Data security has become an issue of major concern today. There are a range of viruses and malware that can infect your system without you having a clue!
Using a good antivirus software can help minimize security risks to a large extent. So, after researching and testing out a variety of antivirus software, I am here with the Best 5 Antivirus Software for PCs.
We will begin with discussing the common forms of malware that can infect your device. Then we will move on to discuss the important factors that you should consider before choosing an antivirus security software for your system.
And finally, we will check out the 5 Best Free Antivirus for PC that you can start using right away. With no more ado, let’s start!
- Types of Computer Viruses
- What is an Antivirus Software?
- Advantages of using Antivirus Software
- Who Should Use Antivirus Software?
- Features to Consider When choosing an Antivirus Software
- 5 Best Free Antivirus Software for PC (2023)
Types of Computer Viruses
Before using an antivirus software, it is also important to be aware of the types of viruses affecting your computer system. I have discussed the most significant among them below.
Malware is an acronym for malicious software. It is a software designed to cause harm to a system. It might include stuff like leaking private information, preventing access to information stored on the system, etc. Most of the online threats are a type of malware.
Spyware is a type of software that collects personal information about you and discloses it to a third party without your permission. This might also include trusted software monitoring your personal data for the purpose of advertising.
Adware is a type of malware that stays hidden in your system and serves you ads and intruding pop-ups. Some adware also keeps a tab on your behavior so they can target you with ads.
Phishing is a type of social engineering attack where a scammer sends a fraud message to a user appearing to be authentic in order to gain sensitive information.
Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts a user’s system and prevents them from accessing it. They hold the user’s information at ransom unless they perform whatever actions are demanded by the software.
Trojan is a type of malware that can perform destructive operations on your computer, including copying, modifying, deleting, and blocking data.
A computer worm is a type of malicious software whose job is to replicate itself and spread on multiple uninfected systems present in the network.
Spam refers to unwanted and unsolicited messages, especially via email, sent in bulk over the Internet. These are typically sent for advertising, but are annoying for the receivers!
Keylogger is a computer program that monitors the strokes you press on your keyboard and records them in order to gain access to your sensitive details like passwords, bank details, etc.
What is an Antivirus Software?
Do you mindlessly click on links without verifying the URL? Do you download email attachments from anonymous email addresses? Do you use unknown USB drives or visit unsafe websites? Well, malware might enter your system in these ways.
An antivirus software is a program designed to safeguard your laptop or computer from threats like viruses, and other malicious software on your device. The primary aim of an Antivirus program is to scan, identify, prevent, and remove viruses from your device.
However, it might also offer network firewall and include protection against various types of malware like adware, spyware, spam, trojan, ransomware, keyloggers, browser hijackers, etc.
When you run an antivirus software on your PC, it essentially scans all your data (including applications and files) on your hard drives and also externally connected devices and detects threats.
If it detects anything suspicious, it either repairs it, quarantines it, or deletes it as per the seriousness of the threat. You can run manual virus scans whenever you want or schedule automatic scans according to your preference.
Most modern antivirus software are set to update manually to effectively track all the emerging viruses as quickly as possible!
Advantages of using Antivirus Software
Keeps Your Data Secure
Viruses and malware can corrupt your data, encrypt it, steal it, and even delete it. Having an antivirus running on your system protects your sensitive data from being misused by any unauthorized third parties.
Detects Unsafe or Infected Devices
Because an antivirus software also scans your externally connected devices like USBs, DVDs, etc, you can easily find out which of your devices are infected with malware.
Blocks Spam, Ads, and Trackers
A lot of viruses enter your device via pop-ups and advertisements. An antivirus software essentially prevents them from entering your network. Thus, it keeps you secure from any online threats.
Restricts Unsafe Websites
Most Antivirus software come with an option to restrict web access so you can only access websites that are safe to browse.
Who Should Use Antivirus Software?
Antivirus software can be used by anyone who uses a computer or frequently surfs the Internet. These include bloggers, gamers, students, working professionals, and everyone else whose work revolves around a computer system.
Thus, Antivirus can be used by anyone as an effective measure to protect their security.
Features to Consider When choosing an Antivirus Software
Whenever you install a software, the first thing you interact with is its user interface. So, while choosing an antivirus, make sure the interface is clean, modern, and easy to use.
Virus Scan Modes
Also, ensure that the antivirus has multiple virus scanning modes. This is essential in order to catch viruses on your device. Scan modes might include File Scan, Boot time Scan, Selective Scan, Removable Drive Scan, etc.
To protect different aspects of your device from threats, antivirus softwares offer various shields. This includes File Shield, Email Shield, Web Shield, Ransomware Protection, etc.
A firewall essentially blocks all the unwanted network traffic and keeps you protected from all the online threats trying to get access to your device.
Quarantine, as is clear from the term itself, is a feature that isolates the infected files and software and stores them in a separate location. Later, they can be reviewed, and either repaired or deleted permanently.
