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The best antivirus protection of 2020 for Windows 10

Your PC needs protection against malware, and free antivirus software may be enough. Here's the best antivirus protection to get for Windows 10, and what's worth paying extra for.

: Don't open mysterious messages and emails, don't give out personal information, don't tap questionable links or download apps from shady sites, use secure passwords, and keep your Windows software up to date.

You can also take a few extra internet security steps to make sure you're safe online with a PC: Use a?VPN?to protect your internet traffic, a?password manager?to keep track of login credentials, and an?end-to-end encrypted messaging app?to keep people from spying on your communications.? ?

Best Windows antivirus software


Software Free option? Subscription
Best free antivirus Microsoft Defender Yes (built-in to Windows) (businesses only)
Best subscription antivirus Norton 360 Deluxe
No
Best on-demand malware removal Malwarebytes Yes ?/?

But if you are looking for legitimate software to keep your Windows device secure, a good first step is to run the best antivirus software. The best antivirus suite and antivirus tools monitor your app downloads and watch for malicious software and suspicious software behavior.

And here's the first important thing for you to know about the best antivirus software and antivirus products: Microsoft Defender -- the free antivirus program and internet security software that comes free with?Windows 10787彩票开户 and until recently was called Microsoft? -- does a fine job of protecting your PC and providing internet security. (Amazingly, Microsoft provided no built-in protection for Windows back in the days of Windows 98 and XP.) Using Microsoft Defender should be your starting point for the best antivirus security on Windows, and most users will find they don't need to go any further.

787彩票开户However, you can make the case that the Windows security ecosystem is healthier when users don't depend on just one company for protection from a virus or malware. If you favor robust platform diversity, you can easily find solid virus or malware protection from third-party security companies that are up to the task of guarding your PC for free. And most let you also protect all your devices with an annual subscription -- though, it's important to note, that's largely unnecessary outside the Windows realm.

To that end, we've put together a list of the best antivirus products for Windows, encompassing both free antivirus programs and subscription options. These picks of the best antivirus programs are a combination of recommendations from independent third-party labs and and our hands-on testing.

787彩票开户Note that the free and paid security services discussed here are independently chosen by our editors. We're in the process of updating this full list, so check back for an update.

Update, October 21: 787彩票开户This list previously included Avast's antivirus as an alternate free choice, but we've pulled that recommendation in light of a report from?, possibly to insert malware into its CCleaner software. This is the .?

Our recommendations

Looking for free antivirus protection or virus detection, willing to pay for broad antivirus coverage across all your devices, or needing to remove a virus or?malware from your PC right now? Here's where to start.

Microsoft

Free version?787彩票开户 Yes, built into Windows 10

Paid version:?787彩票开户?is available to corporate users for a fee

Honestly, if you consistently practice safe computing -- you keep your software up to date, you use strong passwords (with the help of password manager) and you steer clear of unexpected emails and links -- you probably can stay clear of zero-day attacks and ransomware attacks. And with Microsoft's free Microsoft Defender Antivirus software running on Windows 10, you have a safety net if you do let your guard down. (Note that Microsoft recently and has expanded the service to other platforms.) This antivirus program is literally built into Windows -- just leave it turned on (it is by default) and let it do its thing and this will cover the basics. Microsoft pushes new updates daily.

Read more: The best password managers and how to use them

Norton

Platforms:?Windows 10 plus MacOS, Android, iOS

Cost:?$100 per year for five devices, on sale for $60

787彩票开户For a long time, respected security company Norton Security from Symantec, now called NortonLifeLock, has??from AV-Test for virus and malware detection. A five-device subscription via Norton Security is normally $99.99, but you can sign up for $59.99 to get coverage across PCs, Macs, Android devices, and iPhones and iPads. (But note, again, that we don't think antivirus protection is terribly useful outside the Windows realm.) In addition to malware and virus protection, you get 100GB of automatic backup to the cloud, safe-browsing tools, a VPN, an easy device management via a web-browser console and LifeLock identity-theft protection.

Read more: The guide to password security (and why you should care)

Malwarebytes

Platforms: Windows 10 plus MacOS, Android

Free version? Yes, after 14-day trial expires

Paid version: $40 per year for one device, $60 per year for three devices

Malwarebytes does protect your PC from a virus or malware, scoring well? for guarding against malware infections. But that's not really what Malwarebytes is known for. If you find yourself in trouble, the go-to disinfectant for many is Malwarebytes. You can get protection and disinfection for one device for $40 a year. To cover 10 devices -- any combination of Windows, MacOS and Android -- it's $130. To get the free antivirus version, , which "downgrades" to a no-fee on-demand cleaner with fewer features that detects and removes viruses and malware when you run an on-demand scan.

Read more: (TechRepublic)

Also worth considering

787彩票开户In addition to the three antivirus apps we recommend above, a handful of other anti-malware tools are worth considering among the best antivirus protection if you find them at a better price or prefer to use one over our picks above.

Platform: Windows

Free version??Yes

Paid version:?787彩票开户$80 per year for three PCs; $120 Family Pack per year for 15 devices

If you'd like to take a step up in securing your PC without taxing your wallet, it's hard to beat Bitdefender's free anti-virus software for Windows 10. The Windows security software offers real-time monitoring for viruses, malware and spyware and ransomware protection. Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition is easy to set up and stays out of your way until you need it. And the protection it offers is solid. Bitdefender? for its antivirus protection and usability from the respected AV-Test independent testing lab. The free antivirus version covers one Windows PC. For broader protection, Bitdefender Internet Security is $80 MSRP and available at the moment for. It lets you protect three computers, set up parental controls on a kid's computer and run a VPN. To protect every device you own, the Bitdefender Family Pack can secure 15 total device -- Windows, Android, iOS and MacOS -- in your home for $120 MSRP and discounted to??right now.

