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Best antivirus software for Windows 10


Best Antivirus for Windows 10

Windows is the most popular OS on the market. It's also a #1 target for hackers. That's why most malware is specifically developed for PC machines. It's done with the intent to affect the biggest number of people and is a cause of concern.

While Windows 10 and 11 come with a built-in Windows Defender, it may not always catch up with the most recent viruses. That's why it makes sense to turn to a dedicated third-party antivirus provider. This helps to stay safe and patch up potential security holes in your system.

Still, there are many providers to choose from, and you may not always understand how they differ. To make things more simple, I've selected the best antiviruses for Windows 10 and the upcoming 11. With them installed, you'll have a strong shield against malware.

Best Windows 10 antiviruses

  1. Norton Antivirus – best option with many features
  2. TotalAV Antivirus – all the essentials that you need  
  3. Avira Antivirus – one of the best free options
  4. McAfee Total Protection – great antivirus for multiple devices
  5. Bitdefender Antivirus – great all-rounder antivirus for Windows 10

What to look for in the best antivirus for Windows 10?

When you're shopping for a Windows 10 antivirus, you're looking for the service that will be the final frontier against malware. Essentially, your workflow, files, and privacy depend on the quality of the service. Here are the points that you should keep in mind when choosing an antivirus for Windows 10.

  • Malware labs scores. Ensure that the service you're considering actually has the muscle power to keep viruses at bay. Several independent malware labs publish their monthly results, showing how select antiviruses blocked many threats. Using them, you can evaluate how good service is at keeping you safe.
  • Efficiency. Some antiviruses perform continuous scans in the background and hog your CPU or memory. Be sure that the antivirus service that you've chosen won't clog up your device.
  • Features. Some antiviruses allow you to scan only USB thumb drives or perform quick scans in the system locations. Others, add additional tools like VPNs or registry cleaners, so depending on what you use the most, you can get a complete bundle that has everything you need.
  • Customer support. If you're paying for a premium product, you should have adequate customer support options that go with it. In rare times when you run into issues, a timely customer support agent's response can be invaluable.
  • Price. If you're buying antivirus for the first time, it can be intimidating. Even then, it's no guarantee that buying the most expensive plan will give you the best protection. Evaluate whether the price you're paying is proportional to the value of the suite you're getting.

The best Windows 10 antivirus – our detailed list:

Below, you'll find the best antivirus for Windows 10 providers in more detailed descriptions. Every single one of them complies with our highest standards and meets cybersecurity experts' expectations. Each of them has several strengths and weaknesses that you should consider before hitting that "Buy" button. In any case, here are the best ones that made the cut.

1. Norton 360 Antivirus – the best features in an antivirus bundle

Norton AV banner
Firewall:Yes
Free version:No
Platforms:Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
Current deal:Get Norton, save up to 53%!

Recently Norton 360 merged with Avast and formed a super-cybersecurity company. Naturally, their product is one of the best antivirus services on the market. The package includes virtually everything that you'd need to make your PC immune to viruses.

You're getting all the essentials, including AI-powered real-time protection that prevents viruses, malware, spyware, and ransomware from harming your device. There's also a two-way Firewall that monitors both received and sent network traffic. It catches intrusions, for example, when someone is using a backdoor to steal your files.

The suite also includes Norton Secure VPN to encrypt your traffic, which hides your connection logs even if your internet service provider keeps tabs on you. Then, there's a password manager that stores your credentials in an encrypted vault. You can even store your most important files in Norton PC file backup.

While providing many features and value, Norton 360 is gentle enough for your system's resources. Plus, you don't need to be an IT graduate to find your way around this antivirus. While their prices aren't the lowest, you're truly getting the gold antivirus standard. Plus, they're frequently running special deals, so there are opportunities to save money off your purchase.

For more information, read our Norton antivirus review.

2. TotalAV – antivirus package that includes all essentials

Total AV banner
Firewall:Yes
Free version:Yes
Platforms:Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux
Current deal:Get TotalAV, now 80% OFF!

TotalAV actively competes against antivirus market leaders to provide quality protection against all kinds of digital threats. To access its most basic version, you don't even have to become a paying user, it's available for free. Meanwhile, paying users are getting a complete suite that increases your overall security.

It's capable of protecting against threats ranging from ransomware to phishing emails. The tool is constantly monitoring your device for new threats. While it may sound like it should hog your system's resources, there's really nothing to worry about. The performance impact is minimal. You'll barely notice that the background scans are happening.

Like other providers, TotalAV also adds a bunch of additional features to make your experience more complete. There's a TotalAV's Safe Browsing VPN, which encrypts your connection and changes your public IP. Then, there's a WebShield Chrome extension that filters out malicious websites and their password manager.

