How to get a year of premium antivirus protection absolutely free

Protect your PC for 356 days using free trials from the biggest names in online security

Get a year of free premium antivirus

365 days of free premium antivirus

Threats like ransomware, software vulnerabilities and theft of personal data make online security more important than ever. Free antivirus packages give you basic protection from malicious software, but for more comprehensive coverage (including link-scanning, identity protection and parental controls), you'll have to dig into your wallet for a premium program.

Or will you? The world's top antivirus developers all offer fully-featured free trials of their security suites (usually 30 days, but sometimes longer) for you to evaluate the software and decide whether to invest in a licence. With so many demos available, it's perfectly possible to enjoy a full 365 days of premium protection completely free. Once the year is up, you'll know exactly which suite suits you best, and know that you're making the best decision. We've sampled the most generous trials available, and put together a list that will give you the best protection got a full year.

Only install one antivirus program at a time to avoid conflicts as security suites mistakenly flag one another as a threat. Some trials will detect other security tools automatically, but it's a good idea to use a third-party uninstaller like Revo Uninstaller or GeekUninstaller to make sure you've completely removed all traces before installing the next one (we used GeekUninstaller and had no issues).

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Norton Security Standard
Norton Security Standard makes it easy to drill down through the various categories to find the specific options you need

1. Norton Security Standard

Trial period: 30 days

Full price: £29.99, US$29.99, about AU$40 (one year, one device)

Key features:

  • Antivirus
  • Anti-spyware
  • Anti-malware
  • Phishing protection

Norton Security Standard doesn't overwhelm you with options, which is a key part of its appeal (together with Norton's swift reaction to new threats and vulnerabilities). The trial takes a while to install - both to download all the necessary basic components - and you'll need to register for a Norton account before using it for the first time.

Download Norton Security Standard freeOnce it's finished, you'll be presented with a refreshingly simple interface, featuring just a handful of main controls, which you can then drill down through to find the exact tool you want. It's a clever way to make a complex suite of options more accessible. Virus detection is excellent too, and if you like the trial enough to pay for the full version, you'll also have your own Norton tech on call 24/7 to help secure your PC from malicious software. There's even a money-back guarantee if anything slips through the net.

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Norton Security Deluxe
The Deluxe edition of Norton Security includes protection for your mobile devices - very handy

2. Norton Security Deluxe

Trial period: 30 days

Full price: £39.99, US$39.99, about AU$50 (one year, five devices)

Key features:

  • Antivirus
  • Anti-spyware
  • Anti-malware
  • Phishing protection
  • Multi-device support

Once you've tried the standard version of Norton's online security suite, try upgrading to Norton Security Deluxe, which lets you protect not just PCs, but also Macs, smartphones and tablets (up to five). Google typically does a good job preventing malicious apps entering the Play Store, but if anything unpleasant makes its way onto your mobile device, Norton will catch it before it causes damage (there's no equivalent safeguard for iOS - presumably due to Apple's more rigorous vetting process for developers).

Download Norton Security Deluxe freeThis edition also adds a convenient web portal for managing antivirus on your devices remotely, plus protection when you're shopping online.

Again, the interface is simple, and the key features are easy to find for the most part. The heading 'More Norton', which contains the Deluxe tools, could be more helpfully named, but since you've already used the Standard version you'll be used to its idiosyncrasies.

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Kaspersky Antivirus
Kaspersky offers a frill-free antivirus program that won't slow down your gaming PC

3. Kaspersky Antivirus

Trial period: 30 days

Full price: £22.49, US$39.95 (one year, one device) AU$61.95 (two years, one device)

Key features:

  • Antivirus
  • Anti-spyware
  • Gamer mode
  • Online management tools

Like Norton, Kaspersky is a well-known and trusted name in internet security, with a reputation to match. Kaspersky Antivirus doesn't offer the bells and whistles you'll get with its full security suite (more on that below), but it's a reliable antivirus package that, importantly, won't slow down your PC. The trial will only protect one device, so consider making it the one you use most for gaming or other taxing tasks that might be affected by a heftier security tool.

