The best Windows 10 antivirus software in 2024

The best Windows 10 antivirus software can help protect your PC from cyberattacks while also preventing the sensitive data stored on your computer from being stolen by malware.

While Windows Defender has improved a lot over the years, you may still want extra protection for your computer and that’s where the best antivirus software comes in. In addition to protecting your PC from malware and other viruses, some antivirus programs can “rollback” files that have been encrypted by ransomware. Meanwhile, others include advanced protection to stop phishing emails, malicious links, fileless malware or boot-sector infections. However, these antivirus programs don’t offer the same level of protection as the best internet security suites which often include a VPN, password manager and other extra security software.

We’ve thoroughly tested and reviewed the best Windows 10 antivirus software to see how well these programs can protect your PC. However, we’ve also examined their impact on system performance and what you should be paying for the features each of the programs listed below contains.

The quick list

Below you'll find everything you need to know about the best Windows 10 antivirus software at a glance. Whether you're looking for the best protection out there or for an antivirus program with plenty of useful extras, there's something here for every budget.

The best Windows 10 antivirus you can buy today

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Best Windows 10 antivirus overall

Box art for Bitdefender Antivirus Plus, 2021 edition.

(Image credit: Bitdefender)
The best protection with lots of useful extras

Specifications

Backup software: No
Firewall: No
Game mode: Yes
Hardened browser: Yes
Password manager: Yes
Ransomware rollback: Yes
Virtual keyboard: Yes
VPN: Limited
Wi-Fi scanner: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Very good malware protection
+
Lots of useful extra features
+
Light active scans

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavy background system impact
-
Limited VPN service

If you want some extra features with one of the best Windows 10 antivirus programs, Bitdefender Antivirus Plus provides a lot for its low price, which ranges from $40 per year for a single PC to $80 for 10 machines.

There’s an unlimited password manager, a secure browser with an onscreen keyboard for online banking and shopping, a file shredder and web-privacy software.

Bitdefender Antivirus Plus also includes a VPN but it’s limited to 200MB per day unless you pay extra. However, there aren’t any parental controls. Still though, the program is easy to use, its malware-detection record is excellent and it also rolls back ransomware and guards against fileless malware and rootkits.

Read our full Bitdefender Antivirus Plus review or save with our Bitdefender coupon codes

Best Windows 10 antivirus for protection

Box art for Kaspersky Anti-Virus, 2021 edition.

(Image credit: Kaspersky)
Excellent protection, with few frills

Specifications

Backup software: No
Firewall: No
Game mode: Yes
Hardened browser: No
Password manager: Limited
Ransomware rollback: Yes
Virtual keyboard: Yes
VPN: Limited
Wi-Fi scanner: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent malware protection
+
New stalkerware protection
+
Light load during scans

Reasons to avoid

-
Few extra features
-
VPN, password manager just teases

If you want the very best Windows 10 antivirus protection, Kaspersky Anti-Virus should be your first choice. No other brand of antivirus software matches its nearly impeccable record in third-party lab tests. 

The company's entry-level package, Kaspersky Anti-Virus, covers up to three Windows PCs for $60 per year, or up to five for $80, though you'll often get half off for the first year. 

Kaspersky Anti-Virus doesn't give many of you the extra bells and whistles you'll find with more expensive security suites. There are no parental controls, the password manager holds only 15 entries and the VPN service is limited to 300MB per day. (You can pay extra to get unlimited versions of those.)

But Kaspersky Anti-Virus does give you exactly what you need: dedicated protection against encrypting ransomware, a filter against phishing emails, browser extensions to beef up web safety and a security scanner for your home Wi-Fi network. 

Kaspersky Anti-Virus also has protection against "stalkerware" or spying programs that the company is rolling out across all its antivirus products.

Read our full Kaspersky Anti-Virus review.

Best Windows 10 antivirus for features

Box art for Norton AntiVirus Plus, 2021 edition.

(Image credit: NortonLifeLock)
For those who deserve the very best

Specifications

Backup software: Yes
Firewall: Yes
Game mode: Yes
Hardened browser: No
Password manager: Yes
Ransomware rollback: No
VPN: Depends
Wi-Fi scanner: No

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent malware protection
+
Backup software, online storage, password manager
+
VPN if you're willing to pay a bit more

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavy slowdown during full scans
-
Pricey for a single PC

Norton sells nine different antivirus packages, but we'll focus on the two cheapest here. Norton AntiVirus Plus protects one PC or Mac for a rather pricey $60 per year, but it does come with a two-way firewall, an unlimited password manager, backup software and 2GB of online storage. 

The next tier up, Norton 360 Standard, puts you in internet-security-suite territory by adding an unlimited VPN, webcam protection, dark-web scans for your personal information and 10GB of online storage. At $85 per year for a single PC though, it might be a bit expensive for some customers. Other brands cover up to 10 PCs for that price.

On the upside, Norton's track record at finding and defeating malware is second only to Kaspersky's. If you don't mind paying a premium price for an entry-level antivirus package, or if you were planning to pay for a VPN or password manager separately, you could do a lot worse.

Read our full Norton AntiVirus Plus review or save with our Norton coupon codes

Best Windows 10 antivirus for performance

Box art for ESET NOD32 Antivirus, 2021 edition.

(Image credit: ESET)
Very good and innovative protection, but rather spare otherwise

Specifications

Backup software: No
Firewall: No
Game mode: Yes
Hardened browser: No
Password manager: No
Ransomware rollback: No
Virtual keyboard: No
VPN: No
Wi-Fi scanner: No

Reasons to buy

+
Very good protection
+
Extremely light system-performance impact
+
A la carte pricing

Reasons to avoid

-
Few extra features

Compared to other Windows 10 antivirus programs, ESET NOD32 Antivirus is like a street-racing hot rod — light, cheap, fast and effective, but with few extra frills. 

