Since you clicked on this article, you already know how critical it is to protect your computer with solid antivirus software. Good for you! However, you might still be wondering: “How do I know which antivirus software is best for me?” Let’s consider what makes for a good antivirus software.
Antivirus basics – what to look for
Effectiveness: A solid antivirus program should regularly run scans for known viruses and malware. Real-time protection is also important. Make sure the software you choose defends against suspicious websites and links that also ideally monitors your computer for unexpected behavior. To avoid unnecessary disruptions, avoid any program that gives too many false positives.
Light on system resources: Watch for websites opening slowly, apps downloading or opening slowly, or file transfers taking longer than expected. Consider a free trial to make sure the program won’t slow down your computer.
Privacy: To work properly, your antivirus software needs to monitor your PC and check the behavior it sees against their records. This data should be anonymized to protect your privacy; so be sure to read the privacy statement on their website for details.
Costs: While you’re on the company’s website, check for discounts. Consider whether they offer a smaller package that might still fit your needs so you don’t pay more than necessary.
While a particular company may offer more, any program that meets these basic requirements will work. If this describes your preferred antivirus provider, that’s great! If it doesn’t, or if you don’t already have an antivirus program, we’ve compiled some of our favorites for you.
Best free antivirus
This basic antivirus software is built into the Windows operating system, and it’s a decent option for Windows computers. Unfortunately, it isn’t available on Android or iOS. It’s turned on by default (unless you have another antivirus program running). Microsoft Defender doesn’t have a lot of extra features, but it should be enough if you are careful about your internet safety.
This is a great free option regardless of the operating system your computer uses. In addition to regular background scans, it offers real-time monitoring for viruses, malware, spyware, and ransomware. The protection it offers is solid – Bitdefender consistently scores well with independent testing labs. Plus, the program is very user-friendly and won’t slow down your computer.
Best paid antivirus
The paid version is normally $90 for 5 devices, but right now you can get your first year for $40. On top of the already solid protection offered by the free version, the subscription includes extra features like vulnerability assessment, parental controls, a VPN (virtual private network), and much more!
Trend Micro Maximum Security
This software is usually $90 per year for 5 devices, but your first year with Trend Micro is also on sale for $40. They also offer a two-year plan for $140, which is currently on sale for $70. It’s mostly marketed to businesses, but the antivirus protection is also great for consumers. Like Bitdefender, Trend Micro consistently earns good scores from independent testing labs, doesn’t use up a lot of system resources, and works on Android, Mac, and iOS devices, as well as Windows.
Norton360 with LifeLock Select
At $100 for your first year ($150 per year after the first) for 5 devices, this is a pricier option. However, the level of protection and extra features they offer are unparalleled. Some examples include 100GB of storage space for cloud backups, safe-browsing tools, a VPN, password manager, parental controls, and fraud alert. The identity theft protection that comes with a subscription may well be worth $150 on its own! Again, this software works with Windows, Android, MacOS, and iOS.