The 9 Best Free Antivirus Programs for Windows and Mac

The 9 Best Free Antivirus Programs for Windows and Mac
Photo by Dean Drobot / Shutterstock.com

Staying safe from viruses and malware keeps your computer running smoothly — and protects you from identity theft.

Fortunately, you don’t have to pay a king’s ransom to shield your computer from trouble. Several antivirus programs are available that can protect your computer for free.

Consumer Reports recently identified the best for Windows and Mac computers.

In compiling its rankings, CR says it looked at more than 30 antivirus programs — about a dozen of which are available for free — and exposed them to “a host of malware samples and malicious websites.”

The five best free antivirus programs for Windows are:

  • Avast Free Antivirus-2019
  • Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition
  • AVG Free Antivirus-2019
  • Avira Free Antivirus-2019
  • Kaspersky Free Antivirus-2019

In ranking Avast Free Antivirus-2019 at the top of this list, CR says:

“The Avast Free Antivirus-2019 offers Excellent protection for malware and is a recommended antivirus package. It provides Excellent protection when you’re browsing websites and does a great job of detecting malicious files in the cloud and during execution. It can protect you against both Windows and Mac malware offline and in the cloud.”

Windows 10 Defender-2019 finished a respectable sixth in the rankings. This antivirus software might be working for you as you read this article — it comes installed on nearly all new Windows computers.

However, Consumer Reports notes that Windows 10 Defender’s ability to protect you is “not quite as strong” as the higher-ranked entries on this list. For example, CR notes that Windows 10 Defender does not have a password manager or email protection — unlike other choices, including Avast Free Antivirus-2019.

CR also ranked four top free antivirus programs for Macs. They are, from highest- to lowest-rated:

  • AVG Antivirus for Mac
  • Avast Free Mac Security-2019
  • Avira Free Antivirus for Mac-2019
  • Apple macOS Mojave

Consumer Reports says paid antivirus software sometimes offers perks — such as a firewall or spam filter — that you might not find in free software. However, CR also says that in some cases, free software actually offers more vigorous protection than paid versions.

For example, it notes that “Malwarebytes Premium, $65, scored lower than Windows Defender without offering any meaningful extras.”

How to download this software safely

Before downloading any of the free options, CR urges you to go to the manufacturers’ websites to find the software. As the publication says:

“If you click on a pop-up ad promising free AV protection, you could easily end up with malware on your computer. These ads are a common scam employed by cybercriminals. To be safe, go straight to the source and manually type in the web address for the company that offers the product you want to use.”

Which antivirus software do you use? Share your choice with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

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