Let's get this out of the way right up front: Avira, Bitdefender, Kaspersky Lab and Norton earned perfect or near-perfect scores in the latest round of Windows 10 antivirus ratings from AV-Test. That's not terribly surprising; these companies top the charts in just about every round of evaluations.
What's interesting, though, is that two more contenders also made the grade: AhnLab and McAfee. The first has cemented its rise from being one of the worst antivirus products to one of the best; the second, following the introduction of a new malware engine, has jumped from being no better than Windows Defender to playing in the Premier League. In fact, almost any one of the products evaluated stands a pretty good chance of protecting you from malware.
AV-Test, a Madgeburg, Germany-based testing lab, shared the results on its website. The company periodically evaluates antivirus software for Windows, Mac and Android. Each piece of software earns a score out of a possible 18 points (six for protection, six for impact on system performance, six for usability), with at least 10 points earning a recommendation, and at least 17.5 earning a "Top Product" award. This time around, every program earned a recommendation — but some just barely.
The absolute tip-top ratings went to AhnLab V3 Internet Security 9.0 and Kaspersky Lab Internet Security 18.0, each one of which earned a full 18 points. Avira Antivirus Pro 15.0, Bitdefender Internet Security 22.0, McAfee Internet Security 20.2 and Norton Security 22.10 & 22.11 came in just behind, with 17.5 points apiece. (The dings were in performance or usability; every one offers nearly perfect protection.)
On the flip side, there's Qihoo 360 Total Security (Default Engine) 9.2, which squeaked by with a 10 overall — but scored an ignominious one out of six in the protection category. Qihoo Total Security (Avira+Bitdefender) 9.2 did a little better, with 13 points overall, but it's still not where you'd want to get your antivirus protection, if you can help it. (The difference between the two Qihoos is that the Default Engine is mandated in mainland China; users outside the People's Republic can use Avira and Bitdefender's licensed malware engines.)
Comodo Internet Security Premium 10.0 also scored 13, while Microsoft Windows Defender (which has been going up and down unpredictably for months) earned 14 points.
All the rest scored somewhere in the middle: Avast Free AntiVirus 17.6 & 17.7, AVG Internet Security 17.6 & 17.7, BullGuard Internet Security 17.1 & 18.0, ESET Internet Security 10.1, F-Secure Safe 17, G Data InternetSecurity 25.4, K7 Computing Total Security 15.1, MicroWorld eScan Internet Security Suite 14.0, PC Pitstop PC Matic 3.0, Trend Micro Internet Security 11.0 & 12.0 and VIPRE Security VIPRE AdvancedSecurity 10.1 all earned between 15 and 17 points. If you have one, you're probably fine, but if not, you may be better off with one of the top performers.
Judged on the long arc of history, Kaspersky and Bitdefender seem to be the most reliable choices in the antivirus space. But if you've been hanging onto your AhnLab or McAfee software, hoping against hope that your program would someday earn top marks, your day of vindication has arrived at last. Go and browse some shady sites, content in the knowledge that you're (probably) safe from whatever the internet can throw at you.
Best Antivirus Software
Best Basic Antivirus Product
Best Midrange Antivirus Product
Best Premium PC Security Suite