When it comes to protecting your computer and your personal data, a good antivirus program is a must-have. Unfortunately, a lot of the most popular software gets pretty expensive. Whether companies choose to sell their products on a pay-monthly basis or sell it as a one-off purchase, buying an antivirus program might be out of the question.
Fortunately, it’s still easy to keep your computer free of viruses and malware. There are plenty of free antivirus programs out there. Yet, not all of them are what they seem to be. Some are filled with ads. Others don’t offer much protection at all. Meanwhile, some hackers even create fake antivirus programs that actually infect your machine with a bit of malicious code.
However, these five free antivirus programs are both powerful and safe. They will give you the peace of mind to browse freely and don’t cost a cent.
Kaspersky Free Antivirus
Kaspersky isn’t known for its free antivirus. Some users might have heard of it when they got a few-month free trial after purchasing a new computer. Instead, it has earned a reputation for being one of the best antivirus companies out there. Most of its products just cost a lot. However, Kaspersky doesn’t just offer paid antivirus.
It can be a little difficult to find Kaspersky’s no-cost offering, but it’s available on the company’s download page for PC and Android devices. Upon download, users will find bare-bones, easy to use antivirus software with all the features that most people need.
Kaspersky Free offers the same terrific malware protection from web-based threats found in its paid products. The program also includes a powerful scanning tool that allows you to sweep your local disk for threats. It’s worth noting that the scans are much faster than those of other free antivirus programs out there. For general consumers, it doesn’t get much better than this.
Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition
Bitdefender is another popular name in antivirus that many people have probably heard of. The company’s free version starts with a simple interface and a low-maintenance approach. Bitdefender knows that users don’t want to spend hours trying to figure out how to use a new antivirus program. That’s why it features no settings—not even one.
Instead, it automatically scans your PC in the background with cloud-based malware detection. If the software finds a red flag, it performs a deeper scan to hone in on the threat.
Meanwhile, an included browser tool blocks harmful URLs. It also includes anti-fraud and anti-phishing tools. Those are a big plus since not all free antivirus programs include them. Better yet, it does all of this without bogging down your computer thanks to its tiny performance impact.
Bitdefender offers its free software for PC, Mac, and Android.
Microsoft Windows Defender
The next entry on this list isn’t new at all. In fact, most of us have probably closed the pop-up with annoyance when it tried to remind us that it exists. Microsoft’s Windows Defender has long been the butt of antivirus jokes. Nonetheless, it has finally proven that it is capable of hanging with the offerings of other cybersecurity companies.
Windows Defender comes built-in on devices that run Windows. While its malware protection isn’t quite as powerful as that of Kaspersky or Bitdefender, it does a good enough job. Since it is created by Microsoft, it also barely impacts your computer’s performance.
In addition to this basic protection, Windows Defender offers some extra features. For one, it has parental controls that give parents the ability to limit their children’s searches and even keep track of their digital habits. It also offers protection for all web browsers, not just Edge.
For those who don’t want to download another program and just need basic protection, Windows Defender is a more than capable option.
AVG Antivirus Free
When it comes to antivirus software that works just as well on PC as it does on mobile, not many programs can compete with AVG. It offers a decent malware detection system that runs much faster than its Avast counterpart. A key point to note is that AVG’s software has a broad reach and also protects users by blocking suspicious links, stopping potentially dangerous downloads, and hiding dangerous email attachments.
For those without a lot of technical know-how, this is a great choice because it can prevent attacks on unsuspecting users.
Meanwhile, for the Android crowd, AVG is a great option. It works well with Google’s products, which include both Android and Chrome. On mobile devices, it even offers extra tools like performance scans.
AVG’s free antivirus software is available via its website.
Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free
The last entry on this list is a bit different from the rest. While the programs above work to prevent malware from getting onto your machine, Malwarebytes takes a different approach. It serves as a second-line software that is unrivaled in removing viruses from your computer. Should you happen to get one, Malwarebytes is able to find it and remove it to keep your files and information safe. It has become one of the most-used pieces of software by both individual users and tech agencies.
One reason for this is its Chameleon technology. This allows Malwarebytes to be installed on an already-infected system. Certain types of malware can block you from installing antivirus software. With Malwarebytes, that becomes less of an issue.
So, while you’ll still want a primary form of antivirus, such as one of the options listed above, Malwarebytes is a great back-up. If you find yourself with a virus (or just want to be prepared in case you do get one) you won’t find a better free removal tool.
Malwarebytes can be downloaded from the company’s official site.