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The best free anti-spyware software for computer & mobile

Spyware is a type of malware that can be used to remotely snoop on your device. By using spyware, someone could track your movements, access your data, read your emails and messages, or even turn on your camera. Any devices infected with spyware can suffer severe privacy breaches, and lead to cyberstalking as well as harassment in real life.

With so many potential dangers involved, it is vital that you regularly scan your devices for spyware, and that you use a program with real-time scanning to prevent exploits from making their way onto your device.


The best free anti-spyware programs

Below you can take a look at the best free anti-spyware programs available on the market. These anti-spyware programs won't cost you a penny, and can scan your device for known spyware exploits. Additionally, they engage in real-time scanning that ensures you won't become infected with dangerous spyware exploits such as rootkits and trojans.

1. Avast
Editor's Choice | May 2024

Avast offers an excellent free malware protection program with antivirus and anti-spyware protection.

  • Pricing

    • Free: $0/mth
    • Windows Premium Security: $3.33/mth
    • Mac Premium Security: $3.33/mth
    • Ultimate Security (1 Mac/Windows device): $5.49/mth
    • 10 Premium Security Devices: $4.17/mth
    • 10 Ultimate Security Devices: $6.49/mth

Avast is a computer security company based in the Czech Republic that offers an excellent antivirus application for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. While Avast provides an antivirus solution that people can use completely free of charge, it is worth noting that stepping up to the premium plan grants you full online protection for $39.99. That makes Avast one of the most expensive single device security suites on the market.

The good news is that stepping up to the paid version is unnecessary to scan and remove known spyware exploits from your devices. As a result, this is a superb free anti-spyware program that anybody can use on their device to ensure they keep it clear of a whole range of threats and exploits, including highly malicious Trojans. What's more, the software is pretty lightweight, meaning that it shouldn't slow your machine down as you use it. 

Finally, it is true that the free version of Avast does harvest data from its users. According to an investigation by PC Mag and Motherboard it collects its user's browsing histories and sells that data to create a revenue stream. We must highlight that this is far from ideal. However, the antivirus product is very good considering it's free. It may not be the most privacy-friendly option, but should you decide to trade this information for solid protection, it's the cream of the crop.  

Malwarebytes is considered by many to be one of the best free antivirus programs – great for identifying and removing spyware!

  • Pricing

    • Free: $0/mth
    • /year Premium for You: $39.99/mth
    • /year For Home: $59.99/mth

Malwarebytes has always been popular thanks to its free version. The antivirus is available for all popular platforms and it allows you to scan for threats on-demand or schedule scans on a daily or weekly basis.

The only downside with this free anti-spyware program is that its free version does not offer any real-time scanning. Thus, you will need to upgrade to the paid version if you want to get this important added protection. This will cost you $39.99 per year for a single device (with discounts for multiple-device coverage).

That said, the free version can scan for, identify, and remove any spyware that may have already infected your device, making it a very useful tool indeed – at zero cost to your wallet. Plus, Malwarebytes is available for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS and will scan for all different malware types besides spyware, to keep you completely safe and up-to-date. 

Sophos is a free antivirus that provides superb malware and spyware protection on desktop and mobile devices.

Sophos Home Free edition is an extremely impressive antivirus that consumers can use to protect three devices with a single subscription. What's more, this service actually provides real-time scanning even with the free version – something you don't always get with competing free anti-spyware offerings. This makes it a service that is definitely worth trialing. And we were highly impressed with its ability to protect against malicious websites in addition to scanning for and removing malware/spyware.

While Sophos Home Free is targeted at Windows and Mac users only, it is worth noting that Sophos Intercept X for Mobile's is also available for free. Thus you can protect all devices without paying if you want to. Sophos Intercept X for Mobile is available for free on the Apple App Store and Google Play, to make it available to all Android and iOS devices.

Both free versions of Sophos are extremely good at identifying and dealing with threats, which makes it a reliable antivirus that you can use to deal with a wide range of malware exploits and spyware on either your computer or mobile device. And it has an impressive amount of features even on the free plan. 

AVG is a trusted and reliable anti-virus that can protect you against viruses, malware, spyware, and ransomware.

  • Pricing

    • Free: $0/mth
    • Premium – 1 Device: $3.33/mth
    • Premium – 10 Devices: $4.17/mth
    • Ultimate – 10 Devices: $6.49/mth

AVG Technologies is an antivirus company based in the Netherlands that has been a subsidiary of another well-known antivirus (Avast) since 2016. The good news is that AVG has a completely free version of its antivirus, which is available for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. And it is an award-winning product you can trust to keep your devices free of malware and spyware. 

