5 Top Rated Free Antivirus for Home Users
Cybercrime has spread its power, and if you are not armed with the latest protection, you may be the perfect target for hackers.
Most Internet users aren’t aware of potential threats that usually come together with unsafe downloads, visiting unverified web pages, clicking the suspicious content or ad that leads to the malicious link that can jeopardize your system and delete or steal your data.
Accordingly, it’s essential to implement a certain type of protection – no matter if it’s about a paid or free antivirus, make sure it can provide a safe environment, and protect you from malware, ransomware, and other types of threats.
Paid Antivirus vs. Free Antivirus
You must be wondering why would someone purchase something when they can have the same product for free.
The most noticeable difference between free and paid antivirus lies in the security suite. For example, some free packages won’t include features such as real-time malware protection, vulnerability scan, website rating, and some others that are usually found in paid versions.
These limitations are mostly not suitable for companies that need the highest level of protection for their sensitive data, which is why they often purchase specific antivirus business editions that provide all the necessary functions.
Besides, limited tech support included in a free antivirus software usually becomes a problem when you have to deal with a more sophisticated form of malware when you are not sure what your next step is.
Best Free Antivirus: What to Look For?
Picking free virus protection doesn’t mean that you won’t get the right protection, but you need to choose wisely if you want to get most of the essential features.
Here are some concepts that you should consider when choosing the antivirus software:
The most vital function is antivirus effectiveness. The software you pick must be able to identify the unknown threats without providing too many false positives and protect you from any unexpected behavior that could harm your system.
Also, make sure that your free antivirus provides real-time protection, which allows it to detect and block the threat as soon as it appears.
Light on System Resources
Some antivirus software can affect overall system performance. For instance, if after the antivirus installation websites open slowly, apps downloads take a lot of time, or if file copies take longer than usual, you should consider installing a new product.
Always look for an antivirus that offers a wide range of features that can enhance your privacy and bring it to the next level.
For instance, some free products offer behavior-based detection, spyware detection, and on-screen keyboard to foil keyloggers. Some more sophisticated options usually come together with a paid version, but until you’re sure that you need them, the free one is also the right choice.
When we say ‘cost,’ we mean that you must be sure that a product you choose is entirely free of charge.
Many companies offer a free trial, which usually expires after 30 days when you need to renew your license and pay for further use. On the other hand, some companies tend to ‘hook’ by presenting their program as a free one, but once you install it, you see that you need to pay for most of the features if you want to use them.
Some programs require a lot of tech knowledge, which is why most users find it difficult to install and use the software.
All software that is made for home use, including a free antivirus, shouldn’t be complicated, but their interface should be intuitive and straightforward. So, if you notice that you find it difficult to use your current program, make sure you install a new one.
What is the Best Free Antivirus?
We have made a list of the 5 best free antivirus software based on the above-mentioned features and essential concepts they should provide.
We’ll see their critical functions, good and bad sides, as well as the OS they are primarily designed for.
1. Kaspersky Security Cloud Free
Kaspersky, one of the most prominent names of the antivirus industry, offers a free version of its product, which is Kaspersky Security Cloud Free.
It represents innovative malware-fighting technology, it’s cloud-based, and it’s suitable for non-commercial use. Its installation is quite simple – all you need to do is to create and log in to your My Kaspersky account for full activation.
- A toolbar: Kaspersky installs a toolbar for Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer – that way, it provides markup for dangerous links in search results and access to the on-screen keyboard.
- Outstanding phishing protection: This free antivirus has shown exceptional results in providing protection from phishing. Such a cyberattack includes a URL that’s similar to the site you want to access, mostly PayPal or eBay – once you enter there and log in, you give your credentials to fraudsters. Luckily, Kaspersky successfully identifies and blocks such sites.
- Anti-malware protection: This is the best antivirus that provides excellent malware protection at no cost. It prevents downloads of malware to your PC, scans your entire system, and removes all infected files.
- Anti-theft features on your mobile device: In addition to great malware scanning, Kaspersky provides anti-theft features for Android and iOS that include lock and locate, data wipe, mugshot, and alarm. There is also the option to block calls from numbers on your blacklist.
- No real-time scanning for mobile devices: This feature requires purchasing a paid version of the product.
- Limited tech support: If you need any help regarding the software use, you can check FAQs and other online documentation, as well as the forums that treat the same topic. The users of a paid version can get a phone or live chat support, which is quite helpful.
Bottom line: Kaspersky Security Cloud Free offers a wide range of options, even though it’s free of charge. Protection from malware, ransomware, phishing, and other advanced attacks is the most efficient pro of this version, and you can feel safe knowing that you’re protected while surfing the Internet.
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2. Avast Free Antivirus
Like Kaspersky Security Cloud Free, Avast Free Antivirus also comes with a wide range of features that are mostly offered in a paid suite only.
Besides it offers excellent malware protection, it adds a network security scanner, a password manager browser protection, and much more useful security-related options. It’s got frequent updates, and the last one brought a new Do Not Disturb feature, which lets you choose which full-screen apps should silence notifications and which should be treated like the other apps.
- More scan choices: Avast allows you to choose between a standard and The Full Virus Scan, which lasts about two hours. It’s recommended to run the full scan as soon as you install the program to remove any existing malware and vulnerable apps.
- Wi-Fi Inspector: This free antimalware comes with a network security scanner, which can report on all devices connected to any network, both wired and wireless, flagging the devices with security issues.
