Most fans of powerful PCs have a negative opinion of security utilities designed to protect against viruses and malware, and it’s based on past trauma. We all remember annoying pop ups, system slowdowns, false positives, constant reminders to update, and our parent’s or grandparent’s computer being ruined by McAfee and Norton. Those were bad times, caused by bad software.
Good news; those days are over. We’re happy to report modern security software is light years better than it used to be. Sure there might be an annoyance now and then, and some software will remind you of Windows 10 with its constant need to be updated, but the manufacturers got the message that their software was often more hassle than it was worth, and seem to have remedied most – if not all – of the “features” that fueled a million online rants. Pretty much all of the programs we reviewed ran quickly, weren’t annoying, and didn’t suck up precious system resources. Modern PCs with SSDs are also much more capable at dealing with programs that need to scan things once in awhile.
Too Long; Didn’t Read
Below we’ve broken down the evolution of the AV software industry, as well as how we judged several of the most popular options on the market. Ultimately we landed on Webroot SecureAnywhere as the best overall antivirus option. Its scans are crazy fast, and crazy effective, which is basically all you can ask for in an AV suite. Read on if you want to know more!
Antivirus has also come of age too, and now most packages offer a much larger breadth of protection that can include defenses against malware, anti-phishing, credit card protection, ransomware, and lots more. Depending on how much you pay, you can get either a bare bones package or one that covers practically any threat your PC or phone might be vulnerable to these days. Pricing varies according to the level and duration of protection as well as the number of devices included in the license, making some programs sweet for families but less so for individuals.
To find out which antivirus program is the best we did deep dives on six of the most popular, focusing on the most well-known names in the industry. We performed some real-world usability testing but also relied heavily on sister pub PCMag.com’s extensive testing for each review as well since its incredibly thorough, and also based on a mix of lab results and real-world virus/malware tests. Tests included scan times, installation footprint, malware blocking, anti-phising blocking, and more. Be sure to click through to each service’s full reviews if you’re curious and want to know more.
Based on our testing, and the results of PCMag’s investigations, we’ve come up with a list of what we think are the best anti-virus packages currently available. All of them are actually quite good, but there is one that is clearly superior:
The Best Antivirus – Webroot SecureAnywhere
Webroot is our favorite for one simple reason – it performed the fastest scans out of all of the programs we tested by a huge margin, and since it’s cloud based it never needs to update itself. Also, once installed it gobbled up just… 1MB of space. That’s not a typo. Its footprint is so small and its level of interaction is so hands-off we barely even knew we were running it.
Naturally, that’s all fine and dandy as long as it can actually protect you, and fortunately it’s also quite effective. It scored a perfect 10/10 in malware testing, and was also one of the best programs tested for anti-phishing and ransomware too. It also comes with a free browser plug-in to help prevent you from visiting malicious sites, and has plenty of advanced controls too. Just about the only downside is its cloud-based nature means it only works when you’re online. But if you aren’t online, you hardly need virus protection to begin with.
All in all we think it’s the best because it’s a nag-free program that’s fast, light, and effective. What more could you ask of your security software? (Read our Webroot Review)
Bitdefender Total Security 2017
Bitdefender is a great option because it runs on auto-pilot most of the time, is extremely unobtrusive, and offers great protection at a pretty competitive price. Unlike most programs that only cover one device for the base subscription, Bitdefender lets you install it on up to five devices, including iOS, Android, and Mac too. Plus it’s got a bunch of useful extras like phishing protection, a file shredder, password manager, ransomware protection, and parental controls too.
Avast Free Version
We actually tested the paid version of Avast, but it doesn’t seem worth the price since the free version does 80 percent of what it does and costs absolutely nothing. You still get the same database for virus and malware protection, though you do have to suffer the indignity of seeing tiny lock icons on some elements of the UI. We still think it’s worth it. (Read our Avast Review)