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Top 5 Antivirus Software Programs of 2018

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If you don’t already have antivirus software for PC, you’ll want to add it now. Malware coders don’t have to make ideal predictions to win their dirty little games. A few victims who didn’t have the habit to install computer antivirus software is all they need. A top rated antivirus software will shield you from many internet security threats, but you also must remain watchful about your cybersecurity.

Just don’t become paranoid. Yes, hackers pose a real danger, and a well-protected computer requires a good antivirus software. We test the latest antivirus programs, both for PC and mobile devices, just to help you make the best choice. Make sure your antivirus software for PC is completely up to date and you’ll be fine.

Best Antivirus for PC

I did say antivirus, but the truth is, it’s unlikely for you to get hit with an actual computer virus. Most of the online threats today come from various forms of malware, though “virus” has stuck as the most common used term. Malware these days is about making money, and one of the ongoing and fastest-growing threats is ransomware.

A ransom virus infects your computer by restricting access to your hard drive or preventing you from surfing the internet. The hacker then demands payment (that usually ranges from a couple hundred to several thousand dollars) in order to remove the malware. A ransomware virus can look legitimate. For example, it can tell you that your license number for a particular software application has expired and you need to repurchase the license. Unfortunately, once payment is made, often the hacker skips out and leaves the malware intact. Some of the trickiest ransomware hackers have gained millions of dollars from unsuspecting victims.

There are only few antivirus software for PC that have leaped in to tackle this area of cybersecurity. Some of the best computer virus protection programs that particularly target ransomware are BitDefender and Symantec Norton Security Deluxe.

Many websites use cookies, which are small files stored on a user’s computer and collect your personal data every time you visit a website. They are then used for spam email, adware, and annoying pop-up ads, causing your computer to run slower. The best antivirus for PC is designed to evolve as the internet threats change and will run quietly in the background, scanning your computer for invaders. Your computer will perform smoothly without lags, and you won’t even know that your computer antivirus software is working while you are browsing, gaming or watching movies online.

A top rated antivirus will combat these and many other threats by detecting the malicious programs that try to enter your computer and quarantining and removing the ones that do get through. If you’re still using last year’s antivirus software for PC, you’re at serious risk of being infected. It’s time to upgrade, so read our biggest ever compare antivirus software test to see which program you should now download.

What’s The Best Antivirus for PC

Choosing which antivirus software for PC to use is one of the most important decisions you make, so it’s crucial you know which one will offer best computer virus protection. You’ll find this in the most detailed antivirus comparison test we’ve ever carried out. We considered 10 different internet security antivirus products and narrowed it down to the 5 top rated antivirus software programs. During our research, over 100 new threats were introduced to see how well each computer antivirus software identified and blocked unfamiliar threats. We looked at how often it recognized legitimate websites, without falsely tagging them as internet threats.

What makes our antivirus ratings so accurate is that we only throw live threats at the antivirus software programs — these are viruses that currently exist online, and therefore the kind of realistic dangers you may come across while browsing the web. Many other tests published online use hypothetical threats, not those that are currently infecting PCs, which undermines the reliability of the results.

In this antivirus comparison, we used the results from our latest antivirus for PC test, using the most up-to-date software available. You’ll first read how well paid-for products blocked the latest threats, then discover which free antivirus software we recommend. Choosing between free antivirus software and paid-for antivirus is always tricky, but we hope we’ve given you enough advice to make an informed decision.

1. Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2018

(Rating: 5/5)

$29.99 — Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2018

Pros:Cons:Security History:
Incredibly effective at blocking malware; 100% accuracy at allowing legitimate software.
Mobile detection is available for extra cost.
A strong record of highly effective protection and accuracy with legitimate software.

BitDefender’s computer antivirus software have consistently performed well in our antivirus comparison tests over the years. In this test it prevented 98 of 100 threats from appearing on our PC. It did allow two malicious programs to install, but then identified them as threats and deleted them. Bitdefender Antivirus Plus was particularly effective in blocking access to malicious webpages, which kills the attack at the first hurdle. This provides a strong defense against malware.

In three out of the four tests we ran, Bitdefender Antivirus Plus came top for overall accuracy. This rating takes into account not only how many threats are eliminated, but also how often it wrongly blocks legitimate software, which is called a false-positive result. It would be quite easy for a security company to build computer antivirus software that stopped all threats — it would simply have to block all software installing and the running of all software. Of course, this ultra-cautious approach stops you from actually using your computer properly. In reality, a top rated antivirus has to find the right balance between blocking threats and allowing legitimate software. BitDefender has clearly achieved a good balance because it allowed every legitimate program to run, while overall thwarting 99 out of 100 threats.

There are many ways to reduce the chances of your computer being hacked but few are as effective as ensuring your software is kept up to date. BitDefender comes with continuous updates, a new feature that accelerates and simplifies upgrading to improved antivirus detector. Every few months, BitDefender will let you know about the new functionalities added to your computer antivirus software.

