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After all, Microsoft’s Windows Security suite (also known as Windows Defender or Microsoft Defender) provides built-in virus protection for your PC, and it doesn’t cost a dime. I’ve been using it for years, and the last time I can recall having virus problems on my PC was well over a decade ago.

On top of that, nearly every laptop I’ve reviewed for PCWorld has come with some form of antivirus trialware from companies like McAfee and Norton. Those companies pay PC makers for placement, which wouldn’t make sense if no one bought the products, right?

At this point, I’ve heard enough questions from readers—and family members—that I decided to dig a little deeper. What I’ve learned is that my initial assumptions were mostly correct: Most people can indeed skate by without extra antivirus software. But that doesn’t mean everyone should, or that you shouldn’t take any extra precautions to stay safe.

The case against extra antivirus software

As an initial sanity check on my antivirus assumptions, I did the most obvious thing possible and put out the question on Twitter: Does Microsoft’s built-in Windows Security software provide enough protection for typical PC users?

The consensus answer was yes, with caveats.

Jared Newman / Foundry

Justin Duino of How-To Geek pointed to his site’s helpful article on the subject, which recommended Windows Security in conjunction with Malwarebytes’ free malware scanner. My fellow freelance journalist Rob Pegoraro also called out a Wirecutter article that came to the same conclusion. Another writer chimed in with a similar recommendation.

The reasoning is simple: Windows Security rivals other programs at sniffing out viruses. While this wasn’t always the case, Microsoft’s detection has improved considerably in recent years, to the point that the independent AV-TEST Institute regularly awards it a perfect 6 out 6 in protection, usability, and performance, beating industry averages.

Perhaps more importantly, security is decentralized now, so a single virus scanner is no longer your only line of protection. Some examples:

Major web browsers can detect and block malicious websites on their own, thanks to tools like Google Safe Browsing.

Those browsers may also warn you if you’re about to download an unrecognized program.

Major email providers, such as Gmail and Yahoo, scan attachments for viruses before you can even download them.

Those same email providers’ spam filters do a great job at keeping malicious emails out of your inbox and warning you of potential phishing schemes.

The SmartScreen filter built into Windows will warn you if you’re attempting to install unrecognized software.

Antivirus, in the end, is just another line of defense. For most people, Microsoft’s built-in defenses should be strong enough.

Getting a second opinion

Malwarebytes might find some potential threats that Windows Security misses.

Jared Newman / Foundry

So why to do some folks recommend Malwarebytes as an additional layer of protection? Mainly because it’s nice to have another set of eyes on your computer.

Last year, for instance, I ran a scan in Malwarebytes, and picked up a set of potentially unwanted programs tied to my installation of Chrome. While my Chrome installation seemed to be working fine—with no sketchy toolbars or search redirects that I could see—this did convince me to delete my sync data from Chrome, reset its settings, and perform a fresh Chrome install. (I suspect it was a browser extension behaving badly.)

But Malwarebytes has its downsides as well. If you’re not careful during installation, it will automatically install its own extension in all your browsers, and the free version routinely nags you with upgrade prompts. Also, unless you disable its real-time protections (which are only available as a 14-day trial for free users), they’ll override Microsoft’s own virus scanner.

I may still occasionally install Malwarebytes to get a second opinion on my computer’s health, but for now, I’m leaving it off my PC as well.

The case for extra antivirus protection

Tools like Norton 360 provide more than just virus scanning.

Ian Paul / Foundry

To be clear, third-party antivirus software isn’t a grift with no actual utility behind it. While most people don’t need to pay for antivirus software, there are still some reasons to consider doing so:

You need more help with security: Some antivirus programs offer extra security features beyond the realm of traditional virus scanning. Avast, for instance, can monitor webcam use and let you block untrusted apps from capturing video, and it can also alert you if any of your online passwords are involved in a security breach.

You’re looking to bundle: In addition to extra security features, some antivirus programs offer tools that you might otherwise purchase separately. Norton 360 Deluxe, for instance, includes its own password manager and cloud storage service. Avast One has a built-in VPN and a temporary file cleaner.

