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.

TIP: Test if Antivirus is working or not.

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)

Posted by on , in Category Security with Tags
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

24 Comments

  1. MSE is useless from what I experienced and saw (standart av tests results) imho

  2. Leogoland

    Judging the latest tests, MSE is useless, AVG went to the BLOAT side, Comodo is full with false positives, Panda Cloud is described everywhere as the lightest antivirus around because the ‘CLOUD’ technology that uses but believe me it is NOT so light. Bitdefender Antivirus Free is not listed but you should add it.

    Avast is the good one, along with the two top rising antiviruses this year: Baidu Antivirus (Avira + Local engine), 360 Internet Security that uses a triple antivirus engine: 360 checksum based cloud engine, machine learning cloud QVM engine, and BitDefender local engine.

  3. GuyinVic

    I’ve been using the Free edition of Bitdefender & it has been very simple & effective. It has blocked a few suspicious websites and I appreciate that. It also provides logs of all it’s activities…. another plus.

  4. Mistah Cool

    What do you guts think of the new Norton? I heard its very good and improved now!

  5. Ian Williams

    I was using Bit Defender Free Edition 2013 and found it to be very effective for my needs. However I stopped using it because of the annoying Pop Ups and constant updates that required me to restart my computer.
    I am now using 360 Internet Security 2013 Free and really like it. It is fast. light and easy on the resources, runs quietly in the background and never bothers me.

  6. Dan

    As TechTarget “SearchSecurity”, Symantec, and other security oriented orgs point out, antivirus of ANY kind by itself is TODAY almost useless against rapidly evolving AV-evasion tactics of newest malware; they all suggest layering security with av, firewalling, and behavior blocking.

    As far as AV components go, those you list in terms of efficacy have fared pretty well in spotting known/test malware om my own PC…nothing is 100%, but close. I do find while using Windows Defender that it can spot and block double-zipped/compressed malware all by itself…something not even my Comodo Dragon browser can do (it stops at single-zipped).

    Running Comodo CIS suite as a whole minus only “Geek Buddy”, in such case its own AV component updates as regularly as anyone else’s, but rather than give alerts re false positives, it “semi-sandboxes” files it doesn’t recognize or thinks ‘might’ be malware; you can always check at “Unrecognized Files” and see if anything needs to be moved to “trusted files”. NOTE: I find that Comodo CIS AV seems mostly aimed at Sys32 driver files; CIS otherwise relies on firewalling and HIPS.

    I use regularly updated free manual scan backups of Emsisoft Emergency Kit, Malwarebytes, and Kaspersky TDSS Killer to see how Windows Defender and CIS are doing; I’ve yet to find anything with these manual scanners that WD or CIS didn’t.

    I’ve seen 360 Internet Security (Quihu) do very well if a little heavy for older units, and it’s always free…but it’s from China and Googling makes it sound like a risk to data security, perhaps not, caveat emptor.

  7. Vibhu

    I have been using Avast since its version 3 till date and i feel its best antivirus and even its very low on system resources i love this antivirus and in my past 7 years or more experience i have recommended this antivirus to more than 1000 people… 🙂
    Vibhu

  8. Max van den Bosch

    Avast isn’t working for me on windows 8, after login I got a black screen. Now I use AVG as default.

  9. 1stkorean

    I am using 360 Internet Security which is doing well but it is hungry. Here is what is running and its consumption.

    360sd.exe – 1,172
    360rp.exe – 19,056
    360Tray.exe*32 – 5,876
    ZhuDongFangYu.exe*32 -4,644

  10. Among free options, I’d go with MSE or Avast and Bitdefender, Kaspersky, Eset among paid versions – although I am sure some others may be equally good.

  11. Morrissex

    I won’t change my ol’ friend Avira.

  12. Thor Williams

    The latest free version of AVG does not have the issues you claim it has. If you, however, end up installing the non-free version or the trail of that version, it will have those issues (but then, you are no longer using the free version)

  13. Arun Kumar

    I tested it on my machine. And more than RAM, it consumes CPU. Much as same as Windows Defender in aggressive mode that stops computer from responding. Probably, it depends upon the mood of the antivirus. As long as it is working fine, no issues but then it decides it needs to scan the computer and uses all the CPU for it. Maybe you did not encounter it yet, but the issue is there.

  14. AlexaM

    I love Bitdefender…..I am still in trial of the paid version but i intend to buy it….it is light on resources and has not failed me yet when it comes to malicious files.

  15. AlexaM

    I only believe my own eyes or the tests on a website that has nothing to gain from publishing the results and according to one of those and what i saw at my dad’s, it pretty good, the last version at least.

  16. AlexaM

    I tested AVG and it failed to detect 3 viruses!

  17. Jos Tr?n H?ng

    What about Debifender and Kaspersky?

  18. ME

    Kaspersky is NOT free

  19. Denisa

    Hi!
    I have tried most of the antiviruses that are mentioned here (free, trial, paid version), i’m now using Bitdefender but i can’t say i’m happy.
    After my daughter used it to download modes for miencraft and me visiting alibaba sites, I discovered loads of trojans, ad ware, malware…etc that none of the above could detect, some are in a damn good discuise, i had to dig and google most of the things that seamed strange in task manager and most of the times it showed a big ”no-nooo” ….. some I could delete some i could only make inactive and some i could not modify at all…HELP!!!

  20. SuperTweaker

    MSE is the best! No clutter on the UI, finds OpenCandy and other packed adware and does not annoy you with notices – it simply works well. Combined with MBAM the two security programs keep your system well protected.
    In the end, it’s the user who destroys their OS by ignorance or risk taking for a thrill.

  21. Clifford Scarborough

    MSE / Windows Defender, has one significant advantage over every other solution: It doesn’t need renewal. It is generally ‘good enough’ for the average user.

    It’s biggest downside is the occasional heavy unscheduled impact on processor or disc utilization. Still, my small business and home clients with MSE no longer call me about being infected 3 months after their annual AV subscription expired.

  22. George Kasiouras

    I don’t understand why so many people bash on AVG, it worked fine for me. It’s also worth mentioning that we’ll need an Anti-Malware, I’ve been using MalwareFox for that purpose.

  23. it’s been almost 5 year I am using F-Secure Antivirus and very happy with that . good performance , Great protection and easy to use

  24. Louis Cioccio

    I have been using Sophos the paid version as I have several Mac’s and PC’s. I am able to remotely scan and set where each can be allowed or blocked. I was surprised that it was not included.

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