What’s the best antivirus software for windows 10

Windows 10 is an operating system developed by Microsoft for laptops, desktops, and tablets. As with any new operating system, there are always some initial bugs that need to be worked out. This article will focus on the best free antivirus software currently available for Windows 10.

McAfee is the best antivirus software for Windows 10 because of it’s simplicity and proactive approach. Most antivirus software will only scan your drive for viruses and remove them once they are found. McAfee is different by actively scanning files as they are being downloaded, this can help to prevent malware from even infecting your device.

The best antivirus software for Windows 10 depends on what your needs are.

If you’re looking for something free, we recommend Avast Free Antivirus. It’s easy to use and install, and it also includes a firewall and a browser extension that can protect your browsing experience and keep you safe from phishing attacks.

If you’re willing to pay for antivirus protection, Kaspersky Internet Security is our top pick. It’s got a lot of features, including anti-phishing protection, real-time scanning, malicious URL blocking, and more.

The best antivirus software for Windows 10 is McAfee.

McAfee has been around for a long time and is one of the most trusted names in antivirus software. It is easy to install and use, and it comes with all kinds of features that you would expect from a top-of-the-line product like this.

The downside is that McAfee has been known to cause some system slowdowns when running in the background on your computer. This can be a problem if you have a lot of other programs running at the same time, but if you are only using your computer for basic tasks like checking email or browsing the web then it shouldn’t be an issue at all.

The best Windows 10 antivirus you can buy

Box art for Kaspersky Anti-Virus, 2021 edition.
(Image credit: Kaspersky)

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1. Kaspersky Anti-Virus

The best protection, with few frills

SPECIFICATIONS

Backup software: No

Firewall: No

Game mode: Yes

Hardened browser: No

Password manager: Limited

Ransomware rollback: Yes

Virtual keyboard: Yes

VPN: Limited

Wi-Fi scanner: Yes

REASONS TO BUY

+

Excellent malware protection+

New stalkerware protection+

Light load during scans

REASONS TO AVOID

Not many extra features-

VPN, password manager just teases

If you want the very best Windows 10 antivirus protection, Kaspersky Anti-Virus should be your first choice. No other brand of antivirus software matches its nearly impeccable record in third-party lab tests. 

The company’s entry-level package, Kaspersky Anti-Virus, covers up to three Windows PCs for $60 per year, or up to five for $80, though you’ll often get half off for the first year. 

Kaspersky Anti-Virus doesn’t give many of you the extra bells and whistles you’ll find with more expensive security suites. There are no parental controls, the password manager holds only 15 entries and the VPN service is limited to 300MB per day. (You can pay extra to get unlimited versions of those.)

But Kaspersky Anti-Virus does give you what you need: dedicated protection against encrypting ransomware, a filter against phishing emails, browser extensions to beef up web safety and a security scanner for your home Wi-Fi network. 

Kaspersky Anti-Virus also has new protection against “stalkerware” spying programs that the company is rolling out across all its antivirus products.

Read our full Kaspersky Anti-Virus review.

Box art for Bitdefender Antivirus Plus, 2021 edition.
(Image credit: Bitdefender)

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2. Bitdefender Antivirus Plus

Very good protection with lots of useful extras

SPECIFICATIONS

Backup software: No

Firewall: No

Game mode: Yes

Hardened browser: Yes

Password manager: Yes

Ransomware rollback: Yes

Virtual keyboard: Yes

VPN: Limited

Wi-Fi scanner: Yes

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

Bitdefender Antivirus PlusUS$19.99

VISIT SITEat Bitdefender

REASONS TO BUY

+

Very good malware protection+

Lots of useful extra features+

Light active scans

REASONS TO AVOID

Heavy background system impact-

VPN service quite limited

If you want some extra features with one of the best Windows 10 antivirus programs, Bitdefender Antivirus Plus offers a lot for its low pricing, which ranges from $40 per year for a single PC to $80 for 10 machines. 