With AVG free, you get protection from all kinds of exploits, and it even protects your folders from ransomware. And it also works behind the scenes to prevent malicious attachments and downloads, as well as to block unsafe links. What's more, the service scans your device for performance issues that could be related to unwanted programs such as spyware. If you like the free version, moving onto the paid version gives you a whole host of other benefits. 

Avira is a superb antivirus that blocked 99.3 of exploits during tests – well above average.

Avira offers its security suite for free to users on Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. And, while it is good at what it does, it is a fact that this antivirus does get much better when you pay. That said, the basic plan gets the job done and will scan your device for any existing malware or spyware that has made its way on.

Plus, this free antivirus does have real-time protection even on the free version, which is actually a massive benefit of this service. Another benefit of Avira is that despite doing its job, it is very light and will not overly affect the performance of your computer or mobile device. A solid all-rounder that promises to have a free version forever and can fight ransomware, Trojans, worms, viruses, and spyware!

What exactly is Spyware?

Spyware is a general term for malware (malicious software) designed to snoop on the computer or mobile device it is deployed on. It is installed onto the infected device without the knowledge of the device owner, and negatively affects the victim's privacy.

Cybercriminals generally use it to gather data from an infected device, to allow a hacker to track the user's movements, or to steal data that could then be used to engage in identity theft or fraud.

Spyware can be broken down into several classes of exploits:

  • System monitors
  • Trackers
  • Trojans
  • Keyloggers
  • Web beacons
  • Rootkits

Although this hazardous class of malware is usually installed remotely by a cybercriminal, it is also possible that someone may be subjected to spyware at the hands of somebody with direct access to their computer or mobile device. Thus, people might fall victim to spyware that a friend, family member, partner, or colleague has installed. See our what is spyware page for more details about it and an explanation on how you can remove it from an infected device. 

What are the dangers of Spyware?

Anybody infected with Spyware could end up suffering very serious repercussions. Spyware can pinpoint your location, allowing a cybercriminal to track you down and engage in stalking. Alternatively, the software may be used to ascertain when you are out of the house in order to allow for burglary.

Spyware can also be used to steal account credentials and passwords, account numbers, financial information, personally identifiable information, and other personal and private data. This can lead to hackers stealing private business data, for example.

Once a criminal has stolen data using spyware, they might make use of it to engage in secondary attacks. They could steal more information or use the data they have to commit fraud or identity theft, creating false accounts in the victim's name.

The very worst types of spyware (Trojans) enable a hacker to install secondary payloads via a Command and Control server. This lets them deliver further exploits used to steal information or to turn on device cameras and microphones for the purposes of data theft and surveillance.

How will anti-spyware programs help?

Antivirus programs that include spyware protection are common these days, so you have a wide variety of products to choose from!

These anti-malware programs have one thing in common, however, which is that they use libraries of known spyware exploit codes to scan for any potentially harmful software that could be used to snoop on you.

These security programs perform on-demand scans, scheduled scans, and real-time scanning to provide the maximum protection possible. However, it is worth noting that they may not be able to detect trackers that have been purposefully installed by someone with access to your device.

Can anti-spyware prevent all snooping?

Unfortunately, some "spyware" is considered legitimate software. For example, software exists that parents can install onto a mobile device to track their children's whereabouts to ensure they know where they are and are safe.

This type of software can be leveraged for the purpose of snooping on someone without their knowledge, and it will not be identified and removed by an anti-virus product because someone with direct access to the device installed it purposefully.

As a result, this kind of software will need to be identified and removed manually.

Thus, if you believe you are being tracked by someone who has previously had access to your device, it is vital that you look closely at every application installed on the device to ensure that nothing is being used to spy on you. 

Final thoughts

At ProPrivacy we understand how important it is to be able to keep your devices free from snooping.

The danger of becoming infected with spyware is extremely real, and we want everybody to be able to protect themselves and their data. That is why we have recommended five free anti-virus products that are known to deal effectively with spyware and other dangerous exploits.

We are sure there is a suitable anti-virus here for everybody, no matter what your needs are. So be sure to check out our summaries to get the free antivirus that suits you best. 

  1. Avast - Available for free to identify and remove spyware on Android, iOS, Windows and macOS.
  2. Malwarebytes - A reliable antivirus program that you can use for free to scan and remove threats – including spyware.
  3. Sophos - An easy to use free antivirus with real time protection that can protect up to 3 devices from spyware with a single account.
  4. AVG AntiVirus - An easy-to-use antivirus suite that is available for all popular platforms at no cost.
  5. Avira Security - A reliable free antivirus with solid scanning for spyware and other exploits.

Written by: Ray Walsh

Digital privacy expert with 5 years experience testing and reviewing VPNs. He's been quoted in The Express, The Times, The Washington Post, The Register, CNET & many more. 


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