The best antivirus software works quietly in the background, leaving you alone to browse the internet in peace. Many have devolved into annoying adverts that are hard to get rid of, while others don’t seem to do much of anything. With so many on the market, it’s difficult to find out which is which, and if they’re any good in the first place.
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Why is Antivirus Software so Important?
From business to personal use, we’re spending more time on the internet overall. Trusting a growing list of websites and devices with critical information is dangerous, despite their protests to the contrary.
Antivirus software is increasingly important to protect your devices from a wide array of potential attacks. The 2017 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) looked at cybersecurity issues in the US, and found a large rise in the use of ransomware, moving up to fifth on their list. It was 22nd in 2016, showing just how quickly it’s growing.
The UK government commissioned a report on cyber security breaches in 2017 in which research showed:
“That virtually all UK businesses covered by the survey are exposed to cyber security risks. Since 2016, the proportion with websites (85%) or social media pages (59%) has risen (by 8 and 9 percentage points respectively), as has the use of cloud services (from 49% to 59%).”
Antivirus software has been around for three decades, and it’s becoming increasingly important for everyday use.
What We Look for in the Best Antivirus Software
Websites and companies like Ashley Madison and Sony have been caught out by hacks and phishing in the past, showing how easy it is to be caught out by clever hackers with a little know-how. If it can happen to a company with a dedicated security team as large as Sony’s, it can happen to you. On a smaller scale, anything from email attachments to job posts can be used to try and extract your info.
We used a range of criteria to decide which antivirus software is best to keep you safe on a range of different devices. Avoiding malware, adware, spyware and the rest is the most important aspect, freeing you to be able to enjoy a wider range of activities online with no danger of being compromised. You can expect to be properly protected by any of the antivirus services on our list, while most have additional features to separate them from the pack.
#1 TotalAV – Best Antivirus Software 2018
TotalAV makes the grade as the best antivirus software 2018 is likely to see. They’re affordable and simple to use, and they even have a VPN to add another layer of security to your connection and data. While their trial version is extremely limited, their ‘essential’ package is one of the best available, with real-time protection from all kinds of malware and viruses.
The TotalAV Essential Antivirus package is priced at $19.99 for 12 months with an additional 30-day money-back guarantee.
You can’t do much better than Norton thanks to their mix of trustworthiness and sheer usability. They have heaps of bonus features and settings you can toggle to customise your experience, and great customer service if you do run into any issues. Norton have three packages to choose from, depending on the number of devices you’d like to use.
It’s $39.99 for one, $49.99 for five, and $54.99 for ten. Any yearly plan is covered by their 60-day return policy, highlighting their confidence in the overall service.
Sign up with Norton here.
Panda’s security features are notable, with capable URL filtering to block any suspicious links before they open. It’s accurate and intuitive thanks to their years of experience with antivirus software, and they have decent application controls to customise your setup.
Their cheapest antivirus plan is priced at $19.99 for one device, and it costs $37.49 to protect three. There’s also a premium version that comes in at $52.49. Their refund policy is valid for the first 30 days.
Lastly, we have BullGuard. It’s cheap, fast, and simple to use. The three make for a great combination, and it means the London-based developer’s antivirus software scores highly on our list. It’s responsive and consistently updated, with no major flaws to speak of.
It’s priced at $19.96 per year for antivirus cover on one PC, with their Internet Security package priced separately at $19.98. For the best results, their premium protection plan is currently discounted to $20.98 per year for multiple devices.
ScanGuard are a smaller service with decent antivirus protection. Available on a range of mobile and desktop devices, they offer the typical range of anti-spyware to complement their built-in VPN.
Their pricing policy is simple to understand, with three devices covered by their flat yearly fee of $49.00. Refunds are given within the first 30 days of any purchase, so you’ll have a chance to try before you buy. (Although you will have to pay up first.)
#6 PC Protect
PC Protect essentially offer the exact same deal as Scanguard. That’s no bad thing, as it’s a competent service with great security and malware protection. They have a built-in VPN, and a great range of platform support. We tested it thoroughly for the purposes of our antivirus review, finding no major flaws aside from the relative cost compared to the rest.
Three devices are covered for a year at $49.00, and they offer a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Best Free Antivirus versus Paid Antivirus
Windows Defender can only do so much, and dedicated antivirus software will always be a benefit. However, nothing in life is free, and that’s especially true of ‘free’ software. The best antivirus software will always be locked behind a paywall, and free services are generally there to generate sales by moving customers over to the premium version.
With the best will in the world, even the best free antivirus software will struggle to compete with a paid service offering customer support and frequent updates. That’s before we get to the restrictions put in place to prompt you to cough up the cash, which usually involves withholding useful features in a bid to frustrate you. (The worst thing is, it works.)
Think back to any ‘free’ version of a paid app you’ve tried out in the past. They’re generally never any good, aside from *WinRAR.
*Even WinRAR constantly told you to pay, despite nobody I know ever doing so.
Always Update Your Antivirus Software
If you take one thing away from reading this, make sure you always remember to update your antivirus software regularly. As well as the improvements you’ll see with the new software, it’ll also eliminate any flaws or exploits discovered in the previous version.
Automatic updates are the easiest way to ensure you’re always up to date. There’s always a chance that the new software could have a bug or two, but it’s better than leaving it to be updated manually. If you forget, you could end up being open to more hacks and attacks.
Get the Best Antivirus Software 2018
Most ‘best antivirus’ reviews focus on gimmicky features and ‘free’ deals, but we’ve simply focused on the very best that money can buy. They’ll protect against most questionable websites, allowing you to click risky links with no danger of dodgy downloads.