The newest free version does not monitor suspicious URLs or scan emails. The installation process is lengthy and annual free registration is required, which is also the case for the best antivirus software in this ranking. Users remark on the significant amount of advertising and limited configuration options.
8. Comodo Free
Comodo provides real-time protection against viruses, spyware, rootkits and other forms of malware. This software is capable of detecting threats in emails, messaging applications, URLs and programs. The Defense+ technology assumes that any unknown files may be a potential threat but does not pop up additional notifications. This program also has a game mode to avoid unwanted interruptions.
Windows users have the option to scan system memory after startup or on demand. It is easy to drag and drop files for scanning. Full scans can also be customized to bypass selected applications, files or folders. This software also provides the option to use Comodo’s free DNS servers. The initial download is large, and users should be mindful of attempts to install additional programs or modify settings during installation.
9. ZoneAlarm Free
ZoneAlarm combines virus and spyware protection for Windows PCs. This free antivirus program supports automatic and scheduled scans. Web security features include a privacy toolbar to prevent the collection of personal data.
This software relies on a cloud-based response to quickly identify suspicious programs. The antivirus engine is licensed from Kaspersky Labs. A free firewall utility is also available. Some users do not like the interface or the relatively heavy system impact.
10. Kaspersky Free
Kaspersky Labs has consistently made outstanding paid security programs. This is the company’s first free antivirus software download. This software has received high scores in independent tests and is easy to use. Users can rely on real-time file, web, email and instant message scanning. The System Watcher behavior monitor has the ability to identify new malware threats, while the Network Attack Blocker monitors broader network activity. There is no way to disable any of these features.
Kaspersky Free works on Windows computers, and a free version of Internet Security for Android is also available. The free PC software only supports scanning and database updates. Scans run quickly, and definitions and database signatures update in the background. This version does not include technical support.
These free antivirus programs can provide computers and mobile devices with protection from viruses. Varying levels of security are available for malware and threats such as phishing, ransomware and Trojans. Choose the best antivirus solution by factoring in software compatibility with an operating system, the level of scan customization you require and any bonus features that could be useful. Learn more about all of the options available to protect computers and devices from viruses and other security threats.