6. avast! Free Antivirus (Windows/Mac/Mobile)

Avast Free Antivirus may not be as quick or intuitive as its paid counterpart after more than 25 years, but it certainly does the trick on a budget (and it does it well). Aside from the usual virus and malware protection — along with anti-rootkit and anti-spyware capabilities — the software comes with a slew of customizable installation options you can toggle, as well as an Auto Sandbox that places programs deemed suspicious aside so they don’t harm your computer. The new UI is impeccably clean and a breeze to use, featuring a simple navigational pane on the left-hand side and large interface buttons, and the program even contains a comprehensive remote assistance feature that allows you to establish a connection and subsequently take control of a friend’s computer using a provided permission code. Furthermore, the eight individual “shields” the software once possessed have been condensed into three (Mail Shield, File System Shield, and Web Shield), streamlining customization options a minimizing a once-daunting configuration process.
However, Avast Free Antivirus isn’t without its flaws. Although the software’s new DynaGen technology does an excellent job at blocking and removing detected malware, the program’s dual phishing protection is poor and the detection utility has a knack for deeming valid programs as suspicious, wrongly blocking them in the process and making it rather difficult to mark programs as exempt from interference. That being said, many of the program’s customization options cater to the more tech-savvy crowd despite the arsenal of beginner tools bundled with the software. However, the browser cleanup utility, informative statistics panel, and the software’s innate ability to operate in Safe Mood render it one of the most feature-rich on our list for any level of computing experience.
Avast Free Antivirus
avast! Free Antivirus (Windows/Mac/Mobile)

7. Panda Cloud Antivirus (Windows)

What sets Panda Cloud Antivirus apart from its competitors is in the name: the cloud. The program primarily uses cloud computing, meaning remote servers carry the weight of scanning and carrying out various antivirus and anti-spyware functions so your computer doesn’t have to. The software is relatively lightweight – it doesn’t require much in the way of resources – and runs off a local cache when the network is unavailable. It also provides options for URL and Web filtering along with optimized and custom scanning to isolate specific folders and files. It doesn’t get much simpler than Panda Cloud Antivirus, but simplicity sometimes comes at a cost; the software is notorious for bogging down your system and often requires a substantial amount of time when attempting to clean an infected system.
Despite fairly impressive detection rates and top-notch rootkit blocking, the program isn’t the most skilled when it comes to eradicating malware on infected systems, especially during offline use. However, it works rather well at preventing infections once installed on a clean system, while additionally offering a wealth of tools should Panda Cloud Antivirus prove feeble at ridding your system of potential threats. The ad-free premium version ($15) offers a bevy of enhanced features for those seeking advanced security features, multilingual tech support, a community firewall, and automatic USB vaccination that helps protect against potentially harmful files found in portable storage devices. Not too shabby for the cheapest pro offering on our list.
Panda Cloud Antivirus Free
Panda Cloud Antivirus (Windows)

8. Avira Free Antivirus (Windows/Mac/Mobile)

Independent tests from AV-Comparatives.org consistently place Avira near the top of the list for detection and blocking rates — and the latest software is no exception. Clad in a somewhat cluttered interface and built with the same technology as the premium Avira packages, the freemium offering touts solid protection when it comes to viruses, worms, Trojans, and all manners of malware that may potentially infiltrate your system. The software might be a bit slow when it comes to installation and execution depending on the amount of data stored on your machine, but the scanning is well-optimized and hassle-free once underway, providing quick and seamless threat detection that ranks among the best. Additionally, the software provides blocking for spyware and tracking cookies, and intercepts harmful websites should you opt for the bundled Avira toolbar.
Once-premium tools like Avira’s SocialShield parental monitoring program are also included in the free software, giving users an intuitive way to monitor their children’s social media habits — assuming they cooperate that is. The bundled 5GB of online storage is a nice touch as well, along with the complimentary mobile app for Android and iOS, but they hardly makes up for the nonexistent tech support and the program’s relatively large memory footprint. All in all, Avira Free Antivirus boils down to a competent malware detection and removal program, but one that will essentially leave you helpless if anything goes wrong.
Avira Free Antivirus
Avira Free Antivirus (Windows/Mac/Mobile)

9. Comodo Antivirus Free (Windows/Mac/Linux/Mobile)

Finding a quality security suite that serves as both an antivirus and firewall is like winning the lottery, only there’s no money involved with Comodo Antivirus Free. The freemium software provides a solid line of defense against typical malicious threats like viruses and other malware, while offering sublime firewall protection that alerts the user whenever an unknown program attempts to access the Internet among other actions. The software also protects against other infectious sources, including email, instant messaging, and gaming. Its built-in detection technology, Defense+, prohibits anything to run other than the most trusted software, but comes with a barrage of warning alerts that often need your attention. Other features include an Auto Sandbox, cloud-based scanning and behavioral analysis, and the Chromium-based Dragon browser with Comodo’s SecureDNS service for added security and privacy while surfing the Web.
Although the software may be a bit paranoid, upping the ante when it comes to over-the-top malware detection, it falls a bit short when it comes to disabling what it has deemed potentially hazardous. It also occasionally flags valid programs as potential threats when you least expect it. Nevertheless, Comodo has certainly stepped up its game in the world of free antivirus software, fleshing out a fledgling product’s capabilities with its latest release and severely toning down the sheer abundance of ads once littering the interface. Be sure to check out the mobile version of the software for Android phones if you’re looking for privacy, anti-theft, and virus protection on the move.
Comodo Antivirus Free
Comodo Antivirus Free (Windows/Mac/Linux/Mobile)

10. Emsisoft Emergency Kit Free (Windows)

While Emsisoft’s kit won’t protect malware from infecting your system in the first place, the software collection does a nice job of cleaning up malware-seeped machines that are unable to install some of the more robust antivirus software elsewhere on our list. The intuitive kit has little trouble working working alongside other antivirus software and is designed for experts and novice alike, incorporating both an automatic and a manual commandline scanner catered to more advanced users and those looking to do batch jobs. It’s also entirely installation-free, meaning users can quickly run the program off a portable drive when installing antivirus software on an already-riddled system is out of the question. And though it doesn’t handle rootkits, it does an excellent job of removing most malware without placing unnecessary strain on your system.
It’s not the most extensive program when it comes to functionality and elaborate features, but Emsisoft Emergency Kit Free is still great little tool for the worst case scenario, especially when combined with the included HiJackFree and BlitzBank software that provides considerably more control over your system. We recommend extracting the software contents to a portable flash drive so you’ll be better prepared just in case the worst does befall on you.
Emsisoft Emergency Kit Free
Emsisoft Emergency Kit Free (Windows)
What do you think of our top picks for the best free antivirus software on the market? Do you have another recommendation for combating the viral legions of malware? Let us know in the comments below.