If you’re using a Windows PC or laptop, it’s a good idea to install antivirus software to keep it safe from viruses, spyware and malware.
Windows 10 includes basic antivirus software called Windows Defender, but if you want more advanced protection from online dangers, you’ll need to pay for an antivirus security suite or install free antivirus software.
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Free antivirus software vs paid-for security software
Antivirus software is available either as a paid-for security suite that costs around £40, or as free antivirus software.
Paid-for software, such as Symantec Norton Security and Kaspersky Total Security, offer excellent protection, as well as a range of extras, such as PC tune-up tools.
Free antivirus software concentrates on one task: stopping viruses and malware from infecting your PC, without the added extras.
The good news is there are some great antivirus packages that are completely free to download and use. If you don’t need the extras offered by paid-for security suites, then it’s worth trying free antivirus software – and here are three of the best antivirus tools to download for free.
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Avira's free antivirus software offers award-winning protection against viruses, worms, Trojans and malware, including the ability to scan files in the background to detect previously unknown threats – keeping you safe from emerging new viruses, known as ‘day one’ threats.
The 2018 edition features a new type of user interface and the newest version of so-called Al technology, meaning that the ability of the program to scan against fast-emerging threats has been further improved from earlier versions.
The system also has the option of anonymous internet browsing, and is exceptionally easy to set-up on your PC or Mac - simply agree to the user licence, and the software does the rest.
A browser extension also warns against visiting potentially harmful websites, and the interface is easy to understand with clear threat and status indicators.
You can perform manual and automatic scans, and scanning speeds are decent.
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If you prefer more of a hands-off approach to protecting your PC, BitDefender Antivirus Free Edition 18.104.22.168 is a good option.
Once this free antivirus software is installed, it quietly performs scans in the background with minimal fuss, protecting your PC from any threats it detects and scanning files as they are opened.
It also scans website links to ensure you’re using your credit card only on secure trusted sites, and the system provides quick and easy access to your ‘My BitDefender Account’.
The interface is compact and housed in the Windows taskbar, and it doesn’t nag you with ads or other intrusions.
As it runs scans when your PC is idle, it won’t slow down your PC’s processor while you’re working on other tasks.
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If you’ve a mix of Windows PCs, Macs and Android devices, then AVG Free Antivirus 2018 is a real time saver as it works across all your devices to keep all your family’s devices secure.
Protecting against viruses, spyware and malware, this software has a single dashboard that lets you control virus protection across all your devices – you can even run scans of your PCs via your smartphone. Like the two above systems, the program also runs with real-time updates, and the design has been further simplified for easier operation.
If you spend a lot of time on social sites, AVG's free antivirus software will scan links on Twitter, Facebook and the web to detect potentially harmful or phishing sites.
Its interface is simple to use with clear indications to threats, and it will scan emails for dangerous files. A secure digital file shredder is included for safely erasing files from your PC.