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15 best antivirus for PC and laptop: 2014's best antivirus for protection, performance value, and free best antivirus

The best antivirus programs you can buy or download for your PC or laptop

Antivirus

The 15 best antivirus programs for your PC or laptop. Antivirus reviews, tests and ratings. Best Windows antivirus.  (See also: 12 best security software programs of 2014.)

Why you need antivirus? What is antivirus?

Antivirus software detecs, 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, a respected 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.

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.

15 best antivirus of 2014

15. AhnLab V3 Internet Security 8.0

AhnLab V3 Internet Security 8.0
  • Reviewed on: 30 April 13
  • RRP: £50 inc VAT (3 PCs, 1-year subscription)
  • Rating: Rated 6 out of 10

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.

14. Panda Global Protection 2014

Panda Global Protection 2014
  • Reviewed on: 3 September 13
  • RRP: £64 (3 PC licence) inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 7 out of 10

Panda Global Protection 2014 is very easy to set up and use and offers good coverage of the key malware threats, using cloud support for database and backup. Just 2 GB online storage is a bit feeble for three devices, although the Android and Mac protection is a welcome extension to the core PC software.

13. Webroot SecureAnywhere Internet Security Complete 2014

Webroot SecureAnywhere Internet Security Complete 2014
  • Reviewed on: 18 November 13
  • RRP: £65 (5 device licence, 1 year)
  • Rating: Rated 7 out of 10

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.

12. Avira Free Antivirus 2014

Avira Free Antivirus 2014
  • Reviewed on: 16 December 13
  • RRP: Free
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

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.

11. Qihoo 360 Internet Security 4.3

Qihoo 360 Internet Security 4.3
  • Reviewed on: 28 October 13
  • RRP: Free (unlimited licence)
  • Rating: Rated 9 out of 10

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.

10. Lookout Security & Antivirus

Lookout Security & Antivirus
  • Reviewed on: 11 February 14
  • RRP: Free; £1.99 per month for premium features
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

A superbly designed, unobtrusive Android security suite that steps in when it needs to, but otherwise keeps out of the way. It doesn't offer as many features as rival suites, but what it does, it does with aplomb

9. Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Premium

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Premium
  • Reviewed on: 24 March 14
  • RRP: £17 inc VAT (3-PC licence)
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

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.

8. Bullguard Internet Security 2014

Bullguard Internet Security 2014
  • Reviewed on: 7 November 13
  • RRP: £50 (3 PC licence, 1 year)
  • Rating: Rated 9 out of 10

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.

7. F-Secure Safe 2014

F-Secure Safe 2014
  • Reviewed on: 25 October 13
  • RRP: £60 (3 device licence)
  • Rating: Rated 9 out of 10

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.

6. Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security

Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security
  • Reviewed on: 1 February 13
  • RRP: £60 for 1 year/3 PCs
  • Rating: Rated 9 out of 10

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.

5. eScan Total Security Suite 1

eScan Total Security Suite 1
  • Reviewed on: 30 April 14
  • RRP: £80 (£48 approx for 3-PC licence)
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

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.

4. Kaspersky PURE 3.0 Total Security review

Kaspersky PURE 3.0 Total Security review
  • Reviewed on: 20 August 13
  • RRP: £50 (3 PC licence) inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

The price of Kaspersky PURE 3.0 Total Security makes it a competitive product for a full IS suite with all the trimmings and its AV-Test results put it in a very strong position. It's good to see anti-malware and backup apps combined in a wash-and-go product like this, though the interface would benefit from a more equable distribution of its function links.

3. G Data TotalProtection 2014

G Data TotalProtection 2014
  • Reviewed on: 7 November 13
  • RRP: £50 inc. VAT
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

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

2. Bitdefender Total Security 2014

Bitdefender Total Security 2014
  • Reviewed on: 20 August 13
  • RRP: £50 (3 PC licence) inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 9 out of 10

Technically one of the best IS suites you can buy, Bitdefender Total Security 2014 also offers a swathe of extras which all help to protect some aspects of your Windows life online. Even though it's so feature-rich, it manages to set itself up and run unobtrusively in the background. We'd have liked a bit more online storage, particularly since it's a 3-PC licence, and there are better Bitdefender choices if you want to protect devices running a variety of operating systems.

1. Symantec Norton 360 2014

Symantec Norton 360 2014
  • Reviewed on: 29 October 13
  • RRP: £60 (3 PC licence)
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

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.

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