Best Midrange PC Antivirus Software
Midrange antivirus software for Windows combines the basic protections of inexpensive products with additional features that usually include parental controls and a two-way firewall. Some brands also toss in a password manager or a file shredder, but you may want to move up to the higher-priced, premium antivirus products for secure online storage or system optimization.
Among the eight products we recently reviewed, our Editor's Choice in this category is Kaspersky Internet Security, which combines excellent malware protection with a very light system load and a plethora of helpful extra features.
Right behind that is Bitdefender Internet Security, which offers even more tools but has malware protection that's just a hair shy of Kaspersky's.
Three other products — F-Secure Internet Security, Norton Security Deluxe and Trend Micro Internet Security — had malware protection comparable to Kaspersky's and Bitdefender's, but suffered from heavy system loads when scans were running, and sometimes even when they weren't.
How We Tested
Programs from all eight brands were evaluated on an Asus X555LA laptop running fully patched 64-bit Windows 10 on an Intel Core i3 processor. The laptop had 6GB of RAM and 36GB of files on a 500GB hard drive. Each antivirus product was uninstalled before the next was loaded.
We evaluated each product's ease of installation and ease of use, enumerated its protective features (and how useful each feature might be), and took note of its navigation scheme and interface.
To gauge how well a product detected malware, we used recent sets of evaluations on Windows 10 and Windows 7 from German independent lab AV-TEST, which regularly tests antivirus software against both previously seen, widespread malware and the more dangerous zero-day malware that can be detected mainly by behavioral analysis. We also used results from AV-Comparatives in Austria, which exposes antivirus software every month to the latest online malware.
To assess a product's impact on system performance, we used our custom OpenOffice benchmark test, which matches 20,000 names and addresses on a spreadsheet. We ran the test both before and after a product was installed, and then during the product's full scan and quick scan. (The test was run several times in each scenario.) We also measured how long it took each product to complete a full scan and a quick scan.
[Editor's Note: Best Buy has removed Kaspersky Lab products from its shelves, citing concerns regarding Kaspersky's alleged (but as yet undocumented) ties to the Russian government. However, until we see evidence that Kaspersky software is a threat to consumers, we will continue to recommend it. Here is further clarification of our position.]