The best free antivirus software for 2019

Protect yourself from the latest malware with the best free antivirus software

Viruses and malware are bad news — they can slow down your PC by mining cryptocurrency, modifying important files, and messing with the way your system behaves. If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you’re making an effort to avoid these infections — or looking for a way to exterminate them.

Luckily, there are a host of free, high-quality programs built specifically to keep your PC safe from all manner of viruses and malware. Better yet, these free options are often just as good, and in some cases better, than premium apps that offer similar functionality and features.

Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition

best free antivirus software bitdefender01

Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition revels in a minimalist design that makes it low-maintenance. Though the application features no configurations of any kind, it automatically scans your machine in the background using cloud-based detection, subsequently performing a deeper scan if it comes across any malicious software or red flags.

The bundled, real-time virus shield additionally blocks malicious URLs and uses behavior-based detection to protect against potential threats. Newer features include anti-fraud options that use more advanced filters to warn you away from any sites that have been known to try to steal identities. 

In addition to commendable malware blocking and removal, the lightweight program doubles as an excellent anti-rootkit and anti-phishing utility. It performs the latter task by detecting and blocking fraudulent sites through HTTP-based scanning.

The only downside to BitDefender’s free antivirus solution is that it’s a little hard to find. The BitDefender site wants to funnel you to the paid options, but the free one does still exist. Download it from the Toolbox here.

Avast! Free Antivirus 2018

best free antivirus software avastfree01

In terms of basic protection, Avast is one of the best antivirus programs available, scoring a 5.5 out of 6 in in AV Test’s protection test. The latest free antivirus suite from Avast! is an impressive package. Aside from the usual virus and malware protection — including anti-rootkit and anti-spyware capabilities — the software comes with a slew of customizable options you can toggle on at installation, including protection for your Android devices through Avast mobile Security & Antivirus. The 2018 version of Avast goes the extra mile when it comes to making sure you feel safe using the program; at installation, a very clear breakdown shows exactly how Avast! uses your private information.

The company gets out in front of potential malware attacks by initiating scans before an unknown file opens and preventing it from doing so should it throw up any red flags. The software is good at protecting your PC while online, blocking malicious URLs and stopping auto-downloads from occurring. The 2018 version also watches the behavior of specific apps to see whether they are doing anything suspicious 

As a free program, you’ll be missing out on some features exclusive to the premium package, including auto-scans and auto-updates. Those wanting such upgrades will need to opt for a subscription plan, which ranges from $60 to $120 a year. Still, sticking with the free version will keep you well-protected.

AVG Free Antivirus

best free antivirus software avgfree

AVG has two major selling points. First, it has an impressively broad reach: The software will not only search for viruses and malware, but also helps block suspicious links, prevent suspicious downloads, and keep suspicious email attachments from being used. That makes the app a better choice for a family or elderly users on a budget. The second benefit is AVG’s affinity with Google platforms: It has one of the better Android downloads and can work well on Chrome, too (check out more Android security apps here).

ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus 2018

best free antivirus software zonealarm01

ZoneAlarm provides firewalls and antivirus scanning, but then goes a step further to address two growing security concerns: ID theft and data loss. Identify theft is prevented by daily credit-monitoring tools and a “credit education specialist” to help you work through any alerts or problems.

ZoneAlarm also provides its own cloud backup service for backing up your data and encrypting it for online protection. If you don’t already have a service that helps protect your identity and data, this could be the option for you.

During installation, be aware that Zone Alarm does try to set Yahoo as your default search engine. If you don’t want that, make sure that you untick the corresponding box.

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free

best free antivirus software malwarebytesfree

Malwarebytes provides some of the best and most comprehensive virus-removal software available, frequently making it one of the first go-to sources for tech agencies and support groups alike.

The program uses Chameleon technology to get the application running on already infected systems, triggering the “mbam-chameleon” app when necessary, and helping install and update any required drivers crucial to the software’s functionality. Options are divided into four modules. Anti-malware protects against and removes malware with automatic scans, while anti-ransomware helps shield files from ransomware attacks. Anti-exploit helps protect against any known vulnerabilities discovered in your system or apps, while malicious website protection keeps you away from fake or malicious sites. 