You want more kinds of protection: Some third-party tools offer additional methods of protection that aren’t built into Windows. AVG’s “Behavior Shield,” for instance, can look for patterns of malicious behavior even when it hasn’t detected a virus, while Avast One has ransomware protection that prevents apps from encrypting your files without permission. (Windows offers this as well, but not by default.) Antivirus suites also typically provide protection for mobile devices as well as personal computers.

All of these extra features, however, can bloat up your computer, affecting performance and getting in your way, and they might not even be the best tools for the job. I’d much rather use a dedicated password manager than one that’s bundled with antivirus software, and if I needed a VPN, I’d want to choose the provider myself.

While extra antivirus software was essential in the early days of personal computing, these days it’s just one potential tool in the broader security arsenal, which should also include strong passwords, two-factor authentication, robust data backups, and a healthy dose of common sense. On that, at least, the experts seem to be in total harmony.

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9 Best Antivirus Software For Windows Tablets: High Security

9 Best Antivirus Software for Windows Tablets: High Security Discover top antiviruses that will keep your devices safe and sound

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With so much malware found online, the antivirus for tablet has become a necessary software.

ESET and Avast are the top preferences for many users searching for the best antivirus for tablet.

Another viable alternative to a strong antivirus program for tablet users is to install and use Avira.

BullGuard is also very popular and it was considered the best antivirus a tablet can use. 

Windows tablets are in a class of their own thanks to the fact that they use Microsoft’s software. They are perfect for business and productivity purposes alike.

Just like their desktop counterparts, Windows tablets need protection against malware, even on iOS. Things are no different for Android tablets.

This is done through competent tablet antivirus software that acts as preventive medicine by keeping threats at bay, including viruses and ransomware.

Do Windows tablets need antivirus?

Malware and other online threats are constantly being updated, which means you can never be too prepared.

Even though Windows has its own security measures and apps, having an additional layer of protection provided by a paid or free third-party antivirus software will keep you the safest.

So, do you need virus protection on a tablet? Most certainly, if you are serious about your data being protected.

Doesn’t my tablet already have antivirus protection?

The antimalware software developed by Microsoft is called Microsoft Defender, and it can be downloaded for free on both Windows and Android devices.

Truth is, it offers enough protection for some users, however, if you value the safety of your device as well as all of your online accounts, you should invest in higher-quality security software rather than using the Microsoft Surface antivirus alone.

The varied antivirus solutions listed below allow for a very secure and prosperous experience both online and offline. That’s why we recommend them to all those looking for:

Antivirus for tablet/tablet antivirus – For the best antivirus software for tablets, we recommend BullGuard which edged out other popular solutions for the top spot.

Antivirus for Android tablets – BullGuard and Bitdefender are some of the world’s most trusted antivirus programs for Android. Take your time to check them out and make a choice!

Best free antivirus for Samsung tablets – Harmful viruses and malware may easily affect your Samsung tablet, so choose one of our previously mentioned solutions with no hesitation.

Windows ARM antivirus – For as long as the device is supported, Microsoft Defender will be able to assist in protecting Windows 10 and Windows 11 operating systems on ARM-based devices. However, the following antivirus programs can be installed to boost protection.

Without further ado, let’s jump right into the list of the top antivirus software that you can install and feel 100% safe. Keep on reading to find out more!

ESET NOD32 is a powerful, fast, and yet light antivirus that suits perfectly the gamer and the normal user as well, offering first-rate tablet virus protection.

For which devices is the antivirus available? All of them. It runs discreetly without causing interruptions, being an excellent antivirus software for Surface Pro X as well as other tablets, along with Windows, Mac, and Linux devices.

Let NOD32 detect viruses and clean them from your tablet when you create presentations, play games, or watch movies.

It will not require many resources from your hardware and you will not experience any slowdowns in your activity, due to this tablet security software.

ESET NOD32 Antivirus does a great job of removing different online threats from your device. It detects and cleans viruses, ransomware, worms, spyware, and other types of malware.

ESET NOD32’s key features:

Remote security check of your devices 

Ransomware Shield

Advanced Machine Learning

Idle-State Scanning

Small System Footprint

ESET NOD32 Antivirus

ESET NOD32 Antivirus will keep your computer safe from malware including viruses, worms, ransomware, and spyware.

