We are all aware, or so we presume, of the importance of having adequate antivirus (AV) software on our computers and laptops. AV software detects, prevents and disarms any malware, or viruses, that may be on your device and while it won’t necessarily solve all problems, it is a vital initial step to computer security.

There’s a plethora of different antivirus softwares out there and it can be confusing knowing which is the right one to choose.  There isn’t really a definitive answer. However, there is one certainty: you don’t have to spend lots of money to keep your computers safe.

There are a number of free antivirus software that will do just as good a job as expensive ones. Please note some packages may have restrictions for business use.

1. Avast Free Antivirus

This piece of software is particularly straightforward to install, and will scan your computer for viruses straightaway. It also has a useful reminder tool that can alert you when you have forgotten to do important programme updates, as well as a clean up tool that will clear your internet browser of any unwanted add-ons.

2. Qihoo 360 Internet Security 4.3

Its clean and modern layout out is just one of the features that makes this software attractive. It also runs three different AV tests, meaning that any viruses you might have on your computer are more likely to be detected than with other AV packages.

Qihoo 360 will also notify you of threats should you find yourself on an untrusted website. The most impressive thing about this product, however, is it’s ability to prevent unauthorised webcam access, making it perfect for laptops.

3. Lookout Security and Antivirus for Mobile

The basic package for this mobile solution is free, but premium features are available for a £1.99 monthly fee. The great thing about this software is that it only makes itself known when it’s needed, meaning you won’t get a series of annoying pop-ups.

Whilst the basic version may not offer any outstanding features they do have versions for Android and iOS, with an Enterprise solution for businesses too.

4. Panda Cloud Antivirus Free

This antivirus tool is uncomplicated and provides real-time antivirus protection. Whilst it is missing a few advanced features, being a free version of a commercial product, the core features are the same across both packages.

It was recently granted a VB100 certification which is only given to products that achieve a 100% malware detection rate.

5. Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition

Bitdefender has been marked as a favourite of independent testing labs, so the fact that it is available for free is impressive! It is incredibly quick to download and install, potentially taking less than one minute, making the process hassle-free.

The product’s lack of settings and control tools means it remains one of the most straightforward antivirus software packages available.

Whichever antivirus software package you decide to choose for your PC or laptop, whether it is free or paid-for, the most important thing to do is keep it updated. Antivirus software is nowhere near as effective if it is lacking important updates or security changes, so ensure that you do this regularly.

[Photo Credit: Yuri Yu. Samoilov]

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