6 Best Antivirus for Netbooks and Older PCs

AV Programs for Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, XP and Older

Older computers are often the most at-risk systems because they are running outdated versions of unpatched software, which makes them vulnerable to exploits. However, older and slower computers can't usually run new antivirus software because the programs use up too many system resources.

The antivirus programs listed here have low system impact and are cost effective—some even free—making them ideal choices for older, slower, and low-budget computers. However, all of them work with new operating systems too, like Windows 10, and systems with up-to-date hardware.

Tip: If you're dealing with an older system that is slow by modern standards, consider doing some things to speed up the software and computer so that these programs run as smoothly as possible.

Baidu Antivirus
Baidu Antivirus

Baidu Antivirus is more than just a free antivirus program, and it does it all without using up much of your computer's memory. You can install Baidu in seconds and let it run without ever experiencing its impact.

This program protects your files as you download them and scans your existing data to look for Trojans, worms, viruses and other kinds of malware that could damage your files. There's also a firewall, USB protection and a browser scanner that monitors pages for phishing attempts.

Baidu Antivirus includes a malicious browser plug-in cleaner, various tools for repairing common computer issues and a network traffic monitor that lets you end programs and prevent software from accessing the internet.

The current version of Baidu Antivirus works with Windows 7, 8, 8.1 and 10. More »

Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition
Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition. BitDefender.com

It's easy to correctly assume that Bitdefender's free antivirus program is good for older computers when the website states that the company "engineered our free antivirus solution to be light on system resources."

The minimal resources needed to run Bitdefender are reflected in the fact that the program itself is small. It runs in a small window just above the notification area, near the clock.

However, just because Bitdefender Antivirus is small and uses fewer resources than lots of other anti-malware programs, it doesn't mean its features are lacking.

This is a full-blown AV program with phishing and fraud protection as well as behavioral detection so that suspicious programs don't take over your computer or infect your files.

You need 1.5 GB of free RAM and 2GB of hard drive space to use Bitdefender Antivirus. It works with Windows 7  Service Pack 1, and Windows 8, 8.1 and 10. More »

Panda Security logo
Panda Security

Panda Free Antivirus is the free version of Panda Protection Advanced. If you want more protection than is supplied with this program, you can upgrade to the professional edition for a fee.

Either way, the system impact is quite low. Panda only needs 256 MB of RAM. Most of the magic happens in the cloud on Panda's own servers, not on your computer. Panda provides real-time updates on its antivirus activities.

Panda Free Antivirus is available for users running Windows XP or newer versions of Windows, including Windows 10. More »

Norton AntiVirus Basic
Norton AntiVirus Basic. Norton.com

Norton offers several versions of its antivirus protection with the basic edition having the fewest features. The tradeoff is that you pay less. That's the case with Norton AntiVirus Basic. It's good for only one computer, but it's half the price of the standard version of the same program. Should you decide to upgrade, the process is seamless.

With Norton AntiVirus Basic, you get malware, spyware and virus defense as well as protection for your online transactions and identity. It is powered by Norton's 24/7 threat monitoring networks, and updates are automatic to ensure you have the latest protection. 

This antivirus program works on Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1 and 10. More »

F-Secure Internet Security
F-Secure Internet Security. f-secure.com

F-Secure Internet Security is advanced PC protection. It has a slim footprint that's ideal for netbooks and older PCs. Adjuncts such as behavior-based protection and exploit detection make this full-fledged internet security suite a safe bet.

This program is not free, but there is a free 30-day trial of the full version of the software. The program provides automatic protection against viruses, malware, and online threats. It includes browsing protection and parental controls to protect children when they are online. F-Secure Internet Security doesn't slow down your computer. 

The company also offers the F-Secure Anti-Virus tool, which works in a manner similar to F-Secure Internet Security. It has different features and is not as robust.

F-Secure Internet Security is compatible with Windows Vista Service Pack 2, Windows 7 Service Pack 1, 8.1 and 10. More »

ZoneAlarm Extreme Security
ZoneAlarm Extreme Security. zonealarm.com

ZoneAlarm's Extreme Security protects PCs from the zero-day attacks such as Wannacry that have been in the news recently. The program is more suited to newer netbooks because it isn't light in terms of system performance. Additional features make it ideally suited for mobile users.

Full hard drive encryption and automated online backups help ensure data is both safe and recoverable should a laptop be lost or stolen. It features a virtual sandbox to isolate email attachments, a full firewall and browser protection. The software promises the best antivirus and includes parental controls.

You can run ZoneAlarm Extreme Security as long as your computer has 1 to 2 GB of RAM and 1.5 GB of free hard drive space.

Extreme Security is compatible with Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8 and 10. More »