Best Antivirus for Windows 10

By Ivan Stevanović July 5, 2021

If you’re not already using the best antivirus for Windows 10, then you’d better change that as soon as you can.

Microsoft’s Windows is used on nearly 80% of devices in the world, and this market dominance will likely last for a while yet. Out of all those devices, more than 1.3 billion are running Windows 10. Unfortunately, with great numbers comes great risk as well.

As the most common operating system, Windows has been the preferred target of cybercriminals for years now. Fortunately, there are plenty of programs that you can install to protect yourself from those malicious attacks. To help you find the right one, we tested numerous antivirus solutions and are here to present our top picks.

The Best Antivirus Software for Windows 10

  • Multiple layers of protection
  • Game, movie, and work profiles
  • Exceptionally fast
  • Pricey plans
Price FREE
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  • Easy to use
  • Low CPU impact
  • Cloud-based scanning
  • No firewall
Price FREE
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  • Cloud Backup
  • Credit monitoring
  • Smart Firewall and Intrusion Prevention
  • No free version
Price $24.99/year
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  • Reasonably priced
  • Superb parental controls
  • Payment protection
  • Few features with entry-level plan
Price FREE
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  • Unlimited VPN with every subscription
  • Affordable plans
  • Encrypted storage
  • Limited customization
Price $29.99/year
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  • Social media protection
  • Firewall booster
  • Well-organized UI
  • Slow VPN connections
Price $29.95/year
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Do I Need Another Antivirus for My PC If I Have Windows Defender?

Windows Defender has improved dramatically over the years, but despite that, it often fails to keep your device safe. The main reason for this is that its threat detection rates are frequently below other malware removal and prevention tools. It also leaves a lot to be desired in terms of speed and additional features. It can’t be denied that using Defender is better than not being protected at all, but it definitely shouldn’t be your first choice.

Remember – if you decide to get a third-party antivirus, you should refrain from running it at the same time as Defender, as this can only cause issues.

Free vs. Paid Antivirus Programs

With so many reputable software providers offering free antivirus options nowadays, you might not see the point in spending money on these types of programs. However, you should be aware that, although freeware does provide some level of security, it will never be quite as good as the paid solutions. Here are a few reasons why that is:

  • No adverts: Unlike their unpaid counterparts, premium apps aren’t littered with annoying pop-ups, because the provider earns from your subscription instead of ad revenue.
  • More protection: Even the best free antivirus will include only the most basic pillars of defense, whereas a paid product will typically have additional layers of web, phishing, and ransomware protection.
  • Smaller chances of being targeted: Hackers will usually develop strategies to get past the most commonly used antiviruses first, with Windows Defender being the primary target; after all, it’s the default option installed on millions of machines.
  • Better support: In most cases, premium software comes with superior support, which often means 24/7 availability and priority access.
  • Extra features: The best antivirus software you pay for also includes numerous add-ons – a built-in VPN, password managers, file shredders, disk-cleaning utilities, and parental controls, to name a few.

1. Bitdefender

" Best Overall "

bitdefender logo
  • Number of devices
    1-20
  • Renewal
    1-3 years
  • Firewall
    Depends on the pricing plan
  • VPN
    Depends on the pricing plan
  • Free version
    Yes
  • Available plans
    Antivirus Free Edition, Antivirus Plus, Internet Security, Total Security, Premium Security, Small Office Security, Family Pack

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Multiple layers of protection
  • Game, movie, and work profiles
  • Exceptionally fast
  • Pricey plans

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Multiple layers of protection
  • Game, movie, and work profiles
  • Exceptionally fast
  • Pricey plans
  • Number of devices
    1-20
  • Renewal
    1-3 years
  • Firewall
    Depends on the pricing plan
  • VPN
    Depends on the pricing plan
  • Free version
    Yes
  • Available plans
    Antivirus Free Edition, Antivirus Plus, Internet Security, Total Security, Premium Security, Small Office Security, Family Pack

Bitdefender is, without a doubt, the best antivirus for Windows 10 currently available on the market. Due to its outstanding protective capabilities, it has won several awards from independent testing labs such as AV-TEST, AV-Comparatives, and MRG Effitas. Aside from its excellent antivirus engine, it offers an extensive collection of additional features as well.

