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23 best antivirus for PC and laptop UK: 2015's best antivirus for protection, performance value, and best free antivirus

The best antivirus programs you can buy or download for your PC or laptop in the UK in 2015

The 23 best antivirus programs for your PC or laptop in the UK in 2015. Antivirus reviews, tests and ratings. Where to buy antivirus. Best Windows antivirus.  (See also: 17 best security software programs of 2015.)

Why you need antivirus? What is antivirus?

Antivirus software detects, and then prevents, disarms or removes malicious programs or malware, often referred to as 'viruses'. Antivirus doesn't offer a perfect solution to the problem of malware, but it is a critical first step to securing your PC or laptop. To help prevent viruses infecting your PC you must install antivirus, and then regularly update your antivirus software. All of the antivirus software reviewed here will update automatically.

How to choose antivirus

Malware is evolving faster than ever, but fortunately the latest generation of antivirus - or AV - is better equipped than ever to handle new threats.

In recent years, the technology that powers AV software has changed dramatically. An AV package you purchased a few years ago was able to stop known viruses and other known malware, but brand-new, unknown viruses proved more difficult. Newer products do a better job of stopping them.

For our antivirus tests we team up with AV-Test.org, a respected independent security-software testing lab based in Germany. AV-Test rigorously tests AV products from a number of leading security companies. The multifaceted testing procedure looks not only at how well an AV product can detect malware using traditional, largely signature-based methods (that is, employing a database of known malware types), but also at how well it can block brand-new, unknown malware. AV-Test also examines how well a security product can clean up after an infection in the event that a piece of malware does get through.

Every program in this list is worth your investment. The differences between the top few are relatively minor. The critical thing is to install one of these programs.

Antivirus: free or paid for?

Our tests focus on paid-for and free AV products. Paid-for AV products usually offer better technical support and more comprehensive protection features than free programs. Internet security suites go further still, offering firewalls, parental controls, identity theft protection and more.

The best antivirus

Here we review the best antivirus programs you can buy or download in the UK right now. Securing your PC is, of course, about a lot more than antivirus. At the very least you need to run up to date antivirus, antispyware and a firewall. You'll find that almost all of the best antivirus software we test these days forms part of an internet security suite: so all of the above and more is included.

The trouble is, some antivirus is better than others. They all offer a blacklist of known threats, and a whitelist of software that is known to be legitimate. But these days new threats emerge every day, and knowing what is friend and what is foe in real-time can be critical. And that's where we come in. AV-Test challenges Windows security software to withstand threats both old and new, known and unknown.

We then combine that with our own experienced and expert tests of interface and system overhead. We test antivirus programs for how much (if at all) they slow down your PC or laptop, as well as how easy to use and how intrusive they are. Thus you can see from our regularly updated list of the best antivirus for PC or laptop, which is the best for you. Best antivirus for protection, best antivirus for performance, and best antivirus for value. Click through to read the individual antivirus reviews.

23 best antivirus of 2015 UK

23. Avast Premier 2015

Avast produces an excellent free AV offering, giving nobody an excuse to lack protection on a PC. This commercial product is not quite such good value, lacking some of the features we've come to expect of premium suites. Backup and PC tune-up are missing or require an extra purchase.

22. AhnLab V3 Internet Security 8.0

Scraping an AV-Test Certification may put some people off AhnLab V3 Internet Security 8.0, but standards in malware protection are now very high. We wonder if its scanning should be more thorough too. In its favour it's very easy to setup and use. For general-purpose home protection it's definitely better than having nothing, but there are more secure alternatives available at similar and lower cost.

21. ESET Smart Security 8

ESET Smart Security 8 is an efficient IS suite, though it doesn't have many of the extras which are now often standard issue. It's good at what it does and from our tests has a fairly light touch.

20. Webroot SecureAnywhere Internet Security Complete 2014

Webroot's utilitarian approach may appeal to those who shun ostentatious software, and it's undoubtedly useful to have a product which can protect up to five devices at a time. That those devices can be based on a number of different platforms is also a benefit. The problem with SecureAnywhere Internet Security Complete 2014 is the question mark over its ability to do the business spotting malware.

19. Webroot Internet Security Plus 2015

It’s not possible to compare Webroot’s offering with the others in terms of AV efficacy, as we have no test results, but the company’s claim to scan fast and leave a light impression looks fair.

18. Avira Internet Security Suite 2015

Avira Internet Security Suite 2015 is a good, solid IS suite with useful extras in the System Speedup app. Technically excellent, it loses a little for lack of any form of backup, but is still a good choice.

