The best free antivirus software for 2021
Your Windows PC needs protection against malware and free
antivirus software may be enough. Here’s the best antivirus
protection for Windows 10 and what’s worth paying extra for.
Now that so many of us are working remotely and using personal
devices for work projects, it’s harder than ever to protect your personal
information online. With so much increased time online, your security
quiver needs plenty of arrows, including a secureto protect your
internet traffic, a password manager to keep track of login credentials
and anto stop others from
spying on your communications. And, if you’re running Windows,
that list should also include antivirus tools such as malware protection
and antivirus software that monitors downloads and observes your
system’s activity for malicious software and suspicious behavior.
An insidious program can easily wind up on your machine and
that can lead to chaos.
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If you’re looking for the best malware protection and antivirus software,
here’s the first thing you need to know: Microsoft Defender Antivirus
the free internet security software and virus protection program that
comes with— does a decent job of protecting your PC
and offering internet security. (Amazingly, Microsoft provided no
built-in protection for Windows back in the days of Windows 98 and XP.)
Using Microsoft Defender for threat detection should be your starting
point for the best antivirus security on Windows and most people will
find they don’t need to go any further when it comes to nailing
down an antivirus solution.
However, keeping your personal data safe and guarding your
privacy extends beyond virus protection, and that’s where third-party
antivirus software shines. A full protection package can monitor
your Windows operating system as well as MacOS, iOS and Android
devices and include a password manager, secure online backup,
identity theft protection, a VPN, parental control, webcam protection,
protection against phishing and malicious websites and more all worthwhile
security suite tools that can keep your data secure and guard your privacy.
To help you decide, I’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.
This list is updated periodically.
Looking for free antivirus protection, malware protection or virus detection,
willing to pay for an antivirus program that offers broad internet security
coverage across all your devices, including from ransomware and phishing,
or need to remove a computer virus or malware from your PC right now?
Here’s where to start.
Free version? Yes, built into Windows 10
Paid version: Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection is
available to corporate users for a fee
Honestly, if you practice safe computing — you keep your software up
to date, you use strong passwords (with the help of a password manager),
you steer clear of unexpected emails and you don’t click suspicious links
that may be phishing attempts — you probably can avoid zero-day attacks
and ransomware attacks. And with the free Microsoft Defender Antivirus software
running on Windows 10, you have a malware protection safety
net if you do let your guard down. (Note that Microsoft changed the
name of Windows Defender to Microsoft Defender and has expanded
the service to other platforms.) This antivirus program is built into
Windows and it’s turned on by default, so just let it do its thing,
and this antivirus solution will cover the basics of internet security.
Microsoft pushes new updates frequently. Defender also lets you tune
the level of protection you want, giving you control over blocking
potentially unwanted apps and protecting folders and files
from a ransomware attack.
Note that Windows 10 will automatically disable its own Windows Defender
antivirus when you install third-party antivirus. If you uninstall the
third-party protection, Windows 10 will turn back on its own antivirus.