Your Windows PC needs protection against malware, even if you surf the web on a secure browser and utilize threat-detection software, it can be all too easy for an insidious program to wind up on your machine. This is why anyone with a Windows PC should install antivirus software on their machine and update that software regularly to stay ahead of emerging and evolving cyber risks. Antivirus software is an essential tool in your identity protection and since there’s so much personal information on your computer you don’t want to risk even a day without online threat protection. The best antivirus software is a program that includes features like malware protection, monitors downloads and observes your system’s activity for malicious software and suspicious behavior.
Using Microsoft Defender for threat detection should be your starting point for the best antivirus security on Windows. While it’s a great tool for protecting your PC and offering internet security, keeping your personal data safe and guarding your privacy extends beyond virus protection. That’s where third-party antivirus software shines, a full protection package can monitor your Windows operating system as well as MacOS, iOS and Android devices and include a password manager, secure online backup, identity theft protection, a VPN, parental control, webcam protection, protection against phishing, malicious websites and more. Here’s the best antivirus protection options for your Windows PC:
- Best Free Antivirus: Microsoft Defender
This is already built into Windows and the Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection is available to corporate users for a fee. This antivirus program is built into Windows and it’s turned on by default, so just let it do its thing, and this antivirus solution will cover the basics of internet security. Microsoft also pushes new updates frequently. Defender lets you tune the level of protection you want, giving you control over blocking potentially unwanted apps and protecting folders and files from a ransomware attack. Note that Windows 10 will automatically disable its own Windows Defender antivirus when you install third-party antivirus. If you uninstall the third-party protection, Windows 10 will turn back on its own antivirus.
2. Best Antivirus Subscription: Norton 360 with LifeLock Select: $150/year/5 devices
NortonLifeLock is a very credible service for virus and malware detection. In addition to malware and virus protection for your computer and mobile device, this security suite provides 100GB of backup to the cloud, safe-browsing tools, a secure VPN, password manager, parental controls and LifeLock identity theft protection and fraud alert. While not all of those services are necessarily best in their respective class, getting them all in one package is a compelling option.
3. Best Free Antivirus Alternative: Bitdefender Antivirus
If you’d like to take a step up in securing your PC without taxing your wallet, it’s hard to beat Bitdefender’s free antivirus software for Windows. The Windows security software offers real-time monitoring for viruses, malware, spyware and ransomware protection. Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition is easy to set up, stays out of your way until you need it and offers solid protection. For broader protection, Bitdefender Total Security goes for $90 for the subscription and lets you protect five devices, set up parental controls on a kid’s computer and run a VPN.
4. Best On-demand Windows Malware Removal: Malwarebytes: $30/year/1 device, $80/year/5 devices
Malwarebytes protects your PC from a virus or malware attack, and scores well for guarding against malware threats. If you find yourself in trouble, the go-to disinfectant for many is Malwarebytes since you get protection and disinfection. To get the free antivirus version, download the trial, which “downgrades” to a no-fee on-demand cleaner with fewer features that detect and remove viruses and malware when you run an on-demand antivirus scan after 14 days.
Picking the best antivirus software for Windows means finding one that keeps your PC safe, doesn’t take up a lot of system resources, is easy to use and stays out of the way till you need it. When choosing the best fit for you make sure to look for a software that is effective, light on system resources, cost and discounts, protection, and coverage for other platforms.