The Best Antivirus Utilities for 2016

Even if you use your PC for nothing but posting political screeds on social media, you still need to protect it with an antivirus. Just imagine if some hacktivist pwned your account and started slamming your candidate!

You can’t turn around without running into evidence that the presidential primaries are heating up. Which candidate will do the best job protecting us against terrorist attack, or addressing income inequality? Even when the election is over and done with, you may not be convinced we got the best candidate. Fortunately, the discussion of which antivirus product offers the best protection doesn’t inspire the same fervor. We’ve carefully analyzed dozens of them so you can decide which one deserves your vote.

an2I did say antivirus, but in truth it’s unlikely you’ll get hit with an actual computer virus. Malware these days is about making money, and there’s no easy way to cash in on spreading a virus. Ransomware and data-stealing Trojans are much more common, as are bots that let the bot-herder rent out your computer for nefarious purposes. Modern antivirus utilities handle Trojans, rootkits, spyware, adware, ransomware, and more. PCMag has reviewed three dozen different commercial antivirus utilities, and that’s not even counting the many free antivirus tools.

Out of that extensive field we’ve named four Editors’ Choice products. Nine more commercial antivirus
an3utilities proved effective enough to earn an excellent four-star rating, and another seven earned three and a half stars.

Of course, we’re reviewed many more, but those antivirus utilities that received scores of less than three stars don’t qualify for inclusion in this “best of” listing.

Almost all of these products are traditional, full-scale, antivirus tools, with the ability to scan files for malware on access, on demand, or on schedule. A couple are outliers, tools meant to enhance the protection of traditional antivirus. As for just relying on the antivirus built into Windows 8.x or Windows 10, that may not be the best idea. In the past, Windows Defender has performed poorly both in our tests and independent lab tests. It did score several wins last year, and it earned decent scores in several more recent tests. Maybe Microsoft’s slump is over?