What Is the Best Free Anti-virus, Anti-spyware & Anti-phishing Software Suite?

By Heather Wilkins

Free anti-virus and anti-spyware software blocks malicious software from harming your computer.
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Independent testing labs conduct anti-virus software tests every year, and they include free versions in their tests, too. Comparing the tests can help you determine which free software suite is the best for you. Free anti-virus packages do not come with anti-phishing protection, but that doesn't mean you are completely vulnerable.

Avast Free Antivirus

PCPro rated Avast Free Antivirus number one because of how well it protected against viruses and spyware. When tested by AV-Test, Avast was the second highest scoring free anti-virus program in the Protection category, the highest free program in Repair and the highest free program in Usability, only bested by three paid programs. It was given a Top Rated award by AV-Comparatives and came in number three in the Low System Impact category.

Avira Free Antivirus

Avira Free Antivirus made it onto Digital Trends' best free anti-virus list. Avira offers constant monitoring to instantly protect your computer against infection. AV-Test rated it almost five out of six for protection, 4.5 out of six for repair and a little over four out of six for usability. Avira was given three out of three stars for file detection and two out of three stars for how well it passed the real-world test and for malware removal by AV-Comparatives.

AVG Anti-virus Free

PCPro noted that AVG Anti-virus Free was good for basic malware scanning. AV-Test gave the program five out of six for protection, more than four out of six for removal and almost five out of six for usability. AV-Comparatives gave AVG one out of three stars for file detection, malware removal and its real-world test. AVG also includes anti-spyware, which is usually not included in free software, an email scanner and protection for Web browsing.

Protect Against Phishing

Phishing is an aspect of social engineering -- someone is trying to trick you into voluntarily giving out personal information that can then be used to defraud you. No software is going to totally protect against that, but you can be wise about what actions you take online. Don't reply to unsolicited email asking for personal information, and don't click on any included links. Use your email spam filters to cut down on these types of messages. Enable a firewall -- Windows Firewall is installed on Windows computers and is accessible from the Control Panel -- and keep your anti-virus software up to date.