Best Free Windows Desktop Software

 
Security-48.pngSecurity and Privacy
 

Best Free Anonymous Surfing Service for Windows

Product ScreenshotCyberGhost VPN -- Download | Review

"A VPN (Virtual Private Network) based in Germany, providing a basic, attractive, and user-friendly design. It uses 128-bit AES encryption on all connections to ensure a high level of anonymity, and uses data compression to make connections faster.

The free service allows 1 GB a month, which is enough for normal surfing. You must register in order to use this service."

What's it for? - Anonymity services safely transmit information with little risk of local interception, making them ideal for surfing on open Wi-Fi networks or in hotels while traveling.

 

Best Free Antivirus Software for Windows

Product ScreenshotAvast! Free Antivirus -- Download | Review

"Avast has the most features of all free antivirus programs, including full real-time capabilities (web, e-mail, IM, P2P, network, script, and behavior shields), boot-time scanning, a site ratings plugin, and a light sandbox.

It has high detection rates of malware and is light on resources. But the automatic sandbox may confuse average users (by default a pop up asks you whether an application should be sandboxed or not)."

High Quality Alternatives:

  • Microsoft Security Essentials: "A great choice for average users because of minimal user interaction (automatically updates and removes threats). Detection rates are very good (particularly for rootkits). More impressively, MSE has few false positives and good removal of existing malware." Chosen for Gizmo's 9 great freeware.

  • Panda Cloud Antivirus: "Panda is also an excellent choice for average users with a simple interface and minimal user interaction (automatically updates and removes threats). Detection rates are very high (but detection of real-world threats is slightly lower than the competition). A behavioral blocker and web protection help increase your security."

Related: Antivirus programs aren't a magical incantation to banish evil spirits, so we recommend using safe practices (and taking a look at our security guides ).

What's it for? - Provides an essential layer of protection from a multitude of virus, trojan, worm, spyware, adware, and rootkit infections. Our top picks have reasonably good detection rates for all forms of malware. Use one (and only one) antivirus program for real-time protection.

 

Best Free Browser Protection Utility for Windows

Product ScreenshotSandboxie -- Download | Review

"Within the virtual sandbox provided by Sandboxie, your browsing (or other activities that you sandbox) are totally isolated from the vital portions of your PC. Any virus, trojan, worm, spyware or adware threats that 'infected' your PC while browsing will be eliminated.

It can cause problems on some PCs, so backup before installing.

Related: Alternatively, you can isolate your browser and other Internet facing applications with GeSWall. It provides excellent security and is a worthy alternative to Sandboxie."

What's it for? - Browser protection utilities like Sandboxie and GeSWall can greatly increase your defenses against drive-by downloads and other vulnerabilities. Instead of only reacting to malware, they proactively protect your computer.

 

Best Free Firewall for Windows

Product ScreenshotPrivateFirewall -- Download | Review

A former commercial product, Private Firewall is now unrestricted freeware. It is a proactive multi-layer security solution, offering behaviour blocking technology alongside standard firewall protection. Using Behavioral-based Monitoring, it features zero-hour virus, spyware, and malware protection, process and application security, and registry protection, just to name a few. It is definitely a feature-packed firewall/HIPS solution.

 

Best Free Intrusion Prevention and Detection Utility (HIPS) for Windows

Malware Defender -- Download | Review

"In addition to the usual file, registry and application modules, Malware Defender also provides network protection should you choose to enable it, including a connections monitor." If you use a simple firewall (such as the built-in windows firewall), then a HIPS program can be a potent second layer of defense. Read the article for additional lite HIPS options.

 

Best Free Parental Filter for Windows

Norton Safety Minder -- Download | Review

"It is a pleasure to use. For a start, it is the most comprehensive of the free programs. It has filtering and monitoring for web surfing, social networks, email, instant messaging, and contacts. It also handles multiple user accounts which is good for one PC with many users but does increase the work to set up."