Check price Visit website

Bitdefender has been the talk of the town lately thanks to the pretty unique protection features it brings to the table.

While they are impressive nonetheless, they might not be exactly what most people would expect to read next. One of the greatest things about Bitdefender is the fact that it’s free.

Yes, that’s right, and no, you shouldn’t take that in stride. Antivirus software can amount to quite a pretty penny these days and they are actually a lot of folks that just can’t afford straight-up payment for protection.

Bitdefender’s key features:

Free antivirus for your tablet with cutting-edge features and tools

Makes online navigation much easier

Has a password manager

Bitdefender Total Security

Bitdefender is a big name in the antivirus business. It is a wise choice for protecting your tablet!

Check price Visit Website

TotalAV is an antivirus solution that has won several awards and is capable of identifying and completely eradicating malware for multiple devices at once.

There are benefits to using TotalAV as a free antivirus solution for your tablet, but there are also some cons. Since its introduction in 2024, it has developed into one of the anti-malware applications with the most rapid expansion rate on the market.

A learning algorithm and proactive defense are utilized by TotalAV in order to provide complete virus elimination and protection against a wide variety of forms of malware.

Your experience shopping and browsing online are kept secure with TotalAV since the software scans each page for potential dangers before showing the results in the built-in browser window.

Additionally, it is possible to disable monitoring websites that utilize your personal information for marketing purposes.

TotalAV’s key features:

TotalAV

Keep your shopping experience and browsing activity safe with this amazing antivirus tool.

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Avira Antivirus keeps your tablet connected and secured from various online threats. This friendly and powerful tablet antivirus software protects users from scams, financial loss, and identity theft. You can also secure your online activity using Avira’s built-in VPN feature.

Once you have downloaded, installed, and put it to work, Avira Antivirus will speed up and clean your PC. This will be the perfect moment for your device to attain peak productivity.

Use Avira and make viruses, malicious websites, and ransomware a thing of the past. Try its Speed Feature to enhance your tablet’s performance, and improve the security of your accounts with Avira’s Password Manager app.

Avira’s key features:

It safeguards you against fraud, identity theft, and financial loss

Secures your online activities with a free VPN

Optimizes and cleans your computer for maximum productivity

Avira Antivirus

Avira Antivirus eliminates viruses and ransomware, protects you from dangerous websites, and speeds up your tablet.

Free download Visit Website

There are many things that recommend Malwarebytes, including the fact that it can make the differentiation between a known threat and just a threat that isn’t known but is a threat nonetheless.

What that means is that nowadays antivirus solutions must be able not just to identify threats, but to actively stop them.

When so many of its competitors are focused on enriching their databases, Malwarebytes steps outside the database confinement and judges threats by their actions rather than their names.

Malwarebytes’s key features:

A multitude of protection layers

Offers ransomware and exploits protection

Designed to accompany another antivirus on your device

Acts as a second control point between the Internet and the user

Malwarebytes Anti-malware

Malwarebytes is an efficient antivirus that keeps your tablet virus-free. Customize your security the way you want!

Check price Visit Website

This one is an extremely powerful security software tool designed to run even on low specs PCs, tablets, and laptops. On the market, you will find it a decent price compared to others.

We recommend that you take a look at Emsisoft if you are looking for an anti-malware application that provides you with increased control while maintaining an intuitive user interface.

It blocks all the trojans or malware from malicious sites you do navigate. Its dual-engine scanner will check all the downloaded or modified files and it has a behavior-blocking system that monitors your processes for unrecognized threats.

Emsisoft’s key features:

Offers 4-layer protection in real-time

Cleaning and restoration capabilities

Shows you extended logs to check the past actions

Emsisoft Anti-malware

Emsisoft Anti-malware blocks trojans and malware found on dangerous websites, while also cleaning and restoring your tablet.

Check price Visit Website

Norton is another veteran contender for the title of the best antivirus program. It has been around for a long time and it doesn’t show any signs of quitting anytime soon.

Norton’s antivirus solution is praised for its versatility and how easily it manages to handle different types of tasks at the same efficiency levels.

No matter what you’re trying to achieve on your tablet, Norton can assist with competent protection.

