Comparison Of Recommended Free Anti-Malware Tools
|Brand||Pricing||Features||Ransomware Protection||Malware Scan|
|Fast, reliable, and extremely lightweight. Stops every type of malware.||Yes||On-Demand|
|Norton Power Eraser||Free||Wipes out threats that get past your antivirus, or that prevent antivirus installation||Yes||On Access|
|Avast||Free/Premium (Yearly)||Intelligent antivirus, smart scan, firewall, safe browser.||Yes||On-Demand/Auto schedule|
|Bitdefender||Free/Premium||Highest level of security and performance. Optimizable interface||Yes||On-Demand/ Real-time|
|Trend Micro||Free/Premium||Exceptional malware protection capabilities. Customizable interface||Yes||On-demand/ On Access|
|Zone Alarm||Free/Premium||Checks any suspicious files against a cloud database to ensure that even the latest threats are not missed||Yes||On-demand/ Real-time|
What Does Malware Mean And How Does It Work?
Malware is a mixture of two words - malicious and software. It is a piece of code or a file that is typically delivered over the internet with the intent of causing damage to a computer, server, or network without the owner’s consent.
To get rid of these intruders, you need a malware detection tool - one that sniffs out every hidden code and removes it for good. It comes in many forms and can cause performance problems in your PC.
Read more about what is malware, the best anti-malware software and how to choose it right in this article.
How To Remove Malware From Your Windows Computer
If you notice that your PC is slower than usual, or pops-up irrelevant windows, or is doing something out-of-the-ordinary, the first thing that you should do is check for possible viruses or malware.
Here are the steps you can take to remove malware from your Windows PC -
- Step 1: Start by disconnecting your computer from the Internet.
- Step 2: Next, turn it off and boot it into the default Safe Mode.
- Step 3: Now, you want to run a quick scan using any of the tools listed above. Before that, you need to get rid of the temporary files.
Tip: use the Disk Cleanup utility tool that’s included in Windows 10 and above
- Step 4: Open the scanner and scan your system for any signs of viruses and other malware. In most cases, the tool will be able to scan and delete threats, but some malware stays hidden deep (Bitdefender works well to uncover hidden viruses).
- Step 5: Once you receive a confirmation that all threats have been quarantined, you can restart the system and get back to what you were doing.
Unlike Windows OS, not all tools are compatible with Mac. Still, most of the tools I listed above include some of the best removal for Mac as well.
Here’s a quick guide on how to remove malware from Mac:
- Get started by disconnecting your system from the Internet (ensure that you already have a removal tool installed).
- Next, boot your Mac by restarting it while pressing the Shift key.
- Once you are in Safe Mode, make sure not to access any accounts. Meanwhile, remove the temporary files and clear your system cache.
- Then, open the Applications menu and go to Activity Monitor. Check for any applications that are running and delete them from the Finder menu itself.
- Run the scanner to check if you missed any hidden viruses or corrupt files. Let the tool scan your device fully and get rid of the threats.
- Restart your Mac and double-check the browser settings (most malware will modify your browser homepage).
Read More: How to remove malware from your Mac
When examining the best anti-malware tools, you’ll notice that some are paid and some are free. While you need a real-time scanner to stay protected, prevention is even better than the cure.
If you stay wary of the indicators, you can avoid downloading malware in the first place. Here are some free protection tips that you should make a habit of following-
- Update your OS as and when they release new versions
- Use a secure network. (WPA or WPA2 encryption)
- Do not use an open Wi-Fi network if you don’t have Internet Security tools enabled
- Double-check the sender before downloading files over emails
- Download from reliable sources only (scan your files before installing)
- Avoid suspicious emails and links
- Turn the system’s firewall on
- Limit the privileges that you offer different applications on your device
- Install an Antimalware/Antivirus tool
- Update the tool so that all security updates and security patches are up to date
Regularly following these practices and taking preventative measures will help you stop malware in its tracks before it causes irreparable harm.
As more and more users migrate to mobile, the need for malware tools for smartphones is at an all-time high.
The Google Play Store and Apple Store take great pains to keep every possible malware out of their network. However, if you have somehow downloaded an infected app, your device will open up to a lot of security and performance issues.
In these cases, here’s what you need to do before running an Android or an iPhone scan:
- Shut down the phone and try narrowing down the issue
- Turn on the Safe mode/Emergency mode to filter out the infected apps
- If you’re able to locate the app, go to Settings > Force Stop/Uninstall
- Delete any remaining data/files from the File Manager
- Download a protection tool, scan for any files/apps that you’ve missed
- Quarantine the threats and restart the device
Free Vs. Paid Anti-Malware: How To Choose Right
Choosing the right anti-malware tool depends on your requirements. For instance, if you want advanced threat protection, additional features, and protection for multiple devices, a paid tool is the best option. Alternatively, if you want minimal protection for a single device and are okay with advertisements and bare-bone features, a free tool can get the job done.
To make the right choice, here are a few things that you must consider:
- Free anti-malware solutions offer basic protection, primarily against known malware. They may not be well-equipped to identify and neutralize zero-day threats. You won’t get multi-layered security, heuristic monitoring, and other advanced features with a free tool
- Free tools are mostly limited to a single device. However, when you opt for a premium tool, you’ll be able to enjoy cross-platform protection. Premium plans from anti-malware providers like Bitdefender and Avast empower you to protect Macs, PCs, and mobile devices
- Paid tools offer you greater control over your private data and provide enhanced security by bundling features such as a VPN, hardened browser, ad blocking, firewall, and password manager, along with online identity and banking protection. With a free tool, you won’t gain access to these valuable features
- Another major drawback of free anti-malware tools is that you won’t receive technical support. By contrast, paid services deliver access to round-the-clock support over email, phone, and live chat
- Compared to paid versions, free tools aren’t as frequently updated. This means that the virus signature database(s) won’t be updated regularly, potentially leaving your device vulnerable to new threats
The choice of a malware protection tool depends on your needs. While tools like Bitdefender are free and offer the required protection for personal use, you can also opt for premium tools like Avast that offer a complete security suite. Even better, you can use a mixture of two free tools like combining AVG and Avast Free or Bitdefender and Power Eraser).
As always, the best measure is always prevention, which can be accomplished by updating your devices regularly and avoiding suspicious links and websites as much as possible.