Top 10 Best Antivirus Software For 2020 – 2021 for PC, Mac and Android

Top 10 Best Antivirus Software

Best Antivirus Software 2020Anti-virus software protects computers from incoming viruses. While these may infiltrate your computer through infected emails and online spam, the tactics are always changing. High-quality anti-virus software should detect existing viruses, as well as prevent incoming threats, via comprehensive scanning of all incoming data. Investing in anti-virus software is a smart choice for everyone with an at-risk computer. However, Windows operating systems (OS) are generally more susceptible to viruses than Apple OS.


When choosing the software that best fits your needs, it is important to take into account both features and performance. While most software options scan documents in real-time, install automatic updates, and auto-clean infected files, certain premium features can set some software apart from the others. These can include two-way firewalls and network monitoring.

Best Antivirus Software 2019-2020-Before purchasing an anti-virus software package, it is essential to be certain that  it will provide peak performance on the user’s operating system. If the software dramatically slows down a computer, it is likely not optimized for that specific operating system. It is also important to learn what systems the software developer has set in place in the event that a virus is able to bypass the software. The best software developers should also offer clear communication and 24/7 customer support.

The Best Antivirus Software 2020 -list


1.Norton Security Deluxe – 5 Device-2018

2.Kaspersky Internet Security 3 Device-2018

3.Webroot Internet Security/Antivirus-2018

4.AVG Ultimate 2018, Unlimited Devices

AVG Ultimate 2017, Unlimited Devices, 2 Years
Price:$24.99 Price:$39.99    Price:$39.99   Price:$39.99

Top 10 Best Antivirus Software  Reviews

1.Best Norton Security Deluxe – 5 Device-Antivirus

  •  secures up to 5 PCs, Macs, iOS & Android devices
  •   It coveted Best Protection Award
  • offers a 100% guarantee


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2. Kaspersky Internet Security 3 Device Antivirus

  •   Safe forviruses, attacks, fraud, ransomware, spyware
  • Secures PCs, Macs and mobile devices


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 3.Webroot Internet  Security/ Antivirus

 Powerful, lightweight, integrated protection for PC, Mac and Android


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 4.AVG Ultimate 2017, Unlimited Devices

AVG Ultimate 2017, Unlimited Devices, 2 Years  Protect and tuneup all your family’s devices with UNLIMITED installs of AVG Internet Security


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5.Best Avast Internet Security

Avast Internet Security 2018 (1 PC, 1 Year) [Download]
  • Stay safe from ransomware,Avoid fake websites  protect you from hackers


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6.Bitdefender Antivirus Plus

Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2017 3 Devices 2 Years PC (3-Users)
  • Best antivirus protection 
  • Superior performance
  • Advanced protection
  • Trusted  over 500 million people


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7.Best ESET NOD32 Antivirus

ESET NOD32 Antivirus 2017 for Windows - 1 Device, 1 Year (PC) OEM
  • Antivirus and Antispyware
  • Protects your privacy and assets
  • Advanced Memory Scanner


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8.Best for 2020-Panda Security AntiVirus Pro

 Panda Security AntiVirus Pro 2015 - 3 Devices [Old Version]
  • More modern, more intuitive look.
  • Customizable.


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10. Threattrack Vipre Internet Security

One of the main selling points of Threattrack Vipre Internet Security is its lifetime license that frees you up from having to worry about renewing your subscription every year. It also scans your social media pages for any links that could potentially harm your computer.
  • two-way firewall
  • vulnerability scanner
  • slows down computer boot time
Brand ThreatTrack Security
Model SUN337800F160
Weight 2.4 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

9. Avira Pro

Avira Pro keeps most of its malware analysis in the cloud instead of on your computer, so your desktop won’t be bogged down by its processes. It also features self-defense technology to prevent anything from manipulating or disabling its protection.
  • browser tracking blocker
  • very good independent lab results
  • interface is complicated to use
Brand Avira
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 3.5 / 5.0
$ See Price on Amazon