Norton 360’s key features:

Varied support portfolio

No strain on tablets or their performance

Great for cookie tracking and keyloggers

Has a preferential scan feature that allows users to exclude files from a scan

Norton 360

Norton 360 is a robust and reliable antivirus that protects your tablet against viruses, cookie tracking, and keyloggers.

Check price Visit Website

Kaspersky is one of the most popular antivirus solutions out there. Like it is available on all other platforms, it can also be used on Windows tablets.

It features the kind of tools you might expect from a service of its caliber, and it doesn’t fail to impress in terms of effectiveness.

It’s easy to see where it shines brightest, and that is in its raw removal prowess. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t do great in other categories though.

Kaspersky’s key features:

Removes any malware

Support for multiple versions of Windows

Anti-phishing protection

Safe banking feature

Kaspersky Standard

Kaspersky Antivirus is very efficient as it cleans and protects your tablet from malware, phishing, and keyloggers.

Check price Visit Website

Avast Antivirus has the main function of keeping your computer safe from viruses. Additionally, this powerful software will also keep your network safe from intruders.

Many antiviruses available nowadays will scan your computer for malware applications. Avast Antivirus contains this feature too, but it takes things a little further and monitors your existing applications to prevent them from getting infected.

Avast’s key features:

Verifies Wi-Fi network security

Avoids fake and unsafe websites

Secures against phishing sites

Stops PC remote access attacks

Avast Free Antivirus

Avast Antivirus detects and eliminates viruses, monitors your home network and apps, and scans your tablet for malware.

Free download Visit Website

Are tablets more secure than laptops?

Because viruses are programmed to target PCs, portable devices such as laptops are more likely to get infected than tablets.

If you decide to buy a laptop, you should seriously consider investing in antivirus software to keep your documents and other important data safe.

Tablets, on the other hand, are also an area of concern. But, using good protection software, laptops, and tablets can be just as secure.

Are tablets safe for online banking?

With mobile banking, you can carry out many of the same transactions as with Internet banking by utilizing a mobile device such as a smartphone or a Windows tablet rather than a traditional computer.

By using one of the above antivirus software, your tablet will be more than safe for online banking. Rest assured!

Alternatively, you can look at our post with the 10 best antivirus software for online banking to stay one step ahead.

With so many great solutions available, it’s hard to see how many Windows tablets might have problems staying safe.

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Oneplus 6T Is Still On Jan 2023 Patch

OnePlus now top-five contender in global premium smartphone market

News

I’ll be completely honest here: there are a lot of smartphones out there from a lot of major OEMs with security patches much older than January 2023. There are also a lot of OEMs out there that could never ever keep up with delivering Android updates to their devices every two months.

But this isn’t just any OEM — this is OnePlus.

OnePlus has worked very hard to build up its credibility within the Android world as a company that “gets” its fanbase. Its company motto — “Never Settle” — is a testament to the importance of listening to its fanbase and delivering products that bring the best features at the best value possible. A major aspect of that fan connection is how dependable the company is when it comes to updates, which makes this lapse in its promise more concerning than it would be if it happened with pretty much any other OEM.

As a OnePlus fan, it disappoints me that the company can’t keep up with a promise it delivered less than a year ago.

To be fair, there’s a lot going on at OnePlus at the moment. Rumors suggest the company is gearing up to launch not one but three smartphones in a month’s time, by far the most devices its launched at one time than ever before. There’s also a OnePlus TV on the way at some point this year, a brand new product the company has never attempted before. I and other OnePlus fans understand that delivering Android security patches is probably pretty low on the list of priorities for the company at this very moment.

OnePlus 6T vs Apple iPhone XR: Do not let their prices fool you

Versus

However, we are OnePlus fans because the company is different. We are OnePlus fans because the company, more or less, keeps its promises. Over the past few years though, we’ve seen some major shifts from OnePlus that have been disappointing, to say the least. In 2023, for example, the company dropped plans to update the OnePlus 2 to Android 7 Nougat after saying it would get it. Elsewhere, Carl Pei’s command to fans to “learn to love the notch” on the OnePlus 6 was completely out-of-character for the company. The removal of the headphone jack from the OnePlus 6T — after years of mocking other OEMs for removing the port in their own devices — was another major blow to fans around the world, going very much against the Never Settle motto. The consistent raising of prices for OnePlus devices is also very divisive.

