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The free version's insistence on running in autopilot mode is a double-edged sword, making the process of virus management easy but taking it out of the user's hands; while we're inclined to trust it, there have been cases in the past of automatic systems going slightly rogue, such as the incident a few years back when Panda Antivirus identified itself as a virus and locked up a large number of Windows systems.
While Bitdefender isn't exactly popup-free – it can be quite annoying, in fact – it's clean, clever, and efficient enough to take our top spot this time.
As you would expect, Kaspersky Free is a scaled down version of the full program, ditching additional features such as privacy protection and safe payment sandboxes to concentrate on powerful, no-frills and - most importantly - free protection for your PC.
Once again we've consulted the experts at to find the most effective virus protection, and we've listened to your comments regarding usability, too.
Free antivirus without popups, or at least some sort of seedy side, is a bit of a pipe dream – free AV is more of an advert than an altruistic gift.
It's fair to suggest that Windows 10's built-in antivirus solution, Windows Defender, is the last free AV app you should trust to keep your system clean.
Not that it's overtly bad – although it does tail behind just about every third-party antivirus solution – but because it has a big target painted on it for attackers.
The introduction of a free security suite to optionally run alongside it – with ransomware and phishing protection, a 500MB/month VPN and various speedup promises – just sweetens the deal.