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Best Antivirus Software in 2021
It’s unbelievable how many things we do from our home computer: watching movies, writing emails, working, and even paying off our debts. Hence if your personal information is not properly protected, you can be easily giving away data to people with not so good intentions. Regardless of the operating system your computer runs on, cybercriminals are coming up with new sophisticated ways to target your computer. This article researched multiple antiviruses and ways to protect your data and be confident while surfing the Internet.
Why Do We Need Antivirus These Days?
Even though the word antivirus implies that this software fights viruses, they are not as common as financial theft, phishing websites, network hacks, and other threats to your computer or smartphone. The majority of modern operating systems have built-in protective measures like firewalls or Windows Security. However, depending on your browsing habits and the importance of information you have access to, you still might need to protect your devices in 2020. Here are the main reasons behind it:
- The operating system is likely to protect you from major viruses. Still, there is plenty of malware going live every single day that even the most sophisticated OS isn’t prepared to combat. And you can easily catch it by clicking the wrong link. Sometimes, it’s not even that you did something wrong. It could be that WI-FI has been compromised, or a legitimate downloading service that you’ve used on multiple occasions before was hijacked at this particular moment.
- Some people believe that if you employ best practices and have good surfing habits, you are 100% safe online, which is unfortunately not true. As I’ve mentioned in a previous point, it’s not only your actions that can jeopardize your data security but also the external factors since your device doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Moreover, less tech-savvy users might not be aware of how to surf the Internet safely and what those dangers are.
- Hackers and other individuals taking advantage of your under-protected devices became so sneaky and advanced that you might not be even aware of them using you in their fishy business! For instance, some of the new threats include crypto-mining malware that slows down your PC while you may not even notice. The other relatively new danger is ransomware threatening to lock away your digital life.
How to Choose the Best Antivirus Software in 2021?
The answer to this question might be a complex one since there is no single antivirus that will fit everyone’s needs. While choosing the proper protective software, you need to consider multiple factors since users have very different protection needs. For instance, a gamer doesn’t have the same protection requirements as the person who does all their banking online. And if you’re looking for the best in class child-protection filters – it’s another criterion.
Of course, every antivirus provider claims that their product is the best for you, and many of them can be right depending on the specific user’s needs. Here are the steps you should take before subscribing to any protective software.
- Consider the Operating system you use. Knowing what kind of OS you use can significantly narrow your options. You need to choose an antivirus tailored for your type of OS (IOS, Windows, Linux) because there is malware specifically designed to attack particular OSs and even devices! Hence, pay attention if the chosen OS is compatible with all of your devices. Some malware is hidden, and you get it as a bonus with your mobile apps to answer your question on whether or not you should have an antivirus on your smartphone.
- Assess the way you use your devices today. First of all, there are package deals for users that need to protect five devices or more, which might be useful if you’re shopping for protective software for the whole family. Also, check out if the software is suitable for your specific needs (gambling, gaming, online banking, children filters, and so on).
- Check the leading certification and testing agencies like Checkmark, ICSA Labs, VB100%, AV-Comparatives, AV-Test, and NSS Labs. to see their evaluation of the antivirus scanner that already fit your OS and surfing habits. If your options are even worth consideration – they undoubtedly will be enlisted there.
- While you on the testing agency website, make sure that you double-check the provider’s detection capabilities. That’s an essential function of any antivirus, so pick the one with the highest detection score and check this feature in dynamics since you need the one that is going to deliver you a high level of protection consistently.
- At this point, you should be left with 2 to 3 options to choose from. Many experts suggest downloading their free trials and test them. If that sounds too complicated, just continue reading, take a sneak peek of the further recommendations, and you should be able to get an obvious answer on which to pick.
What else should I consider while choosing the antivirus?
Accuracy and efficiency
Your antivirus has to protect you without stealing all the productivity of your device. By nature, security products require computing resources and don’t forget that this software runs in the background all the time. That gains specific importance if you don’t have the newest computer or it’s not the fastest. You should check if the chosen antivirus has a small impact on the boot timings and overall computer performance and can quickly scan your computer for malware. This information can be easily found on forums if you are not willing to test it yourself. A good antivirus will detect and delete malware without accidentally deleting your clean files and perform well during all kinds of operations, including:
- downloading files
- copying the files
- installing applications
- launching various apps
Easiness of use
A decent product should be easy to use for both a knowledgeable audience and less tech-savvy users. There are several things to consider in terms of usability.
- Automatic updates. You have too much on your plate to update this antivirus manually.
- User-friendly interface: It should be easy for you to navigate through different tabs without specific instructions
- Settings that are easy to understand and configure and for more advanced settings documentation should be easy to find
- Complete control of how does it work. While most users would prefer to install the antivirus and forget about it, some users want to access more complex configurations and set each aspect to their preference.