Every Bitdefender iteration uses the same malware prevention technology, meaning that even non-paying customers are well-guarded. Aside from that, the Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition will stop you from stumbling onto dangerous websites, as well as keep you safe from any phishing and online fraud attempts. However, to get the very best virus protection and the superb extra features that Bitdefender is known for, you’ll have to set aside at least $29.99 per year for the Antivirus Plus package.

As is the case with any pricing scheme, the higher your financial commitment, the more perks you’ll get to enjoy. For example, the top-tier plan, Bitdefender Premium Security, covers all your online security needs on 10 devices for $64.99 per year. Not only does it detect even the most advanced cyber threats, it provides you with unlimited VPN access and a proactive vulnerability assessment that uncovers any outdated software, unsafe system settings, or missing security patches that could potentially undermine the work of your chosen Windows 10 antivirus.

Other noteworthy benefits of Bitdefender’s premium pricing plans include a firewall, a password manager, and profiles for specific activities. The firewall adapts to the type of network you’re connected to at the moment and adjusts the network settings for optimal protection. Bitdefender’s built-in password-saving tool can rival the best password manager solutions out there: Aside from securing your sensitive data, it also automatically fills out forms and suggests safe passcodes. Lastly, Bitdefender can detect when you’re gaming, watching a movie, or working, and tailor your PC’s safety environment to suit the specific activity.

Although its initial scan can take quite a bit of time, Bitdefender is still among the fastest antivirus programs we’ve encountered and, even with its many functionalities, remains extremely easy to use.

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2. Avira

" Best for Minimal System Strain "

avira logo
  • Number of devices:
    1 - unlimited
  • Renewal
    1 month - 3 years
  • Firewall
    No
  • VPN
    Yes
  • Free version
    Yes
  • Available plans
    Free Security, Antivirus Pro, Internet Security, Prime

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Easy to use
  • Low CPU impact
  • Cloud-based scanning
  • No firewall

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Easy to use
  • Low CPU impact
  • Cloud-based scanning
  • No firewall
  • Number of devices:
    1 - unlimited
  • Renewal
    1 month - 3 years
  • Firewall
    No
  • VPN
    Yes
  • Free version
    Yes
  • Available plans
    Free Security, Antivirus Pro, Internet Security, Prime

Much like Bitdefender, Avira is highly dependable, which is clear from its excellent threat-detection scores. But what really sets it apart from its competitors is the fact that it’s a very lightweight antivirus that will provide you with all the essential forms of protection without slowing down your device.

Avira offers four subscription options. The first one is free and, aside from virus protection and a few other useful features, such as PC optimization, harmful website blocking, and a VPN, it doesn’t include much else. Moreover, even though there’s a VPN available, it has a data cap of just 500 MB per month.

To truly comprehend why we consider Avira to be among the best security software for Windows 10, we recommend that you get either Internet Security or Avira Prime, since the Antivirus Pro package, which is $44.99 per year, doesn’t differ much from the free option. Purchasing Internet Security, on the other hand, will put email protection, a password manager, and an automatic software updater at your disposal.

If, in addition to an antivirus and other tools we’ve already mentioned, you’d also like to have PC-speed and tune-up features, you might want to take a look at the Avira Prime pricing plan. It’s also the only subscription with which you receive unlimited VPN access.

The technology that makes Avira one of the top antivirus scanners on this list is called Protection Cloud. It’s integrated into the program’s real-time scans, thus enabling Avira to immediately send any suspicious activity it detects to the cloud for analysis. The cloud database is updated with 10,000 new strains of viruses on a daily basis.

Another perk of cloud scanning is that it puts very little strain on your computer’s CPU. Unlike McAfee, which tends to take up more than 50% of your CPU’s power, Avira won’t need more than 20 to 25%.

The user interface of this Windows antivirus is exceptionally intuitive. You’ll be able to execute complex commands to keep your computer safe even if you’re not the most tech-savvy.

