Many of the top antivirus programs offer free versions that are equally effective as paid versions at stopping malware. Most antivirus programs come with an entry-level, low-end version with limited features. A mid-range product includes additional security tools, while the most expensive programs come with all the bells and whistles.

The free version of AVG Antivirus provides excellent security against malware as well as a low system impact. The free version includes a variety of useful tools, like junk file cleanup, RAM optimization and WiFi network scanners. It’s also free of ads and doesn’t prompt you to upgrade to premium features.

Microsoft Defender is the default anti-malware software included with Windows systems. It’s not the best at preventing malware files from being downloaded to your system, but its free version has various tools, including performance and health analyses and parental controls that aren’t found in paid versions of other anti-virus programs.

Bitdefender’s antivirus suites are among the most popular on the market. The free version is just as robust and effective as paid versions. It is free of ads, does not have a limit on how many devices it can scan and includes a robust set of anti-theft functions including the ability to locate and lock or wipe an unlocked Android device.

Sophos Home Free is the perfect choice for those who need to manage antivirus protection on a family member’s computer who isn’t in the same household as them. It has excellent malware detection scores, however it has a lower score for phishing protection.