The only caveat with the free version of Malwarebytes is that it’s more of a remediation tool than a live, protective shield. The scanning tool will find anything once you’re already infected — effectively, too — but doesn’t do much to stop it in the first place. For that, you need the premium version or one of the other tools on this list. Still, as a secondary layer of defense, the free version of Malwarebytes is a must.

Computing

Still miss Windows 7? Here's how to make Windows 10 look more like it

There's no simple way of switching on a Windows 7 mode in Windows 10. Instead, you can install third-party software, manually tweak settings, and edit the registry. We provide instructions for using these tweaks and tools.
Computing

Edit, sign, append, and save with six of the best PDF editors

Though there are plenty of PDF editors to be had online, finding a solution with the tools you need can be tough. Here are the best PDF editors for your editing needs, no matter your budget or OS.
Computing

Need a free alternative to Adobe Illustrator? Here are our favorites

Photoshop and other commercial tools can be expensive, but drawing software doesn't need to be. The best free drawing software is just as powerful as some of the more expensive offerings.
Computing

Speed up your system by tweaking the startup application in Windows and MacOS

Bothered by programs that automatically start when you boot your computer, or want to add a new one to the list? Here's how to change your startup programs in Windows 7, 8, and 10, along with Apple's MacOS.
Computing

Here's our guide to how to charge your laptop using a USB-C cable

Charging via USB-C is a great way to power up your laptop. It only takes one cable and you can use the same one for data as well as power -- perfect for new devices with limited port options.
Computing

Get the best of both worlds by sharing your data on MacOS and Windows

Compatibility issues between Microsoft Windows and Apple MacOS may have diminished sharply over the years, but that doesn't mean they've completely disappeared. Here's how to make an external drive work between both operating systems.
Computing

Potentially malicious WinRAR vulnerability patched after almost 20 years

WinRAR, a piece of Windows software for managing archival formats, has been harboring a vulnerability for nearly two decades, potentially allowing malicious software to insert items into a computer's startup folder without user permission.
Computing

Is Ice Lake coming soon? Here's what we know about Intel's future chip design

Intel's Ice Lake may end up launching before the architecture it was supposed to replace. With hints of more announcements about the chip design in the very near future, here's everything you need to know about Ice Lake.
Computing

Apple is reportedly set to showcase a new Mac Pro at WWDC 2019 in June

Our Mac Pro 2019 rumor roundup covers all the news, leaks, and rumors about Apple's new machine, set to be announced sometime in 2019. Here's what Apple has said, what the experts think, and what we're likely to see with the new Mac Pro.
Gaming

Learn to uninstall a Steam game and clear some space on your PC

Looking to learn how to uninstall Steam games? You've come to the right place. In this guide, we walk you through the process step by step, whether you want Steam to do it for you or handle the process manually.
Computing

Prone to web surfing? Google Chrome’s new Focus Mode fights internet distractions

Finding yourself distracted by the web when you need to get work done? A new flag in Google Chrome could hint at a new Focus Mode. The feature may allow computer users to block distracting websites or notifications.
Computing

Intel expects Apple to transition Macs to ARM processors in 2020, report says

It has been rumored for some time that Apple could transition away from Intel to ARM processors, but a new report now claims that Intel is aware of the decision and that it could happen in 2020.
Computing

Dodge the biggest laptop-buying mistakes with these handy tips

Buying a new laptop is exciting, but you need to watch your footing. There are a number of pitfalls you need to avoid and we're here to help. Check out these top-10 laptop buying mistakes and how to avoid them.
Computing

Great PC speakers don't need to break the bank. These are our favorites

Not sure which PC speakers work best with your computer? Here are the best computer speakers on the market, whether you're working with a tight budget or looking to rattle your workstation with top-of-the-line audio components.