On the downside, while an extra firewall isn’t always necessary, it’s definitely helpful in limiting the chances of a network breach. Unfortunately, Avira has no firewall of its own; instead, you can only manage the Windows firewall from Avira’s app. If its developers were to add this feature, Avira would easily compete with Bitdefender for the number one spot on our “Best Antivirus for Windows 10” list.

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3. Norton

" Best for Small Businesses "

norton 360 deluxe logo
  • Number of devices
    1 - unlimited
  • Renewal
    Annual
  • Firewall
    Yes
  • VPN
    Depends on the pricing plan
  • Free version
    No
  • Available plans
    Norton Antivirus Plus, Norton 360 Standard, Norton 360 Deluxe, Norton 360 with LifeLock Select, Norton with LifeLock Ultimate Plus

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Cloud Backup
  • Credit monitoring
  • Smart Firewall and Intrusion Prevention
  • No free version

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Cloud Backup
  • Credit monitoring
  • Smart Firewall and Intrusion Prevention
  • No free version
  • Number of devices
    1 - unlimited
  • Renewal
    Annual
  • Firewall
    Yes
  • VPN
    Depends on the pricing plan
  • Free version
    No
  • Available plans
    Norton Antivirus Plus, Norton 360 Standard, Norton 360 Deluxe, Norton 360 with LifeLock Select, Norton with LifeLock Ultimate Plus

Another top-notch program that’s sure to protect your Windows devices from any and all cyber-related misdeeds is Norton. PCMag labeled this antivirus guard the Most Awarded Consumer Brand Ever an incredible 46 times.

Aside from performing remarkably well during our in-house examinations, Norton’s quality is also demonstrated by the level of certainty with which its protection software is offered – if a virus somehow passes through the many Norton LifeLock layers protecting your devices, you’ll get your money back. However, this brings us to a downside – unlike with some other protection software programs featured in our antivirus comparison article, Norton’s antivirus has no permanently free version. The only way to test things out is by getting a seven-day free trial or purchasing one of the subscriptions.

Several features are guaranteed with every pricing plan, and the two most impressive ones are Smart Firewall and Cloud Backup. The Smart Firewall is the first point of contact that any traffic has with your device. Once the Smart Firewall sifts through it and waves through the parts registered as safe, Intrusion Prevention takes over and inspects the remaining traffic.

Numerous Norton antivirus software reviews praise its Cloud Backup option, with good reason. It’s a great selling point for this program, as not many of its competitors offer something like it. With the first-tier plan, which costs $9.99 for the first year and $59.99 afterward, you’ll get 2 GB of storage room, while the top-tier package, which can be bought for $299.98 and renews for $349.99, includes 500 GB.

Dark web monitoring, webcam protection, and VPN are available on the three more expensive plans, and parental controls are reserved for the top two. Most financial assistance tools, such as credit, bank, and credit card activity tracking, as well as 401(k) and investment activity alerts, are reserved for the most costly Windows virus protection package, Norton 360 with LifeLock Ultimate Plus.

Although an average family may not need the huge assortment of functionalities that, for example, Norton 360 with LifeLock Ultimate Plus provides, it’s the perfect solution for a small business, especially because it allows you to use Norton on an unlimited number of devices. The package can also be customized to fit your firm’s needs.

Norton is surprisingly fast, considering everything that can be accomplished with it. But as is the case with the majority of feature-filled antivirus software for Windows, learning how to use it might take a while.

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4. Kaspersky

" Best for Families "

kaspersky logo
  • Number of devices
    1-10
  • Renewal
    1-3 years
  • Firewall
    Depends on the pricing plan
  • VPN
    Yes
  • Free version
    Yes
  • Available plans
    Security Cloud, Anti-Virus, Internet Security, Total Security

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Reasonably priced
  • Superb parental controls
  • Payment protection
  • Few features with entry-level plan

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Reasonably priced
  • Superb parental controls
  • Payment protection
  • Few features with entry-level plan
  • Number of devices
    1-10
  • Renewal
    1-3 years
  • Firewall
    Depends on the pricing plan
  • VPN
    Yes
  • Free version
    Yes
  • Available plans
    Security Cloud, Anti-Virus, Internet Security, Total Security

Even those unfamiliar with the world of cybersecurity know about Kaspersky. Ever since the company was founded in 1997, its products have been among the most downloaded computer antivirus solutions on the market.

