Antivirus software is used to protect your computer from harmful files that may be accidentally downloaded or placed onto your computer in a number of ways. All programs provide general scans and protection from malicious files, but the best virus scanners go even further by providing great browser support, protecting you from harmful links online, and some even automatically detect harmful links on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
At AlwaysReview, we test each and every antivirus program on its capability to prevent both the downloading and attacks of malware. On top of that, we spend hours reading the in-depth performance tests of the specialized labs. And as a result we can state that Bitdefender Antivirus 2014 is the best antivirus software available today due to its excellent performance scores while maintaining a non-invasive background presence. Second on our list is AVG Antivirus 2014, offering great online and offline protection.
Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2014 provides the best-engineered anti-malware protection of 2014. In both our own tests as well as in the independent labs of AV-Test, AV-Comparatives, and Dennis Technology Labs, Bitdefender scored excellently. On all tested subjects, such as automatic browser protection on platforms like Google and Facebook, the protection from ID theft, phishing and theft of private information such as online banking and passwords, Bitdefender excelled.
Adding to this the competitive price and the non-invasive yet extremely complete protection from malicious software, and it’s easy to understand why Bitdefender is the best of 2014.
AVG Antivirus 2014 is a powerful and quality program. As expected from such a reliable and respected name as AVG, this virus scanner provides strong antivirus support along with many usability features making this an accessible, potent and capable security suite. Providing zero-day updates to their virus detection and features suitable for anyone from casual users to advanced users and gamers, AVG have created a product that is sure to appeal to any customer looking to buy great antivirus software. Great browsing protection and a non-invasive nature make it attractive to many users, and low resource usage makes it great for both PCs and laptops alike.
VIPRE Antivirus 2014 protects your computer from many avenues of attack in regards to viruses and other malware. It includes support for automatically detecting malicious files and problems with e-mails, removable media such as USB drives and other peripherals, and during browsing or doing web searches such as on Google. Suspicious links are flagged up and allow you to be more confident in your browsing. A firewall is also included, a security feature not found in some antivirus software, allowing an extra layer of protection to be taken. It provides good antivirus support, though not the best. A generous install license and fantastic customer support make VIPRE Antivirus 2014 great for casual and advanced users looking for a quality program.
F-Secure Antivirus 2014 provides a back-to-basics but very solid antivirus program. It provides almost no support beyond antivirus scanning, detection, and removal, but it should not be dismissed because of this. What it does it does exceedingly well, having a better-than-average virus detection and removal rate. Particularly appealingly it does this with absolutely minimum computer resources, meaning it causes no slowdown for your computer and no impact on start-up time. This also means it is very suited to laptops as it causes minimal battery drain. A streamlined program, it has a very fast install-to-scan time and so is quick and easy to pick up, install, run and have operating and protecting your computer in a very short space of time. Great for those looking just purely for antivirus software that does the job well.
McAfee AntiVirus Plus 2014 is the latest virus scanner from the established McAfee name. This particular version provides a very wide-reaching degree of protection, covering just about any possible avenue for an attack or for malicious files or software to strike from, ranging from viruses to hackers through to browsers. It contains features for integrating with your browser, showing you the level of security of a website and any levels of risk there might be, with a handy, non-intrusive icon flagging any potential harmful links in searches such as Google. Also included in the virus scanner is a rare two-way firewall, that provides both incoming and outgoing protection against malicious activity, making it harder for your computer to be hijacked or for anyone trying to access your computer. Somewhat resource-heavy and with solid but unimpressive virus detection, it is not suited to advanced users or gamers, but does provide great coverage for casual users. It’s reasonable price is great for the budget-conscious, but it is provided on a yearly license that must be renewed each year.
What is antivirus software?
Antivirus and antimalware software is designed to run constantly while your PC, Mac, or laptop is turned on, watching out for any malicious files that may be present or may be downloaded. These programs often run in real-time, meaning they can immediately pick up new files that appear that are suspicious, or they can be set to do a virus scan thoroughly throughout the computer to pick up anything that might have been missed.
