Best antivirus software
By Andrew Laughlin
Assuming you don't want an avalanche of malware, including viruses, Trojan Horses, ransomware and other internet nasties, attacking your computer, kitting yourself out with internet security software is a must.
There's a bewildering amount of security software packages on the market, each claiming to give you great PC protection.
So we've whittled down the hordes to unveil the best antivirus software packages that impressed us most.
Or, if you want to choose from all our highest rated packages, click to head to our Best Buy antivirus software reviews.
Best antivirus software for 2020
This security suite has consistently scored well in our tests for multiple years in a row. This year it continues to shine, and is the joint-best paid-for suite you can buy. Protection is top-drawer, and it's also very easy to use. It comes with a range of features including phishing protection, ransomware recovery and family controls, and its licencing options are flexible so you never have to pay for more protection than you need. It's a top choice.
It might not be the most famous or prestigious antivirus brand, but this software package excelled in our tests, joint top of the rankings for paid-for antivirus software. Protection is strong, and there are plenty of extra features although they aren't all installed by default, which is a bit of a faff.
This big-brand software doesn't disappoint. It dispatched all the viruses we threw at it, and phishing protection when browsing the web is also excellent. There's also built-in email protection and an anti-ransomware tool as well, and phone support is available to paying customers. It's an excellent choice.
It's not cheap, but this package scored top marks in all of our protection tests, including ransomware, phishing and other viruses. It has extra features, too, including mail scanning, a firewall, a system clean-up tool and banking protection. It's lightweight and easy to use, and a good choice.
Do I need antivirus for my Windows PC?
Recent versions of Windows have these tools built in. Windows 10 offers the most complete protection; its updated version of Defender includes antivirus, firewall and anti-spyware capabilities.
We've found that Microsoft Windows 10 Security (formerly Windows Defender) offers a good, basic level of protection, but Best Buy antivirus packages go further. If you don't want to pay for antivirus software, see the best free antivirus software available.
If you’re using any earlier version of Windows, such as Windows 7, although given Microsoft is on the verge of axing security support for Windows 7 altogether, the time is right to change to a newer operating system.
How often should my antivirus software update and scan?
It’s vital to keep your computer’s antivirus protection up to date, otherwise newer threats may be able to slip past your defences.
Most security software automatically checks for updates at least once a day, although it’s worth investigating whether your program is set up correctly.
Your security software gives real-time protection against threats as they emerge, but regular system scans are important, too. Most security suites are configured to perform an automatic scan once a week, often offering the choice of a ‘quick’ or ‘full’ scan depending on your needs.
We recommend carrying out a full scan once a week. You can do a manual quick scan any time you choose if your computer is exhibiting suspicious behaviour.