Best free antivirus software for PC

Our personal computers hold our precious information that includes not just personal pictures and videos but also includes our bank details, adhaar card copies, and business documents. Computer viruses, a term first coined by Fred Cohen in 1983, are looking for exactly the same stuff to steal and thrive on. This heightens the need to secure our computers from malware.

The democratization of antivirus software

Earlier, antivirus software was expensive and it was hard to get your hands on an original one because pirated copies of antivirus software had infiltrated the market. Several of these pirated copies were actually trojans that would infect the computer device in place of fixing it.

As the internet exploded and the sharing of software was made economical and more democratized, antiviruses were made available online for free. The updated and premium versions of the software were put up for a price that could be bought by those who needed extra features. The monopoly of companies was removed from anti-malware products and we saw an outburst of antivirus software out in the open for everyone to use.

Today there are many independent labs that test antivirus software to help the users select the best options.

Here, in no particular order of importance, is a list of some reputed antivirus applications that are available for free.

•    Kaspersky Free Antivirus

 Kaspersky Free Antivirus is easily one of the best antivirus software out there.  It is especially noticeable for very quick scans. It can be a little hard to find online because weirdly, Kaspersky Lab doesn’t promote its free anti-malware product.

It has a no-nonsense but highly efficient interface which is very easy to use. The fact that it doesn’t offer any added or extra feature is seen as negative point by some but experts believe that having limited features streamlines the work that an anti-virus product is entrusted with doing, instead of getting distracted with too many other features.

•    Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition

Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition gives top protection against malware. It is very easy to use. However, it’s scanning takes time and there is no option of scheduling scans. This software doesn’t have much except the basics. In terms of malware detection, there can be a few problems like the software being prone to detecting false-positives. The primary reason why Bitdefender Antivirus has made it in the list and remains to be top rated anti-virus software is that it does what it is asked of and that is: detect malware and prevent it from entering the computer. 

•    Avast Free Antivirus

It is, unlike the above two software, loaded with additional features. It is highly customizable. It is one negative point is that it is not lightweight and takes more storage, battery, and time to work. Some tests have shown that a highly sophisticated breach is possible by some malware that can also cause privacy concerns. However, this is highly unlikely as this drawback was only seen during test runs and not during regular operations. The software offers a password manager, network scanner, and hardened browser. Avast  Antivirus is considered one of the best anti-virus software out there and is employed by companies as well as individuals.

•    Microsoft Windows Defender

Made by Microsoft itself, the Microsoft Windows Defender comes pre-installed in Microsoft computers, which is highly convenient for the users. Its design is super neat and easy to use. It offers an all browser protection, parental control, and another n number of additional features. With the help of Controlled Folder Access, Windows Defender has also enhanced its anti-ransomware protection.

•    TotalAV

TotalAV delivers what it promises to the user. It runs smoothly on Android, Mac, and Windows. It also has a system booster, disk cleaner, and browser protection for Chrome and Edge. The scans are prompt and accurate. Its phishing protection is very efficient. It finds and deletes duplicate files from the PC on a regular basis so as to save the storage from overcrowding. Even though the antivirus software runs very promptly, the PC is still able to perform its other functions as there is no impact on its performance. On the negative side, TotalAV lacks in time malware detection and does detect a number of false positives which can be bothersome and inconvenient. Another negative is that there is no option of daily scan available in the software.

•    Norton Security

Norton Security is a highly rated and popular antivirus software that guards your PC against all sorts of unsafe websites, Trojans, ransomware, and viruses. It is lightweight and doesn’t slow down the computer. Even its free version has 24-hour support and firewall. However, no password manager and a large number of false positives is a negative point.

•    McAfee Free Antivirus

McAfee is one of the very few anti-malware software that is equipped to deal with unknown threats that several anti-virus programs aren’t prepared to catch. It has managed a hundred percent protection against zero-day invasions in recent times. There are options like on-demand and real-time scans. It also offers email and web protection, alongside file lock up. The software provides safe money transactions, e-banking, and online shopping experience by securing the browser. The password protection feature named McAfee True Key lets you log into your apps by saving your password without the risk of a breach. It works well with a number of platforms. The constant ads that crop up during the free version can interfere with one’s work, but it is small negative.

•    Panda Free Antivirus

Panda Free Antivirus covers all the basics of capable antivirus software. Its a detection of ransomware, trojans, viruses, and spyware is most accurate of the lot. Its free version has clean-up tools, custom scans which can be scheduled, safe web scanners for Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome. This covers three of the most used and most popular search engines. The absence of automatic scans and direct technical support is a big negative point which should be rectified by the brand in the next versions.