There’s an unlimited password manager (Windows-only for now), a secure browser with an onscreen keyboard for online banking and shopping, a file shredder and new web-privacy software.

Bitdefender Antivirus Plus also has a VPN service, but it’s limited to 200MB per day unless you pay extra. And of course, there are no parental controls. However, the program is easy to use, its malware-detection record nearly matches Kaspersky’s and it also rolls back ransomware and guards against fileless malware and rootkits.

Read our full Bitdefender Antivirus Plus review.

Box art for Norton AntiVirus Plus, 2021 edition.
(Image credit: NortonLifeLock)

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3. Norton AntiVirus Plus

For those who deserve the very best

SPECIFICATIONS

Backup software: Yes

Firewall: Yes

Game mode: Yes

Hardened browser: No

Password manager: Yes

Ransomware rollback: No

VPN: Depends

Wi-Fi scanner: No

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

Norton AntiVirus PlusUS$19.99/year

VISIT SITEat Norton

REASONS TO BUY

+

Excellent malware protection+

Backup software, online storage, password manager+

VPN if you’re willing to pay a bit more

REASONS TO AVOID

Heavy slowdown during full scans-

Pretty pricey for a single PC

Norton sells nine different antivirus packages, but we’ll focus on the two cheapest here. Norton AntiVirus Plus protects one PC or Mac for a rather pricey $60 per year, but it does come with a two-way firewall, an unlimited password manager, backup software and 2GB of online storage. 

The next rung up, Norton 360 Standard, puts you in internet-security-suite territory by adding an unlimited VPN, webcam protection, dark-web scans for your personal information and 10GB of online storage. But at $85 per year for a single PC, it might a bit rich for some customers. Other brands cover up to 10 PCs for that price.

On the upside, Norton’s track record at finding and defeating malware is second only to Kaspersky’s. If you don’t mind paying a premium price for an entry-level antivirus package, or if you were planning to pay for a VPN or password manager separately, you could do a lot worse.

Read our full Norton AntiVirus Plus review.

Box art for ESET NOD32 Antivirus, 2021 edition.
(Image credit: ESET)

4. ESET NOD32 Antivirus

Very good and innovative protection, but rather spare otherwise

SPECIFICATIONS

Backup software: No

Firewall: No

Game mode: Yes

Hardened browser: No

Password manager: No

Ransomware rollback: No

Virtual keyboard: No

VPN: No

Wi-Fi scanner: No

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

ESET NOD32US$39.99/year

VISIT SITEat ESET

REASONS TO BUY

+

Very good protection+

Extremely light system-performance impact+

A la carte pricing

REASONS TO AVOID

Few extra features

Compared to other best Windows 10 antivirus programs, ESET NOD32 Antivirus is like a street-racing hot rod — light, cheap, fast and effective, but with few extra frills. 

It’s got the smallest drag on system performance of any paid antivirus product we’ve seen, it zaps malware with the best of them, and it’s got a unique per-device pricing structure than ensures you pay no more than you need to.

ESET’s extra features are under the hood. It scans a PC’s start-up sector, running memory and Registry for hidden malware and also blocks known malicious websites. But if you’re looking for user-friendly goodies like a password manager, VPN or firewall, you’d better look elsewhere.

Read our full ESET NOD32 Antivirus review.

Box art for McAfee AntiVirus Plus, 2021 edition
(Image credit: McAfee)

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5. McAfee AntiVirus Plus

10 devices at bargain rate, and fair number of useful extras

SPECIFICATIONS

Backup software: No

Firewall: Yes

Game mode: Yes

Hardened browser: No

Password manager: No

Ransomware rollback: Yes

Virtual keyboard: No

VPN: No

Wi-Fi scanner: No

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

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REASONS TO BUY

+

Protects lots of machines for cheap+

Decent array of extra features+

Good malware protection

REASONS TO AVOID

Heavy system impact during scans-

Can’t opt out of data collection

McAfee AntiVirus Plus is a bargain among the best Windows 10 antivirus programs if you have a lot of computers and smartphones to protect. For $60 per year, you can cover up to 10 devices running Windows, Mac, Android or iOS, and McAfee doesn’t mind if you add a few more. 

