Privacy Canada is community-supported. We may earn a commission when make a purchase through one of our links. Learn more.
Best Antivirus for Windows
Data breaches are pretty common in today’s environment where everyone is online.
It puts their social insurance numbers, birth dates, bank account information, and credit card numbers at risk.
So, how can you protect yourself from such attacks? Installing the right antivirus is your answer.
Antivirus software detects viruses and removes them.
Today, there are tons of antivirus software solutions available in the market, which means it can be pretty overwhelming to choose the right choice for you.
But worry not, we are here just for that. In this best antivirus for Windows guide, you’ll have your answer as to which is the best antivirus software for Windows to keep your PC well protected.
Let’s get to it!
What is Antivirus Software?
Antivirus is a kind of software that prevents, scans, detects, and removes viruses, malware, spyware, and other cyber threats from your computer.
Once you have installed this software, most of them runs in the background to provide you with real-time protection against cyber attacks.
As for how antivirus software works, they start by checking your computer programs and files against a database of known types of viruses, as well as any new or unknown malware threats.
Once the program finds a file that contains a virus, it will quarantine it and mark it for deletion so that you don’t access it by mistake and then remove the risk from your device.
With technology and internet-connected devices an integral part of our lives, hundreds of companies provide specialized antivirus software.
These products distinguish themselves by going beyond the basics of on-demand scanning and real-time malware protection.
Some actively block processes on your system from connecting with known malware-hosting URLs or with phishing pages.
Others provide you with ransomware protection, firewalls, whitelisting, and even offer VPN to keep your data safe.
With cybercriminals becoming more sophisticated, you also need additional protection in the form of secure online backup, a password manager, identity theft protection, parental control, webcam protection, protection against phishing and malicious websites, and more.
Overall, you need best antivirus for Windows software that can protect your identity and keep you safe from the online world.
Why is it Important to Use Antivirus for Windows?
It’s very easy to be targeted by cyber threats today. For instance, visiting a website displaying malicious ads or accidentally clicking on a phishing email.
So, anyone who actively downloads programs, uses email, and clicks on links benefit from antivirus software.
If your computer is attacked by a virus, it can damage the files, slow down your device, and can lead to data loss and frequent computer crashes.
Thus, best antivirus for Windows software is very crucial for your Windows PC, even if you are aware of threats and practice extreme caution. Some threats just cannot be removed without the help of a full antivirus suite.
Overall, antivirus is a cost-effective way to protect your computer from viruses and their transmission, block spam and ads, defend you against hackers, and protect your passwords.
What’s the Best Antivirus for Windows?
Now that you know why your Windows PC needs Antivirus software, here we’ll cover the best antivirus software for Windows offering the best protection in 2022.
These recommendations provide excellent protection and a good selection of features while having a minimal performance impact on your PC.
1. Norton 360 – Best Choice for Windows Users
- Simple installation
- Powerful firewall
- Biggest name in the antivirus world
- Strong VPN
- Not centralized
Launched three decades back, Norton 360 is still a reputed name in the antivirus industry which over time has made a lot of fundamental changes to its plans.
For instance, their pricing now covers fewer devices, but you get a good number of extra features such as Dark Web Monitoring, and VPN access.
One of the most expensive antivirus software providers, Norton 360 offers an extensive list of cybersecurity tools to offer you solid protection without overloading your device.
Thanks to the continuous improvements made by the company, Norton 360, with its solid LifeLock identity-theft feature, makes it one of the best picks for Windows computers.
Norton 360 Features
Norton 360’s Standard plan comes with a VPN, dark web monitoring, and 100GB of cloud backup. The Dark Web Monitoring tool lets you add key information such as a bank account and phone number.
If any of this data shows up in a hacked database, the identity theft protection product Norton LifeLock will alert you to it.
Norton 360 Deluxe meanwhile has five sections: Security, Internet Security, Backup, Performance, and My Norton. My Norton is the launcher for the actual antivirus program known as Device Security.
Other features offered here are Dark Web Monitoring, aka “Privacy Monitor,” a secure VPN, 75GB of cloud backup, a password manager, and parental controls.
System optimization features offered by Norton include file cleanup, disk optimization, and a startup manager.
Norton 360 has also introduced an anti-tracking service for web browsing called AntiTrack, which blocks cookies and prevents device fingerprinting.
When it comes to the scan section, Norton offers a wide number of options, including the default quick scan, full system scan, a custom scan, and a custom task.
This section can also run diagnostics, Norton Power Eraser for eliminating threats that regular scans cannot deal with, and Norton Insight to determine which files should be scanned during a quick scan.
