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Best free anti-malware software?


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Steven P.

I have a premium version of Malwarebytes on my main PC and I am happy with it, but it is single license (lifetime) that I bought in a deal 9 years ago (lol) and now I want anti-malware for my laptop (HP Pavilion x360 m3 from 2017) but I don't want to pay for it, I don't want to commit to a monthly or yearly subscription for a machine I don't use regularly but I do want it to be protected with the best free one.

 

Right now I am trying bitdefender (recommended in 2020 on Reddit as being good after doing a Google search) but I wonder what experience our Neowin readers have?

 

Here's what they said:  

 

Here's the best free ones:

  • Kaspersky.com
  • BitDefender.com
  • McAfee
  • Panda

Some of the most annoying ones that constantly bug you and are full of baggage installs AVOID IMO:

  • Avast.com
  • AVG
  • Avira
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+jnelsoninjax

The real  question is do you need a separate malware scanner? Most AV's scan for Malware as well, so do you need a standalone scanner?

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cork1958

I used Bitdefender free for a long time and used to install it on other people's computers. Never got any complaints and it is very highly rated. A few of the other free AV's use it's engine.

 

Going to assume that's a Windows 10 laptop? What's wrong with Windows Defender to work along with Malwarebytes?

 

Wouldn't put McAfee on an enemies computer!

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+xrobwx71

Windows Security is the best for Windows 10.  If you skip the biased horshit you see on the internet and really check it out, you'll see it's very robust. 

 

I manage 15+ computers at home/work/family. All have Windows 10 and all have Windows Security as it's sole AV/Malware solution. They are wide ranging hardware specs and usage. None have been infected. 

 

 

 

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Fleet Command

Windows Defender is already great. It has consistently received good scores on AV-TEST.org. (Actually, its official name now is Microsoft Defender Antivirus. And some people, by mistake, call it Windows Security.) It doesn't disrupt your autorun feature to give the impression that it is doing something in the way of security. It has anti-ransomeware features too, although, I'm sure you don't use those until it is too late.

 

Mind you, I didn't always like Defender. There were times when it really pushed my buttons. At one point, it classified Process Hacker and PotPlayer as malware. I was very near to swear it off and jump ship to something else. May the God keep Kaspersky and BitDefender alive, so that Microsoft would know we wouldn't put up with its subpar performance.

 

 

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Steven P.
6 minutes ago, Fleet Command said:

Windows Defender is already great. It has consistently received good scores on AV-TEST.org. (Actually, its official name now is Microsoft Defender Antivirus. And some people, by mistake, call it Windows Security.) It doesn't disrupt your autorun feature to give the impression that it is doing something in the way of security. It has anti-ransomeware features too, although, I'm sure you don't use those until it is too late.

 

Mind you, I didn't always like Defender. There were times when it really pushed my buttons. At one point, it classified Process Hacker and PotPlayer as malware. I was very near to swear it off and jump ship to something else. May the God keep Kaspersky and BitDefender alive, so that Microsoft would know we wouldn't put up with its subpar performance.

 

 

Thank you Fleet Command! 👍

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GSDragoon

Common Sense.

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Fleet Command

Common sense cannot stop Stuxnet or Exchange Server attacks. It might stop NAT Slipstreaming 2.0 though.

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+xrobwx71
3 hours ago, Fleet Command said:

Windows Defender is already great. It has consistently received good scores on AV-TEST.org. (Actually, its official name now is Microsoft Defender Antivirus. And some people, by mistake, call it Windows Security.) It doesn't disrupt your autorun feature to give the impression that it is doing something in the way of security. It has anti-ransomeware features too, although, I'm sure you don't use those until it is too late.

 

Mind you, I didn't always like Defender. There were times when it really pushed my buttons. At one point, it classified Process Hacker and PotPlayer as malware. I was very near to swear it off and jump ship to something else. May the God keep Kaspersky and BitDefender alive, so that Microsoft would know we wouldn't put up with its subpar performance.

 

 

There might be a reason I call it Windows Security.   

