5 Best (REALLY FREE) Antivirus Software for Windows 
Short on time? Here’s the best free Windows antivirus for 2022:
🥇 Norton: Advanced virus and malware protection with extras like webcam protection, a VPN, a password manager, parental controls, dark web monitoring, and more. It’s not 100% free, but it has a 60-day money-back guarantee, which gives you 2 full months to see if it’s right for you.
I tested every free antivirus I could find against thousands of old and new Windows malware files. Running virtual environments for various PC operating systems from Windows 7 – Windows 11, I not only looked at each antivirus’s malware protection capabilities, but also its user interface and its reputation for safeguarding user privacy. This wasn’t an easy task, and I learned that there are only a few free antiviruses out there that offer decent protection for Windows computers.
But there are also some really good free antivirus programs that offer improvements over Windows’s built-in protections. I was ultimately able to find several free downloads that each offer free virus protection alongside a decent set of free internet security tools.
That said, every free antivirus is going to include a few frustrating limitations. That’s why I always recommend investing a little bit every month into premium antivirus software that includes protection against all types of malware — with extra features like a VPN, password manager, parental controls, and dark web monitoring (Norton 360 has all of these features, is ranked as the best antivirus software for 2022, and is very affordable).
I tested and ranked each free antivirus listed here for malware detection, ease of use, and additional cybersecurity features. Unfortunately, no free antivirus includes all of the features you need for complete protection, but it’s better to protect yourself with the best free antivirus than no antivirus at all!
Quick summary of the best free Windows antiviruses for 2022:
1.🥇 Norton — Best Windows antivirus on the market (with a 60-day money-back guarantee).
2.🥈 Avira — Cloud-based malware scanner with good system optimization.
3.🥉 Panda — Strong virus protection with good additional features (like a gaming mode).
4. TotalAV — Simple free antivirus with an intuitive interface (recommended for beginners).
5. Kaspersky — Free extras like a VPN, dark web monitoring, and a password manager.
Bonus. Malwarebytes — Minimalistic antivirus with on-demand scanning.
🥇1. Norton — Best Overall Windows Antivirus in 2022
Norton is by far the best Windows antivirus in 2022 — and while it doesn’t currently have a free plan, it offers a risk-free 60-day money-back guarantee, which gives you 2 months to try it out and see if it’s right for you.
In addition to providing perfect malware detection against all known and emerging cyber threats, Norton also has excellent phishing protection, a smart firewall with tons of customization options, and online banking and shopping protection.
It also comes with a wide range of quality extras, including:
VPN (unlimited data) — maintains fast speeds, works with streaming sites like Netflix, and has extras like Tor support and split-tunneling.
Password manager — generates, saves, and auto-fills logins, audits password security, and has an automatic password changer (only top standalone brands like Dashlane offer this functionality).
Parental controls — filters inappropriate content, limits device usage, and monitors YouTube and Hulu usage (Norton ranks #1 on our list of the best antiviruses with parental controls).
System optimization tools — removes unwanted files from Windows and web browsers, improves boot time, and defragments hard drive.
Dark web monitoring — scans dark web forums, data breach databases, and credit reports in real-time.
And much more…
Norton is also very easy to use across all operating systems, offers coverage for up to 5 devices, and doesn’t cause any system slowdown — it even has a gaming mode, so you can uninterruptedly play games while it runs in the background.
There are several plans to choose from, but Norton 360 Deluxe offers the best value — plus, with our special 65% discount, you can get it for only £29.99 / year. US users can also check out Norton’s LifeLock plans that start at £72.99 / year and add identity theft protection with up to $1M in insurance payouts and legal assistance. All of Norton’s plans are covered by a 60-day money-back guarantee.
Norton offers unparalleled malware protection, a wide range of high-end security features, and affordable plans for up to 5 devices. It also has a ton of extras, including a fast VPN, a secure password manager, and the best parental controls around. While it doesn’t have a free Windows plan, it provides the best value on the market, and it comes with a 60-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it out risk-free for 2 whole months.
🥈2. Avira Free Security for Windows — Advanced Cloud-Based Malware Scanner with System Cleanup
Avira Free Security for Windows has one of the best anti-malware engines on the market — it fully operates in the cloud, meaning its detection and analysis don’t actually take place on your PC. This makes Avira extremely fast, lightweight, and low on system resources.
During my testing, Avira’s anti-malware engine detected most of the malware files I previously downloaded to my computer, and I was able to run CPU-intensive programs during scans with almost zero slowdown.
Avira’s free antivirus also comes with some excellent extra features, such as:
Safe Shopping browser extension.
Privacy & performance optimizer.
VPN (500 MB monthly limit).
