In the current context, antivirus software for Windows is absolutely crucial for any user, regardless of his e-literacy level, skills, scope of activity, and other aspects. Even if your computer is not connected to the Internet, you still need antivirus, as you can get infected via a USB drive or any external device. And if you use the Internet, it goes without saying that you need the best antivirus for Windows. But with dozens of AV solutions on sale, it is often unclear which one is the best. We’ve analyzed all the popular current offers and compiled a list of recommended providers of the best antivirus software for Windows 10 as well as for the previous versions of the operating system.
Windows Defender vs Third-Party Antivirus Software for Windows
You are, probably, aware of the fact that Windows 10 is in many ways different from its predecessors. While the need for the best antivirus for Windows 7 or 8 was out of the question, the latest version of the OS has a great built-in antivirus solution known as Windows Defender, which, however, elicited a controversial reaction of both experts and users. Some of them were absolutely charmed with the product, while others stayed skeptic about it. In fact, it really has some undisputable advantages:
- It is free.
- It is ideally integrated with the system and doesn’t have any impact on the performance.
- It effectively protects again the majority of known viruses.
- It uses a machine learning technology to detect newly created threats more effectively.
- It is automatically updated.
- It doesn’t offer any unnecessary and useless features that slow down the system.
- Unfortunately, nothing is perfect in the world, and Windows Defender also has some drawbacks that can’t be ignored.
- In most tests of major labs, it scores lower than third-party AV software.
- It doesn’t cope with some advanced forms of malware effectively enough.
In general, nowadays, specialists tend to believe that the Defender is good as an entry-level solution. If you ask yourself: “do I need antivirus for Windows 10?” – just try to analyze your Internet activity. If all you do is sending/receiving e-mails from trusted sources and browsing social media sites, chances are you may feel secure with the basic Windows protection. Otherwise, you’d better look for the best antivirus for Windows 10 from third-party providers in order to add another layer of protection.
Things to Consider When Choosing the Top Antivirus for Windows 10
In fact, it doesn’t matter much whether you are considering the best antivirus for Windows 7 or Windows 10, the basic criteria will be the same. If you look around, you’ll see that the modern software market is oversaturated with AV products. And virtually all of them are perfectly compatible with Microsoft Windows. But our goal is to select the best antivirus software for Windows 10, so we’ll try to single out the characteristics that are most important for every user.
- The quality of detecting and destroying viruses and malware. This is the main criterion and the main reason why we download antivirus apps. Fortunately, most existing antivirus products proved to be effective enough. According to lab tests, both free and premium options detect from 99.6 to 100% of known and zero-day threats.
- Features. While some providers of antivirus for Windows 10 offer really useful extras, others make you install an array of unnecessary features, which are not just useless, but also slow down the system noticeably. It’s for you to decide what features you need. Frequently, there’s no need to pay a double price, as more features are not always better. Moreover, you can opt for a free antivirus for Windows 10 and get a strong protection for no money.
- Impact on the system. Any antivirus software can influence the performance of your computer. For example, background scanning for viruses, as well as switching on extra features slow down the system. Choose the most lightweight and quick program and disable all unnecessary options to avoid speed drops.
- Ease of use. Broadly speaking, this rule is applicable to any software. If the interface is cluttered and complicated, and it takes time to find the needed settings, this is definitely not the best antivirus for Windows.
As a general rule of thumb, free software tends to be more resource-consuming, has a weaker protection from ransomware and other sophisticated forms of malware, and doesn’t offer tools for the enhancing of users’ privacy. That said, it ensures the same level of antivirus protection.
Free Antivirus Solutions for Windows: Expert Recommendations
A thorough analysis of popular free AV products helped us to compile a ranking of top recommended providers. None of them are absolutely flawless, but all of them are reliable, effective and pleasant to use. Here is a list of providers of the best free antivirus for Windows 7, 8 and 10.
- Probably, the best solution is the free Avast antivirus for Windows 10. Its main advantage is the minimum impact on the system. Also, it has some really nice features, including a free password manager. Needless to say it provides a strong antivirus protection.
- Another decent product is offered by AVG, which is now a part of Avast. It is simple, lightweight and reliable, but has lesser useful features. If you need a bare antivirus and nothing else, it will do for you, as it does its job well.
- A good free antivirus for Windows 7 through 10 is Avira. It is rather flexible and offers a lot of free extras, including VPN. However, it feels a bit cumbersome and impacts the overall computer performance. Its malware detection capabilities are highly estimated by the world’s major labs, but it still lags behind AVG and Avast.
