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Best free antivirus 2014: What is the best free internet security software?

Posted on 14 May 2014 at 16:44

If you want security software for your computer but don’t want to pay for it then take a look at this article as we go through the best free antivirus packages available in 2014.

They say you don’t get something for nothing, but when it comes to protecting your PC against online threats there’s no need to spend a penny. There are numerous completely free antivirus tools out there that can automatically block malicious code, and actively scan the files on your PC to make sure you’re not unknowingly harbouring something nasty stuff. In this article we bring to you the best free antivirus packages of 2014 to keep your PC safe.

For many, the default option is Microsoft Security Essentials (rebadged in Windows 8 as Windows Defender). Depending on the version of Windows you’re running, this will either come preinstalled or will be offered to you through Windows Update.

As antivirus programs go, Security Essentials is as straightforward as things get: most of the time you won’t even know it’s there, and it has almost no impact on the responsiveness of your system. In independent tests, however, it’s allowed the odd bit of malware to slip through the cracks – so it’s worth considering picking a third-party alternative.

Best free antivirus 2014

One well known option is AVG Free, which has been providing free virus protection since the 1990s. The modern AVG client actively detects and blocks viruses, and also integrates with your browser to warn you away from known dangerous websites. On low-power hardware, however, its scanner may have a measurable impact on the responsiveness of your PC, and although it’s free to download and use, the trade-off is a certain amount of in-program advertising.

Our favourite free antivirus tool therefore is Avast Free Antivirus 2014. In our tests this package blocked 95% of our malware samples – more than any other free security package, and ahead of several paid-for security suites as well. It includes secondary tools to remove unwanted browser extensions, keep your applications up to date with security patches and even build a bootable CD or USB flash drive from which you can boot and disinfect your system from outside of Windows in the event of a major malware attack.

Although it has a decent range of features, Avast shouldn’t noticeably slow your PC down; and although, like AVG, the front-end includes advertisements for paid-for products, these are presented in a less in-your-face manner. For all these reasons, Avast Free Antivirus 2014 is our recommended free antivirus software.

Best free antivirus 2014

1. Avast Free Antivirus 2014

Best free antivirus 2014: Avast Free Antivirus

The cream of the free security suites, Avast's likeable offering brings effective virus protection in a lightweight yet well-equipped package.

2. AVG Antivirus 2014

Best free antivirus 2014: AVG Antivirus 2014
A free virus scanner with more adverts than useful features, but its malware protection is respectable.

3. Microsoft Security Essentials

Best free antivirus 2014: Microsoft Security Essentials

Security Essentials covers only the bare basics of malware protection. Seeing as this is a group test looking at free software, it is our recommendation to opt for Avast Free Antivirus as it’s the best you can get according to our tests.

Author: Darien Graham-Smith

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User comments

I've kind of settled for MSE when setting up family and friends machines as it requires the least amount of fuss. There's no pop up that appears in 6months or a year telling them they need to upgrade.

AVG and Avast used to do this in the past and it just ended up with me having to fix it for them.

Things might be different now though.

By franchise on 16 Feb 2013

Test machine?

Have I missed something here because I can't find any reference to the spec and Windows version of the test machine, which I'm sure will be of interest to readers. I'm still surprised at the ongoing criticism of MSE as your test can't have been that thorough: One of your key points - that MSE only updates via Windows Update - is untrue with MS issuing at least daily updates.

By ElectricPics on 18 Feb 2013

The test machine was an Acer Aspire 5750G laptop running Windows 7 Home Premium. You're right that our reference to Security Essentials' update system was unclear: I've now updated the review. Thanks for pointing it out.

By DarienGS on 18 Feb 2013

You forgot one...Comodo

I use Comodo Internet Security...Not just antivirus, but I can't tell you how many times Comodo has prevented a key logger from running on my systems...Preventative as well as curative.

By mcowley2 on 21 Feb 2013

You forgot one...Comodo

I use Comodo Internet Security...Not just antivirus, but I can't tell you how many times Comodo has prevented a key logger from running on my systems...Preventative as well as curative.

By mcowley2 on 21 Feb 2013

You forgot one...Comodo

I use Comodo Internet Security...Not just antivirus, but I can't tell you how many times Comodo has prevented a key logger from running on my systems...Preventative as well as curative.

By mcowley2 on 21 Feb 2013

MSE

I installed MSE on two PC's some two years ago. There have been no probs with any virus/malware

By palcouk on 21 Feb 2013

More trouble than they are worth

I highly rate the security of AVG free and have installed it many times. Its also my go-to AV product when the computer has been infected by viruses and the installed AV protection has not done its job. However AVG now regularly steers people to 'try' the paid for version while making it look like its just another update. Then when the 30 days trial expires it throws up lots of 'you are not protected' messages. This causes confusion and has prompted me to move many of my clients to MSE.

By steve_proto on 21 Feb 2013

MSE

@mcowley2: "There have been no known probs with any virus/malware."

FTFY. And the difference between the two statements should give anyone pause.

By jdickey1 on 23 Feb 2013

comodo

how about comodo,ive already try the antivirus mentioned above but comodo is the best of them...so guys replace your old antivirus,try comodo....

By koolitz on 3 Mar 2013

Oh come on...

I have tried all of these against known and unknown Viruses (I am a Virus researcher by trade). Security Essentials has by far the lowest detection rates, AVG and Avast are slightly better.

The best detection rate I have come across is CYSEC AV, it is also free, http://cysec.com

By SecurityGirl007 on 10 Jul 2013

Malwarebytes

Used in conjunction with MSE, Malwarebytes Pro has proved the best combination for me. Updates daily, and no fuss. I used the free version for a few months testing it in my own way, and was so impressed I hapily paid the £10 or so it cost which gives you a few extras.

By yozzerpro on 26 Sep 2013

Found it very Useful....well knitted articles.
Liked the way the details have been put in.Was looking for the details on the Antivirus to be installed on the Computers I use. And Landed on the Right Page...

Thanks
Puneet
www.shanibazaaronline.com

By Puneet on 29 Aug 2014

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For more details about purchasing this feature and/or images for editorial usage, please contact Jasmine Samra on pictures@dennis.co.uk

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