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Best free antivirus software for 2024


Most devices these days have some sort of built-in protection against malware, such as the Windows Defender or XProtect for Mac. However, these antiviruses are usually not enough to protect your device from advanced threats such as keyloggers, ransomware, and more.

Unfortunately, third-party antivirus software can be expensive – or not! If you’re looking for a free antivirus, you’ll be glad to know that there are plenty of quality anti-malware software that offers completely free plans and excellent protection rates.

Best completely free antivirus
TotalAV is the best free antivirus on the market because of its unlimited free plan, excellent malware protection rates, and real-time security from threats while browsing.
cybernews® score
4.9 /5

To help you find the best free antivirus software for your device, we tested and reviewed 25 providers to pick out the best 5. Our recommended antivirus programs include strong malware defense and extra security features like identity theft protection.

Top 5 best free antivirus in 2024

📢 LIMITED OFFER: Get TotalAV, now 80% OFF!

The best free antivirus software of 2024

Finding a high-quality antivirus with excellent malware detection rates without having to pay a penny is quite hard. However, we researched and tested various free antivirus services to help you find what suits your needs best. Below are the top 7 free antivirus software providers – based on the free plans, test results, and overall user experience.

1. TotalAV Free Antivirus – best free antivirus software for Windows in 2024

Rating:
4.9
Free versio:Yes
Platforms:Windows, macOS, iOS, Android
Current deal:Get TotalAV, now 80% OFF!

TotalAV is one of the best free antivirus software on the market. It offers a 100% malware protection rate and plenty of useful antivirus features. It comes with a secure free version and a 30-day money-back guarantee with each paid plan.

Test results. During independent AV-TEST, TotalAV blocked 100% of widespread malware and 97% of zero-day threats. When we put the service to an in-house test, all 10 given malicious file samples were successfully blocked, showcasing a 100% malware detection success rate. In our TotalAV review, you can see more detailed testing results – including how and what we test.

Free features. A free TotalAV version includes anti-malware and anti-phishing features. There are several different scan options, each of which proved to be exceptionally efficient during our tests. However, the free version does not include real-time protection, which can be essential if you are looking to protect your device from the most imminent threats.

Ease of use. TotalAV offers an easy-to-use, intuitive interface across all supported operating systems: Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. The software is easy to install – it takes just a couple of minutes. We liked that the interface is minimalistic and organized in such a way that makes finding features and scans extremely easy.

The free TotalAV antivirus plan is the best plan for anyone looking for an easy-to-use and 100% efficient malware protection software. For even more advanced features and protection, you can upgrade to a premium plan with a starting price of $19.00/year, which covers up to 3 devices.

2. Norton 360 – free antivirus with advanced security features

Norton
Rating:
4.7
Free version:7-day free trial
Platforms:Windows, macOS, iOS, Android
Current deal:Get up to 58% OFF Norton Antivirus

Norton 360 is another top-tier free antivirus software focusing on all-around online security. Unlike TotalAV, it doesn’t include a completely free virus protection version. However, there’s a free 7-day trial and an extended 60-day money-back guarantee that ensures 100% protection against viruses.

Test results. Norton scored 100% in malware detection and removal during independent tests conducted by AV-TEST. These results are even higher than TotalAV’s. Additionally, during our in-house testing, Norton proved to be efficient, successfully identifying and blocking all viruses and malware from the 10 malicious files provided, which puts it on the same level as TotalAV. In our Norton review, you can find more detailed testing information.

Free features. With the 7-day free trial, you get access to all Norton antivirus features. This software offers AI-powered real-time protection that prevents viruses, malware, spyware, and ransomware from damaging your gadgets. It also includes quick and full system scans to identify whether there are any safety issues on your device. When we tried these scanning options, we found them to be easy on your device and very easy to navigate. Better yet, the reliability of the results was really impressive.

Ease of use. Norton antivirus is available on all the major OS, so you can use it on Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android without any difficulties. However, just like with Bitdefender, some of the features require additional apps to be downloaded, which can be confusing for beginner users.

Norton antivirus 7-day free trial is a great choice for those looking to use powerful and fully equipped antivirus software. It is compatible with all devices and exceptionally easy to use. After the free trial ends, you can choose a premium plan, with prices starting from $29.99/year (covers 1 device only). Other plans include the Standard plan that cost $39.99/year and covers up to 3 devices or Deluxe plan for $49.99/year that covers up to 5 devices.