I'm on 20H2

Neowin-Windows-Security.jpg

Neowin-Win-Security-2.jpg

Neowin-Win-Security-3.jpg

 

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Fleet Command

 

14 minutes ago, xrobwx71 said:

There might be a reason I call it Windows Security.   

I'm on 20H2

Actually, I'm sure it is called Microsoft Paint, not Windows Security. /s

You take screenshots of the wrong thing and call it proof? I can do that too.

I'm on 20H2.

 

177287357_Screenshot(41).thumb.png.676202d29cb9baa1913fdeac256f8782.png

 

1096520608_Screenshot(42).thumb.png.99c81b8511e222df9229967c173958d0.png

 

979828276_Screenshot(44).thumb.png.778713e3896a5c40822e960ef76d08db.png

 

By the way, while we're at it, the President of the United States is not called White House.

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+virtorio

Those aren't fake screenshots. Windows Defender Antivirus is managed through the Windows Security app. If you don't know where to look, it's not obvious the Windows Defender name is even still used.

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Fleet Command
5 minutes ago, virtorio said:

Those aren't fake screenshots.

I didn't say "fake". I said wrong. It's like intending to take some photos of Margaret Thatcher and ending up taking pictures of Meryl Streep. And then wrongly concluding that Thatcher is an actress. 😉

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adrynalyne
5 hours ago, Fleet Command said:

 

Actually, I'm sure it is called Microsoft Paint, not Windows Security. /s

You take screenshots of the wrong thing and call it proof? I can do that too.

I'm on 20H2.

 

177287357_Screenshot(41).thumb.png.676202d29cb9baa1913fdeac256f8782.png

 

1096520608_Screenshot(42).thumb.png.99c81b8511e222df9229967c173958d0.png

 

979828276_Screenshot(44).thumb.png.778713e3896a5c40822e960ef76d08db.png

 

By the way, while we're at it, the President of the United States is not called White House.

Why are we arguing this?

 

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/stay-protected-with-windows-security-2ae0363d-0ada-c064-8b56-6a39afb6a963

 

”Windows 10 includes Windows Security, which provides the latest antivirus protection. ”

 

”Windows Security continually scans for malware (malicious software), viruses, and security threats.”

 

I can’t imagine why anyone would call it Windows Security when MS does. Weird. 

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1337ish

I like BitDefender free, Windows one is okay but I find it consideribly slower at on demand scanning over others especially working with Windows Updates and installers.

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+mram

Use Microsoft Defender.  Microsoft Defender is the malware engine behind Defender ATP (Defender for Endpoint), which ultimately provides the protection for E5-level security organizations.  It's no slouch.

 

When comparing $$ versions of  Antivirus vs free, the biggest knock that reviewers put on Defender is that Defender only updates signatures once a day.  This is true, but easily modifiable -- commercial/end-user products have to skate the fine line between battery, performance, bandwidth, etc.  I'm not apologizing for it, it's just kind of a dumb reason to say the product is bad, especially since there are a lot of easy ways to force updates if you really feel that's a killer feature -- for most users, it is not, hence the default options by MS.

 

"%ProgramFiles%\Windows Defender\MpCmdRun.exe" -SignatureUpdate

"Update-MpSignature" in powershell

Many ways to script this, or use task manager, etc.

 

What the AV package providers tend to do is sell behavior-preventing software through FUD, but yes, simple low-rights no-admin and common sense work mixed with a good file scanner like Defender would be more than sufficient.  I practice what I preach here, for what it's worth.

1 hour ago, adrynalyne said:

I can’t imagine why anyone would call it Windows Security when MS does. Weird. 

Because Microsoft skates the fine line between usability and control.  "Windows Security" refers to the category of security on Windows, not a product in and of itself.  If you go to "Windows Security" then click on "Virus & Threat Protection" then "Virus and Threat Protection settings", you'll see, in clear wording (at least for me): "View and update Virus & threat protection settings for Microsoft Defender Antivirus".  Just like "Control Panel" is not the name of your printer's configuration tool, it's a category, not a product.

