When asked about Anti-virus, I often recommend everyone Kaspersky because of its performance and detection level. But for a less hostile and home environment, going for a free anti-virus alternative is a better choice. Thinking of which, I began my search for the best free antivirus to my already paid license of Kaspersky. I visited most of the AV-companies sites and saw what they had to offer and then compared all those those alternatives to the results of the test conducted by AV-Comparatives in the month of May. According to my observation and my past experience, here are top 5 free anti-viruses.


Top 5 Free Antivirus Software

1. Avira Personal Edition

Avira scored the best among all the free available alternatives overall, also beating most of them in Proactive Defence, and other signature based detection. It also has a previous record of performing well in tests conducted by AV-Gmbh.The overall score of the result also points out that apart from Microsoft, Avira is the only alternative that can give the big-guns a challenge, though the disinfection rate history is not in its favour.

2. Microsoft Security Essentials

MSSEIn spite of terrible failure of One Care, Microsoft has really bounced back with Microsoft Security Essentials. The anti-virus is extremely light weight and has one of the heighest Proactive Defence levels and least false positives. Avira beats MSSE in only the detection rate. MSSE is gradually being acclaimed for it being a strong competitor to Kaspersky or Norton, but its still not an anti-virus to be used for enterprise of business purposes, but and excellent choice for home.

Only problem is that it requires a 40mb download of virus definitions before it can start functioning fully, also a genuine Windows is a must.

3. Avast Free 5

Formerly known as Avast Home Edition, is a perfect blend of all kinds of qualities required in an anti-virus. It neither tops anywhere, nor can be discarded of it being free.It performs better than Panda, McAfee, K7 etc in terms of False Positives, and has a decent detection rates, but lacks in heuristic scanning. AV-Comparitives gave it 2 star and it scored better overall as compared to Trend Micro, PC Tools, McAfee etc.

4. AVG Free Edition

AVG is a blend of anti-virus and anti-malware. It lack basic firewall but it is sufficient for a home/new users. It also has a link-scanner which keeps a check in any third party exploits to be used onto the system.Its interface is easy to use and virus definitions can easily be updated.

Though not a top-notch, but if you looking for something light, which can do almost all the jobs of protecting your system and which has clean interface with lots of feature, you should go for AVG Free Edition.

5. PC Tools

It’s an anti-virus with decent heuristics and good detection rate. Overall scores might not be mind-boggling and it scores a fifth spot primarily because of lack of alternatives. It still is new as a brand name in anti-viruses and has a lot of potential. If you are using a personal computer and not hooked up to Internet much, you can certainly go for this one.

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A full time developer and a part time blogger, but above all a person with extreme passion about anything with a 'Tech'. You can find him at UjjwalKanth.com, and follow him at @ujjwalkanth


16 thoughts on “Top 5 Free Antivirus for Windows [This Week in Security]

  1. MSE “extremely lightweight”, really? The latest beta version consumes over 160 MB of memory (on XP, according to Process Explorer; haven’t installed it on 7). It’s way oversized even for the awfully bloated security packages of today like the Kaspersky suite.

    Avira is probably the lightest, actually, but it has always had obscene rates of false positives. Anyone with the Sysinternals and/or Nir Sofer utilities installed will be severely frustrated by Avira.

    • @marek,
      I will let Ujjwal answer this for you in detail, but I must tell you that judging a software by its beta version is not the right thing to do.

    • Firstly my apologies for late reply,

      As Raju pointed out, MSE that you are talking about is the recent BETA build. During the benchmark tests conducted by the AV Comparatives, the build used is the stable one and it works pretty well with OS and is extremely silent and least of all the bugging anti-viruses. I can say that with confidence, because i can assure u, i wouldn’t have written that unless I was absolutely sure. It was my system’s antivirus till last month, but after Virut attack on my system i decided to switch, because MSE might be able to detect many viruses, its disinfection is extremely slow.

  2. Hi,

    I wouldn’t consider PC tools, AVG and Avast as the best free antiviruses. Avira is definitely one of the best, and MSSE is also good.

    But comodo internet security is now the best free security suite in the market, though it has more false positives.

    Check out the video reviews from youtube channels of languy99, mrizos, idodo60, thebuckbull, bunyip783.


  3. @Raju and Ujjwal: point well taken. In truth, I was very hopeful about MSE, since having tried (and registered) at various times Avira, Kaspersky and NOD32, as well as having tested the free versions of Avast and AVG, I wasn’t satisfied with any of them in the end. They are all quite bloated, and they all slow down the system to a significant degree.

    NOD32 (a.k.a. Eset) was the worst offender of all, causing a delay of several seconds when opening large files for viewing (why it insists on scanning multi-megabyte plain text files is anyone’s guess). At the same time it would miss trojans in email attachments which were obviously malicious to a naked eye.

    MSE on the other hand got very good reviews in detection tests, but its running size is enormous, and the configuration is pretty minimal. Perhaps it will come out of beta slimmed down. It certainly *should be* the lightest of them all.

  4. well i installed avira 10 on my desktop,
    and avast 5 on my laptop.. with almost same settings…
    laptops screwed up 😛 tried to uninstall the avast and install avira and its throwing a update errror..
    so i suggest AVIRA 10 ..
    until something better comes up.. (as free obviously!)

  5. Avira is better than Avast? So far I have always thought Avast is better than Avira. Anyway, I use ESET smart security on my computer. It’s almost as good as Kaspersky!

  6. Comodo Internet Security(CIS) V5 is best…
    Great firewall along with cloud antivirus and defence plus sandbox and it is free!!!!
    you can watch video reviews of CIS at youtube.com
    I am using it along wid threatfire.
    It is more than sufficient for me.
    I will definitely rate comodo ahead of avira,avast….

  7. I love this thread. In my own opinion I will say that I trust the Microsoft protection and some others but I hate AVG for now. Thanks for sharing

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