5 Best Free Internet Security Suites for Windows

As a Windows user, you have three possible paths when it comes to system security: use the built-in Windows Defender, install third-party security software, or ignore security altogether (the last option isn’t possible on Home versions of Windows 10). The path you take is crucial.

In our piece on important facts about Windows Defender, we noted that Windows Defender is good enough for most users — but do you really want to settle for “good enough” when your security is at stake? Seems like an unnecessary risk to take…

So here are five of the best free security suites for Windows, all of which offer anti-virus, anti-malware, and real-time protection features. Some of these lack firewall functionality, but you can always supplement with a free third-party Windows firewall.

1. 360 Total Security

360 Total Security is a free security suite provided by the leading Chinese security company, Qihoo. I know that some folks are hesitant to use China-based software, but if you’re willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, you’ll find that 360 Total Security exceeds your expectations.

Qihoo’s software is available in two forms: the full package (360 Total Security) and a pared-down, lighter-weight version (360 Total Security Essential).


The Essential version includes anti-virus, anti-malware, sandboxing, secure online shopping, and real-time protection against privacy invasions, downloaded files, infected external drives, registry hijacks, and more. In addition, the full version includes system optimizers and junk cleaners.

What’s particularly nice about 360 Total Security is its sleek interface. Easy to navigate, nice on the eyes, and modern enough that it has a professional feel to it. That’s more than can be said about most security suites, even premium ones.

360 Total Security is also available for Android and is one of the best tools for guarding against and removing mobile malware infections.

Features at a glance:

  • Anti-virus and anti-malware protection with multiple engines.
  • Run programs and files in a protected sandbox environment.
  • Real-time protection against keyloggers, external drives, malicious websites, registry hijacks, and webcam spies.

2. Avira Free Antivirus

Avira Free Antivirus (not to be confused with AVG or Avast) is one of the best free options currently available. In consistently outperforms the big-name kings of security — including Kaspersky, Norton, and McAfee — in controlled comparisons of real-world effectiveness from sites like AV-Comparatives.

You get what you’d expect and more. The anti-virus/anti-malware scanner provides manual and real-time protection against all kinds of hazards, and the real-time scans use a cloud database to stay up-to-date and guard you against new and emerging threats.


What’s nice about Avira is that it also detects and blocks potentially unwanted applications — those bundled programs that hitch rides within installers and end up on your system without your knowledge.

If you install the free Avira browser extension (available on Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and IE) then you can also take advantage of features like harmful website detection and the ad-tracker blocker.

Features at a glance:

  • Anti-virus blocks malware, Trojans, worms, and spyware.
  • Real-time protection based on up-to-date cloud database.
  • Blocks unwanted applications bundled inside installers.
  • Browser extension offers even more protective features.

3. Outpost Security Suite

What impresses me about Outpost Security Suite is how comprehensive it is in terms of features offered. And while there is a Pro version of the software, it isn’t that much better (it has identity theft protection). The Free version isn’t otherwise crippled or limited. It’s the real deal.

The anti-virus feature ranks better than most free alternatives, both in terms of detection rates and performance speed. The real-time protection keeps you safe from files, photos, videos, and emails (which is aided by the mail scanning feature). It even comes with its own configurable firewall.


Outpost Security Suite also has something called Auto-Learn Mode, which isn’t as useful as it sounds. Best to keep it off, but beware that you may be inundated with notifications whenever you want to install or run programs.

Features at a glance:

  • Anti-virus protection with top-rate detection and speed.
  • Built-in firewall that guards against unauthorized access.
  • Proactive protection against viruses and installers.
  • Mail Scanner checks inbox and attachments for viruses.

Note: As of this writing, Outpost Security Suite is only available up to Windows 8.1. They are working on Windows 10 compatibility, but it’s not yet known when a compatible release will arrive.

4. Comodo Internet Security

As a company, Comodo is deeply invested in the security world. Internet security software makes up a good chunk of their offerings, but they also have their hands in PC maintenance, DNS hosting, SSL certificates, data backups, and even secured versions of both Firefox and Chrome.

These guys are security experts who have been around for more than just a few years, so you can rest assured that their products are worthwhile and that they won’t disappear overnight without you knowing.


Comodo Internet Security is pretty darn good for free software. It can eliminate existing malware infections (including spyware, rootkits, and even zombies that make you complicit in botnet attacks), has sandboxing capabilities, and a memory firewall that guards against buffer overflow attacks.

It’s not the fastest or most resource-friendly security suite, but it gets the job done and does it well. The interface could use some improvements, but compared to what it looked like years ago, it has certainly come a long way.