3. Bitdefender Antivirus Free – feature-packed completely free antivirus for PC

bitdefender user interface
Rating:
4.6
Free version:Yes
Platforms:Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux
Current deal:Get Bitdefender for up to 50% OFF!

Bitdefender is one of the leading providers in the free antivirus software category. It comes with a free Windows version and a 30-day money-back guarantee. It offers excellent malware protection thanks to its web attack prevention, real-time protection, and add-ons, like a VPN, for all-around security.

Test results. During independent lab tests, Bitdefender has demonstrated its remarkable ability to safeguard against all types of threats, including both zero-day and older malware. Bitdefender showcased its prowess by successfully identifying all 10 threats we presented during our in-house tests – you can see more detailed test results in our Bitdefender review.

Free features. Bitdefender's free version comes only with features like a Virus Scanner, real-time protection, and web attack prevention, ensuring a secure online browsing experience. While we found these features to work really well, it’s still a very limited feature package. Nevertheless, if compared to providers like TotalAV, both providers offer similar free feature suites.

Ease of use. Bitdefender’s setup process might take some time. It can be irritating when other antivirus software, like Norton, installs within seconds. Additionally, Bitdefender free version is only available on Windows, while MacOS, iOS, and Android apps are available only with a 30-day trial. The user interface itsef is easy to navigate, and all most important features such as scans are readily available.

The free Bitdefender version is the perfect choice for Windows users – with a 100% malware detection and removal rates and easy-to-use apps, it is really one of the best. Nevertheless, if you would like more features, or to use the antivirus with devices other than Windows, consider a paid plan. The pricing for premium Bitdefender versions starts at $29.99/year, covering up to 3 devices, and goes up to $49.99/year for Total Security plan, which can cover up to 5 devices.

4. Surfshark Antivirus – all-around and intuitive antivirus software

Surfshark AV banner
Rating:
4.4
Free version:7-day free trial
Platforms:Windows, macOS, Android
Current deal:Get Surfshark Antivirus - 80% OFF + 3 months FREE!

Surfshark Antivirus is an advanced online security provider that focuses on protecting you from malware, adware, data breaches, and other threats. While there’s no unlimited free version, you do get a 7-day free trial with a 30-day money-back guarantee and a 100% malware protection rate.

Test results. Our in-house tests show that Surfshark can catch 9 out of 10 malicious files that we challenged it with. However, the full system scan took us quite long – 25 minutes, while TotalAV completed the full scan in 6 minutes. Thus, a long wait can be quite irritating. In our Surfshark Antivirus review, you can find a more detailed overview of the testing process and results.

Free features. Surfshark offers essentials, such as quick, full, file, and folder scans. Also, it includes real-time protection to monitor your device continuously for threats. With the Surfshark One bundle, you get an excellent VPN, an ad-free search engine that focuses on user privacy. We’ve tested this VPN numerous times, and it’s one of the best you can get – it’s speedy, and secure, and bypasses various geo-restrictions. However, unlike Bitdefender or TotalAV, Surfshark Antivirus is not feature-rich. It doesn’t have a vulnerability scanner or a firewall for extra malware protection.

Ease of use. Surfshark Antivirus offers a neat and minimalistic interface across supported operating systems. However, the main drawback is that this antivirus does not have a dedicated app for iOS users.

Surfshark antivirus is great for users looking for a lightweight antivirus option. While it lacks some antivirus-specific features, this basic security will cost you $47.85/year and will cover up to 5 devices.

5. NordVPN Threat Protection – free and effective malware protection tool

NordVPN threat protection banner
Rating:
4.3
Free version:7-day free trial
Platforms:Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows
Current deal:Get NordVPN Antivirus – 69% OFF + 3 months FREE!

NordVPN Threat Protection is a great free anti-malware software that is a perfect fit for users looking for quick virus protection. It can keep your devices safe from most of the malware, trackers, and malicious ads for free with a 7-day Android trial or a 30-day money-back guarantee on all devices.

