Antivirus software detects, and then prevents, disarms or removes malicious programs or malware, often referred to as ‘viruses’. Antivirus doesn’t offer a perfect solution to the problem of malware, but it is a critical first step to securing your PC or laptop. To help prevent viruses infecting your PC you must install antivirus, and then regularly update your antivirus software. All of the antivirus software reviewed here will update automatically.
How to choose antivirus
Malware is evolving faster than ever, but fortunately the latest generation of antivirus – or AV – is better equipped than ever to handle new threats.
In recent years, the technology that powers AV software has changed dramatically. An AV package you purchased a few years ago was able to stop known viruses and other known malware, but brand-new, unknown viruses proved more difficult. Newer products do a better job of stopping them.
For our antivirus tests we team up with AV-Test.org, a respected independent security-software testing lab based in Germany. AV-Test rigorously tests AV products from a number of leading security companies. The multifaceted testing procedure looks not only at how well an AV product can detect malware using traditional, largely signature-based methods (that is, employing a database of known malware types), but also at how well it can block brand-new, unknown malware. AV-Test also examines how well a security product can clean up after an infection in the event that a piece of malware does get through.
Every program in this list is worth your investment. The differences between the top few are relatively minor. The critical thing is to install one of these programs.
Antivirus: free or paid for?
Our tests focus on paid-for and free AV products. Paid-for AV products usually offer better technical support and more comprehensive protection features than free programs. Internet security suites go further still, offering firewalls, parental controls, identity theft protection and more.
The best antivirus
We review the best antivirus programs you can buy right now. Securing your PC is, of course, about a lot more than antivirus. At the very least you need to run up to date antivirus, antispyware and a firewall. You’ll find that almost all of the best antivirus software we test these days forms part of an internet security suite: so all of the above and more is included.
The trouble is, some antivirus is better than others. They all offer a blacklist of known threats, and a whitelist of software that is known to be legitimate. But these days new threats emerge every day, and knowing what is friend and what is foe in real-time can be critical. And that’s where we come in. AV-Test challenges Windows security software to withstand threats both old and new, known and unknown.
We then combine that with our own experienced and expert tests of interface and system overhead. We test antivirus programs for how much (if at all) they slow down your PC or laptop, as well as how easy to use and how intrusive they are. Thus you can see from our regularly updated list of the best antivirus for PC or laptop, which is the best for you. Best antivirus for protection, best antivirus for performance, and best antivirus for value. Browse through to read the individual antivirus reviews.