Antivirus software packages

Which? Best Buy antivirus software

You can't be sure how a software package will perform just by the claims on the box or website. Only Best Buy antivirus software will keep you safe from internet nasties while being simple to use.

Between malware, Trojan Horses, identity theft and phishing scams, there's a veritable bevy of threats that antivirus software can protect your computer. At best, being infected with a virus could leave your computer running painfully slowly, or your email account sending out strange messages. At worst, your personal information and bank details could be vulnerable.

So it's vital that you choose virus protection that you can be confident will keep you secure. We only award Best Buy status to internet security software that proves in our tests that it will keep your PC or Mac squeaky clean. Whether you're after a powerful, easy to use program that’s good at cleaning up viruses and spyware, or want something with more features such as a Firewall or parental controls, there's a product to suit you.

  • Spam assaults: We send more than 100 spam emails to our test computer to see how many the virus protection will flag. The best ones will recognise fake correspondence that could hurt your system.
  • Online banking: Our members want to know that they are safe when using their computers for internet banking and online shopping. High scoring antivirus suites give that peace of mind.
  • Ease of use: There's no point in installing security software that's impossible to use, so we also evaluate the ease-of-use of every product. Best Buys score highly for how simple they are to install, schedule and operate.

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How we uncover the best antivirus software

With so many avenues for internet nasties to gain access to your computer, we don't leave any stone unturned when testing internet security suites. Once the software is installed, we throw viruses at the test computer through a zipped email file attachment, a USB stick, dodgy websites and via a networked computer. We then see how each program reacts and whether it catches malware early enough.

But it's not just about spotting and destroying malware. To become a Best Buy, there are lots of other tests that the virus protection has to ace.

  • Phishing scams: We round up 25 of the freshest phishing scam URLs we can find and attempt to access them. An ineffective security suite will let you access the scam site without so much as a warning.
  • Parental controls: Does the package come with the ability to stop younger users accessing websites they shouldn't? And if so, are they too easy to turn off?
  • Computer performance: Watertight security is all very well, but if the software slows down your computer to snail-like speeds during a scan, then we're unlikely to recommend it.
  • Reporting: We like explanations of any peculiarities found to be clear, with obvious actions to take, in a language that won't reduce a user to a bag of nerves.
  • Ease of use: It's essential that antivirus software is straightforward to install and operate. Our Best Buys will be a doddle to set up and schedule regular scans.

Antivirus software reviews you can trust

As well as the most popular internet security providers, we also test suites from the manufacturers that are displaying the most innovation in the field. Plus, we check to see whether free antivirus software is any good. We have reviews of the biggest companies around, including Avast, AVG and Norton.

Which? is independent - we work for you, the consumer, so you can be sure that our product recommendations are influenced only by our test results. We don't take advertising and we buy all the products that we test ourselves, so our advice helps you to make the right choice first time and avoid costly mistakes.

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