ESET NOD32 is a straightforward program that lacks many additional features but makes up for it with its lightning fast scanning and small footprint. It monitors your home network and shows you if any of your neighbors are leeching your Wi-Fi.
  • simple to use interface
  • submit unknown files for analysis
  • device control system is confusing
Brand ESET
Model RTL-EAVH-N1-3-1-RBX
Weight 1.6 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0
$ See Price on Amazon

7. AVG Ultimate

AVG Ultimate is the upgraded version of their popular free software enjoyed by millions of users across the world. This paid version lets you create encrypted storage zones on your computer that are completely inaccessible to any snooping fingers.
  • cleans up junk data to save space
  • very easy to use interface
  • no protection offered for iphones
Brand AVG Technologies
Model ULT17T24EN
Weight 6.9 ounces
Rating 3.8 / 5.0
$ See Price on Amazon

6. McAfee Livesafe

If you’ve lost count of the number of devices you own, then McAfee Livesafe is the choice for you. The subscription allows for an unlimited amount of devices in one household, and you can monitor the status of each one from the application.
  • automatically removes junk mail
  • comprehensive file shredder included
  • mediocre anti phishing score
Brand McAfee
Weight 0.3 ounces
Rating 4.6 / 5.0
$ See Price on Amazon

5. Webroot Internet Security Complete

Webroot Internet Security Complete uses automatic remediation to repair infected systems without re-imaging, and securely backs up your files with 25GB of online storage. It also fully scans your computer in less than 5 minutes while other programs can take up to an hour.
  • password protection and encryption
  • does not slow computer down
  • ransomware protection
Brand Webroot
Model 60309
Weight 0.8 ounces
Rating 4.3 / 5.0
$ See Price on Amazon

4. Trend Micro

There is a growing threat called ransomware that encrypts your essential documents and makes you pay to get the decryption key. Thankfully, Trend Micro comes with a Folder Shield feature that protects essential folders on your computer from outside tampering.
  • identity theft prevention
  • firewall booster
  • social media protection
Brand Trend Micro
Model TRE021800G202
Weight 1.6 ounces
Rating 4.0 / 5.0
$ See Price on Amazon

3. Symantec Norton Security Deluxe

If you’ve got persistent malware, Symantec Norton Security Deluxe has a Power Eraser that digs deep within your hard drive to root out anything left behind. It is one of the most trusted brands in security and the benchmark to which other options compare themselves to.
  • refund if security is breached
  • easy to install
  • smart dashboard for program control
Brand Symantec
Model 21364328
Weight 0.6 ounces
Rating 4.6 / 5.0
$ See Price on Amazon

2. Kaspersky Internet Security

One of the most unique features of Kaspersky Internet Security is its inclusion of a VPN connection that allows for safe and private browsing. Its Safe Money technology also helps ensure all your financial transactions are legitimate.
  • web cam protection against spying
  • alerts for dangerous public wifi
  • parental control options
Brand Kaspersky
Model KL1941ADAFS-1711UAO
Weight 2.9 ounces
Rating 4.9 / 5.0
$ See Price on Amazon

1. Bitdefender Plus

The default autopilot mode of Bitdefender Plus leaves you alone while you’re using the computer and conducts most of its processes discreetly in the background. It also consistently scores the highest marks on tests done by independent labs.
  • built-in password manager
  • excellent anti-phishing module
  • light system load
Brand Bitdefender
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 5.0 / 5.0
$ See Price on Amazon

Top 10 Companies

What Is A Computer Virus?

In computers, a virus is a term used to describe a malicious software program which replicates itself, much like human pathogenic viruses. This process eventually infects various computer programs or important aspects of the computer like the boot drive. A virus can also affect programs by modifying them to produce a desired result.