 

Best Free Rootkit Scanner for Windows

Kaspersky TDSSKiller -- Download | Review

"Applications that specialize in the detection and removal of rootkits."

 

Best Free Site Link Adviser for Windows

WOT -- Download | Review

Quickly rates sites and links, uses an automatic warning or blocking screen to help you avoid accidentally interacting with potentially bad websites, and provides informative ratings and user comments without censoring the visibility of sites. Read the article for a plethora of ways to improve your online safety.

 

Best Free Software Update Monitor for Windows

Product Screenshot Secunia PSI or Software Update Monitor (SUMo) -- Review

"Secunia scans for insecure software and helps you quickly update risky products like browsers, PDF readers, Sun Java, office software, email software, media players, instant messengers, download managers, P2P clients, etc.

Faster than Secunia's PSI, SUMo is perhaps the best software update monitor for expert users. It adds portable software and isn't restricted to any one download site. However, it doesn't provide direct download links. Warning: download the "Lite" or ZIP/7z versions to avoid the controversial RK and OpenCandy."

Related: We also have tips to follow in our system updates snippet.

What's it for? - Lets you massively check for new software versions, so you can update old software to get the latest features or security fixes. Both of our top picks scan for portable apps too (either automatically or after you set them to scan a custom folder).

 

Best Free Spyware And Adware Remover for Windows

Product ScreenshotSpyBot-- Download | Review

"I tried to install sweetpacks toolbar and Spybot put up a warning.  Spybot's full scan will also check for rootkit malware."

Related: We also have steps to follow in our check for infections snippet.

What's it for? - As anti-virus programs don't detect 100% of threats, anti-malware scanning is still a must. On-demand scanners/removers provide a second opinion and can find unique threats.

 

Best Free Trojan Scanner/Trojan Remover for Windows

Emsisoft Anti Malware -- Download | Review

"Applications that specialize in the detection and removal of Trojans."

 

 
 
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Comments

by tberi on 27. January 2013 - 20:21  (104868)

I am unable to access my registry server license key # to complete/activate the initial scan/repair process for [name removed].

by MidnightCowboy on 27. January 2013 - 23:37  (104872)

Please contact the support service from where you obtained the product. MC - Site Manager.

by blaszta on 5. March 2013 - 9:34  (105920)

No review on AOMEI Backupper? I found it has very extensive feature for disk imaging software, plus it's free for personal and commercial use.

The product you posted has an overall poor WOT rating (Web Of Trust) and has been spammed here on numerous occasions therefore it will not be featured. MC - Site Manager.

by blaszta on 5. March 2013 - 9:40  (105956)

My WOT icon still green when I visit the website. That's very unfortunate.. looks like a good program but I can't find any review of AOMEI Backupper from reputable website yet.

by MidnightCowboy on 5. March 2013 - 9:49  (105959)

Two of the ratings are already at orange and the others are marginal. MC - Site Manager.

http://www.mywot.com/en/scorecard/aomeitech.com?utm_source=addon&utm_con...

by blaszta on 5. March 2013 - 9:56  (105961)

Oh I see.. I only see the WOT icon at the end of the link (I'm using WOT extension in Chrome), never actually roll over on it to see the details :)

by MidnightCowboy on 5. March 2013 - 10:03  (105962)

Sometimes the WOT ratings can be manipulated maliciously by say rival vendors or fanboys of other products but this practice is not as widespread as the "knockers" of WOT would have you believe, and anyone so affected can have it rectified via dialogue with Web Of Trust. That said, we were inundated with Aomei spam here at one point which is no doubt where many of the adverse ratings stem from. MC - Site Manager.

by RandyDoqa on 12. September 2013 - 1:14  (110660)

Can you please update this page and the pages "2 - 8" in a dynamic way, because i find differences in the best choices between those pages and the original page which have the review of the software, and in some reviews as "Best Free Antivirus for Windows" and "Best Free Firewall for Windows" i found that the best choices doesn't have the highest rate by the person who updated the reviews, so please i need a clear view to know what is the best choice in every category.

