Home » How to Choose the Best Free Windows Antivirus for Your Needs

How to Choose the Best Free Windows Antivirus for Your Needs

by Nathan Zachary
Avast antivirus update key

Windows 10 users already have an anti-malware and antivirus app, Windows Defender. This is enabled by default. Independent testing by the AV-Test Institute gave Windows Defender a recommendation for December 2019 and a near-perfect rating in terms of performance.

Windows Defender is a default Windows 10 app by the company that made the operating system. It doesn’t need to upsell or nag about subscriptions and doesn’t require the same certificate trickery for deep-rooted protection of your system. It does not install browser extensions or plug-ins for other apps.

Windows Defender is the default malware detection app, which malware makers often try to circumvent. However, you can protect yourself from malicious Defender-defeating malware by having layers of security and good habits. This includes sticking to the official app stores and not downloading unlicensed versions of items you should purchase.

Avast did not protect Windows Defender in September 2019 because it failed to detect zero-day malware attacks. Windows Defender performed well in AV Test’s December tests. It fixed the real-world testing issues and caught 100% of the attacks. Windows Defender performed well in lab testing and was fast to fix the major vulnerability in Windows Defender that was discovered in Avast antivirus update key.

Windows Defender is free and enabled by default. No antivirus software receives perfect scores in all tests every month.
Why Macs don’t need traditional antivirus

Macs are historically less susceptible to infection than Windows computers because of a combination of historical precedent, demographics, and tighter controls.

Macs are far more popular than Windows computers. 17% of all Web-browsing desktops used macOS last year. This is significantly lower than the 78 percent for all Windows versions combined.

The default macOS version includes a more significant number of first-party apps. Both downloaded, and macOS apps can receive updates from Apple’s App Store. Windows PC owners are more comfortable downloading software and drivers from the Internet. They also give permissions to third-party apps more likely to be malicious.

Windows 10 and later versions must accept older apps to run. This creates a complex set of legacy systems that are difficult to secure. Since OS X’s introduction, Apple has not hesitated to make older apps obsolete. Actually, the company’s older 32-bit apps were rendered obsolete with the introduction of macOS Catalina in 2019.

Catalina adds security features to make it challenging to run malicious software. This includes requiring apps to request permissions such as access to files and microphones. It is complicated to install the software you don’t want to.

However, this does not mean that Macs are immune to vulnerabilities. Mac users who have installed a malicious browser extension can be just as vulnerable to malware as Windows and Linux users. The Flashback malware exploited Java vulnerabilities and tricked over 500,000 Mac users in 2012.

This affected about 2 percent of all Macs. There have been reports that Mac malware was growing. However, macOS’ built-in security features make it less of a problem than an actual threat.

Safe computing should be practiced on a Mac. Only install apps from the official Mac App Store. Browser extensions can be problematic too. Make sure you only install the extensions that are thoroughly tested.

Most people don’t require additional protection.

We’ve discovered that Malwarebytes can detect malware that Windows Defender missed or made onto a Mac. The paid version is unnecessary for most people.

Malwarebytes can detect zero-day exploits Windows Defender might miss. The two programs can be used in tandem, provided they are correctly set up. While the premium version includes live scanning for downloads, it is $40 per year. This is a costly proposition to protect against something that most people don’t use very often. You can use the free Malwarebytes version to scan your computer for suspicious downloads.

Layers and good habits are the best protection.

It is absurd to think that one app can be all-knowing and protect against all threats. Brian Krebs, a security journalist, writes that antivirus is “probably the most overstated instrument in any security toolbox.” While antivirus can catch malicious programs and protect your system from them, it is insufficient. We have created a guide to good practices and the best layers of protection.

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