Top Free Antivirus Apps for Windows in 2024

Top Free Antivirus Apps for Windows in 2024

You don’t need to pay to keep your Mac or PC protected. Here are some of the best free antivirus apps for Mac and Windows.

Evil doesn’t sleep. Unscrupulous types are constantly looking for new ways to attack your computer, either for personal gain or just because they can. No sooner has one type of malware been identified and protected against than another five appear in its place.

Thankfully, antivirus/anti-malware apps can help. Such software keeps a constant eye on your computer, looking for known threats or suspicious actions. It’s one of the best tools for protecting yourself against these types of attacks.

There are plenty of paid antivirus apps that offer all the bells and whistles, but you don’t have to pay to keep your computer protected. There are some very good free options available that can do a good job of keeping your computer more secure. Here are some of the best free Antivirus apps for Windows in 2024.

Is the Antivirus That Comes with Windows 11 Enough?

windows security app

Windows 11 comes with Windows Security included, which offers protection against malware and more. Is this enough by itself to keep your computer safe? The short answer is yes. In fact, for years, it’s the only anti-malware/virus software our founder and top geek uses on his Windows systems.

Why? Windows Security has a host of valuable features. It can offer real-time protection against malware and can allow you to run manual scans for any threats on your computer. A belt and suspenders approach of using additional antivirus software to hunt down any malware that might have slipped through the clicks is never a bad idea, however.

Windows Security can continually scan your computer for viruses and other malware, as well as potential security threats. The real-time protection includes automatic updates so that you’re always using the most up-to-date protection. Windows Security includes the Microsoft Defender Antivirus app, but it automatically disables itself when you activate another third-party antivirus app. If you uninstall your third-party antivirus, Microsoft Defender Antivirus will turn back on, so you’re always protected.

In addition to antivirus scanning, Windows Security includes other features such as Microsoft account protection, a firewall, protection against potentially harmful apps and files, and device security features. You also have the option to utilize Microsoft OneDrive to offer protection against ransomware by storing copies of your important files in the cloud.

Bitdefender Antivirus Free for Windows

bitdefender antivirus for windows

Bitdefender is a lightweight antivirus app that won’t slow down your computer, even if you’re running on older hardware. It learns how you use your PC daily so that it can spot any suspicious activity as it happens. There’s protection against ransomware, spear phishing, cryptojacking, zero-day exploits, rootkits, trojans, and more. The anti-phishing tools are particularly effective, and you can use the free version on up to three devices.

Using Bitdefender is a painless experience without the constant pop-ups and alerts that plague many antivirus products, and you can schedule the daily virus scans to run when you’re not using your computer. One frustration is that there’s no way to quit or close the app without going through Safe Mode.

The free version lacks many of the features that you get with the paid versions, however, such as a VPN, multi-layer ransomware protection, online banking protection, and protection for your Mac, iOS, and Android devices. There’s no firewall or anti-spam protection included in the free version, either.

TotalAV Free Antivirus and Internet Security

totalav antivirus for windows

TotalAV allows you to run a free antivirus scan to identify any malware, privacy issues such as tracking cookies, or unwanted applications. If TotalAV finds anything, you can delete or quarantine any potential threats. You’ll also receive recommendations for how to improve the security of your computer.

The malware scanner can identify threats such as ransomware and cryptojacking, and also offers solid protection against phishing too, even with the free version. However, there’s no real-time protection; you need to manually run a scan to check for threats.

If you want protection against threats as they occur, you’ll need to upgrade to TotalAV Antivirus Pro for real-time protection. This also allows you to protect mobile devices too. There are also more expensive subscriptions that include a VPN and password manager.

Avira Free Antivirus for Windows

avira free security

When a company offers both free and paid versions of its software, you’re always a little concerned that if you’re using the free version, you’re missing some of the key features. However, with Avira, even the free version comes packed with useful features.

You get a lightweight application that operates in the cloud so won’t hog your system resources. It also means that as soon as new threats are identified, your PC will be able to detect them without needing to install any updates. You can protect against threats such as ransomware, trojans, worms, and more.

On top of that, you also get a VPN (with a 500MB limit per month), a password manager, a browser extension for more secure online shopping, and performance tools to help you optimize your PC. You can upgrade to Avira Pro to add a firewall, advanced ransomware protection, email phishing and malware protection, and malicious website protection.

