Best Antivirus Software and Apps 2015

Best Free PC Antivirus Software

For Windows PC users, a good antivirus program is a necessity to ward off malware attacks, keep your computer running efficiently, and safeguard your online identity and personal information. Premium antivirus suites have additional features to protect you from malicious Web pages, help you manage security on mobile devices, and monitor your computer's firewall, software updates and other features. But some just don't want to — or can't — pay a yearly subscription fee for those extra features.

If that's you, you've come to the right place. We've evaluated the most widely used free antivirus programs based on ease of use, features, protection and overall system impact.



So which free PC antivirus product is right for you? We reviewed Avira Free Antivirus, Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free, Avast Free Antivirus, AVG Antivirus Free and Microsoft Windows Defender. Each was tested on the same Windows 8 Acer Aspire E1 laptop, which featured a Core i3 processor and 4 GB of RAM.

Our malware-detection data comes primarily from independent German evaluation lab AV-TEST, which regularly tests all major security software for the ability to detect zero-day malware and other threats.

We also conducted our own tests on how each security suite affected a laptop's performance, running the PCMark7 benchmark software and our own OpenOffice productivity test to assess the system's baseline. We ran the tests again while each security product did a quick malware scan, and then again during full system scans, and compared the results.

Ease of use is also important, which is why we assessed each program on its user interface, and also on how insistently it nags you to upgrade from the free version to a paid edition from the same company.

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78 comments
  • Starting my 2nd year with BitDefender. Only thing I dislike is that it has at some times popped up a nag window over a game regarding reports/updates. Besides that I hate to admit I like the wallet that comes with BitDefender, so horrible at enabling my laziness on maintaining my passwords for me.
    1
  • Bitdefender? give me a break. Malwarebytes is still the best
    -2
  • SR-71 Blackbird
    I have been running Trend Micro Premium , great suite.
    0
  • SR-71 Blackbird
    Minus the McAfee all good suites.
    1
  • DO NOT DOWNLOAD the free version of the Avira Anti-Virus program! Avira uses TR/Agent. 35328.246 which will persistently show itself in Avira's pop-up box, asking the user to "remove" the threat, yet this Trojan/Agent is never removed! According to ehow.com: "The Trojan.Agent virus usually poses no threat to a computer's safe running. Instead, it typically installs on a computer with a less reputable antivirus and spyware blocking program. The program uses the threat of this hoax virus to pressure users into buying the full version of the antivirus software in question."

    Stay clear of Avira if you don't want to be constantly hounded by that company to upgrade to its paid "full version."
    2
  • Why ESET NOD32 isn't mentioned is beyond me. I've been using it for 10+ years and have never been infected by a virus. It has found things over the years and popped up on the screen to let me know. Uses very little resources and has never showed signs of slowing my computer down. Highly recommended!
    2
  • I have tried Avast antivirus for unices (unix like operating systems ) it will install but when you try to update it just says "update failed" so I am using Clamtk AV.
    -1
  • I just got through China's hack attack at a major health insurer. Bitdefender froze and failed. Avast helped my computer quite a bit.
    I don't think the above ratings accurately reflect how the softwares react in real world attacks.
    -2
  • I agree 100% with Honeykira and SR-71 Blackbird, and the reason I agree with them is probably the same for both their comments: Once installed (on a computer), the free version of McAffee acts more like a virus than it does an antivirus. And once installed (on a computer) the free version of Avast simply will NOT leave you alone to do your work, constantly bugging you to upgrade to the paid version. I am all for paying a developer for making great software. But don't offer me a free version that "does a few things" and then hound me for the rest of my life. Just don't offer a free version at all if you're going to do that!

    And for those who bash BitDefender in favor of Avast, at least please clarify whether you are talking about the free version or the paid version. People who are "serious" about antivirus and antimalware will (or should be willing to) pay for it.

    Likewise, I would have found it infinitely more helpful if the author of this article had written two articles: One on the pros and cons of the free versions of each of these pieces of software, and a second article on the pros and cons of the "serious" version of each program.
    2
  • ghill47 said:
    I agree 100% with Honeykira and SR-71 Blackbird, and the reason I agree with them is probably the same for both their comments: Once installed (on a computer), the free version of McAffee acts more like a virus than it does an antivirus. And once installed (on a computer) the free version of Avast simply will NOT leave you alone to do your work, constantly bugging you to upgrade to the paid version. I am all for paying a developer for making great software. But don't offer me a free version that "does a few things" and then hound me for the rest of my life. Just don't offer a free version at all if you're going to do that! And for those who bash BitDefender in favor of Avast, at least please clarify whether you are talking about the free version or the paid version. People who are "serious" about antivirus and antimalware will (or should be willing to) pay for it. Likewise, I would have found it infinitely more helpful if the author of this article had written two articles: One on the pros and cons of the free versions of each of these pieces of software, and a second article on the pros and cons of the "serious" version of each program.
    0
  • Here is an article that extensively tests and ranks antivirus software.

