Do you have a Windows PC? Then you need to run one of the best antivirus programs. Don’t want to spend anything on it? We’ve got a list of the best free antivirus programs.
Windows 10 has a built-in antivirus program called Windows Defender, and it more than holds its own against other free rivals. But it can’t quite match the features and convenience of the best paid antivirus protection.
The best antivirus paid suites also offer features that go far beyond basic malware protection.
You can get dedicated defenses against ransomware and webcam hijacking, extra functions such as file shredding or system optimization, and features that compete with stand-alone services like password managers, cloud-backup solutions, VPNs or identity-theft protection.
The best antivirus makers normally offer multiple paid Windows products that have identical malware protection but more extra features as the prices go up.
For example, there’s the basic Kaspersky Anti-Virus, the midrange Kaspersky Internet Security and the top-line Kaspersky Total Security. Their different feature sets are aimed at different customers, and we’ll explain this further at the end of this buying guide.
Don’t forget to check out our list of the best free antivirus software halfway down this page.
The top 3 best antivirus brands
- Kaspersky provides the best antivirus protection overall
Kaspersky combines one of the world’s top-rated malware-detection engines with a ton of useful features. It’s the best antivirus software you can buy today.
Bitdefender offers the best value in antivirus software
Bitdefender Antivirus Plus combines great malware protection with an assortment of useful features and an easy-to-use interface, all at a great price.
Norton packs in everything but the kitchen sink
Norton’s antivirus products offer a password manager, unlimited VPN data, identity theft protection, parental controls and even online storage — almost every kind of digital security you could ever need.
Best Mac antivirus software
Best Android antivirus apps
Best free antivirus software
What is the best antivirus software?
BEST ANTIVIRUS: TOP 7
1. Kaspersky Total Security
2. Bitdefender Antivirus Plus
3. Norton 360 Deluxe
4. McAfee Internet Security
5. Trend Micro Maximum Security
6. ESET Smart Security Premium
7. Sophos Home Premium
Our top pick for best antivirus software is Kaspersky Total Security, which gives you excellent malware protection, a full complement of extra features and an easy-to-use interface.
Right behind that are Bitdefender Antivirus Plus, an entry-level paid program that is perhaps the best bargain in antivirus software, and Norton 360 Deluxe, which offers excellent protection with unlimited VPN service and a ton of extra features, including the option to add LifeLock identity protection.
Any one of these three would serve you well, but the ideal choice would depend on what best fits your circumstances. For more, see our section on how to choose the best antivirus software below, or our stand-alone antivirus buying guide.
For the best free antivirus protection, we liked Kaspersky Security Cloud Free, which sailed past Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition for the top spot.
Both offered excellent protection against malware without slowing down your system, but Kaspersky’s free program lets you schedule scans, has a quick-scan option, adds a ton of useful extra features and had the smallest impact on system performance we’ve ever seen.