A couple of things that are frequently overlooked:
- Make sure that there are no additional costs.
- If the offered antivirus has several add-ons, plugins, web browsers, and staff like that – it doesn’t worth it. Usually, those providers aren’t adding to the security but instead harming it.
Paid vs. Free Antivirus – What’s the Difference?
If you are now convinced that a reliable antivirus is something that you need to add to your shopping list, you might be curious why you shouldn’t get a free product and call it a day? Here is our take on the difference between paid and free antiviruses.
You’d say that’s obvious. And it is in some way. Suppose you are on a super tight budget but still concerned about your online security. In that case, you should pick the best available option among the wide variety of free antiviruses out there. Try to get one of the bigger names and don’t get a product you have never heard of. If you have no idea about the market’s players, go and check out some forums dedicated to free antiviruses to get some unbiased opinion from real users.
Free products will get you core virus protection, but more advanced features are only available with paid options. Among other important features, you will get:
- Added online banking security: Paid antivirus will automatically raise your protection level while you’re using banking websites or applications.
- Anti-ransom extra layers: With premium AV, you will be able to lock the folders that won’t be out of reach for unauthorized programs, which ads a layer of protection from this notorious malware that is growing its reach every day.
- Anti-phishing tech: While your OS provides you a certain degree of protection from those attacks, advanced AV will reassure your security and send you messages when you enter suspicious websites or when someone is trying to steal your data
- Password managers: Bad news is that when you save your credentials while using a browser, someone can get to them. While using a paid AV, you get a password manager that encrypts your data, and you can safely log in to your favorite sites and services without worries.
- VPN: this feature is especially handy when you’re using your laptop or smartphone away from home. Virtual Private Network that comes with some prime packages will reroute your traffic and mask your IP to make sure that no one has access to your data after you left the café or wherever you’re surfing the Internet from.
You hope that you will never need any kind of support from your antivirus provider, but hey, you never know. When you have a free-of-charge option installed, all you have is a FAQ section, and in case you became a victim of a ransomware attack, it just wouldn’t cut it.
Paid AV is geared towards business
When you use a laptop to stream Hulu, that’s one thing, but when you have access to customers’ information stored at your computer – that’s a whole another level of protection you need. Only a paid version will protect your data from your teammates’ browsing habits.
While you use a free Antivirus, they still have to make money somehow. That’s why sometimes you get an abnormal amount of ads while using it, and we can all agree that it is frustrating.
Emails remain one of the most widespread sources of viruses and trojans. Premium antivirus will scan your mailbox to prevent you from accidentally clicking on messages or pictures that can infect your computer.
What Features Are Critical to Have in Your Antivirus?
If you don’t want to do a deep-dive study of the long list of features, you at least need to make sure that the chosen product has these five critical features:
- Real-time scanning: All antiviruses are designed to detect viruses and malware; not all of them function in the same way. It is crucial to pick one that offers dynamic scanning to prevent your computer from getting infected, rather than just notifying you that it has already happened.
- Automatic updates: For this type of software, that’s not the question of convenience only, since the latest version of an AV will give you protection from the latest threats detected.
- Auto-clean: It seems logical to delete harmful code right after detection. However, regular free antiviruses will just quarantine that code waiting for you to log in and manually delete it, which can be draining.
- Fights various malware: There is a growing amount of malware and multiple threats to your data, and free AVs are often designed to combat limited types of malicious software.
- Protection for numerous apps: Threats can sneak into your software from multiple sources, starting from your mailbox, ending up with your messaging apps and browsers. If you’re not protected while using any of those apps – you can be at a high risk of damaging your hardware.
What Happens When Your Computer Gets Infected By a Virus?
You can compare it to any kind of virus that a human can get. When you catch one – you get sick. It keeps you from functioning as you are used to, and you need some medicine to get rid of it. Just like real viruses, they can vary. One would slow your operation down, others will infect only certain parts of your hardware, and some will shut your computer altogether.
Even the least harmful computer viruses will copy themselves and clutter your computer significantly alow down the way your computer operates.
There are signs that a computer has been infected by a virus that you can spot even without AV. Those include:
- Computer performance that is slower than usual
- Unexplained data losses
- Computer crashes
So there is no single answer to that question. It all depends on the seriousness of the virus you caught and the severity of the damage already made. The good news is that a decent AV can help you with detecting and deleting existing viruses.
How Does Antivirus Software Work?
