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Best free malware removal tools 2020: Clean your hard drive with these services

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

From a cyber security perspective, the pandemic has provided plenty of opportunity for purveyors of malware. Since we went into lockdown and companies rapidly adopted flexible working, malware and ransomware attacks have increased as companies have become more vulnerable.

Reports also suggest that more malware tools have been made available on the dark web during the pandemic. In September, Kasperksy warned Android users that the full source code for the Cerberus banking malware has been released online after being leaked by one of its developers.

Whatever the type of malware and its route onto your device, it's not something you want crawling around your system, so immediate removal is the best course of action. Thankfully, there are a number of malware removal tools around and many of them are free, although some have paid upgrades.

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware

Malwarebytes anti virus software on smartphone

Available to download here.

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Malwarebytes is perhaps one of the better-known anti-malware tools on the market today, largely thanks to its success at tackling many threats that other brands seem to miss. It’s now a go-to tool for those looking for ‘fire and forget’ protection, as its real-time scanning is able to trawl through a system and detect threats automatically in the background.

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.

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 a 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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