While it brings a lot of value, its price doesn't bite – it's one of the cheapest antivirus tools. Plus, you will be getting a lot of things with the antivirus. It could make you think it would be cheaper to get everything in one bundle rather than dealing with several separate providers.

To find out more, read our in-depth TotalAV review.

3. Avira Antivirus – best option for users on a tight budget

Avira banner
Firewall:Yes
Free version:Yes
Platforms:Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
Current deal:Get Avira, now 40% OFF!

Avira is known as lightweight antivirus that performs like a heavyweight champion. It's accessible for users for free and as a paid service. If you like to test the service before buying, Avira will adapt to your preferences.

The service can also boast about its multiple awards for malware detection rates. They hold an almost near-perfect track record: during the February-March period of 2020, it blocked 100% of the test samples. It was during quarantine months when hackers were especially active as most people were locked inside their homes.

Yet, even aside from their antivirus scanner, Avira has many offerings. Their antivirus bundle also includes Phantom VPN, password manager, safe shopping, and file shredder features. If you're a paying user, you will be getting a pretty good bundle that includes useful cybersecurity tools.

Some even more expensive plans, like Prime, also add VIP customer support, unlimited VPN, price comparison tool, and premium mobile apps. You also get free access to their upcoming products. So, whether this option is worth it to you depends on many features.

As a bonus, with most plans, you can use a single account to protect multiple devices. That allows you to protect the devices of all your household members.

To find out more, read our in-depth Avira antivirus review.

4. McAfee Total Protection – awesome network protection

McAfee banner
Firewall:Yes
Free version:Yes
Platforms:Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
Current deal:Get McAfee, save up to 79%!

During the years of partnership with Intel, McAfee got a lot of bad rep. It went as far as being called bloatware and was universally disliked among Windows users. Fast forward to 2021, and it's one of the best antivirus services for Windows PC.

McAfee can confidently protect you from ransomware, cryptojacking, and malware. Its real-time protection is always on, and it watches over everything that you do on your device. So, whether you're surfing online or inserting a thumb drive that came from someone else, McAfee will have your back.

There are some nice to have features, as well. For instance, if you want quickly and safely delete files without recovery, there's a file shredder. The suite also includes a vulnerability scanner to go through potential weak spots that hackers could exploit. You also get their web extension and password manager, so it's a full suite.

Its independent malware lab scores also have a good track record at blocking the most recent threats. Their resilience against malware and many useful added features make McAfee one of the best antivirus packages that you could find. Price-wise it's also one of the most affordable ones out there.

To find out more, read our in-depth McAfee review.

5. Bitdefender Antivirus Plus – great virus protection

Bitdefender interface
Firewall:Yes
Free version:Yes
Platforms:Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
Current deal:Get Bitdefender, now 60% OFF!

Bitdefender is widely considered one of the best antivirus providers. It attracts the crowd with its free version and knocks it out of the park with its premium one. So, whichever is your budget, Bitdefender will be a perfect fit.

In terms of security, this antivirus brings a gun to a knife fight. It includes real-time protection, advanced threat defense, web attack prevention, and anti-phishing filters. This is a complete powerhouse that will keep you safe even if you're in the habit of clicking links on shady websites.

To top it off, Bitdefender provides a ton of additional features. This includes antispam, which scans every email's header to filter out spam and phishing emails. Then, there's a SafePay – a sandboxed and secure browser for online payments. There are modern additions like microphone and webcam protection to ensure that no one is spying on you via your own PC.

That said, if you're using an older device, Bitdefender might slow your system quite a bit. It runs frequent background scans, so if your PC is already having a hard time with more demanding tasks, it can become slower. Tough, on the other hand, it packs the most features into a budget-friendly package.

If you want to find out more, take a look at our in-depth Bitdefender review.

6. ESET NOD32 – most advanced antivirus protection on the market

ESET banner
Firewall:Yes
Free version:No
Platforms:Windows, macOS, Android
Current deal:Get ESET, save up to 26%!

The code name for Essential Security against Evolving Threats, ESET is one of the best paid antiviruses for Windows in the world right now. Its approach is not only mitigating the malware that already got through to your system. ESET takes steps to make sure that malware never lands on your system in the first place.

To achieve that ESET uses a sophisticated AI scanning engine combined with its Firewall and antispam modules to block suspicious connections or files. This system is always on guard, denying threats that could put your PC at risk. It's truly a new generation of antivirus software.

Yet, like most of their competitors, ESET is also adding features similar to what you could find on other suites. There's anti-theft that, once enabled, allows for tracking your device from the ESET web panel and password manager to keep your credentials. Both of them should be handy for many users seeking to enhance their protection against digital threats.

