One of the very first things you MUST do after you open up your new laptop is install antivirus software. In the past, this meant purchasing a commercial antivirus product and paying yearly to receive updates with the hope that it would protect you.
Times have changed, however, and now you don’t have to worry about spending a small fortune to be sure your new laptop is protected. There are many free antivirus applications that are every bit as good, if not better, than many of the commercial products out there and will do an outstanding job at protecting your computer from viruses and malware.
Best Free Antivirus for Windows
Reliable antivirus software is a must have for every Windows user. While Microsoft Windows 8 and above includes its own antivirus protection, third party options are light years ahead of Microsoft and are simply more effective at protecting your laptop.
360 Total Security
If you are only looking for basic antivirus scanning, this package may be way more than you need. But for users in search of an all in one security solution but don’t want to spend a lot of money, 360 Total Security is one of the best in the business.
It offers antivirus scanning, antiphishing, network threat blocking, hard drive clean-up, and much more giving you one of the best free security solutions around. All of these features does make the interface much more complex than many of the other options, but that is the price you pay for everything you get.
What makes this one the most interesting is it uses four different engines for its scanning including the engines from Bitdefender and Avira. While this does catch more viruses than the other packages, the scans are slow and you will run into many more false positives during your scans as well. Overall, 360 Total Security is rather light and doesn’t burden Windows when installed and it does a great job of protecting your computer from many different threats albeit at a much slower rate than the competition.
Avast Free Antivirus
While Avast is one of the easiest to use free solutions on the market packed with one of the best interfaces in the business, but if you aren’t careful, it could install more than you bargained for. Avast still uses that sponsored installation model where it installs the Google Toolbar if you aren’t careful enough to disable it during installation. It also spends a lot of time advertising its paid products while you use it as well.
That being said, the advertising isn’t in your face and is easily ignored. The interface is great to use and it comes with a wide range of customization options to allow you to create the perfect scan for your needs. How well does it work? In many tests it remains competitive with other applications although it misses more than some.
Perhaps one of my favorite features of this application is the ability to schedule and run a boot scan. This scan is performed before anything is loaded on your computer and is a great way to get rid of those hard to remove viruses.
One of the early pioneers of free antivirus software, AVG AntiVirus offers a wide range of features and sleek interface that gets the job done. It does include a wide range of ads to upgrade to some of its paid features, which might put off some users.
However, AVG’s virus detection is consistently ranked among the best on the market and it comes with a wide range of features that make it worth the occasional ad. Features such as scheduling and automatic updates make this one of the most convenient antivirus applications available and well worth consideration by every PC user.
AVG does spend a majority of its time in the background so you shouldn’t be annoyed by some of the ads and offers to upgrade found in the interface. It also achieves some of the fastest scan times in the business, as well, meaning you won’t have to wait hours on end for a scan to finish on your laptop
Avira Free Antivirus
While it won’t win any beauty contests, Avira Free Antivirus has got it where it counts. The interface is quite plain and looks even a bit dated compared to many of its competitors, but it’s protection features are top notch and often rated as one of the best antivirus packages on the market, and that includes both paid and free antivirus applications.
If you don’t want to spend a lot of time with your antivirus software, Avira will run in the background and take care of everything for you including updates and scans. However, for those that like to customize their security settings, Avira offers some of the most impressive features for a free antivirus application. You can protect hosts files, stop the autorun feature, and even monitor network drives.
It does lack a few bonus features, however, such as a Firewall. This might be an issue for some users who prefer an all in one type of solution. However, the stripped down interface and range of options it does include combined with some of the best virus scanning in the business means that this application should be considered by every Windows user.
Panda Free Antivirus
A relative newcomer compared to the others on this list, Panda makes a good first impression with its modern interface style that will blend perfectly with Windows 8 or even Windows 10 once it is released. The interface itself offers easy access to all your settings and scanning needs and is configurable as well allowing you to drag and drop the tiles around the screen and it even allows you to delete and add new tiles to the interface if that’s what you desire.
It includes a useful set of features that are easy to use and access including USB device scanning and process monitoring. For emergency situations, you can always use Panda’s Rescue Kit and it could be a lifesaver.
As far as protection goes, it does a decent job at isolating threats and cleaning them once detected. In some tests, Panda did miss some threats but it also has one of the lowest instances of false positives in the antivirus market.
Best Free Antivirus for Mac
Do Macs really need antivirus software? After all, they are much more secure compared to their Windows counterparts and virus makers have, in the past, largely ignored the platform because of its small market share. However, times have changed and more and more hackers are creating viruses that target Mac computers making the need to install good antivirus software more important than ever.
Sophos Antivirus for Mac Home Edition
The most simple of all the antivirus options out there, Sophos Antivirus for Mac does basically one thing, but it does it well. Sophos will can and clean viruses and malware while updating its definitions automatically for you. However, if you are looking for a more well rounded package that gives you access to network traffic scanning or even skinning capabilities, you need to go elsewhere. You can, however, customize your scans and manage the files that have been quarantined by the scanner.
If you are looking for a no frills antivirus solution that provides good, reliable scanning and cleaning and nothing more, Sophos is the best option for you. The software is available completely free with no need to register or ever pay a dime.
Avast Free Antivirus for Mac
One of the most feature-rich free Mac Antivirus applications, AVG for Mac packs in almost all the features you can expect from the Windows version into a nice clean interface on the Mac. There are a wide range of features available and it will update for you automatically in the background meaning you don’t have to spend too much time using the software if you won’t want to.
Scanning wise, it is comparable to the other free editions on the market and, just like it’s PC cousin, should be perfect for the needs of most users. However, the one feature this version does lack is the ability to schedule scans, meaning if you want to run a scan, you will have to open up the software and do it yourself. Overall, that is not a huge complaint as the real-time scanning is top notch and will be more than enough for most Mac users.
Many people simply forget the importance of antivirus software to their laptop. But, you need to protect your laptop from the attacks of hackers that could slow down your system, making it unusable or even steal your personal data right out from under you. Luckily, you don’t have to spend a dime these days to get great protection to ensure that your new laptop remains virus free each and every day. However, there are always other ways to protect yourself from cybercriminals and one of them is to use a VPN. As an example, Nord Virtual Private Network can be used on both your laptop and your phone and will allow you to safely surf the internet without the danger of your data being stolen.