Many malicious software programs, collectively called malware, are under the virus umbrella, though they have their own names. These include Trojan horses, worms, keyloggers, rootkits, ransomware, spyware, and adware. Each of these malware programs has a specific function, and is designed to achieve the results a hacker desires. The key descriptor in any virus is that it is installs unknowingly or without consent from the victim.

The most common type of malware is a Trojan horse file. Much like the ancient Trojan horse of Greece, the computer program hides its true intent until it is installed. Trojan horse files can be anything as simple as an executable file downloaded from the internet, to an email attachment sent from an unknown recipient. Opening these files acts as a backdoor for the Trojan horse, allowing unfettered access to the user’s computer.

These files are particularly dangerous, as they can allow an attacker to view the user’s personal information such as passwords and banking information. Trojan files can also allow attackers to view their victims IP address, which further exposes them to malware like rootkits and ransomware.

A rootkit is a type of malware that activates on startup every time the computer is powered on. Rootkits can be difficult to detect and extract because they start before the operating system is completely running. Once a rootkit is installed, the attacker has the ability to install hidden files, user accounts, and various processes directly to the operating system. Rootkits can intercept and transmit data from the keyboard, computer terminal and network connections.

Ransomware is a type of malware which targets a specific IP address. The program encrypts personal files using various algorithms which the hacker can reverse. The software then offers to decrypt the information for the user at a high price, effectively placing a ransom on their identity.

How Does Antivirus Software Work?

Most antivirus software programs target the most common types of spyware and adware. The term spyware covers a few main categories. Trojan horses, keyloggers, tracking cookies, and system monitors are all forms of spyware. These programs are designed to gather information about a user without their knowledge and then send that info to an outside entity.

Some spyware is knowingly installed by the owners of public computers in order to monitor users. Possible examples of this include computers at libraries, computer cafes, and shared computers in office buildings. These keyloggers record every key struck on a keyboard. This can potentially compromise credit card information, personal passwords, and private messages sent. Should an antivirus software find a keylogger, the program can quarantine it and ask for your permission to eliminate it.

The other common program antivirus software combats is adware. Advertising-supported software, or simply adware, is a package of software which automatically creates advertisements in order to generate revenue for its creator. In legitimate software programs, certain types of adware and trackers normally exist. These include targeting purchasers of their software for add-ons through the advertisements they see when on the internet or while using their software. The company creates additional revenue, and can provide purchasers who allow this adware substantially lower rates. In malware programs, these ads appear as pop-up windows or windows which cannot be closed.

On the whole, antivirus software eliminates spyware programs through a series of scans, quarantines, and eliminations. An installed antivirus software checks files against a database of known malware programs, sniffing out potentially harmful files. Antivirus software is able to detect malware based on patterns in executable code and the various behaviors of the files themselves.

Benefits of Anivirus Software

Threats to personal security are of the highest concern in the modern era. While many know that including personal information in a password leaves you exposed to account theft, the risks to security do not stop there. Additional actions must be taken in order to ensure safety while using a computer. Installing antivirus software is one such action that can provide many benefits.

Antivirus software regularly scans and eliminates any virus it finds on a computer. This keeps the computer from being slowed down by infected programs or hardware, and prevents damage to the PC or network it is on.

Many antivirus software programs also provide email protection. These programs scan emails, email attachments, and downloaded content prior to it being opened. Using an antivirus software to protect a computer also keeps costs low. The cost involved from calling technical support, physically searching for virus files, and purchasing new computers which have been damaged beyond repair is far more than the cost of any antivirus program on the market.

Antivirus software is an important piece of creating a cloud-based archive as well. Along with security measures like encryption and storage measures such as deduplication, antivirus software provides an added layer of assurance to any company’s archive.

How We Compare Anti-Virus Software



Access to information has become easy because of the internet, and even easier through mobile devices such as your smart phone or laptop. However, this has also opened a new avenue for threats through emails and phishing attacks. The best anti-virus software doesn’t just detect threats, but also actively scans every bit of information entering your device.