Windows users get a file shredder, ransomware rollback, a firewall and protective browser extensions. McAfee AntiVirus, without the “Plus,” delivers the same features to a single Windows PC for $40 per year.

McAfee’s malware protection hasn’t always been the best in lab tests, but it’s improved a lot in the past year. The only big downsides today are very heavy system slowdown during active malware scans, plus the fact that you can’t stop threat-data collection from your PC if you choose not to have it.

Read our full McAfee AntiVirus Plus review.

Box art for Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security, 2021 edition.
(Image credit: Trend Micro)

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6. Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security

Good protection but very Spartan

SPECIFICATIONS

Backup software: No

Firewall: No

Game mode: Yes

Hardened browser: Yes

Password manager: No

Ransomware rollback: Yes

Virtual keyboard: No

VPN: No

Wi-Fi scanner: No

REASONS TO BUY

+

Very good malware protection+

Secure browser+

Cheap

REASONS TO AVOID

Heavy performance hit during scans-

Many false positives on some tests

Trend Micro does very well in some lab tests, but its Antivirus+ Security package is even more Spartan than ESET’s among the best Windows 10 antivirus programs. For $40 per year for one PC, you get a gaming mode, a secure web browser for online banking, ransomware rollback and an email screener to guard against phishing attempts. 

The downsides are that you’ll see a pretty heavy system slowdown during scans, so make sure to run them during off hours. You may also get a lot of false positives, or benign items flagged as suspicious, which may indicate that Trend Micro’s malware-detection engine is a bit overtuned.

Read our full Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security review.

How to choose the best Windows 10 antivirus for you

As is the case with other types of software, you need to choose Windows 10 antivirus programs according to both your needs and budget. The best bang for your buck is Bitdefender Antivirus Plus as it’s fairly inexpensive and has an unlimited password manager, a file shredder and its own secure browser.

If you have more money to spend and only a single PC to protect, you might want to consider Norton AntiVirus Plus or Norton 360 Standard. Both give you access to an unlimited password manager and Standard adds an unlimited VPN and dark web personal information monitoring.

If you have Macs and Android devices to cover in addition to Windows 10 machines, McAfee AntiVirus Plus can meet your needs at a bargain rate – $60 covers 10 devices. However, McAfee’s malware defenses are not quite as good as those of Norton, Bitdefender or Kaspersky.

To get the best Mac antivirus software or the best Android antivirus apps as part of a bundle, you’ve often got to upgrade to midrange antivirus software, if not the premium tiers. 

Of course, if all you want to do is keep your PCs free from malware, then Kaspersky Anti-Virus is the best choice. It doesn’t do much besides block malware, phishing emails and dodgy websites, but it does these things better than the rest.

How we test the best Windows 10 antivirus programs

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We evaluated each Windows 10 antivirus program on this list based on its interface, performance, protection and extra features.

Was the program intuitive and user-friendly? Did malware scans significantly slow down system performance? Was it effective at detecting and removing both old and new malware? Did the program come with any other useful tools?

Our tests were performed on a Lenovo ThinkPad T470 with a 2.5GHz Core i5-7200U processor, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of solid-state storage containing 43.3GB of files.

In order to gauge each program’s impact on system performance, we used our custom Excel test which measures how long a PC takes to match 20,000 names and addresses on a spreadsheet. The longer the task takes, the more the system is impacted.

For malware detection performance, we referred to results from tests conducted by three independent labs: AV-TEST in Germany, AV-Comparatives in Austria and SE Labs in England. 

Each lab periodically subjects major antivirus programs to stress tests that include thousands of pieces of malware as well as hundreds of “zero-day” samples that the software has to learn to recognize.

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