The Best Free Malware Removal Tools 2024

Are you in the market for free malware removal software but don’t know where to start looking? We take the guesswork out and recommend some of the best tools we’ve found.
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If you’re looking for a free malware removal tool, we’re here to help. Not all free resources are good, but we’ve found Avast, Bitdefender, and TotalAV to be solid choices for removing spyware, adware, keyloggers, and worse. All of these have upgrades that you may decide to buy later, but the free options work in a pinch.

We chose these recommendations based on their value, cost, security protection, and standout qualities. All of these tested recommendations are easy to use and offer full malware coverage for free, but what really differentiates these antivirus solutions is their features. 

For instance, TotalAV Free comes with WebShield, which helps you avoid clicking on malicious links. Avast Free Antivirus comes chockful of features like Wi-Fi network security, website scanning, and comprehensive phishing protection. Bitdefender Antivirus Free is one of our recommended products for Windows and Android users, specifically because it includes options like an autopilot feature that scans your mobile device against Android threats.

We’ll explore the specifics of the best malware removal tools so you can get the protection you need, whether you have an infection now or want to guard against a future threat.

In this article
The best free malware removal tools
Top 3 free malware removal tools compared
TotalAV Free: Best for real-time protection
Avast Free Antivirus: Best value
Bitdefender Antivirus Free: Best for Windows and Android
Honorable mentions
Best free malware removal tools FAQs
Bottom line: The best malware removal tools

The best free malware removal tools

When considering the best free malware removal tools, you want software with high ratings from independent testing sites. You also should expect real-time protection so that your system is at less risk. The best free anti-malware solutions we found come with features designed to keep you safe from existing and evolving malware threats.

Top 3 free malware removal tools compared




Compatibility Windows, Android, macOS, iOS Windows, Android, macOS, iOS Windows, Android, macOS, iOS
Real-time protection
Malware removal
Ransomware protection
Phishing protection
Paid plans start at $29.00/first yr $48.60/first yr $49.99/first yr
Learn more Get TotalAV
Read TotalAV Review
Get Avast
Read Avast Review
Get Bitdefender
Read Bitdefender Review

Quick tip: Malware stands for malicious software and is an umbrella term for multiple different types of cybersecurity threats like ransomware, adware, spyware, and more.

TotalAV Free: Best for real-time protection

No Fuss, Real-Time Online and Mobile Protection
4.8
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On TotalAV's website
Antivirus Software
TotalAV
First year discount on paid plans
  • Real-time protection from viruses, malware, and online threats
  • Blocks tracking cookies and ads, proactively monitors for data breaches, and option to schedule smart scans
  • 100% compatible with Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS operating systems on up to 3 devices
  • Lacks firewall protection

What we liked

As antivirus software goes, we were happy TotalAV Antivirus Free was easy to use and provided a no-nonsense way to have more online security. It includes the necessities like spyware, adware, and ransomware protection, but the real magic lies in the extras you get with TotalAV’s free plan.

The data breach scanner alerts you if your email or passwords are compromised. This gives you a heads-up to change your login info before it’s too late. We also like the Advanced WebShield feature, which protects you against malicious websites that try to steal your info or infect your device with malware.

Additionally, you’ll get optimization and privacy tools like the tracking cookie remover and browser cleaner.

With TotalAV’s paid plans, you get options like phishing protection, a VPN, and TotalAV’s ad blocker, Total Adblock. You can even view your hard drive summary with the Disk Usage Results feature.

TotalAV's WebShield lets you know if a web page is safe to visit.

What we didn’t like

We had a few issues with this malware removal tool. Unfortunately, when we tested the password manager that came with the paid plan, the system crashed multiple times. That was frustrating and limited our ability to test the feature properly.

Another problem was with the main dashboard. When returning there after using some of the features, we received a notification that the protection was disabled. Even after enabling the software again, it instructed us to go through the same steps to give TotalAV full disk access. The repetitive process was a bit annoying to say the least.

Also, TotalAV doesn’t seem to make a clear distinction between the WebShield feature and real-time protection. That can become confusing when navigating through the software options.

