Antivirus Software

All computers are susceptible to viruses, spyware, and malware. It’s important to protect your computer from potential viruses by installing antivirus software.

Antivirus software uses a scanning process to keep your computer secure from harmful viruses, worms, and attacks. The software detects suspicious websites and files that contain malicious programs before they enter your computer, and blocks malicious tracking software from being downloaded to your system.

Since new worms and viruses are always being created, you should regularly update your antivirus software to recognize the latest threats.

Fake antivirus scams

Sometimes identity thieves attempt to use fake virus warnings (also known as FakeAV, Rogue AntiVirus, Rogues, or ScareWare) to install a virus on your computer. The primary way you can protect yourself from fake antivirus scams is by being aware that they exist, and by not clicking on pop-up windows that warn you in alarming language that you have a virus.

As a best practice, you should install and regularly update a legitimate antivirus product, and keep your operating system, browsers, and browser plug-ins up to date.

Free options for personal computers

A wide range of free and paid antivirus software is available. Paid antivirus software often requires annual renewal fees. The following are our recommendations of free antivirus software for the Windows, macOS, and Linux operating systems. Each is licensed and supported separately by third-party developers.

Note: Many computers come with antivirus software pre-installed. Before you install new antivirus software, begin by removing any other antivirus software that may be installed on your computer.

Windows

Windows Defender

Note: Windows Defender comes built-in to the Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 operating systems. All other antivirus software, including trial versions, must be removed in order for Windows Defender to monitor your computer.

macOS

Sophos Home Free Edition

Linux

ClamAV