  • Real-time scanner
  • On-access scanner
  • On-demand scanner
  • Compressed file scanner
  • Scheduled scans
  • Quarantine infected files
  • Auto-clean infected files
  • Script blocking
  • Webmail scanning
  • Instant messaging protection
  • Automatic updates
  • Bootable rescue
  • External storage devices scanning
  • Registry protection

Premium Features

  • Data encryption
  • Two-way firewall
  • Parental controls
  • External storage scans
  • Gaming mode
  • Network monitoring



Anti-virus software provides different levels of security. The amount of security features are based on the different security packages they offer. Some anti-virus software provides a trial period where users can take a test drive. Some even offer a free version, albeit with limited security functions. For those who connect on multiple devices, or those working within a network, it’s a good idea to check if their anti-virus software offers access for multiple users on a single license.

  • Free version available
  • Maximum users per license

Performance Test


Anti-virus software was created for one single purpose, and that is to protect your data from viruses and other types of attacks. This is done by identifying potential threats, preventing data from being infected, and cleaning your system. Anti-virus Comparative (AV Comparatives) checks each anti-virus software’s performance against current viruses in order to verify how each anti-virus actually performs.

The best anti-virus software packages are those that work without you even knowing. Some anti-virus software is so intrusive that it can eat up a considerable chunk of your computer’s performance. Opening a browser takes a few seconds longer, and games become sluggish.

  • AV comparative score
  • PC Mark score
  • Impact score

System Compatibility


A common problem when installing new software is its lack of support for your operating system. Although newer versions are totally compatible with Windows 7 and 8, some might have problems working with older versions. This can be a nightmare for those who have purchased anti-virus software that allows multiple-access for a single license. Computers in your network might not be using the same operating system.

Help and Support


The best anti-virus software identifies and neutralizes threats as soon as they are detected. But even the top anti-virus software is not immune to the most determined attacker. It is often a game of cat and mouse, where virus developers try to up the ante by finding ways to bypass anti-virus software. Help and support services makes the recovery process less painful.

  • Email
  • Live chat
  • Telephone support

 Best Guide From

The Internet & Malware – Put In Perspective

The internet is an amazing, endlessly open network where people come together to socialise, read and share about various topics or even transfer billions of dollars a day between bank accounts all around the world. It’s ever changing and is the absolute centre of what’s become our digital lives.

When we think about the Internet, viral videos of cats come to mind on YouTube or our favourite cooking recipes that we find on Google. What most people browse every day on the Internet is mostly harmless. However, there’s another dark and gloomy side of the Internet that just isn’t found on Google that lurks around in the background just waiting for the opportunity to pounce on unsuspecting users. The delivery of such bad encounters is carried through what we know as malware or malicious software.

Most people think, “why would someone want to create such destructive software with the aim of ripping people’s identity and stealing their money?” I guess the same could be said about robbing banks. The fact is, we live in a world where model citizens are taken advantage of by criminals out to get what they can.

With all this in mind, we have to be vigilant with our online activities. That said, no matter how careful you are, chances are you’ll get malware on your computer at some time in your life. A lot of the time the malware is harmless, but sometimes you’re not so lucky. Overnight you could lose your identity or have your computer completely wiped out. Therefore, It’s important to be vigilant and employ the best virus protection for Windows 10. Not to worry, as our antivirus comparison and reviews can point you in the right direction for achieving the best virus protection possible.

To protect computers and important information, Windows users should make sure they have installed Windows Antivirus software. With the amounts of viruses and malicious software that come with Internet browsing, even the most cautious computer users require Windows Antivirus software. The number of viruses lurking on the Internet in browsers, plug-ins, URLs, and e-mails, just to name a few, make it absolutely essential for computer and laptop users to protect themselves and their devices with a robust antivirus program. Windows Antivirus software is the first line of defense in ensuring your computer or laptop does not get infected.

