What app can remove viruses?

Viruses and malware are an unfortunate reality of the digital age. As we connect more devices and share more data online, the risk of infection increases. Thankfully, there are various apps dedicated to detecting and removing viruses and other malware from our devices.

The threat of viruses and malware

Viruses, worms, trojans, spyware, adware, ransomware – the range of threats is diverse and constantly evolving. Viruses spread by attaching themselves to programs and files, replicating and triggering malicious actions without the user’s consent or knowledge. Worms spread by exploiting vulnerabilities in networks and operating systems to replicate rapidly. Trojans disguise themselves as legitimate software, tricking users into installing them. Spyware gathers data on users activities for malicious purposes while adware bombards the user with unwanted advertisements. Ransomware locks down devices or encrypts files, demanding payment to restore access.

These types of malware can cause a range of problems, from displaying annoying ads and popups, to logging keystrokes and stealing sensitive data, to encrypting files and holding them hostage, to severely slowing down or even crashing devices entirely. Infections can spread quickly, especially in networked environments, and may go undetected for some time. The potential damage makes effective anti-virus protection essential.

Features of a good anti-virus app

The most effective anti-virus apps share some key features:

  • Real-time scanning – scans files as you access them to detect and block malware
  • On-demand scanning – comprehensive scan that you can run manually to check for infections
  • Scheduled scanning – runs automatic scans on a set schedule to catch anything that may have slipped through
  • Malware database – frequently updated database of virus definitions that informs scanning
  • Quarantine – safely isolates detected threats until they can be removed
  • Email scanning – scans email attachments for malware
  • Web blocking – blocks access to known malicious websites
  • Behavior analysis – monitors system activity for suspicious behaviors indicative of malware
  • Firewall – blocks unauthorized connections and traffic

A layered approach combining multiple threat detection and blocking methods is key. The most thorough apps enable users to customize scans, schedules, and security settings as needed.

Top anti-virus apps

Some of the top-rated anti-virus apps include:

Bitdefender Antivirus Free

Bitdefender’s free antivirus offers solid protection in a lightweight package. It features real-time scanning, on-demand scanning, autopilot security optimization, malware blocking, and a password manager. While the free version lacks some bells and whistles like a firewall and VPN, it provides robust core antivirus capabilities.

Kaspersky Security Cloud Free

This free version of Kaspersky Lab’s antivirus suite includes real-time, on-demand, and file server scanning, quarantine, and general security rating. It lacks features like a firewall, parental controls, and online banking protection offered by the full suite. However, it provides powerful core scanning capabilities.

Avast Free Antivirus

Avast is one of the most popular free antivirus solutions. It offers real-time, on-demand, and scheduled scanning, anti-phishing, intelligent threat-detection sandboxes, a network security inspector, browser cleanup, password management, and limited VPN service.

AVG AntiVirus Free

AVG has been a trusted name in antivirus for over two decades. Its free app provides protection against viruses, malware, ransomware, Trojans, spyware, and phishing attacks using real-time scanning, behavior monitoring, and email protection. An included tuner helps optimize system performance.

Avira Free Antivirus

Avira Free Antivirus leverages the company’s acclaimed scanning engine for real-time, on-demand, and scheduled scanning across Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android devices. Additional features include device optimization tools, protection from fake and malicious websites, and AI-based threat detection capabilities.


Malwarebytes specializes in detecting and removing malware that traditional antivirus may miss. The free version focuses on on-demand scanning to detect and quarantine active threats when run manually. The full paid version adds real-time scanning, ransomware protection, and other features.

Windows Defender

Microsoft’s built-in antivirus solution for Windows 10 provides baseline real-time scanning and malware protection capabilities for free. While it lacks features and customization options compared to third-party alternatives, it can block common threats with minimal impact on system performance.

