Let’s start by saying in life as in cybersecurity you get what you pay for. Free is not best and won’t cover you for everything, but its better than nothing and it does give you a chance to try products for yourself. In the case of anti-malware software, it’s surprising just how generous the software providers have become in gifting their solutions. Long term if you are serious about protecting your systems and data, you are going to need to open your wallet, but while waiting for that day to come, if you are not taking advantage of the free anti-malware offerings available you need to do so quickly!
These five offerings presented in alphabetical order are in our humble opinion, the top free options available for you to try.
AVG Anti-Virus Free
AVG has strong anti-malware capabilities, with strong alerting functionality. If you like to have reminders that your anti-malware solution is active and doing its job, then this function is useful. However, it can also be distracting. The free version of the product will scan downloads and also inspect URLs to check whether you are being directed to a questionable link. It also has a nice feature which allows you to remotely scan your PC from your mobile phone.
Avira Free Security Suite
This product lacks anti-ransomware, but it does include a free VPN. It has nice features like a password manager and privacy settings manager. It also has an automatic software updater (although with the move to SaaS-based options this starts to sound dated. It includes a safe browsing and safe shopping capability, which perhaps makes it more suited to home users, although if your staff are making online purchases, this could also come in useful.
Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition
So simple to install, you have to trust it is doing something as once you get it loaded, there is no configuration it just starts protecting. Even though it’s called “antivirus” it’s well equipped to deal with malware, has the intelligence to spot zero-day attacks, scans for strangely behaving apps on your PC. It’s ad free, scans your PC every time you boot up and is pretty comprehensive for a free piece of software.
Emsisoft Emergency Kit
This one is a bit of a curveball. It doesn’t prevent or block malware; it remediates when and if you get breached. You keep the software on a USB key and plug into your PC when you need to cure a breach. We should stress it’s free, so it may not save you every time, but then again it’s free, so why not keep a copy available for your users just in case!
Malwarebytes can make a very strong argument for being the very strongest anti-malware solution available. They can lay claim to identifying and remediating malware strains that others miss. The issue to be aware of with Malwarebytes free version is that they tempt you with a lot of features such as realtime scanning which stop working after 14 days. The product does keep working after that, but think of this one as a trial and tempter for the full version which has better total protection (as you expect).