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2016’s Best Antivirus Programs

How To Protect Your Computer with Antivirus Software

Most PC users are aware of the risk of viruses on their computers. But what can a PC user do to get rid of computer viruses? Malware, adware, spyware, rootkits, and trojans are just some of the types of malicious software programs that can infect and damage your computer. There are endless varieties of computer viruses that are made by hackers for more reasons than we can identify. However, the primary reason that hackers make computer viruses and harmful software programs is money. Computer virus programs are designed to steal your personal information, compromise your identity, or even use your computer as a hub for cybercrime. The data hackers are able to collect using their arsenal of harmful software tools can be sold to the highest bidders on the digital black market. Average PC users are not usually equipped to battle this kind of aggressive assault on their PC security. Computer hackers can use your personal data to wreak havoc on your life. What can you do for your computer to protect yourself from computer viruses and other dangerous programs?

You can install the best antivirus software available.

How do your remove a virus from your computer?

Choose the right antivirus software to remove the virus from your computer. Antivirus programs defend your PC from malicious software. An antivirus program can also remove viruses that have already infected your computer. There are many different antivirus programs available for PC users to choose. Many people have heard of antivirus programs like BitDefender, Kaspersky, McAfee, and a few others. There are literally thousands of unique antivirus tools that could solve your PC security problems. How do you know which is the best antivirus program?

Review: The Best Antivirus Software Programs for PC Users

Today, we are reviewing a number of different antivirus programs to help you determine the best antivirus program for your computer. Some of these are free antivirus programs that offer premium options to improve your PC security. Other antivirus programs are not free, but if you read carefully, you’ll see that we offer great deals on many of these programs through the links in this article.

Now, we will help you pick the best antivirus program for your computer.

The best security software for any computer, including everything from Windows XP to Windows 10 and beyond, will be from one of a handful of different companies. We have taken dozens of antivirus programs, tested them, and selected our favorites. Our list of the best antivirus programs will help you pick the best antivirus software for you. Modern antivirus tools are able to tackle all types of computer viruses — spyware, malware, adware, ransomware, Trojans, rookits, and more. All the PC security products we are looking at are comprehensive antivirus utilities that can scan for and eliminate malware and other dangerous computer viruses. If you are thinking about trusting Windows built-in antivirus programs to protect your computer, think again. Windows Defender does not perform well in independent lab testing. It has received acceptable scores in a few more recent tests. With that in mind, our most recent evaluation shows that you will be served better with a third-party antivirus program.

Independent Antivirus Testing Lab Results

There are a variety of independent third-parties who conduct comprehensive tests to find the best antivirus programs for PC users. The results of an independent antivirus test are important to consider when reviewing antivirus software programs for their effectiveness. If an antivirus program company’s product appears in many independent antivirus test results, it becomes a “confidence vote” in that developer’s product. Independent testing labs are not known to review products that are not significant to the marketplace. But all of the independent testing labs will not help you if your product performs horribly in their tests. There are 5 reliable labs who regularly deliver comprehensive assessments of antivirus programs: Simon Edwards Labs (once Dennist Technology Labs), MRG-Effitas, Virus Bulletin, AV-Test Institute, and AV-Comparatives. It is also important to be aware of whether your antivirus program’s developer has contracted with ICSA Labs and West Coast Labs for certification. We have taken that account with our reviews to make it easy for you to choose the best antivirus program for your computer.

 

Antivirus Program Testing

Our team runs each antivirus program through a series of trials to determine it how well it works.

We want to know:

  • does the product prevent malware installation?
  • Can the product remove malware discovered during scans?

These questions help us determine which antivirus program performs the best. Here, we perform antivirus program testing over the course of several months. We test each antivirus program using MRG-Effitas’ newest malware-hosting URLs, and measure the percentage of malware attacks blocked. Antivirus programs are scored based on their ability to prevent access to the malicious URLs, and their ability to remove malware from the computer during downloading. There are antivirus programs that receive exceptional scores in independent third-party testing labs, but do not perform as well in our testing conditions. When this happens, we trust the test results of independent labs. Independent testing labs have, compared to our testing, endless resources at their disposal for testing antivirus software.

