The Best Antivirus Software - Paid Antivirus And Free Software
Smart internet practices are important – be careful when visiting unknown sites, and don’t click links from unknown senders. But even if we are tech-savvy and avoid obvious scams, there’s a chance you could make a mistake. For our own protection, many of us use anti-virus software to keep our machines and devices safe.
Before choosing anti-virus protection, it’s best to ask yourself what you need it for. Do you want to protect your kids from the unsavory corners of the internet, or do you want an all-encompassing solution? A lot may depend on your familiarity online as well; an experienced user may require a cheaper, less robust solution than a more naïve, new internet user.
There are also factors – like the number of devices you hope to protect, and the operating systems they run on. The security of your network is vital to maintain safety on your devices.
Most major providers have gone to a yearly licensing system, meaning the days of up-front, one time costs are over. Most providers offer a free alternative, which will scan your computer but offer nothing near the paid offerings for each provider. With that said, some free offerings do provide malware detection and prevention, and some even provide password managers and a more protected web browser.
If you research which provider is best, you’ll come across different opinions. Kaspersky, Bitdefender, Norton, Trend, Sophos, McAfee, and other competitors all provide relatively comparable services. We recommend looking at the unique features of each, and cross-referencing them with your requirements. Consider the following before choosing:
- How much customization will be necessary on your network?
- What’s the greatest risk to your network?
- How much are you willing to pay?
- What type of machines are on your network, and do they all need to be protected?
- What’s your level of knowledge online?
- How many operating systems are you protecting?
- How much computer memory/usage are you comfortable devoting to anti-virus?
These questions should help guide you towards the anti-virus protection that is right for you.
Let’s look at some of the leading manufacturers and their offerings:
Kaspersky Total Security
Many believe Kaspersky has the best offering on the market. With nearly total malware detection, it also provides helpful features like parental controls, a password manager, and two factor authentication wherever you go. The only detractions are the amount of memory in use and a VPN limit unless you are willing to pay extra.
Bitdefender Antivirus Plus
Bitdefender also offers strong malware protection, with a lot less memory use and at a faster speed. It doesn’t offer the same level of computer protection as other providers, but it’s a viable option for any mid-level user, and among the best value on the market.
Norton 360 Deluxe
Norton is a well-respected, long serving anti-virus provider. Like the other offerings mentioned, it provides excellent malware protection, and offers helpful extras like backup software manager, online storage, and unlimited VPN use. Norton comes at a slightly higher cost than some, and the thorough package does use a considerable amount of memory.
Trend Micro Maximum Security
Trend is another reasonable option, but has been known to result in some false-positive tests. It’s a reasonable malware protector but doesn’t provide the same number of options as some of the providers above.
Sophos Home Premium
Sophos is a cheaper, simple provider. Originally a provider to businesses exclusively, Sophos’ home offering doesn’t have some features – like a password manager, or identity theft protection – but it does have the essential malware protection to keep you safe.
McAfee Internet Security
McAfee is another long-time provider in the field. It’s a nice option if you want to protect a number of machines at a reasonable cost. It will also protect different operating systems, like Windows, OS X, iOS and Android.
Avast Premier Security
Avast is a growing player in the market, having recently bought anti-virus competitor, AVG. Avast is a competitive player, with multi-platform coverage similar to McAfee.
Perhaps you are looking for a basic offering, and not willing to pay for a product quite yet. Most major providers offer a free service, albeit with fewer features.
The Microsoft offering provides stronger than expected malware protection, and is included with the latest Windows offerings. It’s not quite on the level of some of the heavier options, but it operates behind the scenes to keep you safe.
Features are relatively limited – and there’s an emphasis on protecting Microsoft applications – but it provides a level of security not previous seen on the Windows platform.
Avast Free Anti-Virus
Avast’s free offering is far from perfect, but providers a customizable service with some useful features like a password manager and a hardened browser to keep you safe. With the ability to customize, you can set it to your needs.
Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition
Bitdefender’s free offering offers the essentials to protect your computer. It doesn’t have any extra features, and virtually no customization, but the services it does offer work well and fast. You may forget that Bitdefender is even on your computer.
Kaspersky Security Cloud Free
Like the paid offering, Kaspersky offers one of the best free anti-virus tools. The malware protection is very strong, but it doesn’t have the full suite of services the paid version would. It doesn’t use a lot of memory, and even comes with additional features.