There are a million and one ways that your computer or smartphone can catch an infection on the Internet. Malware attacks infect computers every day, so installing an antivirus program is often your best defense.
A good antivirus will rid your computer of unnecessary viruses, spyware, trojans, rootkits, and other malware. It will also protect it from future infections and speed up your system for more efficiency.
Premium and free antivirus software are available and they both perform well. But you will get slightly different features from both, with premium software often coming with more bells and whistles. Still, a free package is often enough for the average PC user.
This list presents the top antivirus software out there, including their highlights and costs. It should help you to make the right choice for your system.
Best & Free Antivirus Applications
|Kaspersky Security Cloud||Windows, Android, iOS||Freemium||kaspersky.com|
|AVG Antivirus||Windows, macOS, Android, iOS||Freemium||avg.com|
|Microsoft Windows Defender||Windows, macOS, Android, iOS||Free||microsoft.com|
|Sophos Home||Windows, macOS||$59 /year||home.sophos.com|
|Bitdefender||Windows, macOS, iOS, Android||Freemium||bitdefender.com|
|Avast||Windows, Android, iOS, macOS||Free||avast.com|
|McAfee||Windows, macOS, Android, iOS||Freemium||mcafee.com|
|Avira||Windows, iOS, macOS, Android||Free||avira.com|
|Norton 360 Antivirus||Windows, macOS, Android, iOs||$40 /year||us.norton.com|
|Panda||Windows, Android, macOS, iOs||Freemium||pandasecurity.com|
1. Kaspersky Security Cloud Security – Free
The Kaspersky Cloud Security – Free antivirus package offers you protection from the majority of software viruses and other malware out there. And it is completely free to use.
It includes on-demand scanning, phishing protection, website rating, URL blocking, and behavior-based detection.
You can run it on Windows systems from version 7 upwards. As well as on Android and iOS devices. Setting up and using the software is easy and you can always upgrade for more features.
If you choose to upgrade to the personal version for $71.99 per year, then you get extras like the software adapting to you, VPN access for public WiFi, a cloud-based password management system, and monitoring of your computer’s WiFi.
With the family version for $119.99 per year and 10 user accounts, you additionally get family-sharing and kids’ protection features.
Pros: Free package, includes alerts, Android & iOS versions
Cons: Extra features come at a cost
2. AVG Antivirus
You can download, install, and use the AVG Free Antivirus for personal and family use. It works on Windows 7, 8, and 10, as well as on macOS 10, Android 5 and above, and iOS 10.3 and later.
AVG Antivirus offers system scanning, ransomware protection, unsafe-link blocking, and elimination of spyware, viruses, and other malware.
If you want more protection, then AVG also offers the Internet Security pack, which costs $3.29 per month for the first year and $5.83 per month afterward. And for up to 10 devices, it costs just $7.50 per month.
This full version includes suspicious software alerts, link scanning, WiFi guard, toolbar removals, password protection, and an enhanced firewall that includes webcam protection. It will also wipe your deleted data completely from the disk to prevent an unauthorized recovery.
Pros: Malware removal, ransomware protection, performance boost
Cons: Firewall comes at a cost
3. Microsoft Windows Security
Microsoft also makes antivirus software. It started as a spyware detection program for Windows XP and then grew into a fully-fledged package, which now ships with Windows 10.
Windows Security formerly called Windows Defender is free and can detect lots of malware, from system configuration changes to ransomware, real-time protection, AI features, and web-browser protection.
For downsides, its browser protection features only work for IE and Edge, although Microsoft has an extension for Chrome users. It also lacks many of the advanced features that you will find in commercial antivirus packages. But it is free.
The Defender is additionally available for Microsoft business customers with valid licenses on other operating systems as Defender ATP for Mac, iOS, and Android devices.
Pros: Free, pre-installed on Win 10
Cons: Average performance, limited features
4. Sophos Home
Sophos is a British computer security company and it offers Sophos Business and Home versions. Unlike most other antivirus software on this list though, Sophos Home is not free.
The license costs $59.99 per year for up to 10 devices and includes every feature you need to keep your Windows PC or Mac safe. These range from standard scan and clean operations to AI threat detection, ransomware security, web protection, and real-time virus monitoring.
Sophos Home also includes parental web filtering to help secure your children’s web access and the license comes with premium live support for any issue that you may have.
For downsides, Sophos does not offer a VPN for browsing in public hotspots and there is no free plan. But $59 a year is a great deal for 10 devices, when compared to its many features. Plus, it comes with a 30-day free trial.
