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lindagray

The Best Free Antivirus Protection for 2019

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What's the Best Free Antivirus?
 

Our current Editors' Choice products for free antivirus utility are Avast Free Antivirus and Kaspersky Free. Avast gets very good scores from the independent labs, and Kaspersky took near-perfect scores in recent tests. On the other hand, Avast includes some useful bonus features not found in Kaspersky, including a password manager and a network security scanner. If you do have a little cash in your budget for security, the best paid antivirus software does offer more and better protection. If not, try a few of these free tools and see which one you like best.

Worried you might already be infected? Check out our article on the signs you have malware.

 

Best Free Antivirus Protection Featured in This Roundup:

  • Avast Free Antivirus 2017

    Pros: Antivirus lab test results plentiful and positive. Excellent scores in our hands-on tests and antiphishing test. Network security inspector. Password manager. Many useful, security-related bonus features. Free.

    Cons: Password manager features limited. Some bonus features require separate purchase.

    Bottom Line: Avast Free Antivirus 2017 combines a great free antivirus with a surprisingly extensive collection of bonus features.

     

    Kaspersky Free

    Pros: Perfect scores from four independent testing labs. Perfect score in our phishing protection test. Good scores in our malware-blocking and malicious URL blocking tests. Free.

    Cons: No direct tech support.

    Bottom Line: Kaspersky Free offers full-scale malware protection that gets perfect scores from the independent labs, and it won't cost you a penny.

    AVG AntiVirus Free

    Pros: Very good scores in multiple independent lab tests and our own hands-on tests.

    Cons: Initial scan slower than average. No longer offers web protection browser extension.

    Bottom Line: AVG AntiVirus Free offers precisely the same antivirus protection engine as Avast Free Antivirus, but lacks the impressive collection of bonus features that you get with Avast.

    Acronis Ransomware Protection

    MSRP: $0.00

    Free at Acronis 

    Pros: Protects against most ransomware samples, including Petya. Recovers affected files. Detected 10 simulated ransomware attacks in our tests. Includes 5GB of hosted online backup. Free.

    Cons: Missed one real-world sample in our testing.

    Bottom Line: If your antivirus misses a zero-day ransomware attack, you're in big trouble. The free Acronis Ransomware Protection offers another layer of protection, plus 5GB of online backup storage.

    Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition (2017)

    Pros: Same antivirus protection as for-pay Bitdefender. Excellent scores from independent testing labs. Top antiphishing score.

    Cons: Lacks all features of the for-pay Bitdefender beyond core antivirus protection.

    Bottom Line: Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition includes precisely the same antivirus technology found in the commercial Bitdefender Antivirus, without the paid edition's many useful bonus features.

    Check Point ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus+ 2017

    MSRP: $0.00

    Free at ZoneAlarm 

    Pros: Tough, effective two-way firewall. Antivirus protection licensed from Kaspersky. Free. Several useful bonus features.

    Cons: Hardly any results from independent testing labs. Doesn't include every feature of Kaspersky antivirus. No phishing protection. Behavioral detection flagged both good and bad programs.

    Bottom Line: ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus+ combines a top-notch firewall with antivirus protection licensed from award-winning Kaspersky. This free program can be a good choice if you don't want a full-scale security suite.

    Cybereason RansomFree

    MSRP: $0.00

    Pros: Prevents ransomware attacks by detecting ransomware-specific behaviors. Fended off virulent, real-world ransomware in testing. Quick, simple installation. Free.

    Cons: In testing, did not detect disk-encryption ransomware.

    Bottom Line: The consequences of a ransomware attack are dire, so supplementing your antivirus with a second layer of defense like Cybereason RansomFree is a great idea. It's free; go ahead and install it.

    Malwarebytes Anti-Ransomware Beta

    MSRP: $0.00

    Pros: Detects and quarantines ransomware based strictly on behavior. Performed well in hands-on testing. Lightweight. Free.

    Cons: Ransomware may encrypt a few files before detection.

    Bottom Line: Malwarebytes Anti-Ransomware Beta watches program behavior to thwart any ransomware that gets past your existing antivirus. This lightweight, free utility makes a great addition to your security arsenal.

    Sophos Home Free

    MSRP: $0.00

    Free at Sophos 

    Pros: Free. Excellent score in phishing protection test. Very good score in malicious URL blocking test. Very good independent lab results. Remote management for up to three PCs or Macs. Download protection.

    Cons: Poor score in hands-on malware protection test. Lab test results not current.

    Bottom Line: Sophos Home Free gives home users much of the antivirus protection found in business security tools from Sophos, including remote management of up to three installations.

    Avira Antivirus (2017)

    MSRP: $0.00

    Free at Avira 

    Pros: Excellent scores from independent testing labs. Very good score in our malware blocking test. Option to install many related Avira products. Free.

    Cons: Extremely slow on-demand scan. Sluggish real-time scan. Browser protection only for Chrome and Firefox. So-so antiphishing score. Real-time protection missed some malware EXEs.

