The best free antivirus software for 2021

The best free antivirus software for 2021

The best free antivirus software for 2021

Your Windows PC needs protection against malware and free

antivirus software may be enough. Here’s the best antivirus

protection for Windows 10 and what’s worth paying extra for.

Now that so many of us are working remotely and using personal

devices for work projects, it’s harder than ever to protect your personal

information online. With so much increased time online, your security

quiver needs plenty of arrows, including a secure VPN to protect your

internet traffic, a password manager to keep track of login credentials

and an end-to-end encrypted messaging app to stop others from

spying on your communications. And, if you’re running Windows,

that list should also include antivirus tools such as malware protection

and antivirus software that monitors downloads and observes your

system’s activity for malicious software and suspicious behavior.

An insidious program can easily wind up on your machine and

that can lead to chaos.

If you’re looking for the best malware protection and antivirus software,

here’s the first thing you need to know: Microsoft Defender Antivirus

the free internet security software and virus protection program that

comes with Windows 10 — does a decent job of protecting your PC

and offering internet security. (Amazingly, Microsoft provided no

built-in protection for Windows back in the days of Windows 98 and XP.)

Using Microsoft Defender for threat detection should be your starting

point for the best antivirus security on Windows and most people will

find they don’t need to go any further when it comes to nailing

down an antivirus solution.

However, keeping your personal data safe and guarding your

privacy extends beyond virus protection, and that’s where third-party

antivirus software shines. A full protection package can monitor

your Windows operating system as well as MacOS, iOS and Android

devices and include a password manager, secure online backup,

identity theft protection, a VPN, parental control, webcam protection,

protection against phishing and malicious websites and more all worthwhile

security suite tools that can keep your data secure and guard your privacy.

To help you decide, I’ve put together a list of the best antivirus products

for Windows 10, encompassing both free antivirus programs and

subscription options. These picks of the best antivirus programs are

a combination of recommendations from independent third-party labs

AV-Test, AV-Comparatives and SE Labs, as well as our own hands-on testing.

This list is updated periodically.

Our recommendations

Looking for free antivirus protection, malware protection or virus detection,

willing to pay for an antivirus program that offers broad internet security

coverage across all your devices, including from ransomware and phishing,

or need to remove a computer virus or malware from your PC right now?

Here’s where to start.

Free version? Yes, built into Windows 10

Paid version: Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection is

available to corporate users for a fee

Honestly, if you practice safe computing — you keep your software up

to date, you use strong passwords (with the help of a password manager),

you steer clear of unexpected emails and you don’t click suspicious links

that may be phishing attempts — you probably can avoid zero-day attacks

The best free antivirus software for 2021
The best free antivirus software for 2021
and ransomware attacks. And with the free Microsoft Defender Antivirus software

running on Windows 10, you have a malware protection safety

net if you do let your guard down. (Note that Microsoft changed the

name of Windows Defender to Microsoft Defender and has expanded

the service to other platforms.) This antivirus program is built into

Windows and it’s turned on by default, so just let it do its thing,

and this antivirus solution will cover the basics of internet security.

Microsoft pushes new updates frequently. Defender also lets you tune

the level of protection you want, giving you control over blocking

potentially unwanted apps and protecting folders and files

from a ransomware attack.

Note that Windows 10 will automatically disable its own Windows Defender

antivirus when you install third-party antivirus. If you uninstall the

third-party protection, Windows 10 will turn back on its own antivirus.

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