Antivirus software is the first line of defense against malware, ransomware and other digital threats. Even the most tech-savvy users can lose their guard and an antivirus suite is vital for those who want to keep their data safe. Top-rated programs can stop fraudulent phishing attacks and alert you when websites have been compromised. They also can identify suspicious emails. A lot of programs provide additional security options like password managers, VPN access, and automatic cloud backups. They also can scan for dark web activity and detect when your computer is infected.

Depending on the suite you select the program will scan for malware in various ways. Heuristic detection looks for behavior that is typical of viruses, whereas the sandboxing process isolates malicious programs so they don’t cause damage. Some suites will even clean your affected files if needed.

Norton offers excellent malware protection along with numerous additional features such an VPN as well as automated backups and a password manager. Its user-friendly interface as well as its excellent results in AV-Test and AV Comparatives benchmark tests make it a top pick. It is able to drain system resources and slow down older systems and budget-friendly ones.

Avast’s free application offers powerful threat protection with a beautiful interface. It is able to be upgraded for an affordable cost to Avast One, which adds privacy and identity protection as well as with PC tools. The robust engine of the software performs well in lab testing and is effective at stopping new threats – also known as zero-day attacks – before they can be identified or added to a virus database. It’s available for Windows, Mac and Android as well.

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