Anti-virus software is a program or set of programs that are designed to prevent, search for, detect, and remove software viruses, and other malicious software like worms, trojans, adware, and more.
These tools are critical for users to have installed and up-to-date because a computer without anti-virus software installed will be infected within minutes of connecting to the internet. The bombardment is constant, with anti-virus companies update their detection tools constantly to deal with the more than 60,000 new pieces of malware created daily.
There are several different companies that build and offer anti-virus software and what each offers can vary but all perform some basic functions:
- Scan specific files or directories for any malware or known malicious patterns
- Allow you to schedule scans to automatically run for you
- Allow you to initiate a scan of a specific file or of your computer, or of a CD or flash drive at any time.
- Remove any malicious code detected –sometimes you will be notified of an infection and asked if you want to clean the file, other programs will automatically do this behind the scenes.
- Show you the ‘health’ of your computer
Always be sure you have the best, up-to-date security software installed to protect your computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones.
What’s the Best Malware Protection?
Which antivirus should you choose? You have a wealth of options. Kaspersky Anti-Virus and Bitdefender Antivirus Plus invariably rate at the top in independent lab tests. In my hands-on tests, Norton AntiVirus Basic outscored every other recent product except Webroot. A single subscription for McAfee AntiVirus Plus lets you install protection on all of your Windows, Android, Mac OS, and iOS devices. And its unusual behavior-based detection technology means Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus is the tiniest antivirus around. We’ve named these five Editors’ Choice for commercial antivirus, but they’re not the only products worth consideration. Read the reviews of our top-rated products, and then make your own decision.
Note that I reviewed many more antivirus utilities than I could include in the chart of top products. If your favorite software isn’t listed there, chances are I did review it. You can see all the relevant reviews on PCMag’s antivirus software page. All the software listed in this feature are Windows antivirus apps. If you’re a macOS user, don’t despair, however; PCMag has a separate roundup dedicated solely to the best Mac antivirus software.