Best free antivirus software reviews
What is free antivirus software?
The world of security software is diverse enough to offer people multiple options and alternatives. Whereas the average commercial antivirus application provides notably high protection level, it might not be affordable for some. This is why free antivirus software has always had its relevance, delivering the basic malware defense at no cost. Of course efficiency of such programs might leave much to be desired, still having one installed on your computer is way better than being completely unprotected.
The advantages and drawbacks of free antivirus software have been a matter of numerous discussions in the IT community. Some of the generally accepted virtues include pretty solid (although not likely 100%) virus detection scores, low consumption of system resources and certainly the price equaling zero. The other side of the coin encompasses some weak points which might be as follows: limited protection against cyber threats, poor capability to intercept zero-day infections, restricted feature set and low to moderate URL sandboxing integrated. And yet, due to the fact that this kind of software is free, it really did gain significant popularity with many users worldwide and keeps its firm positions on the security arena.
Some of these utilities have upgrade options, which means if you like the effectiveness and the rest of their traits you can get yourself a licensed counterpart to reinforce protection and get access to a much broader list of features. One thing to keep in mind is that free antivirus software shouldn’t be confused with the apps offering a certain trial period which is clearly stated once you begin using them. Once this time interval expires, you’ll be required to purchase the license key.
To sum it all up, a free antivirus is not a cure-all solution for resisting malicious objects but it does offer a certain extent of protection to keep most badware off your machine and help your PC stay afloat.
Best free antivirus software review: evaluation criteria
We do realize it’s not too fair to have elevated expectations to this type of software, so we are being comparison-driven in our analysis to pick the best free utilities. Here is what we looked for in the first place:
- Usability: The last thing you want when installing a free antivirus is going through a cumbersome or otherwise complex procedure. So the setup should take little time and effort on the user’s end. An important factor here is comprehensive Terms of Service where you should be informed of the degree of the vendor’s liability. Furthermore, the program is to be easy to use, without redundant mind-breaking menus or hard-to-find features. You should as well be able to configure some essential settings like event scheduling, quarantine specificity and updates. The application should also be fast and cause no system freezes.
- Features: The must-have features include real-time virus protection, automatic database updates, on-demand system scanning, removable media checking and drive-by downloads monitoring. If additional options are provided, that’s another important aspect in favor of a specific app. Some examples of the latter are online security features, cloud-based protection, boot-time scan, and silent mode. Availability of these and other extras are a significant factor affecting a utility’s position in the rating. Even the best free antivirus products normally do not get database updates rolled out as regularly as paid products do, so the latest signatures might be kept track of with limited efficiency. Therefore completeness of definition updates and their frequency are another thing we analyze the best free antivirus software against.
- Efficiency: Whereas virus guard supplied by free antivirus software is typically lower than that of the commercial security tools, there still has to be the confidence that no catalogued trojans, worms and spyware break through from the outside, and the pests that had already infested your computer could be spotted and neutralized. Also, some basic Internet defense should be bundled with the distributive. In addition to our own application research and analysis, one of the important characteristics being referenced is the test results by other independent third-party evaluation institutions, including AV-TEST, AV-Comparatives, etc. We believe this contributes to completeness and impartiality of the reviews.
- Support: Compared to the other criteria, this one is probably most affected with free software. If something goes wrong, customers do not have as many options to get help as authorized users of a paid antivirus do. And yet, there should be unrestricted access to a vendor’s security forum, online documentation, FAQs, and preferably the ability to submit online support tickets or shoot out an email with the specific issue outlined.