Best malware removal of 2024

 The best malware removal should make removing pesky malware from your devices a breeze, and prevent further damage by throwing the virus into quarantine.

In order to keep your device protected, it’s best to prevent infections in the first place by using one of the best antivirus solutions, but if you think there is a suspicious file on your device then stay tuned.

The malware removal tools on this list have been tested for their speed at locating malicious files, how quickly they removed the threat, their ease of use, customer support and most importantly, value for money.

The best malware removal should also work across a range of devices and platforms, especially as no operating system is immune to viruses. There are also malware removal tools especially suited for businesses, as they are typically more at risk of attack than individuals. You may also want to take a look at the best firewalls to add an additional layer of protection.

We've also listed the best ransomware protection.


The best malware removal of 2024 in full:

Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.

The best malware removal overall

(Image credit: Malwarebytes)
The most effective free malware removal software

Reasons to buy

+
Long-running expertise
+
Deals with all kinds of malware
+
Deep scanning technology

Reasons to avoid

-
Paid competitors can offer more options

Malwarebytes is updated daily, so you can trust it to identify and remove new threats the minute they appear.

The first time you install Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, you’re given a 14-day trial of the premium edition, which includes preventative tools like real-time scanning and specific protection from ransomware. After two weeks, it reverts to the basic free version. This has to be activated manually, but is still a top-notch security tool. We recommend running it at least once a week to check or any nasties that you haven't noticed, or if you notice that your web browser has suddenly started acting strangely (likely a result of adware).

Last year, Malwarebytes bought AdwCleaner, which targets and removes annoying programs that hijack your browser by changing your homepage, resetting your default search engine, or adding unwanted toolbars. It’s also available for free, and along with Anti-Malware, is a great addition to your security toolkit.

Read our full Malwarebytes Anti-Malware review.

Best malware removal for detection rates

(Image credit: Avast)
Anti-malware protection and removal with great detection rates

Reasons to buy

+
Anti-virus and anti-malware
+
Excellent detection rates
+
Worthwhile upgrades

Reasons to avoid

-
Advertising prompts

Avast offers one of the most competent internet protection suites out there. While the company is famous for providing free antivirus software, it's worth noting that this now comes bundled with an anti-malware feature that uses behavioral monitoring to spot rogue programs.

What's even better is that not only are Avast's basic products free, but they are also available for mobile devices as well as for desktops, which makes Avast a particular ideal choice if you have multiple devices you need to check.

While the basic Avast service is second-to-none, the company also provides paid-for anti-malware software that takes this things, such as fine-tuning your PC to run better, to anti-ransomware software and secure file shredding.

For business users, there are paid-for internet security options to cover a range of needs and options.

For home users, though, the Avast free antivirus should keep your PC very well protected, though do note you'll be periodically prompted to update for one of Avast's other services.

Read our full Avast antivirus review.

Best malware removal for beginners

(Image credit: Kaspersky)
Solid malware removal tool for beginners and experts alike

Reasons to buy

+
One of the best performing security packages
+
Supremely easy to use

Reasons to avoid

-
Full Kaspersky suite offers better value
Note:

Kaspersky has been subjected to government bans and investigations in North America and parts of Europe for its alleged ties to the Russian government, so this is something to consider if you're looking to use its antivirus.

Kaspersky Anti-Virus is a stripped-back security package that focuses on the core security essentials: its web filtering blocks dangerous URLs, an accurate engine detects and removes threats, smart monitoring technologies track and reverse malicious actions, and that's pretty much it.

Fortunately, what you do get works well. Incredibly well. We've consistently found Kaspersky to be one of the best at blocking malware, and removing it from an infected system. That’s without mentioning that this anti-virus tool has regularly received top marks at sites like AV-Comparatives.

The program is easy to use, as well. An impeccably-designed interface has just the right number of buttons and options – not too basic, but not complicated or intimidating either – and there are plenty of on-screen instructions to explain how everything works. Even a beginner will be at home right away.

Standout features include automatic scans, drive-by cryptomining infection prevention, and simplified security management.

If you just need accurate, reliable and consistent malware protection, Kaspersky Anti-Virus will serve you well.

Read our full Kaspersky anti-virus review.

Best malware removal for money value

(Image credit: Trend Micro)
Strong and affordable malware protection software

Reasons to buy

+
Affordable pricing
+
Easy to use
+
Strong protection

Reasons to avoid

-
Might slow your device down
-
Sightly limiting options

Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security is a very capable package that's easy to use with above average anti-spam and an effective ‘Folder Shield’ module to block ransomware. And, it seems to get better as time goes on.

How good is it exactly? The top testing labs all rate it highly for protection, even though there’s a bit of disagreement on the details. In particular, AV-Comparatives says it gives a high number of false positives, which could be a real nuisance. On the other hand, AV-Test reports high levels of accuracy and no issues with false positives at all.

Our experiences with the product is that protection levels look similar to Bitdefender, false positives are only marginally higher, and the system itself doesn't slow down our system noticeably more than anything else.

Standout features include ransomware protection, advanced AI learning, email scam safeguarding, and Pay Guard.

