Best Antivirus Software of 2018

Nicole Johnston ·
Internet Security & Appliance Editor
Updated
We maintain strict editorial integrity when we evaluate products and services; however, Top Ten Reviews may earn money when you click on links.

We spent hundreds of hours researching, consulting internet security specialists, studying third-party laboratory test results and physically testing antivirus software to understand how these programs work, as well as what makes them the best for protecting your home computer from malware. We found Bitdefender Antivirus Plus is the best antivirus software for Windows computers for its ease of use, high protection scores and 24/7 free support. 

Best Antivirus for Windows

Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2018

Bitdefender is a Windows antivirus program that blocks more malware than other programs without taking up too much of your computer’s resources. It includes extra security tools like a file shredder and a password manager.
View on Bitdefender
$25.99@Bitdefender
Best Antivirus for Windows
Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2018
Best Free Antivirus

AVG AntiVirus

AVG is a good free antivirus solution that includes more security tools than other free services, including a password manager and system vulnerability scanning.
View on AVG
Best Antivirus for Gaming

Avira Antivirus Pro

Avira’s gamer mode automatically starts when you begin playing online games. The game’s URL is added to Avira’s white list, so it remembers to enable the game mode quicker the next time you’re online.
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Product
Price
$59.99ImpactRadius
$54.99CJ
$29.99CJ
$29.95Amazon
$39.99CJ
$39.99CJ
$39.95Trend Micro
$39.99CJ
$24.99McAfee
$59.99CJ
$49.99CJ
Overall Rating
10
9.9
9.8
9.8
9.7
9.4
9.3
9.3
9.1
8.4
7.6
Test Results
10
9.8
10
10
9.8
9.5
9.8
9.5
9
9.5
7.5
Scanning & Detection
10
10
9.5
10
10
10
8.5
8.8
8.8
8.8
7.8
Privacy & Protection
10
10
9.8
8.8
9
8.5
9.5
9.5
10
5
7.5
Standout Feature
Secure Delete
100% Guarantee
Safe Banking
Gaming Mode
DNS Redirecting
Easy Install
Web-Reputation Technology
Cleanup Tool
Unlimited Licenses
Social Watch
Passive Mode
Virus Detection & Removal
100%
100%
100%
99%
99%
96%
100%
99%
87%
96%
99%
Loss of Computer Resource
97%
97%
93%
100%
88%
89%
89%
81%
88%
88%
77%
False Positives
96%
95%
99%
99%
96%
100%
96%
92%
99%
96%
96%
Minimum Number of Licenses
1
1
3
1
1
1
1
1
Unlimited
1
1
Gamer Mode Enabled
Manual
Manual
Manual
Automatic
Automatic
Manual
-
-
Manual
Manual
Automatic
Ransomware Protection
Antiphishing
USB Autoscans
-
Incoming Email Autoscans
Rescue CD or USB File
-
-
-
Vulnerable Software Detection
-
$
-
Mobile Protection
$
$
$
$
-
$
$
-
$
Parental Controls
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
-
-
Safe Banking
-
-
$
$
$
-
$
Password Manager
$
$
$
$
$
-
Weekday Phone Support Hours (Eastern Time)
24/7
24/7
24/7*
24/7
24/7
6am - 5pm
5am - 8pm*
9am - 6pm
24/7
24/7
24/7
Weekend Phone Support Available
-
-
Live Chat
-
-
-
-
Windows 10
Windows 8
Windows 7
Mac
-
-
-
-
-
-
Best Antivirus for Windows
Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2018 offers the best protection for your home computer from all sorts of malware, including destructive ransomware. In third-party tests and in our own in-house evaluations, we noticed that Bitdefender consistently blocks threats, earning a perfect score for protection in each one.
It does sometimes mistake a good file as a threat and will tag it and sent it to its quarantine file. It will sit there for two weeks before it is permanently deleted, though you can reinstate it if it is an important and legitimate file. Bitdefender does slow your computer slightly while it is running, though it does have a gamer, or silent, mode if you need more of your system’s resources for online gaming or watching videos. You will need to enable this feature manually since it doesn’t start automatically. The vulnerability scan checks to make sure your programs and apps are all up to date, and if not, Bitdefender provides a safe link to download the latest versions. You also get a password manager and safe banking tools. Both functions aid in protecting your personal information, user names and passwords as you enter them and work online. This is especially helpful in protecting your identity from hackers and thieves.
Pros
  • Secure deletion of found threats
  • Perfect scores for virus detection
  • Includes safe banking tools
Cons
  • Must pay for parental control features
  • Not as easy to set up as other programs
  • Sometimes marks legitimate programs as malware
$25.99Bitdefender
Read the full review
Best Antivirus for Gaming
For online gamers who access sites and programs that tend to harbor malware, Avira Antivirus Pro is a good choice. It is effective at blocking viruses and other threats.
Its gamer mode automatically suspends scheduled scans and notifications, so you’re not interrupted at a critical moment of play. We were particularly impressed that Avira Antivirus Pro’s gamer mode is automatic. It adds your gaming URLs as you access them and will automatically enable its game mode when you start to play. When you’re done, Avira will continue with regular scans and protections. Avira comes with a password manager that helps to shield your identity as you log into bank and credit card accounts. It also comes with some basic parental controls that allow blocking of dangerous content and specific sites.
Pros
  • Automatic gaming mode
  • Above-average protection score
  • Includes parental controls
Cons
  • No safe banking tools included
  • Mobile protection costs extra
  • Live chat support not available
$29.95Amazon
Read the full review
Best Free Antivirus
AVG internet protection programs are effective at protecting your computer from malware, including ransomware. Its Free Antivirus program doesn’t have as many extra security tools as paid programs and it comes with several in-app ads, but it’s a good basic program if you’re on a tight budget.
In addition to virus scans, AVG AntiVirus includes a system scan to detect outdated programs, and a password manager to protect your user names and passwords as you log into online accounts for banking, email or social media. It also includes a game, or silent, mode that automatically suspends scans and pop-up notices while you are playing or watching videos online. One great feature of AVG is that it works in passive mode, which means that if you have another antivirus program running, it doesn’t require you to uninstall other internet security software and doesn’t assert itself as the primary program. AVG works in the background to catch anything that slips through your primary program. It does use a fair amount of your computer’s resources to run, so you may experience some slowdown while playing online games or downloading files.
Pros
  • No-cost virus protection
  • Software vulnerability scan
  • Password manager included
Cons
  • Not as many features as the paid version
  • Several in-program ads
  • Causes your computer to slow down a bit
$49.99AVG
Read the full review

