Protecting your devices and digital information is getting increasingly difficult. Most companies now operate in the online environment exclusively, which gives cyber predators a lot of opportunities to attack and jeopardize your business.
On a personal level, our digital data is also at risk of either being stolen or lost. Can you imagine loosing the photos of your beloved ones or your bank account details?
In such circumstances, it is almost impossible to run a profitable business long-term or using the Internet safely without proper antivirus software.
But not everyone has the budget to pay for expensive antivirus programs, so many people concentrate on free solutions only. In this post, we will present you the 10 best free antivirus software in 2020.
Even if they are free, these tools are highly effective in defending against most cyber attacks.
Antivirus Software Defined
Before you start analyzing our top 10 picks, it is necessary to understand the very concept of antivirus protection.
By definition, antivirus software is a program or set of programs that are designed to prevent, search for, detect, and remove software viruses and other malicious computer code like worms, trojans, adware, ransomware and more.
What does an antivirus program do for you?
Jake Gardner, a cybersecurity specialist at www.aussiessay.com, says it depends on the platform you choose but adds that most solutions come with the following functions:
- Analyzing the health of your device
- Scanning all files and links to detect any signs of malicious activities
- Scheduling and running scans automatically
- Identifying and eliminating malware
- Protecting your computer from downloaded executable files or malicious processes
This is only a small portion of antivirus features, but it’s enough to realize the value of such programs.
Best Antivirus Software
Now you know that you definitely need a reliable antivirus solution, but how can you choose among hundreds of options available online?
We want to help you narrow down the number of options, so let’s check out 10 free solutions you should consider using in 2020 and beyond.
#1 Avast Free Antivirus
Avast Free Antivirus is one of the most comprehensive security suites with a powerful virus protection engine.
Although all-encompassing, Avast is actually a lightweight program that can never jeopardize the functioning of your system or slow down your computer.
Gamers will love this antivirus software because it has special gaming mode, while we like the new password manager that makes password administration much easier and safer. It even includes a secure VPN module to protect your identity and online activities.
Although the free version is sufficient for most users, the paid Avast edition offers some advanced security features such as sandbox environment for running suspicious apps, advanced host-based firewall, anti-spam and anti-phishing protection on emails etc.
Regarding detection capabilities, Avast consistently ranks among the best antivirus engines as evaluated from various independent lab tests.
#2 Avira Free Antivirus
If you need a super-reliable and effective tool for system protection, then Avira Free Antivirus might as well be one of the best solutions for your business or personal computers.
The tool is designed to protect and run on Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS devices. Avira has a user-friendly interface and works quietly in the background, so you will rarely ever notice its impact on the overall system performance.
Of course, the platform is very successful in identifying and fighting malicious attacks, and its one of the serious challengers to Avast according to independent AV test results. Actually, Avast and Avira (together with Bitdefender coming next) are usually ranking on the top spots of the best free antivirus solutions in independent AV lab tests.
#3 Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition
Ofcourse our list will not be complete if we don’t include one of the most powerful free AV engines which is Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition.
What we love about Bitdefender is its simplicity as you don’t have to be an expert to install and use it. Besides that, the platform is known for its proactive functioning – it stays up to date with the latest e-threats and fights off even the most advanced malware.
It consistently gets high scores in independent AV tests (although it gives some false positives from time to time).
#4 Kaspersky Free
If you don’t need more than just a core set of antivirus functions, we encourage you to try Kaspersky Free. Our colleagues at Topresume and TopReviewStars use Kaspersky for cyber protection and they say it offers all features a small business might need. This includes malware protection, email scans, anti-phishing, and many more.
There is also Kaspersky Security Cloud (Free) Edition which in addition to the core AV engine, it offers also a secure VPN option (switched on automatically when you connect to an untrusted WiFi network), password management and many more.
Overall, Kaspersky is a well known security vendor with a solid offering in antivirus products.
#5 Microsoft Defender
If you are using Windows 10 and generally pay attention to cybersecurity issues, then you should be more than okay with Microsoft Defender.
It is built-in system protection, which comes by default in all Windows OS systems. Microsoft Defender comes with a broad scope of standard safety features that guarantee peace of mind in the long run.
The engine was enhanced significantly lately and now identifies more threats than ever. Actually, Windows Defender has been rated as one of the Top Products in detection from www.av-test.org which is one of the most respected testing labs for antivirus products.
