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Best free antivirus software

By Andrew Laughlin

We rate free antivirus software downloads for malware protection and ease of use, so that we can tell you the top best free antivirus software suites around.

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Equipping your computer with virus protection doesn't have to cost a penny – we've pinpointed the best free antivirus downloads that impressed us most in our lab tests. These free tools even outperformed a number of paid-for security suites.

Although these free security software packages are pretty basic, they will help you locate, prevent and remove malware and viruses. The best have extra features, such as a firewall or anti-phishing protection, although they may lack the breadth of features of the best paid-for antivirus software packages

See the best free antivirus software package below. 

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Brand Product name Score Overall protection Ransomware Phishing
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It's the best free protection you can get for your PC. It doesn't offer much in terms of features and extras, but makes up for that with outstanding protection against all strains of malware, including ransomware. And it won’t cost you anything to download, either.

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An excellent free level of PC protection is available from this big-brand antivirus software. It copes admirably with all forms of malware, including phishing attacks and ransomware attempting to lock your files and charge a few to return access.

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If you don’t want to pay to protect your PC, then this free antivirus solution is an excellent choice. It doesn’t offer many features and only cover one PC, but it does a fantastic job of shielding your computer from all types of malware and online nasties.

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Does free internet security give enough protection?

Downloading free antivirus software is certainly tempting, and the options above will help to keep your computer free from malicious malware.

But you shouldn't regard paid-for packages as a waste of money – you can get Best Buy security software for around £20 per year, which isn't much to pay for the extra peace of mind it offers.

To help you decide whether or not to dig into your wallet for virus protection, check out our expert guide on how to choose the best antivirus software.

Is Windows 10 Defender good enough to rely on? 

Microsoft Security Essentials in Windows 7 was rightly criticised for its lack of effective protection. If you use Windows 7, we advise you to go with our Best Buy antivirus packages, including free options. 

When Windows 10 launched, Microsoft introduced Defender, and after a fairly rocky start, it's now a viable line of defence against malware and other threats. 

Defender isn't quite good enough yet to trouble our Best Buy and top-scoring antivirus packages, however. It lacks effective protection against phishing attacks, where a cybercriminal sends a message with the intent of tricking you into revealing personal information, such as your password or bank details. It also doesn't have the creature comforts of a proper, full-blown antivirus suite. Our Windows 10 Defender review has all the details. 

To be sure of the top-notch, all round protection that you need, go for one of the free antivirus packages above, or browse the paid-for versions for extra features and functions. 

Free antivirus to avoid

80%
£0.00
Reviewed

Just because software is free, doesn’t mean it’s actually worth having on your PC. This no-cost package feels dated in its design, it’s limited in terms of what it does and, most crucially, it doesn’t give complete protection against malware.

Best Free Antivirus

81%
£0.00
Reviewed

It's the best free protection you can get for your PC. It doesn't offer much in terms of features and extras, but makes up for that with outstanding protection against all strains of malware, including ransomware. And it won’t cost you anything to download, either.

79%
£0.00
Reviewed

If you don’t want to pay to protect your PC, then this free antivirus solution is an excellent choice. It doesn’t offer many features and only cover one PC, but it does a fantastic job of shielding your computer from all types of malware and online nasties.

72%
£0.00
Reviewed

An excellent free level of PC protection is available from this big-brand antivirus software. It copes admirably with all forms of malware, including phishing attacks and ransomware attempting to lock your files and charge a few to return access.

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