It's hard to parse the hype for antivirus apps, with each claiming that it's the best. Here are our top three choices to keep the nasties off your PC.

  • Avast Free Antivirus

    Avast Free Antivirus

    In the tripartite competition between the most popular free antivirus software, Avast Free Antivirus has arguably gotten the least attention outside of Europe, but we expect that to change. Avast's recent independent third-party testing has been notably solid, able to hold its own against better-known programs from Symantec and Microsoft.

    Avast doesn't skimp on the protection it offers, either. It guards your PC with multiple shields, a robust set of tools, and options to adjust the sensitivity level. With immediate real-time protection, clockwork updates, and much more, this free software is highly regarded. Read full review

  • AVG AntiVirus Free

    AVG AntiVirus Free

    Although AVG has flagged a little in the past few years, AVG Anti-Virus Free 2013 breathes some new life into one of the most popular security programs around with a shorter install, better usability, and faster scans.

    The suite continues to offer an excellent if not perfect level of security as it faces more intense competition from other free and paid security suite makers. Fans of AVG will definitely want to upgrade, and new users should consider it if they're looking for an effective freeware solution with solid link-evaluating features. Read full review

  • Panda Free Antivirus

    Panda Free Antivirus

    Despite still lacking some of the deeper customization heft that other free antivirus solutions have, most glaringly a scheduler, the program is not necessarily a bad choice for a stripped-down antivirus.

    It has added a full on-demand scan, and it runs at around 15MB of RAM when idle and around 60MB when scanning. It's a great choice for resource-conscious Netbook users. Panda Cloud Antivirus makes a decent, reasonable security choice for anybody looking to effectively balance security and system performance. Read full review