Top Free Antivirus Apps Without Nag Screens and Bloatware

Ben Stegner 07-11-2017

Most computer users know that they need an antivirus to protect their machines from the many threats of the modern web. While there are plenty of free antivirus programs The 10 Best Free Antivirus Software No matter what computer you're using, you need antivirus protection. Here are the best free antivirus tools you can use. Read More , many of them stay free by constantly bugging you to upgrade to the paid version or installing some unnecessary browser extension 5 Shady Google Chrome Extensions You Should Uninstall ASAP Here are some bad Chrome extensions that you should uninstall, plus some tips for avoiding malicious extensions in the future. Read More .


If you’re installing an antivirus for a novice computer user, you don’t want them confused by all kinds of nagging popups. Even advanced users get tired of these.

To this end, we’ve picked out some free Windows antivirus suites that don’t constantly nag you or install a bunch of unnecessary junk. We’ve started with the cleanest solutions and end with a few that have popups by default, but are easily disabled by flipping one setting.

1. Windows Defender

Let’s start with the default antivirus in Windows 10 How to Use Windows Defender Malware Protection on Windows 10 Like any Windows operating system, Windows 10 is open to abuse and vulnerable to online threats. Security software is mandatory. Windows Defender is a good place to start and we guide you through the setup. Read More . Windows Defender had some issues in its infancy, but it’s grown into a solid antivirus with several pros in its corner 4 Reasons to Use Windows Defender in Windows 10 In the past, Windows Defender was overshadowed by other options, but now it's quite a contender. Here are a few reasons why you should consider dropping your security suite in favor of Windows Defender. Read More .

One of the biggest reasons to use it is the complete lack of nag screens. There’s no premium version of Windows Defender, so you won’t ever see a popup asking you to pay for it. Windows Defender sits quietly and does its job, only alerting you if there’s an issue. You don’t have to worry about any “special offers” with this solution, either.

top free antivirus apps no nag screens windows defender


Plus, Windows Defender updates through Windows Update, which is automatic in Windows 10 How to Find Out Every Last Thing About Windows Update Once a month on Patch Tuesday, Microsoft releases cumulative updates to all Windows users. We'll show you how to gather information about updates and which Windows Update settings you should be aware of. Read More . For the knowledgeable user, Windows Defender is just fine.

2. Sophos Home

Sophos isn’t one of the biggest names in antivirus programs, but it’s still an excellent contender. You’ll have to register for an account before you download the antivirus, but it’s a small inconvenience for a nag-free antivirus tool. The installer is pretty large, so it might take several minutes to get it set up.

top free antivirus apps no nag screens sophos home

Once Sophos is ready, you’ll find that opening it results in a simple panel with no ads. Click Manage My Security to open Sophos’s website, where you can sign in and manage how the antivirus runs. Open the Configure tab, and you can even set up basic web filtering 7 Family Safety Tools To Keep Your Kids Safe Online Like the real world, the internet can sometimes be a scary place for your kids. There are some great apps and tools to keep them safe; here are some we think are the best. Read More for your computer. You can block or issue a warning for categories like gambling, violence, and alcohol.


top free antivirus apps no nag screens sophos home

As long as you don’t mind managing it through a web panel, Sophos is a clean antivirus with no ads or extra junk to worry about.

Download: Sophos Home

3. Immunet

The open source antivirus ClamAV has been around on Linux for a while The 6 Best Free Linux Antivirus Programs Think Linux doesn't need antivirus? Think again. These free antivirus tools can ensure your Linux box remains virus-free. Read More , and developers have ported it to other platforms too. The standard Windows client hasn’t seen an update in over a year. However, ClamAV recommends you try Immunet, a full antivirus published by Cisco and powered by ClamAV’s engine.


top free antivirus apps no nag screens immunet

Immunet doesn’t have a paid version, so there’s zero nag screens or bloatware to worry about. What makes this antivirus unique is that it’s community-based — if the app detects an infection on someone’s system, it automatically blocks it for everyone else who uses Immunet. Even better, it only takes up a few MB of space.

It’s not a household name, but this no-frills, lightweight antivirus powered by an open-source engine How to Find Open Source Software for Windows Are you concerned about privacy, data security, or malicious code hidden in your software? With proprietary software, you just never really know what the program is doing with your data. Open source is the answer! Read More might be just what you’re looking for.

