Why pay for antivirus software on your PC when Microsoft includes a virus scanner in Windows? In short, because of performance. Although Microsoft continues to improve the security program built into the Windows operating system, its Windows Defender still doesn’t register respectable scores in a battery of tests conducted by the independent software testing lab AV-Test. Based on those tests, the best virus protection is provided by Bitdefender Antivirus Plus. Visit our Learning Center for more articles about the best antivirus software.
The factors that contribute to whether any particular antivirus for PC product will stand out in our antivirus reviews are: performance, features, and help and support.
Performance is the most important product-selection criterion. To protect your computer and its data, antivirus software must do more than simply block malware that’s already been flagged as dangerous, and is therefore listed as malicious in databases maintained by the software provider. It must also identify as potentially damaging fresh threats too new to yet be in the database, as well as neutralizing threats that manage to sneak by the filters and begin to behave maliciously.
To measure such performance, we draw on data from AV-Test, which exposes every program we’ve rated to tens of millions of actual and potential threats. In tests that employ hundreds of workstations networked to dozens of servers, AV-Test assesses how well various security software products protect and repair damage.
With performance as the foundation of antimalware product evaluation, it is appropriate to also consider the features you need and the features that would be nice to have. Our review shows whether any particular product also protects you from phishing, flags threats in email and instant messages, and recognizes when you insert a thumb drive so it can scan for threats.
Help & Support
After you identify the best antivirus software for you in terms of performance and features, you should consider the support offered with the product. All the products on our review offer support through email and phone calls, though it isn’t available 24/7 in all cases.
While the antivirus protection included with Windows on your PC offers a measure of protection, it’s less than that provided by the best performers. Given the many online threats that can infect your computer and steal your identity, we recommend buying and installing the best antivirus software to ensure optimal protection.