Paid antivirus software packages can carry out all kinds of tasks. They can protect children online with parental controls, safeguard personal data with identity theft protection, and optimize system performance.
If that wasn’t enough, extra features can include password managers, backup files to the cloud, free, and monitor your computer’s firewall in real-time.
With many users not wanting to or not afford to pay for such glossy extras in the paid version. Users were looking for total security and solid protection. It is here that free antivirus programs show themselves.
Free vs paid antivirus protection once was a trade between having protection while facing lots of niggling ads. Besides this, many security suites harvested user data through these free packages.
In the past few years, things are very different with free antivirus software. Free offerings began to emerge, and two of the biggest names, such as Avast and AVG, merged.
It is now possible to find free anti-virus and malware protection, which is as good as what you can pay for.
Here, we look at paid vs free antivirus and five of the best free antivirus products you can find.
Paid vs Free Malware Protection
Budget is a huge consideration for many as the cost can be too much for some individuals. If you have a tight budget, then free antivirus programs are tempting options.
However, like any free software, you need to understand the precautions, no matter who the company is. You need to be sure it comes from a reputable company and isn’t one you find.
For this reason, we have the top suppliers in our reviews to help you find the best for your home; free malware solutions have never been so varied and so many.
Some antivirus developers offer premium products, which are tied to long-term contracts. With this, you get cheaper rates in terms of monthly costs. In many cases, you get a fuller range of features. However, many features may not be required by everyone.
You can also find many paid apps that offer free trials (Trend Micro Maximum Security, an example) or money-back guarantees should you not be happy with the product. Thus, you can try before you buy.
With many free antivirus programs, you may find some only offer basic feature-sets or only run on a Windows PC. Some just provide core antivirus engines that require manual rather than automatic or real-time scanning.
Premium versions may offer extra layers of anti-ransomware protection, anti-phishing technology, file deletion, or custom secure browsers. Furthermore, since parental controls and social media monitoring features are typically paid applications, some families may wish to go in this direction.
Ads are another thing you may need to consider. We all try to stop these while on the internet, and some free products are there to advertise the premium subscriptions.
Ads can range from advertising an upgrade or more, and it all depends on the company.
A significant difference between paid and free is customer support; again, this will be dependent on the company. With premium, you get full technical support, including 24/7 customer support via phone or live chat.
Best Free Antivirus
In no particular order, here are some of the best antivirus for Windows PC you can find. Each has been through our testing labs to determine the levels of protection and ease of use.
Many have been vetted through independent testing labs such as AV Comparatives, so you can be assured each of these will be safe for your operating system and offer the best free antivirus protection.
Avira shows great results in lab tests and continually improves. There is lots of device support above the Avira Antivirus product.
You can run the Avira software on Windows 7 upwards. You will find plenty of features such as an antivirus scanner, VPN, password manager, file shredder, tune-up tools, software updater, and more.
When it comes to performance, Avira is among the top. Rather than slow your system when scanning, you can’t notice too much of a difference. For the cases of malware, Avira provides detailed guides on how you can remove it and also the tool to do this.
You will also find a custom version of Opera browser, although you can change this if you don’t wish to use it. The VPN only offers 500 MB per month, so this is a little limited.
Of all the best free anti-malware packages you can find. Avast free antivirus offers top virus protection and the broadest range of features. You have an unlimited password manager, a secure browser, gaming mode operation, ransomware shield, and a Wi-Fi network scanner.
It is an easy to use the app, though users can customize the appearance and functions to suit. You will also find it comes with the Avast Secureline VPN as an additional feature.
One thing with Avast free vs paid is the reminder to upgrade to the premium product. Furthermore, a couple of features hard-baked into the app yet won’t be activated until you upgrade.
In this antivirus free edition, you still find some of the best real-time protection for malware detection.
You may find this is the best anti-virus software for free to cover all your needs, and even an upgrade could be worth the cost per year for protecting your family’s devices, be it Mac, Android, and iOS, aside from a Windows 10 PC.
You can expect a premium product from AVG antivirus and a place on this list as Avast now owns it. Rather than being a clone, it does offer a different experience for viruses and malware protection.
You will find internet security tools with real-time threat detection, protection for your webcam, and ransomware. You can also discover a remote access shield and an enhanced firewall built in.
Along with this comes a suite of system tune-up features that can help preserve battery life, keep programs up to date and fix issues that slow your devices. For added security, it comes with a secure VPN that has 50 server locations to choose from.
AVG is one of the best antivirus software free version you can get for a Windows 10 PC and other operating systems such as OSX, Android, and iOS.
You will find many companies making a big thing about their antivirus free edition. Kaspersky isn’t one of these like Sophos Home who does the same. You need to scroll to the bottom of their home page to locate the Kaspersky free offering.
One reason being, the antivirus company has such a reputation for being among the best. However, it isn’t always the best thing to hide your free version.
It offers an ideal combination of useful features wrapped up in an easy to use interface. Kaspersky Internet Security offers malware protection to rival many others here. You also have the choice of scheduling scans, although system impact is hardly noticeable.
You can scan emails, use the file shredder, and it has a game mode. However, the extra features such as password manager, parental controls, and secure browser are limited.
As a standalone antivirus program, it does offer some of the best malware detection and protection found in any AV test. It is also compatible with Windows, iOS, and Android.
You may find the free Bitdefender antivirus, a stripped-down version of Bitdefender Antivirus Plus, which itself is just a step to the Bitdefender Total security.
It is lean and fast, which is different from many other antivirus you can find. Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition offers complete real-time data protection, threat defence such as ransomware, web attack prevention, anti-fraud, and phishing.
Much of this, they carry out in the cloud to cut down on system resources.
Also, in the Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition, you find the innovative Bitdefender Photon technology that helps the software adapt to software and hardware configurations.
The use of this is to have the least effect on your devices while keeping you protected.
While it is one of the best free antivirus software packages, it misses out on features such as password manager, parental controls, antispam, firewall, macOS, iOS, or Android protection (Windows only).
When you look at the offerings here, you may ask. Is paying for antivirus worth it? You can take a different stance looking at this because many rely on Windows Defender for their antivirus software.
For many individuals, this is the only internet security you need. However, once you finish the final round of testing, it’s clear you miss out on features.
Your computer can’t tell if you are on a suspect Wi-Fi connection or which site you are visiting. Much of this is handed to your browser to dictate.
On your Windows computer, Defender does rank among the best antivirus and malware detection, yet it stops there.
However, when you want the best for your computer, you need to run through each anti-malware and antivirus program to check out all the features.
The virus protection may be similar in each of the programs. Yet when you need to keep children safe from an unsuspecting site or stop unwanted programs from being installed.
One of the free best antivirus software programs will serve you better, or you can upgrade for a minimal amount per year.