Test results. NordVPN Threat Protection isn’t a traditional antivirus program but rather a malware removal tool. Therefore, it hasn’t been tested by independent labs. However, during our in-house test, the provider managed to block 8/10 threats with a basic scan and 9/10 with a deep scan. It’s not a bad result, but it isn’t as good as other free antivirus software providers like TotalAV. You can see a more detailed test result overview in our NordVPN Threat Protection review.

Free features. NordVPN Threat Protection doesn’t have malware scans like Bitdefender or other traditional antivirus programs. However, the Ultimate plan includes everything you need for secure browsing – malware protection, an ad blocker, a market-leading VPN that's very easy to use and offers excellent data protection for secure browsing, a password manager, and a data breach scanner. While cheaper plans involve fewer features, they still cover security on all fronts.

Ease of use. Regarding compatibility, only Windows and macOS users can get a full-fledged Threat Protection feature. Meanwhile, there’s a Threat Protection Lite for Android, iOS, and Linux users, which doesn’t scan downloaded files for malware or block trackers. Overall, NordVPN’s app is intuitive and user-friendly, so you won’t have difficulties using it.

Like Surfshark Antivirus, NordVPN Threat Protection is a great lightweight solution for malware protection online. You can try it for 7 days for free on Android. If you decide to continue using the services after the free trial, Threat Protection pricing starts at $3.09/month. Same as its VPN service, it will cover up to 6 devices.

6. Avira Free Security – best free antivirus for Apple users

Avira antivirus image
Rating:
4.2
Free version:Yes
Platforms:Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
Current deal:Get 1 year of Avira at 43% OFF!

Avira Free Security is among the top free antivirus software providers. It has an exceptionally user-friendly interface, and a free VPN, and can block malware at a 100% success rate. Avira offers a completely free version and an extended 60-day money-back guarantee.

Test results. During independent lab tests, Avira achieved the highest grade score for both Windows and macOS protection. On macOS, the antivirus blocked 99.2% of threats, while on Windows – 100%. Our in-house tests challenged the program with 10 malicious file samples, and Avira caught 9 of them. Staying in the 90-100% protection rates, these results are on the same level as top providers like TotalAV or Norton Antivirus. For a more detailed test result overview, check out our Avira antivirus review.

Free features. Avira Free Security plan offers a VPN with 500MB per month, includes an antivirus scan that secures you from malware threats and offers protection for one device. We found the free plan to be quite limited, especially compared to providers like TotalAV or Bitdefender. Avira’s Free Security lacks web protection and excludes customer support.

Ease of use. You can use the free Avira version on Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. It’s one of the best free antivirus for PCs that's also very intuitive, so you won’t have any difficulties setting it up or simply using it.

Avira is a top choice if you need a free and feature-rich antivirus with real-time protection and a 100% success rate in removing malware. However, the paid plans include web and email protection or software and driver updates, starting at $26.99/year (covers up to 5 devices).

7. ESET NOD32 – multi-platform free antivirus

NOD32 user interface
Rating:
4.3
Free version:30-day money-back guarantee
Platforms:Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS
Current deal:Get ESET, save up to 15%

ESET NOD32 is among the top free antivirus software because of its 100% malware detection rate. Besides, its single license activates products for different operating systems. While it lacks a completely free version, there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee for advanced security plans.

Test results. During independent testing, ESET scored a whopping 100% regarding widespread malware detection rates. As for the zero-day threats, it managed to reach 98.9%. Our in-house tests showed excellent 100% malware detection rates, which is on the same level as the top providers on our list. In our ESET review, you can find more detailed testing overviews.

Free features. Its month-long trial allows users to test premium ESET features. The suite includes a quick, full, custom, or removable drive scan. There’s also real-time protection to keep you safe from threats as you go. Additionally, it’s possible to enable web filters that help steer clear of phishing and malware websites – we found that the web filters work really well and allow a lot of customization.

Ease of use. ESET offers a clean and uncluttered interface with a straightforward menu on the left side. It’s intuitive, easy to use, and minimalistic. However, one of the main drawbacks of this provider is that it only supports Windows, macOS, and Android. So, iOS users should look for alternatives, like TotalAV.

While ESET doesn’t have a completely free version, each plan allows you to use premium features with a 30-day money-back guarantee. After that, the pricing of ESET antivirus starts from $49.99/year. Depending on your license, you can cover up to 10 devices.

