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Best free antivirus for 2013

Posted on 15 Feb 2013 at 16:28

Looking for a free antivirus tool? We recommend which free security software to check out - and which to avoid

There’s no need to pay for protection against malware and online scams. Though free security tools don’t tend to offer as many features as commercial suites, their very simplicity can be appealing – and of course the price can’t be beaten.

We’ve rounded up the best free antivirus packages to help you choose the right package for your needs. Alternatively, if you’re looking for more feature-packed security software, check out our run-down of the best paid-for security suites for 2013.

Avast Free Antivirus

Avast Free Antivirus

This friendly and attractive antivirus tool is our recommended free option. That’s partly thanks to great malware protection, but it also offers a generous set of secondary features (by the standards of free software), including a configurable sandbox and an easy-to-use remote assistance tool. A commendably low impact on system resources seals the deal.

Read our full Avast Free Antivirus review

AVG AntiVirus Free 2013

AVG AntiVirus Free 2013

AVG is one of the best-known names in free antivirus software, and its latest suite features a new interface that’s inspired by Windows 8. Not all of the features on display are included in the free package – you’ll have to upgrade to a paid-for edition to get the full function – but if all you need is basic malware scanning then AVG is worth considering.

Read our full AVG AntiVirus Free review

Avira Free Antivirus 13

Avira Free Antivirus 13

Avira Free Antivirus offers a clear and usable front-end – and it’s among the most lightweight security suites we’ve seen. As with AVG, the feature set is limited, as the developer wants you to move up to the paid-for edition. But if you’re fed up of bloated security software it’s worthy of consideration.

Read our full Avira Free AntiVirus review

Microsoft Security Essentials

Microsoft Security Essentials

No roundup of free security software is complete without Microsoft’s own free antivirus tool. Sadly, a very poor performance in our malware detection tests means Security Essentials is one option we can’t recommend.

Read our full Microsoft Security Essentials review

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

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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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