Protect your Windows computer with a free antivirus program. Here is a list of the best free antivirus software for Windows.
A good antivirus program is essential for a secure system, and you don’t have to pay for one to get excellent protection. Below is our handpicked list of the 11 best free antivirus programs that you can download for Windows today.
All of these programs automatically update definitions, continually run to ensure your files are protected from malware and your personal information remains private, and can launch on-demand scans when you want.
However, each has some significant differences that set them apart, so pay attention to these when deciding which one to use.
Note: If you just need a spyware cleaner and need it now without waiting for the installation of one of these full AV programs, use one of the applications (preferably portable) from our list of the best free spyware removal tools. There are also free on-demand antivirus programs you can install. Consider installing an alternative to the Windows firewall from this list of free firewall programs.
Important: If you can’t even log in to Windows to install an antivirus tool, go to a working computer, then use it to create a free bootable antivirus tool that you can then run on the infected computer.
1. Avira Free Security
Avira Free Security Benefits:
- Included password manager.
- Optional additional protection layers available for download.
- Cloud-based antivirus process. Avira Antivirus Disadvantages
- Additional features can be annoying.
- Protects only Chrome and Firefox browsers.
- Add-ons often require fees to be fully functional.
The main component of Avira’s free software suite that sets it apart is the optional “cloud detection” feature called Protection Cloud. This scanning method allows Avira’s antivirus tool to identify and stop threats before they become uncontrollable.
Here’s how it works: when a suspicious file is detected on a computer running Avira, a fingerprint of that specific file is generated and uploaded anonymously to Avira so they can scan and report its status (whether it’s safe or dangerous) to every Avira user so the program can take appropriate action.
Avira can scan and remove existing threats as well as detect and automatically stop new ones. It protects you against ransomware, Trojans, spyware, and other types of malware. You can even choose which ones to actively monitor and disable others (although this is not recommended) like dialers, jokes, adware, etc.
Avira Free Security can also:
- Scan on a schedule
- Check files with any file extension or only those you manually choose
- Disable the ability to stop active scans (so viruses can’t prevent the program from finding them)
- Adjust the scanner’s priority level
- Scan main boot sectors
- Follow symbolic links to scan actual files
- Search for rootkits before starting a scan
- Scan the Windows registry
- Ignore files on network drives
- Automatically repair, rename, quarantine, delete, or ignore threats when found
- Use heuristic analysis
- Add files, folders, and processes to the ignore list
- Manage Windows firewall settings
- Password protect program settings
- Block auto-run on removable devices
- Make the hosts file read-only
The Avira program offers more than just an extensive antivirus application. It includes several other “layers” of security that install automatically, and their download may take some time as there are several. However, you don’t have to use them, and they will only bother you if you open them.
These separate modules include a VPN that encrypts all your traffic (up to the first 500 MB each month); a password manager for securely storing complex passwords; and an update software that identifies outdated programs and gives you the download links to update them.
2. Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition
Pros of BitDefender Antivirus:
- Drag-and-drop file and folder scanning.
- Minimalistic and sleek design.
- Easy to install and run.
Cons of BitDefender Antivirus:
- Limited customization options.
- Takes some time to install.
If you want a free antivirus program that is not only easy to use but also uncluttered with numerous buttons and menus, you should definitely try BitDefender Antivirus Free Edition.
It offers not only instant protection against viruses, worms, rootkits, spyware, and other threats but also anti-phishing and anti-fraud protection to ensure your safety when browsing the internet and entering passwords.
BitDefender’s minimal design is impressive in its effectiveness. Drag and drop folders and files directly into the program to run a scan against them, as well as initiate a full system scan or scan selected objects from the right-click context menu. All of these can run simultaneously.
Regardless of the startup mode or the number of scans performed concurrently, a history of these scans is recorded for you in the program’s main window and the Events area of the settings.