No antivirus software is 100% effective, but the best ones have a very high detection rate and should be able to protect from almost all harmful files. They are regularly updated with new ‘definitions’ (definitions are what allows the virus protection to identify a file is a potentially malicious one), and so remain up-to-date as new viruses are created. Many virus scanners are packaged as a suite in a security program, allowing secure coverage of computer files, e-mails, harmful websites, plug-in devices such as USB memory sticks, and downloaded files, allowing you to browse the Internet and use your computer with a greater sense of confidence.
Some of the best virus scanners provides child safety features and filtering software, giving you more control over who is able to access what on the computer and the Internet. A newer but increasingly common feature is to provide protection against suspicious links which have been reported or are suspected to contain material or files which may cause harm to your computer. In doing so a program may either ask for confirmation before allowing access, or may be told to not allow access at all. Some programs even provide warning next to links on popular search engines such as Google or Yahoo!, allowing you to securely browse without having to be quite so careful about what links are clicked or if others may be accidentally infecting your computer during use.
Most antivirus comes packaged as part of a security suite, providing the best possible value for money and coverage all in one place. Most commonly these features include antivirus, antimalware, browser protection, link protection, and sometimes firewalls. Most of the time with one product purchased you will not have to purchase anything else for security as it will all be provided in one package, although not all programs provide an overarching protection so it is important to be aware of the level of protection and the features you are purchasing.
Other important aspects of these security programs is the provision of secure browsing when using sensitive data, such as online banking or online shopping, and some go as far as to provide privacy settings such as secure, private browsing, the option to delete program history, and even to permanently delete files from your hard drive. Some of these capabilities may come as standard in a reasonably-priced package and be part of the antivirus software, though some may require a more expensive product to be brought or may be packaged separately by the same company.
What is the best antivirus software?
There is a wealth of internet security programs available. So what makes for a great antivirus program to protect your computer?
There are numerous things to consider when deciding what software to choose, and many of these are detailed below. However, for quick reference, our #1 virus scanner – Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2014 - contains all of these features at a highly competitive price. By far the best virus protection available, it includes all the features and customer support you could need to ensure all-round protection for a Windows PC, and supports Windows XP SP3 upwards and is the best antivirus available for Windows 8, providing a comprehensive package from computer sweeps for viruses through to helping secure your online banking details and protect from harmful links anywhere from Google to Facebook.
Our second best antivirus software is AVG Antivirus 2014, which is an extremely robust and comprehensive security program. AVG is kept extremely up-to-date so you can be assured you will be protected from the biggest and smallest threats as they appear. It also provides a suite of options to help detect and repair damaged files. It provides strong internet protection features, and is particularly suitable for gamers, providing security for gaming accounts and having a gaming mode to prevent interruptions during online sessions. It is a powerful antivirus that does what it needs to in an efficient, non-imposing way, making it a welcome addition to computer security, and a comprehensive free trial is provided that, while containing limited features, provides a robust free antivirus program that will allow you to test it out for no expense.
How to choose the best antivirus software?
Finding appropriate antivirus program is largely down to how comprehensive you want the program to be, how capable of detecting new and existing threats you want it to be, and how invasive and resource-consuming it is.
Here are some questions that are important to ask before making any decisions:
How much do you want to spend on virus scanner?
Do you just want your computer covered from anything that might appear, or do you want secure browsing with warnings of anything malicious that may be around?
Do you want something that runs itself and solves problems without much input, or do you prefer knowing what your programs are doing?
Would you prefer something with a slick and simple interface, or something with many options?
Do you want peripherals (such as USB sticks) to have protection or for the computer to be protected from them when plugging them in?
Could other members of the family find the program useful?
Will it be good for protecting any children or vulnerable people who may be using the computer?