Over the years, results have shown that many 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, and many people are now using it as their primary security. If you had to recommend a security app to a computer beginner, you might suggest the paid version of Bitdefender Internet Security. In tests, it scores slightly higher than many other security apps. For most people, though, Windows Security is enough, coupled with a decent anti-malware app for good measure.
If you don’t care about having the highest-scoring 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 leading free security apps for Windows.
1. Windows Security (formerly Windows Defender)
Windows Security 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.
2. Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition
Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition has a straightforward 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.
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. SecureAPlus 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
4. 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 Microsoft makes it, it isn’t built into Windows, so you’ll need to download and install it.
5. 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, would you recommend Avast or AVG? (I will continue to use Windows 10’s Windows Security.)
6. 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 (see no. 5 above). So, for now, maybe you wouldn’t recommend AVG or Avast?
Visit: AVG AntiVirus FREE Home Page
7. 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. It has gotten more popular since it was released, though.
Visit: 360 Total Security Home Page
8. Antivirus Free
Initially 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
9. 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
10. Sophos Home
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
11. Comodo Internet Security Premium
Comodo Internet Security Premium has a clean and straightforward user interface and does an OK 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.
12. 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.
Many people rely on Windows Security, built into Windows 10. Alongside Windows Security, you could install Malwarebytes Premium, mentioned on the computer maintenance page. You could also run a scan with HitmanPro from time to time if you wanted.
If you’re looking for dedicated or second opinion anti-malware apps, see the second opinion anti-malware apps page.
For some security software comparisons, try visiting The PC Security Channel on YouTube.
Grant is the webmaster here and a longtime computer enthusiast. He enjoys building new PCs and fixing old ones. Originally from the UK, Grant lives in Japan, teaches English, and is a part-time vegetable farmer. Lesser-known history about him includes getting his Commercial Helicopter License CPL(H) in the US and being a caregiver in the disabled community. Grant enjoys playing Apex Legends.