The obvious drawback of a program lacking many customization options is that there isn’t much to change. This may be something you want, but it might not be available – all you can do with this edition of BitDefender is start and stop scans.
Another downside of this software is the time it takes to prepare for use. BitDefender’s initial installer is quite small, but it’s used to download the full program, which is hundreds of megabytes and could take some time if you have a slow internet connection.
It is also unfortunate that you cannot pause scans (it only allows you to stop them) or set up file and folder exclusions before starting scans as some AV programs allow. With BitDefender, you can only mark files or websites as safe after they have been identified as potentially malicious.
Advertisements asking you to purchase BitDefender’s professional programs and scheduled scans are not supported (although not necessarily needed as BitDefender is always searching for new threats) are a few more minor drawbacks.
BitDefender Antivirus Free Edition runs on Windows 10, Windows 8, and Windows 7.
Download BitDefender Antivirus Free Edition
3. Adaware Antivirus Free
Pros of Adaware Antivirus:
- Lightweight antivirus program.
- Can work alongside other antivirus programs.
- Silent mode cuts notifications and limits resource usage.
Cons of Adaware Antivirus:
- Some useful features are only available in the paid version.
- Limited configurability.
- Real-time email scanning not included.
Adaware Antivirus installs in minutes, consumes few system resources, and can be used in two ways. The first is in normal mode, where it checks for threats as they occur, but the other allows you to use it in addition to your main antivirus program.
This “second line of defense” involves disabling real-time protection, but still allows you to use Adaware Antivirus to manually search for existing threats. This feature is helpful if your primary AV software doesn’t seem to find malware infecting your computer.
Regardless of how you use it, Adaware Antivirus offers defense against ransomware, spyware, viruses, and other forms of malware. You can find these threats through a quick, full, or custom scan.
Daily, weekly, and monthly scheduled scans are supported, and you can even run a scan to check just certain things, like only rootkits or only tracking cookies and boot sector viruses, for example.
Adaware Antivirus also allows you to choose a custom performance setting to use more system resources to run the scan (to make it faster), exclude files/folders/file extensions from scans, and decide how often to check for new definition updates (every 1/3/6/12/24 hours).
For real-time protection, you can enable or disable the following options:
- Scan archive files
- Scan email databases
- In-depth scan that checks CHM files and executable files
- Smart scan that ignores previously scanned files
- Scan boot sectors
- Scan files as they move across the network
- Ignore files that exceed a custom file size (e.g., 10 MB to ignore video files)
You can also protect the program’s settings with a PIN and enable gaming/silent mode to suppress notifications.
Adaware Antivirus certainly has its advantages, but as there is also a non-free version to upgrade to, many additional options are not supported.
For example, parental control and advanced network, web, and email protection are only available in Adaware Antivirus Pro. These options are visible in the free edition, but they are not actually clickable/usable until you have entered an Adaware Antivirus Pro license key.
Adaware Antivirus Free works with Windows 10, Windows 8, and Windows 7.
Download Adaware Antivirus Free
4. Avast Free Antivirus
Advantages of Avast Free Antivirus:
- Add-ons allow for increased protection.
- High customization.
Disadvantages of Avast Antivirus:
- Password manager and some other tools included are trial-only.
- Additional features require purchase.
Avast is used by hundreds of millions of people and ranks high on almost all “best lists” of antivirus programs, and for good reason. If you want a solid program that is sure to block new threats while still being easy to customize, you should consider using it.
Avast Free Antivirus is similar to Avira; additional modules enhance the antivirus shield and provide extra security and privacy-related services.
The antivirus part has many options that you can modify, but it’s still easy to use because there’s information next to most items, so you won’t wonder what will happen if you enable them.
Moreover, definitions and program updates are done automatically (a manual option is also available), meaning you can install Avast and let it do its work without worrying about whether you’re using the latest and best version.
Avast is customizable and allows you to change everything from emitting a sound when threats are detected to the duration notifications should stay on screen, to the types of file extensions to scan.
