If you’re new to using a computer, it’s important to know that viruses and malware can harm your device and steal your personal information.

Antivirus software can help protect your computer from these threats. There are many antivirus programs available, but not all of them are free.

In this article, we will introduce you to the 10 best free antivirus software for Windows. These programs can help keep your computer safe without costing you any money

1. Norton – Best Overall Windows Antivirus in 2024

Norton has been recognized as the best overall antivirus for Windows in 2024. It doesn’t have a free version right now, but you can try it for 60 days and get your money back if you’re not happy. It has a strong system to find all kinds of harmful software and many extra features. You can use it on up to 10 devices with different operating systems.

Norton

Norton is good at spotting all kinds of cyber threats, whether they’re common or new. It can find simple viruses and more complex spyware. It also does a great job protecting against phishing and has a smart firewall that you can adjust. Plus, it keeps your online banking and shopping safe.

Features of Norton

  • VPN (unlimited data): maintains fast speeds, works with streaming sites like Netflix, and includes extras like Tor support and split-tunneling.
  • Password manager: generates, saves, and auto-fills logins, and checks password security.
  • Parental controls: filters inappropriate content, limits device usage, and monitors YouTube and Hulu (Norton ranks #1 for parental controls and #2 for standalone parental control apps).
  • Secure browser: protects users from online threats for a private, safe browsing experience.
  • System optimization tools: remove unwanted files, improve boot time, and defragment the hard drive.
  • Dark web monitoring: scans dark web forums, data breach databases, and credit reports in real time.

The Norton Antivirus 7-day free trial is an excellent option for those seeking powerful and fully equipped antivirus software. It works on all devices and is very easy to use.

Once the free trial is over, you can opt for a premium plan starting from $19.99 per year, covering 1 device. There’s also the Standard plan at $39.99 per year, covering up to 3 devices, and the Deluxe plan at $49.99 per year, covering up to 5 devices.

Pros:

  • 7-day free trial
  • 60-day money-back guarantee
  • AI-powered real-time protection
  • 100% malware detection rate
  • Low-cost premium plans

Cons:

  • No unlimited free version

2. Bitdefender Antivirus Free for Windows – Feature-packed completely free antivirus for PC

Bitdefender Antivirus Free for Windows is a lightweight antivirus software that offers advanced malware and web protection. It uses the same Bitdefender technologies that are found in the company’s commercial antivirus software and has received high scores in independent lab tests.

Bitdefender

Bitdefender Antivirus Free for Windows provides basic protection against e-threats and is quick to install and easy to use. It is good for gaming, image and video editing, and resource-intensive applications.

While it lacks some of the advanced features found in the paid version, it still offers core protection against malware, malicious websites, and fraudulent sites. Bitdefender Antivirus Free for Windows is free to use and can be installed on up to three devices.

Features of Bitdefender Antivirus Free

  • Work Profile: Enhances email protection and minimizes system slowdown.
  • Movie Profile: Prevents pop-up notifications and reduces background processes.
  • Game Profile: Optimizes system performance for gaming.
  • Public Wi-Fi Profile: Activates specific protections to keep you safe while using public Wi-Fi hotspots.
  • Battery Mode Profile: Makes adjustments to the software to help save battery.

Bitdefender’s free version is great for Windows users, with a perfect malware detection rate and easy-to-use apps. If you want more features or need to use it on devices other than Windows, you might consider a paid plan.

The premium versions start at $29.99 per year for up to 3 devices and go up to $49.99 per year for the Total Security plan, covering up to 5 devices.

Pros:

  • Outstanding malware protection
  • Includes a VPN and a password manager
  • Real-time protection is available in the free plan
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Fully free version for Windows PC

Cons:

  • Free version limited to Windows PC
  • Lengthy installation process

3. TotalAV Free Antivirus – Most Intuitive Free Antivirus

TotalAV Free Antivirus is a user-friendly antivirus software that offers essential features to find and remove malware, keeping users safe. It provides antivirus protection, advanced threat defense, and online threat protection. The software is designed to be ultra-fast, avoiding interruptions, and is suitable for gaming, video editing, and other resource-intensive activities.

TotalAV

TotalAV Free Antivirus also includes a Password Vault to store all passwords securely in one place, Ad Block Pro to remove annoying and intrusive adverts, and a browser cleaner to improve security and speed. The software is free to use and can be installed on up to three devices.