Now we have to add this broken update promise to the list of disappointments.

Is all of this going to stop me from buying OnePlus phones? No. I’m still on board the OnePlus train and am excited to see the newest entries in the OnePlus family soon. However, how many broken promises, insults to fans, and tarnishing of the Never Settle credo will I — or OnePlus fans in general — take before it gets to be too much?

NEXT: OnePlus 7: All the rumors in one place

Surface Phone Coming April 2023, Microsoft Is Still Game

Surface Phone coming April 2023, Microsoft is still game

Microsoft may have met a reasonable amount of success with the launch and rollout of Windows 10 but its experience on the mobile front is less than flattering. Revelations of dismal Lumia sales and the company’s own failure to upgrade existing devices to Windows 10 Mobile served to increase shouts of “Windows Phone is dead”. Although somewhat ambiguous, Microsoft has never said it is quiting the mobile race. Apparently, it is just bidding its time for a 2023 comeback that it plans will carry its mobile business for years to come.

Microsoft is no fool, or at least it isn’t deaf. It is surely and acutely aware of the negative press it has been generating around its smartphone strategy. It seems things have come to a head to the point that Terry Myerson, yes, the same Microsoft exec who stated that mobile isn’t a focus this year, had to send an internal e-mail reaffirming the company’s commitment to mobile. 2024 might not be that year, but Microsoft is committed to “deliver Windows 10 on mobile devices with small screen running ARM processors.” In fact, Microsoft plans on supporting the platform for years to come.

What Microsoft says and what Microsoft does are, of course, two different things and we’ll have to wait for actual action to be able to truly judge Microsoft’s intentions. It seems that it will actually involve 12 months of waiting, perhaps too long for fans and believers hungry for a Windows 10 mobile experience they can finally boast about. According to the latest leaks, Microsoft will be unveiling the much awaited Surface Phone in April next year. Myerson’s email does mention the next generation of products already in the works. Naturally, the Surface Phone has to be one of those.

Despite the high specs and the promise of Continuum, the current Lumia 950 and 950 XL flagships just failed to capture the hearts and wallets of consumers. Apparently, Microsoft was equally not impressed either. It failed to wow the market, especially thanks to it still less than premium design, the same way the Surface tablets did, which are now the gold standard for any Microsoft mobile innovation. Apparently, the reason Microsoft is taking so long to put out a real smartphone contender is because it is still waiting on the Windows 10 Redstone 2, and 3, releases. Redstone 1, formally named the Anniversary Update, is due in Summer and focuses more on the desktop, with a few mobile treats as well. Redstone 2 and 3, on the other hand, will put the focus more on mobile, or at least sources say.

How that translates into practice, we still have to see. Aside from Continuum, Microsoft has not yet made any big splash about the mobile version of Windows 10, something it has to do soon if it wants both users and even its own OEM partners to take it seriously. Running win32 apps seems to be a crowd favorite but is easier said than done. While it is easy to believe Microsoft is indeed committed to Windows 10 Mobile in the years to come, it will need to put those words into action, and into concrete products, before time runs out.

VIA: Windows Central

Security Software Showdown! 9 Antivirus Suites Empirically Tested

If you’re like a lot of people, when it comes time to renew your security software, you may ask yourself, “Do I really need to upgrade to the latest version?” The answer is yes. Keeping up-to-date is generally a good idea, as new threats surface constantly. And if you value mobile security or use a social network, this year’s crop of security suites is worth paying attention to.

If you own a smartphone or tablet, or both, the security class of 2013 has some new tools for you. And some security packages come with a mobile app that provides protection against mobile malware or includes other features such as GPS tracking to help you find your phone should it go missing. These apps often also include remote-wipe capabilities that let you delete the contents of a missing phone or tablet so your private data doesn’t end up falling into the wrong hands.

In addition, Windows 8 has changed the way security software makers design their programs. Many of the suites we looked at this year sport redesigned interfaces that include larger buttons and controls made to be more touch-friendly.