I rely on your website to get the best freewares for my PCs, and i am completely sure that other millions of users did too, so please keep all the reviews up to date and clear in the best choices.

By the way if you need a help in updating those pages i can do it for you, i noticed that the last update was in 8 of July and we are in 12 of September, it is a long distance, so if i can help i am ready for that.

And thank you so much for your reviews.

by joeguru on 15. September 2013 - 14:39  (110728)

Thank you again for pointing out the issues. As the new editor for this category I reviewed all the pages and Best Of entries finding a total of 6 issues. These will be resolved asap. Also thank you for offering to help. If you would like to be an editor, please see the link titled Become a Reviewer in the left hand sidebar menu.

by ejmfoley on 21. October 2013 - 6:34  (111630)

S.I.W. isn't free any longer.

by joeguru on 28. October 2013 - 3:47  (111820)

The portable version our link provides is free.

by nicholasbbyrd on 26. November 2013 - 18:17  (112554)

I was wondering if anyone has used any of the recent versions of Puran Utilities, especially Puran Defrag since they all became free for personal and non-commercial use? Now,it does bundle with an opt-out version of the Babylon Toolbar but then so do many free utilities these days, or at least some toolbar such as Bing or Google. The free version does include boot-time defragmentation of the MFT, Pagefile, and systems files. I'm testing it today, it seems like the site has a lot of useful utilities and I watched it carefully with a file monitoring program during install, didn't seem to bring anything unwanted in.

Edit: I also wanted to thank you and your team for this very useful website, it's allowed me to feel comfortable directing some of my less tech-savy, but curious to learn, friends and clients to a site that I know will give a thorough peer review before giving any piece of software the okay. I've found quite a few here myself, including ones I now own a small business license for, Teamviewer alone allowed me to expand my still small but growing tech service company.

by Babelbest on 7. April 2014 - 5:40  (115543)

Great, wonderful feedback

by NondiPloom on 3. May 2014 - 2:28  (116009)

Avast. The latest update requires you to allow Avast to gather any information it wants about you, including but not limited to the websites you visit and the games you play. It seems that if you don't update, you don't get the virus definition updates any more.

I declined and will look for an alternative.

by rickybobby on 7. June 2014 - 19:35  (116668)

Page 4, 'Best Free File Encryption Utility for Windows' mentions Axcrypt as the pick, but it talks about Sophos Free Encryption. Is that right? or am I missing something?

by MidnightCowboy on 8. June 2014 - 4:04  (116672)

Thank you for pointing this out. The description for AxCrypt has now been corrected. MC - Site Manager.

by kjohnny76 on 8. June 2014 - 21:50  (116691)

What Is The Name Of The Site That Tells You How To CONfig Facebook Tweeter A bunch Of Sites It was On The Site But A Can Not Find it Plus It Has A Download To That will tell you why your on them sites tells you what you need to config please help?

by AussieExpat on 11. August 2014 - 7:16  (117882)

This is not a comment on any other person's submissions, but a point of information -- even if one takes special care not to install any of the "free software" via the "obvious options" in custom installs, several antimalware programs - Malwarebytes, herdProtect, AdwCleaner, for example, will still identify many of these apps as having adware "in them" --- in particular, some of the "editor's choices" -- like Freemake converter, Pazera free audio extractor, not to mention the "huge" problem with Freecorder -- good program, but it comes with adware in the browser extensions, possibly even in the main program -- NOTHING is ever free, and software makers aren't interested in restricting their advertising revenues -- even if one purchases the Freecorder "ad-free" version, rather than just the free version. Clearly, we've reached the stage where such adware checkers are "compulsory" utilities.

by angleco on 5. February 2015 - 14:02  (120974)

It would appear that WPS Office has changed from from to a subscription model as of December, 2014. The free version is still available at ksoft.com

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