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Best Antivirus of 2024: Expert Picked


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Real-time protection capabilities: This is arguably the most important, baseline feature of any modern antivirus. While manual scanning was perfectly fine decades ago, modern malware is incredibly resourceful and capable, meaning you need regular scans and live monitoring of your PC to watch out for ransomware and more traditional malware attacks as they happen, letting the antivirus stop them in their tracks before they can do too much harm.

“[Any] antimalware solution must continually interrogate incoming files and packets in real-time to determine if they are malicious in nature,” Schwarberg says. “Additionally, the solution must allow the user to run scans at any time or schedule them in the future.”

Feature set and additional security tools included: There are a range of additional features that come as part of most modern antivirus suites. These can include useful tools like VPNs, password managers, cloud storage, tracking and detection of phishing websites and emails, blocking of malicious links, and ransomware protections.

“The best antivirus software would also be the best anti-ransomware tool, as well,” says data-driven defense evangelist at KnowBe4, Roger Grimes. Although he’s skeptical that a targeted ransomware attack on an organization can be stopped by off-the-shelf applications, they do provide a layer of defense against more randomized, chance-based ransomware attacks.

Compatibility with your operating system and other software: There’s no use in buying an antivirus solution that doesn’t work with your devices. Make sure that whether you’re looking to protect your desktop PC, your smartphone, or your kids’ laptops, you buy an antivirus that supports the various operating systems you want to install it on. Also, make sure it supports the number of devices you want to protect.

“Companies typically have computers for daily use and servers that perform various shared functions,” Schwarberg says. “Multiple computing types also means various operating systems within the network which may include Windows, Linux, and MacOS. Additionally, some organizations have company-owned mobile devices (e.g., smartphones, tablets).”

User interface and ease of use: If you aren’t a regular user of third-party software, some antivirus solutions can be a little complicated to use. Although all of them are designed with some measure of intuitive use in mind, some are much more suited to beginners than others. Some tools are all-in-one designs, which can streamline their use but make the interface more complex. On the other hand, using different applications for different things (antivirus, password management, etc.) can be a little overwhelming for novice users.

Pricing and subscription models: All modern antivirus solutions utilize some form of subscription model. That usually involves paying a monthly or annual fee for a set number of devices to be protected. More devices usually mean better value, but not if you don’t have that many devices in need of protection. Ensure you buy an AV solution that will protect all your devices and maybe a couple more, but don’t buy licenses you won’t use.


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