As usual, we teamed up with the fine folks at AV-Test, a respected antivirus testing lab based in Germany. AV-Test ran each suite through a comprehensive battery of tests to find out how well each would stand up to the worst malware currently in existence. AV-Test also performed speed testing to determine whether the suites will slow your PC to a crawl. We analyzed the data that AV-Test provided, and then tried each of the products ourselves to give you an idea of which suites you should go for—and which ones you should pass on.

1. F-Secure Internet Security 2013 — 4.5 stars (Superior). F-Secure’s latest suite offers excellent protection and a friendly user interface.

2. Norton Internet Security 2013 — 4.5 stars (Superior). With its great detection rate and Windows 8-ready design, Norton’s suite is definitely worth a look.

3. Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security 2013 — 4.5 stars (Superior). This “titanium” suite earned high marks in almost all our detection tests, and it has a nice interface.

4. Bitdefender Internet Security 2013 — 4.5 stars (Superior). Bitdefender has a user-friendly interface that will appeal to people of all experience levels.

6. McAfee Internet Security 2013 — 4 stars (Very Good). McAfee didn’t earn top marks, but it’s still a proficient, user-friendly antimalware program.

8. AVG Internet Security 2013 — 3.5 stars (Very Good). AVG’s security program is perfectly re­­spectable. But perfectly respectable just doesn’t cut it these days.

9. Avira Internet Security 2013 — 3.5 stars (Very Good). This suite is competent at detecting, disabling, and cleaning up malware, but its user interface is unfriendly.

BEST OVERALL: F-Secure Internet Security 2013 F-Secure’s 2013 suite kept our test system free of malware and did a great job of cleaning up infections that made it onto our PC. It’s speedy and well designed, too.

BEST PROTECTION: Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security 2013 This suite had the most well rounded protection of all the suites we looked at. It proved effective at keeping malware at bay and at cleaning up infected PCs.

BEST SPEED: Norton Internet Security The days of Norton being ridiculed as slow are long gone: Norton’s newest suite had lightning-quick scan times, and its impact on overall PC performance was minimal.

A competitive field

The security software market is highly competitive and it showed in our test results. In our testing, no suite detected less than 97.8 percent of recent known malware samples, and blocked below around 94.4 percent of new malware in our “real-world” attack- blocking tests. False positives were also largely a non-issue. But if you look closely, there are still some notable differences.

We noticed a fairly wide difference in terms of ease of use between the suites we looked at. While some—like Norton and Trend Micro—were very user friendly and polished, others—like Avira and G Data—were less so and seemed to be designed with expert users in mind.

In the end, even the lower-ranked suites performed reasonably well, but simply didn’t stand out enough to claim a higher ranking.

What you don’t get in these suites

For the sake of this story, we looked at mainstream Internet security suites, but most include products like Norton 360, Trend Micro Titanium Maximum Security, and AVG Premium Security.

more basic suites, but will also include PC maintenance tools, online backup, additional parental controls and privacy controls, and more.

very between manufacturers, though: Some include a mobile app with the basic suite, contain just about everything you’ll need to keep your PC protected.

Threats to watch for in 2013

(by Tony Bradley)

More sophisticated phishing Email and text messages that contain links to malicious websites will improve in quality to the point that they’ll be virtually indistinguishable from legitimate communications. The messages will become more polished and professional—no more broken English and poor grammar.

Data breaches In 2013, attackers will continue to target weak security on Internet-facing database systems to acquire thousands or millions of compromised records at once rather than going after individual users. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to prevent this sort of attack, but you can go on the defensive by being vigilant. Monitor your bank and credit card statements and report anything suspicious to your financial institution.

Why You Can Stop Paying For Antivirus Software

There, we said it: You don’t need to pay for antivirus software anymore. Microsoft’s Windows Defender, a free service that’s built right into Windows 10, is now as good as the paid antivirus/antimalware solutions that have been collecting your money for years. 