Features of TotalAV Free Antivirus

  • Anti-Malware: This smart tool keeps your digital stuff safe from many types of bad software.
  • Real-Time Antivirus: It quickly checks and stops bad things from infecting your stuff as soon as they try (Premium Feature).
  • Spyware Removal: This tool finds and kicks out sneaky software that tries to know too much about you for money reasons.
  • Adware Cleaner: It gets rid of annoying ads that sneak into your device and are hard to get rid of.
  • Anti-Ransomware: Protects you from bad guys who lock up your files and ask for money to unlock them.
  • Data Breach Search: Checks if your email and passwords got into the wrong hands during an online hack.
  • Advanced WebShield: Blocks bad websites and stops them from trying to take your info.
  • 100% Compatible: These smart protectors work on your computer, laptop, phone, and tablet.

The free TotalAV antivirus plan is great for simple and 100% effective protection against malware. If you want extra features and better protection, you can get a premium plan starting at $19.00 per year, which works on up to 3 devices.

Pros:

  • Reliable malware protection
  • 30-day money-back guarantee for all plans
  • Free version includes anti-phishing
  • User-friendly interface
  • 100% malware detection and removal rate

Cons:

  • No real-time protection with the free plan

4. Panda Free Antivirus for Windows – Good Virus Protection With Decent Extras

Panda Free Antivirus for Windows offers real-time protection against spyware, phishing, rootkits, and banker Trojans. It also provides behavioral protection against unknown viruses and the ability to vaccinate USB drives. The software is designed to be user-friendly and intuitive, with a modern interface that is easy to use.

Panda Free Antivirus

Panda Free Antivirus also includes a Password Vault to store all passwords securely in one place, Ad Block Pro to remove annoying and intrusive adverts, and a browser cleaner to improve security and speed. However, it lacks protection against dangerous and fraudulent websites, and its test scores are mixed in independent lab tests.

Features of Panda Free Antivirus for Windows

  • Real-time protection against spyware, phishing, rootkits, and banker Trojans.
  • Behavioral protection against unknown viruses.
  • Vaccination of USB drives.
  • Scanning options, include real-time protection, on-demand checks, and scheduled scans.
  • Ability to create a bootable scanner on a USB key, which can be used to remove existing infections from other PCs.
  • Password Vault to store all passwords securely in one place.
  • Ad Block Pro to remove annoying and intrusive adverts.
  • Browser cleaner to improve security and speed.

The Panda Dome Premium plan gives you unlimited VPN data, access to servers worldwide, and extra features like a firewall, anti-ransomware protection, anti-phishing protection, advanced system tune-up tools, a password manager, and basic parental controls – all for $67.52 per year. Plus, all of Panda’s premium plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Pros:

  • Free
  • Vaccinates USB drives against malware attack
  • Includes Dark Web Scanner, limited VPN
  • Appealing interface with nature-themed backgrounds

Cons:

  • Mixed scores in independent lab tests
  • Mediocre scores in our hands-on tests
  • No protection against dangerous or fraudulent URLs
  • Failed against modified ransomware samples

5. Malwarebytes Free – Minimalistic Virus Scanner

Malwarebytes Free is a minimalistic virus scanner that provides on-demand scans and real-time protection to block the majority of malware on Windows, Mac, and Android devices.

Malwarebytes

The free version offers virus scanning and removal, while the premium version includes additional features such as real-time protection, phishing protection, VPN, identity theft protection, and insurance coverage.

During tests, Malwarebytes’s antivirus scanner detected 95% of test malware files, and it is known for its clean, simple interface and ease of use.

Features Malwarebytes Free

  • Malwarebytes Free Antivirus Software for Windows is designed to remove existing malware infections from the computer.
  • It does not offer real-time protection, but it can work alongside other antivirus software to provide additional protection.
  • The features include on-access malware scans, behavior-based detection, website rating, and malicious URL blocking.
  • It also offers brute force and uninstall protection for Windows only.
  • However, Malwarebytes Free Antivirus Software for Windows does not include additional features such as password managers or file shredders.

For ongoing protection, you can choose Malwarebytes Standard, covering up to 20 devices starting at $66.50 per year. If you want the added benefit of a decent VPN, Malwarebytes Plus is available for $89 per year.