Performance-wise, ESET is one of the lightest antiviruses for your Windows PC. It offloads most of its heavy lifting to its cloud, so the slowdowns from antivirus are barely noticeable. It's a superb solution for those who don't mind paying a little bit extra to get the best product in its class.

To find out more, read our full ESET NOD32 review.

7. Kaspersky Anti-virus – great performance and protection

Kaspersky banner
Firewall:Yes
Free version:Yes
Platforms:Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
Current deal:Get Kaspersky, save up to 50%!

Kaspersky is universally one of the most recognizable antivirus services. This is due in part to their ties to alleged ties to the Russian government. While they were never proved, and the company relocated to Europe, some users might be discouraged by it, and it's their loss.

This service is still superb for malware removal. Kaspersky's scanner has a fantastic track record of detecting malicious code and dodging false positives. Plus, it covers one of the widest varieties of malware types that are swarming the Internet. Whether it's keyloggers or ransomware, Kaspersky will deny all attempts to infect the system. They're also generous enough also to include other handy features. So, depending on your plan, you'll get a password manager, intelligent adblocker, and secure connection VPN along with your antivirus. With one subscription, you can be all set for your cybersecurity needs.

You can try this service with their 30-day money-back guarantee. Install it, see if you like it, and ask for a refund if something rubs you the wrong way. If you're on a tight budget or don't want to provide any payment details, get their free version, you won't even have to be a registered user to test it.

To find out more, read our in-depth Kaspersky review.

How we selected and tested these antiviruses

Every month, we review new antivirus services and check the ones we've already tested to see any changes. We also consult with independent malware labs to find out which antiviruses are the safest. Based on all this data, we hand-picked a select number of them. Here's what criteria we used to find the best antivirus for Windows:

  • Malware lab scores. Several malware labs field-test every antivirus service. Their research provides us with detailed reports on how each antivirus service stacks against each other. We picked only those that were favorably evaluated.
  • Additional features. Some features might make a world of difference, i.e., Firewall or real-time protection. If you have a complete arsenal of tools, it will be easier to fight back malware.
  • Reputation. If you can, you should always check what your service provider did in the past. Maybe some black spots could make the service not too suitable to be your antivirus provider? All antiviruses on this list pass this check.
  • Customer support. Even if you run into some issues, it's much easier to solve when you have help. Antiviruses tend to be complex products, so it's never a bad idea to check how the service performs in this department.
  • Price. If you're buying something, you're looking for the best possible monetary value for your money. Some antiviruses have much better value scales than others, all of which could be a factor in which service you should pick.

Do I really need antivirus for Windows 10?

Windows 10 already includes Windows Defender. It's an antivirus that's built into your system. Microsoft is trying to update it quite frequently to keep you safe. Even though it's integrated into the OS, it's a fully-fledged antivirus tool. So, if you're on Windows and already using one, it's impossible to turn it off due to safety reasons.

As to whether you'd want to add a third-party provider instead of Windows Defender, it's up to you. Third-party antivirus providers usually react to threats faster and add a lot of additional features. So, if you're looking for the best kind of protection, you should invest in a third-party antivirus provider.

How do I install antivirus on my Windows 10?

The process to install antivirus on Windows is no different from other programs set up. You'll be using the provider's app, so you need to install it on your machine.

  1. Head to the provider's official page. We recommend Norton 360 antivirus.
  2. Register and pay for your subscription plan.
  3. Download an installer's executable file.
  4. Follow the instruction wizard and complete the installation.
  5. Log in to your account, and begin the first run scan.

What is the best free antivirus for Windows 10?

Currently Bitdefender and Avira provide the best free versions on the market.

While many quality antiviruses won't break your bank, it may happen that you're not in the position to pay for an antivirus. In that case, it's perfectly acceptable to use a free antivirus, but it does come with several caveats.

First of all, the free version of a product won't have many features. If you're looking into Firewalls or real-time protection capabilities, likely, they won't be available. This leaves you with generic full system scan options, which might not be enough.

Secondly, not all antivirus providers offer free versions. Some of them, like Norton, and ESET only have premium offerings. The only way to test them is with a money-back guarantee. That way, you can test the service without paying and ask for a refund before time runs out.

Conclusion

Whether you're looking for the best antivirus for Windows to increase your overall security, or get rid of viruses from your hard drive, now you have a reference. I hope that this guide makes your decision easier, and now you would be much better informed.

A quality antivirus service not only helps against malware but is a multi-functional tool to keep you safe when you're browsing the web, working, or exchanging files. Still, if you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask them in the comment section below.

FAQ


More Anti-Virus guides from CyberNews:

Best antivirus software for Mac: deny all the viruses accessing your Apple device
Best antivirus for iPhone & iPad: protect your privacy on public Wi-Fi
Best antivirus Apps for Android: protect your smartphone or tablet against viruses

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