Free antivirus programs for Windows

Some of the free (not necessarily as in freedom) antivirus programs I recommend when asked are:

  1. clamwin
  2. This is the first one I recommend, being my best ethical pick since its free software. It is a good scanner and it takes almost no memory, since its not constantly scanning every single thing you do. This is somewhat of a disadvantage in the way that you don’t get on-the-fly alerts of a possible virus. You have to schedule the scannings.

  3. avira antivir
  4. This, in combination with ClamWin is my best choice. Its a free as in “free beer” antivirus that is lightweight too, but it scans constantly and can catch an infected virus immediately, even on downloads, web surfing and when connecting external devices like usb drives. The only downside is that its not free software (as in freedom) and pops up a big ad every time it downloads new virus definitions. Other than that little annoyance, its a great antivirus and the paid version has a lot more features and removes the ad. Slashdot published some good news about using Avira antivir, being the best against unknown viruses, hence reinforcing my best pick recommendation.

  5. AVG
  6. This one is very popular. I only list it as another alternative, but I don’t use it very much. It has failed to detect some viruses even when the virus definitions are up to date. And it annoys a lot more with ads. I’m not very familiar with it either, so I don’t know why is it so popular, but it is an option.

Advice on antivirus programs is something I get asked a lot, being “the tech guy” in the family. My answer typically is something like: “I don’t use Windows”, “I don’t know, but that’s what you get for using bad proprietary software” or the latest that my friend Ronier claims I answered at a conference: “I don’t care”.

But this time I’ve decided to write about it so that I can point them to this article whenever asked from now on. Pass it along if you need.

If you have more or better suggestions, let me know to grow this list.

Photo is Creative Commons by TedRheingold

By Gabriel Saldaña

Gabriel Saldaña is a web developer, photographer and free software advocate. Connect with him on and Twitter