 

Third party integration allows for "Windows Security" to link other products to potentially integrate here, which is how Microsoft provides a consistent UI experience for all end users:  "Go to Windows Security to configure your security products!"

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adrynalyne
18 minutes ago, mram said:

Use Microsoft Defender.  Microsoft Defender is the malware engine behind Defender ATP (Defender for Endpoint), which ultimately provides the protection for E5-level security organizations.  It's no slouch.

 

When comparing $$ versions of  Antivirus vs free, the biggest knock that reviewers put on Defender is that Defender only updates signatures once a day.  This is true, but easily modifiable -- commercial/end-user products have to skate the fine line between battery, performance, bandwidth, etc.  I'm not apologizing for it, it's just kind of a dumb reason to say the product is bad, especially since there are a lot of easy ways to force updates if you really feel that's a killer feature -- for most users, it is not, hence the default options by MS.

 

"%ProgramFiles%\Windows Defender\MpCmdRun.exe" -SignatureUpdate

"Update-MpSignature" in powershell

Many ways to script this, or use task manager, etc.

 

What the AV package providers tend to do is sell behavior-preventing software through FUD, but yes, simple low-rights no-admin and common sense work mixed with a good file scanner like Defender would be more than sufficient.  I practice what I preach here, for what it's worth.

Because Microsoft skates the fine line between usability and control.  "Windows Security" refers to the category of security on Windows, not a product in and of itself.  If you go to "Windows Security" then click on "Virus & Threat Protection" then "Virus and Threat Protection settings", you'll see, in clear wording (at least for me): "View and update Virus & threat protection settings for Microsoft Defender Antivirus".  Just like "Control Panel" is not the name of your printer's configuration tool, it's a category, not a product.

 

Third party integration allows for "Windows Security" to link other products to potentially integrate here, which is how Microsoft provides a consistent UI experience for all end users:  "Go to Windows Security to configure your security products!"

Its capitalized (literally) as a product, not a description. Windows security vs. Windows Security. They should consider getting some better writers because that’s misleading, if what you say was their intent. 

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SnoopZ
2 hours ago, 1337ish said:

I like BitDefender free, Windows one is okay but I find it consideribly slower at on demand scanning over others especially working with Windows Updates and installers.

I recommend using 3 month trials of Bitdefender Total Security, at the end of the trial there is nothing stopping you using it again, the quick way is with the same email address and just move the period in the email when registering.

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Xahid
15 hours ago, Steven P. said:

~Skip~

 

Here's the best free ones:

  • Kaspersky.com
  • BitDefender.com
  • McAfee
  • Panda

Some of the most annoying ones that constantly bug you and are full of baggage installs AVOID IMO:

  • Avast.com
  • AVG
  • Avira

Should change the McAfee to annoying/avoid list

Kaspersky is the 1st choice period. and they're also providing free version enough for average user.

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Fleet Command
9 hours ago, adrynalyne said:

Why are we arguing this?

 

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/stay-protected-with-windows-security-2ae0363d-0ada-c064-8b56-6a39afb6a963

 

”Windows 10 includes Windows Security, which provides the latest antivirus protection. ”

 

”Windows Security continually scans for malware (malicious software), viruses, and security threats.”

 

I can’t imagine why anyone would call it Windows Security when MS does. Weird. 

Oh, and Microsoft has never committed gaffs, especially not since 2012! (:sarcasm:) When they change the name of things so much, they are bound get confused themselves.

 

Against that one page of yours, there are 221 documentation pages that describe Microsoft Defender Antivirus, plus a full description of the relation between the Windows Security app and Microsoft Defender antivirus.

 

Windows Security is the unified user interface for:

 

Their malware sample submission form has a more complete list. Hell, Windows Security itself makes no secret that it uses these products.

 

And believe me, if you replace your brain with Google search results, it is easy to convince you that the Earth is flat! I can bring millions of web pages that testify to it!