Kaspersky offers three traditional pricing programs – Anti-Virus, Internet Security, and Total Security – as well as three Security Cloud services – Free, Personal, and Family. All of them come with Kaspersky’s core virus-fighting technology but differ in terms of extra features.

As you’d expect, out of the six, the free cloud-based software is the most stripped-down. If you want anything more than antivirus protection, you’ll need to set aside at least $29.99 per year for the Kaspersky Anti-Virus suite. Those who want the most bang for their buck should take a look at the Security Cloud Family bundle. As its name implies, it’s the best antivirus software for families.

As an owner of the final-tier Security Cloud subscription, you can protect up to 10 people, while the Kaspersky Safe Kids tools can only be accessed by you. These tools allow you to pinpoint your childrens’ exact location, control their screen time, filter the websites and apps they can use, and monitor their YouTube searches. Also, if there’s a specific area your kids aren’t allowed to leave, Kaspersky can send you notifications if they do.

With a price of $89.99 per year, Security Cloud Family may not seem like the most affordable antivirus package. Still, when you take into account everything it encompasses, you can see that it actually provides decent value. In addition to the parental controls, your family will be able to use online shopping protection, home Wi-Fi monitoring, a VPN, and a password manager (for up to 10 people).

If you’re looking for a less expensive antivirus solution that offers almost the same features as the previously described product, Kaspersky Total Security might be your best bet, at $49.99 for five devices for the first year.

This top-rated antivirus will have a low-to-moderate performance impact on your system, which is very good for a program as powerful as this one. However, although Kaspersky’s user interface is very clean, some of its tools can be hard to find. That being said, once you get used to the program, you shouldn’t have any issues.

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5. McAfee

" Best for Large Businesses "

mcafee logo
  • Number of devices
    1 - unlimited
  • Renewal
    Annual
  • Firewall
    Yes
  • VPN
    Yes
  • Free version
    No
  • Available plans
    Single Device, Individual/Couples, Family, Ultimate

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Unlimited VPN with every subscription
  • Affordable plans
  • Encrypted storage
  • Limited customization

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Unlimited VPN with every subscription
  • Affordable plans
  • Encrypted storage
  • Limited customization
  • Number of devices
    1 - unlimited
  • Renewal
    Annual
  • Firewall
    Yes
  • VPN
    Yes
  • Free version
    No
  • Available plans
    Single Device, Individual/Couples, Family, Ultimate

Compared to our above-listed top antivirus software picks, McAfee is slightly less reliable when it comes to scanning for malware. However, it keeps improving year after year and will likely be able to rival Norton’s and Avira’s virus-detection scores soon. At a budget-friendly price point, too!

All McAfee plans are a variation of a single product called Total Protection, and its most inexpensive subscription is intended for a single device. The Individual/Couples cost kit lets you protect up to five devices, the Family plan covers 10 devices, and, as you can probably guess, the Unlimited package has no restrictions of that kind.

Relatively large companies looking for the best low-cost antivirus can end their search with McAfee’s Unlimited subscription. For just $69.99 for the first year and $159.99 for renewals, both you and your employees can have an extra layer of firewall protection, a password manager, and a file shredder. To make Unlimited even more tempting, McAfee enhanced its identity theft protection tools in this package, and included credit monitoring, 24/7 assistance from experts, and insurance for lost funds up to $1 million.

VPN services, which are powered by TunnelBear and are a part of every product bundle, require a commitment to automatic billing as well. Another important detail you should know about this cheap antivirus is that it enables every one of its subscribers to securely store sensitive files on their computers through its use of 256-bit AES encryption.

After you install McAfee, you’ll probably forget that it’s running in the background – until you realize it’s hogging quite a bit of your CPU’s resources. Although being able to adjust your software’s performance to prevent it from slowing down your device can come in handy, not everyone wants to spend their time dealing with it. McAfee is a good antivirus for those that fall into that category. What’s more, notifications are rare, but will be clearly displayed when you need to take specific action.

