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Best free malware removal tools 2021: Clean your hard drive with these services

Worried your device is infected? Here are the tools you need to get rid of malicious software

Like all digital things, malware infections have surged during the pandemic. Reports of ransomware attacks are now a weekly (almost daily) occurrence and phishing statistics seem to be higher every time they're released.

Part of the issue is that the modern world is so tech savvy and digitally dependent; reportedly, there are more smartphones in the world than people and, of course, more apps than phones. To hackers, this presents an almost endless opportunity.

Although email and text attachments are often cited as the most popular vehicles for malware, there are many ways that your phone can become infected. For Android users, side-loading apps from services that are not the Google Play store can be malicious. And, there are plenty of cases where malware-disguised apps have been uploaded to the Play Store itself.

If you suspect your phone might have been infected with something nasty, you can be assured that there are many different tools available online to clean your handset. What's more, some of the best ones available are actually free and simple to use.

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware

Malwarebytes anti virus software on smartphone

Available to download here.

Malwarebytes is one of the best known anti-malware services available today, particularly because it has a knack for thwarting threats that other brands seem to miss. It's the 'go-to' tool for users that want so-called 'forget and fire' protections, with its real-time background scanning able to search through an operating system and detect harmful files automatically.

Most of the advanced capabilities, including real-time scanning, deeper root scans, and protection against malicious sites, are attached to the premium tiers and are only available for 14 days with a free account. However, premium pricing is quite reasonable, starting at just £2.50 per month.

That said, the free version is still an incredibly effective tool, provided you remember to scan your system regularly.

AVG AntiVirus Free

AVG logo displayed on a smartphone

Available to download here.

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AVG, another household name, is antivirus software that’s designed to sit in the background and scan your machine on a regular basis. Features include real-time security updates, malware and performance scanning, and protection against malicious downloads.

The software has seen a few different iterations over the past few years as developers have attempted to make it easier to use and understand what’s happening at a glance. This work has largely been a success, with the tool now showing you exactly how and where your system is being protected.

The premium version AVG offers more robust download protection, data encryption, and a built-in firewall, although this is on the more expensive end of the market at £50 per year.

The free version is perfectly useable, however, be prepared to deal with adverts.

BitDefender Antivirus Free Edition

Bitdefender logo on smartphone

Available to download here.

The best thing about Bitdefender's free malware removal tool is that it's ad-free, it doesn't nag you with lots of irritating pop-up notifications and it's easy to install, running quietly in the background.

The software features BitDefender's B-Have tech, which looks for apps that aren't behaving themselves. It also includes malware and spyware detection that can detect more rare threats, and performs a boot scan every time you start your PC. For all the reasons listed above, BitDefender's Antivirus Free Edition is one of our favourites out of the bunch.

Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool

Microsoft logo on smartphone

Available to download here.

The Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool is an anti-malware utility that checks computers running Windows 10, Windows 8, and most other versions of Windows for infections by specific, prevalent malicious software.

It's completely free to download and when the detection and malware removal process is complete, the tool displays a report describing the outcome, including which, if any, malware was detected and removed.

A simple, no-fuss easy-to-use anti-malware tool for the PC.

Panda Free Antivirus

Panda Anti virus software on mobile

Available to download here.

If you're looking for light anti-malware software, Panda Free Antivirus is the one. It's cloud-based, meaning all the heavy lifting is done on Panda's servers, leaving more of your PC's system memory to do other, more demanding jobs.

Easy to install and use, Panda's malware removal software includes Wi-Fi scanning, password management, encryption, parental controls, and many more, but best of all, it offers excellent real-time protection with no nagging messages about upgrades.

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