Anti-virus programs protect our computers against numerous threats lurking in the network. Some of them do not have to be paid for. Free means worse? Not always.
The number of free antiviruses available on the market is really large. Of course, not all of them are worth recommending, but in this list we present only those that stand out positively in terms of effectiveness, some of them offer much more functions than just basic protection against malware.
Adaware Antivirus Free
Adaware Antivirus Free from Lavasoft arouses mixed feelings because it uses technology from Bitdefender, a manufacturer that has been one of the leading providers of security technologies for many years. Unfortunately, the free version of Adaware Antivirus Free has been deprived of what is most important in antivirus software. You won't find here monitoring network activity and eliminating threats before they reach your computer. It is also in vain to look for protection against threats in e-mails and filtering network traffic processes. There is also no active control over the behavior of malicious software - that is, heuristics. On the other hand, it is real time protection based on Bitdefender signatures. This is definitely not enough to effectively protect your data and operating system against modern threats. Lack of protection for scanning the content of opened resources in your browser does not even compensate for installing the Bitdefender Trafficlight extension, which protects against harmful content while browsing the Internet.
AVG AntiVirus Free
AVG AntiVirus Free is one of the proposals that do not require a closer recommendation. Users can benefit not only from basic protection, but also from the quarantine module, e-mail scanner or PC Analyzer and Identity Protection tools to protect against identity theft. With LinkScanner, this free antivirus also prevents attacks that might occur while browsing the web - it scans links for threats waiting for users there. The presence of the CyberCapture scanner for higher real time protection, passive mode for interfacing with other security software and constantly improved anti-phishing locks are also important.
The fact that this application has been included in this list will probably surprise some people. Until recently, replacing Windows Defender with another antivirus program was one of the first things that had to be done after "putting" the operating system. Currently, according to many experts, this is not necessarily the case. The application provides protection comparable to fully fledged antiviruses (copes with most threats - e.g. it has a protection module by ransomware), while offering several additional functions (e.g. browser protection). The big advantages of Windows Defender are simplicity of use (it is automatically present on every computer with Windows 8.1 or 10; Microsoft Security Essentials is required for Windows 7) and low power consumption, especially in passive mode (when there is no scan). It is worth noting that the program managed very poorly in performance tests during scanning conducted by AV-Comparatives service - however, these results are not confirmed by the tests of other experts. You will not find any advertisements in Microsoft's antivirus and will not encourage you to buy a paid license.
Avast Free Antivirus
The company owes its popularity to considerable expenditure on well-run marketing (even in previous years, when the effectiveness of protection left much to be desired). Since the "17" version, i.e. the premiere at the beginning of 2017, much has changed for the better. The manufacturer has improved its proprietary protective technologies and efficiency. He encouraged users with additional extensions to basic protection and did not rest on his laurels against the backdrop of emerging trends in developing new ways of protecting computers. In the latest version, support for hardware virtualization has been added, i.e. protection against malware jumping out of the sandbox. A very cool and new feature is the ability to modify the installed components, especially commercial ones, which cause the display of advertisements encouraging the transition to a paid plan.
In the latest version "19" the default configuration of Avast Free Antivirus is not the best and contains fewer options than before. We recommend to switch on the "System protection hardening mode". Even the manufacturer himself writes that this is an option for inexperienced users, so why is it not enabled? Hardened protection mode launches an unknown file in a virtual environment, analyzing suspicious changes. This mode is a safe and proactive way to block new malware and 0-day threats that can cheat antivirus technologies. In addition, activate automatic repair for potentially undesirable programs in the protection settings.
The biggest disadvantage of Avast Free Antivirus software is too many messages encouraging to switch to a paid plan. By default, the installer installs all modules (even commercial ones). If you try to improve performance, use SecureLine VPN, choose a ransomware shield or webcam shield, you will see a window with an offer to purchase a license for Avast Internet Security or Avast Premier. Avast Secure Browser is also installed by default. During this process, you must choose either express or individual settings (e.g. importing bookmarks from your default browser). Messages are not fully polished. Less technical users may find it difficult to do so.
360 Total Security
360 Total Security uses several integrated antivirus engines - 360 Cloud Scan Engine, 360 QVMII AI Engine, Avira and Bitdefender. It is mainly due to this fact that very good for free antivirus, detection of harmful elements and effective protection of the computer in real time. The program also offers a manual scanning option, a sandbox module, an option to check the security of web pages and downloads, and tools for optimizing and cleaning the computer to speed up its operation.
The sister program is 360 Total Security Essential, which is devoid of tools to optimize and clean the computer. As a result, it is "lighter" for the system.