Is there a decent free antivirus download?

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I use a Windows laptop to run my home business and I always ensure that I am safe and don't do anything that could attract malware or viruses. Despite this I think that there is something wrong because when I browse sites there is sometimes some funny behaviour.

I'm not really a security expert so I don't want to know the ins and outs of what makes one antivirus better than another. I just want a genuinely free, good quality antivirus that I can use to block potentially harmful webpages, emails... and also scan and cleanup whatever is already on my computer.

Can you recommend a free antivirus that will do all this? If so, is there a download link I can get it from?

Avast is free to download and trusted by over 230 million people

Antivirus software, in my experience, can often end up being as bad as the malware you are trying to avoid. Brands like McAfee and Norton are forever trying to weasel their way onto your machine (often via relationships with online partners - like your bank), and when they do it is nearly impossible to remove them.

About 3 years ago I started using Avast, and I have been happy with it. It regularly blocks malicious webpages and warns you about potentially harmful email from spammers (and occasionally I get it to scan my whole PC).

Download Avast Free

It's also got a nice, simple interface that makes it quick and easy to operate and configure:

Avast free antivirus

Since you're not interested in a list of all its features (other than those mentioned), I will instead focus on what the market thinks about it, and why reviewers believe it is a good choice.

  • Genuinely free to download and use (i.e. their free version is actually free, not a free trial)
  • Extremely popular and widely used (indicating that they are well established and of good quality)
  • Works on multiple platforms - including Android devices, iPads and iPhones
  • Doesn't slow performance (I've had antivirus software that essentially brought my computer to a standstill)
  • Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars by 27 000 users on CNET, and 4.6 out of 5 from 9 000 reviewers on Amazon
  • Quick to detect and protect against new threats (Often quicker than their paid competitors' offerings)

But, as of 2015, there is a feature added to Avast that I am not too happy with... popup ads.

Occasionally, Avast pops up to offer me a special deal on upgrades to their paid security plans. Now, I don't mind that too much - after all, I am getting free, high quality protection. But, they are pretty persistent and annoying:

Avast free antivirus comes with annoying popups in 2015

The popups hang around far too long, and take up far too much screen space. But, given how many of their loyal users are complaining, I strongly suspect they will dial it back a notch or two in the coming months.

However, despite this one annoyance, the overall customer sentiment is that Avast offers the best free antivirus, with comparable protection (and in some cases, superior) to many paid, competing products.