Discussion: Best Free Antivirus for Windows PC

There was a time when computer users did not have to worry about virus & malware. They simply booted their computer and started working on MS-DOS or Linux. As the operating systems got more complex, chances of leaving out “holes” increased and these are now used by many to access and play with your data. If you are a Windows user, do not imagine computing without a good antivirus. Windows being the most popular operating system, everyone wants to target it!

You may have already read our post on the recommended free antivirus software for Windows. This post lists some of the best free antivirus for Windows 10/8/7.

Rather than simply presenting a list antivirus, we also discuss the types of antimalware in market and ask that you give your opinion in the comments section, for the benefit of others.

Best Free Antivirus for Windows 7

The properties and processes of an antivirus keep on changing based on the type of malware being introduced into the computing space. Hence, we too need to keep a tab on what antivirus can help you prevent maximum possible disaster, instead of just sticking to one antivirus for years. This post about top 5 antivirus for 2016 is based on research across the different companies keeping tab over antivirus performance, like AV Comparatives and Independent Tests for AV.

There was a time when you had antivirus software for detecting virus, anti-spyware for detecting spyware, adware, etc. But this is not the case now. Most antivirus or anti-malware will detect all kinds of malware including, virus, spyware, adware, Trojans, etc. For best protection, you need to have something that gives you cover against all types of malware. I picked up few of the best antimalware that not only act against the virus, but also against spyware, rootkits, adware, Trojans, etc.

In addition to antivirus software which gives you full real-time protection, there are antimalware software that do not provide you with ongoing protection. These are called the standalone on-demand antivirus scanners. You need these software, in case your current full-time antivirus is not able to detect any malwareand the system is behaving weirdly. These are one-time scan-and-fix antimalware. Once the malware is off your computer, you can remove these and continue with a better antivirus, so that it is not infected again.

Among the best one-time use antimalware quoted by many websites are Microsoft Safety Scanner, Emsisoft Anti-Malware and MalwareBytes Free. If you feel you have a virus on your computer or you see Adware that is not removed by your current antivirus, you can use one of these standalone on-demand antivirus scanners for a one-time download & scan, to fix the computer. Note that it won’t keep on running as a process after it is done removing the malware present on your computer, so you will need a good full antivirus to protect your computer. In case you want to opt in for an online scan, you can choose any one of these good online malware scanners. Why Microsoft does not have one, we fail to understand. The Windows Club always felt that Microsoft too should launch an Online Malware Scanner.

Best Free Antivirus for Windows 10

This is a list of free antivirus for Windows 10 and previous versions – based on reports from different reputed online sources. Windows 10/8 includes Windows Defender! I also used some tests to confirm they indeed work. Please see the references section to know the sources and tests.

Microsoft Security Essentials for Windows 7 and Windows Defender for Windows 10/8 are pretty good free offerings from Microsoft.

Avast AntiVirus too is a good antivirus that also deals with other type of malware. With this on your computer, you need not turn on the Windows Defender though keeping both active will not harm anything. If you wish to free up resources, you can go to the Control Panel and turn of Defender. This is the best I could find for low resource computers. Combined with Comodo firewall, Avast free antivirus can give you the best protection against most types of malware without hogging on your resources.

Comodo Internet Security Suite is a free Internet Security Suite actually and therefore more than an antivirus. It includes a firewall and some other extras for protecting your online browsing as well. You can choose not to install the extras and use just the antivirus – which according to CNET is a good antivirus that rates 4 stars out of 5.

AVG Anti-Virus was once very popular, but appears to have lost out now. Its LinkScanner for some reasons is known to block several legit websites and security help forums, for some reasons, best known to them. Our TWC Security Forum is also blocked by them. More on this here. AVG installs three-four processes and protects your computers from all types of threats that come in the form of malware. Though it runs good on low resource computers, sometimes you may find one of its processes blocking processor access to other programs. There is no way you can block that process as the entire AV will fail if you do so. If you think AVG is slowing down your machine, switch to Avast or Avira AntiVir Personal.

Bitdefender Free Antivirus Edition uses one of the world’s most effective antivirus engines

Though there are many contenders to the fourth and fifth position, I took up Comodo Security as it has a little more than just antimalware and also because the Comodo AV with firewall is one of the best combinations for online security.

The final product in this list of top 5 free antivirus for Windows is Panda Cloud Antivirus. The reason why I selected this is because it is a Cloud Antivirus and therefore takes up most of the computing requirements to its own servers thereby freeing up your resources for other tasks. You may need a constant online connection to utilize it to the fullest. Any malicious behavior is sandboxed and beamed to a community to check for more information about that program.

This concludes my list of some of the best free antivirus for Windows for the year 2016. Among paid ones however, Kaspersky, Bitdefender, Eset, etc., are quite popular and effective.

Please let us know if you have your own favorites that I should have included in this list – or let us know which do not deserve to find a mention here. We’d love to hear which antivirus or security software – free or paid – you use to protect your computer and why!

Join the discussion on the Best Free Firewalls For Windows too.

(Post updated for 2016)

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Arun Kumar is a Microsoft MVP alumnus, obsessed with technology, especially the Internet. He deals with the multimedia content needs of training and corporate houses. Follow him on Twitter @PowercutIN