The 6 Best Free Malware Removal Tools of 2023

Enjoy top notch malware protection without opening your wallet

The best malware removal tools will excel at virus removal and dealing with spyware. We reviewed numerous malware removal tools to come up with this list of the best for Windows and Mac computers.

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Best Overall: Malwarebytes

The Malwarebytes main dashboard screen.
What We Like
  • Great independent testing scores.

  • Easy to use.

  • Available for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android.

What We Don't Like
  • Lacks real-time scanning.

  • Includes few extra features.

Malwarebytes takes our top pick for the best overall free malware removal tool thanks to its sterling reputation, frequent updates, and how easy it is to use. The free version of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware even comes with a 14-day free trial of the premium version, which protects you with real-time scanning and additional measures to thwart ransomware.

Malwarebytes is a comprehensive security tool that’s designed to shore up your traditional antivirus program. It receives daily updates to help you keep on top of the latest malware, and also employs a number of techniques that can help it identify brand-new malware on your system that’s never even been seen before. Once Malwarebytes has identified an issue, it’s able to clean up and remove the malicious code.

This fantastic malware removal tool is available for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and even Chromebooks. The free version allows you to scan for malware and remove it whenever you want, but it lacks the real-time scanning and protection that you get from the premium version.

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Best Antivirus With Malware Removal: Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition

A screenshot of Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition working on a desktop.
What We Like
  • Includes anti-malware protection.

  • Available for Windows, macOS, and Android.

  • Excellent independent testing scores.

What We Don't Like
  • iOS version only available with premium versions.

  • No automatic (software) updates, but virus definitions are auto-update.

Bitdefender is our pick for the best antivirus that includes built-in malware protection. That means you can use it as your primary defense against viruses, worms, trojans, zero-day exploits, rootkits, and all sorts of malware as well.

The free version of Bitdefender is a lightweight antivirus program that’s available for Windows, Android, and macOS. Bitdefender Antivirus Plus and Bitdefender Total Security, which are both paid versions of the software, add protection for iOS as well.

While the free version lacks some of the advanced features you get with the premium versions of Bitdefender, like automatic updates, it’s equipped with the basic features required to protect your computer with real-time threat detection, virus scanning, and malware removal.

In addition to real-time threat detection, Bitdefender also has a handy option that allows you to drag and drop suspicious files or folders to the home screen of the app. This is an extremely easy way to quickly scan any files that you suspect may be infected.

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Best for Cutting Edge Malware Protection: Adaware Antivirus Free

Screenshot of Adaware Antivirus Free in Windows 10
What We Like
  • Fast, accurate scans.

  • Automatic download scanning.

  • Heuristic monitoring included.

What We Don't Like
  • Only available for Windows.

If you’re looking for a malware removal tool that’s capable of staying ahead of the curve, you need to check out Adaware Antivirus Free. This is the free version of the fantastic Adaware anti-malware toolkit, and it’s capable of identifying and eliminating brand new malware the moment it crops up.

Adaware maintains a database of known threats that receives regular updates, like other antivirus software and malware removal tools. When a scan finds something that matches the threat database, the app is able to locate and eliminate the problem. It can also scan your downloads automatically, helping to eliminate that attack vector.

What sets Adaware apart from most of the competition is the heuristic analysis technique that it uses to identify new malware. By setting up suspicious programs in a protected virtual environment, Adaware can look for behaviors and signs that the program is actually malware and then take appropriate measures.

The free version of Adaware is only available for Windows, but it does support Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10.

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Best for Spyware and Malware: SUPERAntiSpyware

Screenshot of SUPERAntiSpyware in Windows 8
What We Like
  • Plenty of scan options.

  • Fast, easy scans.

  • Will find existing spyware on your system.

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't update automatically.

  • No scheduling capability.

Our top pick for the best malware removal tool that’s capable of tackling spyware is SUPERAntiSpyware. This malware removal tool specializes in spyware, but it can also handle a variety of other threats including rootkits and ransomware.

SUPERAntiSpyware is designed to work in concert with your antivirus, specifically targeting spyware, adware, keyloggers, and other threats to your personal data. It’s also able to protect your files against ransomware, which is designed to hijack your data unless you pay the attacker to release it.

The free version of SUPERAntiSpyware comes with the same daily updates as the paid version, ensuring that you’re always protected against the latest threats. The only catch is that you have to check for updates automatically.

SUPERAntiSpyware is only available for Windows, but it is compatible with every version of the operating system dating back to Windows XP. That means SUPERAntiSpyware is a great way to protect your computer If you’re still using an outdated version of Windows like Windows XP or Windows Vista.

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Best for Windows: Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool

A screenshot of the Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool (MSRT).
What We Like
  • Designed for Microsoft Windows.

  • Requires no registration.

  • Runs automatically with Windows updates.

What We Don't Like
  • Limited malware targeting.

  • Single-use program.

There are a lot of great malware removal tools for Windows, but the one that you really can’t do without is Microsoft’s own Malicious Software Removal Tool. This indispensable malware removal tool may even be on your computer already thanks to Windows Update. If you don’t already have it, you can download it for free from Microsoft.

Microsoft updates the Malicious Software Removal Tool on a regular basis, and a new version, designed to remove new malware threats, is usually available once per month. It isn’t updated as often as some other tools, but it does target the most prevalent malware threats, so it should be your first line of defense as a Windows user.

The Malicious Software Removal Tool isn’t designed to replace your antivirus software, and it works best when used in conjunction with a good antivirus and other anti-malware apps. It’s been available since Windows XP, but Microsoft only provides support and updates for Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10 versions as older versions no longer receive security updates.

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Best for Mac: Avast Free Mac Security

Screenshot of Avast Free antivirus smart scan.
What We Like
  • Includes antivirus and malware protection.

  • Protects email and hardens Wi-Fi network.

  • Excellent independent testing scores.

What We Don't Like
  • No ransomware protection.

  • No real-time Wi-Fi intrusion protection.

Avast Free Mac Security takes our top pick for the best free Mac malware removal tool due to its fantastic track record of detecting and eliminating various types of malware. In independent testing, it was able to root out 99.9 percent of macOS malware, giving it the edge over other free options.

macOS has a reputation for not being as vulnerable to viruses and malware as Windows, but it’s still important to protect your data against a worst-case scenario. Avast Free Mac Security is the best free option out there, combining an excellent antivirus platform with top of the line malware detection, and protection against infections from email and the web. It can even harden your Wi-Fi network against intrusion.

The free version of Avast for macOS provides most of the benefits that you get from the paid version, but it can’t protect your data against ransomware or identify Wi-Fi intrusions in real-time. If you want those features, you’ll need the paid version.

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