More people are upgrading to Windows 10 as the July 29, 2016, deadline for a free upgrade gets closer, but some people would rather stick with Windows 8. If you’re running either of those Microsoft platforms, you do have antivirus protection built in, in the form of Microsoft Windows Defender. It’s been doing better in testing lately, but it’s still not very good. Don’t worry: Even if you don’t want to pay for better security, the best free antivirus products are far more effective. We’ve rounded up an impressive collection for you.
One easy way to keep your PC protected is to install all security updates, both for Windows and for browsers and other popular applications. Starting with Windows 10, Windows updates aren’t optional for consumers, but there are plenty of security holes in popular apps and add-ons. Scanning for vulnerabilities in the form of missing updates is a feature most often found in commercial antivirus products, but it does turn up in some free ones. In the chart above you can see which products include these useful features.
Our current Editors’ Choice products for free antivirus utility are Avast Free Antivirus, AVG AntiVirus Free and Panda Free Antivirus. All three get very good scores from the independent labs, and in our own tests as well. All three include some useful bonus features. Avast in particular packs a password manager and a network security scanner in its toolkit. If you do have a little cash in your budget for security, the best paid antivirus products do tend to offer more and better protection. If not, try a few of these free tools and see which one you like best.
1. Panda Cloud Antivirus Free 2016
Platform: Windows XP or above; Android 2.3 or up
The Panda Cloud Antivirus takes Free Antivirus to a whole new level with its cloud-based scanner. The software is also lightweight and runs on a local cache when the network is unavailable. It offers effective phishing protection and impressive detection rates combined with top-notch rootkit blocking.
2. Avast Free Antivirus 2016
Free at AVAST Software Avast Free Antivirus 2016 scores high in independent lab tests and in our own tests, especially our antiphishing test. Bonus features like the new password manager and innovative router security scan make it an excellent choice for free antivirus protection.
3. AVG AntiVirus Free (2016)
Free at AVG Technologies The latest version of AVG AntiVirus Free scores high with independent testing labs, and also fares well in our hands-on tests. Once again, AVG is an Editors’ Choice for free antivirus.
4.Panda Free Antivirus (2016)
Free at Panda Security While Panda Free Antivirus doesn’t outperform the very best commercial antivirus tools, it’s way better than the rank and file of for-pay solutions. It remains our Editors’ Choice for no-fee antivirus.
5.Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition (2014)
Free at Bitdefender You’ll hardly know Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition (2014) is present on your system, unless it quashes a problem. Its tiny main window and unobtrusive style are great if you want a strong, silent, and free antivirus solution.
6.Check Point ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus + Firewall 2016
Free at ZoneAlarm ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus + Firewall 2016 combines most of Kaspersky’s powerful antivirus protection with a top-notch personal firewall. It’s an excellent choice if you don’t want to install a full security suite