According to a study by software firm OPSWAT, free software takes up 50% of the global antivirus market for Windows PC users. Not surprising when you consider that—aside from the money spent on the electric bill and internet connection—free antivirus software costs nothing.
You Get What You Pay For
The drawback of most free antivirus software packages is that their functionality is limited. A lot of them are effectively advertisements for more capable paid versions, which provide additional features like identity theft protection and even parental controls. Another limitation is that compared to retail security suites, many free antivirus programs do not receive updates as frequently. They are also only licensed for personal or home use.
The many different free antivirus software makes for a very competitive environment. Popular options from companies like Avast, AVG, and Avira enjoy high usage numbers, and more knowledgeable Windows users also rely on Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE). We’re taking advantage of the recent debut of MSE 4.0, comparing it against the three aforementioned free antivirus applications, and Comodo Internet Security, Panda Security Cloud Antivirus, and PC Tools Antivirus Free.
- Which free antivirus performed above and beyond the call of duty—and price?
- Our Testing Methodology
- AVAST! 7 Free Antivirus
- AVG Free Antivirus 2012
- Avira AntiVir Personal
- Comodo Internet Security
- Microsoft Security Essentials
- Panda Security CloudAntivirus
- PC Tools Antivirus Free
- Appendix: Complimentary Free Antivirus Tools