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Best Antivirus Solutions For Windows 10

Best Antivirus Solutions For Windows 10

Today we review some of the top antivirus solutions for Windows, including free options, like the built-in Windows Defender, and several paid antivirus tools.

Consumer antivirus software is a lot like buying an insurance policy. It's arguably the most important program on your computer, yet it's often the last program anyone ever wants to use or purchase. Another similar feature between insurance and antivirus software is what we often call in business, risk versus reward.

Nowadays, whether free, built-in, expensive, corporate or consumer, the best antivirus program depends upon the level of risk the end-user is willing to undergo. Those that are truly risk adverse may feel more comfortable with top-shelf and pricier options, where the level of overall protection may be a little better and added features are greater. The other side of the spectrum, the higher-risk user, may care more about than having something that is free, simple and limited in the bells and whistles commonly associated with more expensive antivirus software.

A final way in which antivirus is a lot like insurance is the universal nature of the basic protection associated with seemingly all solutions. In fact, these days there is little difference between the antivirus protections sitting on an endpoint of a corporate enterprise, a consumer antivirus program at home, or a mobile device within a corporate BYOD program.

In the following antivirus round-up, all of the antivirus programs protected the data and integrity of the computer in a nearly identical fashion. However, each tool incurred, nonetheless, pros and cons to the way it interfaced with the end user and computer alike.

How We Evaluated Antivirus Suites For Windows 10

Our Windows 10 antivirus evaluation process is comprised of two sections. Section one is a testbed environment consisting of a desktop system running Windows 10. The desktop is connected to the Internet at the beginning of each test cycle to receive the latest program updates, and also if the test required visiting a corrupted webpage. All devices were re-imaged or factory reset between tests.

An antivirus suite was added to the main desktop system, and then we monitored the antivirus' detection, quarantine and remediation capabilities. This process was recorded and evaluated for simplicity and ease of use. Management software was also evaluated including managing each device from a central console, if that function was available.

Testing consisted of sending 25 pieces of new malware into the devices through various means including directly though a USB stick, over the protected network from one device to another, or by connecting to a website with known malware. The primary installation computer was used to surf common websites and to evaluate things like social media protection, anti-spam and phishing scanners, tune-up suites included with the package and any extra features.

Most suites were able to catch almost everything somewhere within their defense in depth, however, when something got through it was noted in the review. Because of the time difference between testing -- giving a slight advantage to products tested later in the cycle -- results from this evaluation were not used in scoring, though they are noted within the text of the review.

Section two of our testbed is a real-life office environment. Each antivirus program was loaded onto a notebook PC and used at work in a prototypical office environment. In this section we look for antivirus suites that make it harder to perform common functions, such as downloading, editing and sending documents, conducting primary and secondary research, etc. Points are given if a suite can protect users and remain out of the way otherwise.