Top 5 Free Antivirus Software for Windows 2020

antivirus software for windows

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The software scenery is rapidly changing. Hundreds of new, more advanced antivirus software enter the scenario each morning but only a few are left till evening. That’s because the threat is also getting bigger and bigger.

The viruses we are dealing with now are equipped with some of the most advanced code we have ever come across.

Viruses like ransomware and Crypto-Virus put users’ data under a continuous threat. They are developed to work as encryptions to pass through the firewalls of your computer and to silently deploy their payload without a single warning.

Windows Defender is a highly advanced piece of software. It has the ability to put most of the viruses under check but progressive viruses like the ones mentioned above can easily bypass the Defender’s checkpoints. Therefore, relying only on the Windows Defender can cost you your data and most importantly your privacy.

Fortunately, there are plenty of outstanding options that can keep you protected while you surf the internet. We tested and reviewed almost all of the free antivirus software available on the market and hand-picked the ones which performed best in terms of usability and protection.

But before we mention our picks, you should know about the pros and cons of having an antivirus solution installed on your system. Having an antivirus program installed on your computer offers a lot of benefits but there are also some drawbacks that should also be taken into account.

So let’s have a look at both of these aspects and decide whether you should have an antivirus program running on your computer or not.

Pro and Cons of Having of Having an Antivirus for Windows

Pros

Online Protection
Antivirus programs allow you to surf the internet without a worry of being vulnerable to intoxicating programs. They scan through each and every file that is being downloaded to the system in the background. These programs generate an alert if they find anything malicious thus saving you from all kinds of viruses like Malware and Ransomware and other online threats.

Privacy Protection
Phishing attack is one of the most common protocols used by hackers to access someone’s computer remotely. Hackers use this method to steal your data and to infect your computer with all kinds of malicious files. Sometimes these attacks are so severe that the real user is unable to use them anymore. Antiviruses programs are built to strengthen the firewall so that any unauthorized access can be denied to protect the user’s privacy.

Keylogger Protection
Keyloggers are the sort of programs that can allow hackers to capture a user’s keyboard activities. In other words, when a keylogger gets installed on your computer it will record all of the keys struck by you on the keyboard. Later it will send those captured keys directly to the hacker’s email thus giving them access to all of your user-names and passwords. These programs work covertly in the background and there’s no way you can that you have when they get installed on your system unless you have antivirus protection.

Removable Device Protection
There are cases where a system was infected by a virus transported through a removable device like Flash Drive, SD Cards and Mobile Phones. An antivirus program protects you against these physically transferred viruses by scanning the removable devices before allowing them to connect to your computer.

Spyware Protection
Spywares are the programs that are built to sit quietly in your computer and look for specific information like Debit/Credit card numbers, banking information or any other sensitive data. Just like Keyloggers, these programs also work silently without any popup or notification, thus are hard to detect. Though if you have an antivirus program installed on your computer, it will surely detect the malicious program and let you know if someone is trying to steal important information from your system.
Cons

Reduced Speed
Most of the antivirus programs prove to be quite heavy for the system as they continuously run in the background, checking every file over and over again. The whole scanning process severely affects the overall processing speed.

Continuous Updates
Antivirus systems need to be updated on a daily basis because of emerging threats. Even though the whole updating process should be considered as a benefit but the updating-prompt appearing, again and again, becomes quite annoying sometimes and further slows down the processing speed.

Effectiveness
Most of the antivirus programs are built to deal with a single issue thus you may have to install multiple programs to solidify the protection protocols.

How to Choose the Best Antivirus Windows Protection?

Here are a few tips for you if you’re looking to fortify your Windows system with an antivirus program but can’t decide which one will work the best for you:

  • Do Your Research: A little research on the internet can prove to be pretty beneficial. It can provide you with an idea of the overall scenario and will lead you to Windows protection systems you may not have heard before.
  • Protection: An antivirus program should be able to provide ultimate protection on all domains. It should be able to scan files both on online and offline fronts. It should be able to interact with the firewall to further strengthen the protection without causing any harm.
  • Frequent Updates: For effective protection against new threats, an antivirus system should be able to update frequently. The whole process should happen in the background without annoying users with unwanted popups.
  • Now What You Are Dealing With: If your system is already infected, you should look for a program that is exclusively built for that specific virus. For example, if your system is attacked by Ransomware, you should search for an Anti-Ransomware program because the standard antivirus systems may not be able to solve your problem.
  • System Requirements: Most of the users neglect the system requirement specifications while selecting an antivirus program. These requirements decide whether a protection system will run smoothly on your computer or not. So, in case you have selected a program that requires higher specificity than what you have on your computer, you should not install that program.
  • Usability: Usability is one of the most important traits which can decide if a protection system is good enough for you or not. The system’s interface should be clean with minimum required interaction. It should be able to handle most of its tasks by itself. Some systems tend to provide more power to the users. Though if the end-user doesn’t have the required technical expertise, the whole process can do more harm than good.
  • Lightweight and Efficient: An antivirus system should be lightweight so it can perform its functions without slowing down the whole system.

Top Antivirus Windows Solutions in 2020

Based on all of the factors mentioned above here are 3 of the top antivirus brands in 2020:

Bitdefender

bitdefender antivirus logoBitdefender is one of the most trusted antivirus brands in the market. It’s equipped with a highly advanced set of protocols that ensure continuous testing on all fronts. It recently scored a perfect score of 99.9% in a protection test held by an independent testing laboratory.

The whole protection suite is simple, straightforward and is very easy to use. Its exceedingly interactive interface allows users to initiate a scan with a single click of the mouse.