Multilayered Malware Protection

Antivirus products distinguish themselves by going beyond the basics of on-demand scanning and real-time malware protection. Some rate URLs that you visit or that show up in search results, using a red-yellow-green color coding system. Some actively block processes on your system from connecting with known malware-hosting URLs or with fraudulent (phishing) pages.

Software has flaws, and sometimes those flaws affect your security. Prudent users keep Windows and all programs patched, fixing those flaws as soon as possible. The vulnerability scan offered by some antivirus products can verify that all necessary patches are present, and even apply any that are missing.

Spyware comes in many forms, from hidden programs that log your every keystroke to Trojans that masquerade as valid programs while mining your personal data. Any antivirus should handle spyware, along with all other types of malware, but some include specialized components devoted to spyware protection.

You expect an antivirus to identify and eliminate bad programs, and to leave good programs alone. What about unknowns, programs it can’t identify as good or bad? Behavior-based detection can, in theory, protect you against malware that’s so new researchers have never encountered it. However, this isn’t always an unmixed blessing. It’s not uncommon for behavioral detection systems to flag many innocuous behaviors performed by legitimate programs.

Whitelisting is another approach to the problem of unknown programs. A whitelist-based security system only allows known good programs to run. Unknowns are banned. This mode doesn’t suit all situations, but it can be useful. Sandboxing lets unknown programs run, but it isolates them from full access to your system, so they can’t do permanent harm. These various added layers serve to enhance your protection against malware.

Firewalls, Ransomware Protection, and More

Firewalls and spam filtering aren’t common antivirus features, but some of our top products include them as bonus features. In fact, some of these antivirus products are more feature-packed than certain products sold as security suites.

Among the other bonus features you’ll find are secure browsers for financial transactions, secure deletion of sensitive files, wiping traces of computer and browsing history, credit monitoring, virtual keyboard to foil keyloggers, cross-platform protection, and more. You’ll even find products that enhance their automatic malware protection with the expertise of human security technicians. And of course I’ve already mentioned sandboxing, vulnerability scanning, and application whitelisting.

I’m seeing more and more antivirus products adding modules specifically designed for ransomware protection. Some work by preventing unauthorized changes to protected files. Others keep watch for suspicious behaviors that suggest malware. Some even aim to reverse the damage. Given the growth of this scourge, any added protection is beneficial.

What’s the Best Malware Protection 2019?

Which antivirus should you choose? You have a wealth of options. Kaspersky Anti-Virus and Bitdefender Antivirus Plus invariably rate at the top in independent lab tests. Norton AntiVirus Basic aced both lab tests and my own hands-on tests. A single subscription for McAfee AntiVirus Plus lets you install protection on all of your Windows, Android, Mac OS, and iOS devices. And its unusual behavior-based detection technology means Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus is the tiniest antivirus around. We’ve named these five Editors’ Choice for commercial antivirus, but they’re not the only products worth consideration. Read the reviews of our top-rated products, and then make your own decision.

Note that I reviewed many more antivirus utilities than I could include in the chart of top products. If your favorite software isn’t listed there, chances are I did review it. You can see all the relevant reviews on PCMag’s antivirus software page. Note that all the software listed in this feature are Windows antivirus apps. If you’re a macOS user, don’t despair, however; PCMag has a separate roundup dedicated solely to the best Mac antivirus software

Antivirus Software Types

Free Anti-Malware Programs
These are mostly downloads from such names as Avira and AVG. But there’s also the Microsoft Security Essentials anti-malware program that’s available as a free download for computers that run older versions of Windows. On Windows 8 computers, it’s called Windows Defender.

Free Antivirus Suites
These offer not only malware protection but add a firewall and in some cases, other extras such as a child filter. But none of the free suites we tested include some other features that are often found on pay suites such as anti-spam protection, built-in backup software, and a browser toolbar that will alert you when you’re visiting sites that host malware.