Enhanced Antivirus Protection

The distinguishing characteristics of various antivirus programs are found beyond the standard features of scanning and real-time antivirus protection. Antivirus programs may rank URLs of websites you see with their own coding system, often color-coded like a traffic light. Other antivirus programs offer features to block malicious software from connecting with malware-hosting websites designed to steal your personal information, called “phishing.” Computer programs can have flaws which may affect your PC security. Attentive PC users know to keep their Windows operating system and other programs up-to-date with the latest security updates and patches.

Software updates and operating system updates are important because they repair flaws in your computer programs that may leave you vulnerable to malware, spyware, and other viruses.

There are some antivirus programs that can scan for security vulnerabilities from missed updates, verify your computer has received necessary updates, and install any patches and updates that are missing. The standard procedure for an antivirus program is to identify and remove viruses and bad programs, without disturbing good programs.

How is it expected to handle unknown programs, or programs that cannot be identified?

One amazing aspect of modern antivirus programs is called behavior-based threat detection. Theoretically, it can protect you against malware and viruses that have not been documented by researchers. There is an upside and a downside to this type of threat detection. It is common for behavior-based virus detection systems to incorrectly identify normal behaviors by good programs. If you are experiencing problems with a behavior-based antivirus program improperly flagging your good programs, check if your antivirus program has a whitelisting feature. A whitelist-based approach is built on a list of known programs that you allow to run. Programs not on the whitelist are not allowed to run.

This approach to computer security is effective at stopping unknown programs, but is not a solution for every situation. Sandboxing is another approach to PC security that will allow you to let unknown programs run, but isolates them from the rest of your system. This prevents the program from damaging your computer permanently if it should be malicious in nature. These various added layers of protection can all work together to enhance your computer’s defense against viruses, malware, and other harmful programs.

Extra Features of Antivirus Programs

The number of bonus features and additional capabilities offered by various paid and free antivirus programs are enough to make anyone think.

When choosing an antivirus program that offers you firewall protection, spam filtering, e-mail protection, and other unique antivirus program capabilities, it is important to understand the product to the best of your ability.

Some antivirus programs have more features and functions than more robust products that are shipped and sold as comprehensive PC security suites. You may find yourself overwhelmed with the number of bonus features offered by some paid and free antivirus programs. Some of these additional features include secure file deletion, secure browsing for online shopping and financial transactions, securely wiping browser history and temporary files, credit monitoring, virtual keyboards to fool keylogging software, multi-platform protection, and more. There are even PC security software suites and antivirus programs that reinforce their automated virus protection with real human security experts.

This is why it is important to do your research before choosing the best antivirus program for your computer.

But what is the best antivirus program?

With so much information out there, how do you choose the best antivirus program? There are so many variables and features that can impact your decision. If you focus on the results of independent labs, Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2016 and Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2016 are the highest rated antivirus software programs. However, a single subscription to McAfee Antivirus Plus 2016 allows you to use it on all of your devices.

Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus 2016 is the most lightweight antivirus software around, with excellent behavior-based threat detection technology. These four antivirus programs are the ones we have selected to be our Top Antivirus Programs of 2016, but that does not mean other programs should be ignored.

Read all of the reviews for each of these top-rated antivirus programs, and make a decision for yourself.

Our Final Thought

I’m sure antivirus program afficionados are wondering to themselves, “Where’s Symantec?”

Frankly, we chose to not include their software suite in this assessment because they have not had a stand-alone antivirus program for years — security software suites are best reivewed alongside other suites.

Keep in mind that we are always looking for new antivirus utilities to review, and we have looked at a lot more antivirus programs that we did not mention in this particular article. Be sure to check back regularly for more on the best antivirus programs you can use to protect your PC from malicious software, viruses, spyware, malware, and more.

  • Malware
    Software

  • Lowest PriceLowest Price
  • Editor RatingEditor Rating
  • Number of Labs TestingNumber of Labs Testing
  • Aggregate Lab RatingAggregate Lab Rating
  • Malware Blocking Malware Blocking
  • Malicious URL Blocking Malicious URL Blocking
  • On-Demand Malware ScanOn-Demand Malware Scan
  • On-Access Malware ScanOn-Access Malware Scan
  • Website RatingWebsite Rating
  • Malicious URL BlockingMalicious URL Blocking
  • Phishing ProtectionPhishing Protection
  • Behavior-Based DetectionBehavior-Based Detection
  • Vulnerability ScanVulnerability Scan
  • Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus (2016)

