If you’re on a limited budget, but you still want to protect your devices from the latest malware and ransomware threats, free antivirus software is a great option. Free programs use the same malware-scanning engines as their paid counterparts. However, they do not have additional tools to provide online security such as VPN, password manager and parental controls.
The most effective free antivirus programs should provide real-time malware identification and protection. This means that the software actively detects and blocks threats when they attempt to download or sneak on your computer. In the past, this type of protection was only available to premium subscriptions, but it’s becoming common among free outliers.
Similarly, the best free antivirus software should have a basic password manager as well as a VPN at the very least on an initial trial basis. For example, McAfee’s free software offers a 30-day trial of its most expensive package, which includes all premium features, such as web protection and identity theft protection.
The most effective free antivirus software is one that is easy to use. The majority of the companies on our list of top picks offer user-friendly dashboards, intuitive features, and decent customer support. Some have mobile apps that allow you to scan and protect your Android or iOS devices. In addition, the best free apps are licensed for use on only one device as opposed to paid versions that offer family-friendly plans as well as business tools.