Features at a glance:

  • Anti-virus, anti-spyware, and anti-rootkit protection.
  • Memory firewall for buffer overflow attack protection.
  • Run programs and files in a protected sandbox environment.
  • Filters dangerous websites and untrusted software publishers.
  • Game Mode suppresses operations while gaming.

5. Panda Free Antivirus

Panda Free Antivirus is an up-and-coming solution (relatively speaking) that’s gaining a lot of attention and traction. Silly name aside, it nails the trifecta of security software: light on resources, easy to learn and use, and effective at keeping your system secure.


Panda Free Antivirus is as simple as they come. It was designed with the phrase “install and forget” in mind, with few settings to fiddle with. It stays out of the way, making it great for those who aren’t tech-savvy. If you want a simple solution that’s better than Windows Defender, this is it.

Compared to their premium products, Panda Free Antivirus might seem a bit limited — no online shopping protection, no data backups, no file encryption, no system optimizations — but what it does do, it does well, and that’s real-time protection against malware and spyware.

Features at a glance:

  • Anti-malware, anti-spyware, and external device protection.
  • Up-to-date malware definitions using a cloud database.
  • Internet protection through URL/Web filtering and analysis.
  • Advertisement popups asking to upgrade every once in a while.

Which Security Suite Do You Use?

There are plenty of security and antivirus apps worth considering. My personal choice is 360 Total Security, but you really can’t go wrong with any of the ones listed above. It all depends on what you need, what you can live without, and how much you trust the companies behind said products.

Just remember that an antivirus isn’t enough to protect against DNS cache poisoning and malware, especially code-signed malware. Thankfully, bootable antivirus disks can clean malware from your PC in worst-case scenarios. While getting such a disk, you should also consider getting an antivirus app for your smartphone to protect yourself from mobile security risks.

To learn about cool advancements in antivirus technology, check out how AI is enhancing your antivirus These 4 Antivirus Tools Are Using AI to Protect Your System Does your next antivirus subscription need to include artificial intelligence, or is it just another security buzzword? Read More .

Explore more about: Anti-Malware, Antivirus, Computer Security, Online Security.

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  1. name
    September 1, 2019 at 1:04 pm

    let me tell you something! never use comodo esed or malwarbytes! they all work for turkish pedophile dictator tayip erdogan and give the backdoors of their products to him! be careful using firefox tor browser and duckduckgo! they work for cia!

  2. Nelson
    January 16, 2018 at 7:08 am

    You're right about 360 total Security. I too was doubtful, but I've found no hassles with it.

  3. Dan
    January 8, 2018 at 7:25 pm

    As an IT professional I'm totally surprised that you would recommend Total 360. Thats like putting a uniform on a convict and asking him to guard the bank.

    EmsiSoft is what I recommend for anyone using a standard PC (Windows based) and I never recommend a "free" version. You still pay no matter what. It may just be your personal information but what is that worth? To me its worth more than a free piece of software. If using a MAC or Linux then Bit Defender is the best. Again, not the free version. You don't get free locks for the door of your house.

    As for those that say they can't afford it... Either you pay now or you pay later. Either way, you WILL pay.

    Dan - A+, Net+, MCP, MCP+I, MCSE, MPS, ITIL certified.

  4. David
    December 1, 2017 at 12:29 am

    360 Total Security is a total muck up installed itself twice once where i indicated and on in system files also installed Opers web browser and continually had pop ups happening
    And is a Pig to uninstall LEAVE WELL ALONE

  5. David Baker
    November 26, 2017 at 3:20 pm

    I have tried Comodo and after a while it started warning me of things which wern't there so I tried to uninstall which I eventually did but they do hide traces on your computer so you have to be careful and do a thorough check so I would advise against them as for MSE and Windows defender I had no end of problems with viruses so no thank you. In the end I went to Zone Alarm free Anti Virus +Firewall and I have had no problems they do pester you with offers of upgrades from time to time but either just click no or accept their offers which by the way are good

  6. Druid Faith
    October 10, 2017 at 8:42 am

    I do use and have used for a long time the F-Secure products. In the days of MS-Dos, F-Prot was the best gimick free AV product out there.
    Their current line is good enough for me to trust both my client's and my own data with.
    I have been a beta tester and can tell you that their stuff keeps improving all the time.
    They also must adhere to the strict standards imposed on their home country's Data secrecy laws. So, they are not going to be handing anyone the keys to your encrypted files anytime soon. Looking at you NSA...