The Safe Shopping browser extension for Firefox and Chrome is really good — it blocks suspicious phishing sites, web trackers, and unwanted advertisements. The extension also automatically recommends links to better deals when shopping online. I was actually able to find a lot of good deals, but it didn’t work 100% of the time (still pretty good though!).
I’m also a big fan of Avira’s privacy and performance optimization tools — they cleaned out my cookies and junk files, and also fixed hidden privacy settings that were leaking personal information on the web. But unfortunately, Avira’s best optimization tools are locked behind a paywall.
What’s more, the VPN that comes with Avira’s free antivirus is limited to just 500 MB per month, which is barely enough to watch a couple of really short videos, and it only lets you connect to 1 server location, meaning most users won’t be able to connect to a nearby server to get fast speeds.
If you want a fast and reliable VPN with unlimited data, multi-device support, and advanced system optimization tools, you should consider upgrading to Avira Prime, which costs £51.99 / year — it’s a bit pricier than some competitors, but it’s one of the best antivirus suites of 2022. Avira backs all purchases with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Avira’s cloud-based, free virus scanning engine is one of the best on the market — it’s lightweight, fast, has perfect detection rates, and is 100% free. I’m also a big fan of Avira’s Safe Shopping browser extension and privacy optimizer, both of which offer significant improvement over Microsoft’s built-in protections. To get more advanced internet security protection, you’ll need to upgrade to one of Avira’s paid plans, which start at £30.99 / year.
🥉3. Panda Free Antivirus for Windows — Good Virus Protection with Decent Extras
Panda Free Antivirus for Windows is lightweight, secure, and easy to use — during my tests, Panda’s antivirus scanner detected significantly more adware, spyware, and ransomware files than Windows Defender. Panda’s real-time protection also performed really well, blocking most of the malware files I tried downloading to my PC.
I also like that Panda has a gaming mode in its free antivirus — whenever you’re playing a game or watching a video in full screen, Panda automatically suspends notifications. That said, I prefer Norton for gaming as it doesn’t cause any slowdown, allowing for smooth and uninterrupted gaming.
Another thing that makes Panda a good choice for Windows users is the Rescue Kit feature, which allows you to download a bootable version of Panda to a USB drive and then use the USB drive to clean an infected PC and get it up and running again.
Panda’s free antivirus also comes with a secure VPN. It provides fast connection speeds, but it only lets you connect to 1 server and has a data limit of 150 MB per day — this is a big improvement over Avira’s 500 MB per month, but it’s still not nearly enough data for streaming or file sharing. If you’re interested in unlimited streaming or torrenting, you’ll need a better VPN (check out our list of the best antiviruses with VPNs here).
You can only get unlimited VPN data (and access to select various worldwide servers) on the Panda Dome Premium plan, which also offers extra features like a firewall, anti-ransomware protection, anti-phishing protection, advanced system tune-up tools, a password manager, and parental controls, for £59.49 / year. All of Panda’s premium plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Panda’s free antivirus is a good, easy-to-use antivirus, offering 100% free real-time malware protection. With lightweight malware scanning, an automatic gaming mode, a Rescue Kit, and a VPN, Panda is an excellent free internet security product. However, the VPN is limited to 150 MB per day on a single server. If you want unlimited VPN access — and other extras like a firewall, anti-phishing, password manager, and parental controls — you’ll need to upgrade. Panda offers 4 different pricing tiers for paid users, which start at £20.99 / year, so it’s easy to find the right plan for you — or you can just give Panda Free a try and upgrade later.
4. TotalAV Free Antivirus — Most Intuitive Free Antivirus
TotalAV Free Antivirus provides excellent virus and phishing protection — during my tests, TotalAV’s cloud-based malware scanner detected and removed more malware samples than most antivirus programs, successfully identifying even very tricky ransomware and cryptojacking files.
TotalAV’s phishing protection is also very good. It uses a huge blacklist to identify known phishing sites as well as an AI-powered phishing detection system to detect new threats. In my testing, the anti-phishing tool scored a near-perfect detection rate, stopping me from entering more malicious sites than Chrome’s native phishing tool. Out of all the antiviruses on this list, only Norton blocked more risky sites than TotalAV.
TotalAV is also the most intuitive free Windows antivirus on this list, with easy-to-use and easy-to-understand features and functions inside a minimalistic, well-designed dashboard. I had no problems navigating TotalAV’s dashboard, and I found it very simple to access and use all of the provided tools.
That said, unlike Avira, TotalAV’s free plan for Windows doesn’t come with a lot of protections. The biggest drawback of TotalAV Free Antivirus is that it doesn’t have real-time protection, meaning you won’t get notified in case a malicious file attempts to make changes to your PC in real time.
