What is the best antivirus software?
Update 1 March 2017: We've refreshed this list to ensure you're still getting the absolute best options when it comes to your PC's antivirus.
Windows 10 comes equipped with two apps — Windows Defender and Windows Firewall — that do a great job fighting against viruses and other types of malware. Many users will say Defender and Firewall are all they need, while others want a third-party option handling their PC's security.
If you're interested in taking your security to another level, check out this roundup of the best antivirus software available in 2017.
Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2017
Bitdefender Antivirus Plus provides amazing protection against system-crippling viruses and other annoying malware.
Its robust protection is built on the data gathered from over 500 million Bitdefender users — algorithms measure the data to uncover unknown threats and to discover new threats just now hitting the internet.
Impressive performance, useful features, solid support and a superb user experience make Bitdefender Antivirus Plus an excellent antivirus.
This program also includes an anti-ransomware feature to protect against having your files maliciously encrypted, a web filtering feature that makes online banking more secure, and an anti-rootkit feature that ensures your PC boots safely each time.
If you're looking for antivirus software with strong security and up-to-the-minute threat protection, but don't want to spend a fortune, check out Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2017. It starts at about $40 for one year of protection, and it is available for Windows 7 Service Pack 1 and later.
Bitdefender Internet Security 2017
Bitdefender's Internet Security 2017 is like the bigger, stronger sibling of their Antivirus Plus package. You get the same leading security against crippling viruses and other annoying malware, as well as a bunch of extra features that protect you from threats against your computer and against your privacy.
You're getting a two-way firewall that keeps viruses already on your PC from communicating with the internet, a standalone internet browser designed for secure banking, a thorough virtual file shredder that will remove all traces from your PC, and webcam protection that keeps you from being spied on. In their review, Tom's Guide talked about added features:
While Internet Security adds antispam tools, file encryption and a two-way firewall, the big step up is the addition of Bitdefender's Parental Advisor.
These features are a bonus to Bitdefender's proven antivirus technology, anti-ransomware and anti-phishing features, and rescue mode that ensures your PC boots in safety from rootkits.
If you're in the market for strong security and constantly updated protection, as well as extra features like a secure internet browser, webcam protection, and a virtual file shredder, check out Bitdefender Internet Security 2017. It starts at about $60 for one year of protection, and it is compatible with Windows 7 Service Pack 1 and later.
Kaspersky Total Security
Kaspersky's most complete antivirus software comes, as the name implies, with Total Security. This suite of tools is designed as a sweeping safeguard for you and your PC — Kaspersky Total Security includes a kid-safe mode to protect your young ones from inappropriate content and messages, a built-in password manager to keep track of your ever-expanding list, and an online backup to keep your files safe.
Selected as the best premium PC security suite on Tom's Guide, they had this to say in their review:
Kaspersky Total Security lives up to its name with a slew of protective services and features that range from traditional viral scanning to a password manager and backup software, and can often be found heavily discounted online.
These features are, of course, an added bonus to what you'd normally expect out of antivirus software. You're getting a firewall to protect against unknown connections, adept anti-malware security to catch viruses before they infect your PC, and anti-phishing protection to help keep your personal information safe.
If you don't mind spending a premium amount for your antivirus software and you need something that works on multiple platforms, Kaspersky Total Security is where it's at. It starts at about $60 for one year of protection, and it can be installed on up to five devices. It is compatible with Windows XP and later, as well as macOS, iOS, and Android.
Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus
Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus is an interesting package — its signature database is stored in the cloud, which means it only takes up about 2MB of space on your hard drive and doesn't require constant updates. It also only takes up about 4MB of RAM during system idle, which is especially important for those of you that don't have much RAM to spare.
Here's how the cloud-based Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus works: new files and programs are scanned and their signature is sent to the cloud to be analyzed. In the meantime, the file or program in question is kept in a quarantine state with some of its function unusable. When Webroot determines the file or program to not be malicious, the quarantine state is lifted. If you don't have internet access, programs and files you've previously accessed on your PC remain usable, but new ones will be placed in the quarantine state until you reconnect to the internet.
Chosen as an Editors' Choice on PCMag, they remarked in their review:
In my malware-blocking, antiphishing, and malicious URL blocking tests, its scores were perfect, excellent, and very good, respectively.
If you're someone who is always connected to the internet and could use the extra space on your hard drive, have a look at Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus. It starts at about $30 for one year of protection, and it can be installed on up to three devices. It is compatible with Windows 7 and later, as well as macOS.
Norton Security Standard
Norton has been around for a long time, so it has had time to make plenty of friends and plenty of enemies — many people swear by it, many people hate it. In a review conducted by Tom's Guide, malware protection was praised while system impact was listed as a concern. Likewise, Top Ten Reviews gave it an almost perfect rating, citing this:
In tests by respected software lab AV-Test, Norton Security accomplished a perfect protection score for the most recent Windows operating systems — Windows 10, 8 and 7. [...] Norton tends to cause your computer to slow down a bit, but it will still run faster than average for computers running antivirus software.
Like most big security companies, there are multiple options to choose from — the simplest, Norton Antivirus Basic, costs only about $15 and was named an Editors' Choice by PCMag. The step up, though, comes with a firewall, great customer support, and a few other extras that make it worth the $40 per year.
Avast Pro Antivirus
Avast has a great free option that many people take advantage of, but this step up into their paid selections is perfect for anyone who wants a few more tools when it comes to protecting their PC.
In their review, PCMag identified exactly why you might want to upgrade:
To the cornucopia of bonus features found in its free counterpart, it adds protection against DNS poisoning and a sandbox for running iffy programs safely.
While this might not be enough of a reason for many people to buy this $50 yearly subscription, it's great for anyone who trusts the Avast name.
As far as protection goes, Avast's security performed perfectly in tests done by AV-Test. On top of general protection, you get a Wi-Fi scanner that detects problems on your network, you can create bootable environments for extreme cases, and there's a simplistic password manager.
Trend Micro Antivirus+
Trend Micro's Antivirus+ option is one of the cheaper selections on our list at $20 for a yearly subscription, but that doesn't mean it isn't a decent antivirus. Testing conducted by independent lab AV-Test saw Trend Micro's protection work perfectly.
A review by Tom's Guide confirmed the lab's protection testing:
Trend Micro's security programs provide most of the protective services you'll need, are fast to scan and provide a near-perfect shield against malware.
There are differing opinions about how this AV affects the performance of a PC, but overall it's no worse than the average. If it's a powerful antivirus you need but don't want to shell out as much money, Trend Micro Antivirus+ might be your best option.
McAfee AntiVirus Plus
Like Norton, McAfee has been around for a long time, and many people have already formed an opinion. Regardless of whether or not you like McAfee, one thing is certain: a $55 one-year subscription provides protection on an unlimited amount of devices, including Android, macOS, and iOS. That's a pretty sweet deal, but keep in mind that not all features are found on all devices.
What you get on PC is great malware protection, a simple user interface, wonderful tech support, and a firewall. Chosen as an Editors' Choice by PCMag, they had this to say:
It has a huge feature set when installed on your Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android devices. It's that amazingly broad protection that earns McAfee an Editors' Choice for commercial antivirus.
While Kaspersky and Bitdefender might perform a bit better when it comes to protection, you can't deny that McAfee is great for anyone with a household full of devices.
More antivirus goodness
Not sure if you want to shell out money for an antivirus? There are plenty of great free alternatives!