Download Kaspersky Antivirus freeWhen you install the trial you'll be prompted to enter a registration code, but you can ignore this - there's a link on the right that enables you to activate the trial version instead. Before performing your first scan, make sure you update the threat database. It's a slightly annoying extra step, but after this, updates will be performed automatically in the background.

You're offered a choice of full, quick and selective scans (the latter of which can target a specific drive or folder), as well as an option to scan external devices. It's recommended that you run a full scan straight after installation, after which you can schedule your own scans for convenient times.

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Kaspersky Internet Security 2016
For online banking and shopping, Kaspersky Internet Security 2016 is a good choice for protecting your data

4. Kaspersky Internet Security 2016

Trial period: 30 days

Full price: £35.99, US$79.95, AU$89.95 (one year, three devices)

Key features:

  • Antivirus
  • Anti-spyware
  • Gamer mode
  • Online management tools
  • Identity protection
  • Online banking protection
  • Parental controls

Kaspersky Internet Security 2016 contains all the same features as its standard antivirus, with extra tools for keeping youngsters safe online and protecting your financial details from potential snoopers while you're shopping and banking online. Its proprietary Safe Money tool checks the website you're visiting against a list of genuine online banking sites and alerts you if it doesn't match - ideal for banks like Natwest, which (confusingly) use a different domain for online customers. There's also webcam protection (in case Mark Zuckerberg's masking-tape-over-the-lens solution doesn't appeal)

Download Kaspersky Internet Security 2016 freeWhen you install the software for the first time, you'll be prompted to create a My Kaspersky account for the online management tools, but there's also a small 'Skip' link at the bottom right if you're not concerned with that particular feature.

As with the standard antivirus tool, you'll need to update the virus database manually before you get started, but after that it should be plain sailing. The interface is a little different, making the extra features obvious, which we appreciate. Safe Money get its own desktop icon so you can access it independently of the main suite, and offers welcome reassurance.

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G Data Internet Security 2016
Its parental controls make G Data's internet security suite an ideal choice for families

5. G Data Internet Security 2016

Trial period: 30 days

Full price: £34.95, US$49.95, about AU$70 (one year, one device)

Key features:

  • Antivirus
  • Parental controls
  • Firewall
  • Spam filter
  • Email encryption
  • File and program behavior monitoring
  • Secure online shopping and banking

G Data Internet Security 2016 is a particularly good option for families thanks to its built-in parental controls that protect little ones from inappropriate content. The trial edition only protects one PC though, so you'll want to install it on the main household machine and use something else for your other devices. It can also restrict the amount of time kids spend gaming, so there'll be no Minecraft until they've finished their homework.

Download G Data Internet Security 2016 freeIn addition to the usual protective software, G Data's internet security suite includes a tool for blocking keyloggers when you're banking online, and one for quickly patching newly exposed software vulnerabilities.

There are no options for optimizing your PC's performance, but installation is straightforward, scans are swift and all the essential functions are present and correct. It's also one of the most affordable options if you choose to upgrade to the full version once you've finished trying all the other suites available.

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G Data Total Protection
G Data Total Protection combines the above security tools with secure cloud backups

6. G Data Total Protection

Trial period: 30 days

Full price: £39.95, US$44.95, about AU$60 (one year, one device)

Key features:

  • Antivirus
  • Parental controls
  • Firewall
  • Spam filter
  • Email encryption
  • File and program behavior monitoring
  • Secure online shopping and banking
  • Cloud backup
  • Password manager

G Data Total Protection (in addition to sounding like a type of toothpaste) includes all the features of the company's Internet Security package, plus automatic cloud backup for your data. You can use G Data's own secure servers in Germany, or use your Dropbox or Google Drive account, depending on how much space you need and how security-conscious you are.