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6. Trend Micro

" Best for Novices "

trend micro logo
  • Number of devices
    1-10
  • Renewal
    1-2 years
  • Firewall
    No
  • VPN
    Depends on the pricing plan
  • Free version
    No
  • Available plans
    Antivirus+ Security, Internet Security, Maximum Security, Premium Security Suite

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Social media protection
  • Firewall booster
  • Well-organized UI
  • Slow VPN connections

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Social media protection
  • Firewall booster
  • Well-organized UI
  • Slow VPN connections
  • Number of devices
    1-10
  • Renewal
    1-2 years
  • Firewall
    No
  • VPN
    Depends on the pricing plan
  • Free version
    No
  • Available plans
    Antivirus+ Security, Internet Security, Maximum Security, Premium Security Suite

Trend Micro has a strong malware detection engine, but it tends to put a heavy strain on a system’s performance. It’s also been known to register a number of false positives. Despite this, it’s still an excellent piece of antivirus and security software.

This program’s main strength lies in its browsing protection. Thanks to Pay Guard, which is essentially a secure version of your default browser, it protects you from dangerous websites while you’re conducting transactions online. It also monitors your emails for potential scams.

Trend Micro’s price ranges between $29.95 and $69.95 for the first year of protection. There may not be a free version available, but you can test out every one of its plans –  Antivirus+ Security, Internet Security, Maximum Security, and Premium Security Suite – with a 30-day free trial.

As is the case with all antivirus deals, the higher the price, the more features you’ll obtain. Among Trend Micro’s most noteworthy functionalities, you’ll find social media protection tools and a password manager. The Premium Security Suite is the only subscription with dark web monitoring and a VPN.

Trend Micro’s VPN is reliable, but it doesn’t provide a high-speed connection. For a better antivirus-VPN combination, we’d suggest Bitdefender or Norton. Unlike those two antiviruses, Trend Micro doesn’t have a firewall, instead providing its users with the next best thing: A firewall booster. The booster works together with Windows Firewall to prevent botnet attacks and other cyber threats.

Even with its shortcomings, Trend Micro is still a great antivirus program. For instance, although it may take up a lot of your CPU’s power, it makes up for it in speed. All three scans – quick, full, and custom – can be exceptionally fast. Unfortunately, as was the case with McAfee, configurability is limited.

On the plus side, Trend Micro’s user interface is exceptionally well-organized. There’s no clutter, and every command is where you’d expect it to be – perfect for beginners who want to rely on their antivirus without constant tweaking.

Currently, Trend Micro may not be the most sought-after virus detector, but if its developers decide to add a few more features, it’s sure to surpass many rivals.

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The Top Antivirus For Windows 10 – Our Methodology

Our goal here was to provide you with a selection of options that could match the needs of most potential users. Although we’ve assigned rankings to our chosen antiviruses, we’d like to assure you that you won’t go wrong by subscribing to any one of them, even if it’s not ranked first.

After all, every single antivirus on our list is there for a reason. Aside from conducting numerous tests and observations, we also paid special attention to several different criteria, which we believe are key for picking out the best internet security for Windows 10. You can read more about our evaluation process below.

Protection

Before doing anything else, we excluded any antivirus that didn’t perform well on the latest tests conducted by independent testing labs since having an antivirus that isn’t capable of blocking online threats is much like having a teapot with a hole in the bottom – it may seem fine on the outside, but it doesn’t serve its purpose. After thoroughly reviewing those results, we subjected the programs to a number of our own tests as well.

The better the malware detection engine is, the lesser the odds of your device being infected. The best Windows antivirus should be able to protect you against many different types of cyberattacks, such as viruses, worms, trojans, ransomware, adware, spyware, and the like.

Speed

When it comes to speed, there are two things that you need to consider. The first one concerns the time it takes an antivirus to perform its scans, and the second has to do with your system performance while the antivirus is active.

Typically, you should be able to carry out a quick scan in about 15 to 30 minutes, while a full scan, which is much more comprehensive, may take several hours to complete. Good antivirus software needs to be capable of executing these scans without any lagging or crashes, as fast as possible.

