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The Best Free Anti-Malware Solutions

It is an absolute necessity for users of Windows to have an effective anti-malware program running on their PC. These programs are your PC’s first and last line of defense against a malware infection. Malware is malicious software designed to infect and exploit your PC. Even if you already have a dedicated antivirus app installed, it is still crucial to have an anti-malware program as well. Unlike a simple antivirus program which will only target computer viruses, an anti-malware program defends you from the full range of malicious threats to compliment your existing antivirus protection. Everything from viruses, rootkits, trojans, worms, and adware all fall under the designation of malware.

A malware infection can be as harmless as displaying unwanted ads and search results, to degrading your system’s performance, or even as dangerous as identity theft. The software to combat this threat is often expensive and bundled with other security software with a hefty yearly fee. Fortunately, many free options do exist which can provide you with peace of mind without hurting your wallet.

Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware

When compiling any list of great free software, Malwarebytes is sure to be included at the top. This program is a go to for professional tech support experts and regular users alike. The strength of this program lies in its ability to get the job done when other programs fail to remove infections or even complete a scan.

In addition to its dependability, Malwarebytes is blazing fast, outperforming other similar products in scan time. The free version of this software is great for basic malware removal, though the paid Pro-Edition is much more powerful. Pro-Edition comes with real-time protection, scheduled scans, and blocking of potentially dangerous websites. Each download comes with a free 14 day trial and can be upgraded to a lifetime subscription for $25.

Microsoft Security Essentials

Many users of Windows 7 and 8 are unaware of the free anti-malware software available from Microsoft. The software is free of charge for all legitimate installations of Windows and provides decent coverage against all types of malware infections. Users of Windows 7 will have to download the Microsoft Security Essentials suite from Microsoft’s website. For users of Windows 8, the software has been integrated into Windows Defender which is built into Windows itself. Both versions of Microsoft’s security software are easy to use and the interface is familiar to users of Windows. This make both versions a great choice for a basic level of protection.

Unlike other anti-malware programs there are no paid versions available, meaning the free edition comes with some features not typically found in free software. This includes both real-time protection against a variety of malware threats and the ability to schedule scans ahead of time.

The software is not without its downsides, however. Compared to other anti-malware programs, Security Essentials and Windows Defender have a lower rate of detection. While it will protect and remove a majority of threats, it isn’t guaranteed to provide complete protection. However, the extra features and great integration with windows make both Security Essentials and Windows Defender great options to protect your PC without spending a dime.

Windows Defender in Windows 8

avast! Free Edition

avast! is quickly becoming one of the most popular anti-malware programs available. The free edition of avast! now includes features that were only previously found in the paid version. One of these powerful features is the boot-time scan. Boot-time scan runs as your PC boots up and before Windows loads. This allows the software to detect and deal with entrenched threats that are difficult to remove.

The paid version of avast! includes a unique feature called AutoSandbox. AutoSandbox is a tool that runs suspected malware programs in a safe environment. This allows avast! to isolate potential threats and determine their nature without causing harm to your PC. While avast!’s true strength lies in its powerful tools and great detection capability, it is somewhat weaker than other software in terms of malware removal. Upgrades to the paid version start at $49.99 for a year with discounts for purchasing multiple years.

avast! Free Edition

Comodo Cleaning Essentials

Similar to Malwarebtyes, Comodo is a great go to program for removing tough malware infestations. However, Comodo has one unique advantage that sets it apart from the competition and allows it to get the job done where other programs fail. Comodo doesn’t require an installation to run. You simply download it and run it. This gives users a great advantage when using a machine with a serious malware infestation.

Comodo especially thrives when dealing with rootkits. A rootkit is an extremely malicious form of malware which bury itself within Windows to hide from malware removal programs. Comodo is able to run on startup before these rootkits can load and easily remove them where other programs fail. While Comodo is a powerful program, it should only be used as a last resort in tandem with another program such as Malwarebytes or avast!. Comodo is unable to provide real-time protection or other features needed to be a primary anti-malware program.


Lavasoft Ad-Aware is an old standby tool that originated to fight adware and other spyware. The latest incarnation of Ad-Aware is a fully featured anti-malware program which provides excellent protection against a variety of threats. The free version offers real-time protection, giving it an edge over many other free options.

Additionally, Ad-Aware comes with bonus features that provide additional protection online. Ad-Aware will automatically set your browser’s default homepage to their secure search engine. (You may not want this feature; it’s possible to uninstall it afterward.) A toolbar cleaner will scan all of your browser’s plug-ins and remove any malicious software it finds. Ad-Aware also offers a paid suite of full internet security software offering a wide range of features to protect your PC from threats.

Don’t Wait on Anti-Malware

Protecting your PC from malware threats is no longer a luxury. A bad malware infection can compromise your personal data and potentially even lead to identity theft. Thankfully many programs have stepped up to address this important issue, providing users with a choice in anti-malware software.

Programs such as Malwarebytes and Comodo provide you with excellent last resort capability to remove even the most difficult of infestations. Microsoft provides users of Windows with its own free software offering real-time protection against threats. avast! offers its users peace of mind with a full range of features not normally found in free software.

While many of these programs also come in professional or paid editions, the free versions are powerful enough to provide most users with excellent protection and peace of mind.

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