There are plenty of free antiviruses available on Windows, but which one should you choose? And are they really effective, or on the contrary dangerous for the system of his PC? These are all questions that we are answering in this dossier.
Surf the web, download a file, open a link… so many everyday actions that can threaten the integrity of your Windows 10 device, and your personal information. Hackers are inventing new techniques and viruses at a breakneck pace to take over computer systems or steal data. This is why it is essential to protect yourself against these intrusions and to use an effective antivirus. In this article, we will focus on the free antivirus solutions available on Windows 10. Because no, he is not forced to put his hand in his pocket to strengthen the security of his PC.
How to choose an antivirus?
Many parameters come into play when choosing your antivirus. This must offer a real time protection in addition to a manual scanner functionality to be truly efficient. It must also protect against a wide variety of threats: malware, rootkits, Trojans, ransomware, phishing, adware, keyloggers … The publisher must also update its database very regularly to be able to locate and quarantine the latest malware. The antivirus should if possible avoid putting too much strain on the performance of the PC, especially if you have a low-power computer. The resources allocated to protection software are sometimes far from negligible. Finally, interface must also be taken into account, especially if you are new to the subject: support for French, clarity of menus and settings …
In this folder, we have selected full free antiviruses that tick all or most of these boxes.
Free Antivirus: Are They Really Effective?
The debate often comes up on the table: are free antiviruses worth it and do they really offer decent protection against threats on the net? The answer is yes. The performance of free antiviruses is quite interesting, quite simply, because they generally use the same tools as the paid versions of malware protection programs. These, of course, have more features and efficient customer support, but the free versions of antivirus are based on the same threat detection and isolation technologies. They are therefore quite effective.
What are the best free antiviruses for Windows 10?
We now suggest a selection of free antiviruses available on Windows 10, which have been approved by independent tests carried out by several organizations, including the AV-Comparatives reference or the PCMag media.
The evidence. Directly integrated into Windows 10, Windows Defender has the merit of not requiring the download and installation of third-party software, it acts as a native service of the operating system. And if the default antivirus protection of Microsoft’s OS has long been mocked, it has been a few years since Windows Defender has caught up with the competition with a very good malware detection. The icing on the cake: its operation has little impact on the performance of the computer, the Redmond firm has also made efforts in this area.
Still, Windows Defender remains somewhat basic. Its protection system is effective, but not among the very best, especially when it comes to phishing and malicious URL blocking. It also lacks some essential features for users who desire a personalized experience and control over the service, as well as a more developed user-decided scanning system. Finally, in terms of ergonomics, there is also better. But Windows Defender is nonetheless a solid base to protect their computer and will suit those who want a good relationship between performance and transparency of the tool.
“The virus database has been updated”. A cult sound alert for which Avast is famous. But the antivirus stands out above all for the excellent performance it delivers in terms of protection against malware. It happens besides at the first position of the last AV-Comparatives barometer. In addition, Avast offers enhanced features on its free version, often reserved for paying users with competitive antiviruses. We think for example of the password manager or the VPN service.
Avast, on the other hand, is far from being the lightest antivirus solution available on the market. Even if efforts have been made by developers in recent months to lighten the platform and make it less resource intensive, its impact on machine performance is not negligible. But if you have a well-equipped PC, it shouldn’t be too obvious. For others, a lighter antivirus would probably be more feasible.
Also very well placed in the AV-Comparatives ranking, the free version of AVG. This is not a surprise since AVG Technologies was acquired in 2016 by Avast and that antiviruses now therefore share the same detection technologies. AVG thus blocks the majority of threats, and also offers an excellent file shredder function.
AVG has fewer features than Avast and will be of particular interest to those who want to be satisfied with the essentials, for ease of use of the program and above all a much lighter impact on system performance. If all you need is an antivirus with no additional options, then AVG is clearly a very good alternative.
Beware, Avast and AVG have been pinned for breaches of user privacy.
It was once considered the best antivirus on the market. But if he has continued to improve in recent years, he has done so at a less intense pace than the couple Avast / AVG or Kaspersky, who have caught up with him. However, it remains excellent with real-time protection and a very effective scanning tool. It will also appeal to users who like to personalize their experience by browsing through menus.
On the other hand, Avira tends to push users towards the paid version with a good number of limited features on the free version, such as VPN. All of them do of course, but Avira is perhaps a little more pushy than the others. The problem is, these incomplete tools make Avira heavier and more resource intensive than it should be.
When it comes to real-time malware protection and scans, the free version of Bitdefender is simply as efficient as the premium version of the software. Its performance is at the top of the market, with excellent results in detecting phishing attempts. On the other hand, it tends to be sometimes overzealous with a higher volume of false positives than many of its competitors. We therefore find ourselves from time to time with incongruous alerts or blocked legitimate content.
For free, Bitdefender lacks a lot of options. This is not necessarily a disadvantage for those who do not want to bother with additional features and only want a light and discreet protection which does not push the system to its limits.
Here is another benchmark of paid antivirus that has gone free. Like Bitdefender, Kaspersky offers its full range of protection and detection technologies free of charge. And we are talking here about one of the very best in the industry in terms of safety. All without putting too much strain on the performance of the computer.
Another good point: the very clear interface of the software, which is thus very easy to use. It must be said that the free version of Kaspersky does not offer a plethora of additional features, so there is no need to get lost in the program’s UI to find everything you are looking for.
The free version of the protection software from the Spanish company Panda Security also performed well in AV-Comparatives tests. The organization’s last report on him was in November 2020, and he had managed to block 100% of threats presented to him, making him a market leader. And in addition, it is rather light and has little impact on the performance of the PC on which it is running.
His interface is very nice and the publisher provides a number of customization options. We also have several features such as a VPN (limited to 150 MB of bandwidth per day), USB protection against attacks from physical media, a rescue kit to restore your machine in the event that it is impossible to get rid of it. virus or file cleaner. Very complete for a free version.
There are, however, downsides to this with heavy incentives to try other products developed by Panda Security or the fact that the software collects usage data.
Sophos Home Free
While fighting phishing attempts and blocking malicious URLs well, Sophos is not the best antivirus and does not offer the most unwavering malware protection available. But we quote it, because it is an interesting solution if you want remotely manage the security of a device to which you do not have physical access: that of a relative who does not know anything about IT, for example.
Indeed, Sophos offers a particularly well thought-out remote management tool that meets this specific need. An option of parental control is also included. It’s pretty basic, only allowing certain categories of websites to be blocked, but it’s better than nothing. In short, Sophos is not the performance leader, but comes in handy in some cases.