April 16, 2021

About “Free Antivirus” software

I see many questions revolving around “free” antivirus software.
You need to first understand that:

“Free” software is cut-down software. It lacks many important security features the paid version includes. It’s probably wonky from the missing parts.

Nothing is free. Don’t whine about the popup ads or privacy invasion when you use a “free” antivirus.

Be grateful. If you like the software, buy it.

You’re better off using Windows 10 Defender than installing any “free” antivirus. Its very good but it doesn’t protect Chrome or Firefox

If you have questions about “free” software, be aware that most pros use paid AV software and or a mixed variety, which is going to be different.

Nobody wants to spend more money than they have to. I get that. No harm in looking for coupons or deals.

I wish antivirus companies would stop giving out “free” antivirus. It’s causing misconceptions about it’s use.



Defender protects Chrome and Firefox depending on how you define ‘protect’, both at the real-time protection level (file read, or file write), as well as the TCPIP level if you configure the software properly (Network Protection). It also publishes the AMSI interface where applications can request a scan from the AV software, which is typically used by browsers when downloads are requested.

There’s no end user interface for this, but if you enable Network Protection via local policy or the registry all port 80 or 443 traffic will go through the Defender SmartScreen service regardless of source (Edge, Chrome, that game cheat exe you just downloaded).

You can also increase the paranoia of behavior detections with a tool like ConfigureDefender, (or exceedingly clever PowerShell or registry tweaking) which will allow you to access the more powerful, enterprise level functionality of the Defender client. [https://github.com/AndyFul/ConfigureDefender](https://github.com/AndyFul/ConfigureDefender)

Defender also has a paid version, but not for consumers. It’s current name is Microsoft Defender for Endpoint, and it is a whole other thing. Overkill for consumers.

Defender out of the box is ‘good’ AV. Properly configured, it stacks up with the best out there.

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