Here are some additional features supported by Avast Free Antivirus:
- Scheduled scans
- Custom scans that can check memory, rootkits, startup programs, etc.
- Check all files or only certain file extensions
- Identify files by their content rather than their suffix
- Fine-tuned heuristic sensitivity
- Search for potentially unwanted programs
- Follow shortcuts to scan the actual file
- Can scan various archive file formats like self-extracting DOS and Win32 executables, CHM streams, ACE, 7Z, RAR, TNEF, Mac archives, ISO, etc.
- Integration with Windows Explorer context menu
- Folders, hard drives, and URLs (but not specific files) can be excluded from scans in advance
- Custom scans are easy to save for future use
- A Rescue Disk utility lets you use the Avast scanner even if you can’t boot your computer
- Some areas of the program can be password-protected
- Enable Do Not Disturb mode to refuse notifications from other applications when using one in full-screen mode
Before installing Avast, you have the option to include over a dozen different tools: file, behavior, web, and email shields; software updater, browser cleaner, rescue disk, Wi-Fi inspector, security and SafePrice browser extensions; password manager; junk file cleaner; and gaming mode.
Technically, if you only want malware protection, you can install just the shields from the beginning of this list; the others are add-ons that aren’t necessary but could be useful at some point.
For example, the software updater is a nice tool that will not only check for and report outdated software but also install the latest versions for you (even in bulk).
The Wi-Fi inspector scans the network for devices that could be vulnerable to attacks. For instance, it can identify that a computer is running a file-sharing service known to facilitate the spread of a certain type of worm.
You can install these tools (it takes less than five minutes), then disable or remove them completely later. Or, you can ignore them during setup and simply install them later, or not at all.
However, the password manager and cleaning tools are trial versions that will expire after a limited time. There’s also a firewall, file shredder, and sandbox feature that are unusable in this free version.
Avast Free Antivirus is compatible with Windows 10, 8, and 7. There are also Mac and Android versions.
5. Panda Dome
Panda Dome Advantages:
- Light impact on system resources.
- Minimal and simple design.
- Security information on the latest breach and threat reports.
Panda Dome Disadvantages:
- Resets browser homepage and default search engine unless specifically deselected during installation.
- Contains advertisements.
Panda Security’s free antivirus program, Panda Dome (formerly known as Panda Free Antivirus), installs in a few minutes and has a minimal design like Bitdefender. However, while it’s not a processor or memory hog, and doesn’t seem to be customizable, all of its many options are hidden in the program settings.
From there, you can do things like set up on-demand and automatic scans to check compressed files and look for potentially unwanted programs.
The automatic and continuous scanner also includes additional options such as behavioral analysis and scan options, the ability to ask you before neutralizing a virus, and prevent files from running for so many seconds until security or harm results are obtained from the cloud.
What’s completely unique about Panda Dome is its security news and alert sections that can show you critical, warning, and informational messages such as when a popular provider experiences a data breach that could affect your personal information. However, you can disable them if you want.
Perform a scan in a few minutes if you only want to look for active threats such as browser cookies, processes, and currently loaded memory items. However, there is also, of course, an option for a full system scan or a custom scan.
Here are other things you can do with Panda Dome:
- Password protect the entire application
- Empty the quarantine every three days, every week, every month, or never
- A game/media option disables all notifications if you’re using a full-screen app
- Exclude particular files or folders from scans, as well as specific file extensions of your choice
- Enable USB protection to scan removable devices when connected, to ensure they’re not spreading anything to the computer
- Monitor running processes and all URLs they access and have them terminated if Panda Dome considers them a threat
- Save everything in event reports that you can browse and even print or export to a TXT or CSV file
- Possibly install Panda Safe Web during setup to protect yourself from malicious websites
Panda Dome antivirus software does a great job of keeping the important buttons up front and hiding extra options in menus so you’re not constantly bombarded with options or alerts.
