Your computer is slowing down, but it’s not like you have the latest model and you’re not used to watching it run in the Lightning McQueen style either, right? Then, you notice it starts crashing all of a sudden. That’s weird. And when the annoying pop-ups spring up like mushrooms after rain, you’re getting concerned. You may be “lucky” and get such obvious signs of a malware infection. Or you might be dealing with some virus that does damage in silence. Either way, you want a reliable antivirus, fast.
One good antivirus is all you need to start cleaning up your PC. It must have real-time scanning, an up-to-date signature database, and the capabilities to detect the latest threats. Don’t waste time running multiple software that will give you all sorts of errors. Pick one reliable antivirus program and go with it.
So that you know, there’s no such thing as a perfect security solution. However, there are features you want to look for when you shop for a competitive antivirus. Features that will give you the highest odds to detect and isolate whatever malware or virus has comfortably nestled on your device.
As long as you know what to look for, the antivirus’s name is just that – a label of a more or less known security provider. So, let’s don’t get ourselves lost in insignificant details and instead focus on what makes an antivirus a top-performer when it comes to providing you with competitive and reliable detection solutions.
Below, I’ve looked into the features that help an antivirus better detect AND protect your device. You don’t just want to get rid of the current infection. You also want to avoid getting into such instances in the future as much as possible.
Top features to look for when picking your antivirus.
When you’re looking for an antivirus, you want the best protection. But you also want it to be pretty intuitive. And, perhaps just as important as the protection level, you want it to go easy on your system resources.
So, a complex security solution that doesn’t add complexity to your user experience? And that doesn’t slow down or take up too much of your system resources? If you have to pick, make sure you’re getting:
- Compatibility with different devices;
- Intuitive interface and automatic updates;
- Real-time scanning and auto-clean;
- Advanced, cloud-enabled antimalware and antispyware;
- Email protection;
- Browsing protection;
- Identity protection;
- Powerful firewall;
- PC tune-up;
- Exploit protection & patch management.
Anything else you’re getting on top of these is welcomed though not a must-have. It’s nice if you can get a VPN and some password management options, along with Parental Controls and more than one license for one device.
Through it all, you need your antivirus to cope with multiple detection mechanisms rather than simply relying on signature matching. And you expect it to protect not just your PC but also your network, scanning for threats, making sure that your system resources are used as intended, and keeping your other third-party apps up-to-date, avoiding exploits and drop-by downloads.
Many of the options on the market offer a combo of some of the features mentioned above. After playing with more antivirus programs than I like to admit, I’ve personally come to recommend the following top three choices.
Top 3 best antivirus programs to clean up your PC today
When it comes to picking the best AV, I’m not interested in labels, and neither should you. I look at what they promise – their built-in features – and how they deliver – the test results and the detection rates.
I put the following programs to the test with my stash of malware. And I wasn’t disappointed with how they performed, which means neither will you, regardless of which one you decide to go with, in the end!
BullGuard has a reputation as the best antivirus program for gamers. But if you dig a little deeper and see what it has to offer apart from its popular game mode, you’ll hardly want to look for another AV.
- Standard Antivirus package for one device;
- Internet Security package for up to three devices;
- Premium Protection for up to 10 devices.
Considering that the Premium Protection covers so many devices, offers compatibility with Windows, Mac, and Android, and includes the Ultimate Identity Protection service, you can purchase this one to protect all the devices in your home.
It’s a package that ticks all the right boxes, as it has an effective malware engine and a highly-customizable firewall; therefore, it will guard both your computer and your home network. It relies on advanced scanning and detection mechanisms that don’t put much strain on your system resources. And, to make it easy for you, it boasts a friendly user interface and runs free automatic updates.
The OS protection includes:
- Antivirus, antiphishing, antimalware, anti-ransomware;
- Vulnerability scanner, Dynamic Machine Learning, and Behavioral Engine, with Cloud Integrated Backup;
- Home Network Scanner, Firewall, Parental Control;
- Secure Browser, Game Booster, and PC Tune Up.
Thanks to the anti-anything protection, it detected 100% of the malware I tested on it, with flying colors! Spyware, ransomware, rootkits, and other malware didn’t stand a chance in front of its real-time scanning engine.
So, you can breathe easy knowing you’re well protected with BullGuard. In case you don’t know much about all its extra features, don’t sweat about it. This AV lets the more tech-savvy users customize it in detail while offering everyone else the option to turn on the default protection and mind their own business.
The only caveat I could find was that there’s no option to have the VPN as part of any of its security packages. So, if you can’t live without a VPN, you need to purchase it separately.
Norton has been at the forefront of online security for quite some time, and this is simply because its products are highly effective and up-to-date. Just like BullGuard, they are offering three packages to choose from:
- Norton AntiVirus Plus as one license for PC or Mac;
- Norton 360 Standard for one device (PC/Mac/Mobile);
- Norton 360 Deluxe for up to five devices (PC/Mac/Mobile).
The Deluxe package is giving you five times more cloud backup space (50GB) than the Standard package, and, in addition to all the default security options, it brings Parental Control, Privacy Monitor, and School Time features to your fingertips.
Another complete antivirus and antimalware solution, Norton’s top tier package includes smart firewall and VPN, password management and Dark Web monitoring, SafeCam, and real-time threat protection, with a 100% Virus Protection Promise.
The virus protection promise warrants that if you get a virus that the AV can’t handle, you’ll then be appointed a Norton expert to clean up your device personally. And if that doesn’t work either, you’ll get your money back.
With such a bold virus-free commitment and all the security features included in the Deluxe package, there’s no reason why you wouldn’t want to give Norton a try, in case you’re not quite sure you want to go with BullGuard.
In all honesty, PC Matic wasn’t a name that caught my eye early on, but as I got to play around with it, I was pleasantly surprised with the advanced protection it offers and its unique approach.
Options-wise, you don’t get to choose between countless products like you see in other AV programs, but you can choose whether to pay the annual price or three times as much for a lifetime license on up to 5 devices.
Unlike other antiviruses that keep a blacklist with virus signatures, this one prefers to work with an automated whitelist. Paired with fileless script blocking and brute force attack mitigation capabilities, it is surprisingly effective even against zero-day threats.
What made me even more interested in testing PC Matic is that it walks the extra mile with exploit protection through patch management and driver updates. To put it in plain English, it makes sure that your third-party apps are updated and secure, keeping the known vulnerabilities that hackers could exploit to a minimum.
Just like BullGuard, PC Matic will keep an eye on your PC performances with automated maintenance. And it will spare you from annoying pop-ups and malvertising through a dedicated adblocker extension.
With such competitive detection mechanisms, 100% detection rate proved during actual tests, and super-intuitive scanning options and reporting, you can’t afford to overlook PC Matic. Not if you’re serious about keeping your PC secured.
The only catch you need to be aware of is that its whitelisting requires you to separately download and activate the SuperShield (PC Matic’s free global whitelist). And you’ll only be able to use it after a first system scan!