What Is The Most Popular Antivirus Software – Editors independently select and review products. If you buy through affiliate links, we may earn commissions that help support our testing.
Avast One Essential Best for All-in-One Free Security Skip to details Editors’ Choice AVAST Free Antivirus See It (opens in new window) AVG AntiVirus Free Best for protection against some small stuff Skip to details $0.00 at AVG See It (opens in new window) ) Bitdefender Antivirus Free for Windows Best for flawless protection Go to details $0.00 at Bitdefender See (opens in new window) Avira Free Security Best for many security components Skip to details $0.00 in Avira View (Opens in new window) Microsoft Defender Antivirus Best for Windows Die-Hards Skip to details $0.00 in Microsoft Store View (Opens in new window)
What Is The Most Popular Antivirus Software
You’ve heard that Windows comes with built-in antivirus protection. What you may not have heard (but probably guessed) is that the built-in protection is not as effective as the best third-party antivirus solutions. Fortunately, you can up your antivirus game without having to spend your hard-earned Simoleons. There are plenty of free antivirus tools available, so you can protect your computers and devices without breaking the bank.
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Your antivirus should certainly be able to root out existing malware, but its constant job is to prevent ransomware, botnets, trojans, and other types of nasty programs from gaining a foothold. All of the free antivirus programs we’ve selected here offer real-time malware protection. Some combat the browser by working to ensure you never visit a site hosting malware or to trick you into handing over your credentials to a phishing website.
Believe it or not, some of these free products have even beaten all but the best paid equivalents. And since they’re free, you can try a few before settling on your favorite. Read on for thumbnails of our full reviews, followed by details on how we rate free antivirus software and how to choose the right one.
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Avast has been providing antivirus protection for as long as the antivirus industry has existed. With Avast One Essential, you get award-winning antivirus protection and more for free. All four independent testing labs we follow include Avast in their reports, and it outperforms almost every test. It also scores highly in our own hands-on tests. Other security services include a permission-based ransomware protection system, a basic firewall, and a bandwidth-limited VPN.
Avast One Review: The Best Free Antivirus, Now With A Decent Free Vpn
Avast reserves some features for paying customers. For example, the free edition will scan and identify apps that don’t have security patches and update them on your command, but it won’t automatically update your apps. It costs nothing to get a list of junk files and corrupted registry entries; cleaning up open messes is a premium feature.
Many free antivirus programs only work on the Windows platform. Avast has different levels of protection for macOS, Android, and iOS. Its macOS edition scores highly in the labs, and its ransomware protection, browser cleanup, and VPN work just like they do on Windows. On Android, you get an antivirus, VPN, junk cleanup, and privacy protection, among other features, though the anti-theft feature is noticeably missing. As usual, security on iOS is limited, but includes a VPN, fake and malicious website filtering, and extra protection for your photos.
If you find security software interesting rather than boring, if a limited budget is the only reason you don’t buy a full security suite, Avast One Essential is perfect for you. The Avast One commercial package does more, of course, but this free edition is packed with features. The fact that you can use it to protect all your devices, not just Windows PCs, is the icing on the cake.
Avast acquired AVG in 2016. After the dust settled, both products use the exact same antivirus technology under the hood. When you install AVG AntiVirus Free, you get the same powerful protection you get from Avast. These two labs have different total lab results because not all labs report AVG. In fact, since one of the labs that left AVG out was the only one that gave Avast a low score, AVG comes out ahead.
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Like Avast, AVG protects against ransomware by prohibiting any unauthorized changes to protected files. Like Avast, the free edition of AVG will identify junk files and other performance drains, but won’t fix problems unless you pay. Bonus features include a beefed-up browser, a shopping deal finder, and a simple network security inspector.
Not every user wants features that are nearly at the level of the Avast One Essential suite, and not everyone needs cross-platform protection. If your focus is on powerful protection against malware and malicious or fraudulent websites, AVG offers the same protection as Avast, but in a simpler, more traditional package. User interface can also be important. Both Avast and AVG have a large international presence, but are popular in different regions.
Bitdefender Antivirus Free for Windows offers basic protection, so does Editors’ Choice Bitdefender Antivirus Plus. True, it looks more like the Bitdefender suite, but with many features disabled. Most of the locked features make sense, although the lack of ransomware removal and vulnerability scanning is a bummer. On the plus side, the unusual protection history shows exactly how Bitdefender stopped the attack. And its protection against malicious and phishing websites is unmatched.
If you choose a commercial antivirus program, you’ll get a lot more features, more features than are found in some security suite products. These include a basic password management system, a secure desktop for safe browsing, a rescue environment to recover from malware that disables Windows, and a Wi-Fi security analyzer. None of this comes for free.
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Bitdefender has an excellent reputation in the security world, and the company’s researchers often report important discoveries. Relying on such an antivirus company is a smart move, but you may be put off by the abundance of features in the commercial edition. In that case, try Bitdefender Antivirus Free, which provides you full kernel protection without any confusing scenes.
Like Avast’s free offering, Avira Free Security is a free version of the full security suite. All features are visible, but many are locked. All four labs we track consider Avira’s antivirus technology important enough to test it, and Avira earns mostly excellent scores, with a few important points. It didn’t perform as well in our hands-on tests, but when our results don’t match the lab results, we switch to lab results.
Avira scans apps that are vulnerable to missing security patches, but leaves you to manually fix any issues it finds. Other features include a simple password manager, find shopping offers, and proactively prevent ad tracking, as well as a VPN with limited bandwidth and a comprehensive check of privacy settings.
Some industry watchers have discovered a flaw in Avira’s Crypto Ethereum mining component; they stopped caring. After the completion of the Ethereum merger, this kind of mining is no longer possible and Avira Crypto has disappeared.
Antivirus Plus Security Software
Do you want a complete security suite, not a full antivirus? Can your nerves handle occasional expensive sales pop-ups when you accidentally click on a feature that isn’t free? Avira Free Security may be right for you.
No discussion of free antivirus software would be complete without Microsoft Defender Antivirus. If you don’t have a third-party antivirus or if your antivirus subscription expires, Defender takes over the banner of your protection. If you add or revive another antivirus program, Defender quietly backs off.
That doesn’t mean we’re super excited about using Defender for your protection. It performs well in some lab tests but fails in others. Likewise, it gets some high scores and some very low scores in our hands-on tests. In typical Microsoft style, its protection against fake and malicious websites only works in Edge. It’s nice, but you can do better.
Hey you! The one who falls asleep reading this article. A person who is very fond of the antivirus program. This is for you! To benefit from its protection, you don’t need to do anything. For the right person, this is the perfect solution.
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Kaspersky Free is a free anchor for the new Kaspersky line; the non-free Kaspersky Standard, Plus and Premium are based on the same antivirus engine. Kaspersky’s antivirus prowess usually amazes independent testing labs, which routinely give it perfect or near-perfect scores. Unfortunately we cannot recommend it more. That’s why.
For years, Kaspersky has faced accusations and convictions based on its Russian origins, although none of the accusations have been supported by hard evidence of malicious behavior. We’ve always focused on product capabilities, not company hype. However, the current war in Ukraine has raised the stakes. Governments and third parties are cutting ties with Kaspersky. The FCC has flagged Kaspersky as a national security risk.
After review, we can no longer recommend you to buy Kaspersky security products or even use them for free.
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