Free antivirus: useful or useless? The big test!

Antivirus freeFor all those who access the Internet with their device, a Antivirus program for basic equipment belong. After all, there are many dangers lurking on the Internet that can harm you. From Malware, Botnets, Keyloggers and other virus - without adequate protection, you run the risk of becoming infected. Often times, these viruses go unnoticed and unknowingly continue to spread. However, certain viruses can too considerable damage place on the device. So when you use the internet, mine needs good protection. That is why we are dealing with the topic today: Antivirus free - useful or useless? Free antivirus protection is sufficient? Are there any good, free virus scanners?

In this article, we'll explain what an antivirus actually is, like this one is working have and what Types of viruses attack your device. We have different ones free antivirus programs tested and came to a sober result: A free antivirus scanner is not enough for all-round protection. But don't worry: there are also antivirus programs that offer a test phase or a money-back guarantee. So you can test these programs first. But of course we also looked at completely free antivirus programs.


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    What actually is an antivirus?

    An antivirus program or antivirus software is a tool, with which you can protect your computer or your network from viruses. As a rule, antivirus programs act in a similar way: As soon as an infected file is found, the user is warned and asked what should be done. Infected files are then quarantined or isolated and cleaned or completely deleted as required.

    There are now very many providers who not only protect a Windows PC. Antivirus software already exists for macOS devices, Linux, Android and iOS. Click on your respective operating system to find out which antivirus protection is best for your operating system and how to set it up.

    In any case, an antivirus should be used Standard equipment of every device that has a connection to the Internet. There are many dangers lurking on the Internet, from viruses and malware to cyber criminals trying to get your data. That is why it is also advisable to set up a VPN in addition to an antivirus. We'll explain how you do it here .

    Why do I need virus protection?

    As already mentioned, any computer, smartphone or tablet can now be infected with a virus. It's usually easier than you think. You click on a link that leads to a dubious page or you open attachments that are already infected. There are many ways in which you can get a virus. As technology continues to evolve, there are more and more cyber criminals who develop viruses to spy on data or damage devices.

    Especially if you have a Windows computer, you shouldn't worry too much Windows Defender leave. It does its job, but it's nowhere near as good as an antivirus program.

    What if a virus infects a computer?

    Computer virusIf a virus infects a computer without an antivirus program, it can have a significant impact. Depending on the type of virus, it can delete files, block your access to files, send spam, spy on you, or perform other harmful actions. In some situations it also happens that a computer is only used to infect other systems. As a rule, you do not notice whether you are infected or not. The point of a virus is usually that it goes undetected and infects as many other devices as possible. However, there are also types of viruses that can paralyze or lock your computer.

    Types of viruses

    Computer viruses are constantly evolving. Because of this, it turns out to be relatively difficult to categorize a computer virus. Usually all types of viruses are considered to be speaking Malware (Malicious Software). As the name suggests, this is malware that can cause significant damage to you and your device. However, over the years viruses have been found in the following Categories divided:

    TrojansScript virusesProgram virusesMacro virusesComputer worms

    Trojans are found on pretty much all end devices and operating systems. It is a very harmful virus that is mainly used to spy on the user. Trojans are often sent in attachments and usually go unnoticed by the user. However, this virus also likes to hide in a program or app. It is usually quite difficult to remove a Trojan, especially if you don't have an antivirus program.

    This type of virus is a script that is built into websites. These viruses are written in the most common programming languages. The browser therefore does not regard this as a virus. These viruses are also not clearly recognizable for the end user. Often these viruses then spread on the computer to send spam e-mails or to delete files.

    These viruses infect computers through programs or files in which they are manifested. As soon as you open the program or the file, the virus is activated. This type of virus is mainly caught when downloading certain programs or files from dubious websites. Ultimately, this virus can also cause considerable damage to the end device.

    A macro virus behaves like a Trojan horse or a program virus. The only difference is that this virus is found in Word or Excel files as a macro. This type of virus spreads over the Internet through email or file downloads.

    This particular type of computer virus infests itself on a computer and spreads on its own. This virus usually spreads very quickly and is not activated by the user. Computer worms are often present in e-mails (e.g. chain e-mails) and thus not only infect your own device, but many others.

    What does an antivirus do?

    As mentioned earlier, an antivirus is software that protects your computer from viruses. The program already prevents a virus from being downloaded, detects viruses in the files and even removes all malware - i.e. harmful software. Originally, antivirus programs were only intended to remove viruses from computers. Nowadays, however, an antivirus program protects almost every operating system from keyloggers, browser hijackers, Trojans, worms, rootkits, spyware, adware, botnets and adware.

    What does an antivirus do

    How does an antivirus work?

