All the vendors now sell their software licenses as yearly subscriptions. The upside is that you’ll always get the latest software, which you can download and install straight from the internet.

But its malware protection isn’t as good as the previous three, and its performance impact is heavier. It has excellent malware protection, a good number of extra functions and features, and a system-performance impact so small that our computer actually got a bit faster. It also lets you schedule scans and has a quick-scan option.

Unlike some of the other best antivirus software makers, Norton doesn’t offer a file shredder, file encryption or secure web browser with any of its products free software download sites. Yet every other digital-protection service you could possibly ask for is included with at least some of its bundles. Bitdefender Antivirus Plus combines great malware protection with an assortment of useful features and an easy-to-use interface, all at a great price. For example, there’s the basic Kaspersky Anti-Virus, the midrange Kaspersky Internet Security and the top-line Kaspersky Total Security. The different feature sets are aimed at different customers, and we explain further in our section about antivirus protection pricing and features at the end of this buying guide.

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They just want to have their computers protected from malware and other threats without having to pay for it. Trend Micro offers very good protection, but its malware-detection engine creates a heavy system load during scans and returns a fair number of false-positive results. The brand’s entry-level product, Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security, is pretty basic in terms of extra tools though it does come with a secure web browser.

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  • But if your device count gets into double digits, ESET’s costs can add up.
  • Norton AntiVirus Plus gets impressive scores in independent lab tests and our own hands-on tests and offers a wealth of useful features.
  • All AVG really has going for it is a file shredder and system optimizer.
  • ESET’s pricing is per device, which is optimal for users who might have more than a few devices to protect.

It also kept nagging us to upgrade to Avast’s paid antivirus protection, and played bait-and-switch with features that looked like they were free but weren’t. It’s got a bright, comprehensible interface, a lot of customization potential and Kaspersky’s unbeatable malware protection. The program also lets you schedule scans, and its performance impact was so small that it actually sped up our test machine a bit. While antivirus programs try to stop your machine from becoming infected by malware, Malwarebytes is the cleanup crew, brushing out any adware or potentially unwanted programs. If you want features such as an unlimited password manager or a hardened web browser, then Avast Free Antivirus might be for you.

Before you buy antivirus protection, figure out what you need it for. If you have young children, then consider midrange antivirus products, most of which include parental controls. Malwarebytes Free, formerly called Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, is not antivirus software. However, Avast Free Antivirus caused a pretty heavy system load in our testing and its scans took a long time.

Two of the best paid antivirus makers, Bitdefender and Kaspersky, now offer free programs. The two leading free-antivirus makers, Avast and AVG, have merged, and their now-combined malware-detection engine does a better job than either of its predecessors. And the rapid improvement of Windows Defender Antivirus has been astonishing. But many PC users don’t want, or can’t afford, to pay for all those extra features.