Top 7 Best Free Antivirus Protection For 2019
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Essential protection: Avast Free Antivirus consistently ranks extremely high for its core virus protection engine and malware removal tools. Top antivirus test lab AV-Comparatives named Avast Product of the Year in 2018 and Top-Rated Product in 2019 and 2020, in addition to giving Avast awards for Real-World Protection and Advanced Threat Protection. Avast continues to support Windows 7, even though Microsoft has stopped updating that operating system.
Comprehensive antivirus combats the full range of viruses and other malware threats by scanning, detecting, and removing malicious software from your computer, as well as providing real-time protection against phishing attacks, spyware, and worms and viruses attempting to compromise your system.
To get free antivirus software, visit the website of your chosen free malware and virus protection tool, click download, and follow the installation instructions. Make sure your antivirus software comes with ransomware protection and rootkit scanner tools to shield you against advanced, persistent threats.
You can avoid some forms of malware by practicing smart digital habits like using secure messaging apps and checking that websites are safe before using them. But you need antivirus protection, because hackers use social engineering tricks, phishing scams, malicious URLs, and infected downloads that can fool even savvy digital natives.
A good antivirus solution will not slow down your computer. The top free antivirus software is designed to minimize its impact on your system. Make sure to select a program with light system load so you can stay protected but still use your computer exactly as you normally would.
People who write malware are in it for the money. They steal and sell your personal data, or weasel into your financial accounts to siphon out cash, or trash your important files and demand a ransom to restore them. It seems unfair that you have to pay money for programs to protect you against malware attacks. Well, good news! You can get effective antivirus protection without paying a dime.
Your antivirus should certainly have the ability to root out existing malware, but its ongoing task is to prevent ransomware, botnets, Trojans, and other types of nasty programs from getting a foothold. All the free antivirus programs we've selected here offer real-time malware protection. Some take the fight to the browser, working to ensure you never even browse to a malware-hosting site or get fooled into turning over your credentials to a phishing site.
Avast has been supplying antivirus protection for as long as there's been an antivirus industry. With Avast One Essential you get award-winning antivirus protection for free, and much more besides. All four of the independent testing labs we follow include Avast in their reporting, and it aces almost every test. It also takes high scores in our own hands-on testing. Other protective services include a permission-based ransomware protection system, a basic firewall, and a bandwidth-limited VPN.
Many free antivirus utilities work only on the Windows platform. Avast has varying degrees of protection for macOS, Android, and iOS. Its macOS edition earns high scores from the labs, and its ransomware protection, browser trace cleanup, and VPN work just as they do on Windows. On Android you get antivirus, VPN, junk cleanup, and privacy protection, among other features, though anti-theft is noticeably absent. As is common, protection under iOS is limited, but it does include VPN, filtering fraudulent and malicious websites, and extra protection for your photos.
If you spring for the commercial antivirus, you get vastly more features, more features than found in some security suite products. Among these are a basic password management system, a hardened desktop for secure browsing, a Rescue Environment to recover from malware that disables Windows, and a Wi-Fi security analyzer. None of these come for free.
Kaspersky Free is the free anchor for the new Kaspersky line; the not-free Kaspersky Standard, Plus, and Premium all build on the same antivirus engine. Kaspersky's antivirus prowess generally awes the independent testing labs, who routinely assign it perfect or near-perfect ratings. Unfortunately, we can't recommend it anymore. Here's why.
If free antivirus tools are so good, why should anybody pay For one thing, many of these products are free only for noncommercial use. If you want to protect your business, you must pony up for the paid edition. At that point, you should probably consider upgrading to a full security suite. After all, it's your business's security on the line.
Security companies typically pay for the privilege of being included in testing. In return, the labs supply them with detailed reports that can help improve their products. The number of labs that include a particular vendor serves as a measure of significance. In each case, the lab considered the product important enough to test, and the vendor felt the price was worthwhile. The labs don't necessarily test a vendor's free product, but most vendors pack full protection into the free product, enhancing premium versions with additional features.
In addition to carefully perusing results from the independent labs, we also run our own hands-on malware protection test. We expose each antivirus to a collection of malware samples, including a variety of different malware types, and note its reaction. Typically, the antivirus will wipe out most of the samples on sight and detect some of the remaining ones when we try to launch them. We derive a malware blocking score from 0 to 10 points based on how thoroughly the antivirus protects the test system from these samples.
Just about every antivirus product scans files on access to make sure malware can't launch, and it also scans the entire system on demand, or on a schedule you set. Once cleaning and scheduling is done, blocking all access to malware-hosting URLs is another good way to avoid trouble. Many products extend that protection to also steer users away from fraudulent websites, phishing sites that try to steal login credentials for financial sites and other sensitive sites. A few rate links in search results, flagging any dangerous or iffy ones.
Any antivirus should eliminate spyware along with other types of malware, but some products include features designed specifically for spyware protection. Features like encryption to protect your sensitive data and webcam control to prevent remote peeping typically show up in commercial products, not free ones. But some free products include features like a simple on-screen keyboard to foil keyloggers.
One easy way to keep your PC protected is to install all security updates, both for Windows and for browsers and other popular applications. Windows 11 makes it easier than ever to stay up to date, but there are plenty of security holes in older Windows versions, in popular apps, and in add-ons. Scanning for vulnerabilities in the form of missing updates is a feature most often found in commercial antivirus products, but it does turn up in some free ones. In the list below you can see which products include these useful features.
Numerous free utilities devoted entirely to ransomware protection have come on the scene in the last few years. Alas, many of those have fallen by the wayside, among them Bitdefender Anti-Ransomware, Cybereason RansomFree, CyberSight RansomStopper, and Heilig Defense RansomOff. In any case, these are useful companion products, but they don't do the job of a full-scale antivirus utility.
There are also numerous free antivirus utilities that work solely to clean up existing malware infestations. You bring out these cleanup-only tools when you have a nasty malware problem. When the malware's gone, they have no further use since they offer no ongoing protection. Our favorite in this category is Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, and it's one you should try if you've got a malware problem. But since they're free, you can keep trying others if the first one doesn't do the job. When the scare is over, you'll need a full-blown antivirus for ongoing protection.
Avast One Essential takes the place once held by Avast Free Antivirus as Editors' Choice for free antivirus utility. It appears in lab reports from all four labs we follow with almost universally perfect scores, and it includes many suite-level features. If you do have a little cash in your budget for security, the best paid antivirus software does offer more and better protection. If not, try a few of these free tools and see which one you like best.
Bitdefender also provides excellent anti-phishing protection. During testing, it blocked many fake websites that had evaded detection from the built-in protections on the Chrome and Firefox browsers, as well as the anti-phishing tools of other antiviruses. Out of all the brands on this list, only Bitdefender and Norton had near-perfect anti-phishing results.
Malwarebytes Free is a minimalistic antivirus scanner with good virus detection and removal rates. It also comes with a browser extension that blocks malware, phishing sites, ads, and trackers. Upgrading to Malwarebytes Premium brings you real-time protection and coverage for up to 5 devices, whereas Malwarebytes Premium + Privacy also adds a VPN.
The best premium antiviruses include all of the features you need to secure your PC, including anti-malware engines that use AI and machine learning to detect both known and unknown viruses, as well as malicious website protection and identity theft monitoring tools.
Yes, free antiviruses can offer some good protection, but users looking for complete online protection should consider a paid antivirus (most of which are low cost, especially with our promotional coupons and discounts).
Yes. There are antivirus programs that are 100% free. However, while decent free antiviruses can offer full virus protection, they are usually missing important feature