<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Plenty of Windows users believe they don't need to pay for antivirus software. Many Mac and Android users think they don't need protection at all. Windows' high profile makes it the biggest target, but macOS and Android are also vulnerable to malware, even if they don’t encounter as much of it.” data-reactid=”11″>Plenty of Windows users believe they don’t need to pay for antivirus software. Many Mac and Android users think they don’t need protection at all. Windows’ high profile makes it the biggest target, but macOS and Android are also vulnerable to malware, even if they don’t encounter as much of it.

We believe it’s worth paying for Windows antivirus software, because even the best free software leaves out some protection features we consider essential. But you don’t have to spend a lot. Many antivirus products are sold online for much less than their list prices. Mac and Android users have other options: Some of our favorite Mac AV products cost nothing, and most Android security apps have free versions.

Different Types of Antivirus Software

Latest Security Alerts and Threats

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="— A new form of Mac malware evades Apple’s Gatekeeper program and hides from antivirus software. ADVICE: Run Mac antivirus software, since the malware won’t run at all if it detects it on a machine.” data-reactid=”20″>— A new form of Mac malware evades Apple’s Gatekeeper program and hides from antivirus software. ADVICE: Run Mac antivirus software, since the malware won’t run at all if it detects it on a machine.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="— A powerful feature of Microsoft Excel, called Power Query or Get &amp; Transform, can be exploited to install malware, and Microsoft can't just disable it globally. ADVICE: Disable the feature yourself by following our instructions here.” data-reactid=”21″>— A powerful feature of Microsoft Excel, called Power Query or Get & Transform, can be exploited to install malware, and Microsoft can’t just disable it globally. ADVICE: Disable the feature yourself by following our instructions here.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="— Five million people had sensitive personal data exposed by an unprotected online database used by MedicareSupplement.com, which helps U.S. residents over age 65 find supplemental medical insurance. ADVICE: If you’ve used MedicareSupplement.com, request a free credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com to check recent activity, and consider signing up with an identity-protection service.” data-reactid=”22″>— Five million people had sensitive personal data exposed by an unprotected online database used by MedicareSupplement.com, which helps U.S. residents over age 65 find supplemental medical insurance. ADVICE: If you’ve used MedicareSupplement.com, request a free credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com to check recent activity, and consider signing up with an identity-protection service.

How We Tested

Our evaluations were based on an antivirus product’s interface, performance, protection and extra features. Was the interface intuitive and user-friendly? How badly did malware scans slow performance? How well did the program detect and remove malware? Does the program have any additional tools, and are they useful?

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="All of our Windows tests were performed on the same Asus X555LA laptop running 64-bit Windows 8.1 (later upgraded to Windows 10), with an Intel Core i3 processor, 6GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive containing 36GB of files. To assess a program’s impact on system speed, we used our custom OpenOffice benchmark test, which matches 20,000 names and addresses on a spreadsheet. The longer it took the laptop to finish the test, the heavier the performance impact. For smartphones, we used the Geekbench 3 benchmarking app.” data-reactid=”25″>All of our Windows tests were performed on the same Asus X555LA laptop running 64-bit Windows 8.1 (later upgraded to Windows 10), with an Intel Core i3 processor, 6GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive containing 36GB of files. To assess a program’s impact on system speed, we used our custom OpenOffice benchmark test, which matches 20,000 names and addresses on a spreadsheet. The longer it took the laptop to finish the test, the heavier the performance impact. For smartphones, we used the Geekbench 3 benchmarking app.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Our Mac evaluations were conducted on a late-2013 MacBook Pro running OS X El Capitan 10.11. The Mac had a 2.6-GHz Intel Core i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM and 23GB of data on a 512GB SSD. For Android, we used a Nexus 6P smartphone running Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow.” data-reactid=”26″>Our Mac evaluations were conducted on a late-2013 MacBook Pro running OS X El Capitan 10.11. The Mac had a 2.6-GHz Intel Core i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM and 23GB of data on a 512GB SSD. For Android, we used a Nexus 6P smartphone running Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="For malware-detection scores, we've used the results of four independent testing labs: AV-TEST in Germany, AV-Comparatives in Austria, SE Labs in England and our own labs in Utah. Each lab subjects the major antivirus brands’ products to stress tests involving thousands of pieces of malware, including hundreds of previously unseen samples.” data-reactid=”27″>For malware-detection scores, we’ve used the results of four independent testing labs: AV-TEST in Germany, AV-Comparatives in Austria, SE Labs in England and our own labs in Utah. Each lab subjects the major antivirus brands’ products to stress tests involving thousands of pieces of malware, including hundreds of previously unseen samples.