    An antivirus is usually running in the background as a process. He checks all files, servers or mobile devices. Thus, an antivirus can detect malicious programs or files. Many antivirus programs also include real-time protection. This means that your device is protected XNUMX/XNUMX and protects you from all the dangers of the internet. So as soon as you are connected to the internet, your antivirus program protects you from clicking on fake websites or downloading dubious content. This usually happens in the form of a warning or an immediate quarantine if the file or program is particularly dangerous.

    This Features runs an antivirus program:

    • Virus Scanner
      The virus scanner is the most important part of any anti-virus protection. Files, folders and entire systems are scanned and checked for malware. The consumer can also decide for himself when a scan is carried out. It should also be possible to set when the scans should be carried out automatically. So you always stay protected.
    • Remove malware
      As soon as malware is found on the end device, a virus scanner should be able to remove it. The consumer is often given the choice: either quarantine the infected file, clean it or delete it.
    • Real-time protection
      In times when there are a lot of fake websites, a virus program should have real-time protection. This prevents the user from clicking on dubious websites from the outset (e.g. those containing viruses or unwittingly downloading files). A virus scanner should also scan attachments from e-mails and messages.
    • Regular updates
      This point should actually be taken for granted. An antivirus program should update itself regularly to get the latest virus signatures. If you don't keep your antivirus up-to-date, it will be out of date and you will not be protected from new viruses.

    Antivirus: Free or Paid?

    There are enough antivirus programs. This naturally raises the question of which anti-virus protection you need for your device. You have to know which additional functions you would like to have and, above all, how safe antivirus programs are. That is why a distinction is made between free and paid antivirus programs.

    Free Antivirus: Are They Good?

    Most free antivirus programs have a virus scanner, but are usually not sufficient for all-round protection for your device. Furthermore, many free virus scanners have the disadvantage that they annoy you with advertisements. This is how most free antivirus programs finance themselves. And that's a big disadvantage. Antivirus protection should protect you from adware and not bombard you with it.

    Another disadvantage of a free antivirus is functionality. Most of the time these are very stripped down. Often you cannot perform automatic scans and always have to do this manually. In addition, updates are often not automatic. This means that the virus database is then out of date and protection is hardly guaranteed.

    In short: There is no really good free antivirus protection.

    Advantages of free virus scanners

    The biggest advantage of free antivirus software is - as the name suggests - the price. Because it's free. Free virus programs usually offer basic protection for your computer or network.

    Free antivirus programs are mostly part of one free trial period for paid programs. In this case, you often get the full range of functions for a certain period of time to test a paid antivirus. Of course, this has a big advantage: You get all the functions for free and you can then decide whether this program is right for you.

    Disadvantages of free virus scanners

    As already mentioned, a free virus scanner often only offers that minimal of security. Additionally, most free programs contain pop-ups and other forms of Advertisingthat can be quite annoying in the long run. With completely free antivirus scanners you also have to forego additional functions. A good example of this is Windows Defender for Windows users. It offers basic protection for every Windows PC, but you have almost no additional functions.

    Antivirus free - our test

    In our test, we looked at free antivirus programs. We differentiate between the following types of anti-virus programs: Completely free virus scanner and Virus scanners having a test phase and are accordingly free of charge during this period. The result is sobering: In our top 3 best antivirus scanners, only one antivirus protection that is completely free landed, namely Avira. However, with Avira, the functions are very limitedif you only use the free version permanently. That is why Avira also offers premium protection, which is definitely worthwhile.

    However, our test winner is very clear Total AV. Although this is not a "free" virus scanner, you have the option of using the Software for 30 days to test. Even with our second place, Integoyou have this possibility. So you can test the program and if you are not satisfied, you will get your money back.

    Antivirus free - our test winner

    We have tested the best free antivirus programs for you and have found a clear test winner: Total AV. If you want to know more about TotalAV, you should read our in-depth Rating read about this antivirus. Android, iOS and Windows users can also benefit from TotalAV as this program cross-platform is. However, TotalAV isn't completely free, but it does offer one 30-day money-back guarantee

    1st place: TotalAV

    Total AV logo small

    Total AV is great antivirus protection for all of your devices. This app not only offers a virus scanner, but, as the name suggests, total protection for your security. The free version offers you a virus scanner and shows you immediately whether your system is infected or not. So you can test TotalAV completely free of charge before you decide on the paid version.

    Following Features have convinced us:

    • Complete internet protection
      With TotalAV you are protected against all types of viruses.
    • Reliable virus scanner
      Thanks to the virus scanner, your entire system is checked for malware, adware, Trojans, spyware and ransomware.
    • Security and privacy
      Thanks to the included VPN, you can also stay safe and anonymous on the Internet. TotalAV also offers you a password manager, AdBlocker and extended web protection. This means that phishing websites are blocked by default.
    • System tune-up
      In addition to the excellent virus protection, TotalAV also offers other tools. So you can get rid of unnecessary files, clear your cache and clean up your device.
    • Cross-platform
      TotalAV is available for Windows, Linux, macOS, Android and iOS. You can protect all devices with just one license.

