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Best antivirus: Keep your Windows PC safe from spyware, Trojans, malware, and more

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Antivirus software is nearly as crucial as a PC’s operating system. Even if you’re well aware of potential threats and practice extreme caution, some threats just can’t be prevented without the extra help of an AV program—or a full antivirus suite. 

Antivirus suite cheat sheet

Our quick-hit recommendations:

Read on to learn why these products rank best.

You could, for example, visit a website that unintentionally displays malicious ads. Or accidentally click on a phishing email (it happens!). Or get stung by a zero-day threat, where an undisclosed bug in Windows, your browser, or an installed program gives hackers entry to your system.

We’re not suggesting that PC security software is fool-proof. Antivirus software often can’t do much to stop zero-day exploits, for example. But it can detect when the undisclosed vulnerability is used to install other nasty bits, like ransomware, on your machine. Anyone who actively uses email, clicks on links, and downloads programs will benefit from an antivirus suite.

Our recommendations strike a balance between excellent protection, a worthwhile selection of features, and minimal impact on your PC’s performance. You can read about how we test antivirus suites below. 

Updated 10/11/18 to include our review of Kaspersky Total Security 2019, which retains its stellar protection at a better price. Scroll to the end of the article to find links for all of our antivirus software reviews.

Latest antivirus and security news

  • More than $1.1 million was lost to cybercrime every minute in 2018. That’s the key takeaway of the latest RiskIQ Evil Internet Minute report. In total, more than $600 billion will be lost to cybercrime, and nearly 980 million people will be attacked in 2018.
  • So, now there’s ransomware with the face of President Barack Obama. The virus, called “Barack Obama’s Everlasting Blue Blackmail Virus,” encrypts .EXE files and shows a photo of the former US president when it asks for a “tip” to decrypt them. Worried? Learn how to kill the virus in this article.
  • Cyber security company F-Secure has fixed a weakness in the 7-Zip archiving software it uses in its antivirus products. The issue, discovered by a security researcher using the name “landave,” meant attackers were able to take over individual PCs through poisoned RAR files if left unchecked.

Best overall antivirus suite

Norton Security Premium is an old name in security, but it has an easy-to-use interface, highly-rated protection, and a number of helpful extra features. It’s on the higher end of the price spectrum at $110 per year (your first year is discounted to $55), but you can install it on up to 10 devices. (Read our full review.)

Best budget antivirus suite

AVG Internet Security does an excellent job of protecting your PC, but it’s interface could be a lot better. Nevertheless, with unlimited installs for $70 per year, it’s hard to beat this popular security solution. (Read our full review.)

Best antivirus suite for beginners

Many antivirus suites create an interface that’s as simple as possible for users to understand—but sometimes the software becomes too stripped down. That’s why our recommendation for novices is Trend Micro Maximum Security.

This antivirus suite, which provides highly rated protection, strikes a nice balance between complexity and simplicity: Four category icons at the top let you dive deeper into the suite, but if all you need to do is a scan, that option is right there in the center of interface. You can’t miss it. 

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