The new advanced ransomware protection feature lets you create distinctive folders for your necessary files, and protects them against any ransom virus attacks. It also notifies you about any malware attempts.

In the past, most internet security antivirus companies only created 3-PC licenses for their best antivirus programs. However, they now make packages available with licenses for one, three and sometimes even five or ten PCs. The deals with the most licenses are the best value, assuming you need to protect more than one computer. BitDefender sells up to 10-Devices licenses, so if you need to protect that many devices then paying $59.99 for this package is your only realistic option.

But if you have just few devices to protect, the 3-Device license is reasonable value at $26.79. True, with Norton Security Deluxe you get 5-Devices product for $39.99, but BitDefender’s outstanding performance is not a flash in the pan. Its antivirus software for PC has consistently been one of the most effective at blocking threats and it has a superb record at letting legitimate software through. In this case, protection and convenience come at a cost, but the peace of mind they bring justifies the extra cash.

2. Norton Security Deluxe 2018

(Rating: 4.5/5)

$39.99 — Norton Security Deluxe 2018

Pros:Cons:Security History:
Incredibly effective at killing malware; low price at $39.99 for 5-Devices protection.
The antivirus software for PC blocked a couple of safe programs.
A consistent top performer for the past eight years, after failing to impress before.

Norton Security Deluxe provided top rated virus protection in this antivirus comparison test (blocking 99 out of 100 threats) and has a low price, so why didn’t it win?

Well, it made a few mistakes when handling legitimate software, blocking two safe programs that we tried to install and recommending that we cease installing a third. In contrast, BitDefender Antivirus Plus allowed all the legitimate software to install.

That said, while these false-positives are annoying and disruptive, they are much less disastrous than a malware infection, so you should definitely consider buying Norton Security Deluxe, especially if you’re on a tight budget because $39.99 for a 5-Devices license is excellent value.

Overall the computer antivirus software performed excellently, but this was no one-off success story. In the past year Norton scored highly in our compare antivirus software tests. Only BitDefender was better during 2016.

Prior to the past eight years or so, Norton’s best antivirus program had a poor reputation for protecting PCs. Versions released from 2009 onwards show that it’s possible for an anti-malware program to improve dramatically and provide top rated virus protection.

3. Kaspersky Antivirus 2018

(Rating: 4.5/5)

$39.95 — Kaspersky Antivirus 2018

Pros:Cons:Security History:
Extremely effective at blocking malware; 100% accurate when handling legitimate software.
Expensive at $39.95 for one Device or $75.95 for three.
A long-standing track record of top rated virus protection that significantly improved during 2016.

There wasn’t a lot dividing the 3 best antivirus programs, with small margins deciding the positions. The overall protection from Kaspersky’s top rated antivirus was actually less robust than BitDefender’s and even Norton’s. It blocked 98% of the threats before they could run, and terminated another two before they could do serious damage.

However, Norton Security Deluxe needlessly blocked a lot of safe software. In contrast, Kaspersky’s computer antivirus software didn’t block a single safe program.

Kaspersky Antivirus improved a lot during 2016, delivering good results early on, and brilliant results in the second half of the year. It’s not cheap, but its offer of top rated virus protection combined with accurate handling of legitimate software makes it difficult to choose between this and offerings from BitDefender and Norton.

4. Panda Antivirus Pro

(Rating: 4/5)

$17.49 — Panda Antivirus Pro

Pros:Cons:Security History:
Panda Antivirus Pro achieved top ratings in rigorous performance and usability tests.
Live chat and phone support are only available for an extra fee.
Top rated virus protection against malware but lacks some features of the top rated antivirus products.

Panda antivirus performed best in our most recent analysis, although it had an erratic year overall, only excelling in our second test. Since then it hasn’t appeared in the top three of any test. It’s clearly one of the best antivirus for PC, but isn’t as consistent as paid-for rivals BitDefender Antivirus Plus, Kaspersky Anti-Virus and Norton Security Deluxe, or even the Avira Free Antivirus.

Panda Antivirus Pro accurately prevented malware attacks and recognized the difference between an internet threat and an authentic website. Incredibly low price at $17.49 for 1-Device or $24.99 for 3-Devices protection.

5. Avast Pro Antivirus

(Rating: 4/5)

$49.99 — Avast Pro Antivirus

Pros:Cons:Security History:
Perfect protection scores for the latest Windows 10 OS; detects when your apps are out of date and updates them for you.
Expensive at $49.99 for one device or $59.99 for three.
Famous for its free version, Avast is a top rated antivirus for the past ten years.

Avast Pro Antivirus showed a good level of protection in our latest test, but blocked 16% of safe software, an unacceptably high proportion. Because of this, it would suit ultra-cautious users, but bear in mind that it’s likely to block programs you download and install.

Avast is a top rated antivirus company in the industry. Avast Pro Antivirus comes with a host of extra features, such as Sandbox, Real Site encryption, Wi-Fi Inspector and other useful security features. In protection, performance and detection rates, Avast Pro Antivirus runs with the best.

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