  7. Steven J.B.
    August 21, 2017 at 12:01 pm

    I have used AVG & Kaspersky internet security before & trust those sites. Thanks for the free internet security advice. Cheers. Time for a beer I think. Its 5pm somewhere in the world hahahaha....

  8. Jim
    April 29, 2017 at 11:41 pm

    I have used Comodo since it first became availabe way back when - and as far as doing what it says on the tin, it pretty well does just that, and does it quite effectively. However, it has had a few rough edges from time to time. For example, on more than one occasion, it has decided that it could not run, when booting up the computer, and instead it pops up a window to say so, and asks if it should run its own diagnostic and repair check - which is a nice enough touch - (although it does also suggest to me, that Comodo's developers obviously thought their software could go belly up, and thus needed such repair facilities included in the software). The baffling thing is that having ran the diagnostics, and received a report at the end of the diagnostic process that nothing was found wrong, the Comodo can then be started by clicking the desktop icon. When in this capricious mood, there is no way I have found to get Comodo to run without runningt the diagnostics, and getting a report that all was found well! Bizzare!.
    More worringly, I have just had to replace Comodo with Norton, for reasons as follows, as we run a rather expensive piece of dongle protected design software, (which cost almost £2500, and thus needs to be operational). While this software is installed on two machines, as something of a backup strategy, it will only run on the machine which has the dongle plugged in. I was horrified therefore a few days ago when the machine in regular use, failed to open the design software, and reported a "System error - c0000005", when trying to start it. "No immediate problem" thought I, and sucessfully swapped the dongle to the other machine, flashed up the software, and completed the task I had set out to do. I was mortified therefore about 12 hours later when I again flashed up the design software to do some further work, only to be met with the same system error message on the second computer, and a failure of the software to load. To cut a long story short, even after re-installing Windows in desparation, (and the design software several times) nothing worked - until, hit by a flash of inspiration - some would say desparation, I completely removed Comodo, and installed Norton instead. Hey-ho expensive software up and running again on both machines, and no error messages!!.
    Thus I conclude that while Comodo is a great piece of software as far as keeping you secure online, it is/can be, somewhat ragged around the edges at times, with occasional problems seemingly attributable to it.

  9. Scot
    April 11, 2017 at 10:04 pm

    I've been using Comodo for years and have been happy with it, until this past week. It changed to Comodo 10 and now it crashes and won't run. I uninstalled it and tried re-installing but it won't install properly. It keeps coming up with a fatal error. I hope that they fix this issue soon. In the meantime, I will try 360 again. I used it years ago. Thanks.

  10. Robert Bock
    February 28, 2017 at 3:30 am

    I have been using Comodo Free version for many years. I also run MalwareBytes in parallel. My Rootkit app is from Avira. Go figure. Glad to see Avira still among the tops . I've never used the other three.

    As for compatibility, running those two services together can create a snag or two but once they get used to each other it's a nice pair-up. I'd much rather be a bit over secure than lose the use of my PC. Buying parts and setting uip plus convincing Windows that I am the same user as before... woot! That's a headache i never want again.

    Thanks for your review.

  11. George
    February 20, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    I use AVG alongside MalwareFox. Pretty good combination if you ask me.

  12. SavageMind
    January 24, 2017 at 3:02 am

    I use Comodo and lately I find myself disappointed. It has incompatibilities with some software that I find unacceptable. Both CosMos and MasterCam 8X are some that will not work with Comodo on the system and the Comodo Company has no intention to fix the compatibility issues. Since I need some of the programs for school, I have to remove Comodo. At one time it was great but they honestly just to provide good support even for the paid version.

  13. Rindy Cronje
    December 27, 2016 at 7:50 pm

    I was using Bitdefender Internet Security and before that Avast. I'm not working at the moment so I need a protection program that is free. I am trying Comodo the free one.

  14. Dave
    December 21, 2016 at 11:09 pm

    Outpost aint no longer available all updates will stop on jan 7 and the program is now not available.

  15. cedric haycock
    December 10, 2016 at 1:44 am

    I have been running Comodo for many years on Windows XP then Win 7 (X32). The database updates were a horror by a slow ADSL as a fail reverted to restart. These days (NBN) it's great.
    I had problems with the other (X64) laptop on Win 7, and took Comodo off, but now Windows 10 seems stable I am putting Comodo back on again.

  16. Phaethon
    October 31, 2016 at 11:48 pm

    I just install Panda Antivirus in old laptop with windows xp. Very light and useful interface, but after one day i have two Blue Screen O.D.