However, the program will change your browser homepage and search engine unless you uncheck these options during initial setup.
Panda Dome works on all versions of Windows from Windows 10 to Windows 10, 11.
6. AVG AntiVirus Free
AVG Antivirus Free Advantages:
- Installs in a few minutes.
- Choose which components to enable during setup.
- Updates automatically (definitions and program).
- You have full control over how things operate.
AVG Antivirus Free Disadvantages:
- Displays features you can’t activate in the free version.
- Always advertises AVG Internet Security.
- Doesn’t officially support Windows Vista or 10, 11.
AVG’s free antivirus program is nice to look at and even easier to use. The scan button is right in the middle of the screen, disabling features is extremely simple, and all advanced options are hidden in settings.
Like most antivirus tools, this one lets you schedule scans, search for threats in archives, remove viruses as soon as they’re detected, scan USB keys, exclude files/folders/websites from scans, and run scans on startup.
AVG AntiVirus Free is highly customizable. You can either install it and leave the settings alone for regular protection, or access settings and make adjustments to almost everything.
Choose how to scan files: only include content that may include malware (like executable data), only files that use a file extension considered potentially dangerous (like EXE), or all files, regardless of content type or file extension.
Enable rootkit detection, hardcore mode, and CyberCapture technology, which helps detect threats in unrecognized files.
During setup, you have full control over which components to enable or disable after installing AVG. Options include File Shield, Behavior Shield, Web Shield, Email Shield, the SafePrice browser extension, File Shredder, Cleanup, and Do Not Disturb Mode.
AVG AntiVirus Free also includes a file shredder tool, which you can use in the right-click context menu to overwrite files using the Random Data, Gutmann, or DoD 5220.22-M data destruction method.
It supports Windows 10, 8, and 7. It also works on Mac (10.10 Yosemite or later) and Android.
Note: You’re prompted during setup to also install AVG’s web browser, AVG Secure Browser, but you can uncheck this option if you prefer.
7. COMODO Antivirus
Comodo Antivirus Advantages:
- User interface can conform to your comfort level.
- Many settings can be customized.
- Run programs virtually.
- Automatic updates for program and virus definitions.
Comodo Antivirus Disadvantages:
- Settings sometimes aren’t saved after being changed.
- Includes other programs and tools you might not want.
COMODO Antivirus excels in several ways: it can be as simple or complex as you want based on your experience level with antivirus tools, it supports cloud-based scanning to detect new threats, and the built-in sandbox technology can isolate programs so they can’t affect your files even if they turn out to be malicious.
Right after installing this free antivirus program from COMODO, a scan starts to make sure your computer is safe. You can also run scans at any time, either quick scans, full scans, scans of frequently infected areas, and custom scans.
A custom scan in COMODO Antivirus lets you choose which files or folders to scan and allows for a multitude of other customizations such as decompressing and scanning archives, using cloud-based scanning, automatically removing threats, turning on heuristic scanning, looking for threats running in memory, excluding files over a maximum size, running the scan with full system resources, removing PuPs, etc.
The basic view for program settings runs scans, unblocks applications, updates the program, and runs software in virtual mode, while the advanced view reports more details about these areas of the program and displays logs as well as toggles various things like HIPS and VirusScope.
Check out the virtualization feature in COMODO Antivirus. You can run any program of your choice in a completely separate virtual space from the rest of your files. This is an opportunity to test an application to make sure it’s real and not just a trick to get you to install a virus. Launch programs in this protected container from inside the COMODO program or by right-clicking an executable file and choosing the option from the menu.