Wi-Fi Inspector is another important feature of antivirus software. It keeps on monitoring the incoming network traffic and ensures it is free from any threats. You can also troubleshoot any network errors here.
Hack Alerts help you identify if any of your sensitive information, like passwords and other credentials, have been leaked on the web. If so, you can change them as soon as possible to prevent any chances of data loss.
5 Best Free Antivirus Software for PC (2023)
Avast Antivirus is a powerful and lightweight antivirus developed by Avast over 30 years back. With over 400 million active installations, it is one of the best free antivirus solutions for your PC. It is available for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android devices.
Avast Free Antivirus has a modern, clean, and attractive interface. The dark theme is easy on the eyes and gives it a more classy look. Even beginners won’t have trouble getting started with it.
Multiple Scan Modes
It features multiple scan modes including Full Virus Scan, Targeted Scan, Boot time Scan, and Custom Scan modes.
Multiple Core Shields
Shields protect you from various types of online threats. You get the following shields with Avast:
- File Shield scans files added or opened on your device.
- Behavior Shield keeps a check on your apps and informs you of any suspicious activity.
- Web Shield blocks all web attacks.
- Email Shield keeps you safe from unsafe email attachments.
Ransomware is a type of malware that prevents you from accessing files stored on your device. With a ransomware shield, this situation is easily avoided.
We can find all the files deleted by Avast Antivirus under the Quarantine folder. This feature isolates potentially harmful files from the healthy files on your system.
This feature scans the web and identifies if any of your sensitive details like email ids, passwords, etc, have been leaked online.
The Wi-Fi Inspector scans your network to ensure that your network is free from any threats.
A Firewall protects your device from harmful external traffic and also stops malware from accessing apps on your system via the Internet.
Do Not Disturb Mode
Avast Free Antivirus provides a DND mode that mutes all the notifications to help you focus and boost your performance.
The Software Updater checks if any of your software is outdated and provides a helpful ‘Update Now’ button beside them.
Avast also has a mobile version where you can use all the free features. All you need to do is enter your email id and install the mobile app from the link!
Additional Paid Features
It also offers Remote Access Shield, Sandbox, and Real Site features on its paid plan.
AVG is an efficient antivirus solution developed by AVG Technologies. It has over 30+ years of experience and supports multiple devices.
The interface is really easy to use and a beginner can easily figure it out on his own. Also, it comprises all the essential features required in an antivirus.
Various Shields Available
With AVG Antivirus, you get all the important shields, including File Shield, Behavior Shield, Web Shield, Mail Shield, and Ransomware Protection.
Yes, you get firewall protection with AVG Antivirus. But it does not come by default. You need to install it manually in order to use it.
This keeps a check on your network and prevents any unwanted traffic or troubleshooting hardware errors.
It has the hack alerts option inbuilt so you can get notified if your passwords or sensitive credentials are leaked online. You can also use a password manager for additional security. I would recommend using 1Password or Bitwarden.
Multiple Scan Modes
With AVG Antivirus, you get advanced modes for scanning your device for malware and viruses. These include Deep Scan, File or Folder Scan, Boot time Scan, USB/DVD Scan, and Performance Scan.
Available for Mobile
AVG Antivirus is also available on Android and iOS devices. So you can also enjoy advanced security from online threats, even on your mobile.
Kaspersky is a powerful antivirus software headquartered in Moscow. Their services are used by 270k+ companies around the world.
They have named their antivirus as Kaspersky Security Cloud because they have their own cloud storage as well. So you can also enable cloud based security, but here I am only going to talk about offline security features.
Multiple Virus Scan Modes
Kaspersky gives you lots of virus scanning options including Quick Scan, Full Scan, Selective Scan, Removable Drive Scan, Context Menu Scan, and Background Scan.
Database updates keep your antivirus updated with the latest malware codes so they can be detected effectively. You can update it manually or let it perform the update automatically whenever it’s available.
With Kaspersky, you get a free password manager to store all your online credentials securely. All you need to do is follow the link from the app and create a free account to use their password manager. In my opinion, Bitwarden is the best free password manager.
You get the ‘Account Checks’ feature that analyses if any of your sensitive details or credentials are being leaked online and will notify you. Later, you can change your passwords to ensure better security.
All the infected files detected by the antivirus are stored in the Quarantine folder. You can fix them or permanently delete them as per your requirements.
The File Shredder is helpful for permanently deleting a file. When a file is removed from the File Shredder, you cannot get it back by any means.
This feature prevents keyloggers from monitoring your input text. When you use an on-screen keyboard, they cannot analyze which key is being pressed. Thus, it prevents any data leaks.
To use the Kaspersky Antivirus on your mobile, you need to simply scan the QR visible on the app and install the app on your mobile.
Additional Paid Features
The PC Cleaner, Safe Money, Webcam Protection, and Private Browsing features are available on the paid plan of Kaspersky Security Cloud.
Avira Security Antivirus is an award-winning German Antivirus designed by Tjark Auerbach. It has over 100 million downloads at present.