Download: Immunet


4. Bitdefender Antivirus Free

Bitdefender is another great beginner-friendly antivirus. It doesn’t present tons of options to confuse you, and like any good antivirus should, it sits quietly in the background protecting your PC. There’s also no bundled junk to watch out for OpenCandy: The Reason You Should Never Just Click "Next" Clicking "next" repeatedly is the quickest way of installing apps on Windows - until you find you installed other programs on your computer without realizing it, thanks to OpenCandy. Let's do something about that. Read More during the installation.

After installation, Bitdefender will ask you to sign into an account. Even if you click Not Now, the software won’t work until you add your account. You can use a disposable email service Need a Disposable Email Address? Try These Great Services Need to send or receive an email without using your real address? Here are some great services that let you do just that. Read More to create a throwaway account if you don’t want to provide your real one.

top free antivirus apps no nag screens bitdefender free

Once you’ve activated Bitdefender, click the gear icon at the top of the window and select Account info. Disable the Display notifications with special offers option to prevent popups for the paid version of Bitdefender from showing up. After that, you shouldn’t need to pop open its panel again.

top free antivirus apps no nag screens bitdefender free

Download: Bitdefender Antivirus Free

5. Panda Free Antivirus

Panda is a solid third-party antivirus. It includes a few “special offers” during installation and you must disable its ads, but doing so is easy enough so we’ve included it in the fifth spot here.

When you install it, make sure to uncheck the three boxes to avoid installing Panda’s useless browser extension and changing your homepage and search provider. Panda will ask for an email address to create an account when you launch it, but you can close this as the app works fine without it.

top free antivirus apps no nag screens panda free

Once you have Panda installed, you need to flip one setting to disable all annoyances. Open the app and click the Menu icon in the upper-left corner of the window. Select Settings and scroll down to the bottom of the General tab. Uncheck Show Panda news and Show relevant security news here.

top free antivirus apps no nag screens panda free

Now Panda will keep quiet unless it detects a problem. Plus, Panda doesn’t pile a load of extra garbage into its free offering. Since it’s a cloud antivirus, this makes for a relatively light package.

Download: Panda Free Antivirus

Honorable Mention: Avira

Avira is one of the “big three” antivirus providers (along with Avast and AVG), and arguably the least annoying of them. As long as you avoid installing the extra junk, it’s a relatively light antivirus. However, while we didn’t see any in our testing, some users have reported that Avira occasionally displays a popup advertising its premium product. Thus we excluded it from the main list above, but still included it here in case you hate all five of the above solutions.

When you head to Avira’s download page, make sure you download the Free Antivirus and not Free Security Suite when offered. The latter packs in a ton of bloat that you don’t need.

top free antivirus apps no nag screens avira free

Once Avira starts installing, avoid installing any of the extra nonsense. Don’t click Install for free on any of the extras like Avira Safe Shopping and Avira System Speedup. You can click the Skip all text in the upper-right and wait for Avira to finish up the install. We’ve examined why antivirus browser extensions aren’t worth installing Is Avira Browser Safety a Necessary Extension? Avira Browser Safety sounds like a great way to stay safe online, but do you really need this extension? Let's take a look at what it does for you. Read More if you’re curious.

If you dig into Avira’s settings by clicking the Settings gear in the bottom-left of the program’s window, you can select General, then turn off Acoustic alerts and Warnings if you wish. These are actual problems that you may want notifications for, however.

top free antivirus apps no nag screens avira free

We mentioned the occasional popup for Avira Pro. Unfortunately you can’t disable this, but you can shut the ads up using the free utility BgPKiller. This small tool watches for Avira ads and blocks them before you see them. It’s up to you whether trying this solution is worth it or not.

Download: Avira Free Antivirus

A Note on Antivirus Solutions

Two huge antivirus names — AVG and Avast — are absent from this list. This is because both of these programs cram a ton of obnoxious trash into their free offerings. If you value a nag-free experience above all else, they simply aren’t worth using in light of other solutions.

In fact, some think that all free third-party antivirus tools aren’t worth using anymore. They can break other programs or make them less secure, track you Is Your Antivirus Tracking You? Here's What You Need to Know Free antivirus software comes with a price: your privacy. It's time to switch to antivirus software that doesn't track you. Read More , install browser extensions you don’t need, and as we’ve seen here, incessantly nag you to upgrade to a paid product you don’t need. That sounds a bit too much like malware, doesn’t it?

If you have Windows 10 and a bit of common sense, Windows Defender is your best option to avoid all this. It’s built into Windows, and Microsoft has incentive to keep it solid instead of gimping the free version and charging you to upgrade it. There’s no guarantee that any of the above programs, aside from Defender, couldn’t change their model and start nagging you to upgrade in the future.