Both premium plans come with a 60-day money-back guarantee. Additionally, Malwarebytes Free includes a 14-day trial of Malwarebytes Standard, so you can try out the paid features without any risk.

Pros:

  • Protects against malware on Windows, Mac, and Android.
  • Uses a large database for known and new threats.
  • Minimal impact on device speed.
  • Simple interface for easy use.

Cons:

  • Lacks some premium features (firewall, password manager).
  • Free version offers manual scans only.
  • Detected 95% of test malware files, competitors had 100% detection.

6. Kaspersky Free – Good Range of Free Features

Kaspersky Free is a free antivirus software that provides powerful protection against common viruses. It offers full-scale malware protection along with some suite-level features. Kaspersky Free has a detection score of 99%, which is among the best.

Kaspersky Free

However, due to the US government’s continued ban on Kaspersky products, PCMag cannot recommend Kaspersky Free as an Editors’ Choice. Kaspersky Free provides the expected powerful protection, but some features are locked away and only available if you upgrade to the commercial edition.

Free antivirus solutions offer basic protection against common viruses, whereas paid antivirus software offers more advanced protection.

Features of Kaspersky Free

  • VPN (available as a separate app with a 300 MB daily limit).
  • Password manager (limited to 5 entries).
  • Data breach monitoring (limited to 1 account).
  • Basic system cleanup tools.
  • Virtual keyboard.

To unlock all the features of Kaspersky, you can choose from its paid plans, starting at $43. All Kaspersky purchases come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Pros:

  • Strong protection against malware and advanced features.
  • 30-day free trial for the full Kaspersky Standard package with real-time scanning.
  • Comes ready for optimal security, needing minimal adjustments.
  • Free antivirus software for Android devices.

Cons:

  • Hesitancy among users due to the US government ban.
  • Limits in free edition features, like Privacy Cleaner Wizard.
  • Some tools require an upgrade to the commercial edition.
  • Free antivirus protects basics, but paid options offer advanced features.

7. Avast One Essential – Effective Antivirus With Nice Privacy Tools

Avast One Essential is a free antivirus software that offers effective antivirus protection and privacy tools. It provides antivirus protection for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS devices, with top lab test scores.

Avast One Essential

The free version includes antivirus, privacy protection, performance tuning, and a limited VPN. The paid version, Avast One, offers additional features such as a no-limits VPN, family sharing, and full-blown identity protection.

The free version of Avast One Essential has received positive reviews and is a clear Editors’ Choice for free antivirus software. It is available in several countries and is designed to keep users private and safe online.

Features of Avast One Essential

  • Award-winning antivirus protection
  • PC performance-boosting tools
  • Limited VPN
  • Password breach alerts on registered email accounts
  • Available for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS devices
  • Comprehensive security and privacy service
  • Combination of antivirus, privacy, and security tools
  • Free to download and use

Avast’s premium plans start at $2.80 per month, offering added protections like webcam protection, extra online privacy features, and the ability to use Avast on 5, 10, or 30 devices.

Avast One Platinum customers also get credit, social media, and identity theft monitoring for $133.30 per year. All paid plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Pros:

  • Award-winning antivirus protection
  • PC performance-boosting tools
  • Limited VPN
  • Password breach alerts on registered email accounts
  • Available for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS devices
  • Comprehensive security and privacy service
  • Combination of antivirus, privacy, and security tools
  • Free to download and use

Cons:

  • Some basic settings for built-in tools are not available at the start
  • Some features are only available in the paid version, Avast One

8. Avira Free Security for Windows

Avira Free Security is a free antivirus and internet security solution for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS devices. It includes antivirus protection, real-time protection and updates, a VPN, software updater, and various privacy and performance tools.

Avira Free Security for Windows

Avira Free Security is available for download at no cost for all computers running Windows 7, 10, or 11, as well as macOS 10.15 (Catalina) and later versions.

It offers protection against malware attacks, ransomware, Trojans, worms, viruses, and more, without slowing down your PC or hogging your system’s resources. 

