Like it or not, there is probably going to come a time when your computer gets sick. Or at least when it gets infected: how far the virus spreads or if it even spreads at all is largely up to the steps you took to protect your system when it was still nice and healthy. Antivirus software can’t necessarily ensure that your computer is safe from any and all cyber menaces, but it can give you a fighting chance against losing all your files and your hardware seizing up on you. Oftentimes, the most important role antivirus programs play is not even so much blocking or fixing the damage a computer virus causes, but in making you aware of its attempt to infiltrate your system before it gets anywhere near your precious drives.
Many computer setups will come with a basic antivirus software package, and maybe that will be enough for you, maybe not. You have to decide what you need, ultimately, to feel protected. But we certainly wouldn’t recommend going without anything. Here are some of the best offerings for your consideration:
5 AVG’s Antivirus Free 2013
Well, it’s free and it works, so it makes the list. AVG’s free antivirus software will help keep your computer clean and safe, but you will from time to time have to deal with so many opt-in to this or opt-out of that etc. pop ups that you may think it has boomeranged on you. Still, at less than 35 megabytes in size and at zero cents of cost, this program is more than good enough for the semi-casual computer user on a budget.
4 PC Tools Spyware Doctor with AntiVirus 9.0
This will cost you a bit more than WebRoot there, at about $39 a package, but it can be put on three machines, so you have to figure that into the price. You also have to figure in the fact that it gets low marks for being bad at helping computers already afflicted by virus issues, so if you are looking less for defense and more for repairs, you may need to look elsewhere. If you have three computers that are still ostensibly healthy, though, then certainly consider this offering from PC Tools.
3 WebRoot SecureAnywhere Antivirus Software
It can be yours for around $30. A common complaint with this software is that it’s more complicated to use than other entries into our survey, but on the plus side, it is fast as lightning, completing full system scans much more rapidly than most competitors. So if you’re pressed and time is of the essence, or if you’re just really impatient, this is a program to consider. It also catches up to 95% of potential issues on most PCs, which is a stellar rating. So if you can figure out how to use it, it will serve you well!
2 Bitdefender Antivirus Plus
This program will cost you twice as much as the Norton up there above it, but it can be used on up to three computers and it does have some serious chops (just not serious enough to make it worth twice the price of Norton 2012). Bitdefender’s software is always on the prowl, running background diagnostics and checks on your PC without slowing you down, so the chances are that any issue will be caught before it metastasizes into bona fide problem. And we like avoiding problems, don’t we?
1 Norton Antivirus 2012
This is your basic, good enough, nice low price, kick the tires and get ‘er done antivirus software. Why did we put it in the number 1 spot, you ask? Because by nice low price we mean that you can find this software package for under $20, which moves it solidly into the category of a no-brainer. Norton is a trusted name when it comes to antiviral software and we feel they’ve earned their status as such. It can be a bit of a jumpy program, throwing up red flags against incorrectly categorized threats (benign popups, cookies you have opted into, etc.) but that’s a small price to pay for software with such a small price tag.
So bearing in mind that you need to make sure you research the right software for your needs and your system, we feel comfortable saying that one of the above five programs will serve your purposes well. And we also apologize for featuring PC-heavy software today, but that’s just the way things are sometimes. Besides, Macs aren’t all that susceptible anyway, y’know?