Windows Antivirus Software Types

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Most antivirus makers have three or four tiers of Windows products, with each price bump adding extra features, such as parental controls or cloud backups. But because each company uses a single malware-detection engine for all its Windows antivirus software, the cheapest item — even a free one — in any product line usually finds malware just as thoroughly as the priciest.” data-reactid=”29″>Most antivirus makers have three or four tiers of Windows products, with each price bump adding extra features, such as parental controls or cloud backups. But because each company uses a single malware-detection engine for all its Windows antivirus software, the cheapest item — even a free one — in any product line usually finds malware just as thoroughly as the priciest.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Not all users will need premium suites, or even midrange products. If you don’t have kids, or if you already have backup software, the basic product may be enough.” data-reactid=”30″>Not all users will need premium suites, or even midrange products. If you don’t have kids, or if you already have backup software, the basic product may be enough.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="MORE: How to Buy Antivirus Software” data-reactid=”31″>MORE: How to Buy Antivirus Software

<h2 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Basic or Entry-Level Windows Antivirus” data-reactid=”32″>Basic or Entry-Level Windows Antivirus

The least-expensive paid Windows antivirus products, which generally list from $40 to $60 per year depending on the number of PCs covered, have the essentials. Definition updates and scans are automatic; websites and email attachments are screened, and the products are mostly easy to use. Some basic AV programs toss in extra features, such as file shredders or system optimizers, that are normally found in pricier products.

<h3 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Best Basic Antivirus Product” data-reactid=”34″>Best Basic Antivirus Product

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Bitdefender Antivirus Plus
<h3 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Bitdefender Antivirus Plus” data-reactid=”60″>Bitdefender Antivirus Plus

Best Basic Antivirus Product

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Visit Site” data-reactid=”62″>Visit Site

Very good malware protection

Little performance slowdown

Lots of useful extra features

Slow initial disk scan

Not great at blocking targeted attacks

Not only does Bitdefender Antivirus Plus have nearly perfect malware-detection scores, but it also offers great value, with a strong selection of extra tools. You’ll find a built-in password manager, a secure browser, VPN client software, protection against encrypting ransomware and automatic profiles that optimize Bitdefender’s impact on your system, depending on whether you’re working, watching a movie or playing a game.

<h2 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Midpriced Windows Antivirus” data-reactid=”69″>Midpriced Windows Antivirus

These products usually list from $60 to $80 per year. They generally build on the basic packages by bundling in parental controls and a two-way firewall to catch outgoing data, although many add other features. But for the full feature set each brand offers, you’ll have to pony up for the premium products.

<h3 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Best Midrange Antivirus Product” data-reactid=”71″>Best Midrange Antivirus Product

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Kaspersky Internet Security

<h3 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Kaspersky Internet Security” data-reactid=”84″>Kaspersky Internet Security

Best Midrange Antivirus Product

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Visit Site” data-reactid=”86″>Visit Site

Nearly perfect malware protection

Many customization options

Password manager, backup software, rich parental controls

Light-to-moderate performance hit

Anti-Virus version has few extra features

Kaspersky takes first place among midrange antivirus software products, thanks to its excellent malware protection, a moderate system-performance impact and a full assortment of extra features and tools. Kaspersky Internet Security includes a secure browser, a virtual keyboard, specialized protection against ransomware, webcam protection to guard your privacy and VPN client software that automatically switches on when you connect to an unsafe Wi-Fi network.