TotalAV Free specs

Real-time protection Yes
Malware removal Yes
Ransomware protection Yes
Phishing protection Yes
Extras Junk cleaner, browser cleanup, tracking cookies remover
Compatibility Windows, Android, macOS, iOS
Paid plans start at $29.00/first yr
Learn more Get TotalAV
Read TotalAV Review

Avast Free Antivirus: Best value

4.8
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On Avast's website
Avast
  • High antivirus test scores
  • Ransomware protection
  • No parental controls

What we liked

There’s a lot to like about the free malware removal tool Avast offers, like real-time protection. This feature works in the background while you work and isn’t noticeable, so you can get on with what you need to do. We also found that Avast doesn’t cause performance issues, which sometimes happens with antivirus software.

In addition to protecting against viruses, adware, spyware, Trojans, and other malware, Avast Free Antivirus scans websites to keep you safe from malware threats and to secure your online credentials. The network inspection tool will check any new networks you access for security vulnerabilities. You get Wi-Fi network security plus real-time phishing protection. 

The Avast Premium Security Deep Scan page at 80%.

What we didn’t like

Avast's firewall is available only for Windows, so if you use a Mac, you’ll miss out on that extra protection. And although we think the Stay Safe Virus Guarantee is a great feature to include, we don’t think you should have to auto-renew to get it.

Even so, you may want to upgrade to Avast’s paid plan if you’d like to take advantage of the Stay Safe Virus Guarantee. With that feature, if you auto-renew your plan, Avast refunds your money if you get a virus the software cannot remove or fix. This guarantee shouldn’t worry you, though, since Avast has excellent malware detection rates.

You’ll also get the Avast Email Guardian that flags suspicious email threats before they arrive in your inbox. This is even better than the free plan’s email scanning tool and a good way to prevent you or a family member from accidentally clicking on spam mail and downloading spyware.

But even with the paid subscription, you won’t have access to parental controls. If you have a family, not having a way to keep your children safer online could be a dealbreaker.

Avast Free Antivirus specs

Real-time protection Yes
Malware removal Yes
Ransomware protection Yes
Phishing protection Yes
Extras Stay Safe Virus Guarantee, VPN, Web Shield, Wi-Fi network inspector
Compatibility Windows, Android, macOS, iOS
Paid plans start at $48.60/first yr
Learn more Get Avast
Read Avast Review

Bitdefender Antivirus Free: Best for Windows and Android

4.8
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On Bitdefender's website
Bitdefender
  • Antivirus software offering reliable security
  • Simple yet powerful interface tools
  • Perfect protection score in third-party tests
  • Premium features incur additional subscription fees

What we liked

Bitdefender Antivirus Free is easy to install and launch without any fuss. It takes mere minutes, and you’re ready to start using Bitdefender. You also get anti-fraud technology, SafePay, as well as a VPN to help keep you safe from online scammers.

The free plan protects against the all-too-familiar rootkits, Trojans, and ransomware, as well as newer types of threats like cryptojacking and AI-powered phishing attacks. This is key since malware is ever-evolving and even a free anti-malware tool needs to keep up in order to protect your devices.

Of course, like most antivirus programs, Bitdefender’s paid versions offer more features, such as Network Threat Prevention, Rescue Environment, and a secure VPN.

Screenshot of Bitdefender interface

What we didn’t like

Bitdefender may be the best antivirus software for Windows, but if you use a Mac, you’ll need to get the free Virus Scanner for Mac from the App Store.

Although we’re accustomed to most antivirus products catering more to Windows users, it’s disappointing when so many features aren’t available for macOS. As the name suggests, the Virus Scanner for Mac tool focuses primarily on scanning your device. Even so, we aren’t sure why Bitdefender left out scheduled scanning and a file shredder for macOS.

We also didn’t like that Bitdefender comes in two parts. You have the antivirus app and the Bitdefender Central browser hub. You must be logged into the browser hub to set up parental controls, and we found that extra step made the whole process not user-friendly.