Key factors in choosing an antivirus app

When selecting an antivirus app, key factors to consider include:

  • Protection levels – does it use multiple scan types, AI, sandboxing, behavior analysis, etc. for robust protection?
  • System impact – is it relatively lightweight or noticeably slows down your device?
  • Customization – can you adjust scans, notifications, security settings, etc. to your preferences?
  • Extra features – does it provide useful extras like a password manager, VPN, firewall, etc?
  • Cost – is there a free version or free trial available?
  • Reputation – does it come from a trusted, reputable vendor?

Checking independent tests and user reviews can provide insight into the real-world effectiveness and system impact of different options.

Other security measures

While a robust antivirus app is essential, it should be complemented with other good security practices, including:

  • Using unique, complex passwords for each account and enabling two-factor authentication where available
  • Installing software only from trusted sources and watching for fake or cracked apps
  • Keeping all systems and software up-to-date with the latest patches
  • Using a firewall to filter incoming and outgoing connections
  • Avoiding clicking links or opening attachments in unsolicited or suspicious emails
  • Using caution with public WiFi networks and USB drives from untrusted sources
  • Creating backups of important files to recover from malware or ransomware infections

No single app can provide complete protection – maintaining good security hygiene on devices and online activity is key.

Removing an existing virus or malware infection

If your device already has a virus or malware infection, an antivirus app’s scanning and cleaning capabilities are the primary way to remove it.

Here are the general steps to remove an infection:

  1. Download and install a recommended antivirus app like one of those mentioned above.
  2. Run a full system scan. Quarantine or delete anything detected.
  3. Reboot the device into safe mode and run another full scan. This prevents apps and processes from interfering with the scan.
  4. Delete or quarantine any remaining detections. Reboot normally.
  5. Update antivirus and run periodic scans to check for missed infections.
  6. Change account passwords that may have been compromised.

Severe infections may require wiping the system and restoring from a clean backup. Backing up critical data in advance makes this less disruptive.

Protecting your network

To help protect other devices on your network like printers, media devices, and IoT gadgets, use these tips:

  • Change default admin passwords – use long, complex, unique passwords for each device admin interface.
  • Disable remote access capabilities and unused services.
  • Enable available security settings like automatic updates, encryption, logging, etc.
  • Segregate IoT devices on separate network segments with limited access.
  • Consider standalone antivirus solutions designed for non-traditional devices.

Keeping firmware updated on network devices closes security holes that malware can exploit to spread.

Mobile device security

Mobile devices face many of the same threats as PCs. Here are some tips for keeping them secure:

  • Only install apps from trusted sources like the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
  • Check app ratings/reviews and developer reputation.
  • Use built-in security features like app sandboxing and permission controls.
  • Install a reputable mobile security app for scanning and blocking malware apps.
  • Keep the device OS and apps updated.
  • Use available encryption, lock screens, biometric logins.
  • Avoid sideloading apps, jailbreaking, or rooting devices.

The same good security habits like avoiding suspicious links/attachments and using strong passwords apply.

Protecting against future infections

Preventing infections in the first place is the best approach. Useful tips include:

  • Installing and regularly updating a reputable antivirus app.
  • Not clicking suspicious links or opening unsolicited attachments.
  • Using strong, unique passwords on all accounts.
  • Keeping all software updated, especially OSes, browsers, plugins.
  • Being wary of downloads from unofficial sources.
  • Scanning USB drives from unknown sources before opening files.
  • Using a firewall to filter inbound and outbound connections.

Maintaining device and account security, caution online, and keeping antivirus software updated will help protect you from the vast majority of threats.


Viruses and malware require vigilance to avoid, but having a trusted antivirus app provides a vital layer of active defense. Top antivirus apps leverage multiple scan types, malware databases, behavior analysis and machine learning to catch threats. Checking reviews and tests can help find one that combines strong protection with a light system footprint. Good security habits regarding passwords, updates, unofficial downloads, suspicious links and attachments are crucial supplements.

While no solution is impenetrable, modern antivirus tools combined with user caution provide powerful risk reduction from the growing range of malware threats. The top antivirus apps give users customizable scanning to clean infections and solid real-time protection against future viruses and malware.