It's got the smallest drag on system performance of any paid antivirus product we've seen, it zaps malware like the best of them, and it's got a unique per-device pricing structure than ensures you pay no more than you need to.

ESET's extra features are under the hood. It scans a PC's start-up sector, searching your memory and Registry for hidden malware and also blocks known malicious websites. But if you're looking for user-friendly goodies like a password manager, VPN or firewall, you'd better look elsewhere.

Read our full ESET NOD32 Antivirus review.

Best Windows 10 antivirus for multiple computers

Box art for McAfee AntiVirus Plus, 2021 edition

(Image credit: McAfee)
10 devices at a bargain rate and a fair number of useful extras

Specifications

Backup software: No
Firewall: Yes
Game mode: Yes
Hardened browser: No
Password manager: No
Ransomware rollback: Yes
Virtual keyboard: No
VPN: No
Wi-Fi scanner: No

Reasons to buy

+
Protects lots of machines for cheap
+
Decent array of extra features
+
Good malware protection

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavy system impact during scans
-
Can't opt out of data collection

McAfee AntiVirus Plus is a bargain among Windows 10 antivirus programs if you have a lot of computers and smartphones to protect. For $60 per year, you can cover up to 10 devices running Windows, Mac, Android or iOS, and McAfee doesn't mind if you add a few more. 

Windows users get a file shredder, ransomware rollback, a firewall and protective browser extensions. McAfee AntiVirus, without the "Plus," delivers the same features to a single Windows PC for $40 per year.

McAfee's malware protection hasn't always been the best in lab tests, but it's improved a lot. The only big downsides today are very heavy system slowdown during active malware scans, plus the fact that you can't stop threat-data collection from your PC if you choose not to have it.

Read our full McAfee AntiVirus Plus review.

Best Windows 10 antivirus on a budget

Box art for Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security, 2021 edition.

(Image credit: Trend Micro)
Good protection but very Spartan

Specifications

Backup software: No
Firewall: No
Game mode: Yes
Hardened browser: Yes
Password manager: No
Ransomware rollback: Yes
Virtual keyboard: No
VPN: No
Wi-Fi scanner: No

Reasons to buy

+
Very good malware protection
+
Secure browser
+
Cheap

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavy performance hit during scans
-
False positives on some tests

Trend Micro does very well in some lab tests, but its Antivirus+ Security package is even more Spartan than ESET's among Windows 10 antivirus programs. For $40 per year for one PC, you get a gaming mode, a secure web browser for online banking, ransomware rollback and an email screener to guard against phishing attempts. 

The downsides are that you'll see a pretty heavy system slowdown during scans, so make sure to run them during off hours. You may also get a lot of false positives, or benign items flagged as suspicious, which may indicate that Trend Micro's malware-detection engine is a bit over tuned.

Read our full Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security review.

How to choose the best Windows 10 antivirus for you

As is the case with other types of software, you need to choose Windows 10 antivirus programs according to both your needs and budget. The best bang for your buck is Bitdefender Antivirus Plus as it’s fairly inexpensive and has an unlimited password manager, a file shredder and its own secure browser.

If you have more money to spend and only a single PC to protect, you might want to consider Norton AntiVirus Plus or Norton 360 Standard. Both give you access to an unlimited password manager and Standard adds an unlimited VPN and dark web personal information monitoring.

If you have Macs and Android devices to cover in addition to Windows 10 machines, McAfee AntiVirus Plus can meet your needs at a bargain rate – $60 covers 10 devices. However, McAfee’s malware defenses are not quite as good as those of Norton, Bitdefender or Kaspersky.

To get the best Mac antivirus software or the best Android antivirus apps as part of a bundle, you've often got to upgrade to midrange antivirus software, if not the premium tiers. 

Of course, if all you want to do is keep your PCs free from malware, then Kaspersky Anti-Virus is the best choice. It doesn’t do much besides block malware, phishing emails and dodgy websites, but it does these things better than the rest.

How we test the best Windows 10 antivirus programs

We evaluated each Windows 10 antivirus program on this list based on its interface, performance, protection and extra features.

Was the program intuitive and user-friendly? Did malware scans significantly slow down system performance? Was it effective at detecting and removing both old and new malware? Did the program come with any other useful tools?

Our tests were performed on a Lenovo ThinkPad T470 with a 2.5GHz Core i5-7200U processor, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of solid-state storage containing 43.3GB of files.

In order to gauge each program’s impact on system performance, we used our custom Excel test which measures how long a PC takes to match 20,000 names and addresses on a spreadsheet. The longer the task takes, the more the system is impacted.

For malware detection performance, we referred to results from tests conducted by three independent labs: AV-TEST in Germany, AV-Comparatives in Austria and SE Labs in England. 

Each lab periodically subjects major antivirus programs to stress tests that include thousands of pieces of malware as well as hundreds of “zero-day” samples that the software has to learn to recognize.

For even more information, check out our guide on how we test antivirus software and apps and our more general how we test page for Tom's Guide.

Anthony Spadafora
Senior Editor Security and Networking

Anthony Spadafora is the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to password managers and the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. Before joining the team, he wrote for ITProPortal while living in Korea and later for TechRadar Pro after moving back to the US. Based in Houston, Texas, when he’s not writing Anthony can be found tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.