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The Best Free Antivirus Software in 2020 & 2021: Windows 7, 8 & 10 OS

Let's find you the best free antivirus software to keep your PC safe!

Best free antivirus

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We currently live in a time where keeping your computer secure is more important than ever before. This is mainly thanks to hackers using stolen information for fraudulent activity and identity theft. However, keeping your PC secure is not just for your identity’s sake. Viruses are now extremely advanced and can penetrate a system with consummate ease. Having the right Antivirus protection can literally be the difference between having a working computer today, and a broken one tomorrow.

With that in mind, we thought now would be a great time to showcase what we believe are the best free antivirus software options currently available. I mean, who said protection had to cost you money? Well, maybe organized New York crime families. But that, thankfully, is another story altogether.

Antivirus software manufacturers now provide superb protection from malware, spyware, and adware, for literally no cost what so ever. Before we go into any further detail regarding the features and benefits of antivirus software, let’s take an initial look at the contenders.

Our Top Picks

01
Editor's Pick
The Best Free Antivirus Software
02
Runner Up
The Next Best Free Antivirus Software
03
Anti-Phishing Pick
Another Great Free Antivirus Software

Best Free Antivirus Software: First Look

01
Editor's Pick
The Best Free Antivirus Software
Avast antivirus

Avast Free Antivirus

0 /5
Editor's Rating
02
Runner Up
The Next Best Free Antivirus Software
kaspersky

Kaspersky Free Antivirus

0 /5
Editor's Rating
03
Anti-Phishing Pick
Another Great Free Antivirus Software
bitdefende logo

Bitdefender Antivirus Free Version

0 /5
Editor's Rating
04
Popular Pick
A Very Popular Free Antivirus Software
AVG

AVG Antivirus Free Version

0 /5
Editor's Rating
05
Overall Pick
A Free Antivirus Software With Great Overall Results
avira

Avira Antivirus Free Version

0 /5
Editor's Rating

Things To Consider

What is Antivirus Protection?

The quick answer is; Antivirus software is a type of program which is designed to prevent, detect, and remove dangerous files from your computer, network, or IT system. It was initially designed to detect and remove viruses from a computer. However, thanks to technological advancements, your PC protection software can now do much more than that.

Good antivirus software will protect you against malicious software such as keyloggers, browser hijackers, trojan horses, worms, rootkits, spyware, adware, botnets, and a whole bunch of other annoying infectious file types.

Most Antivirus software packages will run discreetly as a background process. It will scan your computer, server, or mobile device to make sure they aren’t at risk from the above files. The majority of antivirus software now offers a real-time threat detection guard which will alert you of potentially hazardous files when you come across them.

Free Antivirus Vs. Paid Antivirus

A big question a lot of people seem to ask when figuring out what antivirus to use, is; if these free antivirus options are so good, why bother forking out for the premium, paid version?

Andrew Laughlin supports that “You should only pay for antivirus software if you want to protect more than one device and you’re convinced that the extra features it offers are worth the price. Otherwise, just install a good free package”.

Well, the answer is many things. But usually, it means better features, higher levels of protection, protection across multiple platforms, business protection, and more. Paid versions of antivirus are more commonly referred to as full security suites and are utilized by companies. However, there are plenty of reasons why your home personal computer should have premium virus protection.

Antivirus Features: What to Look For

Like any software or hardware offering, each antivirus software has its own unique set of pros and cons. We have compiled a list of things to look out for when choosing an antivirus package to make sure you are selecting the best one for your needs.

The following is a list of key areas that make an antivirus software a great one:

Effectiveness

As mentioned above, antivirus software will continuously scan for viruses and malware to offer real-time protection and threat alerts. It overlooks your online browsing to make sure you aren’t entering into shady websites or clicking on suspicious links. Having an antivirus package that can do this task efficiently is one of the most important aspects you should look out for.

Not too hard on system resources

Even though you want your antivirus software to be as powerful as possible, you don’t want it taking up all your computational power. If you install some antivirus software and you see a dramatic drop in performance, then I would recommend trying one of the other options available. Some are more taxing than others. It’s all about finding the right balance between protection and practicality.