That was then. Over the intervening years, Microsoft started taking endpoint security seriously. In 2023, Microsoft’s own Windows Defender Antivirus, built right into Windows 10 for free, often outperforms paid services. (Windows now lumps Windows Defender Antivirus underneath what it calls Windows Security, which includes Windows Firewall and other tools.) It’s not perfect: The incidence of “false positives,” where legitimate apps are mistaken for malware, can be high. One test also noted that it slowed down a low-end PC more than others do. You can decide for yourself: Are these “costs” more affordable than paying $60-plus per year? 

We still review the best antivirus apps, and there are still some reasons why you’d want one, which we’ll get into later. But first let’s look at how far Windows Defender has come, and how well it could stand on its own as your primary antivirus package. 

Why you should use Windows Defender to protect your PC

Two separate testing houses, AV-comparatives and AV-test, rank Windows Defender nearly at the top of the products both labs have tested.

It’s important to note that antimalware testing is a time-intensive process. Even sites like AV-comparatives use automated tests that crawl the web and seek out malicious sites and URLs, trying to reproduce real-world scenarios that all of us would encounter in our daily work.

One key point stood out: In AV-comparatives’ test, Microsoft was one of the four vendors (out of a total of sixteen) that didn’t allow any malware to take over its test systems. Vendors whose PCs ended up compromised with malware included big names, such as McAfee and Symantec. (Malware and protection mechanisms are constantly evolving. AV-comparatives ran its tests from February through May, 2023, to demonstrate the “average” level of protection over time.)

To be fair, the AV-comparatives test showed a few weaknesses with Windows Defender. The tests revealed three “user-dependent” test cases, where Defender didn’t immediately identify the malware, and asked the user for permission to install the file. That’s not ideal—users would probably be inclined to allow the malware onto the system. Windows Defender was also unusually heavy-handed with false positives, blocking a massive 74 legitimate apps and services. (This is an instance where your own experience can serve as a sounding board. Think back: Has Windows 10’s Windows Defender blocked an app you knew to be legitimate?)

Here’s a snapshot of the AV-test June 2023 roundup:

AV-test also ranked Defender above the industry average in terms of performance, such as installing apps and copying files, a significant improvement over AV-comparatives’ own test from April, where Defender performed poorly in those same comparisons. 

The UK’s SELabs is yet a third source of antimalware testing, and it, too, ranked Defender at the top of its list of antimalware solutions. The report (available only via a downloadable PDF) gave Defender a perfect 100-percent accuracy rating. Of the top antivirus testing agencies, Defender scored three out of three.

Great free antivirus options can be added to Defender

IDG

There’s a number of free antivirus solutions from which to choose, though BitDefender is a preferred choice. (Note that this screen has been taken from the paid security suite.)

Here you have a wealth of free antivirus options, from AVG to Avast to Avira and many more. BitDefender Internet Security’s free option, however, is so effective and unobtrusive that you’ll forget that it’s there—which, really, is what you want in an antivirus program that guards your PC. It, too, is rated as a top product by AV-test and AV-comparatives, though both tested the paid versions. (To our knowledge, there is no difference between the paid and free versions in terms of anti-malware protection.)

Again, we’d rate Windows Defender as sufficient protection for everyday use, with Windows’ ability to layer on additional antimalware capabilities as a security blanket.

Who should buy a paid antivirus product 

Rob Schultz / IDG

Established antivirus/antimalware products from McAfee, Symantec, and others have branched out to offer VPNs, password vaults, and other security services. 

While some attackers simply want to crash your system, remember that there’s far more money to be made in attacks like ransomware, which encrypt your PC and then demand that you pay for the decryption key. Both Malwarebytes and BitDefender, among others, have developed free anti-ransomware solutions, which again provide a free alternative. 

Windows has its own free protections that help stop ransomware, including Windows Defender as well as protected folders that can be locked down and secured. Nothing’s perfect, and no one can say for sure that a new attack won’t be able to break Windows’ protections. But that argument applies to paid services as well. 

Alternatively, you can roll your own a-la-carte security suite, building on top of Windows’ own antimalware service. Seek out your preferred VPN provider from our list of best VPNs, for example. Subscribe to LifeLock or a credit-monitoring service. Google Chrome and other browsers will manage your passwords, or you can pick from a list of the best password managers. What paid antimalware suites offer are vetted services, all rolled up into a neat, manageable package, as well as peace of mind.

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