- Bitdefender (its free version) is definitely worthy of a closer look. It is, probably, the simplest product with the minimal selection of features. It has a minimalistic design and offers virtually nothing but antivirus. A great solution for those who don’t like two- and three-in-one products.
There is at least one more free option that can be considered as potential antivirus tool for everyday use – Panda antivirus. It scores some lower in most tests, but still it is approved by international testing labs.
Top-Rated Paid Versions of AV software for Windows
If you want to have something stronger than just a basic antivirus feature, you are recommended to download a paid package of antivirus for Windows 10. An important advantage of premium options is ransomware protection. Taking into account the fact that more and more ransomware attacks are recorded every year, this feature becomes a must-have. The list of top provider offering paid antivirus for Windows 7 through 10 looks as follows.
- Bitdefender Plus is as great as its entry-level version. At the price of about $60 you get the ultimate protection from virtually all types of viruses and malware, including sophisticated ransomware. The app itself is lightweight and has a minimal impact on the system. It’s a real pleasure to use it, and some experts consider it to be the best antivirus for Windows 10.
- The second best antivirus for Windows 7 – 10 is Kaspersky. It ensures almost 100% virus detection plus a smart feature of safe online banking. That said, it is really affordable – just about $30 per year, which is half as much as Bitdefender. Thousands of users worldwide trust this brand, so its community is huge, which is also nice.
- Norton Antivirus offers an excellent protection and a decent feature set, but its relatively high price (around $55 per year for the premium version) prevents it from being the top antivirus for Windows 10. It scores high in all tests, but experts say it slows down the system a little.
- ESET Nod32 is a medium-priced option. Some years ago, it used to be considered the best antivirus for Windows 8 by some reviewers. According to the latest tests it performs well, but not excellent. Though it copes well with the detection of all types of threats, its privacy-protecting features could be better. That said, it has a laconic interface and a perfect usability.
These are the most popular options, though the whole list of recommended providers is much longer. Thus, many users opt for premium versions of their free-of-charge antivirus for Windows 10 – Avast, Avira, or AVG. Other frequently selected options include Trend-Micro antivirus, McAfee, and F-Secure. They are also not bad, though none of them is ranked as the top antivirus for Windows 10.
Features of the Best Antivirus Software for Windows 7 – 10
It goes without saying that the key feature of all antivirus products in the world is detecting and neutralizing viruses. However, modern AV products offer much more than just scanning for malware. Here is the list of features that are commonly provided. Decide which of them you need and choose the best antivirus for Windows 10.
- A built-in firewall provides a stronger protection from hacker attacks. If you don’t use a separate firewall app, the feature can be nice to have.
- Network scanning. Do you use multiple devices connected to one Wi-Fi network? Scan any of them right from your PC.
- A password manager is a must-have feature for any antivirus for Windows 7, 8 and 10. Not only does it prevent you from filling online forms manually, but also reliably protects your logins and passwords from a third-party access.
- A game mode. Nobody likes notifications of antivirus programs during gaming. When this feature is on, notifications are suspended.
- A file shredder. You may be aware of the fact that simply deleting the file you don’t delete it permanently. It can be restored if needed. A file shredder in your best antivirus for Windows 10 will help to eliminate files completely.
- A VPN client. If you care about privacy or need to stay anonymous from time to time, you may find this feature useful. That said, most people prefer to install a separate VPN app.
- Safe banking. If you often deal with online payments, opt for the best antivirus for Windows 10 with the feature of safe banking and provide the maximum security of every transaction.
- A safe browser. Sometimes, it can be convenient to have a dedicated browser for visiting certain sites. It uses the Incognito mode by default, provides a safe banking and offers an improved protection from fraudulent pages. If it is included in the package, why not use it.
- Add-ons for popular browsers. Not all the people like using antivirus plug-ins, preferring a full-featured app. But in some cases, it can be convenient.
Some providers offer their proprietary extra features. The detailed information is available in the reviews of the best antivirus software for Windows 7 through 10. But keep in mind that too many features are not always great. They can slow down the system noticeably and occupy space on your hard drive. So you need to understand clearly what you really need and what is excessive. The good news is that most features can be activated and deactivated manually at any time. Be attentive when downloading the antivirus and don’t install extra apps that you are not going to use in the future.
All the things taken together, what is the best antivirus for Windows 10? The answer to this question depends on several variables: level of protection you need, types of malware you want to protect yourself from, extra features you are going to use. The operating system also matters: in Windows 10 basic protection is provided by the built-in Defender. But if you are looking for the best antivirus for Windows 8, you may need a full-featured antivirus product. Finally, the price needs to be considered. As a rule, premium options have wider capabilities, but there are some great affordable solutions as well.