The 10 Best Antivirus Software

Updated April 26, 2018 by Josh Darling

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We spent 45 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. These days, it's not a question of "if" your electronic devices will be compromised, it's simply a question of "when" and "how." We often forget how much sensitive information is stored on all our gear, so protect your PC, Mac, laptop, tablet and smartphone from malicious hackers, adware, spyware and even ransomware with something from our selection of capable and advanced antivirus software. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best antivirus software on Amazon.

10. AVG Ultimate

AVG Ultimate is the upgraded edition of the 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 hackers or snoops.
  • 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

9. ESET NOD32

ESET NOD32 is a straightforward program. While it lacks fancy features, it does provide lightning-fast scanning and a reduced digital footprint. It also monitors your home network and shows if any local petty thieves are leeching off your Wi-Fi.
  • simple to use interface
  • submit unknown files for analysis
  • increases app loading times
Brand ESET
Model RTL-EAVH-N1-3-1-RBX
Weight 1.6 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

8. Webroot Internet Security Plus

A longtime favorite of many, Webroot Internet Security Plus remains as light, fast, and efficient as it was when it first launched in the mid 2000s. Its password management system provides an easy and safe way to keep track of all your login credentials.
  • daily checks for security threats
  • scans incredibly quickly
  • subpar proactive measures
Brand Webroot
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

7. 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 4.0 / 5.0

6. 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's one of the most trusted names in security, and is the benchmark to which many options compare themselves to.
  • refund if security is breached
  • smart dashboard for program control
  • bogs down pcs with windows 10
Brand Symantec
Model 21364328
Weight 1.6 ounces
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

5. Kaspersky's 2018

Kaspersky's 2018 program is the latest in a long line of well-respected cybersecurity products that has come under Western scrutiny in recent years due to alleged Kremlin ties. Despite this adverse attention, their track-record of high-profile successes is uncontested.
  • protects mic and camera access
  • enables safe online payments
  • banned from us federal gov use
Brand Kaspersky
Model KL1171AOCFS-1821UZC
Weight 0.6 ounces
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

4. McAfee Total Protection

From one of the oldest and largest names in computer security comes the latest edition of McAfee Total Protection, the renowned firm's fairly-priced, top-tier personal use offering. Be forewarned, though, that this is a download code and not a disc.
  • encrypted storage
  • advanced spam filter
  • customizable parental controls
Brand McAfee
Model MTP00EAM5RAA
Weight 0.6 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

3. 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 your files from outside tampering and attacks.
  • identity theft prevention
  • crowd-sourced early warning system
  • social media protection
Brand Trend Micro
Model TRE021800G202
Weight 1.6 ounces
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

2. 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

1. Malwarebytes Premium 3.0

The incredibly popular Malwarebytes Premium 3.0 has long been known to catch attacks that most traditional programs tend to let slip by. Threats this particular option specializes in include Trojan horses, worms, spyware, and more.
  • protects against phishing schemes
  • minimal impact on cpu and memory
  • can be set to scan on a schedule
Brand Malwarebytes
Model 8118222
Weight 3.2 ounces
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

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.


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Last updated on April 26, 2018 by Josh Darling

Born in historic Massachusetts, Josh is a freethinking young man with a heart of gold. Noted by many for his wit, grace, and humility, he enjoys reading, history, politics, videogames, baseball, and talking shop.


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