Many people decide not to get an antivirus because they’ve heard that they can significantly slow down a device. However, although that used to be the case with most products, nowadays, there are plenty of virus protection solutions that can run in the background of your PC without significantly impacting its CPU. Some programs even have unique profiles that automatically become enabled during specific activities like gaming or movie streaming. When these modes are active, the antivirus automatically adjusts its behavior to the current environment.

Additional Features

The best Windows 10 antivirus should be equipped with useful additional tools. Quality is always better than quantity, but that shouldn’t stop you from looking for the most value for your money.

Among the extra security software features, you’ll typically find a password manager, a firewall, VPN protection, parental controls, system performance optimization utilities, and a file shredder. Know that you’ll have to set aside money for top-tier plans if you want to have all or at least most of these functionalities. That being said, before you purchase a subscription, make sure that you actually need all the add-ons that it includes.

Pricing

When you decide to buy an antivirus, as opposed to downloading freeware, you have to be aware that all the best kits will be at least a bit pricey. But when it comes to keeping your personal data safe, spending a little more for added security is often a good idea.

 

Most antivirus providers offer several pricing plans that differ according to the number of features they offer and/or the number of devices they cover. However, the core virus detection engine is usually the same across a single provider’s entire product range.

We can’t tell you which would be the best antivirus for your particular PC, seeing as there are far too many factors to consider, such as your budget, device capabilities, and protection needs. Therefore, we suggest that you read our article carefully and not just go with the first product listed, since the fourth or fifth one might end up being more suited to your circumstances.

Ease of Use

Feature-filled programs can often be challenging for beginners to master. Luckily, there are antiviruses like Avira, whose developers managed to create intuitive user interfaces that simplify even the most complicated tasks.

For advanced users, the best computer antivirus is often the one that has the most customization options. On the other hand, a novice or someone who doesn’t have the time for tweaking all the options might prefer to own a piece of software that does most of the work itself.

Although this criterion is important, if, during our testing, a product turned out to be good at detecting threats, didn’t have a significant CPU impact, and came with many extra features at an affordable price, but happened to be somewhat hard to navigate, we didn’t disqualify it. However, we did exclude antiviruses whose poor organization and glitches made the software almost unusable.

FAQ

Do I still need antivirus software with Windows 10?

Although every device running Windows 10 has Windows Defender installed, you’d be wrong to think that that’s the only protection you need. Windows Defender’s virus detection capabilities are nowhere near those of some of the top antiviruses on the market. In addition to that, seeing as a large number of computers have it, most cybercriminals have already learned how to get past Microsoft’s malware protection program.

Is Windows Defender better than McAfee?

Windows Defender is a free tool that offers only the most basic features, while McAfee is among the best antivirus programs currently available. It’s not only easy to use, but it comes with a number of functionalities as well. What’s more, its pricing plans are pretty budget-friendly.

Which is better, Avast or AVG?

Avast acquired AVG antivirus back in 2016, and because of this, the two pieces of software are quite similar. However, there are some small differences and among them is the fact that Avast provides more features, both in its free and paid versions. On the other hand, AVG’s pricing plans are usually more affordable. Our recommendation would be to stick to Bitdefender or Avira if you’re in search of the highest level of performance and security.

Is there free antivirus software?

Many best-rated antivirus software providers offer a free version of their products, but before you download any such program, consider the following: A lot of free antiviruses ask for permission to install additional unnecessary software, and some companies even make money off of their non-paying customers by tracking their browsing habits and then selling that data to marketing firms. Of course, not all antivirus providers use these underhanded tactics, but it’s tough to tell which product is safe.

Is it worth paying for antivirus?

There are some pretty solid free antivirus solutions that you can choose from. However, a paid antivirus offers countless other benefits aside from virus protection, which you can read more about in our “Best Antivirus for Windows 10” article. The gist of it is that these benefits can entail access to a VPN, password manager, or secure browser, to name a few. Some premium subscriptions even add an extra layer of protection to your devices, such as web, phishing, and ransomware protection.