    Bottom Line: The free Avira Antivirus gets excellent ratings from the independent labs, but in testing its scans were slow, and its browser protection only works with Chrome and Firefox.

    CyberSight RansomStopper

    MSRP: $0.00

    Pros: Detected and blocked all real-world ransomware samples, including samples launched at startup. Doesn't permit encryption of files. Free.

    Cons: Installation not complete until after reboot.

    Bottom Line: CyberSight RansomStopper offers free, dedicated ransomware protection, and it now handles ransomware that launches at Windows startup. It's a winner, and free.

    adaware antivirus free 12

    MSRP: $0.00

    Pros: Full scan flags safe programs, speeding up subsequent scans. Free.

    Cons: Mixed scores in independent lab tests. Low scores in our hands-on tests. No protection against malicious or fraudulent URLs. Lacks features found in competing free products products and in its own previous edition.

    Bottom Line: In a complete makeover, adaware antivirus free 12 has a new name and a new look. Under the hood, though, its test results aren't the best, and competing free products have much more to offer.

    Bitdefender Anti-Ransomware

    Pros: Prevents infection by specific ransomware families using vaccination technique. Lightweight. Free for personal or business use.

    Cons: Does nothing against other ransomware families.

    Bottom Line: Bitdefender Anti-Ransomware vaccinates your PC against infection by four specific ransomware families, and testing shows that it does the job. But you'll need some other kind of protection to handle other ransomware families, and other malware in general.

    Comodo Antivirus 10

    MSRP: $0.00

    Pros: Perfect score in our hands-on malware blocking test. Automatic sandboxing of suspect programs. Behavior-based malware detection. Virtual desktop and secure browser. Attractive new user interface. Free.

    Cons: Failed to detect hand-modified malware samples. Dismal score in malware-download test. Independent lab test results sparse and poor. No Web-based protection against malicious and fraudulent URLs.

    Bottom Line: The free Comodo Antivirus 10 has a new look, and it aced our hands-on malware blocking test. However, it didn't do as well on other tests by PCMag or the few independent labs that have evaluated it.

    Panda Free Antivirus (2017)

    Pros: Slick, attractive user interface. Vaccinates USB drives against malware. Panda Safe Web flags dangerous websites. Free.

    Cons: Poor scores in independent lab tests and two of our tests. Middling score in our malware-blocking test.

    Bottom Line: Panda Free Antivirus boasts an attractive user interface and an unusual USB vaccination feature, but its scores have slipped in both our tests and independent lab tests.

    Qihoo 360 Total Security 8.6

    MSRP: $0.00

    Pros: 360 Connect smartphone app lets you remotely help friends and family use the product. Cleanup, tuneup, vulnerability scan, and many other bonus utilities.

    Cons: So-so scores in our malware blocking and malicious URL blocking tests. Dismal score in our antiphishing test. Default configuration not optimized for security.

    Bottom Line: The free Qihoo 360 Total Security 8.6 comes with a ton of bonus tools, but its core antivirus protection doesn't measure up to the best free antivirus tools.

    Trend Micro RansomBuster

    MSRP: $0.00

    Pros: Folder Shield blocks unauthorized access to protected documents. Detects encrypting ransomware behavior in any folder. Recovers any files that were encrypted before detection. Free.

    Cons: Folder Shield limited to two folders. In testing, behavior-based detection only caught half of the real-world ransomware samples.

    Bottom Line: It's very good of Trend Micro to make RansomBuster available for free, and its Folder Shield successfully prevents unauthorized changes to your documents. However, the behavior-based detection system needs work.

    Baidu Antivirus 2015

    MSRP: $0.00

    Pros: Slick, attractive user interface. Decent results from independent testing labs. Improved scores in our hands-on malware blocking test.

    Cons: Poor protection in our malware-download test. Dismal score in our antiphishing test. Actively reported some malicious files as safe.

    Bottom Line: Baidu Antivirus 2015 has definitely improved since we tested it last year. However, it's still not a recommended choice for free antivirus protection.

    Comodo Internet Security Premium 10

    MSRP: $0.00

    Pros: Perfect score in our hands-on malware blocking test. Secure Shopping Environment protects online transactions. Firewall stealths ports and controls which programs can access network. Virtual desktop and secure browser. Free.

    Cons: Dismal score in our malware-download test. Independent lab test results sparse and poor. Web-based protection against malicious and fraudulent URLs not yet working.

    Bottom Line: Comodo Internet Security Premium 10 merges Comodo's standalone antivirus and firewall programs and adds a new secure shopping environment. That's a lot of features for a free product, but some aren't very effective.

    Microsoft Windows Defender Security Center

    Pros: Built into Windows 10. Good hands-on test scores. Simple ransomware protection. Easy access to Windows security features. Always on if no other antivirus is present.

    Cons: Mixed results from independent test labs.

    Bottom Line: Microsoft Windows Defender Security Center protects Windows 10 PCs that have no other antivirus protection, and it has significantly improved in our hands-on tests since our previous review.

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