Pay Antivirus Suites
Such suites, from brands that include Symantec and McAfee, promise comprehensive protection in one package. They offer not only malware protection but also a firewall, an anti-spam filter, and other extras. The latter usually include a child filter, often include a browser toolbar that will alert you when you’re visiting sites that host malware, and sometimes include a file shredder and file backup software.

You typically buy the antivirus program online, either by downloading it or upgrading from a free trial version carried on your PC. You can use an antivirus suite on as many as three computers in the same household. Prices typically range from $60 to $100, and include a first year of service. After that, you’ll typically pay another $40 to $80 per year to renew service.

Spam Filters
These offer supplemental protection that you may want because your e-mail program isn’t adequately filtering out unwanted messages. Often built into pay antivirus suites, free options include SPAMfighter, which we recommend.

Anti-Phishing Toolbars
Free security toolbars available for all major browsers provide extra protection against phishing sites, especially if you’re using an older browser version or just want extra protection.

File Shredders
Deleting a file from your hard drive does not remove all electronic traces of it, which can allow someone who accesses or inherits your computer to recover some or all of the file’s data. To eliminate that possibility, you need file-shredding software. Some pay antivirus suites include one, or you can download Eraser free from

Computer Safekeeping Features

Most free standalone anti-malware programs focus only on keeping malware from installing or downloading on your system. Some free antivirus suites include a firewall and child filters. For the features listed below, you’ll most likely need a pay antivirus suite.

IM Protection
This feature blocks attempts to deliver malware via instant messages.

A firewall keeps malware from downloading and prevents a malicious website from grabbing data off your computer. The best firewalls protect you from incoming and outgoing threats, and pop up clearly worded alerts when a potential breach is detected.

The filters provided by many e-mail programs or ISPs might be all you need to block unwelcome mail. The anti-spam feature on suites (and standalone, and often free, programs) offer supplementary assistance if too many junk e-mail messages are still getting through.

Child Filter
These block access to certain sites unsuitable for children.

Privacy Filter
If you’re about to inadvertently divulge personal information, a privacy filter will provide a warning.

Browser Toolbar
These toolbars can be placed into popular browsers to help prevent phishing.

File Shredder
This feature allows you to erase files to prevent their recovery from your hard drive.

File Backup
A suite with this feature will periodically back up your files to another drive.

Shopping Tips and Safety Measures

Free is fine for most people. As long as you surf safely—that is, you never download software from unfamiliar sites (those downloads might carry malicious software) or click on e-mail links to access bank or other personal accounts (those links are favorite tools for cyberthieves)—the free antivirus programs we recommend should adequately protect you.

Make sure Windows firewall is on to help block malware and keep malicious websites from grabbing data off your computer.

Consider your computer. Your vulnerability varies by your computer’s operating system, though less than you might think. Apple computers are much less likely than PCs to have been attacked by viruses and spyware, but Macs can transmit infected files to Windows PCs, including those connected to a Mac over a network in your home. Several manufacturers offer a Mac-compatible product.

Some antivirus suites demand more resources than others. Machines with less than four gigabytes of memory might run too slowly with such gluttons. Similarly, some programs’ scans take longer than others. If you have an older computer, it’s even more important to look for products that score higher under “Resource drain” in our ratings.

Choose a pay antivirus suite mostly for convenience and features. An advantage of a pay antivirus suite is that it simplifies your security regimen. It requires just one download and installation and a single upgrade to its database when necessary. Its single interface can also be easier to use than multiple stand-alone programs.

The extras you get with an antivirus suite include a built-in firewall, which can block attempts by malicious software to access data on your computer. In our tests, the firewalls in the best suites afforded slightly better protection than those built into Windows operating systems—though the latter offered adequate protection for most.

With free products, help is usually limited to online FAQs, forums, and tutorials. Most of the tested pay suites offer free e-mail and chat support. Most also offer phone support, though some charge for it. We can’t comment on the quality of any program’s tech support.

Protection against phishing. Widely used browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari warn you if you go to a risky site used in phishing scams or one that might host malware.