    Price: The virus scanner is free. In order to maintain all functions, TotalAV already offers its virus protection from € 19

    Bonus: TotalAV offers all of its customers a 30-day money-back guarantee on. So this antivirus is not completely free, but you can test TotalAV for 30 days risk-free.

    And finally ... When it comes to the security of your device, TotalAV is the clear test winner. You can test this virus protection risk-free for the first 30 days.

    2nd place: Intego

    Intego logo

    Intego AV is a solid virus scanner mainly used for MacOS is intended, but also offers protection for iOS devices as well as Windows devices. Thanks to its numerous functions, Intego takes second place Properties stand out at Intego:

    • Excellent virus scanner
      Intego offers an excellent virus scanner with real-time protection. This means your device is protected around the clock.
    • Intelligent firewall and network security
      Thanks to the integrated firewall, your network remains secure. You can also define your own rules here.
    • parental Control
      With the help of Intego you can define different profiles and decide which user has access to which pages. If you have children, you can exclude harmful websites.
    • Protection for your iPhone, iPad and also for Windows
      Intego not only offers protection for Mac devices, but also for iOS and Windows. So you can protect all your devices too.

    Price: Intego offers 3 price models, depending on how many devices you want to protect with them. In any case, we recommend the Mac Premium Bundle X9, which includes all the features you could want. With a Mac device, the price comes up € 59,99.

    Bonus: Intego offers a free trial period for its products. So you can test this antivirus for free before deciding whether to buy it.

    And finally ... Intego is a very good virus scanner with additional functions. If you are at home only MacOS and iOS Own devices, you should definitely try this software. You can do with Intego too Protect Windows - but only to a limited extent. But when it comes to macOS, you're in the best of hands with Intego.

    3rd place: Avira Antivirus

    avira logoAvira is one of the most popular antivirus programs out there. A big advantage of Avira is that it can Virus scanner also free of charge gives. In our test, this was the only virus protection that offers sufficient protection even in the free version.

    The free version already offers the following:

    • Virus Scanner
      The free virus scanner is great for checking your computer for infected files and programs. You can also perform user-defined scans: from checking hard drives to discovering rootkits. You can also check individual files or folders.
    • Real-time protection
      The free virus protection already offers real-time protection. So if you download a file or install a program that is infected, Avira warns the user immediately.
    • Firewall
      The integrated firewall protects against unauthorized access from the Internet or network.
    • Cross-platform
      Avira can be installed and used on all common operating systems. So you can protect your Windows, Android, iOS, or macOS device at the same time.

    The Premium version of Avira the following features are also included:

    • Security thanks to VPN
      Avira comes with its own VPN. So you can surf public Wi-Fi with confidence. Your data traffic, your IP address and other sensitive data (account number, credit card number, etc.) remain hidden from third parties.
    • Other features
      If you are sufficiently protected from spyware, ransomware and much more. want to protect, you can do this with the premium version. Your emails are also checked. The web protection in the premium version in particular helps you to protect yourself from phishing websites.

    Price: Avira scores in our test as the best, absolutely free virus scanner. The antivirus protection is very good and is also constantly updated. However, the disadvantage is that there is no web protection. In the free version you are not really safe from ransomware and spyware either. For this you need the paid version.

    And finally ... All in all, Avira is a very good free virus scanner. The free version is very suitable as a virus scanner.


    Antivirus for free TotalAV test winnerThere are numerous anti-virus programs that one can get free can get. Like you in our great test you can also read about yourself for Avast or Bitdefender to decide. Although these offer free variants, only the premium version of these antivirus programs is worthwhile. If you want all-round protection, you have to use a paid provider. Thus is Total AV our clear test winner, because you can test it risk-free for 30 days. If you want to use a solid antivirus for free, you should resort to Avira. This virus scanner already offers numerous features in the free version. However, if you want to have additional properties and adjust them, there is no way around a paid antivirus.


    Is there a really free antivirus?

    Yes, there is, for example, Windows Defender for Windows. Nevertheless, you should install virus protection. In this case, Avira would be free when it comes to basic protection. This includes real-time protection, firewall and virus scanner. For all-round protection, however, you should use the premium version. If you want even more functions, it is definitely worth testing TotalAV.

    How do free virus scanners finance themselves?

    Most free antivirus programs are advertised for their money. A number of virus scanners show you annoying advertisements with pop-ups, or constantly notify you to buy the full version.

    Which antivirus is the best?

    TotalAV was able to fully convince us in our test. You can test this antivirus program risk-free for 30 days and get pretty much all the features you could want for your computer, network or smartphone. With TotalAV you are completely protected. For Mac users, it is worth taking a look at Intego - this antivirus was specially designed for macOS devices and is available as a trial version. If you really only want basic protection, without annoying advertising, you should use Avira.

    About Jasmin Fuchs

    Jasmin Fuchs studied linguistics and trained in information technology and IT management.