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5 Best Antivirus Trial Downloads in 2021 (with Few Limitations)

A really robust antivirus that covers all your security needs is an investment – so it makes sense to test out a free trial version before purchasing a premium AV.

And while many antivirus programs claim to offer a free trial version, more often than not, they are very light on features, and really do nothing to protect your device from viruses or malware until you upgrade to a paid version.

We tried and tested 37 different antivirus programs, including Eset, McAfee, Norton and Comodo, in order to find something that actually works and allows you to scan and remove viruses for a limited period of time.

Is there a difference between a free trial version and the paid version?

Most high-end AVs will offer the chance to test out their antivirus program for free for 30 days. Keep in mind that while you’ll be protected from basic viruses and malware, the free version may not have all of the features that the paid version includes, such as better protection against ransomware, a password manager, or VPN.

Best 5 antivirus programs you can try before you buy

  1. Total AV Free Antivirus
  2. BullGuard Free Antivirus
  3. Panda Free Antivirus
  4. Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition
  5. ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus

1. Total AV Antivirus

Trial Period: 30 days with a money back guarantee

Total AV Antivirus

TotalAV offers a range of antivirus programs, from a free version all the way up to a complete version. You can try the TotalAV Essential program for 30 days before you commit:

Key Features

  • Real-time protection
  • Web shield
  • PC performance and boost tools
  • Remote firewall
  • 24/7 technical support
  • Works on Windows, iOS and Android

What we liked:

  • Great phishing protection
  • Option to quarantine threats
  • Backs up files against ransomware attacks
  • Ability to browse safely online (great for online shopping and banking)
  • The 30-day money back guarantee

What we didn’t like:

  • Advanced features like a smartphone optimizer and password vault are locked behind another paywall

Best suited for:

Total AV is best suited for those who spend a lot of time online and have important documents they want to keep safe, as it offers real-time protection against ransomware, viruses, spyware, malware and other online threats.

Start Total AV Free Trial Now >>>

2. BullGuard

Trial Period: 30 days


Bullguard has a choice of security suites and apps offering multi-layered protection. Each is available for a month’s free trial, with the option of getting your money back at the end if you’re not satisfied.

Key Features

  • Parental controls tools
  • Secure backup
  • Identity theft protection
  • Works on multiple OS platforms
  • A firewall
  • Game booster
  • 24/7 support

What we liked:

  • The game booster that stalls any scans or notifications while you’re playing
  • The vulnerability scanner to check for leaks
  • The PC tune-up tools that boost performance

What we didn’t like:

  • No VPN
  • No password manager
  • Performance lags with all the tools running

Best suited for: BullGuard is great for gamers and beginners with an extremely user-friendly and well-organized interface that won’t interfere with your day-to-day activities.

Start BullGuard Free Trial Now >>>

3. Panda Antivirus Essential

Trial Period: 30 days

Panda Antivirus Essential

Panda offers a free trial version on all four of its security suites for a period of 30 days. It also has a free version that offers some great features, but they are rather limited. Here’s what you get when testing out Essential:

Key Features

  • A firewall
  • Wi-Fi security
  • A VPN
  • Gamer mode
  • PC clean-up tools
  • Process monitor
  • USB and SD card protection
  • 24/7 support

What we liked:

  • Easy to use interface
  • Low impact on performance while it’s running
  • USB and SD protection
  • Very few false positives
  • Works on Windows and Android devices

What we didn’t like:

  • VPN is limited to 150 MB data usage per day
  • No automatic scanning option
  • You have to register an account to use it

Best suited for: Panda’s Essential antivirus offers all the features of the free version and a lot more. Plus, it’s easy to use interface makes it easy to use for beginners yet customizable enough for those who want more.

Start Panda Free Trial Now >>>

4. Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition

Trial period: Unlimited, light on features (30-day free trial for premium versions)

Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition

Bitdefender offers a free version with some limited features. However, it ticks all the boxes you need for a free antivirus program. If you’re looking for more advanced features like a VPN or password manager, you can test out the upgraded versions free for 30 days.

Key Features

  • Phishing protection
  • URL blocking
  • Browser extension tool
  • Anti-ransomware tool
  • Home scanner tool

What we liked:

  • Fast scans
  • Easy to use interface
  • Low system impact
  • Bitdefender free tools, such as a browser extension, anti-ransomware, and home scanner

What we didn’t like:

  • You have to upgrade for advanced options
  • Slow initial scan
  • Cannot schedule or customize scans
  • No business option (can be used at home only)
  • Zero-day attack protection is below average (protects against known threats, but new and unknown threats are still a risk)
  • Requires you to register an account

Best suited for: BitDefender is an award-winning antivirus that routinely gets top marks for its ability to stop malware, spyware, ransomware, and other threats – even with its free version.

However, while the free version works well, you should consider upgrading to the premium version for more advanced features like a password manager, online banking protection and even a VPN. These premium versions are also available for a 30-day free trial period. 

Start Bitdefender Antivirus Free Trial Now >>> 

5. ZoneAlarm Pro

Trial period: 30 days

ZoneAlarm Pro

ZoneAlarm offers a free antivirus as well as several paid versions with free trials so you can try before you buy for a period of 30 days. As the free version is limited, we recommend testing out ZoneAlarm’s Pro Antivirus and Firewall.

Key Features

  • Powerful two-way firewall
  • Anti-malware scanner
  • Web security and built-in privacy toolbar
  • Kaspersky engine
  • Identity theft protection
  • Web security and privacy toolbar

What we liked:

  • Compatible with multiple Windows OS
  • Excellent two-way firewall
  • Easy user interface
  • Fast installation
  • Automatic updates
  • Scheduled scans

What we didn’t like:

  • Limited scanning options, including no custom scan
  • Heavy on system resources
  • No URL filtering
  • Lacks real-time protection
  • Free version comes with adverts

Best suited for: With ZoneAlarm you can install security protection for multiple devices very easily even if you’re a beginner. While the free version still includes a very good firewall, the pro version comes packed with extra features like identity theft protection and anti-phishing tools.

Start  ZoneAlarm Free Trial Now  >>>    

Try before you buy

Not all antivirus programs offer the same features, which is why testing before buying is a good way to ensure that you’re really getting something that suits your needs before making a financial commitment.

About the Author

Sophie Anderson
Sophie Anderson
Cybersecurity researcher and tech journalist

About the Author

Sophie Anderson has spent the last 10 years working as a software engineer for some of the biggest tech companies in Silicon Valley. She now works as a cybersecurity consultant and tech journalist, helping everyday netizens understand how to stay safe and protected in an online world.
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