The Best Free Antivirus Software Programs

There’s basically no excuse for not having top-notch antivirus software on your personal computers these days.

You have multiple well-rated — and no-cost — options to choose from, as PCMag’s latest ratings of free antivirus programs illustrate.

To reach its findings, the publication tested 39 antivirus products and examined the results of other independent labs that have tested the programs.

The best free antivirus software

PCMag awarded its “Editors’ Choice” honor to two programs: Avast One Essential and Kaspersky Security Cloud Free. Both earned an “outstanding” overall rating of 4.5 out of 5 from PCMag.

In writing about the rankings, Neil J. Rubenking, PCMag’s lead analyst for security, says:

“The new Avast One Essential takes the place of Avast Free Antivirus as Editors’ Choice for free antivirus utility, while Kaspersky Security Cloud Free remains the other Editors’ Choice. Both appear in lab reports from all four labs we follow. Kaspersky earned near-perfect scores, and Avast came close.”

AVG Antivirus Free took the third-place spot with a score of 4 out of 5. Rounding out the top five are Avira Free Security and Microsoft Defender Antivirus, each earning a rating of 3.5 out of 5.

Should you pay for antivirus protection?

PCMag notes that paid antivirus programs offer more protection and better protection than free versions. What’s more, tech support may be limited for free program users.

Whether you should pay for antivirus protection comes down to your budget. If a paid program isn’t in your budget, perhaps try a few of the free programs to see which you like best.

One exception is for business computers. PCMag notes that free antivirus programs are often free only for noncommercial use, meaning only for use on personal computers.

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