In this article and video above it’s time to once again have a look at some of the free antivirus software out there. I’m going to briefly review the top 5 free antivirus programs and I’ll have extended reviews for each program, which will be linked in the video as well as in this article. So if you want to know more about a certain program, you can watch those videos.
|#||Name||Active protection||On-demand scanner||Adware protection||Monetization||Computer Resources||Rating|
|1||Bitdefender Antivirus Free||Yes||Yes||Limited||No||Very little||8.5/10|
|2||Panda Free Antivirus||Yes||Yes||Yes||Upgrade reminders||Moderate||8.3/10|
|3||360 Total Security||Yes||Yes||Yes||Software ads||Average||8/10|
|4||Avira Free Antivirus||Yes||Yes||Yes||Upgrade reminders||Average||7.5/10|
|5||AVG Antivirus Free||Yes||Yes||Yes||Data harvesting & software ads||Average||7/10|
#1 Bitdefender Antivirus Free
Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition is a simple and lightweight antivirus program for Windows. The good thing about Bitdefender is that it’s ad-free, consumes very little computer resources and works automatically in the background.
However there are some downsides as well, such as the interface which is a bit too simple for my taste, it works on Windows 10 but is not optimized for it yet so you might experience some occasional glitches and even I have experienced some problems using Bitdefender Free Edition on my desktop computer which runs Windows 7, mainly while playing games, especially full screen games which have caused it to crash. And I’m not the only one, there’s been some similar complaints in the comments of my previous Antivirus videos as well.
Bitdefender will actively protect your computer from viruses, worms and trojans, and it also has an on-demand scanner for full system scans, along with a number of other features like HTTP scanning to protect you against harmful websites and intrusion detection which monitors applications that try to access the internet and looks for malicious behavior.
One drawback is that it does not protect against potentially unwanted programs like adware, which are not necessarily malicious but may still affect your privacy or computer performance. Also you have to register on the Bitdefender website to use the software.
As for ratings, CNET users gave it 3 out of 5 and PCMag gave it 4 out of 5. AV-Test only tested the full version of Bitdefender which has an entirely different interface but the same antivirus engine as the free version, so the Usability and Performance ratings from AV-Test are not really relevant. However it did get 5.5 out of 6 points for Protection.
My rating is 8.5 out of 10 points.
#2 Panda Free Antivirus
Panda Free Antivirus is a antivirus program developed by Panda Security SL, a Spanish company and it is available for Windows computers and Android mobile devices.
Panda does have frequent pop-up reminders to upgrade the software to the paid version, which can be a bit annoying.
On their website, Panda claims to be a lightweight antivirus program because it uses cloud based scanning, so most of the virus scanning is not performed on your computer, as long as it is connected to the internet. And indeed that seems to be the case, it does not consume much resources, especially when idle.
The antivirus engine actively protects against viruses, worms, trojans, spyware and other types of malware and potentially unwanted programs. It also has a on-demand virus scanner and a process monitor that can monitor applications accessing the internet and block those that access potentially harmful websites.
CNET gave Panda 3.5 out of 5, and PCMag gave it 4.5 out of 5 points. On AV-Test Panda Free Antivirus scored 5.5 out of 6 for Protection, 4.5 out of 6 for Performance and 6 out of 6 for Usability.
Overall Panda is not a bad free antivirus. I’ll give it 8.3 out of 10 points.
#3 360 Total Security
360 Total Security by Qihoo 360 is a free full featured antivirus program available for Windows, Mac and Android mobile devices. 360 does have some advertisements in the software itself such as third party software and app recommendations and a few banner ads in some locations, but I have not encountered any pop-ups or other annoying ads so far.
For virus scanning 360 Total Security uses a number of different scanners including a cloud based virus scanner and downloadable third party scanners such as Avira and Bitdefender antivirus engines. Personally I was able to download and install the Avira antivirus engine but for some reason it took me several days of trying to get the Bitdefender engine downloaded and installed. 360 has a number of other features as well such as a junk file and registry cleaner, and antiphising protection with a browser plug-in. The interface also looks great and is easy to navigate.
One issue with 360 Total Security is that it is developed by a Chinese company, and as we all know they don’t have the best reputation when it comes to privacy and data security. However, so far there have not been any reports of wrongdoing by Qihoo.
CNET users rated 360 Total Security at 4.5 out of 5 points and PCMag gave it a lower rating of 3 out of 5 points. The antivirus did score fairly well on AV-Test, it got 5.5 out of 6 points in all categories, Protection, Performance and Usability.
My rating for 360 Total Security is 8 out of 10 points.
#4 Avira Free Antivirus
Avira Free Antivirus is developed by a German multinational and family-owned corporation called Avira Operations GmbH. The free antivirus is available for Windows and Mac computers, and also Android devices.
Avira does have pop-up reminders to upgrade to the full paid version of the program, which they at one point a few years back actually said they would remove, but it hasn’t happened yet.
Avira Free Antivirus comes with a antivirus scanner that actively protects your system as well as an On-Demand scanner to perform a quick scan, full system scan or a custom scan. Avira also blocks potentially unwanted applications through its PUA shield, and it has a number of other features.
AV-Test scored Avira with 5.5 out of 6 points for both Protection and Usability, as well as 6 out of 6 points for Performance. CNET users gave it a 4 out 5 point rating and PCMag scored it at 3.5 out of 5 points.
My rating for Avira is 7.5 out of 10 points.
#5 AVG Antivirus Free
AVG Antivirus Free Edition is developed by AVG Technologies from the Czech Republic. The antivirus is available for Windows and Mac computers as well as Android mobile devices.
With AVG you get a number of features including a secondary program called AVG Zen which helps you manage AVG on multiple devices. You can even activate your desktop virus scanner with the mobile app on your smartphone.
The AVG antivirus scanner actively protects your computer from viruses, spyware and other types of malware, and it has an on-demand scanner for custom scans and full system scans. Additional features include a Email Scanner that scans email attachments, LinkScanner which helps to prevent phising attacks and blocks potentially harmful websites, and Identity Protection which analyzes the behavior of programs accessing the internet to determine if they are behaving maliciously.
AVG does have advertisements, it has app and software suggestions, but you can adjust the frequency of how often these appear to some extent in the settings. The big issue with AVG in my opinion is the fact that they collect and store a lot of data on their users, and sell some of the non-personally identifiable data to third parties, in order to make money from their free antivirus. For some people this is OK, but for others it may be a privacy concern.
AV-Test gave AVG some pretty decent scores, 6 out of 6 points in Protection and Usability, and 5.5 points in Performance. CNET users rated AVG at 4 out of 5 points and PCMag gave it 4.5 out of 5 points.
My personal rating for AVG is 7 out of 10 points.