Bitdefender Antivirus Free specs

Real-time protection Yes
Malware removal Yes
Ransomware protection Yes
Phishing protection Yes
Extras Cryptojacking and AI-powered phishing protection
Compatibility Windows, Android, macOS, iOS
Paid plans start at $49.99/first yr
Learn more Get Bitdefender
Read Bitdefender Review

Honorable mentions

If you need malware security protection but the featured antivirus programs just don't fit the bill, consider these tested alternatives:

  • McAfee: McAfee offers a premium security suite with different plans to fit almost any budget. While its Malware Cleaner tool is free (and also difficult to find — you’ll need to download it from the help article), you can also get a 30-day trial of McAfee Total Protection, which includes coverage for unlimited devices and a VPN.

    Get McAfee | Read Our McAfee Review
  • Malwarebytes: This is a good antivirus program that can detect malware and includes bonus features at reasonable prices. Malwarebytes free protects against ransomware, adware, and spyware and also removes any malware it finds. If you purchase Malwarebytes Premium, you don’t need to worry about anti-malware vs. antivirus because the security software covers both.

    Read Our Malwarebytes Review
  • Kaspersky: Kaspersky is better for Windows than macOS, but may come with a potential national security threat that we covered in our review. Still, it has excellent third-party protection scores, and its free plan guards against Trojans, viruses, malware, ransomware, and even stalkerware.

    Read Our Kaspersky Review

Best free malware removal tools FAQs


+

What’s the best way to remove malware for free?

The best way to remove malware for free is to use a reputable anti-malware tool. We suggest looking into TotalAV Free, Avast Free, or Bitdefender Free Antivirus as a starting point.


+

What are the best free malware and spyware removal programs?

The best free malware and spyware removal programs may be different depending on your unique needs. For example, Bitdefender is better for Windows users than Mac users because it includes more features for that operating system. An all-around comprehensive choice is TotalAV, which offers free coverage for both Windows and macOS.


+

Can I remove malware myself?

It’s best to use a malware removal tool because it can check the places where malware is known to hide. To remove malware yourself, you’d need to know where to look, and there’s more of a chance that you could miss something.


+

Is there a completely free version of Malwarebytes?

There is a completely free version of Malwarebytes that can find and remove threats. The download page does encourage you to upgrade to Malwarebytes Premium for the best results, but that’s up to your discretion.

Bottom line: The best malware removal tools

We chose TotalAV, Avast, and Bitdefender as the best free malware removal tools. TotalAV has a free option that also comes with device cleanup and privacy tools. The Avast network scanner checks your Wi-Fi and alerts you if it finds security vulnerabilities. Bitdefender focuses on new technology threats like cryptojacking and AI phishing attacks. 

If you’ve sorted through those malware protection options and are still on the fence, don’t forget our honorable mentions. McAfee and Malwarebytes are highly rated and come with features many people love. If you decide on Kaspersky, read the privacy policy and be aware that it may come with national security threats.

Finding the right malware removal tool doesn’t have to be a major headache. We’ve dug through dozens of antivirus solutions to find the ones that protect you from multiple types of malware and also offer advanced features — on top of offering a free download. If you’re still searching for a malware scanner or antivirus tools, check out our guide to the best antivirus software for more recommendations.

3 best malware removal tools

Paid plans start at Best for Learn more

$29.00/first yr Best for real-time protection Get TotalAV
Read TotalAV Review

$48.60/first yr Best value Get Avast
Read Avast Review

$49.99/first yr Best for Windows and Android Get Bitdefender
Read Bitdefender Review
No Fuss, Real-Time Online and Mobile Protection
4.8
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On TotalAV's website
Antivirus Software
TotalAV
First year discount on paid plans
  • Real-time protection from viruses, malware, and online threats
  • Blocks tracking cookies and ads, proactively monitors for data breaches, and option to schedule smart scans
  • 100% compatible with Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS operating systems on up to 3 devices
  • Lacks firewall protection
Author Details
Patti Croft is a seasoned writer who specializes in all things technology. She holds a B.S. in Computer Science and carries a wealth of hands-on experience thanks to her background as a technical analyst and security specialist.