#6 Sophos Home
Parents who want a solid data protection platform should certainly consider Sophos Home Free edition. Just like the name suggests, it’s a tool developed for families and it protects up to 3 devices while the paid premium version offers protection for 10 devices.
Michael Jacobsen, a cybersecurity analyst, believes this software is ideal for family usage: “Sophos Home detects and eliminates malware attacks, but it also comes with Web parental controls. That way, you can keep the whole family safe and sound around the clock.”
#7 AVG Antivirus Free
AVG Antivirus Free is a well-known program among cybersecurity community and has been on the market for many years.
The tool is packed with quality functions that successfully prevent 99.99% of malicious attacks. Some of the features we love the most about AVG are the following:
- A simple and intuitive interface
- Scanning for performance and malware problems
- Real-time scanning and updates
- Stopping suspicious downloads before reaching the PC
AVG has been acquired by Avast so this created powerful synergies between the two vendors for the benefits of users.
Although Malwarebytes is not designed as a free service (for the active antivirus option), you can take a free 14-day trial to evaluate the tool.
Of course, the free version is not as comprehensive as the paid product, but it gets the job done nonetheless. It doesn’t work automatically, but you can use it for on-demand cleaning purposes and eliminate possible threats.
Malwarebytes is very effective when doing manual “on-demand” scanning but unfortunately the free version does not offer real-time protection like the rest of the tools in this list.
Symantec is a top-level antivirus solution for businesses looking for an all-around cybersecurity system. The platform continuously runs malware scans and behavior analysis, but the most important thing about Symantec is that it is a mature product and one of the oldest AV software. This makes the system reliable but it is a little heavy on computer resources.
Norton is the antivirus product brand from Symantec and the free version offers scanning on-demand for finding any possible infections on your computer.
#10 Zone Alarm by Checkpoint
The last antivirus software on our list is Zone Alarm by Checkpoint. A lot of users consider it to be the most advanced firewall and it will definitely take care of your PC. Zone Alarm halts malicious attacks, secures the files, and protects your digital identity.
Checkpoint is certainly one of the top vendors in hardware firewalls, so Zone Alarm has inherited some of these quality firewall features from its parent company. I would say that Zone Alarm is better suited as a software firewall product and we suggest to be used together with another antivirus engine for maximum protection.
Free Online Multiple Antivirus Engines
I bet you must have been in the situation where you downloaded a file from the Internet or maybe you found a suspicious file on your computer and you want to verify if it contains a virus or malware in it.
Well, you could of course scan it with your locally installed antivirus software such as the options described above, but this is not enough anymore.
Even if your installed antivirus finds the file as clean, this does not mean it actually is. Newer malware and virus scripts can encrypt and hide themselves such that many antivirus programs can not detect them.
Fortunately there are a couple of online “Multiple Antivirus Engine” websites which allow you to upload a file and have it scanned with several antivirus programs (for FREE) to verify if the file is safe or not.
This is the most popular online “multiple antivirus engine” site. Taken from the website itself, “VirusTotal is a service that analyzes suspicious files and facilitates the quick detection of viruses, worms, trojans, and all kinds of malware detected by antivirus engines“.
The website uses several command line versions of antivirus programs to scan your uploaded file for any kind of malware. The signatures of the antivirus engines are updated regularly.
The uploaded file is scanned from 70 different antivirus engines including AVG, ClamAV, Comodo, ESET NOD32, F-Secure, McAfee, Kaspersky, Microsoft, Panda, Sophos, Symantec, TrendMicro etc.
After scanning, the website will give you a report from each antivirus engine whether the uploaded file was found clean or not.
This is similar with the above. It has an upload file limit of 20Mb. Taken from the website itself, “VirSCAN.org is a FREE on-line scan service, which checks uploaded files for malware, using antivirus engines, indicated in the VirSCAN list“.
The site scans your uploaded file with several different antivirus engines including the most popular ones (similar as those in VirusTotal website).
Have those websites in mind before installing any program that you have downloaded from the Internet.
With malware attacks happening every second, it’s getting harder to defend your system and remain safe in the online environment. This is where antivirus programs step in to help you out, but you need to be careful and choose the most practical solution for your business or for personal use.
In this post, we showed you the 10 best antivirus software you can use free of charge in 2020 and beyond. Have you ever tried any of these programs? Which one do you consider to be the finest? Make sure to let us know in the comments, perhaps we could give you additional tips about your favorite choices.