8. Malwarebytes – intuitive and basic free antivirus for multiple devices

Malwarebytes-banner
Rating:
4.1
Free version:Yes
Platforms: Windows, Android, macOS, ChromeOS, iOS
Current deal:Get Malwarebytes, now 25% OFF

Malwarebytes offers powerful features against malware threats without the price tag. It scans and removes a wide range of viruses, spyware, adware, and Trojans, keeping your PC safe from unwanted intruders.

Test results. Independent AV-TEST tests have shown Malwarebytes Free achieving impressive detection rates, putting it head-to-head with even paid antivirus solutions. It provides nearly 100% protection rates against widespread and 0-day malware attacks. On the downside, the app had quite an impact on system resources during our in-house Malwarebytes tests.

Free features. Unlike real-time antivirus options, Malwarebytes Free focuses on thorough scans whenever you need them. Whether you suspect an infection or just want a periodic check-up, it's a great antivirus for on-demand cleaning. While effective, Malwarebytes Free lacks real-time protection and advanced features available in the paid version. For continuous safeguard against ongoing threats, consider upgrading to the Premium plan.

Malwarebytes Free is a reliable and user-friendly option for free on-demand malware removal. While not a replacement for full-time antivirus protection, it's a powerful tool to keep your PC clean and safe from common threats. The premium plans start from $38.24/year and you can choose to support multiple devices.

9. Aura – comprehensive antivirus suite with a free option and added perks

Aura antivirus banner
Rating:
4.2
Free version:14-day free trial, 60-day money-back guarantee
Platforms: Windows, macOS, Android
Current deal:Get up to 63% OFF Aura Antivirus!

Aura Antivirus stands out from the crowd by offering comprehensive identity theft protection alongside its robust antivirus capabilities. Every Aura subscription plan comes with a 14-day free trial and a 60-day money-back guarantee, which you can use to test the service before fully committing to it.

Test results. Aura boasts a perfect score in independent malware detection tests, leaving no room for unwanted intruders. Your system is constantly monitored for threats, ensuring proactive protection against emerging dangers.

Free features. Our in-house tests of Aura found features like web filtering, ransomware protection, and password management to be useful for securing not only the device but online activities, too. However, Aura lacks a built-in firewall, meaning you'll need additional software for complete network protection. Its antivirus features are strong, but some competitors offer more advanced security tools at similar price points.

You can take advantage of a 14-day free trial to experience Aura firsthand before committing. If you're not completely satisfied, Aura offers a 60-day money-back guarantee on annual plans, so you can test it risk-free. Plans start at $10.00/year and cover 1 device.

10. McAfee – basic free malware protection for a month

McAfee user interface
Rating:
4.2
Free version:Yes
Platforms:Windows, Mac, Android, iOS
Current deal:Get McAfee, save up to 70%

McAfee also offers a solid entry point into antivirus protection without breaking the bank. With a 30-day money-back, you get to use all the premium features, including comprehensive scans, a firewall, and other security features.

Test results. The official tests by AV-TEST proved that McAfee provides excellent protection from all types of malware. While our in-house tests on McAfee showed the same exceptional results, the scans took a long time and were quite resource-intensive. Also, we noticed frequent false positives with McAfee, meaning harmless files or programs get flagged as threats. This can be inconvenient and disrupt workflows.

Free features. Since you get to use McAfee for free with its money-back guarantee, you can use all the premium features. That includes identity theft protection and security for your network, 3 types of scans, a firewall, a tracker remover, and more.

McAfee’s free version automatically converts to a paid subscription after 30 days if you don't cancel. The premium plans start at $39.99/year and cover 1 device, whereas other premium plans (Essential, Advanced) accordingly can cover an unlimited number of devices.

How we selected and tested the best free antivirus software

We assess antivirus programs based on their ability to detect malware, their features, ease of use, compatibility, and the availability of free versions, trials, or money-back guarantees. These criteria form the basis for our evaluations of each selected antivirus program.

