Panda Cloud Antivirus Free Edition

Panda Cloud Antivirus Free Edition is offered for use in homes and non-profit organizations. It protects you from viruses, spyware, and other malware. Being cloud-based, the heavy lifting is done by their machines. This helps reduce the amount of system resources needed by the application, while still giving you real-time protection similar to other vendors.

A Web browser toolbar is provided, giving you shortcuts to various tasks, such as searching (via Yahoo only), clearing the temporary files, and checking your local weather. There’s also a shortcut to setup ID Protect, which helps you protect and manage your online passwords. There’s also a shortcut to another on-demand malware scanner that’s Web-based, called ActiveScan.

It features automatic URL and Web filtering, stopping you from visiting known dangerous sites before you have any chance of becoming infected. Though you must install the browser toolbar to activate this filtering, you can remove it after the installation if you prefer not to have the toolbar (and still keep the filtering).

Behavioral blocking is also provided to help limit any infected applications from doing damage. This is similar to the functionality of Anti-Leak provided with Outpost Security Suite, but doesn’t support advanced behavioral analysis on all processes in the free edition.

Panda Cloud Antivirus Free Edition lacks a sandboxing feature and password protection, like some of the others we’ve discussed. Plus it can’t schedule full system scans, so you’d have to periodically do it yourself.

Final Thoughts

I can’t really pick any winner among these four free antivirus programs. Each brings interesting features but also lacking others, as well, but ...

If you’re concerned about children or other untrusted users messing up the settings or regularly work with untrusted files or sites, you may want to choose Returnil System Safe Free for its password protection and virtual mode.

If your email client or server doesn’t provide adequate spam filtering, you may want to go with Outpost Security Suite Free.

If risky browsing may be a problem or you’re concerned by system resources, consider Panda Cloud Antivirus Free Edition for its web filtering.

Eric Geier is the founder of NoWiresSecurity, which helps businesses easily protect their Wi-Fi networks with the Enterprise mode of WPA/WPA2 security. He is also a freelance tech writer. Become a Twitter follower or use the RSS feed to keep up with his writings.