Besides scans, the Security section also has the SafeCam settings to keep rogue programs away from your webcam.
Internet Security meanwhile will give you access to the password manager, password generator, and Norton’s free browser extensions, such as the Norton Safe Web extension that warns you about malicious sites.
The Backup feature is pretty straightforward, as it allows you to keep copies of essential files in Norton’s Secure Cloud Storage.
When it comes to pricing, Norton is one of the most affordable vendors for Mac users, and it is loved by reviewers, too, for the same reason. Let us quickly go through the various pricing options available.
Norton 360 Standard
- Its Standard plan starts with $19.99 per year that gets you one device, core protection tools, a firewall, 10 GB cloud backup, a VPN, a password manager, SafeCam (Windows only), and Dark Web Monitoring (email only).
- To get Parental Control and School Time features, you have to pay an extra $30/yr which supports up to five devices. Its AntiTrack feature is available for $40 a year.
- Adding LifeLock to the mix spikes the prices further. The mid-range Norton 360 with LifeLock Select costs $149.99/year with licenses for up to five devices covering VPNs, parental controls, and webcam protection.
Norton 360 Ultimate Plus
- The Ultimate Plus will cost you $299.88/year for the first year and unlimited devices.
- This offer will get you Identity Lock as well as Transaction Monitoring to centralize all your information about bank operations. The plan also does Court Records Scanning checks as well as your 401(k) and home title.
- While Norton 360 doesn’t offer file encryption, a file shredder, and a secure browser, you will get Norton Crypto, which is an option to use your device to mine cryptocurrency.
2. AVG Internet Security – Robust Protection
- Fantastic malware protection
- Very fast
- Top-of-the-line free version
- Interface is a bit confusing
One of the biggest online security companies in the world, AVG Antivirus is pretty user-friendly and is easy to download and install.
The company behind the product, AVG Technologies, has been around for over two decades, and in 2016 was acquired by Avast Software.
AVG offers a wide array of exciting security features, catering to both who need a basic layer of protection and those looking for robust security with its sensitive data shield, anti-theft phone tracker, and other features.
AVG Internet Security Features
Downloading the AVG program only takes about a few minutes, and the company also offers an easy to understanding instructions to install the system.
AVG antivirus allows you to launch a quick scan with a single click or choose Deep Scan for some thorough cleaning of your device.
Also, AVG’s USB/DVD Scan will examine your removable drives, while the Performance scan will find issues in your system.
You can further customize when and how these virus scans happen.
Through its Sensitive Data Shield feature, AVG protects your most important files by controlling which applications or programs have access to them.
An automatic scan will also mark any sensitive files as highly personal and limit their access to other apps.
If you want to protect your device in case it gets lost or stolen, AVG has you covered with its anti-theft phone tracker that also allows you to make remote changes to it.
Some of the extra features offered by AVG include webcam protection, app lock, a password vault, a file shredder, and Disk Cleaner.
Moreover, AVG Antivirus offers real-time functionality through the use of AI to discover and learn about new threats.
Besides protecting your PC from malware, viruses, spyware, email phishing, and ransomware, AVG also offers an enhanced firewall, anti-spam, wi-fi network scans, Fake Website Shield to make your privacy even more secure.
- AVG’s entry-level plan is a free version that offers a basic set of features and mainly gets you a performance scan, malware protection, real-time update, and blocking of dangerous links, email attachments, and websites.
- AVG’s Internet Security package will cost you $69.99 but will get you an unlimited number of Windows-running devices.
- With this, you have the advantage of the 30-day money-back guarantee, and on top of that, they offer you free trials.
- This paid version covers enhanced firewall, wi-fi protection, webcam security, toolbar remover, anti-ransomware, file shredder, anti-spam, and shield against fake websites.
- While AVG Antivirus supports Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, the iOS version doesn’t have any real antivirus protection but a VPN for data breach monitoring and a secure vault for your photos.
3. McAfee Total Protection – a Household Name
- Stellar customer support
- Comprehensive protection
- Contains a file shredder to permanently delete files
- Cloud backup is limited
- Renewals can be expensive
McAfee Antivirus has been around for a long time. In the 80s, it was on it was an independent company, and then in 2010, it became a part of Intel.
In 2017, Intel and TPG Capital made a strategic deal to convert Intel’s Security division into a company called McAfee.
McAfee Total Protection continues to be in the market with its ability to guard five devices against viruses, offer ransomware protection, and ward off malicious websites.
McAfee Total Protection Features
McAfee’s total protection comes packed with antivirus, secure VPN, ID protection, tracker remover, and browser Security.