Privacy

Privacy can mean one of two different things. For the most part, it means keeping your information private from malicious files, which could ultimately lead to your data being used by a third party. However, when the antivirus software monitors your PC’s activity, it usually checks in with company servers regarding the unusual activity. This information should be kept private at all times. We always recommend reading the privacy terms and conditions of the antivirus package you choose before downloading.

Are they always free?

It’s a good question because many antivirus software will offer a free trial but then ask you for a subscription after a month. Every product in this list will be free to use for as long as you want. However, remember that free versions won’t offer the same amount of protection as paid products. They will run low on features as well.

Multiple Platform Protection

As many will already know, Microsoft is by far the biggest target for viruses and malware. However, Android is a close second.

Android gets hit from several angles, including sideloaded apps, which are downloaded from outside sources. Google stated that 0.99 percent of apps installed outside of the Play Store were potentially harmful. That being said, it’s definitely worth looking at your antivirus software package to see if it will cover you over multiple platforms.

Best Free Antivirus Software

01
Editor's Pick
Avast antivirus

Avast Free Antivirus

On-demand Malware Scan

Yes

On-access Malware Scan

Yes

Malicious URL Blocking

Yes

Phishing Protection

Yes

Website Rating

Yes

02
Runner Up
kaspersky

Kaspersky Free Antivirus

On-demand Malware Scan

Yes

On-access Malware Scan

Yes

Malicious URL Blocking

Yes

Phishing Protection

Yes

Website Rating

Yes

03
Anti-Phishing Pick
bitdefende logo

Bitdefender Antivirus Free Version

On-demand Malware Scan

Yes

On-access Malware Scan

Yes

Malicious URL Blocking

Yes

Phishing Protection

Yes

Website Rating

No

04
Popular Pick
AVG

AVG Antivirus Free Version

On-demand Malware Scan

Yes

On-access Malware Scan

Yes

Malicious URL Blocking

Yes

Phishing Protection

Yes

Website Rating

Yes

05
Overall Pick
avira

Avira Antivirus Free Version

On-demand Malware Scan

Yes

On-access Malware Scan

Yes

Malicious URL Blocking

Yes

Phishing Protection

Yes

Website Rating

Yes

In-depth Review

01
Editor's Pick
Avast antivirus

Avast Free Antivirus

On-demand Malware Scan

Yes

On-access Malware Scan

Yes

Malicious URL Blocking

Yes

Phishing Protection

Yes

Website Rating

Yes

Pros

A lot of good, free features

Not hugely taxing on the CPU

Top scores from independent testing labs

Cons

Password Management feature quite limited

Many premium features require purchase

Avast’s free antivirus software package has been praised for as long as I can remember and sits high on the list of best free antivirus software options. It offers a lot of free features that other antivirus packages class as premium. Some of the features included are; Online security, a password manager, Wi-Fi inspection, several scan options, phishing and malware protection, and more.

This package gives you almost everything you’d need from the free version. However, if you are looking to splash out on some additional features, the Pro version offers a full array of extra addons.

02
Runner Up
kaspersky

Kaspersky Free Antivirus

On-demand Malware Scan

Yes

On-access Malware Scan

Yes

Malicious URL Blocking

Yes

Phishing Protection

Yes

Website Rating

Yes

Pros

Great at malicious URL block

Very good at malware blocking

Almost perfect scores from independent testing

Cons

Pretty poor tech support if problems do occur

Kaspersky free antivirus software is one of the most watertight package options available. It’s one of the only antivirus software packages that scored near perfect in the independent tests as well.

It comes with a bunch of cool features which include malware protection, spyware protection, general virus protection, multiple scanning choices, URL blocking, and much more. Many of the features displayed in the free version are considered premium also.

Kaspersky doesn’t take up too much computational power, which makes it great for people with slower than average computers.

Overall, a nice little antivirus package that sits right up there with Avast in our best free antivirus software packages.