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Fleet Command
7 hours ago, adrynalyne said:

Its capitalized (literally) as a product, not a description. Windows security vs. Windows Security. They should consider getting some better writers because that’s misleading, if what you say was their intent. 

You become blind when it suits you. You pretend to see only mram's first sentence and contend yourself to nitpick on grammar. Whereas, the rest is very enlightening.

Quote

If you go to "Windows Security" then click on "Virus & Threat Protection" then "Virus and Threat Protection settings", you'll see, in clear wording (at least for me): "View and update Virus & threat protection settings for Microsoft Defender Antivirus".  Just like "Control Panel" is not the name of your printer's configuration tool, it's a category, not a product.

 

Third party integration allows for "Windows Security" to link other products to potentially integrate here, which is how Microsoft provides a consistent UI experience for all end users:  "Go to Windows Security to configure your security products!"

Seriously, adrynalyne, do you think this kind of underhand tactics make you look smart? They make you the smallest person in the world!

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+xrobwx71
9 hours ago, adrynalyne said:

Why are we arguing this?

 

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/stay-protected-with-windows-security-2ae0363d-0ada-c064-8b56-6a39afb6a963

 

”Windows 10 includes Windows Security, which provides the latest antivirus protection. ”

 

”Windows Security continually scans for malware (malicious software), viruses, and security threats.”

 

I can’t imagine why anyone would call it Windows Security when MS does. Weird. 

A question was asked by the OP. I answered it and the answer was relevant to the OP's question. Windows Security as a whole AV/antimalwware/anti ransomeware, free solution is what I was referring to.

Why would anyone use just Defender and not the antimalware components too? I was clearly talking about the whole solution which is called Windows Security.

 

I don't understand why others have to call out and then spend 20 pages arguing about the obvious.  /smh

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Fleet Command
17 minutes ago, xrobwx71 said:

I don't understand why ...

Well, this phrase sums up your problem clearly: You don't understand. Plus, you prefer to get defensive than stand corrected.

Quote

I was clearly talking about the whole solution which is called Windows Security.

Is not. Windows Security is just an empty shell, just like its predecessor, Security and Maintenance (which is still part of Windows 10). I've posted enough links above. Feel free to ignore them.

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adrynalyne
36 minutes ago, Fleet Command said:

You become blind when it suits you. You pretend to see only mram's first sentence and contend yourself to nitpick on grammar. Whereas, the rest is very enlightening.

Seriously, adrynalyne, do you think this kind of underhand tactics make you look smart? They make you the smallest person in the world!

All I see is you arguing BS semantics which doesn’t do anything but make you look foolish. There are no underhand tactics here. I didn’t nitpick grammar; but even if I did, that’s a bit of the pot calling the kettle black for you to even bring that up because you are constantly doing it, in many posts. What I did do is say if @mram is right, they need to do better because that’s not how they PORTRAY it. They call it Windows Security all over the place, in multiple articles, and refer to it like a product, not as merely Windows security. You of all people know that there is a difference. 
 

Underhand tactics? 🤨

 

 

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Fleet Command
4 minutes ago, adrynalyne said:

All I see is you arguing BS semantics which doesn’t do anything but make you look foolish. There are no underhand tactics here. I didn’t nitpick grammar; but even if I did, that’s a bit of the pot calling the kettle black for you to even bring that up because you are constantly doing it, in many posts. What I did do is say if @mram is right, they need to do better because that’s not how they PORTRAY it. They call it Windows Security all over the place, in multiple articles, and refer to it like a product, not as merely Windows security. You of all people know that there is a difference. 
 

Underhand tactics? 🤨

Trying to defend you deceit with more deceit, some slander, and a profanity? Really. We are your fellow community member; honesty is the least we can expect from you.

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adrynalyne
2 minutes ago, Fleet Command said:

Trying to defend you deceit with more deceit, some slander, and a profanity? Really. We are your fellow community member; honesty is the least we can expect from you.

Whatever, LOL. 
 

Just more petty crap on your part. 

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