When it comes to protection features, the key ones offered involve real-time scanning, scheduled scans, the firewall, password manager, and a file shredder.
In the antivirus section, you can click the ‘run a scan’ button to initiate either a quick scan or full scan.
To scan a specific file or folder, you can only use the Windows right-click context menu as there is no drag and drop file option available.
There’s also a slider button, which is turned off by default to send suspicious files to McAfee for analysis.
For Identity protection, McAfee has a dark web scanning feature that rates your current privacy and security settings, using several factors.
McAfee further offers you several options to monitor your social security number, passport, driver’s license, email address, phone number, tax ID, credit card, usernames, and more and reports to you if they have been breached.
Now, if you are looking for unlimited VPN coverage from McAfee, you would have to sign-up for automatic renewal, otherwise, you only get 500 megabytes of data bandwidth per month.
The VPN in itself offers about 50 country locations and allows you to turn on the VPN automatically when certain conditions are met.
McAfee Total Protection offers support for all kinds of platforms, Windows 10 plus macOS, Android, and iOS. Apps for Apple devices, however, have fewer features, but they have a Guest Mode, which allows you to lock certain apps.
While there is no free version, a 30-day free trial is available. The plans also come with up to five VPN licenses.
- Its basic package supports up to 10 devices and offers secure web browsing and antivirus. The one-year basic subscription will cost you $24.99 in the first year but then increase to $79.99 per year.
- This plan further includes features like a password manager, encrypted storage, and identity theft protection.
- The Family plan meanwhile costs $34.99 for the first year and then $119.99 a year. For Unlimited device protection, you would have to shell out $69.99 in the first year and then $159.99.
- For $29.99/year, you can get a single license for any device, which drops to $24.99/year if you subscribe for two years.
- Most of its features, such as VPN, a password manager, file encryption, and a file shredder are for everyone, and pricier plans only cover a few additional ones.
- Its Home Network Security feature meanwhile allows you to manage all devices connected to the WiFi and alerts you if there are any attempts of intrusion.
- If you agree to auto-renewal of subscription, you get access to McAfee ID Theft Protection Essentials, which monitors ID fraud.
4. Bitdefender – Full of Features
- Secure email protection
- Proactive scanning of social networking profiles
- 24/7 tech support on hand
- Slow installation
- First full scan is time consuming
Founded in 2001, the Romania-based Bitdefender offers an array of security-first features and continues to add more new ones every year.
Its free version is particularly of interest to people as evident from the millions of its users, but its paid versions are also well worth your money.
Bitdefender supports major platforms and offers tons of features like advanced threat defense, web attack prevention, anti-fraud/anti-phishing protection, Safepay for financial transactions, and vulnerability assessments that make it a full cybersecurity suite.
Its web-based dashboard called Bitdefender Central is the way to get started, where you can download protection for the computer as well as review your subscriptions and protected devices.
The dashboard now includes three types of scans: quick, system, and vulnerability as default, as well as portals to the VPN and a free tile to use as you see fit.
Safepay is also there, which is a browser for secure online payments and transactions, along with an anti-tracker for web browsing. The secure browser comes with a virtual keyboard to prevent keylogging.
The company’s VPN service has been changed to HotSpot Shield maker AnchorFree and now has an internet kill switch, Netflix support, and dedicated apps for all major platforms as well.
When it comes to protection, Bitdefender protects your devices from malware, phishing, and dangerous and fraudulent websites.
Its Anti-Tracker feature installs as a browser extension for Chrome and Firefox, and Internet Explorer and the online threat protection system mark up the search results with colored icons.
There is a customizable firewall that lets you control any app’s outgoing access to the network and the Wallet feature stores passwords, personal information, and credit card details.
Other great best antivirus for Windows features include a file shredder to disintegrate sensitive documents, anti-webcam hijack, parental controls, a two-way firewall, and a one-click optimizer for removing unnecessary files from your devices.
Available for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, a year-long coverage of Bitdefender for one device will cost you $39.99. There is a 30-day free trial to help make up your mind before committing.
Here, you have three different subscription packages to choose from: the Antivirus Plus, the Internet Security, and the Total Security plans.
- The Bitdefender Antivirus Plus costs $23.99 per year that allows you to secure up to 3 Windows devices. It’s a standard security plan that protects against malware, ransomware, and adware.
Internet Security Plan
- The Internet Security plan is an upgrade at $32.00/year that gets you additional privacy protection and parental control tools. You can use it on three Windows devices.
Total Security Plan
- The most expensive but feature-rich package is the Bitdefender Total Security which supports five devices for $36.00/year.