17. Avira Free Antivirus 2014

Avira Free Antivirus 2014 is easy to set up and use and it's good to see free mobile support and backup, as well as the core AV functions. It's not the best free protection available though, with both AVG and Avast! scoring higher in test lab results.

16. Panda Global Protection 2015

Panda Global Protection 2015 is a good option, if you need to protect a range of different devices from Windows PCs to Macs and Android machines. Not quite as generous as McAfee's ‘as-many-as-you-like' offering and a point off the perfect score in AV-Test's testing, the Panda product costs £20 less, too and is particularly easy to use.

15. Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security

Overall, Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security is a great choice. This security suite boasts excellent performance, a quick installation process, a user-friendly interface, and speedy scans. Its settings pane is a tad confusing, but that’s a minor issue considering the protection you’ll be getting.

14. eScan Total Security Suite 1

Since Microworld produces IS software for Mac and Android, as well as PC, it would be good to have cross-platform support in this suite, but given the asking price for a 3-PC licence (you can buy 1, 2, 3 and 5 PC variants), it's still very good value. It's quick, AV-Test shows it to be effective and its no-nonsense interface is refreshing.

13. F-Secure Safe 2014

The Usability score of 5.5 reflects a low total of five false positives, during system scans and the use of legitimate applications. The 4.5 figure for a Performance score shows a noticeable resource hit while running regular computing tasks, like downloading and installing software.

12. G Data TotalProtection 2014

With excellent protection and decent performance at a good price, we like G Data TotalProtection 2014.

11. Symantec Norton 360 2014

AV-Test gave the Norton code 17.0/18.0, a very good result. Broken down, this gives 5.5/6.0 in both Protection and Usability and a full 6.0/6.0 in Performance, even if this wasn’t reflected in our own tests of PC slowdown.

10. G-Data Internet Security 2015

G-Data Internet Security 2015 is relatively inexpensive for a full-featured security suite. It's not the most successful at beating out web threats, but it is sufficiently good to be worth installing. A decent purchase, if not the best.

9. Kaspersky Total Security 2015

A three-device, full protection IS suite for under £50 is good value and when that includes cover on all the major platforms, it should be flexible enough for most. Kaspersky Total Security 2015’s technical strength can’t be faulted, with only Avira Anti Virus Pro matching it in the AV-Test group.

8. Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Premium

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Premium sits beside your traditional IS suite, filling in any gaps in its defences. It's small and efficient, quick to scan and appears to offer extra protection against sneakier security threats. It represents an inexpensive addition to the arsenal of software needed to keep your computing safe.

7. McAfee LiveSafe 2015

If you run a couple of home Windows PCs, a Mac, a tablet and a smartphone, or a similar combination, McAfee LiveSafe 2015 is an economical way of protecting them all and providing anti-theft facilities on the mobile devices. While the feature set of the IS component of the package may lack back-up and PC tune-up, the power of its AV protection can't be denied.

6. Bullguard Internet Security 2014

We like Bullguard Internet Security 2014 a lot. It's AV and protection provision is robust and well automated, but it's also one of the most comprehensive suites we look at each year. Combining IS, backup and tune-up seems to us the ideal approach and this one suite handles all these issues in a sensible and easily controllable way. It's also one of the most economically-priced solutions out there.

5. Qihoo 360 Internet Security 4.3

Although the Performance score, which shows the resource hit, is a bit low, this wasn’t reflected in our own, admittedly simpler, test. The Protection result was pretty good on recent threats, though it dropped down to around 90 percent on zero-day attacks.

4. Trend Micro Internet Security 2015

With such a good performance and the lower asking price, Trend Internet Security 2015 represents very good value, even though it misses out on certain extras offered by some of its competition.

3. Bitdefender Total Security 2015

Bitdefender is consistently among the best IS suites we’ve tested and also provides the best AV protection, according to AV-Test. There are a few small chinks in its armour, though. The syncing process, by which it backs up designated files and folders is by no means clear and 2 GB of storage for a 3-PC package is downright mean. We’d want to check why the anti-theft feature places us in South Yorkshire, too.

2. Bitdefender Internet Security 2015

This is one of the very best AV suites available, in terms of outright protection against malware. It's also very good at not throwing up false warnings, but there are other products offering more auxiliary modules for the money.

1. Symantec Norton Security with Backup

Offering excellent value with 10 licences to cover all your devices, Norton Security with Backup also offers a strong feature set and very good protection from viruses and other malware. Recommended.

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