It comes loaded with all the essential security features and supports multiple devices. It is also a great option for gaming!
Real Time Protection
Avira Free Antivirus provides you with complete real-time security against malware. It prevents viruses from making any changes to your device.
The firewall blocks all the unwanted traffic coming through your network and keeps you safe from all online threats.
Decent Scan Types
Even though you don’t get to see virus scan modes on Avira, it comes with good virus scan types including the following:
- Quick Scan: It scans vulnerable files only.
- Full Scan: It scans the entire system.
- Manage Scans: It can run and schedule scans.
With the help of File Shredder, you can permanently delete any infected or sensitive files. The catch is that once a file is deleted from the File Shredder, it is impossible to get it back.
Password Manager and VPN
Avira also has a password manager that you can access through its browser extension. It also offers a free VPN with a 500 MB limit per month.
Avira Browser Safety Extension
This is a browser extension by Avira that actively blocks all trackers and ads on websites and makes your online browsing experience free from any intrusions.
It is compatible with Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Opera browsers.
Performance Boosting Options
For improving the performance of your device, Avira offers its Optimizer and Driver Updater in the free edition.
The optimizer frees up space and improves the speed of your system. Whereas, the Driver Updater monitors all the drivers on your system and displays if any updates are available.
Avira Antivirus is also available for your mobile devices and can be used without creating an account. All you need to do is scan the QR code visible on the app through your mobile and then install the app.
The Web Protection, Email Protection, Ransomware Protection, and Hack Alerts options are available on the paid plan of Avira Antivirus.
5. Windows Defender Antivirus
Windows Defender Antivirus is a software developed by the Microsoft team to protect devices running the Windows operating system.
It helps in scanning, identifying, and removing viruses and other harmful software from your computers. It comes installed by default on all Windows PCs.
Strong Core Shields Protection
With Microsoft Windows Defender, you get all the basic shields, including Virus Protection, Threat Protection, Microsoft account Protection, and Ransomware Protection.
Various Scan Modes
You get multiple scan modes including the following:
- Quick Scan: It only scans those areas where threats are found commonly.
- Full Scan: It scans all files and apps on your device.
- Custom Scan: You can specify what files and locations you want to scan for viruses.
- Microsoft Defender Offline Scan: It finds and deletes the malware that are particularly difficult to locate.
It keeps on automatically scanning your system from time to time and gives you updates about viruses and malware caught.
It has a strong firewall security that keeps on monitoring incoming traffic through your network. Its Network and Internet Troubleshooter option is really powerful and helps you fix issues with your network with ease.
App and Browser Control
This feature scans through your device to find out any unwanted apps that can spoil the performance of your device.
It stores all the infected files and programs in the Quarantine folder. These can be restored or deleted as per your preferences.
This feature monitors the core hardware products on your device and ensures they are secure and free from any threats.
Device Performance and Health
It checks through the Apps, Software, Storage, Windows Time Service, etc and brings up any issues found with them.
This feature helps you keep a check on your child’s online activity. You can monitor the websites they are visiting, implement a screen time on the PC, and get a weekly report of the apps and websites your kid is spending his/most time on.
With the ever increasing number of online threats, an antivirus software is necessary to shield your sensitive data from hackers and malicious programs.
I hope the antivirus softwares discussed in this article will help you have a safe and trouble-free online experience!
Do you use an antivirus on your computer? If so, which one do you prefer? Will you be trying any of the softwares from our list? Let me know in the comments box below.
This is Kripesh signing off. I’ll be back with more such interesting articles soon. You can also join my weekly newsletter to stay updated with my latest videos and blog posts. Cheers and keep learning. 🙂
Is it safe to use a free antivirus?
Is it worth it to pay for antivirus?
For an average user, the free features would be sufficient to secure their system from malware and other harmful programs.
However, advanced users who require top-notch security for their device can use a paid antivirus to deploy features like PC Cleaner, Webcam Protection, Private Browsing, Remote Access Shield, etc.
How can I get free antivirus?
You can simply visit the official website of any free antivirus and download it on your device. After the installation process is complete, you can use it on your system.
Will my computer become slow if I install an antivirus?
To be honest, yes. An antivirus software needs to constantly keep on scanning the files and apps present on your system. This requires RAM, storage space, and processing power, which might slow down your computer.
Why do I need antivirus protection?
If your work revolves around browsing the Internet throughout the day, your system is prone to online threats and attacks. To prevent this situation, it is best to make use of an antivirus software.
Why isn’t Microsoft’s Windows Defender good enough?
Does running an antivirus reduce FPS?
Running an antivirus does not involve any video resources. So, it does not affect the FPS. However, in case you have a low-end PC that can’t handle heavy gaming, you might need to turn off your antivirus while gaming!
What features should the best antivirus have for gaming?
For gaming, an antivirus software should have the following features.
Driver Updater because it keeps all the drivers up to date and helps the graphics card run at its true potential.
VPN because it helps you gain access to games banned in your country.
Avira Security looks like the best antivirus from our list that offers these features for gaming.