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Best Free Antivirus for 2020: Bitdefender, Kaspersky & More

Best Free Antivirus for 2020: Bitdefender, Kaspersky & More

There’s no such thing as having too much protection from internet threats, but it’s understandable if you’d rather not pay for the privilege if you don’t have to. While there are great deals available on paid-for security suites, it still amazes us that you can have the same antivirus component that’s in Bitdefender and Kaspersky’s

There’s no such thing as having too much protection from internet threats, but it’s understandable if you’d rather not pay for the privilege if you don’t have to. While there are great deals available on paid-for security suites, it still amazes us that you can have the same antivirus component that’s in Bitdefender and Kaspersky’s Total Security packages for free.

And you can. With hardly a catch, too.

So, after reading through our list of six recommended options below, there’s no excuse for not running antivirus software on all your PCs and laptops. In some cases there’s an Android app, too.

Should you get free antivirus?

Ok, so what was all that about ‘hardly a catch’? Well, free antivirus doesn’t always offer the most complete protection. It is better than having none at all but free versions tend not to include some of the extra features that come with paid-for products.

These can include specific protection from ransomware as well as spam filtering, parental controls, password managers, VPNs and cloud storage. However, that’s not to say those features can’t be found in free products – you’d be surprised what you can get without paying or even handing over your email address.

The free antivirus from Avira, Bitdefender and Kaspersky all offer great protection from viruses, as you’ll see below.

If you want the comprehensive protection and support a paid-for version includes, you’ll find recommendations in our best antivirus roundup.

Best Antivirus software reviews

Promotion

Kaspersky Small Office Security

Avira Free AntiVirus

Avira Free Security

Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition

Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition

Kaspersky Security Cloud Free

Kaspersky Security Cloud Free

Avast Free Antivirus

Avast Free Antivirus

AVG Free Antivirus

AVG Free Antivirus

Microsoft Windows Defender

Is free antivirus really free?

Yes it is. But you may well trade off some privacy. For example, Avast and AVG’s privacy policies clearly explains how it uses your personal and non-personal information when you download and use its free product.

With Avast in particular, you’re asked if you want to opt in to data collection during installation. This is why it is absolutely crucial you read what you’re agreeing to when you install an app, and are extra careful to opt out of any data sharing.

Otherwise, you grant the software the right to share some of your (anonymised) information to third parties, which may include advertisers and other companies. 

The danger is that a company might work out how to de-anonymise this data, which is a risk you don’t want to take.

And some free antivirus products will be supported by adverts, typically on Android versions. You can find out if it’s worth installing antivirus on Android and whether iPhones need protecting from malware or not.

If any of this concerns or bothers you, then take the time to read the privacy policy before you install a product. This applies to paid-for products too, but on the whole they do not take liberties with your privacy.

And these days, antivirus software should comply with GDPR in Europe and with other privacy regulations in other countries.

Does free antivirus software work?

Privacy is perhaps not the most important factor, depending on your outlook. Antivirus software is designed to prevent your PC and laptop – plus phone and tablet – from being infected by malicious code which could cause issues ranging from annoying pop-ups through to stealing your personal information or even deleting or encrypting your files.

The effectiveness of antivirus software changes over time, and a product that stops all viruses today may not do that tomorrow or in a month. No antivirus software offers a cast iron guarantee that it will stop 100% of malware, but many achieve this figure. And it’s essentially the same virus protection you get from the paid-for version of that product.

Again, though, remember that the protection only goes so far. If you want the best protection against the widest range of threats, pay for an internet security suite.

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Susan E. Lopez
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