Virus protection is something every computer needs. Although virus attacks are relatively less common nowadays, thanks to improved security overall, it’s still nice to have a dedicated piece of software protecting your system and data so you can rest easy.
The problem? Many of the best antivirus software picks cost a pretty penny. Not to worry, though, because there are some great options if you want the best free antivirus software for PC. Here are our picks for the best free antivirus software for PC.
See also: The best antivirus and anti-malware apps for Android
The best free antivirus software for PC
Best free antivirus software for Windows PC
Best antivirus software for Mac
Best antivirus software for Windows PC
Windows antivirus apps that don’t cost anything have historically been rather spammy. In recent years, this trend has changed, and we now get some pretty solid options. Viruses and other such threats aren’t as big a problem on Windows as they used to be, but it’s still a good idea to have a layer of protection. Here are our picks of the best free antivirus for Windows.
Microsoft Defender: The best free antivirus software for Windows
If you’re looking for the best free antivirus for Windows, you don’t have to go too far. Windows has improved its in-built security over the years. Microsoft Defender is a pretty solid pick for free antivirus and should keep you safe in most cases. It’s a part of Windows Security and has been around since the 2000 and XP days, but with Windows 10 and 11, it’s on par with most other free antivirus software.
You get many features, including real-time monitoring and system-level integration with Windows user account control. A great thing about Defender is that, unlike most free options, it won’t push spammy notifications or try to push you to upgrade to a premium version. Of course, you can pair Microsoft Defender with another free antivirus for that extra assurance.
Malwarebytes Free: The best malware cleaner for Windows
Palash Volvoikar / Android Authority
Malware is a big problem for PCs, so having a dedicated malware cleaner can be a nice setup. Malwarebytes is the go-to solution here, and it does well when paired with Microsoft Defender. The only problem with the free version is that there is no real-time scanning. So you can only scan an already infected system. However, periodic scans should help you stay safe.
Malwarebytes has a nice premium version if you want to spend some money on malware protection. If not, use the free version combined with Microsoft Defender, and you’ll be safe enough.
Avast is a heavy-hitter in the antivirus space, and its free offering is pretty great if you don’t want to rely on Windows Security. The company’s new offering is called Avast One, and Avast One Essential is the name of the free version. It covers the essential aspects and stays out of your way with Silent Mode, great if you don’t want to be bothered by notifications.
You get general virus and malware protection, a firewall, web security, a password checker, and a VPN. Avast also throws in a performance booster for your PC. It is also rather light to run, and compatibility goes as far back as Windows 7.
AVG Antivirus Free: Another solid third-party free antivirus program for PC
Like Avast, AVG also has a long-standing reputation in the antivirus business. AVG Antivirus Free has been a solid antivirus program for years. Even today, it deserves a spot on this list and offers a no-nonsense experience while protecting your computer.
There is no shortage of features, either. You get real-time scanning to protect you against viruses and malware. There’s also an attachment / download scanner, phishing protection, a firewall, and a password checker. All of this is packed into a nice and clean user interface.
Best free antivirus software for Mac
There are quite a few antivirus options available for macOS as well. While there’s been a bit of a myth about how macOS can’t catch viruses, it’s not true. macOS has had less of a virus problem than Windows, but it’s still good to have some kind of protection. Here are our picks of the best free antivirus for Mac.
Bitdefender Virus Scanner: The best free antivirus software for Mac
Bitdefender takes the top spot as the best free antivirus for Mac. It’s a simple option, but it covers all the basics and brings a lot to the table despite being free. Bitdefender claims it sports full award-winning Bitdefender engines. This means you can expect a solid level of protection since Bitdefender’s engines and definitions are some of the best in the business.
Bitdefender Virus Scanner can find Mac malware, as well as Windows viruses and other threats. It also offers a deep system scan, which scans running apps and daemons, archives, and other possible container files. The user interface is simple, too, so it’s a great package all around.
Avast Security: The best free low-key antivirus for Mac
Avast’s free offerings are so good that it gets a spot on our list of the best free antivirus for Mac as well. You get a clean, no-nonsense antivirus software that doesn’t spam you with constant notifications. Avast describes it as light, powerful, and designed to protect in real-time, and it’s true.
You get virus and malware protection, of course. Avast Security also includes privacy protection using a network inspector. There’s also phishing protection thrown in for good measure. All of this is wrapped up in an elegant user interface.
Avira Free Security is another feature-rich option on our list. This free offering lives up to the reputation of the brand, as Avira is a trusted name in the antivirus business. It loads up this version with a free VPN with a 500MB monthly limit, and a password manager, which is excellent for free software.
It includes real-time protection, great quarantine management, and cloud-based scanning. The smart scan also checks for privacy and performance issues. Avira throws in a system cleaner too, so you’re getting a rather versatile package with this one. You also get a dark mode and a promise not to sell your data, which are great additions.
Sophos Home Free: A cloud-based free antivirus for Mac
Sophos Home Free is a bit of a unique offering here. It’s cloud-based antivirus software, so you get updated security on the go while having a tiny footprint on your Mac. Sophos Home Free also has real-time protection, so you can rest easy.
Remote management is a perk of the cloud-based setup, too. Sophos Home Free starts as a trial of the premium version for 30 days. So you get the whole range of features, including ransomware protection, media protection, and premium support. However, the free version continues to give the basic functionality once the trial period expires, which is pretty great.