Here are a few other features worth mentioning:
- Password-protect the program
- Display a floating desktop widget
- Hide the upgrade advertisement
- Choose which archive file types to decompress and scan
- Turn on real-time scanning of files on the network
- Set the level of heuristic scanning (low, medium, high)
- Schedule scans as often as every hour and as rarely as once per month
- Customize HIPS rules
- Enable silent mode
- Force automatic containment of suspicious or malicious files
- Use a unique password for the Virtual Desktop feature
COMODO Antivirus officially supports Windows 10, Windows 8, and Windows 7. It’s also available for macOS.
Note: COMODO Dragon web browser installs automatically during setup unless otherwise noted. After installation, pay attention to the options presented to you – you can switch your DNS servers to COMODO secure DNS servers (which probably improve security and speed up browsing), turn on cloud-based behavior scanning, send anonymous program usage to COMODO, and change the homepage and default search engine to Yahoo.
- Automatically downloads and installs updates.
- Lots of control over settings.
- Simple user interface.
- Comes with an application firewall.
- Requires internet during installation (not an offline installer).
- Slow download and installation of all components.
- Unable to pause scans (only stop).
- Lack of helpful documentation.
The free FortiClient antivirus program is unique for several reasons. Unlike many other AV programs on this page, it includes parental control features, manually checks your programs for vulnerabilities, works as a VPN client, and includes a firewall.
Installing this program allows you to block websites by URL and site category, such as bandwidth-consuming sites, illegal sites, and those reported to include content related to hacking, discrimination, eroticism, gaming, advertising, purchasing, child abuse, and plagiarism.
Open sandbox files from a web download, email attachment, removable drive, or network drive. This feature is ideal if you are cautious about opening these types of files, as they are the main entry points for malware.
Here are some other FortiClient features you’ll love:
- Scan on a daily, weekly, and monthly schedule
- Lock the program with a password
- Manually check application vulnerabilities
- AntiExploit is automatically enabled for all your programs, but you have the freedom to disable the feature on each of them.
The program interface itself is easy to read, but it can be a bit too much for a novice user. There is practically no information on what each component and setting does when toggled, and some of the features are really only useful if your computer is remotely managed by an administrator.
Windows 10, Windows 8, and Windows 7 are supported. You can also get this free antivirus program on Linux and macOS (but with fewer features). FortiClient also has a similar tool for web filtering and VPN access for Chromebook, Chrome browser, iOS, and Android.
Note: During setup, you are prompted to enable the following elements with the antivirus program: SSL and IPsec VPN, FortiSandbox detection and quarantine features, and additional security features that include antivirus, web filtering, single sign-on, and application firewall. You can enable them during setup or later once FortiClient is fully installed.
9. Immunet AntiVirus
Immunet Antivirus Advantages:
- Tons of customizable options.
- No ads.
- Automatic updates.
- Useful built-in information.
- Small installation file; installs quickly.
Immunet provides real-time protection for Windows. It has a somewhat outdated interface but the software is still up to date and even connects directly to the cloud for updates.
There are many options you can enable or disable to customize how the software operates, but you can also leave all the settings at their defaults and it will still check your computer for threats in real-time.
Here are some other features you get with Immunet:
- Detects and removes robots, viruses, worms, Trojans, keyloggers, and spyware.
- Three scanning modes let you check only running processes (Flash Scan), any location of your choice (Custom Scan), or the entire computer (Full Scan).
- Schedule any type of scan daily, weekly, or monthly.
- Launch scans directly from Explorer on any folder or file.
- A timeline shows the history of threats on the computer, up to 30 days in the past. There’s also an extremely detailed history of events that have occurred in the program that you can filter by date, keyword, and type (such as quarantines, cleanings, blocked processes, etc.).
- Lets you run a FlashScan right after installation to check the registry and running processes for threats.
- Includes a special blocking mode that prevents any programs from being installed unless they first pass a security scan.
- Game mode prevents program notifications when you’re watching movies or playing games.
- Automatically excludes certain folders and file types from scans, including temporary folders and certain system32 folders.
- Manually exclude any file, folder, or threat (by its name).
- Toggle scanning of archives and compressed files.
