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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

With malware and other security threats rising over the last few years, made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s never been more important to safeguard your devices and software. Phishing incidents and ransomware attacks, too, have risen, alongside the number of exploited software vulnerabilities.

Given how dependent the business world is on technology, the attack surface expands exponentially with each passing year. This is, of course, a trend that’s only set to continue, with reportedly more smartphones in the world now than people. This reality offers cyber criminals endless opportunities to exploit and target individuals, as well as entire organisations.

Phishing is deemed the most widely deployed tactic for infiltrating businesses, with hackers able to take advantage of several routes to entry to infect your phone or laptop. Android users, for example, can be targeted through side-loading malicious apps that aren’t even hosted on the Google Play Store. There are, too, plenty of malicious apps uploaded to the official Android store itself, before they’re detected and taken down.

There are, however, a variety of tools at your disposal for removing malware infections should your device have inadvertently been infected. We’ve rounded up the best free services that you can use from today to wipe your handset of any nasty malware strains.

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware

Malwarebytes anti virus software on smartphone

Available to download here.

One of the most well-known anti-malware service providers, Malwarebytes, offers a ‘go-to’ platform for eradicating many of the harder-to-detect threats. Users looking for ‘forget and fire’ safeguards will enjoy its real-time background scanning capability, which lets the system scan the contents of an operating system to automatically flag harmful files.

The free version is highly effective at detecting and removing malicious infections, so long as you scan your system regularly. The most advanced features, however, such as real-time scanning and deeper root scans, are available for premium users only; they’re available for just 14 days with a free account. Pricing tiers are fairly reasonable, that said, and start from £2.50 per month.

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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