<h2 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Premium Windows Antivirus” data-reactid=”93″>Premium Windows Antivirus

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Top-tier packages are often called suites because they do much more than catch malware. They might also offer file encryption, secure online storage, a password manager or an ad blocker. As most suites cover multiple devices, they also frequently bundle in licenses for Mac and Android antivirus software. For all this, you’re meant to pay between $80 and $100 per year — but as with all paid antivirus software, steep discounts can often be found online.” data-reactid=”94″>Top-tier packages are often called suites because they do much more than catch malware. They might also offer file encryption, secure online storage, a password manager or an ad blocker. As most suites cover multiple devices, they also frequently bundle in licenses for Mac and Android antivirus software. For all this, you’re meant to pay between $80 and $100 per year — but as with all paid antivirus software, steep discounts can often be found online.

<h3 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Best Premium Antivirus Product” data-reactid=”95″>Best Premium Antivirus Product

Kaspersky Total Security

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(Image: © Kaspersky)

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(Image: © Kaspersky)

<h3 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Kaspersky Total Security” data-reactid=”117″>Kaspersky Total Security

Best Premium PC Security Suite

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<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Visit Site” data-reactid=”120″>Visit Site

Nearly perfect malware protection

Many customization options

Password manager, backup software, rich parental controls

Light-to-moderate performance hit

Anti-Virus version has few extra features

Kaspersky Total Security has it all for those who want more than just excellent malware detection. This one rose to the top because it eliminates threats without generating many annoying false positives. We also like the included secure browser, which is ideal for online banking and shopping. Other highlights include a thorough file shredder and Windows backup and recovery software.

<h2 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Free Windows Antivirus” data-reactid=”127″>Free Windows Antivirus

Free Windows antivirus products have gotten much better, and our top two choices offer excellent malware detection, if little else. The others provide adequate protection with a smattering of goodies such as password managers or parental controls. Among those is Microsoft’s built-in Windows Defender, which has risen to the middle of our rankings. However, free antivirus software generally leaves out extra protection features such as dedicated defenses against ransomware or spam blockers.

<h3 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Best Free Windows Antivirus” data-reactid=”129″>Best Free Windows Antivirus

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Kasperky Free Antivirus

<h3 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Kasperky Free Antivirus” data-reactid=”151″>Kasperky Free Antivirus

Best Free Windows Antivirus

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Visit Site” data-reactid=”153″>Visit Site

Excellent malware protection

Light-to-moderate performance hit

Fast scanning

Some customization options

Bare-bones with few extra features

Kaspersky Lab largely keeps quiet about its free antivirus product, but it’s a winner, with a user-friendly interface, a fairly light system-performance impact and Kaspersky’s nearly flawless malware protection. Just don’t expect anything from it but the bare necessities.

<h2 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Mac Antivirus” data-reactid=”160″>Mac Antivirus

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Despite what Apple's marketing has implied, Macs do get infected, and the amount of Mac malware keeps rising, with more seen in the first half of 2017 than in any previous year. But there's less money to be made in the Mac antivirus market than in the Windows one, and the products are less standardized. Some Mac antivirus products are free, and some are paid. Of the products we recently evaluated, one of our No. 2 choices, Avast Free Mac Security, doesn’t cost a dime.” data-reactid=”161″>Despite what Apple’s marketing has implied, Macs do get infected, and the amount of Mac malware keeps rising, with more seen in the first half of 2017 than in any previous year. But there’s less money to be made in the Mac antivirus market than in the Windows one, and the products are less standardized. Some Mac antivirus products are free, and some are paid. Of the products we recently evaluated, one of our No. 2 choices, Avast Free Mac Security, doesn’t cost a dime.