03
Anti-Phishing Pick
bitdefende logo

Bitdefender Antivirus Free Version

On-demand Malware Scan

Yes

On-access Malware Scan

Yes

Malicious URL Blocking

Yes

Phishing Protection

Yes

Website Rating

No

Pros

Fantastic virus protection across all areas

High anti-phishing scores

High scores from independent tests

Cons

Not many additional free features

The main draw of Bitdefender’s free antivirus software is the excellent virus protection it provides. At its core, it offers the same amount of virus protection as the paid version. So what’s the difference I hear you ask? Well, that’ll be the features.

Unfortunately, Bitdefender free doesn’t come with any premium-level features, unlike other free antivirus options. That being said, it does offer premium virus protection overall.

Another great reason people choose Bitdefender comes down to the computational power it uses. Well, in this case, I suppose you could say doesn’t. Compared to other antivirus packages, Bitdefender uses very little power. You can have this thing running in the background, and you wouldn’t see any difference in your PC’s performance.

Ultimately, if you’re looking for simple, solid protection, this might be the pick for you.

04
Popular Pick
AVG

AVG Antivirus Free Version

On-demand Malware Scan

Yes

On-access Malware Scan

Yes

Malicious URL Blocking

Yes

Phishing Protection

Yes

Website Rating

Yes

Pros

Solid antivirus protection

Good overall protection from other malware

Good scores from independent tests

Cons

Could use more high-end features

AVG has been a huge player within the antivirus game for as long as I remember and was my goto choice for a paid virus protection. It is by far, one of the most popular antivirus solutions available thanks to its high test lab scores and excellent overall protection.

It includes features such as real-time scanning, malicious URL filtering, a great antivirus engine, and more. It also comes ad-free!

The user interface is classic and one that is very self intuitive to use. Unlike other antivirus software packages that can seem quite technical, the AVG package is really easy to navigate and use.

A great antivirus software package that has everything you would want from a free package. However, it could use a few more features if truth be told.

05
Overall Pick
avira

Avira Antivirus Free Version

On-demand Malware Scan

Yes

On-access Malware Scan

Yes

Malicious URL Blocking

Yes

Phishing Protection

Yes

Website Rating

Yes

Pros

High scoring malware blocking scores

Good independent test results

Good scores from independent tests

Cons

Quite slow scan time

Only has browser protection for Chrome and Firefox

Average malware protection

Avira might be news to you when it comes to the best free antivirus software, but I can assure you, it’s a great overall package none the less. Even though the Avira antivirus software gets good independent lab scores, it still falls a little short of others on this list.

It does very well in the hands-on malware blocking tests and does a great job of alerting you of any malicious URLs. The user interface is very simple to use and is self-intuitive. That being said, the Avira antivirus package comes with a few downsides, respectively.

You only get browser protection for Chrome and Firefox, unlucky Microsoft Edge users. It can also be quite slow in the scanning processes.

Other than that, it’s not a bad little antivirus package and one that might suit your needs perfectly.

Final Word

So, there you have it, our comprehensive breakdown of the best free antivirus software currently available. If truth be told, most of the packages have very similar features and benefits. However, they do differ slightly.

Some have more efficient power usage, and some have a more intuitive user-interface. But at their core, they all offer excellent virus protection for your home computer.

Ultimately we have ranked the Avast antivirus software as the number one free pick because it simply offers the most in terms of performance and protection combined.

Let us know what antivirus you use in the comments section below!

The Author Who Worked On This Article

Monitor & PC Product Specialist
at
WePC
For as long as he can remember, Charlie has always been interested in computers and gaming. It all started with the Sega Mega Drive and then evolved into PC gaming in his early teens. CS 1.6 was his first go at competitive gaming which soon evolved into CS:Source and now CS:GO – a game that he still plays (almost exclusively) today. Throughout that period he has also been a keen PC builder and enthusiast – dedicating a large portion of his time to the craft. My current rig is an ASUS 5700XT with AMD’s Ryzen 3600X.

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