Best free antivirus for churches and nonprofits

Ten years ago, we published a list of the top free antivirus solutions that had free licensing for business and nonprofits. It’s still the top article in Google search, but while we have made some updates to the list, things have changed over the course of the years it’s time for a clean slate look at free antivirus options for churches and nonprofits.

The criteria

To be considered a “free” antivirus solution, the product’s end user agreement needs to either grant licenses to nonprofits or not limit free use based on being an “organization.” We list any antivirus that provides at least a few or completely unrestricted free licensing to churches and nonprofits. We have excluded any antivirus products originating in Russia as one must also consider geopolitics and international hostilities when choosing cybersecurity vendors.

How sure are you that your antivirus is a good one?

1. Microsoft Defender (Microsoft Defender for Business)

This one is my absolute favorite! Now, a lot of people associate Microsoft’s antivirus with its early years of mediocrity on Windows 7… those days are far behind it! Microsoft Defender tends to score exceptionally high on every antivirus test, even MITRE ATT&CK which tests defense against advanced threats. Nothing is ever perfect, but it’s pretty awesome!

The two Defender versions

There are technically several versions of Microsoft Defender, the main two we will look at are the default Microsoft Defender that comes with Windows 10 and 11, and Microsoft Defender for Business. The main difference is that Defender for Business provides additional installers for macOS, iOS, Linux, and Android. It also integrates into Microsoft 365’s security center so you can centrally manage Defender settings as well as spot vulnerable configurations, and perform threat analysis.


✅ Comes already installed with Windows
✅ One of the best ranked antivirus solutions out there
✅ Tech for Social Impact donates and/or heavily discounts Defender for Business licensing
✅ Includes EDR, vulnerability scanning, and XOAR


🚫 It is not properly fully configured out of the box!
🚫 You need a degree of Windows M365 admin experience to get the most out of it.

Free Windows configuration service

Because Microsoft Defender and Microsoft Windows are awesome but hard to configure securely, we are putting together a free service for churches that keeps your Windows computers up to date. You can join the waiting list here.

2. Elastic Security Endpoint

Elastic purchased Endgame, which was a respected and well ranked antivirus solution, in 2019. Since then it has made a security solution based on Elastic’s ELK stack and the acquired antivirus technology from Endgame. The solution is available for free and no longer has any limitations as Elastic makes their profits on supporting large enterprise customers with ELK management expertise. Unfortunately, ELK stacks are not easy to setup or maintain… even if you are a seasoned IT professional, it can be a challenge! For this reason, even though it’s a cool and capable solution that’s entirely free to use, it’s hard to recommend to churches.


✅ Free and Open Source Software (FOSS)
✅ Highly mature and well-maintained project
✅ Since it’s on ELK, it has good EDR, SIEM, and SOAR capabilities
✅ Ranks okay in MITRE ATT&CK


🚫 Runs on ELK so it’s way too complicated for most churches to setup and maintain

3. Clam AV/ClamWin

Clam AV is the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) antivirus that’s been used for decades. It’s frequently used in email scanning and scanning file storage in servers, but there is a Windows desktop edition available. Unfortunately, it does not do on-access scanning so it will not detect a threat as it tries to compromise your computer, but it can be run on a schedule as a secondary scan.


✅ Free and Open Source Software (FOSS)
✅ Highly mature and well-maintained project
✅ Works on Windows, macOS, and Linux
✅ Great secondary scanner


🚫 No on-access scanning
🚫 No centralized management

4. Comodo Antivirus

I have a personal love-hate relationship with Comodo as a company. That’s largely because they always end up making changes to their free products that are really bad for the end-user. For example, they have in the past made changes to the Antivirus such as bundling the install of Geekbuddy, which is a really lousy IT support desk service they contract out of India. Similarly, they changed their RMM service which was meant to drive sales of Comodo Antivirus. Long and short, the antivirus is still free, but Comodo has regular shady moments which makes me very hesitant to recommend them!


✅ Free and there aren’t any restrictions on use
✅ While independent tests were a mixed bag, they were usually okay to good
✅ Comodo has been around a long time and continues to work on their AV product


🚫 Stopped submitting independent tests
🚫 No centralized management

5. Panda Free Antivirus

Panda has been around for many years and was early to leveraging the cloud during scanning. It’s traditionally been lightweight and very lenient on its licensing for nonprofits. The company has been reputable and it’s been taken over by the even more reputable WatchGuard to complement the latter’s business grade cybersecurity portfolio. That being said, despite it being a good free antivirus for nonprofits, it doesn’t really offer any advantages over Microsoft Defender.


✅ Free and unrestricted for nonprofits
✅ Reputable antivirus with good reviews
✅ Owned by WatchGuard, a major cybersecurity vendor


🚫 No compelling reason to choose over Defender
🚫 No centralized management

6. Zone Alarm

Zone Alarm started off as a software firewall vendor from the Windows XP days. They expanded into an Antivirus that was well received. Unfortunately, it hasn’t really held up all that well and it’s really a mediocre antivirus product at this point.


✅ Free and there are no license restrictions for nonprofits


🚫 Mediocre protection
🚫 Does not submit for reviews
🚫 No centralized management

7. Qihoo 360

Qihoo has a complicated history due to some dishonest tactics during AV reviews. The long and short, you shouldn’t use it for several reasons: questionable ethics, dubious protection in the free edition, it’s ultimately controlled by the Chinese Communist Party so there’s a risk of it being weaponized.


✅ It’s free and there are no license restrictions


🚫 Controlled by the Chinese Communist Party
🚫 Questionable ethics
🚫 Dubious protection
🚫 No independent reviews
🚫 No centralized management

Closing thoughts

If you are looking for the best free antivirus for your church or nonprofit, Microsoft Defender is the clear winner. It’s free, it consistently scores well on the most challenging antivirus detection test: MITRE ATT&CK, and it has a lot of features that organizations pay an absolute premium for. While it can be challenging for the average user to configure it with the recommended settings, once configured it’s really capable of fending off most attacks. It’s the clear church antivirus winner!

Isaac Johnson

Isaac has been in professional ministry since 2002, holds an M.Div. from Moody, and his goal is to equip churches to reach digital natives.

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