Security is usually something we think about after it’s too little too late. Someone breaks into our house and afterward we finally upgrade the locks. Computer security is no different, don’t wait until after someone hacks you to take your digital security seriously!
In this post, we’re going to go through some of the most popular and top rated antivirus programs on the market. We won’t be giving specific number ratings as all of our contenders are solid programs.
Instead, we’ll go through an overview of 6 top antivirus programs and why they may appeal to certain customer demographics based on your individual requirements such as low resource usage or program simplicity.
With that in mind let’s take a look at the built-in Windows antivirus first, Windows Defender.
Is Windows Defender good enough?
I can see what you’re thinking already - you’re skeptical about installing another antivirus program when Windows 10 come with a free built-in defense right out of the box.
If you can put up with the occasional pop-up ad there are even better free options from competitors, not to mention premium paid alternatives as well.
The good news is Windows Defender automatically shuts its self down when it detects another antivirus program was installed so we don’t even need to worry about it! With that in mind let’s get to the good part, our recommendations for Windows Defender replacement antivirus programs!
We broke our recommendations down to three categories, the budget friendly ‘Free’ category, ‘Premium Light’ for paid services that won’t take many system resources and ‘Strong Premium’ when nothing short of the very best will do.
Best Antivirus for Windows 10 Categories
Perfect for those who do not want to spend money for Computer Security.
Suitable for most of the users with PC configuration not older than 3 years.
Paid solution which is less resource hogging. Suitable for Netbooks and old PCs.
Without further adieu, let’s look at our Free recommendations.
Free Tier Antivirus Protection
The first category we’ll look at is the easiest on your wallet.
Both of our recommendations here are completely free!
You will still get adequate protection but remember these companies still need to make money somehow so they will have occasional pop-ups trying to up-sell you to purchase the premium version of their software.
Why would you choose this tier?
- As long as you can stomach the occasional pop-up, they are completely free!
- Both of our recommendations still have a huge leg up on Windows Defender in terms of security and virus detection.
Best Free Antivirus
The first contender for the free tier is Avast and they’ve made a name for themselves by providing good protection without too much of an impact on your system while it’s scanning.
PC Magazine reviewed Avast and mentioned that they loved the extra features that come packaged including a password manager, system cleanup scan and rescue disk when particularly bad malware won’t allow installation.
- Scored Good Antivirus Results in Testing
- Ability to Scan your Network and Router for Security Issues
- Can Scan for Outdated Software
- Additional Features Packed in
A few negligible features are disabled unless you pay to upgrade to the premium version of Avast but the only real downside is the time it takes to run a full system scan - half to one hour.
Where Avast! has simplified their user interface a little Avira went all in with the settings. If you are looking for a tailor-made experience or sheer protection Avira is the better call.
Avira’s scans won’t take quite as long as Avast!’s but it does take more power. If you have an older computer you will notice a performance decrease while the scan is running.
- Strong Defense Against Viruses
- Option-Loaded Interface You Can Customize to Your Heart’s Content
- VPN Client
- Includes a Privacy-First Web Browser Plugin that can Block Malicious URLs
In addition, the private browser plugin isn’t compatible with Internet Explorer but that didn’t keep Tom’s Guide from giving Avira their Editor’s Choice award for free antivirus!
Premium Light Tier Protection
Next up, let’s look at our ‘Premium Light’ tier! Yes, both premium tiers are paid products, but in exchange for your monetary investment, you get better security and no pop-ups hassling you.
Why would you choose the Premium Light tier?
- Light on Computer Resources - Won’t Bog Down Your Older or Underpowered System
- No Pop-Ups or Alerts - You can Game or Video Chat in Peace
Premium Light Antivirus
Norton bills itself as an antivirus platform and that’s not an over-exaggeration. It blocks what is really malicious, light on system resources, great SONAR protection and talking about signature, Symantec manages one of the largest malware databases in the world.
- Comprehensive Parental Controls
- SONAR system is intelligent and silent generating less alerts.
- Extremely Strong Firewall Built-In
While Norton offers best-in-class protection it offers 100% refund guarantee if it fails to remove virus from computer. Moreover they have simplified their product range sizing it to down to just Norton Security compatible with Windows, Mac and Android.
Emsisoft Internet Security is light, simple and hands-free solution to virus security. With a clean interface, an ample amount of options and the ability to schedule scans you can take your time setting it up at first then let it run and never worry about it again.
- Dual Engines for Virus and Malware detection.
- Small Company but good detection and Support.
- Behavior Alerts - Tells You When Programs Act Suspiciously
Their protection especially Behavior Blocker and their own Firewall makes it more interesting to use, a good look to compare from other mainstream security product.
Premium Standard Tier Protection
Last but not least we have the Premium Strong tier. When nothing but the best security will do this is where you want to look.
Why would you choose a product from Premium Strong?
• Very Best Antivirus Security You Can Purchase
• Packed to the Gills With Features You Won’t Find in Cheaper Products
Premium Standard Antivirus
Scoring the PC Magazine’s Editor’s Choice award for paid antivirus, BitDefender had amazing scores in every test they threw at it. They praised it for both astounding virus protection and optional features that leave lesser antivirus green with envy.
- Known for its virus signatures.
- ‘Autopilot Mode’ does all of the heavy lifting without any manual intervention
- Includes Ransomware Protection
BitDefender offers best in class protection but often cursed for its heavy resource usage especially while scanning. This shouldn't be problem because mostly scans are run while system is idle. One thing is sure that BitDefender will turn over every rock and pick up any and all virus problems!
AV-Test hails Kaspersky as ‘The best antivirus software for Windows Home User’ and it’s not hard to see why. Not only does it ace every virus test thrown at it but also manages to pack in helpful extras to sweeten the deal.
- More Features than Any Other Program Including Webcam Protection
- Top of Industry Protection from Anything You Want to Throw at it
- Good Protection against Zero Day and Scriptor malware.
Kaspersky should be suited for most users but keep in mind that they have version for 32 Bit Windows only. If you are skeptical and running 64 Bit version, it is recommended to go for BitDefender.
There you have it! I recommend going back through if you only skimmed through the first time and first deciding which tier you fit in. From there you can decide which of the two product recommendations better fit your lifestyle.
No single antivirus program is the ‘best antivirus’, it really depends on what you’re looking for. That’s a good thing, the market is a diverse place and it’ll pay dividends to take your time and make the right choice.
Tip: You should take a free 30 day trial of whichever product you are choosing before buying. This resolves common issues like personal disliking, incompatibility, etc.
Keep in mind that simply installing an antivirus program won’t be enough to completely protect you. The best security is a layered defense that includes a solid antivirus program, a good anti-malware scanner and more!
At the end of the day only you know your individual needs but hopefully, after reading this far you’re a little wiser and know what you’re looking for. Let us know what you end up choosing or if you have any questions!