<h3 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Best Mac Antivirus” data-reactid=”162″>Best Mac Antivirus

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Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac

<h3 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac” data-reactid=”184″>Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac

Best Mac Antivirus

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Visit Site” data-reactid=”186″>Visit Site

Perfect malware detection

Minimal system impact

Parental controls

Dense menu design

Kaspersky Internet Security offers both the lowest system impact and some of the best malware-detection rates recorded. It even provides extra security features, including parental controls and options to lock down your webcam and stop websites from tracking your browsing activity. If you’re willing to pay to protect your Mac from malware, Kaspersky Internet Security is the best option available.

<h2 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Android Antivirus Apps” data-reactid=”192″>Android Antivirus Apps

Every Android device, whether it’s a smartphone, tablet or TV stick, should have antivirus software. Usually, that software comes with an all-encompassing security app that also includes anti-theft and remote-locating features, and many apps have both a basic free version and a premium version with more features.

The free versions of the Android security apps we reviewed are pretty solid. The paid versions, which cost between $15 and $30 per year, range from being just a bit better than the free ones to becoming practically separate products, with a wide range of capabilities. You’ll have to decide what you need and select accordingly.

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Bitdefender Mobile Security

<h3 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Bitdefender Mobile Security” data-reactid=”217″>Bitdefender Mobile Security

Best Android Antivirus

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Flawless malware detection

Comprehensive and reliable anti-theft features

Competitive pricing

Intuitive user interface

No call/text filter

Can’t schedule scans

Plain design

The Bitdefender Android security app has flawless malware protection, a small performance hit, privacy-protection tools and Android Wear integration. Yet there are no scheduled malware scans, and no freemium option. (The separate Bitdefender Antivirus Free for Android only scans for malware.) Still, at $15 per year per device, Bitdefender Mobile Security is worth the expense.

iOS Antivirus Apps

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="A lot of people want iOS antivirus software for their iPhones and iPads. The truth is that such software doesn’t exist. Apple won’t let third-party apps examine other iOS apps, or even inspect new apps as they’re installed. Anything that claims to be antivirus software swiftly gets kicked out of the iTunes App Store.” data-reactid=”229″>A lot of people want iOS antivirus software for their iPhones and iPads. The truth is that such software doesn’t exist. Apple won’t let third-party apps examine other iOS apps, or even inspect new apps as they’re installed. Anything that claims to be antivirus software swiftly gets kicked out of the iTunes App Store.

Many major antivirus vendors, including F-Secure, McAfee, Norton and Trend Micro, do have “security” apps in the App Store. But these check web links for known malicious sites, locate lost devices or pretend to protect your privacy. None scans an iPhone for malware.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="There has been real iOS malware that affects non-jailbroken devices, but it’s very rarely cropped up. In each instance, Apple has pushed out a new version of iOS to stop the malware in a matter of days or weeks. Generally, if you keep your Apple mobile device updated to the latest version of iOS, you should be safe.” data-reactid=”231″>There has been real iOS malware that affects non-jailbroken devices, but it’s very rarely cropped up. In each instance, Apple has pushed out a new version of iOS to stop the malware in a matter of days or weeks. Generally, if you keep your Apple mobile device updated to the latest version of iOS, you should be safe.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="[Editor’s Note: Best Buy has removed Kaspersky Lab products from its shelves, citing concerns regarding Kaspersky’s alleged (but as yet undocumented) ties to the Russian government. Top U.S. newspapers have run stories in which anonymous sources say Kaspersky software helps Russia spy on American spy agencies. However, until we see real evidence that Kaspersky software is a threat to consumers, we will continue to recommend it. Here is further clarification of our position.]

” data-reactid=”232″>[Editor’s Note: Best Buy has removed Kaspersky Lab products from its shelves, citing concerns regarding Kaspersky’s alleged (but as yet undocumented) ties to the Russian government. Top U.S. newspapers have run stories in which anonymous sources say Kaspersky software helps Russia spy on American spy agencies. However, until we see real evidence that Kaspersky software is a threat to consumers, we will continue to recommend it. Here is further clarification of our position.]

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