- Online Security: Thanks to the Avast Online Security, all search results in popular search portals will be marked with a green (all clear), red (stay away), or gray color, which means that the site hasn’t been analyzed yet. It will protect you from phishing attacks, as well as fraudulent or dangerous pages.
- Password Manager: Avast Password Manager can be added as an extension in Chrome or Firefox, and you can create a master password that will protect the rest of the passwords you use for your daily logins.
- Limited features of Password Manager: Although it’s included in the free version, the password manager offered by Avast is limited to some basic features. That said, there aren’t two-factor authentication nor secure password sharing.
- “Must buy:” Many users don’t like the provider’s persuasion to buy the product, as well as the fact that some bonus features require a separate purchase.
Bottom line: Overall, this could be the best free antivirus for those who seek some advanced features. It’s specifically aimed at protecting you from threats that come from the Internet, which is why it’s recommended to install it for daily surfing.
3. Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition
When a built-in Windows Defender doesn’t provide you with a sufficient level of protection, you can upgrade it with Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition, which is considered the best free antivirus for Windows 10.
It offers some advanced layers of malware protection, and all you need to do it is sign up for a Bitdefender account to activate it. You can scan a full system, you can use drag and drop options to scan specific files or folders and run a timeline of decent activities.
- Advanced antivirus protection: Bitdefender will monitor software behavior and look for indications of infection. In case it finds a new threat, it will upload the file to cloud servers for further analysis.
- Real-time scan: Real-time scan is quite an essential feature of the antivirus in general, and Bitdefender continually scans the system, looking for potential malware – for instance, it won’t block spam messages, but it will scan email attachments and protect you from phishing emails.
- Excellent performance: According to some AV Tests, Bitdefender showed excellent results in detecting and blocking malware, zero-day attacks, as well as other widespread newly discovered attacks.
- No need for browser extension: Unlike most of its competitors, Bitdefender doesn’t require you to add a browser extension that would block access to suspicious URLs – on the contrary, it will block them below the browser level.
- Limited scan options: Bitdefender comes with certain scan limitations, which means that it doesn’t offer a quick-scan option, scan scheduling, or automatic scan of USB devices.
- No customization options: Bitdefender doesn’t offer a lot of customization options, but most of them are already set by default.
Bottom line: Bitdefender free antivirus software comes with an intuitive interface, it’s easy to use and install, and it performs its main goals quite successfully. Still, it offers fewer options than free versions of Kaspersky or Avast, but it’s overall an excellent choice.
4. Avira Free Antivirus for Mac
This free version of Avira offers a special version that’s aimed at protecting Mac computers. It’s a common misconception that Mac users don’t need any source of protection since Mac devices are not as prone to attacks as PCs, which is not true.
Avira Free Antivirus for Mac offers decent security-related features, and the majority of AV tests have shown that it can detect and block most malware.
- Quick and efficient scan: A full scan will take about 25 minutes to finish, which is pretty quick. Scheduled scanning is enabled by default, and it’s done once a week, which is convenient.
- Light on resources: Avira Free won’t affect your overall system performance, nor drain your system’s resources, which is also an essential thing you should have in mind.
- Highly customizable: There are various customization options so that you can optimize it for your needs.
- Browser tracking blocker: This is a browser extension you can add to Chrome, Firefox, or Opera to prevent companies from monitoring what you do online.
- Poor phishing detection: Some tests showed Avira’s average score in phishing detection, especially when it comes to the newest URLs that haven’t been analyzed and blacklisted yet.
- No separate firewall: Avira doesn’t include a firewall component like some of its competitors, but it controls the built-in macOS firewall.
Bottom line: The best antivirus software for Mac requires you to pay for the subscription, and it usually includes more advanced features than this free product. Still, if you don’t want to spend money on it, consider Avira the best free antivirus for Mac.
5. AVG AntiVirus Free
AVG AntiVirus Free offers a broad range of essential features that enhance your security at no cost.
It combines artificial intelligence and data from millions of users to keep your computer safe and to protect it from potential threats and malware. It works on continuous scans so that it can block dangerous email attachments and unsafe web pages.
- Compatible with most OS: AVG is compatible with Windows 10, 8, 7, and XP, and it also works with Mac and Android, which is quite convenient.
- Deep Scan: Similar to Full Virus Scan in Avast, a Deep scan provides an in-depth scan that lasts about two hours, and that finds any existing malware. Also, you should run it as soon as you install the program.
- AVG SafePrice: This is a browser extension that keeps on eye your online shopping. Namely, if it finds a better deal than the items that you’ve selected, it will show you what it found, which can help you save money while shopping online.
- Shredding option: AVG offers Shred using AVG, which overwrites the data before deleting it, preventing any attempt to recover the deleted file’s data.
- Web protection browser extension discontinued: This browser extension is no longer a part of AVG AntiVirus Free.
- Poor zero-day attack detection: AVG found it challenging to block targeted and zero-day attacks, which means that it still needs improvements.
Bottom line: Even though it provides fewer features than the previously-mentioned programs, AVG can be a decent solution for non-commercial use. It works perfectly on most of the OS, but it’s observed as the best free antivirus for Windows 7.
Best Free Antivirus in 2022 – Final Words
Internet and unknown files are the main sources of potential viruses and threats, which is why you shouldn’t let them walk free on your unprotected field.
Antivirus software, regardless of its price, must offer the features that are essential for keeping you safe from even the most sophisticated attacks that could steal your credentials, money, or data.
Also, make sure you use free antivirus protection for home purposes only – if you need to protect your company, choose the business edition that would bring all the benefits that aren’t usually included in home versions.