Why Trust Us?

We’ve been testing and evaluating antivirus software for over 15 years. At least twice a year, we spend approximately three months testing these programs to stay current with changes made by the manufacturers and the industry itself. We do quick evaluations when new security breaches are reported, to ensure the programs we recommend can protect you from these new threats.

As part of our research, we consult third-party laboratory internet security testers, such as AV-Test, AV-Comparatives and Virus Bulletin, their testing methodology and results. We use this information to test antivirus programs in our own Purch Labs.

We subscribe to IT and security news outlets and blogs to help us keep on top of security breaches and changes in the industry. We also attend trade shows and conventions specific to internet security. With this knowledge and experience, we have positioned ourselves as experts on antivirus software.

How We Tested

We downloaded every antivirus program that was evaluated by the antivirus laboratories AV-Test and AV-Comparatives to our in-house testing computers and to our personal computers to get a feel for how they work in real-life scenarios. We tested to determine if each program could find the keylogger programs purposely installed, and we monitored the threats blocked while we worked online, performing web searches, playing online games, sharing files and sending email.


We also looked at the amount of our computer’s resources used while the program was running and how much lag this created. These results were compared with those of third-party testers to come up with averages scores for virus protection, computer performance during use, and any false positives given. We then narrowed our list to the 10 best antivirus solutions.

Quick Tip

Kaspersky Anti-Virus comes with three licenses and is compatible with both Windows and Mac operating systems

Things To Consider 

Protection & Performance
The most important consideration when buying antivirus software is its effectiveness in protecting your computer from viruses, ransomware, Trojans and other malware. The next important thing is the drain on your computer when running the antivirus. We looked closely at both issues as we tested and evaluated antivirus software.


Extra Security Tools
Also consider the extras that come with antivirus programs. Some programs offer only the basic virus protection; others include features such as parental controls, safe banking tools and password managers. Each of these functions gives you added protections to make your time online safer from hackers, internet snoops and spyware. Although each of the internet security developers we looked at has some program that offers all these features, some do not include them in their basic antivirus solutions. If you are working within a budget, a basic program with some of these added protections is a good value.

Support Options
All of the antivirus solutions we tested offer telephone and email support. We gave a higher score to those that have 24/7 support because internet security glitches don’t always happen during business hours. Live chat is also a good tool to have if you need answers quickly. 

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