Download G Data Total Protection freeThere's also a password manager to secure your logins, so you don't need to bother with one of the many free tools available. This is particularly beneficial, as standalone password managers are common targets for criminals.

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BullGuard Internet Security
It's a good set-and-forget option, but BullGuard Internet Security offers limited user control

7. BullGuard Internet Security

Trial period: 60 days

Full price: £49.95, about US$70, AU$90 (one year, one device)

Key features:

  • Antivirus
  • Anti-malware
  • Parental controls
  • Cloud backup
  • Firewall
  • Spam filter
  • PC optimization

One of the lesser-known names on the antivirus scene, BullGuard Internet Security's standout features is cloud backup, which makes saving and restoring your most valuable files easy. The basic edition of Internet Security only offers 5GB online storage, but it can also integrate with your Dropbox account - a clever touch that we appreciate.

Download BullGuard Internet Security freeOnce BullGuard Internet Security is installed and you've registered for an account, it begins a process of 'Optimizing your PC', which sounds a little alarming when you haven't been explicitly asked to authorize this. You'll be alerted to any programs that are requesting access to the internet, and asked to approve or deny them, but beyond that it's not clear exactly what the optimization entails.

Once Bullguard has finished its setup and configuration process, all the options are presented in a clear central control panel. Unfortunately there's not much transparency here either - you can choose whether to 'perform PC optimizations in the background' and set an antivirus protection level (minimal, optimal or maximum), but there's no explanation of what this actually means. The interface is clear and scans are quick, but Bullguard Internet Security is best for users who want to simply install and forget their antivirus program.

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BullGuard Premium Protection
BullGuard Premium Protection will safeguard your identity to help protect your credit score

8. BullGuard Premium Protection

Trial period: 30 days

Full price: £69.95, about US$90, AU$120 (one year, three devices)

Key features:

  • Antivirus
  • Anti-malware
  • Parental controls
  • 5GB cloud backup
  • Firewall
  • Spam filter
  • Secure online shopping and banking
  • PC optimization

BullGuard Premium Protection includes some unique extras, including advanced online banking security tools, and email and SMS alerts if your financial data is compromised, enabling you to make the necessary calls to your bank before your account is drained and your cards take a virtual trip to Vegas. Note that identity protection isn't available in Australia.

Download BullGuard Premium Protection freeThere's also social media protection to prevent your kids seeing inappropriate content, and the amount of cloud storage is boosted from 5GB to 25GB. The Premium Protection licence also covers three devices rather than one.

The interface will be immediately familiar - the only differences being the extra buttons linking to BullGuard's premium features. Identity protection is provided in partnership with credit reference agency Experian, and requires you to sign up for another account. If you've subscribed to Experian, it's worth noting that it also provides this service itself.

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Vipre Antivirus 2016
We like Vipre Antivirus 2016, which lets you decide how much manual control you want over your PC's protection

9. Vipre Antivirus 2016

Trial period: 30 days

Full price: £29.44, US$35.99, AU$51.67 (one year, one device)

Key features:

  • Antivirus
  • Anti-malware
  • Anti-spyware
  • Phishing protection
  • History cleaner
  • Secure file eraser
  • Social media protection

Despite being the company's most basic product, Vipre Antivirus 2016 is surprisingly comprehensive, packing as many protective measures as some fledged internet security suites. These include scanning of social media pages (just Facebook at the moment) and search engine results for links to malicious sites, a secure file eraser and history cleaner to clean up your footprints, and protection from dangerous files in emails.

Download Vipre Antivirus 2016 freeTop marks to Vipre's installer, which begins with a scan that detected a stray file left over from a free antivirus tools that we'd uninstalled weeks ago. The installation process isn't the fastest, but it includes updating the virus definition database and performing an initial scan of your system, with no need to reboot in between.