Pros: Ad-free, premium support, full features, 10 machines
Cons: No VPN, no free plan
The Bitdefender antivirus free package is one of the many solutions available from the company. It is free to use, lightning-fast, and works on Windows.
This free version comes with the core functionality that you will find in other top-grade commercial products. And they include real-time protection, ransomware protection, web attack protection, and anti-fraud and phishing.
Bitdefender is a cloud-based solution. So it uses minimal resources from your computer, as most scanning happens in the cloud. It also offers more features, but these are part of the Antivirus Plus for $29.99 and Total Security for $39.98 packages.
Antivirus Plus includes a smart security advisor, battery mode, anti-tracking system, file shredding, and a VPN for privacy. While Total Security adds parental control and webcam monitoring. Plus it comes with macOS, iOS, and Android protection features.
Pros: Extensive solutions list, a free version
Cons: Limited features in free version
Unlike freemium antivirus software that usually comes with limited features, Avast packs all the features that you can expect from a paid version for free. And this includes cloud-based scanning to save your resources.
It includes a powerful virus scanner, live monitoring of spyware, ransomware, phishing protection, a WiFi security feature, plus anti-theft and privacy features.
Avast also features a VPN to securely encrypt your connections, so you can surf the web anonymously or use public WiFi connections without fear of compromise.
The only consideration is that Avast makes your web-browsing data available to companies at a price. However, the firm claims that the data is de-identified before getting sold to third parties. The package works on Windows from versions 7 to 10, on macOS, Android, and iOS devices.
Pros: Free, includes VPN
Cons: Sells click data, although anonymized
McAfee is a complete Internet security package that is available for all types of users, from singles to couples, families, and so on.
It comes with a 30-day free trial option, to see if you like it. And it features a home firewall system, a secure VPN connection, safe web browsing, password manager, data shredder, encrypted storage, and online support from security experts.
The single device options cost $34.99 for the first year and $79.99 thereafter. The couple’s package costs $99 for up to 5 devices, while the family package costs $119.99 for up to 10 devices.
You can also get the Ultimate package for $159.99 per year for unlimited devices. McAfee antivirus is compatible with Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS devices.
Pros: Total protection, encrypted storage, flexible solutions
Cons: No free plan
Made in Germany and free forever, the Avira antivirus package counts over 500 million users around the world. It provides complete protection, without impairing your system’s performance.
Avira works on Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android devices. It detects and removes ransomware, spyware, adware, trojans, rootkits, and worms.
According to the company, Avira generally blocks over 8 million attacks a day, 17 million ransomware per year, and nearly 100 million phishing attacks per year.
It is supported by ads, however. But you can always go Pro for $35.99 per year if you don’t want ads. Plus, the Pro plan includes downloads, USB, and email-attachment scanning, cloud storage, and premium customer support.
Pros: Free forever, made in Germany, works on all platforms
Cons: Free version is ads powered
9. Norton 360 Antivirus
As one of the oldest Antivirus brands, Norton continues to be a relevant security software maker with over 50 million customers across the world.
The Norton 360 is available in four plans, starting from the Standard at $39.99 per year. This includes 1 license for any type of device and all the core features of an antivirus package. There is online protection, a password manager, VPN, cloud storage, firewall, and webcam protection.
For $49.99 per year, the features increase to 5 device licenses, 50 GB storage, parental control, and a privacy monitor. The other 2 higher plans include even more features for $99.48 and $299.88, with the latter including unlimited device licenses.
Norton is a great antivirus package but it does not have a free plan. The company offers a free trial though and argues that you get what you pay for.
Pros: Extensive features, top-grade protection
Cons: No free plan
Panda Security also offers free antivirus packages for Windows and Android devices. On Windows, the software includes external USB devices scanning and a free VPN, in addition to the core antivirus features.
Its paid plans include the Essential, Advanced, Complete, and Premium. Each one comes with more features, such as a firewall, WiFi protection, data encryption, password manager, and premium support.
You should note that only Windows and Android devices get the free version, as the macOS version is a paid version.
Pros: Free version, VPN, many features
Cons: Mac version is not free
We have reached the end of this list of the best free antivirus packages out there. And you have seen those with free and freemium plans, as well as extra features like VPN security, and cloud services.
Each one has a unique feature that sets it apart. So, the final choice is yours to make, because your choice depends on what you need the most and how much you are willing to pay for it.