What Antivirus Do You Use?

Now you have several antivirus programs you can choose from, all nag-free. There’s really no reason to use an antivirus that displays popups all the time and foists junk onto your system. Common wisdom years ago might have been that you needed Avast or AVG, but those days are behind us.

Remember that no matter what antivirus you use, it doesn’t take care of everything 3 Things Your Antivirus Doesn't Take Care Of Antivirus softwre should be installed on every computer, but what doesn't it take care of? Which aspects of your antivirus could leave you or your business exposed, even when you've installed and updated? Read More .

What antivirus is installed on your computer? Do you value a nag-free experience, put up with the ads, or even pay for a premium offering? Tell us in the comments!

Related topics: Antivirus, Bitdefender, Windows Defender.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. jacki
    May 28, 2020 at 7:54 am

    Are you kidding including PANDA in this. I just installed Panda a few days ago & every hour or so it pops up a nag screen with a statement of how long I have till the discount is removed on the cheaper upgrade. It's the very reason I ran a search under "free av no nags......" *slaps forehead

    • Ben Stegner
      May 28, 2020 at 3:40 pm

      Hey Jacki, as you may have seen, this article was published in November of 2017. When I wrote it and included Panda, I had had a good experience with the software, as it never displayed any nag screens after disabling the mentioned checkbox.

      A lot can change in a few years, though, so I'm sorry you had a poor experience with it. If we update this article in the future, I'll make sure the list is full of current nag-free apps.

  2. Santiago
    October 28, 2019 at 4:29 pm

    I've been using Bitdefender Free Edition paired with Cybereason's RansomFree for more than a year on two machines (one with Windows 7 with low resources and another with Windows 10). So far so good.

  3. Petar
    April 10, 2019 at 7:58 pm

    Kaspersky Free

  4. William Dinkins
    January 25, 2018 at 3:37 am

    Anybody heard of Emsisoft Anti Malware? It's not free but it does an excellent job of protecting your computer.

  5. Joan
    December 12, 2017 at 9:41 pm

    Thanks for this article Ben. I got so fed up with Malwarebytes forcing nag screens on us every minute. Two days ago, I tried Avira, which nags trying to run routine checks and then I uninstalled it. Why do these companies try to trick us into thinking their software is really free instead of letting us decide to use it or not?

  6. Ken Driver
    November 17, 2017 at 6:40 pm

    Bitdefender free. I'm no expert but it seems to work, without any nags, but it sometimes will block a new program from installing.

  7. JIm Kahn
    November 17, 2017 at 7:43 am

    I like Avast, it has the ability to look at the software you have on your system, and check for updates on some of them, and if you choose download and install updates as you choose. Filehippo app manager does something similar, but the programs they check are somewhat different. Avast does advertise upgrades to the free product occasionally.

    • Ben Stegner
      November 17, 2017 at 3:55 pm

      I used to like Avast but it's been bogged down with so much nonsense that I don't recommend it anymore. The software updater is OK but I find it annoying and other free tools do the job just fine.

      If you toggle off all the extras it's tolerable, but I'd just rather not deal with it.

  8. bruce w fowler
    November 16, 2017 at 4:56 pm

    Please do NOT waste my attention span - time by not indicating OS supported.

    • Ben Stegner
      November 16, 2017 at 5:15 pm

      Considering that most Linux users would laugh at the idea of using an antivirus and most Mac users don't think they need one, I figured it was understood that this was for Windows. But I apologize that this wasn't clear.

      • bruce w fowler
        November 16, 2017 at 5:56 pm

        Thank you. Linuxians use AV SW as disease prevention, what might be thought of as e-herd immunity. Being "Typhoid Mary" is not conducive to social longevity.

      • Merlin
        November 17, 2017 at 8:40 pm

        The Apple screen on the background of the title does indeed point towards Windoze users... ;-)
        Don't get me wrong, I work with Windoze, Linux and Apple products, but I think your above answer feels a bit awkward after seeing that background picture.

        • Ben Stegner
          November 22, 2017 at 4:01 pm

          Authors usually do not set their own featured images for an article, so the image at the top of the post isn't necessarily representative of the content. I added "for Windows" in the introduction to clear this all up.

  9. Lewallen
    November 9, 2017 at 3:57 am

    Avira all the way. It's been the top product in almost all of the actual tests on AV-Comparatives (which is the only non-biased AV test).

  10. Rudy
    November 7, 2017 at 11:04 pm

    Defender on windows and nothing on Ubuntu. Nord VPN on both.