What the best antivirus software has?

  • A near-perfect detection rate. Since the role of antivirus software is to detect threats, it should do so flawlessly. Look for certification from a respected, third party testing organization.
  • An intuitive interface. Because antivirus software can be customized, it’s important that the interface guides users through the various settings.
  • Freedom from false positives. The best antivirus software does a good job of detecting malware without being tripped up by legitimate programs. Some software has selectable profiles that adjust the detection levels based on activities, something that’s especially important to gamers (who won’t want to be bothered with popups or beeps in mid-game).
  • Good zero-day performance. Spotting a virus that’s widespread is a fairly easy task for most security software. It’s harder, however, to squash a bug that’s just been released in the wild. Top antivirus software products monitor files and processes, identifying brand-new viruses by spotting activity that is virus-like, and without tripping excessive false alarms (see above).
  • Daily updates. Virus signatures are specific strings of binary code that can be detected by antivirus software. Most programs will automatically check for updates on a daily or even an hourly basis. Some free software relies on a manual check.
  • A light touch that won’t slow you down. While any antivirus program will use some of your computer’s resources, a good antivirus program should keep your system free of malware without significantly slowing down your system’s performance. In testing, the best antivirus software exacts almost no drag on performance.

Know before you go

Antivirus alone or security suite? Antivirus software comes as a stand-alone program, but you can also purchase it as part of a comprehensive security suite. Security suites, covered in our separate report on Internet security software, are more expensive, but they include a range of protections, including antivirus, anti-spyware and anti-spam programs, identity-theft protection, firewalls and parental controls. If you opt for an antivirus program that doesn’t include these features, experts recommend supplementing it with other components, especially a firewall and anti-spyware software.

Check the system requirements. Make sure the antivirus program you choose will work with your Windows or Mac operating system. If you have an older computer, a large antivirus software program can consume a huge percentage of your computing power and you may run into compatibility problems.

Avoid conflicts. Antivirus software rarely plays nicely with similar products from different vendors. Before installing software from another company, completely uninstall any pre-existing security software. That holds true for the antivirus software provided as part of Windows; Microsoft recommends that you uninstall Windows Defender (Windows 8 or later) or Microsoft Security Essentials (Windows 7 or earlier) before installing any third-party antivirus program.

Mac owners: Find out what’s covered. Many antivirus programs don’t provide as many protections and features for Mac users. Some multi-device software suites have limitations for Apple products but are upgrading their features constantly. Mac users should be vigilant about understanding what they’re getting before they pay; discuss the issue with customer service if the information on the company’s websites is unclear. This is particularly true of multi-device software suites.

How many licenses do you need? Antivirus software is sold in versions that cover a single product, or up to 10 or more. Multi-computer licenses are generally cheaper on a per-device basis, but that isn’t always true, so be careful not to overbuy. Prices vary widely, so shop around.

Paid antivirus software is a recurring expense. Most paid antivirus programs provide updates only for one year, so be prepared to pay annual renewal fees.

Expect limited support with free software. Although some antivirus programs come with free telephone support, it is rare to find this feature with free software. Even online or chat support isn’t guaranteed with free products.

With paid antivirus software, start with a free trial. recommends downloading a free trial of your chosen antivirus software to ensure you like how it works. Most companies offer at least a 30-day free trial.

Top tips for protecting your computer

Good security software is essential, but there are other simple things you can and should do to ensure you have a secure PC.

Auto update

Set Windows updates to occur automatically, or frequently check the Microsoft website for security updates and patches. This ensures you install all official Windows security patches and updates as they become available. Similarly, you can set your security suite to update automatically.

Enable options

Even the most powerful security software will only do what you tell it to, via its settings and options. Make sure you have enabled the ones you need, as not all will be enabled by default. You still need to exercise caution and common sense.