The main control panel is a simple slider-based affair, but drilling down through the options results in surprisingly granular options. You can even decide whether updates to the virus definition database are downloaded via a proxy - it's that detailed, and we appreciate the transparency. Scans are fast, and threat detection is effective.

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Vipre Internet Security 2016
Vipre's Internet Security package adds a two-way firewall and quick patching of vulnerabilities in your other software

10. Vipre Internet Security 2016

Trial period: 30 days

Full price: £49.99, US$69.99, AU$99.99 (one year, three devices)

Key features:

  • Antivirus
  • Anti-malware
  • Anti-spyware
  • Phishing protection
  • History cleaner
  • Secure file eraser
  • Social media protection
  • Spam filter
  • Vulnerability patching
  • Two-way firewall

Vipre Internet Security 2016 brings even more features to the party, including Auto Patch for quickly repairing software vulnerabilities, a spam filter, a two-way firewall and blocking of potentially malicious websites.

Download Vipre Internet Security 2016 freeAs with BullGuard, Vipre's full internet security suite is very similar to its standard antivirus program in both design and operation. It also offers the same degree of customization - for example, the firewall can be as simple as set-and-forget, or you can delve into the options to manage intrusion detection and port settings. The social media monitoring is extremely easy to set up too - simply log in using your usual Facebook credentials, then either schedule regular scans or perform them manually to pick up any bad links.

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Comodo Internet Security Pro 8
Comodo Internet Security Pro 8 is a sound choice if you're not comfortable tinkering with settings and options too much. It's clear, and aims to make the toughest decisions for you, where possible

11. Comodo Internet Security Pro 8

Trial period: 30 days

Full price: US$39.99, about £30, AU$50 (one year, three devices)

Key features:

  • Antivirus
  • Anti-malware
  • Anti-spyware
  • Firewall
  • Sandboxing of suspicious files
  • Game mode

Another internet security suite, Comodo Internet Security Pro 8 is designed for Windows users who prefer a hands-off approach. Rather than quarantining any file that looks shifty and making you choose whether to delete it, Comodo uses its extensive cloud-based database to make the choice for you (though you can customize these settings if you'd rather take control yourself).

Download Comodo Internet Security Pro 8 freeUnusually, Comodo also offers a human touch: if you believe your PC has a virus, the company's techs can take remote control and make sure it's been thoroughly removed. Indeed, the company is so confident in its specialists' work, it will fork out up to $500 for repairs if a virus damages your machine.

Some of its tools (the firewall in particular) are less necessary in Windows 10, but features like sandboxing (running unknown programs in a virtual PC so they can't affect your system files) are very welcome.

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Trend Micro Maximum Security 10
When Trend Micro says 'maximum', it isn't kidding - its internet security suite includes all the tools you need to stay safe online, plus a few you won't

12. Trend Micro Maximum Security 10

Trial period: 30 days

Full price: £21.97, US$39.95, AU$99.95 (one year, three devices)

Key features:

  • Antivirus
  • Website blocker
  • Parental controls
  • Anti-phishing
  • PC optimization
  • Mobile device security

With support for multiple devices and bonus family protection tools to protect youngsters from the worst of the web, Trend Micro Maximum Security 10 is clearly aimed at families; if you don't hear the patter of tiny feet on a regular basis, several of its settings are likely to go unused. We're also not sure about the inclusion of optimization tools for Windows and Android, which seem to be there simply to bulk out the feature list.

Download Trend Micro Maximum Security 10 freeThat said, some of Trend Micro's proprietary tools are very handy. Scanning of external drives is a standard feature for all antivirus tools - free and paid - but TM goes one step further by scanning your Microsoft OneDrive account too. It would be handy to see the same protection for Google Drive and Dropbox as well; perhaps in a future update.

For such a comprehensive tool, the full version is surprisingly affordable in the UK, though if you're in Australia you might prefer to look elsewhere once the trial is over.

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