    http://www.av-comparatives.org/summary-reports/

    I don’t think the testing services want to do a stealth download of virus/malware files and then observe the software’s reaction. I believe the test is realistic and would shake up the software rankings.
    0
  • After using Avast for 6 years, 4 of them paid, at $30 p/yr, they could not install the renewal this year. Instead, I was told by the technical assistant who was online to help complete the failed install, that I had malware, 2000 temp files (normal was 200) and lots of background filing that had gotten into my laptop. I thought the yearly subscription was covering some of that? Wrong. System showed no scans, eventhough I had many pop-ups that scans were happening. Yes, if I did pay $170 for Total Support they could fix everything! No, thanks! I cancelled my subscription, feeling like I had wasted 4 years of paid fees and received inadequate protection.
    0
  • girlwskls said:
    After using Avast for 6 years, 4 of them paid, at $30 p/yr, they could not install the renewal this year. Instead, I was told by the technical assistant who was online to help complete the failed install, that I had malware, 2000 temp files (normal was 200) and lots of background filing that had gotten into my laptop. I thought the yearly subscription was covering some of that? Wrong. System showed no scans, eventhough I had many pop-ups that scans were happening. Yes, if I did pay $170 for Total Support they could fix everything! No, thanks! I cancelled my subscription, feeling like I had wasted 4 years of paid fees and received inadequate protection.


    Did you just have the antivirus or the internet security suite?
    0
  • I've used multiple Anti-Viruses and so far those were Norton, AVG, Panda, Kaspersky, and Panda Security. Until recently I've been using BitDefender too, just as this article suggests. However I've switched to SecureAPlus late last year since I've found out that they have multiple commercial AVs running at the same time, which include Norton, AVG, BitDefender, as well as others.

    I was a bit skeptical at first but it didn't hurt to try since it was free. I still have it with me and it works really well. The interface needs some polish but other than that I'm quite happy with it.
    1
  • lollypop1234567
    I use avira its not a virus!!
    0
  • Quote:
    I use avira its not a virus!!

    Quote:
    I use avira its not a virus!!

    Quote:
    I use avira its not a virus!!
    ................................... Who said you Avira is not Anti-Virus .... !??????
    0
  • Someone Somewhere
    It's not a virus, it's an anti-virus. An anti-virus is something that stops viruses.
    0
  • come down guys... pls do respect the converstion. what we need is to find the best anti virus in the world.dosent if you or we using different kind of anti virus. i do respect other using avira,bitdefender,clamXav ect..can we figure it out find the best and latest anti virus for the future?one day one of the virus much more advance than the anti virus what we have.did you all think about that. this is Mj philippines peace on earth..
    0
  • Please explain to me how scheduled scans benefit a user in any way if the software is actively monitoring all the time, the user can also initiate a scan at any time, and virus definitions are updated in realtime? If it can't catch something during active monitoring, and it can't catch it during a user initiated scan, how will a scheduled routine scan catch it? This makes no sense to me and unless I'm seriously missing something, it's a stupid reason to take points away from Avast and Bitdefender.

    At the very least, it is certainly not a critical element to any virus scan if all other factors are in place that I'd mentioned already. Maybe you need to re-evaluate your criteria.

    And no, I do not work for either of those companies.
    0
  • Someone Somewhere
    Blaze Infernus said:
    Please explain to me how scheduled scans benefit a user in any way if the software is actively monitoring all the time, the user can also initiate a scan at any time, and virus definitions are updated in realtime? If it can't catch something during active monitoring, and it can't catch it during a user initiated scan, how will a scheduled routine scan catch it? This makes no sense to me and unless I'm seriously missing something, it's a stupid reason to take points away from Avast and Bitdefender. At the very least, it is certainly not a critical element to any virus scan if all other factors are in place that I'd mentioned already. Maybe you need to re-evaluate your criteria. And no, I do not work for either of those companies.


    If someone pulls your HDD or boots another OS, it's possible that a virus could get on to it without being running.

    Another option is that you could copy a file containing a virus from a USB stick or external HDD. Usually the data rate from those is too high to effectively scan them on-the-fly.

    Not significant loop-holes, but still minor ones.
    0