Many antivirus programs look for viruses and malware. Good ones also offer real-time protection that watches out for suspicious websites, suspicious hyperlinks and other bad behaviour. They also scrutinize the files you download and monitor their actions to identify new threats, which aren’t yet known to be. Nowadays, good antivirus software should be able to detect and eliminate ransomware. Certain antivirus programs do this via sandboxing, which is where sensitive encrypted files are placed in a different part of the operating system to be tested before they can be allowed to be used to be installed on the rest of the computer.

The best antivirus suites are lightweight on system resources and can be run very quickly. They will not only run virus and malware scans but also help safeguard your privacy by encrypting emails, securing social media sites for suspicious behaviour, and making sure that online transactions and banking are made over secure connections. Some suites offer additional useful tools such as password managers and shredders for files. They also provide web security to ensure safe shopping.

If you choose to pay for a software make sure it covers all the devices and operating systems that you want to safeguard. Many of the best picks are compatible with all major platforms like Windows PCs (3 out of 4 laptops and desktops), macOS, and iOS. Some of the more advanced paid antivirus programs also work with Android devices, but you must check the company’s website for specifics. Some vendors offer their products in electronic stores, but most will send you an email with a code that can be used to download their software from their website or app store.