  • Lowest Price
  • Editor Rating
  • Number of Labs Testing1
  • Aggregate Lab RatingN/A
  • Malware Blocking 10
  • Malicious URL Blocking 84%
  • On-Demand Malware Scan
  • On-Access Malware Scan
  • Website Rating
  • Malicious URL Blocking
  • Phishing Protection
  • Behavior-Based Detection
  • Vulnerability Scan
  • McAfee AntiVirus Plus (2016)

  • Lowest Price
  • Editor Rating
  • Number of Labs Testing4
  • Aggregate Lab Rating8.1
  • Malware Blocking 8.8
  • Malicious URL Blocking 91%
  • On-Demand Malware Scan
  • On-Access Malware Scan
  • Website Rating
  • Malicious URL Blocking
  • Phishing Protection
  • Behavior-Based Detection
  • Vulnerability Scan
  • Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2016

  • Lowest Price
  • Editor Rating
  • Number of Labs Testing4
  • Aggregate Lab Rating9.2
  • Malware Blocking 9.3
  • Malicious URL Blocking 74%
  • On-Demand Malware Scan
  • On-Access Malware Scan
  • Website Rating
  • Malicious URL Blocking
  • Phishing Protection
  • Behavior-Based Detection
  • Vulnerability Scan
  • Avast Pro
    Antivirus 2016

  • Lowest Price
  • Editor Rating
  • Number of Labs Testing5
  • Aggregate Lab Rating8.3
  • Malware Blocking 9.3
  • Malicious URL Blocking 69%
  • On-Demand Malware Scan
  • On-Access Malware Scan
  • Website Rating
  • Malicious URL Blocking
  • Phishing Protection
  • Behavior-Based Detection
  • Vulnerability Scan
  • Emsisoft Anti-Malware 11.0

  • Lowest Price
  • Editor Rating
  • Number of Labs Testing3
  • Aggregate Lab Rating9.1
  • Malware Blocking 9.4
  • Malicious URL Blocking 87%
  • On-Demand Malware Scan
  • On-Access Malware Scan
  • Website Rating
  • Malicious URL Blocking
  • Phishing Protection
  • Behavior-Based Detection
  • Vulnerability Scan
  • ESET NOD32
    Antivirus 9

  • Lowest Price
  • Editor Rating
  • Number of Labs Testing5
  • Aggregate Lab Rating9.4
  • Malware Blocking 8.6
  • Malicious URL Blocking 84%
  • On-Demand Malware Scan
  • On-Access Malware Scan
  • Website Rating
  • Malicious URL Blocking
  • Phishing Protection
  • Behavior-Based Detection
  • Vulnerability Scan
  • Panda Antivirus
    Pro 2016

  • Lowest Price
  • Editor Rating
  • Number of Labs Testing4
  • Aggregate Lab Rating7.3
  • Malware Blocking 8.8
  • Malicious URL Blocking 73%
  • On-Demand Malware Scan
  • On-Access Malware Scan
  • Website Rating
  • Malicious URL Blocking
  • Phishing Protection
  • Behavior-Based Detection
  • Vulnerability Scan
  • Kaspersky Anti-Virus (2017)

  • Lowest Price
  • Editor Rating
  • Number of Labs Testing4
  • Aggregate Lab Rating9.9
  • Malware Blocking 8.4
  • Malicious URL Blocking 65%
  • On-Demand Malware Scan
  • On-Access Malware Scan
  • Website Rating
  • Malicious URL Blocking
  • Phishing Protection
  • Behavior-Based Detection
  • Vulnerability Scan
  • F-Secure
    Anti-Virus 2016

  • Lowest Price
  • Editor Rating
  • Number of Labs Testing3
  • Aggregate Lab Rating7.4
  • Malware Blocking 8.9
  • Malicious URL Blocking 48%
  • On-Demand Malware Scan
  • On-Access Malware Scan
  • Website Rating
  • Malicious URL Blocking
  • Phishing Protection
  • Behavior-Based Detection
  • Vulnerability Scan
  • Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security 2016

  • Lowest Price
  • Editor Rating
  • Number of Labs Testing4
  • Aggregate Lab Rating8.0
  • Malware Blocking 9.1
  • Malicious URL Blocking 88%
  • On-Demand Malware Scan
  • On-Access Malware Scan
  • Website Rating
  • Malicious URL Blocking
  • Phishing Protection
  • Behavior-Based Detection
  • Vulnerability Scan

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