Simply put, antivirus scans every file, app, or program and compares it to the one stored in its database. Its main goal is to detect a line of code that is the same or similar to the known malware and then question or remove it. The thing is, new viruses emerge all the time, and hackers are very well equipped and not dumb. And if the virus has not yet been detected or documented, the likelihood of the antivirus missing it is very high.
Benefits of Using Antivirus
- Protection from viruses: Obvious, but an important one. Protection from malware, ransomware, spyware, and other kinds of threats and deleting them before they can harm your computer.
- Prevention of Phishing Attacks: If you install a reliable AV, you can sleep at night, knowing that third parties can’t access your data.
- Firewall protection: AV monitors suspicious activity, blocks it and stops spreading through your WI-FI.
- It blocks ads and spam sites: Pop-up ads are a pervasive source of viruses that are looking for your data, and people often click on them by accident, and they get quite annoying at times. With an antivirus, you don’t have to worry about those.
- Faster computer. We know that each AV requires certain computing power. Ironically, AV may improve your computer’s performance by deleting unwanted folders and files.
What Are The Disadvantages of Antivirus Usage?
- Some AV products are not able to detect all the viruses due to the limited techniques. AV works by detecting pattern codes, and if you are dealing with a new virus, there is a chance that it can easily come through. However, high-quality AVs are updating their databases on a regular basis.
- Just like any other background program, antivirus requires some computer memory and hard disk space and inevitably slows down your computer and network. On the other hand, a good product will detect and delete malicious software to almost balance it out.
How Do I Install Antivirus?
As soon as you have decided on the AV you want to go for, you need to download the version compatible with your devices from the Internet. Then find the downloaded file on your computer. If you uploaded a ZIP file, unzip it, and then look for a file named setup.exe, install.exe, or something similar, then double-click that file. The installation process should start with a window opening to help guide you through the install process. Modern AVs are pretty intuitive, and there should be no complications throughout the process. In most products, you can upgrade from the free version to the premium one directly from the application.
Why Can’t Windows Defender Guarantee 100% Protection?
Windows Defender gives you basic protection, but there are certain things that it lacks:
- Suppose you are using a browser that is not Edge, which the majority of us do. In that case, Windows Defence does not provide essential protection from malicious software while you are browsing the web or accidentally uploading a harmful file.
- Password protection: Another thing that we all do is storing our passwords in a browser. Windows Defender doesn’t guarantee the safety of those if you’re not using their browser (which you don’t).
- Microsoft has other priorities, so they don’t update their database often enough to stay on top of all new viruses.
- It also has limited parental control options if that’s something of interest to you.
- It doesn’t include VPN, so your data is unmasked and potentially can be exposed to third parties if you are using public networks.
What are The Different Types of Antivirus Protection?
As cybercrime gets more sophisticated and complex, several types of AV protection have emerged over the years. While you are building a protection wall, it is vital to understand how different features can help you out.
Malware: To fight it, AV detects the malicious software’s digital fingerprints and quarantines or removes it. This procedure has only one flaw: It can only detect and fight known malware.
System monitoring AV: This type of protection is used to scan apps and systems to spot behavior that is not typical for a user. Those include but are not limited to attempts to access a large number of files and a noticeable increase in data usage.
Artificial intelligence: Those are algorithms destined to spot new malware on a bigger scale and research them before they were able to hurt the hardware of millions of users. It studies the existing viruses and malware and projects the knowledge on the massive amounts of data to prevent new viruses from spreading.
What Is The Average Cost of Antivirus in 2021
Depending on the provider, the AV price can be anywhere from $17 to $70 per year. Also, big AVs regularly offer special prices for those willing to subscribe and prepay a couple of years.
There are also family and corporate plans that offer significant discounts.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many types of antivirus are there?
There are three major types of AV: Standalone Antivirus Software – those are programs designed to detect a set of viruses that are usually used by administrators and aren’t suitable for real-time protection. Security Software Suites: they detect viruses and malicious software, spyware and add a certain degree of parental control. That type can provide you with 24/7 protection. Cloud-Based Antivirus Software: the newest kind of protection that helps you analyze the data in a cloud consists of the installed client and web service that proceeds data without stealing computing resources from your device.
How do I know if my antivirus is working?
One of the easiest ways to ensure that your protection works are to run the EICAR test file. It is a string of code that most antivirus software have included in their signature definition files specifically for testing.
How do I know if my antivirus is blocking a program?
You will get an alert that the threat is detected. You can also go to the installed client and see the list of apps and files that are blocked or quarantined.
When was the first antivirus program written?
The first AV was written in 1987 by IBM.
Is There Any All-in-One Solution to Protect All My Devices?
There is no universal AV that will cover all the needs for every device; however, they say that Kaspersky is pretty versatile. We strongly recommend choosing the product tailored to your specific needs.