Check out our picks for the best free antivirus programs to keep your device safe in 2021:
- Avast Free Antivirus (Best Suited for Personal antivirus protection)
- Sophos Home Free (Best Suited for Remote antivirus management)
- AVG AntiVirus Free (Best Suited for Windows users)
- Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition (Best Suited for iOS users)
- Kaspersky Security Cloud Free (Best Suited for Android users)
For more information about these programs and answers to frequently asked questions, check out our complete article below!
Using a reliable antivirus program is critical for keeping your device safe online. There are a lot of options when it comes to choosing an antivirus program. To help make the decision a little easier, we’ve put together this list of the best free antivirus software options. Within each description, we’ve included the pros and cons of the antivirus, as well as a brief summary that goes into more detail about the program.
The 5 Best Free Antivirus Programs in 2021
Below are our picks for the five best free antivirus scanners to use in 2021. We put these antivirus software options in order from our number one choice but any of these options are great for keeping your device safe without paying for a subscription.
|Feature||Avast Free Antivirus||Sophos Home Free||AVG AntiVirus Free||Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition||Kaspersky Security Cloud Free|
|AV-Comparatives test score (percentage of blocked malware)||99.7%||98.3%||99.7%||99.6%||99.7%|
|Network Threat Prevention||✔||✔||✖||✖||✖|
|Web attack prevention||✔||✔||✔||✔||✖|
1. Avast Free Antivirus
|Network security inspector||Some extra features require a paid plan|
|Browser protection||Limited password manager|
|Protection from dangerous URLs||The free version is only for personal use|
Avast Free Antivirus has a number of useful features that will keep your computer free from viruses and other malicious files. In addition to the usual antivirus scans and protection, you also get a network security inspector that helps you see if your home network is vulnerable. Other useful features include browser protection and security against dangerous URLs. These benefits are why we’ve decided to award Avast Free Antivirus the top spot in our best free antivirus list.
It should be noted that Avast and its subsidiary AVG were caught selling customer data last year, causing a major privacy controversy for the company and its users. Since this scandal came to light, Avast has issued a public statement and canceled Jumpstart, the company it sold the data through. This, however, doesn’t mean that Avast no longer collects user data from its software. Simply that they no longer sell this data to other companies.
Avast Free Antivirus includes a password manager, which is a nice addition to have with a free virus scanner and not something we see that often. The reason the password manager is listed as a con is that it has limited features and no master password protecting your stored logins. So to truly be safe with your passwords you might want to consider a good password manager instead.
The other main limitation of this antivirus software is that a lot of the advanced features are only available with a paid account. The free version of this antivirus is also only available for personal use and can’t be applied to businesses.
Avast Free Antivirus is the best personal antivirus protection option because of the range of basic features and protection the antivirus scanner offers. The included browser and URL protection is also an important addition to the free version of this antivirus.
2. Sophos Home Free
|Remote management||Limited parental content filter|
|Good protection against malicious sites||Low phishing protection score|
|3 installations per subscription||10 installations are limited to a paid plan|
Sophos Home Free is the best choice for you if you need to manage the antivirus protection for people who don’t live in the same home as you. Thanks to their remote management feature, you can install a local agent on the person’s computer and manage the settings from your primary account. Of course, you’re also getting excellent virus protection with Sophos Home Free.
The downside to using Sophos Home Free is that their phishing protection isn’t as comprehensive as what you’ll find with the other options on this list. Also, their parent content filter doesn’t work well enough to rely on. Lastly, if you want to manage more than three remote installations you’ll have to upgrade your account. The lackluster parental content filter and low phishing protection score are why we’ve put this scanner in the second position on our list of the best free antivirus options.
Sophos Home Free is the best option if you’re interested in providing remote antivirus protection management to other computers. If you live in a house with more than one computer, this is a great choice because you can manage up to three computers with a free account.
To download the paid version of this antivirus, click this link.
3. AVG AntiVirus Free
|Minimal impact on computer speeds||The first scan is slow to complete|
|Excellent malware protection||Not compatible with iOS devices|
|Great phishing protection|
AVG AntiVirus Free is a comprehensive antivirus program that will protect your computer against any threats that it might come across while you’re online. Some of the notable benefits of using AVG AntiVirus Free are its above-average security rating, excellent malware protection, and amazing phishing protection.
You should be aware that as a subsidiary of Avast, AVG was also involved in the scandal involving customer data being sold to companies. This practice of selling data was stopped last year when the company shut down Jumpstart, the name of the business they were selling the information through. However, this doesn’t mean that Avast no longer collects the data they receive through their software.
One of the limitations of this antivirus program is the fact that it doesn’t work with iOS devices. This makes it impossible to recommend for anyone but Windows users. Another minor complaint is that the initial scan takes longer than average to complete. The iOS limitation is why we’ve placed AVG in the third spot on our list.
AVG AntiVirus Free is the best option for Windows users. It’s excellent security ratings, above-average phishing protection, and unmatched malware protection make it perfect for anyone who uses Windows as the operating system on their PC.
4. Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition
|Good phishing protection||Less options for advanced protection than paid version|
|Independent testing results are excellent||Browser extension not included in free version|
|Antivirus protection is as good as the paid version||No scan scheduling or quick scan options|
Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition is an antivirus program that offers the same level of antivirus protection as the full version of the program. This is important because it means you aren’t sacrificing protection if you don’t pay for the service. Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition also has good phishing protection and an easy-to-use interface.
The only real limitations of this antivirus program are that you’re missing some of the more advanced malware protection layers you would find with the full version of the program, as well as not having access to a browser extension. These drawbacks are why we’ve placed Bitdefender in the fourth spot on our list of the best free antivirus software.
Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition is the best choice for you if you use iOS devices like an iPhone or iPad. All of the antivirus protection you get on the desktop version of the scanner is built-in to the iOS app. Also, Bitdefender has an easy-to-use interface on its iOS application, further making it our top pick for Apple users.
5. Kaspersky Security Cloud Free
|Complete ransomware protection||The iOS version has limited features|
|Good malware-blocking test scores||Tech support isn’t available on the free version|
|Phishing protection results are consistently great||The initial scan takes longer than average|
Kaspersky Security Cloud Free provides you with complete ransomware protection and great phishing protection. You’ll get a good malware-blocking solution for your device with this free antivirus program. The interface is easy to navigate and the scan scheduling makes protecting your device easier than ever.
The limitations of Kaspersky Security Cloud Free come in the form of no tech support for the free version and limited protection for the iOS version of the antivirus when compared to the Android application. The initial start-up scan also takes longer than average to complete. The iOS shortcoming is why we’ve listed this virus scanner as number five in our list.
We recommend Kaspersky for your Android devices because the program’s app has an intuitive interface that’s easy to understand and use. Also, the protection the antivirus offers Android devices should cover your needs when it comes to keeping your phone or tablet running smoothly.
Why Antivirus Programs are Important
Antivirus software protects your device from potentially dangerous programs and files that can make their way onto your computer or phone while browsing online. Some of the things a good antivirus program will protect you from include viruses and malware such as Trojan horses, spyware, ransomware, and adware.
A reliable antivirus program will also safeguard your personal data against identity theft. This is especially important if you store personal information such as banking details or address data on your device.
Some of the possible consequences of not using reliable antivirus software include dealing with annoying pop-ups and error messages, having your files or device taken hostage, and potentially having your money taken from your online accounts.
Another reason that antivirus scanners are so important is that they help to extend the lifespan of your device. By protecting your computer, smartphone, or tablet from viruses and malware, the antivirus program is ensuring that your device will operate properly for a longer period of time than if it wasn’t protected.
Is it Safe to Use a Free Antivirus Program?
Using free antivirus software to protect your computer can be risky if you aren’t familiar with the company behind the antivirus. The biggest risk is when you use a product that looks like an antivirus program but is actually malware in disguise that’s been created to steal your personal information. That’s why it’s important to download your antivirus software from the official website of a reputable company.
The other potential issue with some free antivirus programs is that they will sometimes sell your user data to advertisers and third-party companies. Even some of the most reputable companies have been caught selling their users’ data (like Avast), which is why reading reviews and doing your research is so important. The top 5 free antivirus programs you’ve read about in this list are all options that we trust and recommend to you to try for yourself.
Paid vs Free Antivirus Programs
In most cases, the biggest difference between paid and free antivirus scanners is the features that you have available to make the program more effective or convenient. This is especially true when you’re considering a free version of an otherwise paid antivirus program.
Some of the most common features that are only available to paid accounts are:
- Extra layers of anti-ransomware protection
- Additional web protection
- Parental controls
- No advertising
- Level of support
When it comes to choosing between paid and free options, you need to think about your budget and what features you actually need. While paid antivirus programs are important for a lot of people because they need those extra services, you may be okay with a free version of the program on your device. To see which antivirus software options we picked as the best for 2021, check out this link.
How We Picked the Best Antivirus Programs
When it came to picking the best free antivirus software we looked at a number of different factors. These included the following:
- How well the free program did when it came to blocking threats
- How easy the software was to navigate and run for new users
- The number of useful features included with the free version
- How the antivirus software deals with privacy and safety
Keeping your device safe while browsing the internet and downloading files doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive. The programs we’ve outlined in this guide are designed to protect your computer from malware and other dangerous and unwanted attacks. Any of the options we’ve reviewed are perfect for keeping you protected while you’re online.
|Antivirus Software||Download Link||Best Suited For|
|Avast Free Antivirus||Download||Personal Antivirus Protection|
|Sophos Home Free||Download||Remote Antivirus Management|
|AVG AntiVirus Free||Download||Windows Users|
|Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition||Download||iOS Users|
|Kaspersky Security Cloud Free||Download||Android Users|
Do you still have questions about the best free antivirus software to use on your device? Read the following answers to learn more about these programs!
From our analysis, the best free antivirus program to use to protect your device is Avast Free Antivirus. This option provides you with all of the basic protection you’ll need to keep your computer safe while you browse the internet or download reputable files. Avast Free Antivirus also protects your iOS and Android devices online, giving you an all-around reliable option.
The best free antivirus program for Android users is Kaspersky Security Cloud Free. This program gives you complete ransomware and phishing protection on your Android device while you’re browsing the internet or downloading files and programs to your smartphone or tablet.
Read our complete review of this antivirus to learn what you can expect.
Based on our research, the best free antivirus for Windows 10 is AVG AntiVirus Free. This antivirus does an excellent job of protecting your computer while online, safeguarding your personal data from outside attacks with its above-average security rating and excellent malware protection.
If you’d like to try the paid version of AVG Antivirus, read our full review here.
A good free antivirus program is one that offers all of the protection your device needs without charging you for the service. The extra features you would otherwise pay for should be conveniences that add to the program. Good antivirus scanners should be able to provide you with basic malware and virus protection at no cost.
Free antivirus software isn’t dangerous to use, as long as it’s from a trustworthy business. Some viruses and other kinds of malware disguise themselves as antivirus software. There are also antivirus programs that sell your data to third parties, violating your privacy. To make sure you choos a good free antivirus, it’s important to take the time to properly research the one you’re interested in downloading.