If you have any problem with any of the system’s protocols, you can simply turn it off by opening the Settings module. Although it’s not recommended because you may turn off one of the essential protocols that can leave you vulnerable for incoming threats.

To detect and nullify the threats coming from the internet, Bitdefender scans each bit of data coming in and going out of your system while you surf the internet.

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The comprehensive Bitdefender protection suite comes with an early Detect and Deny protocol, Spam Filtre, Advanced Firewall, Parental Control, Webcam Protector and Microphone Monitor.

Moreover, it also offers a powerful Disc Cleaner protocol that allows you to get rid of the unnecessary system apps to free up some space and also to further enhance the protection. Real-Time Scans protects you from phishing attacks by detecting and labeling the malicious links, password stealers and spam websites.

System Requirements
The system requirements for Bitdefender are pretty low. To have it running smoothly on your system all you need is a 2GB RAM combined with a 3rd generation Multicore Processor. It works perfectly well on Windows 7, 10 and 10 Pro.

Still not convinced? Take a good look at the pros and cons of having Bitdefender running on your computer.

Pros

✅ Еffective Firewall Support
✅ Password Protection
✅ Mobile Support
✅ Clean interface
✅ Parental lock
✅ Free version
✅ Built-in VPN support

Cons

❌ The Bitdefender free version is pretty basic
❌ You’ll have to pay extra fees for Parental Control and VPN
❌ Annoying update pop-ups



McAfee

mcafee logoMcAfee is another major name in the market. It’s a result of a major collaboration between three giants of the tech industry: Intel, TPG Capital, and Thoma Bravo.

The inception of the McAfee dates back to 1987 and it’s considered to be the very first antivirus solution that was made available in the market. Even though it’s a legendary piece of software, still, it couldn’t prove its worth till 2015-16.

One of the major reasons for its earlier failures was the effect that it had on the processing speed. The antivirus solution not only slowed down the computers but it actually brought them to a halt. The issue was resolved in 2016 and since then McAfee really took the place that it deserved.

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Now McAfee is one of the most effective protection systems you can have running on your system. Several security labs including our own labeled it as the best Malware protection system in the 2019 roundup.

We made this claim after running a series of tests mostly based in real-time situations. In these tests, McAfee outperformed all major brands and scored a perfect score of 99.9%.

For online protection, McAfee runs Real-Time Scans and generates a warning if there is something malicious trying to get into your computer. While you wander around in the online world McAfee provides you protection against Phishing Attacks, Keyloggers, Ransomware, Adware and Trojans.

For offline security, McAfee scans each of the connected removable devices for potential threats. It doesn’t allow these devices to dump their data in the system unless all of their files are gone through the protocols.

System Requirements
McAfee runs best on systems equipped with a minimum of 4GB RAM, a 64 Bit 1GHz processor and requires at least 1GB of free disk space. It works on all of the Windows versions but we’ll recommend you to have Windows 8 or above.

Before you proceed onto downloading and installing the protection system we want you to have a look at the Pros and Cons that come with McAfee Antivirus Solution Pack.

Pros

✅ Highly Effective against Malware
✅ Effective Anti-Phishing Protocols
✅ Parental Control
✅ Password Management
✅ Free version (McAfee Security Scan Plus)
✅ Effective fast scans
✅ Quick Clean feature

Cons

❌ A slightly technical interface where there are lots of options that you may not understand
❌ Most of the additional security systems need to be downloaded separately
❌ The free version only provides a basic level of security



Norton Security

norton logoNorton Security Suite is an award-winning protection system developed and distributed by Symantec Corporation since its inception in 1991.

Norton Security comes with a set of well designed and developed tools, including Password Manager, Parental Controls, a Powerful VPN, Cloud Backup, Fast Scan, Firewall Monitor, Wifi Security and Cloud Backup along with the powerful VPN support.

Norton Security offers comprehensive Anti-Malware support along with effective protection protocols deployed against the phishing attacks generated through emails. Norton Security pack also uses Real-Time scans to protect users from online threats.

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For threats generated by offline means such as removable devices, Norton uses an early detection system where each file on the removable device is opened in a safe zone and tested for malicious behaviors.

It holds a clean but effective interface that is highly interactive and provides a whole range of customization options. One of these options is the Norton Silent Mode which when activated prevents users from the annoying update popups and unwanted warning windows.

System Requirements
As far as the system requirements are concerned Norton Security requires at least 2 GB of RAM with 1GHs Multi-Core processor. It works equally fine on all of the Windows versions including XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1. and 10.
Pros

✅ Interactive and easy control dashboard
✅ Parental control
✅ Wifi security
✅ Cloud backup
✅ Affordable
✅ Free version (Norton Antivirus Plus)
✅ Password Manager

Cons

❌ Uses a lot of computer resources
❌ Unwanted Ads
❌ Additional tools increase the overall costs

Conclusion

Let’s face it, even though you are far ahead in the 21st century, still selecting the right protection system for your computers is still a mystery. Each brand comes with its own pros and cons and we simply can’t pick up the differences.

Though we’ll try to ease it out for you by letting you know that if you’re a regular computer user, you can select any of the protection systems mentioned above and it’ll work wonders for you and protect you from every threat.

Although if you’re looking to secure a whole enterprise we’ll recommend you consider all of the factors in detail before making a decision.

Our top Pick

bitdefender antivirus logo

Our Score

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Craig Rogers
Craig is an IT geek with a passion for technology and admiration for white hackers. He’s been writing on Internet security and Antivirus protection for two years. Craig’s collaborating with us to guide our readers in the tricky world of viruses and the ways to protect ourselves against the various threats they present.