- The Digital Identity Protection feature, which monitors your personal data, and alerts you when your info hits the dark web, costs an extra $60 per year, something that is covered by other providers for free.
5. Trend Micro – Enhanced Security
- Plenty of security categories
- All-around protection
- Intrusive malware prevention
- Reporting functionality could be improved upon
- No built-in firewall
Founded in 1988 in the US, Trend Micro Antivirus is currently headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. The company offers a solid antivirus system at a reasonable price.
Trend Micro is particularly focused on enterprise security and offers security tools like firewall booster, PC Health Checkup, and Pay Guard browser that provides a higher level of protection for online banking and shopping.
Every version of this antivirus software also includes Trend Micro’s Advanced AI Learning feature to detect new ransomware strains and other emerging threats.
This best antivirus for Windows software option is basically good for those who don’t want to micromanage their security.
Trend Micro Features
Trend Micro’s Maximum Security starts with some of the easiest navigation. It has a primary dashboard with a large Scan circle in the center to initiate a quick scan. You can also choose among quick, full, and custom scans.
There are four basic security categories for the app: Device, Privacy, Data, and Family.
The Device tab covers the settings for its real-time scanning and web filtering, while PC Health Checkup helps optimize system performance by letting you “make improvements” in the form of fixing security vulnerabilities and reclaiming disk space.
Its Mute Mode is an excellent feature for power users, which by default activates when the PC is into full-screen mode.
This feature, when running, also stops “non-critical” notifications from interrupting you.
When it comes to privacy, the Privacy Scanner option automatically scans social networks as well as web browsers to optimize for privacy settings.
There is a feature called Pay Guard, which is a secure browser to do shopping and banking.
Pay Guard supports Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer, but not Edge. Under its privacy section also comes Data Theft Prevention which protects sensitive information like credit card numbers, email addresses, and telephone numbers.
Trend Micro’s security features also include Folder Shield to protect specific folders against ransomware, Secure Erase to get rid of sensitive data, and Password Manager to save passwords and form-filling data.
In its family section meanwhile, there are parental controls to place limits on computer time.
Much like other providers, Trend Micro doesn’t have a free version either, but it does offer a 30-day free trial. It is compatible with Windows 10 plus macOS, Android, and iOS.
- The most basic plan of Trend Micro starts at $19.95 /year, which offers malware scans, antivirus security only for Windows, PayGuard, and Folder Shield features.
- Trend Micro Internet Security meanwhile will cost you $39.95/year but is only available for Windows. Here you get additional features like Fraud Buster and Parental Control as well as a PC Optimization Tool and Social Media Privacy Protection.
- The $49.95/year plan called Trend Micro Maximum Security meanwhile is available for all operating systems.
- While offering the same features as the Internet Security plan, it adds something extra in the form of a password manager and increases the number of protected devices to 5 at the same time.
- Coming on to its most expensive plan, Trend Micro Premium Security will cost you $59.95/year that will give you protection of up to 10 devices.
- This package also covers dark web monitoring for personal data protection and a VPN for safe browsing, along with full remove diagnosis and repair tools.
As we detailed above, every best antivirus for Windows software has their own special features and added benefits to offer you that comes in different price ranges.
Now, you just need to choose one that can give you your money’s worth as it will be the one to keep your PC and your data safe.
Best Antivirus for Windows FAQs
What is the Best Antivirus for Windows?
Different best antivirus for Windows software comes with different bonus features such as ransomware detection, advanced firewall, real-time detection, password manager, VPN, identity theft protection, and more.
While Norton 360 with its LifeLock feature is best for Windows, McAfee Antivirus works best for multiple devices.
Bitdefender meanwhile is good if you are looking for a cheaper option and Trend Micro is the perfect premium option.
How Do You Run Antivirus Software on Windows?
Once you have picked the antivirus software, download it. In the download folder, find your file and double-click on the file.
A window will pop up telling you that the software wants to make changes to your system. Now, click accept on that, and then click on the Install option that appeared.
Once the installation process is finished, run a full scan of your PC. This can be done by completing all security updates and doing a full scan.
Then, read the results and follow the prompts, and at last schedule your future automatic scans.
Is it Important to Have Antivirus Software on Windows?
While there is some antivirus protection built-in, you still need antivirus software because of all the new malware and other online threats emerging every day.
Windows is actually most susceptible to viruses and new malware. Having an antivirus software ensures your PC is protected from cyber threats.
Besides preventing, detecting, and removing viruses and malware, antivirus software offers other benefits like web browsing protection, firewalls, password managers, identity theft protection, system optimization, VPN, and parental controls.