Many free third-party security apps are more effective at keeping you safe. We’ve tested 17 no-cost services to help you find the best free antivirus for protecting your PC. PCMag reviews products independently, but we may earn affiliate commissions from buying links on this page. Bottom Line: Avast Free Antivirus 2017 best free antivirus pcmag a great free antivirus with a surprisingly extensive collection of bonus features.
Bottom Line: Kaspersky Free offers full-scale malware protection that gets perfect scores from the independent labs, and it won’t cost you a penny. Bottom Line: Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition includes precisely the same antivirus technology found in the commercial Bitdefender Antivirus, without the paid edition’s many useful bonus features. Bottom Line: Sophos Home Free gives home users much of the antivirus protection found in business security tools from Sophos, including remote management of up to three installations. Bottom Line: The free Avira Antivirus gets excellent ratings from the independent labs, but in testing its scans were slow, and its browser protection only works with Chrome and Firefox.
Bottom Line: In a complete makeover, adaware antivirus free 12 has a new name and a new look. Bottom Line: The free Comodo Antivirus 10 has a new look, and it aced our hands-on malware blocking test. Bottom Line: Panda Free Antivirus boasts an attractive user interface and an unusual USB vaccination feature, but its scores have slipped in both our tests and independent lab tests. Neil Rubenking served as vice president and president of the San Francisco PC User Group for three years when the IBM PC was brand new. He was present at the formation of the Association of Shareware Professionals, and served on its board of directors. Even if you’re running Windows 10, you shouldn’t rely on Microsoft’s security tools.
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Free Malware, Spyware, and Adware Protection Going without antivirus protection just isn’t smart. You could lose your savings to a banking Trojan, or find that ransomware encrypted all your important documents. You might find even someone using creepy spyware to peek at you out of your webcam. Your antivirus should definitely 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 of the antivirus programs in this collection offer real-time malware protection. If free antivirus tools are so great, why should anybody pay? At that point, you should probably consider upgrading to a full security suite. After all, it’s your business’s security on the line. For example, the paid edition of adaware’s antivirus adds a behavior-based detection tool, along with protection against malicious and fraudulent websites that the free version lacks.
And Panda reserves quite a few features for paying customers, among them firewall protection, application control, and detection of insecure Wi-Fi connections. In addition, many companies don’t offer full-scale tech support for users of the free edition. The first time you need extra help digging a particularly stubborn piece of malware out of your system, you might regret the lack of support. Independent Antivirus Lab Test Results Around the world, researchers at independent antivirus testing labs spend their days putting antivirus tools to the test. Some of these labs regularly release public reports on their findings.
We follow four such labs closely: AV-Comparatives, AV-Test Institute, SE Labs, and MRG-Effitas. We also take note of whether vendors have contracted for certification by ICSA Labs and West Coast Labs. 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.