It doesn’t take a genius to tell that the threat of viruses and malware has been growing exponentially with time! Their shadow looms over the entire internet. Threatening to engulf your personal information and use it for maligned intentions or simple disclosure to the public. Newer and newer viruses keep popping up everyday thereby making it essential to guard our system from the constant threat posed by them!
Most people would prefer to turn to the paid Antivirus software such as Norton or McAfee to disarm and protect their system from harm. But the exorbitant price charged by these companies in exchange doesn’t make much sense! Free Antivirus software have been under development and some of them can easily give the paid ones a tough run for their money.
Platform: Windows XP or higher
Lavasoft’s AdAware has been a pretty reliable spyware tool. It offers smooth installation, non intrusive notifications along with detailed custom scanning. The UI of the latest version has been vastly improved as compared to the previous version. Several features have been incorporated such as Sandbox emulation, scheduler and a command line scanner.
That being said there is a lot of scope for development of the rootkit detection and phishing protection provided by the Antivirus.
Platform: Windows XP or higher; Mac OS X Snow Leopard (10.6) or higher; iOS 5.1 or higher; Android 4.0(ICS) or higher
FortiClient is an effective and efficient Free Antivirus which boasts of web filtering, a firewall, network optimization and parental controls. It also provides very good phishing detection and even includes a VPN Client. With no per-seat license fees, FortiClient with its on-access /resident protection enables users & guests to work efficiently anywhere, without compromising on their security.
Although the network optimization seems only to be effective for FortiGate Devices and it is also less effective at blocking certain malicious URL’s. Moreover the functions of the VPN Client and Parental Control system are also limited.
Platform: Windows XP or higher; Mac OS X 10.7 or later including OS X Yosemite; Android 2.2 and Up
Based in China, Qihoo 360 offers a wide range of comprehensive, effective and user friendly Internet and mobile security products aiming to protect the user’s computer and mobile devices against malware and malicious websites. Supported by cloud-based security technology, the 360 sets itself apart from all other Free Antivirus softwares through the usage of three different AV engines comprising of Qihoo’s very own ‘checksum-based’ engine; a machine learning QVM engine and a BitDefender local engine. These comprise Qihoo’s own ‘checksum-based’ engine in the cloud; a machine learning QVM engine. It provides a sandbox too through which one can check out for the threats posed by unknown programs.The program lacks out in providing a parental control system, Firewall or Backup facility.
Platform: Windows XP or higher; Mac OS X 10.4 or above; Android 2.2 and Up
One of the best Free Antivirus currently available! The Comodo Antivirus includes a full range of detection engines for viruses, rootkits, spyware and other malware. It uses Comodo’s proprietary Defense+ technology thereby guarding your system from all unknown files by treating them as a threat. It also provides On-Access/Resident protection, cloud-based protection and an automatic sandboxing function.
Since the program occasionally asks for User input it may not be suitable for amateur users. The Host Intrusion Prevention System and phishing protection still have a long way to go.
Platform: Windows XP or higher
Malwarebytes is one of the most widely acclaims and highly appreciated malware detection solution. It is pretty small, lightweight and doesn’t require signatures as well. It also shields Java and perhaps is one of the most effective software against zero-day attacks that have never been seen before.
The biggest drawback with it is the requirement for proactive antivirus software that can work alongside it. It just acts as a complement to your regular antivirus program. There is also a major lack of features in the free version as compared to the Premium version. But that being said, Malwarebytes still is one of the premier and most reliable products when it comes to catching the newest, most cutting-edge threats that other antivirus companies may not have caught yet.
Platform: Windows XP or up; Android 2.3 or up
The BitDefender Free Antivirus is one of the most unobtrusive antivirus available on the Internet today. It provides for a Real-time Shield, Active Virus Control, Intrusion Detection, Rootkit scanning and HTTP scanning as well. The newly introduced feature of Profiles, which adapt the software for particular tasks like watching movies, playing games or general office work has improved its user-friendliness by a huge margin as compared to the previous versions. Moreover, it even includes online banking protection, a 2 way firewall and a parental control system. Although, poor technical support combined with the difficulties faced in installing on systems that are already infected by malware may cause problems to the average user.
Platform: Windows XP or above; Android 2.3 or up
The Panda Cloud Antivirus takes Free Antivirus to a whole new level with its cloud based scanner. The software is also lightweight and runs of a local cache when the network is unavailable. It offers effective phishing protection and impressive detection rates combined with top-notch rootkit blocking. But it falls behind other Free Antivirus software due to its inefficiency at eradicating malware from already infected system.
Platform: Windows XP or above; Mac OSX 10.9 (Mavericks) or higher; Android 2.2 or up;
Ranked as one of the best amongst Free Antivirus software, Avira boasts of exceptional detection and blocking rates. Its small footprint makes it ideal even for older PC’s. Offering seamlessly fast scans it also boasts of anti-malware protection, anti-spyware protection, browser protection and cloud based scanning as well. Although one could find the interface too cluttered and the installation and execution process to be quite slow as compared to other Free Antivirus software.
2. AVG Antivirus Free
Platform: Windows XP or higher; Mac OSX Mountain Lion or Later
Definitely one of the most popular Free Antivirus software, AVG needs no reckoning. Furthermore the 2015 version has been revamped to provide a better user interface, a cloud based scanning system and the ability to block infected links besides the usual detection and eradication of viruses. It is also one of the smallest Antiviruses and also provides script malware protection.
The excess of advertisements may prove to be irksome. Phishing protection could be improved as well.
Platform: Windows XP or above; Almost all Mac OSX versions;
Editor’s Recommendation: I would prefer Avast over other free antivirus hands down. The plethora of features that it boasts of sets it apart from all others. Effortless installation, an all encompassing heuristic search engine and on access protection pack quite a punch. Its features such as real-time protection of files, email, P2P transfers, web surfing, instant messages and even suspicious behavior are a notch above your average Free Antivirus software. It has been praised for its performance and light use of system resources and has also proved itself efficient in catching malware as well. Further developments made in the 2015 version to enhance the user interface merit Avast its place on the top of our list.