An online security quiver needs plenty of arrows — 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. But for Windows users, that list also needs to include antivirus software that monitors downloads and observes your system’s activity for malicious software and suspicious software behavior.
And here’s the first thing to know about searching for the best antivirus software and antivirus products: Microsoft Defender Antivirus — the free virus protection program and Internet security software that comes with Windows 10 and until recently was called Windows Defender — does a good 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.
Guarding Your Privacy
However, guarding your privacy and keeping your personal data safe extends beyond virus protection, and that’s where third-party antivirus software shines. A full protection package can monitor your Windows computer as well as MacOS, iOS and Android devices and include a password manager, a VPN, parental controls, secure online backup, identity theft protection — all worthwhile tools that can guard your privacy and keep your data secure.
To help you decide, we’ve put together a list of the best antivirus products for Windows 10, 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 AV-Test, AV-Comparatives and SE Labs, as well as our own hands-on testing. We update this periodically.