Avast One Essential

avast one essential

Avast used to have an unsullied reputation for antivirus software but was found to be selling user data for significant profit, among other unsavory actions. The company seems to have put an end to this now, however; you can read more at the end of the article and make up your own mind as to whether you feel this is a product you can trust.

Avast One Essential is a free antivirus application for Windows and Mac that offers real-time protection and has an excellent reputation for protecting you against malicious threats, with additional features, including a firewall, basic ransomware protection, and a VPN that’s limited to 5GB per week. Avast One Essential can also quarantine suspicious files, ensuring that they’re kept locked away where they can’t cause any damage.

If you want webcam protection, password protection, and protection against DNS hijacking, however, then you’ll need to sign up for a paid subscription. With a subscription, you can also get protection for any files that contain sensitive personal information.

AVG Antivirus Free

avg antivirus for windows

AVG and Avast are part of the same company, following an acquisition, and both were embroiled in the scandal about selling user data. Both companies have stated that they now take the privacy of your data seriously, but you should consider their past behavior before you install their products. You can read more at the end of this article about the scandal.

AVG Antivirus Free is very similar to Avast Free Antivirus (a different product from Avast One Essential). This is unsurprising considering that they’re both owned by the same company. Both can stop spyware, ransomware, viruses, and other malware and can block unsafe links and attachments in emails. There are also real-time security updates so you’re always getting the very latest protection.

You can upgrade to a paid subscription for further protection. This includes online shopping protection, remote desktop access blocking, an enhanced firewall, and protection for your private documents. There’s also password protection and webcam protection, too.

Are Avast and AVG Safe to Use?

Avast and AVG have had their reputations tarnished in the past. Both had security products that were harvesting large amounts of personal data from users. This was then sold on to big corporations such as Google and Pepsi. Why are both products on this list?

Well, since that time, the data aggregation company Jumpshot, which sold the data, has closed down. The companies have also committed to protecting personal information so that it can’t be used without your consent. However, that cloud will always hang over these companies; if you do have concerns, your best bet is to choose one of the other options on this list.


malwarebytes antivirus for windows

Malwarebytes is a free antivirus software that offers basic features for protecting your Windows computer. As well as running manual scans for malware, the software also learns your behavior and looks for any unusual activity that could indicate that it’s malware, rather than you, that’s trying to make changes to your computer.

However, many of the features of Malwarebytes are unavailable without a subscription. You’ll need to pay if you want to schedule scans or have real-time protection. You also need to pay for ransomware and exploit protection. Other paid features include a browser guard that protects against scams, blocks ads, and stops third-party trackers. There’s also a VPN to keep your browsing private and protected.

Realistically, Malwarebytes is best to use alongside another option such as Windows Security that offers real-time protection. You can then use Malwarebytes to manually scan for anything that might have slipped through the cracks.

Should You Use Free Antivirus Software?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Free antivirus software can help you to protect your computer from malware and other malicious attacks. Using free antivirus software is infinitely better than no antivirus software at all.

However, most of the free options out there are missing some of the features that you get with paid subscriptions. Whether those features are things you need depends on you. If you can’t help but click on that tempting-looking link you’ve been sent in an email telling you that you’re due a huge tax refund, then you’re probably going to need some kind of email phishing protection to keep you safe. But if you’re pretty savvy and know how what to look out for, then free antivirus software may be all you need to keep your computer and your data protected.

Ultimately, you need to consider how badly malware on your computer could affect you and whether paying to reduce the chances of that happening is money well spent. Full disclosure: I use free antivirus software myself, and I’m happy with that choice.



  1. Ralph

    March 29, 2024 at 6:39 am

    After going over your article antivirus is do i Run more than one,I use malwerbites and the one that comes with Windows 11 really would like to know sincerely Ralph

    • Jeff Butts

      March 29, 2024 at 9:18 am

      Hi Ralph,

      The biggest concern would be if you had real-time protection enabled in both. That would use up system resources and slow your computer down. Since MalwareBytes is typically used as-needed, you’re probably fine.

      Thanks for reading!

      Jeff Butts

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