However, not every free antivirus is trustworthy or effective. That’s why we carefully identified whether the provider can scan for malware without impacting performance, the effectiveness of malware protection, and if using the antivirus won’t be a puzzling task:

Independent lab tests:
At least 80% malware detection and protection rate
Free option:Free trial, free version, money-back guarantee
Compatibility:Intuitive and easy-to-use apps for iOS, Android, Windows, macOS
  • In-house tests. We conduct meticulous in-house tests, where we evaluate and select providers. This enables us to compare the results with independent laboratory tests and curate a list of only the most efficient free antivirus solutions.
  • Independent lab tests. Since free antiviruses don’t have much to offer aside from basic security, it’s best to opt for services that guarantee excellent malware detection rates. That’s why we researched independent lab tests, such as those of AV-TEST and Virus Bulletin.
  • Performance impact. We selected antivirus providers that have the least impact on your device's performance, so you can use the antivirus and perform tasks on the device without any latencies.
  • Features. We looked at what features free antiviruses include. While you shouldn’t expect a big feature array, you should at least get some features. This could be real-time or ransomware protection.
  • Compatibility. We made sure that the services we included in the list are compatible with many different operating systems.
  • Usability. We only included apps that are easy to get the hang of for beginners. We also made sure to provide you with free services that don’t clog the app with constant pop-ups urging you to upgrade.
  • Free version or trial. We made sure that all listed providers offer free service. This means either a completely free version, a free trial, or a money-back guarantee. For example, we included Norton, which doesn’t have a fully free version but offers a month-long money-back guarantee to test it.

Comparison of the best free antivirus software

If you feel overwhelmed with the amount of information found about free antivirus software, this comparison table with all the key aspects will help you out:

TotalAV Free AntivirusNorton 360Bitdefender Antivirus FreeSurfshark AntvirusNordVPN Threat ProtectionAvira Free SecurityESET NOD32MalwarebytesAuraMcAfee
BrandlogoMalwarebytesAuraMcAfee logo
Rating
4.9
4.7
4.6
4.4
4.3
4.2
4.3
4.1
4.2
4.2
Free planYesFree trialYesFree trialFree trialYesMoney-back guaranteeYesMoney-back guaranteeYes
Paid plan$19.00/year$29.99/year$29.99/year$47.85/year$3.09/month$26.99/year$49.99/year$38.24/year$10.00/year$39.99/year
Money-back guarantee30-day60-day30-day30-day30-day60-day30-day30-day60-day30-day
FirewallPaid-onlyNo (only with a free trial)No (only with a free trial)NoNoPaid-onlyNo (only with a free trial)NoNoYes
Real-time protectionPaidAvailable with the free trialAvailable with the free trialAvailable with the free trialNoFreeAvailable with the free trialPaid onlyFreeFree
Best dealGet TotalAV, now 80% OFF!Get up to 58% OFF Norton AntivirusGet Bitdefender for up to 50% OFF!Get Surfshark Antivirus - 80% OFF + 3 months FREE!Get NordVPN Antivirus – 69% OFF + 3 months FREE!Get 1 year of Avira at 43% OFF!Get ESET, save up to 15%Get Malwarebytes, now 25% OFFGet up to 63% OFF Aura Antivirus!Get McAfee, save up to 70%

How to choose the best free antivirus

There are not a lot of things to consider when choosing a free antivirus tool because they’re usually pretty limited. However, here are the main things to keep in mind when searching for the best free antivirus available:

  • Decide your needs. Before selecting an antivirus provider, deem what use you need to get out of it. Whether you’re looking for basic protection, intending to purchase an antivirus with a VPN tool to secure your browsing experience or wish for a full package with IF theft prevention tools and a password manager.
  • Malware detection rates. When selecting your antivirus, check how well the software detects malware threats. You can find such results on independent lab test pages, like AV-Test or AV-comparatives. The better the results, the better protection the antivirus software offers.
  • Performance impact. Choose a free antivirus program that will not require too many device resources. That means that while you’re running a virus scan, you can still use your device without overheating it or lagging its performance.
  • Compatibility with your device. Not all antivirus are universally good with all different OS. Some are more fit to work with Windows, while others work best as mobile antivirus. Therefore, before getting your antivirus software, ensure it is compatible with your device and OS.
  • Extra features. Completely free antiviruses aren’t extensive in terms of features. However, premium antivirus software’s free trials or versions often include additional perks. Look for antivirus software that has real-time protection, a password manager, web protection, and more.
  • Real-time protection. With free antiviruses, real-time protection isn’t a given. However, it’s advantageous, considering it monitors for malware round-the-clock. So if a free antivirus offers this feature, consider it a huge plus.
  • Customer support. In case of any issues with your antivirus provider, make sure that customer support channels are available to contact professional agents for help. We recommend looking for 24/7 support options, like live chat or email support.

