The more popular free security apps for Windows.
Back in the Windows 7 days (before Windows 10 was available for testing), I wouldn’t have considered using any free security apps for Windows.
Over the years, results have shown that some paid security apps score higher in tests – when compared to their free counterparts, while a few people argue that these tests are not real-world simulations.
The past few years have seen Windows 10’s built-in free security app – Windows Security (formerly Windows Defender), grow from strength to strength. Windows Security has climbed the ranks and proven itself to be very reliable.
If I was going to recommend a security app to a newcomer to computers in general, I might recommend the paid version of Bitdefender Internet Security. (There are no affiliate links here.) In the type of tests mentioned above, it scores higher than many other security apps.
For most people, however, Windows Security is enough.
If you don’t care about having the highest-scoring (in tests) security app for Windows, and you’re happy to settle for a free security app, this page introduces the more popular free security apps for Windows. They’re in no particular order.
Here are the main free security apps for Windows.
Windows Security (formerly Windows Defender)
Windows Security (formerly called Windows Defender) is included with Windows 10 and Windows 8. It’s Microsoft’s built-in security app. It helps protect your PC against malware (malicious software), viruses, spyware, and other potentially unwanted software. It has improved a lot over the years.
Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition
Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition has a very simple and minimal UI, but it does a great job as a free antivirus solution. Knowing that it comes from one of the leaders in paid security apps, should provide some peace of mind, too. I personally use the full paid version – Bitdefender Internet Security 2018, on my main Windows 10 PC.
SecureAPlus uses no less than 12 antivirus engines! So, if you have a favorite antivirus app, the chances are that SecureAPlus uses its antivirus engine. This is one of the newer security apps available and it’s growing in popularity. Be prepared for a very slow initial full system scan, while it builds up a whitelist of your apps.
Visit: SecureAPlus Home Page
Microsoft Security Essentials
Edit: Windows 7 is no longer supported. Official support ended on January 14, 2020.
Microsoft Security Essentials is Microsoft’s free security app to protect computers running Windows 7 from viruses, spyware, and other malicious software. Although it’s made by Microsoft, it isn’t built into Windows, so you’ll need to download and install it.
Avast Free Antivirus
Update: According to a recent joint investigation by PCMag and Motherboard, it looks like Avast and its subsidiary AVG are spying on their users and selling the harvested data. So, for now, I would not recommend Avast or AVG. (I will continue to use Windows 10’s Windows Security.)
AVG AntiVirus FREE
Update: According to a recent joint investigation by PCMag and Motherboard, it looks like AVG, a subsidiary of Avast, is spying on its users along with Avast, and selling the harvested data. So, for now, I would not recommend AVG or Avast. (I will continue to use Windows 10’s Windows Security.)
Visit: AVG AntiVirus FREE Home Page
360 Total Security
360 Total Security offers free antivirus and PC optimization. To be honest, I have only tried it, and not used it on a longterm basis. But it has gotten more popular since it was released.
Visit: 360 Total Security Home Page
Adaware Antivirus Free
Originally serving as an ad-awareness program, Adaware has over the years become a respected security solution for the casual computer user – fighting spyware, adware, viruses and other malware.
Visit: Adaware Home Page
Panda Dome (Panda Free Antivirus)
Panda Dome (Panda Free Antivirus) is a light and easy-to-use free antivirus for PCs, which provides real-time updates.
Visit: Panda Dome Home Page
Sophos Home is a simple-to-use free and effective security solution, allowing you to protect up to 10 computers per account. For me, the install and initial full scan both took a while, compared to other security apps.
Visit: Sophos Home – Home Page
Comodo Internet Security Premium
Comodo Internet Security Premium has a clean and simple user interface and does a good job of protecting your Windows PC. It’s not as popular as the other free security solutions here, but the name Comodo is well known in internet security.
Avira Free Antivirus
Avira Free Antivirus is another well-known security app, with a simple and easy-to-understand interface, but it does contain some ads.
So there you have it, most of the popular free security apps for Windows.
With my Windows 10 devices, I use the built-in Windows Security (formerly Windows Defender), which is regularly kept up to date. Alongside Windows Security, I run a copy of Malwarebytes Premium, which I mention on the computer maintenance page. I also do a scan with HitmanPro from time to time.
If you’re looking for dedicated or second opinion anti-malware apps, see the second opinion anti-malware apps page.
For some interesting security software comparisons, try visiting The PC Security Channel on YouTube.