We'd recommend running the trial for its full 30 days before you buy, then, to see if you notice any problems. But if you're unaffected, its high levels of detection and excellent bonus features make Trend Micro a good choice.

Read our full Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security review.

Best malware removal for ease of use

(Image credit: F-Secure)
Easy and user-friendly malware removal tool

Reasons to buy

+
Very user-friendly
+
Good value compared to alternatives

Reasons to avoid

-
Prone to false positives

F-Secure SAFE is a great collection of antivirus tools, and while it's a bit pricier than some of the other antivirus software on this best of list, the number of features you get certainly makes that high price tag worthwhile.

With F-Secure SAFE, you get the brilliant antivirus software from F-Secure, alongside banking protection for safe online shopping, family safety tools and a device finder that lets you track your lost Android or iOS device, and if needs be, remotely lock or delete it as well.

The package typically receives maximum marks for protection from AV-Test, and generally scores highly with AV-Comparatives. They also say it can generate significantly more false positives than most of the competition, but how that affects you will vary depending on how you use your computer.

The interface is a major advantage, as it's extremely easy to use, lightweight, and for the most part, you can just leave the app to work alone looking after your PC. The program has minimal effect on your system performance, and if you do need to intervene, you can generally solve any issues in a couple of clicks.

Available for Windows, Mac, and Android, F-Secure SAFE remains an appealing package: fast, lightweight, and able to run alongside many other security tools without conflict. Standout features include banking protection, Family Rules, and ransomware protection.

Read our full F-Secure review.


Best free malware removal:

Best free malware removal overall

(Image credit: Bitdefender)
Best free anti-malware for your PC

Reasons to buy

+
User-friendly
+
Clean and simple interface

Reasons to avoid

-
No options or settings

Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition is the strong, silent type. This anti-malware software doesn't even ask questions when you install it – it just quietly gets on with the job of identifying and eliminating anything that poses a risk to your safety and security.

It watches out for apps behaving badly, scans links on the web to identify scams, and has proactive malware and spyware scanning that can detect threats nobody has encountered before. Plus the app boasts boot scanning every time you start your PC.

Ad-free, nag-free and hassle-free, Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition is a great product that runs quickly and silently while you get on with something more interesting.

Its comprehensive suite of tools to protect your PC makes Bitdefender the best free anti-malware software you can download today. It's all the protection you need in one handy package.

Read our full Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition review.

Best free malware removal for feature variety

(Image credit: Avira)
Powerful and comprehensive protection against malware

Reasons to buy

+
Software updater to keep you up to date
+
PC optimizer tool is very handy
+
VPN Included
+
Free

Reasons to avoid

-
No anti-ransomware protection

The Avira Free Security Suite provides one of the most comprehensive free security packages available on the internet.

As well as providing the standard anti-virus protection, the Avira Free security suite also provides a software updater, as well as scanning your network for vulnerabilities and helps you fix them.

There are also safe browsing and safe shopping options, as well as a system optimizer to speed up your PC which is normally charged for in other packages.

If that's not enough, there's also a free VPN included for up to 500MB per month, as well as a password manager (although we recommend using the best password manager for more advanced features) and privacy settings manager.

However, you actually have a choice of which features you want to install. This is a great plus as while the Avira suite is generous some users may want to run one or more features through a different suite.

There is an upgrade option, of course, but this is priced toward installation across 5, or 25 devices, and involves such features such as removing the VPN limit.

If there's one negative, it's that there's no anti-ransomware protection, but aside from that the Avira Free Security Suite is a very generous package indeed.

Read our full Avira antivirus review.

Best free malware removal for configuration

(Image credit: AVG)
Another good defense against malware that's fairly configurable

Reasons to buy

+
Quite configurable
+
Great track record of malware protection

Reasons to avoid

-
Scans can be rather slow
-
Not the best phishing protection

If you're looking for anti-malware software that will keep quiet and not disturb your work, be warned – AVG Antivirus Free is quite vocal with its notifications, and irks us from time to time with pop-ups telling us we've done something fantastic with regard to our online safety.

As an anti-malware app, though, it's very good. It's easy to find and download from the website, and the setup happens within a few minutes.

The dashboard is user-friendly, there's protection not just from downloadable threats but from dodgy links too, and you can use your mobile to scan your PC remotely, which is pretty clever.

The paid-for Pro model has more security options - it has more robust download protection, offers data encryption includes a firewall - but the free version offers decent protection for most PC users.

Read our full AVG Antivirus Free review.

Best free malware removal for portability

(Image credit: Emsisoft)
Focused and lightweight malware removal tool

Reasons to buy

+
Runs as a portable app
+
Command line option for pros

Reasons to avoid

-
Not as effective as resident tools

Most security software tries to stop malware and spyware getting onto your system. Emsisoft Emergency Kit doesn't: it's the 911 call of security software, the app you use when your PC's been poked by something unpleasant.

It's designed to be portable – an anti-malware app you carry around with you on a USB stick – and its system requirements are tiny: just 200MB of RAM, so it'll run happily on any PC with 1GB memory or more. Keep in mind that when you run it, you'll likely be prompted to install the latest updates so that the scanning and removal are optimal. 