- Works with many other antivirus programs, such as Comodo, Avira, AVG, and Norton security software.
Immunet AntiVirus has been tested on Windows 10, Windows 8, and Windows 7, as well as Windows Server 2016/2012/2008 R2.
10. Kaspersky Security Cloud Free
Kaspersky Security Cloud Free Advantages:
- Clean and easy-to-understand user interface.
- Unique features not found in other programs.
- Protects your email.
- Lots of options you can customize.
- Set up a scanning program.
Kaspersky Security Cloud Free Disadvantages:
- Must create a user account to activate the software.
- Several features you see in the program are not free.
- Unable to exclude scans by file extension.
- Slow installation.
- Must renew the free license every year.
Kaspersky Security Cloud Free is a good choice for a free antivirus program if you want a simple program with many features. It is easy to use and offers many advanced options if you want to explore them.
This free AV program is also useful if your computer is lacking in system resources. Kaspersky Security Cloud Free can automatically defer scans and reduce display animations if CPU usage is too high. It supports idle scans when you are away and lets you prioritize performance over protection by adjusting the overall security level.
It includes self-defense, which is a feature that blocks any attempts to modify or delete Kaspersky’s processes, registry items, and installation files.
Other details worth mentioning:
- Scans for rootkits and can remove malware, adware, dialers, and suspicious packages
- Can password-protect the program to protect its settings from modification or prevent it from being uninstalled or stopped
- Includes a file and web analyzer as well as network attack blocker, System Watcher, and Mail Anti-Virus
- Supports game mode to suppress notifications while using any program in full-screen mode
- Antivirus scanner automatically stops when specific applications start or at certain times of day
- Choose what happens when a threat is detected: notify, disinfect, delete if disinfection doesn’t work, or delete
- Automatically scan external drives or prompt you to scan them when inserted
- Schedule quick or full scans for every day, every weekend, every weekday, every week, or every month
- Choose what is scanned in a full, quick, and selective scan. Can include any of the following: system memory, startup objects, disk boot sectors, system volume information, email, all hard drives, all external devices, all network drives, any folder.
- Skip items if the scan is taking too long
- Speed up antivirus scans by checking only new and modified files
- Exclude files and folders from scans and even prevent specific threats from being scanned
- Set trusted applications so they are not scanned
Kaspersky’s free antivirus program works on Windows operating systems. It would be compatible with Windows 10 and 8 on Windows tablets, as well as Windows 7 and newer versions on desktop and laptop computers.
Download Kaspersky Security Cloud
11. ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus
ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus Advantages:
- Updates automatically.
- Comes with a free firewall.
- Can run scheduled scans.
- Disadvantages of ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus
- Heavy on system resources.
- Slow installation.
ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus, also known as ZoneAlarm Security and ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus + Firewall, is exactly what you think it is: antivirus software with a built-in firewall tool. Not only do you get protection from threats such as spyware, viruses, Trojans, and bots, but there are also firewall shields to prevent intruders from reaching your computer files.
Here are some other important features of this free antivirus tool:
- Real-time cloud-based security updates that rely on millions of other users to quickly stop threats
- Gamer mode blocks interruptions during gameplay, such as scans, updates, and alerts; you can set all alerts to be automatically denied or allowed
- Lock ZoneAlarm settings with a password to protect its settings from being changed
- Backup program security settings and restore them later
- Run quick or full scans on a schedule
- The network firewall can filter each program with “suspicious behavior” alerts that you must explicitly allow or deny.
- The firewall allows you to block fragments, approved servers, and public servers, as well as enable ARP protection, filter IP traffic on port 1394, allow/block VPN protocols, and lock the hosts file
- Set up notifications for suspicious credit activity
- ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus + Firewall works on Windows 10, 8, and 7.
Download ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus
If you’re looking for protection on your other devices, check out our best free antivirus apps for Android and best antivirus lists for Mac.