Why pay for antivirus software when Microsoft includes a virus scanner in Windows? The answer is performance. Even though Microsoft continues to improve the security program built into the Windows operating system, its Windows Defender doesn’t register respectable scores in tests conducted by independent software test lab AV-Test. Microsoft’s intention with Windows Defender – the Windows 8 replacement for Microsoft Security Essentials – is to provide a baseline of protection for those who will never purchase commercial virus protection. For those of you who are looking to improve upon Windows Defender or Microsoft Security Essentials, the best virus protection is provided by Bitdefender Antivirus Plus. We invite you to visit our Learning Center for more articles about the best antivirus software.
The most important factors that we consider in our antivirus reviews are performance, features, and help and support.
Antivirus software must do more than block malware that’s already been flagged as dangerous and listed as malicious in the software provider's threat database. It must also detect and block fresh threats too new to be in the database. Furthermore, it must identify and neutralize threats that manage to sneak by the filters and begin to behave maliciously.
Performance is the most important consideration. In order to represent performance objectively, we refer to data from independent software test lab, AV-Test, which exposes dozens of competing antivirus software products to tens of millions of actual and potential threats. In tests that employ hundreds of workstations networked to dozens of servers, AV-Test reports how well various security software products protect and repair damage.
With performance as the foundation, 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 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, consider the support included with the product. All the products on our review offer support through email and phone calls. However, not every software publisher provides 24/7 access to support; only the best antivirus publishers do.
The antivirus protection included with Windows on your PC offers a measure of protection that is less than that provided by the best antivirus software. Given the many online threats aimed at your computer and eager to steal your identity, we recommend buying and installing the best antivirus for PC product to boost your protection.