With two million malware signatures, Emsisoft Emergency Kit can restore almost any infected PC to rude health. The program is pre-configured with settings that are suitable for most situations, so you don't have to worry about manually tweaking them for the best results. 

Read our full Emsisoft Emergency Kit review.

Best free malware removal for ease of use

(Image credit: SpyBot)
An established tool against malware infection

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to use
+
Immunization tools

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited information about threats

SpyBot Search & Destroy is a veteran of the malware wars, dating back to the first adware in 2000, and while it doesn't scan for viruses – that's in the Home version – the free software does a decent job of finding and fixing adware, malware and spyware.

When you install the program for the first time, it asks you whether you want to manually adjust the settings or let the software automatically configure its settings. This flexibility is great for both beginners and experienced users. 

It's more of a system repair tool than a system protection tool, however, and you need to be careful where you get it from: there are fake versions in circulation designed to cause damage, not fix it. The version linked here is the real deal.

Read our full Spybot Search & Destroy review.

We've also reviewed the best photo storage and sharing sites and the best free backup software.


Best malware removal FAQs

What is malware removal?

Malware refers to any software that is designed to disrupt the operations of your computer. It could cause many negative effects such as depriving you of access to information, leaking sensitive information to a third party, or causing your device to be unusable in its entirety.

Malware removal is the process that scans your device to detect any malware and eliminate anyone that is found. There are specific software programs built for this process, and they make use of various processes to detect malware. Most software look for malware by checking for the signature of a known malware program on your device; the companies behind these tools have large databases of these signatures that their software runs checks against. The malware removal program scans all files on your device to detect the presence of any known signatures.

Lately, malware removal programs are also employing artificial intelligence and machine learning to fish out malware, especially the type that may get past the usual process.

How to choose the best malware removal for you?

These are the aspects to consider when deciding what's right for you:

Budget

Malware removal tools come in different grades. Some are free while others cost money. Among the paid ones, some are more expensive than others. Ensure you pick one that suits your budget.

For example, if you’re a student with a tight budget, there are many free or affordable malware programs you can choose from. On the other hand, if you’re a corporate worker entitled to a considerable security budget, it’s wise to pick more expensive and sophisticated software. It’s even more important for the latter because you might be handling sensitive data that’s worth a lot to your employer; being infected by malware can cause considerable damage for corporate employees, so it’s worth it to invest in a good removal program.

Effectiveness

A good malware removal tool should be able to detect and remove threats on your device with speed and accuracy. We don’t advise this, but it’s possible to test the program by deliberately infecting an unused computer with malware and seeing how good it is at identifying it. You can load many malware samples and measure how quickly each program you’re testing identifies and removes the samples. Look out for important statistics like the number of files it caught and how well the program could recover a device after an infection. Another key metric is the CPU load of the software; does it consume considerable resources and slow down your computer?

Extra Features

Many malware removal programs include extra features to entice users. For example, some include a virtual private network (VPN) service that lets you surf the web privately and anonymously. You may also find a password manager to help you manage your online accounts or a tool that monitors the dark web for leaked credentials and reports back to you if your credentials have been compromised. Either way, it's preferable to choose a program that offers extra features than those that do not. This way, you may not have to pay separately for a VPN, password manager, etc.

Ease of Use

It's important for any cybersecurity program to be easy to use. Most users aren’t technical people, so you must not be tech-savvy to know how to navigate your way around the program. When testing a program, try to cover all its features and see if you found it easy to navigate. If not, the program could give you problems in the future. Bitdefender was the most user-friendly out of the programs we tested, and you’ll likely find it easy to use.

Customer Support

Things can go wrong at any time, and you should be able to contact someone for help if that happens. A lot of cybersecurity programs have customer support teams that you can contact through email, telephone, and live chat. If you have the time, you can test multiple programs to measure their response times to support inquiries.

Note that customer support is usually reserved for paid users which makes sense because support reps cost money to train and employ. If you’re a free user, you’ll likely only have access to FAQs, forums, and online communities for support, which can be also valuable.

How we test

To test for the best malware removal we first set up an account with the relevant software platform, whether as a download or as an online service. 

We then tested the service to see how the software could be used for different purposes and in different situations. The aim was to push each platform to see how useful its basic tools were and also how easy it was to get to grips with any more advanced tools. 

We also referenced how well each platform scored for malware detection, and also for false positives.

Read how we test, rate, and review products on TechRadar.

Get in touch

  • You've reached the end of the page. Jump back up to the top ^
Benedict Collins
Staff Writer (Security)

Benedict has been writing about security issues for close to 5 years, at first covering geopolitics and international relations while at the University of Buckingham. During this time he studied BA Politics with Journalism, for which he received a second-class honours (upper division). Benedict then continued his studies at a postgraduate level and achieved a distinction in MA Security, Intelligence and Diplomacy. Benedict transitioned his security interests towards cybersecurity upon joining TechRadar Pro as a Staff Writer, focussing on state-sponsored threat actors, malware, social engineering, and national security. Benedict is also an expert on B2B security products, including firewalls, antivirus, endpoint security, and password management.

With contributions from