Upgrading to one of TotalAV’s premium plans brings you real-time malware protection as well as useful extras like device optimization tools, a VPN with unlimited data, a password manager, and more. TotalAV’s paid plans start at £29.00 / year, and they’re all backed by a risk-free money-back guarantee for 30 days.
TotalAV’s free Windows antivirus is excellent at removing malware and blocking phishing sites. It’s also one of the most intuitive antivirus programs on the market, which makes it an ideal choice for beginners. However, TotalAV Free doesn’t come with real-time protection and it doesn’t include any extra features. To get real-time scanning, PC optimization tools, and a VPN with no limitations, you’ll need to upgrade to one of TotalAV’s low-cost premium plans, which start at £29.00 / year.
5. Kaspersky Security Cloud (Free) — Good Range of Free Features
Kaspersky Security Cloud — Free is good at detecting and removing malware, and it also comes with plenty of extras — including:
VPN (200 MB daily limit).
Password manager (15 entries limit).
Data breach monitoring (only 1 account).
Basic system cleanup tools.
Kaspersky’s free antivirus provides good real-time malware protection, but its additional features are very limited.
Kaspersky’s VPN provides access to 1 server location and 200 MB per day — more daily data than Panda or Avira — but still not enough for streaming or other data-heavy tasks.
And Kaspersky’s free password manager only saves a total of 15 entries — this includes both logins and sensitive documents (like credit cards or passport details). Norton’s password manager is also free, but it allows you to store an unlimited number of passwords on an unlimited number of devices.
I can’t say I’m too impressed with Kaspersky’s data breach monitoring either — free users can only check the email associated with their Kaspersky account (and they have to do it manually, unlike paid customers who get automatic data breach checks).
If you like Kaspersky’s interface and you want access to its unlimited VPN, password manager, parental controls, and web protections, then you’ll have to upgrade to one of Kaspersky’s paid plans, which start at £12.49 / year. All Kaspersky purchases include a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Kaspersky’s free antivirus comes with a good malware scanner and a ton of additional features, but most of them are very limited in functionality. Kaspersky’s VPN has a daily cap of 200 MB, the password manager lets you store up to 15 logins and credit cards, and the data breach monitoring only checks 1 email address. Upgrading to one of Kaspersky’s paid plans gets you all of these features without any limitations, plus extras like parental controls, advanced web protections, and more.
Bonus. Malwarebytes Free — Minimalistic Virus Scanner
Malwarebytes Free is a good choice for users looking for a simple antivirus scanner that they can install and forget about. Malwarebytes’s virus scanner uses a virus database as well as heuristics to catch all types of malware — and it performed pretty well in my tests, detecting around 90% of the malware files I hid on my PC. However, it did miss a few well-hidden files that competitors like Norton and TotalAV detected.
Apart from the scanner, Malwarebytes Free also comes with a browser extension that protects against a wide range of threats, including malware, ads and trackers, scams, and PUPs. One of the things I like the most about this extension is that all of the protections are turned on by default, so there’s nothing for you to do (but you can easily turn off one or all of the protections).
In my tests, Malwarebytes’s browser extension blocked the majority of risky sites I attempted to visit, scoring a 90% phishing detection rate. However, the extension wasn’t as accurate at blocking ads — I visited dozens of sites filled with ads, and Malwarebytes blocked only around a third of the ads.
Malwarebytes’s free plan is a simple virus scanner with a good phishing tool, but it unfortunately doesn’t have real-time malware protection. To get real-time scanning, you’ll need to upgrade to Malwarebytes Premium, which provides coverage for up to 5 devices and starts at £29.99 / year. Malwarebytes Premium + Privacy also adds a good VPN for £79.99 / year. Both of Malwarebytes’s premium plans are covered by a generous 60-day money-back guarantee.
Malwarebytes Free is a minimalistic antivirus scanner with good virus detection and removal rates. It also comes with a browser extension that blocks malware, phishing sites, ads, and trackers. Upgrading to Malwarebytes Premium brings you real-time protection and coverage for up to 5 devices, whereas Malwarebytes Premium + Privacy also adds a VPN.
Comparison of the Best Free Antiviruses for Windows in 2022
AntivirusPaid Version (Starting Price)Real-Time ProtectionWeb protectionExtra FeaturesMoney-back guarantee1.🥇 Norton£19.99 / yearYes (paid version)Yes (paid version)VPN, password manager, parental controls, dark web monitoring (paid version)60 days2.🥈 Avira£30.99 / yearYesYesBasic system tune-up, VPN, and password manager30 days3.🥉 Panda£20.99 / yearYesNoRescue kit and basic VPN30 days4. TotalAV£29.00 / yearNoYes/30 days5. Kaspersky£12.49 / yearYesNoBasic system cleanup, VPN, password manager, and data breach monitoring30 days6. Malwarebytes£29.99 / yearNoYes/60 days