Read More: This is the best free password manager

Platforms:?787彩票开户Windows 10 plus MacOS, Android, iOS

Cost:?$120 per year for 10 devices, on sale for $45

It feels like the company has been around forever, first on its own in the '80s, then as part of Intel starting in 2010, and then again on its own when Intel spun it off in 2017. And it's been around forever because quarter after quarter it creates solid security software that protects your PC. (In by AV-Test it had perfect scores on detecting 0-day attacks and blocking current widespread viruses and malware.) McAfee Total Protection guards against viruses and offers ransomware protection, wards off shady websites, includes a password manager and lets you manage all your protected devices through web console. A 10-device subscription is normally $120 MSRP, but currently is $45 for any combination of Windows, MacOS, Android and iOS devices.

Platforms:?Windows 10 plus MacOS, Android, iOS

Cost:?$90 per year for 10 devices, on sale for $50

Maybe not as well known to consumers because of its focus on enterprise security, Trend Micro quietly brings its business expertise to the home with its Trend Micro Maximum Security tools. Trend Micro's software earns high marks from??-- scoring 100 percent of detecting 0-day attacks and widespread viruses and malware. And Trend Micro does a good job of not taxing system resources. Trend Micro's 10-device subscription for computers and mobile devices is $90 MSRP but discounted currently at $50.

Read more: This is the browser you'll want if you care about online privacy

Platform:?Windows

Cost:?$59 per year for three PCs

787彩票开户If you are looking for something easy to set up and use, ESET NOD antivirus may meet your needs. It earns??for usability and offers solid virus protection. And its Android antivirus gets top marks .

What about Kaspersky?

Because the company has been in the news the past few years, let's talk about -- specifically about the federal ban that blocks US government agencies from using Kaspersky products.

Based in Moscow, Kaspersky Lab has for years produced some of the best antivirus software for business antivirus needs and home customers. But in 2017 the US government prohibited Kaspersky software on federal government computers because of alleged ties between Kaspersky and the Russian government.

Notably, the ban does not apply to . But, like China-based Huawei787彩票开户, the question remains: If the federal government doesn't think the products are safe enough for its own devices, should consumers avoid it as well?

In a statement sent to CNET, the company said, "Kaspersky Lab has no ties to any government, and the company has never, nor will ever, engage in cyber offensive activities. Kaspersky Lab maintains that no public evidence of any wrongdoing has been presented by the U.S. Government, and that the U.S. government's actions against Kaspersky Lab were unconstitutional."

787彩票开户In Kaspersky's favor, it continues to?for virus and malware detection and endpoint security from independent testing labs. And with basic antivirus protection for three devices running $30 a year, or blanket protection for 10 devices -- with Kaspersky Total Security -- for $75 a year. In comparison, the Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus program costs $37.50 per year for three devices -- and a single device on Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus costs $30 a year.?

In the end, even though no one has ever publicly produced a "smoking gun" linking the company to Russian intrigue, we think any of the options listed above are a safer bet. And, if you are a US government employee or work with the federal government, you'll want to steer clear of Kaspersky.

Antivirus basics: What to look for

787彩票开户Picking the best antivirus software for Windows means finding one that keeps your PC safe, doesn't take up a lot of system resources, is easy to use and stays out of the way till you need it. Here's what to look for.

Effectiveness. Antivirus scans for a known virus and malware, of course, and can offer real-time protection. And it watches for shady websites and suspicious links to keep you out of trouble. It can also offer ransomware protection and monitor unexpected behavior that may be a sign of new and not-yet-identified viruses and malware. You want antivirus that can successfully identify these unknown online threats without flagging too many false positives.

Light on system resources. You don't want antivirus that taxes your PC's resources. If after you install antivirus, websites open slowly, apps download or open sluggishly, or file copies take longer than expected, you may want to try another service. The good news is, all our picks offer a free trial to let you try out the antivirus program, so if your system feels sluggish after you install antivirus solutions, you may want to keep looking.

Cost and discounts. 787彩票开户Don't just pay the sticker price for antivirus. Before you buy, check for discounts on a company's website. Another way to save: The prices we list above are for 10 devices -- if the company offered that package -- but you can trim your cost with antivirus packages if you need to cover just three or five devices. You may also find discounts on an app's Amazon page.

Privacy. To be effective, antivirus software needs to monitor what's going on with your PC and check in with company servers about unusual behavior. The companies say they anonymize this technical data as much as possible to protect your privacy. But if you want to know more, the security companies on our list post privacy policies on their websites, so read their privacy statement to learn what the companies do with the information you share.

Protection for other platforms. Microsoft is by far for viruses and malware. But Android is second, with the largest threat coming from sideloaded apps -- those you install outside?Google's Play Store. 0.99 percent of apps installed outside the Play Store were a potentially harmful app, or PHA. For those installed from the Play Store, the number drops to 0.042 percent. To stay safe, we do not recommend sideloading apps, but sometimes, like with Fortnite787彩票开户, you might want to. In that case, running virus and malware protection from a trusted security company is not a bad idea.

The threat to MacOS and especially iOS are low, in part because of the tight control Apple787彩票开户 has over its app stores. While the Mac??via sideloaded apps, if you download apps only from the Mac and iOS app stores, and keep your guard up when clicking links and download files, you should be OK without an antivirus app on Apple devices.

Read more:787彩票开户??(TechRepublic)

Originally published earlier. Updated to clarify Norton pricing details and LifeLock service options, and to note the removal of the earlier Avast recommendation.

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