Antivirus software is nearly as crucial as a PC’s operating system. Even if you’re well aware of potential threats and practice extreme caution, some threats just can’t be prevented without the extra help of an AV program—or a full antivirus suite.

You could, for example, visit a website that unintentionally displays malicious ads. Or accidentally click on a phishing email (it happens!). Or get stung by a zero-day threat, where an undisclosed bug in Windows, your browser, or an installed program gives hackers entry to your system.

We’re not suggesting that PC security software is fool-proof. Antivirus software often can’t do much to stop zero-day exploits, for example. But it can detect when the undisclosed vulnerability is used to install other nasty bits, like ransomware, on your machine. Anyone who actively uses email, clicks on links, and downloads programs will benefit from an antivirus suite.

Our recommendations strike a balance between excellent protection, a worthwhile selection of features, and minimal impact on your PC’s performance. You can read about how we test antivirus suites below. 

Editor’s Note: This roundup was updated June 20, 2018 to include our reviews of Trend Micro Maximum Security and Bullguard Premium Protection. See the bottom of this page for links to all the AV products we reviewed.

Best overall antivirus suite

Norton Security Premium is an old name in security, but it has an easy-to-use interface, highly-rated protection, and a number of helpful extra features. It’s on the higher end of the price spectrum at $110 per year (your first year is discounted to $55), but you can install it on up to 10 devices. (Read our full review.)

Best budget antivirus suite

AVG Internet Security does an excellent job of protecting your PC, but it’s interface could be a lot better. Nevertheless, with unlimited installs for $70 per year, it’s hard to beat this popular security solution. (Read our full review.)

What to look for in an antivirus suite

There are three basic requirements that an antivirus suite needs:

  • High detection rate for malware and other threats
  • Low impact on system resources
  • An easy-to-use interface

That’s not all to consider, however. These days, many security suites come with extras such as a backup service for your most essential files, Android apps for mobile security, a more advanced firewall, family protection (read: child restriction) features, and the right to use the program on multiple PCs. Whether you need those extras depends on your personal situation.



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