You don’t just want antivirus software, you NEED antivirus software. And your list of excuses for not having it are numbered at zero because it’s readily available, and it’s FREE.
The great news about the free versions is that they are usually based on the structure and architecture of the paid for version from the parent company, so you’re getting a solid product. Aside from a few “salesy” emails to get you to upgrade, utilizing the free offering is a solid and hassle free bet. So yes, it’s free, but you’re giving them your information as a potential buying customer in the future – and companies are always looking for a client list. Additionally, this information may be sold to other parties looking to advertise to you – but you can always opt out of whatever you find yourself not interested in, and you may find something you like along the way! Win-win!
Let’s look at what these no-cost options get you from the leading providers.
- AVG AntiVirus Free – AVG has been my personal favorite for years. When I say years, I mean the time from when I started my career in technology at a help desk, which is over 10 years ago, and in the world of technology finding something that sticks around that long is rare. I’ve used many antivirus clients, and with a lot of trial and error, AVG Free is one of the best free programs on the market. It’s a lightweight client that doesn’t not bog down your computer and decrease running time or efficiency. It’s also simple to use with a very user-friendly interface. It’s my opinion that AVG keeps getting better with each edition that they launch.
- Avira Free AntiVirus – Avira comes in second place as they offer both widespread protection, and are good at catching zero-day malware. If you are an experienced computer use, then Avira might be a good option because it comes packed with a long list of features and options.
- Bitdefender AntiVirus Free Edition – BitDefender has the best malware detection out of all the Antiviral options reviewed… HOWEVER, their client does slow down your system’s performance. This is one of the great challenges of technology, finding a balance of protection while maintaining optimal performance.
- Panda Free AntiVirus – Panda is also great at catching the latest malware infections but it does tend to have a higher rate of false positives. A lot of files were tagged as malware that weren’t really weren’t malware at all. This can be a little bit cumbersome and annoying at times.
- Avast Free Antivirus – Avast scores big in the user-friendly category and it’s a very lightweight client, which means it won’t slow you down. Unfortunately, that not the end of the story. It performs poorly at catching malware and viruses compared to the other leading providers. A good option depending on what your needs or concerns are.
- ZoneAlarm – touted as having the world’s best firewall, ZoneAlarm is going to give you the functionality to block viruses and malware, online identity and privacy security, data encryption, and a shield from hackers that are trying to access your PC. Their personal firewall makes your PC invisible to hackers and in their words, stops “internet attacks at the front door and even catch (sic) thieves on their way out”. Additionally, they offer wireless network protection, real-time security updates, customizable scan modes, and a gamer mode which suppresses requests and other updates while you are playing.
- Sophos – protecting both PCs and Macs from malware, viruses, ransomware, and unwanted websites, this solution is based on the same technology that is featured in their professional offering. Their installation and management is done through a web interface. Sophos also offers a family management option to control what you allow, warn of, or block for each person’s computer.
- Comodo Antivirus – designed for both personal and professional use, the Comodo Antivirus offering is looking to give you a solution that you are familiar with in any environment. Covering all of the basic functions of a good antivirus software including removal of malware and suspicious files, internet security, automatic file scanning on downloads, and real-time updates, Comodo also gives you a user-friendly interface and quick cloud-based scanning. Their Internet Security Suite combines firewall, antivirus, and other security features that you can combine for total coverage on your Windows 10 environment.
- 360 Total Security – offers a unified solution of 5 antivirus engines that work to provide real-time protection. They offer a sandbox feature that will allow you to isolate possibly threats from your PC.
In summary, any antivirus program is going to be better than no protection at all. They all provide similar basic functionality, however, it has been my personal experience that AVG Free Edition is the best all-around when you look at PC performance, malware detection, and user-friendliness. Being one of the longest standing companies in the antiviral game, AVG has pioneered the “free antivirus offering” movement.
Are you finding better results elsewhere? Is there a solution that we missed? Let us know how so that we can look into it and feature it here!