The best antivirus protection of 2019 for Windows 10
We should all know the rules of how to keep Windows secure and protect our privacy: Don’t open unexpected emails and messages, don’t tap questionable links or download app from shady sites, don’t give out personal information, use secure passwords, keep your Windows software up to date.
BEST WINDOWS ANTIVIRUS SOFTWARE
And you can take a few extra steps to ensure you are safe online with a PC: Use a VPN to protect your internet traffic, an end-to-end encrypted messaging app to keep people from spying on your communications, and a password manager to keep track of login credentials.
But if you are looking for a place to start with keeping your Windows device secure, a good first step is to run the best antivirus software, which monitors your app downloads and watches for malicious software and suspicious software behavior.
And here’s the first important thing for you to know: Microsoft Defender — the free antivirus program and security software that comes free with Windows 10and until recently was called Windows Defender — does a fine job of protecting your PC. (Amazingly, Microsoft provided no built-in protection for Windows back in the days of Windows 98 and XP.) Using Microsoft Defender should be your starting point for security on Windows, and most users will find they don’t need to go any further.
However, you can make the case that the Windows security ecosystem is healthier when users don’t depend on just one company for protection. If you favor robust platform diversity, you can easily find solid malware protection from third-party security companies that are up to the task of guarding your PC for free. And most let you also protect all your devices with an annual subscription — though, it’s important to note, that’s largely unnecessary outside the Windows realm.
To that end, we’ve put together a list of our favorite Windows antivirus solutions, encompassing both free and subscription options. These picks are a combination of recommendations from independent third-party labs AV-Test and AV-Comparatives and our hands-on testing.
Note that CNET may get a share of revenue from the sale of the products featured on this page.
Looking for free protection, willing to pay for broad antivirus coverage across all your devices, or needing to remove malware from your PC right now? Here’s where to start.
Best free Windows antivirus: Microsoft Defender
Free version? Yes, built into Windows 10
Paid version: Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection is available to corporate users for a fee
Honestly, if you consistently practice safe computing — you keep your software up to date, for example, you use strong passwords and you steer clear of unexpected emails and links — you probably can stay clear of trouble. And with Microsoft’s free Microsoft Defender Antivirus software running on Windows 10, you have a safety net if you do let your guard down. (Note that Microsoft recently changed the name of Windows Defender to Microsoft Defender and has expanded the service to other platforms.) This one is literally built into Windows — just leave it turned on (it is by default) and let it do its thing and this will cover the basics. Microsoft pushes new updates daily.