What’s the best antivirus for Windows?
Antivirus software is key to protecting your computer, as well as the files and data you store on it. Here, you’ll find everything you need to know about buying virus protection for a Windows PC or laptop, including a list of the best antivirus software available.
Our current pick of the best antivirus for PC is Bitdefender 2019, and we explain why below. Also topping our chart with five star reviews are Norton and ESET.
In addition to our own testing, we’ve looked at data from the latest AV-Test round-up to explore the effectiveness of each product’s protection, performance and usability.
Unless you have security software installed, your computer is vulnerable to viruses, malware and ransomware, each of which are becoming smarter and more damaging as technology evolves.
The best solution to protect yourself against such threats is to install antivirus, and you’ll be pleased to hear it doesn’t have to cost you loads. Plus, with our extra tips on securing your computer, your stuff should remain safe.
1. Bitdefender Total Security 2019
Bitdefender’s Total Security is a feature-packed product that’s ideal for the security conscious, the family and the traveller.
Along with file and system scans, there’s a dedicated vulnerability scan that checks for outdated software and weak network passwords. It also offers double layer protection from new and emerging threats, such as ransomware.
There’s a new Network Threat Prevention too, which aims to stop attacks before they even begin.
At time of writing it is discounted to £35 for a year, down from £69.99. UK readers can take advantage of that deal here. In the US, it’s $44.99.
Included in the price tag for 5 devices (which can include Windows, Mac OS, Android and iOS) you get all the usual protections, plus a password manager, a parental advisor, and a 200MB per day per device VPN.
Bitdefender scores 100% for performance and protection in AV-Test’s latest test, and top marks for usability, too.
2. Norton Security Deluxe
Norton Security Deluxe is a slick product that has the feel of Symantec’s impressive next generation business-oriented products.
It’s discreet, benefiting from its parent company’s technology and cloud support. Norton also makes a “100% virus promise” that an expert will keep your devices virus-free or your money back. Backing all this, the Norton Studio app allows you to control all protected devices from a single Windows machine.
You’ll get Browser Protection included, as well as a password manager, Scam Insight and performance tools to help speed up your computer.
In AV-Test’s most recent test, Norton Security Deluxe scored top marks for performance, protection and usability.
The price of this protection weighs in at £69.99/$97.95 for 5 devices, though hefty discounts are available throughout the year from the Norton website. At time of writing, it’s £29.99/$49.99 for a year.
3. ESET Internet Security
ESET has a deceptively simple interface that hides a genuinely impressive and detailed tool set. Delightfully affordable, it is among our favourite antivirus options for PC.
With a raft of features, it offers great value for money. The Syninspecter tool, for example, shows you a complete yet manageable rundown of your entire system’s security status. There’s also a social media scanner, anti-theft tools, a Home Network Protection tool, banking and payment protection and lots more.
One small downside is that there is currently no explicit ransomware module in the interface, however it does provide excellent protection from ransomware under the hood.
ESET wasn’t included in AV-Test’s most recent tests so we unfortunately can’t compare that data with others listed here.
4. Kaspersky Security Cloud
At first sight, there’s little to choose between Kaspersky Security Cloud and Total Security. All the main antivirus tools required are in both products, making them both options worth considering.
What’s significant about Security Cloud is that it contains adaptive security tech that automatically adjusts your settings based on your current activities. It helps you detect unauthorised devices and dodgy websites, as well as helping you make stronger passwords and manage them safely.
The Cloud version of Kaspersky Security wasn’t included in AV-Test’s latest test, but the Internet Security version that uses the same tech scored top marks for performance, protection and usability. It’s £49.99/$89.99 for three devices (including mobile) for a year.
5. BullGuard Premium Protection
BullGuard Premium Protection has a network scanner to protect any internet connected device in your home, in addition to the expected malware detection, a vulnerability scanner and more features to help secure your PC.
An identity protection feature searches the web for leaked details, while a parental control module helps you keep an eye on your children’s use of mobile devices. There’s a game booster to block popups and optimise CPU performance, as well as a PC tune up facility that will be useful to non-gamers.
The interface is a bit on the technical side, with lots of scan types, options and settings, and there’s no dedicated anti-ransomware module which is a shame. It scores top marks in AV-Test’s latest test for performance, protection and usability.
It costs £69.96/$99.95 for 10 devices, and there’s a 70% discount at the time of writing, which makes it a bargain at £20.98/$39.98.
6. AVG Ultimate 2019
AVG Ultimate is a solid security suite that’s well worth considering. With unlimited installs, it’s great value for families.
You’ll get a file shield, web shield, a built-in firewall, a ransomware module and other layers of defence to keep your computer protected from all angles.
Plus, there are several types of system scan including a dedicated USB / DVD analysis.
An integrated password manager, VPN and driver updater are value-added extras, but included in the price is PC Tuneup and a brilliant Android app.
It didn’t quite manage to score top marks in protection and performance in AV-Test’s most recent test, though.
It’s a solid product with a “next gen” feel. You can buy AVG Ultimate for £79.99.
7. McAfee Total Protection
At time of writing, McAfee Total Protection is half price at £44.99/$44.99 here.
Total Protection is a big claim, and this product lives up to its promise on many fronts. With unlimited installs and a Virus Protection Pledge, you certainly get bang for your buck.
You’ll find features including a Vulnerability Scanner that downloads the latest versions of your apps, in addition to its antivirus scanner and it web and email protection. There’s also a password manager.
My Home Network gives you a thousand-foot view of your network, enabling you to see instantly if you have any unauthorised devices.
In AV-Test’s latest test, it didn’t quite manage to get top marks for protection, coming in at below the industry average, but performance and usability were excellent.
8. Sophos Home Premium
Sophos Home Premium has a low price tag, a healthy device count and cloud-based management that impressed us. The mobile app is feature packed, too.
The protection modules are comprehensive and specialised, and included a dedicated ransomware module. However, there are some key features missing such as a local network scan and the ability to shred a file.
It’s priced at £40/$50 per year for 10 devices (at time of writing there is 30% off), but there is also a more limited free version available for three devices.
9. Avast Premier 2019
Avast Premier 2019 has a lot going for it, and is certainly user friendly, but we found that the constant opportunites to upgrade functinality you can get free elsewhere, plus the intrusive ads on the mobile version, make it look overpriced compared to rivals.
It’s £59.99/$79.99 for one PC, which feels high considering what’s not included. You won’t get the password manager, cleanup tool or the AntiTrack privacy service.
You will, however, get a firewall, several scan types and a very welcome ransomware shield, as well as a file shredder and web protection tools. And new for 2019 is the Do Not Disturb mode to prevent system popups while you’re playing games. So despite the initial misgivings, it is still surprisingly good.
10. Avira Antivirus Pro 2019
In addition to the usual malware scans and protection, Avira Antivirus Pro offers Home Guard to scan your local network and router for unauthorised devices and vulnerabilities, a Privacy Pal to scan your system for digital traces that could be used to track or profile you, a password manager, browser plugins to protect you whilst surfing the web and more.
However, there are lots of features you’ll need to upgrade to the Prime version for, including performance features and a VPN, which is particularly confusing because they’re described as ‘Pro’ versions within the app despite not being available within Avira Antivirus Pro.
That said, for £38.99/$44.99 per year for three devices, the features you get included make this pretty good value for money nonetheless.