Do I need antivirus software if I have a Windows Defender?

Even though you have Windows Defender built into your computer, we still recommend using third-party antivirus software. Windows Defender is a pre-installed antivirus software that offers only basic malware protection, unlike free antivirus software. While Windows Defender provides a lightweight solution and integrates well with Windows devices, it’s highly recommended to use antivirus software for extra protection.

The limitations of Windows Defender include its basic feature set, vulnerability to zero-day attacks, limited customizability, lower malware detection rates compared to third-party options, and the lack of additional security layers.

Meanwhile, antivirus software providers are more versatile and secure than free antivirus providers. Paid programs offer advanced features, better protection against emerging threats, malicious threats, or malicious software, customization options, and additional security layers like firewalls and secure browsing. However, free antivirus software lacks versatile features but still adds an additional layer of security to your Windows device.

Choosing between Windows Defender and antivirus software depends on personal preferences and the desired level of security. While Windows Defender suits most users, those seeking advanced features or enhanced protection may benefit from using additional antivirus software.

Free antivirus vs paid antivirus

While free antivirus can protect from already known malware threats, a paid antivirus can help protect against new and zero-day virus detections and removal. On the other hand, premium antivirus software offers robust protection from both known and zero-day threats targetting your data and device.

Features and functionalitiesFree versionPremium version
Real-time protection❌ Mostly unavailable✅ Available
Web protection❌ Mostly unavailable✅ Available
Built-in VPN❌ Mostly unavailable✅ Mostly available
Operating systemsWindows, macOS, Android, iOSAll available OS and browser extensions

There are good free antiviruses like TotalAV, Norton, or Bitdefender, but premium programs constantly protect your device from online threats as you’re browsing the web. Moreover, paid quality antivirus programs offer many useful features that boost your online experience and safety. For example, they come with in-built VPNs, password managers, or various browser extensions that can be of great use for beginners and advanced users.

Meanwhile, reputable free antivirus software can be enough. Free versions or trials of paid antivirus providers use advanced technologies to protect you from malicious threats. They also include real-time protection, which safeguards you from phishing and ransomware attacks. While paid antiviruses are richer in features, free providers, like TotalAV, can do the job if chosen wisely.

Which free antivirus programs should you avoid?

While there are several reputable free antivirus programs available, users should be cautious and avoid certain well-known options due to various concerns.

Avast, once a popular choice, faced significant privacy issues when it came to light that its free version not only collected but also sold user data, raising serious privacy concerns.

AVG, now owned by Avast, shares similar concerns regarding user privacy. The data collection practices of these interconnected antivirus solutions have raised controversy among users and privacy advocates alike.

Adware, though historically known for combating adware, has lost its effectiveness against modern threats.

You should look for reliable alternatives like TotalAV, Avira, or Windows Defender to ensure comprehensive and trustworthy security. Read more on how to choose free antivirus.

Video review: best free antivirus in 2024

Join us in a video guide as we break down the pros and cons of each free antivirus program. It will guide you towards the perfect choice to ensure your digital life remains secure in the face of evolving cyber threats:

Is it worth paying for an antivirus?

Yes, investing in a paid antivirus is undoubtedly worth it for those looking for boosted online security and a risk-free online experience. Premium antivirus options provide not only stronger protection but also a range of additional features, including webcam protection, identity theft protection, and child protection features for age-inappropriate websites.

The benefits extend beyond features, as paid antivirus subscriptions often come with premium customer support available 24/7. Unlike most free plans, where users rely on FAQs.

While free antivirus software is excellent for basic protection, a paid antivirus ensures top-notch security, additional freebies, and quality customer support. For those looking to combine comprehensive security with additional features and reliable support, opting for a paid antivirus, such as TotalAV, is highly recommended.


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