  17. ray king
    October 15, 2016 at 9:57 pm

    I used 360 for a while, and was very happy with it. Until I had great problems with something interfering with the TV. Every time I hit a key, selected a new page or program, or whatever, my wife would scream again! After trying all possible cures, I eventually uninstalled 360, for about the third time, and used Avira instead. Since then-no more TV problems. I find it a little hard to believe, and of course this may have been caused by something else, however, the problem has gone. I have to say that I preferred 360, but if it was the cause of the problems, then I am very wary of using it again. The TV interference was so bad that it was unwatchable, picture freezing for frequent long periods. I did inform 360 of the problem, and if it was caused by them, hope they solve it.

  18. Nina Mccutcheon
    July 23, 2016 at 8:58 pm

    365 is terrible , Avast is hard on pc and causes preformance issues, making you buy preformance suite, AVG, is slow going and registry is not free, Avira is pretty good i believe.

  19. Syber
    May 3, 2016 at 2:20 pm

    I have no idea why you recommended 360 Total Security which is Chinese software, as I know Chinese software have some safety problem. They developed some useful software, but safety always put first.

  20. Anonymous
    March 30, 2016 at 5:48 pm

    Could u plz give an opinion about avast free antivirus and malwarebytes anti malware free? would be really helpful

  21. highstream
    March 1, 2016 at 6:06 pm

    Came across your article, thanks. Have been using Comodo CIS free for some time and their anti-virus before that (along with MBAM Pro). I do agree it's bulky, its scans can take up a lot of system resources, and generally a bit idiosyncratic. What I'm not clear about is firewalls. You mention CIS and Panda having firewalls. What about the other three? Has terminology changed about how they are described?

  22. Dennis
    December 19, 2015 at 10:49 pm

    I guess I've been extremely lucky. Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) and Windows Defender have protected me for years without any virus or malware infection.

    I've been using the following software on my desktop for years and my laptop for a year and haven't ever had any big issues:

    Windows Defender (for continuous scanning), Malwarebytes and SuperAntiSpyware (SAS) for periodic scanning.

    I've had one piece of malware, but Malwarebytes got it and removed it - no problems. And I've had a lot of spyware which was caught and removed by SAS and there were no problems either.

    I am definitely going to replace Windows Defender with 360 Total Security or Avira Free Antivirus though and I'm going to recommend that my friends also replace their Windows Defender software also after reading this article as well.

    Thank you so much for this article!

    • anticeon
      January 20, 2016 at 10:47 pm

      Windows Defender is slow when doing realtime scanning on .exe files. if you have Core i7 or FX-8350 you might not notice anything, but when you use low-mid end proc you will notice it.

    • Anthony
      December 15, 2016 at 5:15 pm

      Windows Security Essentials, is horrible, I would stay away from that. We used it at the local tech school, even though it is for home use only, I don't know if that has changed.
      I was in the computer class, and viruses and malware we always getting on the computer. You would clean it up with another tool, and that tool would find so much more it missed.
      If I were to use Security Essentials, I would check out it ratings, with the big companies that test it's performance. I believe it was still at the bottom of the barrel when I last checked.

  23. Pravin
    December 11, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    I wonder, there is no Avast. I am using it for more than 10 years and most to reviews for free AV include Avast. But, I must thing again and try other. Any reason, you not included Avast and not in top 5?

    • anticeon
      January 20, 2016 at 10:45 pm

      Its "Free" antivirus, newer version of Avast full of bloat features, simply because they install premium features but cant be activated without code.

      • Dick
        March 21, 2017 at 12:02 am

        I've used Avast on XP, Vista (my wife's machine) and 7, and it works very well. To avoid the premium features, use the custom install feature and UNcheck everything but File System Shield, Web Shield, Mail Shield, and Rescue Disk. You may find the Behavior Shield useful, but I don't.

        If you still get premium features:
        1. Go to Control Panel-->Programs
        2. Find Avast Antivirus and click Change.
        3. When the Avast screen appears, click Modify.
        4. Uncheck what you don't nee/want, then click Done.
        You'll probably have to restart your computer.

        Now, if someone proves to me that Avast is the cause of my computer taking over three minutes to boot, I'll switch.

  24. Micheltoronto
    December 4, 2015 at 8:46 am

    I like Panda and have been using it for past two years. I found that AVG & Avast put 500 or more unnecessary hooks in the registry. I like Panda, simple setup and forget. I use Win 7 Firewall, it blocks everything.

    • Joel Lee
      December 4, 2015 at 3:14 pm

      Panda's occasional popup ads are kind of annoying, but otherwise I agree, it's pretty good!