Link danger

Even with security software installed, you can still expose your PC to danger. Many security holes are caused by user error or social engineering (see Jargon buster). Be very careful before clicking on an ad or a download link, and don’t open emails or attachments that look suspicious. Never click an email link to access or fill in bank details – banks never provide this kind of link. Always type in the full web address of your bank’s website in your browser. Also, check your bank statements regularly and look for unusual transactions.

Monitor your children

Know what they’re doing online and don’t give them administrator/owner access to your computer or mobile devices. You can use parental controls in Windows to limit their exposure.

Online shopping

Before buying online and when using internet banking, always look for a padlock icon in your browser window, which indicates the site is secure. You can double click it to check that the security certificate matches the company you think you’re dealing with. A secure website’s address also begins with “https:”


Use a strong password – at least eight characters, with letters, numbers, capitals and symbols – and change it regularly. Password manager software can reduce the burden of continual password changes.

Personal privacy

Don’t share any personal information online about yourself or your family without knowing exactly where it’s going and how it will be used.

Scan email in and out

Set your software to not only scan email attachments before opening them, but also scan outgoing mail. Some malware can surreptitiously send out emails to every contact in your address book.

Turn off sharing

If you’re not using file sharing or printer sharing then turn off these options in your operating system.

Watch warning fatigue

Don’t become blasé about security warnings and just click them off without checking them out carefully. Disregarding a security warning is like telling the program to not protect you.

Jargon buster

Adware: Software that delivers ads on your computer.

Boot virus: Affects the Master Boot Record of a hard disc, where information about the drive is stored. When booting from the infected disc, the virus loads before the operating system.

Botnet: Short for robot network, also known as a zombie army. A collection of infected internet-connected computers running unauthorised automated software (called robots or bots) for nefarious purposes. Botnets can distribute spam and viruses and launch attacks on computers or networks. A botnet can also refer generally to a distributed computing network.

Firewall: A software program and/or hardware device that limits outside network access to a computer or local network by blocking or restricting entrances to your computer, known as ports.

Heuristic scanner: Analyses files for key structures that match those of viruses.

In-the-wild/wild list: Viruses known to be circulating worldwide. A list of currently infecting viruses is maintained at and is updated monthly, using reports from antivirus researchers and companies around the world.

Macro virus: A virus that’s stored as part of an application, such as a word processing macro.

Malware: A generic term for unwanted software that secretly executes unwanted actions.

On-access scanner (real-time scanner): Constant monitoring of a computer’s memory and file system that activates automatically to scan any file as it’s opened, closed or moved to detect virus activity before it infects the system.

On-demand scanner: Scans nominated/selected files as required and when prompted by a user.

Polymorphic virus: A virus that can change its code with each infection in an attempt to avoid antivirus scanners.

Protocol: A set of rules governing the method of transferring data by specified means, such as TCP/IP.

Phishing: Attempts to lure users to reveal credit card details, account passwords and personal information by pretending to be an email from a trusted financial institution or service.

Port: A virtual opening into your computer through which information can pass both in and out. Different protocols use different ports to communicate over the internet. Port can also refer to a physical connection point for attaching devices.

Quarantine: The isolation of files suspected to contain a virus so that they can’t be opened or activated.

Rootkits: Programs that conceal the access of malicious code to files, folders and registry keys, as well as make programs, system services, drivers and network connections invisible to the user.

Script: Virus also known as a macro virus. It is written to infect a file when a programming language script is executed. It spreads via email, office automation documents and web pages.

Social engineering: Tricking people into breaking normal security procedures to gather security information or gain computer system access, rather than using technical hacking techniques.

Spam: Unsolicited commercial (junk) email distributed on a large scale and often part of a scam.

Spyware: Software that secretly gathers information about a computer user or organisation.

TCP/IP: Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol is the suite of protocols that make the internet work.

Trojan: A malicious program hidden in a benign application. Often used by hackers to enable access to the victim’s computer.

Virus: A software program, script or macro that has been designed to infect, destroy, modify or cause other problems with a computer or software program.

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