Features of Avira Free Security

  • Browser safety extension with phishing protection
  • Real-time protection and updates
  • Light and fast, doesn’t slow down your PC
  • Comprehensive device optimization tools
  • Secure password manager
  • Automatic software updater
  • VPN for secure and anonymous surfing
  • Malware Scanner to scan for malware
  • Junk Cleaner to clean up temporary files and free up disk space

Avira Prime offers the VPN with unlimited data for $41 per year. Although it’s slightly more expensive than some competitors, it’s considered one of the best antivirus suites of 2024.

The package also includes multi-device support and advanced system optimization tools. Avira provides a 60-day money-back guarantee for all yearly subscriptions.

Pros:

  • Powerful cloud-based antivirus scanner
  • Excellent malware detection rate
  • Lightweight and user-friendly interface
  • Comprehensive device optimization tools
  • Secure password manager
  • Automatic software updater
  • Free to download and use
  • 60-day money-back guarantee

Cons:

  • Some features require payment for full functionality
  • Basic settings for built-in tools may be limited
  • Some scores in independent lab tests are not the best

9. AVG AntiVirus Free — Solid Malware Scanner With File Protections

AVG AntiVirus Free is a robust malware scanner with file protection. It offers free virus scanning and malware removal tools for Windows, Mac, and Android devices. The software provides protection against viruses, spyware, ransomware, and other malware, and it is easy to use.

AVG AntiVirus Free

Additionally, AVG AntiVirus Free includes features such as automated daily scans, monitoring for malicious websites, and protection against various threats, making it a comprehensive security solution for free.

Furthermore, AVG offers a VPN and tune-up tools for PC, Mac, and Android devices, enhancing the overall security and performance of the devices.

Features of AVG AntiVirus Free

  • Lightweight and fast, doesn’t slow down your PC
  • Comprehensive device optimization tools
  • Wi-Fi protection and phishing attack prevention
  • Performance testing and optimization
  • Blocks spyware, adware, and ransomware
  • Scans files in real-time and blocks threats
  • Uses self-learning AI system NightVisionTM to scan files
  • Browser safety extension
  • VPN for secure and anonymous browsing

Avira Prime offers a VPN with unlimited data for $41 per year. Although it’s slightly more expensive than some competitors, it’s considered one of the best antivirus suites of 2024.

The package also includes multi-device support and advanced system optimization tools. Avira provides a 60-day money-back guarantee for all yearly subscriptions.

Pros:

  • Lightweight and fast, doesn’t slow down your PC
  • Comprehensive device optimization tools
  • Wi-Fi protection and phishing attack prevention
  • Free to download and use
  • Blocks spyware, adware, and ransomware
  • Browser safety extension
  • VPN for secure and anonymous browsing

Cons:

  • Sells browsing and search history to advertisers
  • Yearly contracts only
  • Some features require payment for full functionality

10. ZoneAlarm – Effective Malware Scanner With a Free Firewall

ZoneAlarm offers both a free firewall and a free antivirus solution. The ZoneAlarm Free Firewall provides two-way protection by monitoring incoming and outgoing traffic, preventing spyware exposure, and detecting and blocking harmful bots in real-time.

ZoneAlarm

It also minimizes the impact on system performance and ensures up-to-date protection through regular updates. On the other hand, the ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus detects and removes various malicious threats, including viruses, spyware, Trojan horses, worms, and bots.

It also includes a firewall to make the PC invisible to hackers and protect data from being compromised.

Features of ZoneAlarm

  • Protection against viruses, spyware, and other threats.
  • Real-time updates for ongoing security.
  • Firewall to keep hackers at bay.
  • Optimization tools for your device.
  • Defense against Wi-Fi and phishing attacks.
  • Browser safety extension.
  • VPN for secure browsing.
  • Safe Search feature for Chrome.

If you’re looking for web protection, consider ZoneAlarm Pro Antivirus + Firewall, priced at $16.50 per year. It offers coverage for up to 50 devices with an additional fee.

For mobile security and ransomware protection, ZoneAlarm Extreme Security NextGen is available at $23 per year.

Pros:

  • Protects against malware, phishing, and ransomware.
  • Easy-to-use interface with a simple malware scanner.
  • Strong built-in firewall for network security.
  • Responsive customer support with a 30-day free trial and money-back guarantee.

Cons:

  • Lacks VPN, password manager, and parental controls.
  • Not tested by AV-Test, causing concerns.
  • Incompatible with other anti-malware software, may affect computer stability.
  • Missing features like VPN, password manager, and parental controls.

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