  25. David
    December 4, 2015 at 7:00 am

    I am using Comodo Internet Security Software ! It's a perfect security Solutions !!

    • Joel Lee
      December 4, 2015 at 3:16 pm

      A bit bulky but yeah, Comodo isn't bad at all. :)

      • bilwediz
        October 23, 2016 at 1:25 pm

        Joel I had Commodo didn't like it and uninstalled they ripped out my Drivers cost me £30 for a local Techie who was good enough to call into my house after work and discovered what they had done . A really nasty trick and totally unprofessional would not recommend them at all

  26. GR
    December 3, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    Well i personally think that all antiviruses are also viruses by their natures; but we have to rely on them anyway. Windows essentials worked good for me over the years.
    But 360 sounds interesting i must say..Good article and information.

    • Joel Lee
      December 4, 2015 at 3:15 pm

      You should replace Essentials as soon as you can. Glad you found the article useful! Thanks. :)

  27. Davidr
    December 2, 2015 at 4:30 am

    I would stay away any software from China - it's actually an advise from lots of Chinese.

    • Dennis
      December 19, 2015 at 10:24 pm

      Do you think they will break into your system somehow?

  28. Anonymous
    December 2, 2015 at 1:36 am

    I've been using AVG for a long time, but I'm looking to switch for a number of reasons, but mostly because AVG seems to require a reboot for literally every update. And lately it seems like it updates 2 or 3 times a week. The constant nags to reboot are extremely annoying. Anyone know if this is par for the course for all security software, or do any of the above alternatives avoid this?

    • Joel Lee
      December 4, 2015 at 3:14 pm

      I wouldn't say that's par for the course, no. Frequent reboots would definitely be a dealbreaker for me!

    • Dennis
      December 19, 2015 at 10:25 pm

      Yeah, me too!

  29. paul
    December 2, 2015 at 12:28 am

    you are way off date , Agnitum has today released the second updated version for Windows 10 users ( Pro version ) , and yes in my opinion it is the best Security Suite there is. They also provide their knowledge and software for other , more commercial , players in the field , like Avast , AVG , Bullguard , Avanquest , Lavasoft , Sophos and more.....

    • Joel Lee
      December 4, 2015 at 3:12 pm

      Hey Paul. At the time of writing, which was just a week or two ago, I spent over an hour looking for an Outpost Security installer that would work on my W10 system. I found nothing. I tried running the installer that they offer on their site and W10 wouldn't let me run it.

      If there is a version that works with W10, great! I just wish Agnitum would make it more obvious on how to get it done, because I certainly couldn't figure it out.

  30. blaszta
    December 1, 2015 at 4:51 pm

    As I remember, Qihoo was cheating in the lab test.. it should be black listed.

    • Anonymous
      December 1, 2015 at 6:45 pm

      Qihoo provided an installer with a different default configuration for the lab test than for the end users. It had the in-house QVMII engine disabled and the Bitdefender engine enabled (default is the reverse).
      Basically, if they provided a geo-installer with one configuration for the Chinese market and one for the ROW (equal to the one provided for lab tests) there would be no "cheating" accusation.

      On top of their own engines, they are (or at least were) licensed to implement both, the Bitdefender as well as the Avira engines ~ both frequently scoring very high in AV tests.

      Personally I have switched to Qihoo over a year ago and with both, the QVMII and the Bitdefender engine enabled you have a solid protection. Being banned from certain AV tests doesn't make it a lesser product IMHO.

      • blaszta
        December 3, 2015 at 5:24 pm

        Interesting.. is there any reference/article to confirm this?

  31. n2b
    December 1, 2015 at 4:07 pm

    I use Avast, MBAM, and Super Anti-Spyware. But if I could find objective testing that proved a greater reliability at protection and detection among another collection of programs, I'd go with it (assuming it is compatible with my Windows 7 Pro system).

    • Joel Lee
      December 4, 2015 at 3:10 pm

      Do you notice a reduction in system speed/performance with 3 security programs? More security is nice, but I don't know if I could deal with the potential slowdown.

      • n2b
        December 4, 2015 at 3:37 pm

        Well, only Avast! provides real-time protection. I don't have the premium versions of the latter two I mentioned, so no real-time protection (for me) from them. I only run MBAM and SAS (and Windows Defender occasionally) manually. Bottom line: no speed issues. Maybe someone else with these programs running all in real-time could answer? :-)

        • Joel Lee
          December 5, 2015 at 8:23 pm

          Oh, I see. That makes sense then. :D

  32. John
    December 1, 2015 at 3:33 pm

    I use Microsoft Security Essential.