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How to choose the best antivirus software for desktops and mobile devices

So, you want to know how to choose the best antivirus software for desktops and mobile devices. This is actually one the most common questions posed by computer and phone users. The answers, well, they differ greatly.

It usually depends on the technical knowledge of the person who answers. Many people often suggest that you don’t need an antivirus. This is really not a very good idea. The people who give you such advice may not be using their computer much, or maybe using it for very limited purposes.

It is possible they only use a virtual machine or some sandbox application, and run a browser inside it. When a virus attack happens in these environments, they delete the entire virtual area, and start a fresh one which they use till the next attack occurs. This scenario, does not apply to normal users. Why?

Well, do you only use the web browser on your computer? No, you may listen to music on the PC, or watch videos on it. Most of this happens using some sort of streaming service nowaways, and some services even have their own desktop client for delivering content to subscribers..

You could play games on the computer, or use it for reading ebooks, or use Office Suites for work related or educational purposes. There are basically endless purposes, and each user differs from one another.

And let me ask you, is the Internet the only way which you get your files? USB flash drives, and portable hard drives are also commonly used for storing and accessing data. And when you plug in a USB storage device to an infected computer, the malware usually makes a copy of itself and stores it on the connected storage device, which it uses to infect another computer, when it is plugged in there. This is how malware spreads locally.

A lot of people often use their Android phones and tablets, or Apple iPhones and iPads as storage devices too. It is easier to carry data in these devices. But what we don’t think of, is that malware which are designed for impacting Windows or macOS won’t affect the operating systems on the mobile devices. But when you plug in the device to your computer to transfer photos, videos, music or documents, the malware on the phone still affect the PC, especially if you don’t have an antivirus installed on the computer.

The point is, you may have tons of data on your computer which you cannot afford to lose. So, which antivirus should you use?

We follow a simple rule. Don’t use a free antivirus. Why? And no, it is not because of the “If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product” thing. We think that free antivirus products do not offer the best level of security. Think about it, most free security software, are toned down versions of their premium versions. Most of the important features in such products are disabled, and often pop-up ads of some sort are displayed to prompt the user to upgrade.

Another issue with free antiviruses, is that they don’t usually have any sort of customer support. Why would they, when they are not making money of their product, how can they pay the support staff?

Choose a good premium antivirus, and you will not have to deal with such issues. All the features are available immediately, and in case you run into issues, you will have the expertise of the tech support to assist you in solving the problem.

Here are some of our recommendations for the best antivirus software for desktops:

Bitdefender Antivirus Plus:

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BitDefender’s engine can scan for and detect malware, viruses, and ransomware before they can infect your computer. The behavior based scanner proactively blocks zero-day threats even before the antivirus signature is updated with the information about the new malware.

The safe browsing filter, protects your web browser by blocking bad websites from loading, while the Search Advisor scans and marks websites on the results page accordingly. Bitdefender has a Wi-Fi security advisor which can be used to check your network connection for threats, and a superb browser which is sandboxed, to ensure your online banking and transactions are secure. It prevents phishing or online fraud.

The Password Manager which Bitdefender has can store your logins securely, and the Parental Safety can keep kids safe from bad websites.

Bitdefender Internet Security

bitdefender

Bitdefender Internet Security is a great choice to go with, if you want a combination of the best antivirus security for your computer, and a superb two-way firewall which can prevent network intrusions and attacks, as well as prevention of data leaks origination from your system.

BullGuard Antivirus:

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If you want the lightest antivirus software, you would find BullGuard Antivirus to be among the best. And the detection rates of the antivirus is remarkable, plus it also has a behavioral scanner, a web traffic scanner and email scanner, to prevent infections in all applications. We especially liked the vulnerabilities scanner, which lists all the missing Windows Updates.

BullGuard Internet Security:

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In addition to the antivirus’ capabilities, the Internet Security also has a 2-way firewall which can prevent attacks and leaks. The Backup option can be used to backup your data locally or to Google Drive or Dropbox or OneDrive. The Parental Controls can be used to block websites which are not safe for children.

You can use the PC Tune Up tools for deleting duplicate files, speeding up your PC’s boot time, cleaning up the storage by deleting large files, and by deleting temporary files, and by fixing registry errors.

Bullguard Premium Protection:

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The Premium Protection has all the features of the Internet Security, and has two more functions. You can use the online dashboard in Bullguard to check whether your personal or financial details have been leaked on the internet.

The Home Network Scanner is useful, as it can scan your network connection and displays which devices have connected to your now, and in the past, and which of these are a security risk.

VIPRE Advanced Security:

vipre

VIPRE is also among the lightest security software for computers, is one of the fastest in terms of scanning speed. The interface is also one of the simplest in terms of the design.

The antivirus protects your computer from all sorts of threats both offline and online. It has a web scanner which blocks malicious websites from search results, prevents phishing attacks and a Social Watch scanner which checks URLs in Facebook, Twitter, etc.

The two-way firewall monitors the traffic to and fro from your computer’s applications, and blocks malicious activity immediately. The Secure File Eraser can be used to delete files with no chance of recovery, while the History Cleaner can delete your private information from the browsers.

Panda Security offers great security products for a complete protection.

Panda Antivirus Pro:

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If you are looking for a light antivirus, you can’t go wrong with Panda Antivirus Pro. It offers an excellent protection for your PC and the detection rates are great. You also get WiFi protection which blocks intruders from attacking your network.

Panda Internet Security:

panda

Panda offers the Internet Security for Windows and Mac, and these have a great firewall which adds an extra layer of security to what the Antivirus Pro has. You can block bad websites using the Parental Control, and use the Data Shield to protect important data from online theft. There is a backup option, which can be used to backup your data to the company’s online storage.

Panda Global Protection:

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In addition to what the internet security version offers, the Panda Global Protection adds in a password manager which can securely store your login information. The File Encryption utility is useful for encrypting files, before you send them via email or even upload them to the cloud. The File Shredder securely deletes data, leaving traces of it. The Tuneup utilities are handy to help improve the performance of the computer.

Regardless of which antivirus you choose, it is a good idea to back it up with a secondary layer of protection.

HitmanPro

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Hitman Pro is one such malware scanner, which is available in portable format, so you can use it without installing if you want to. This tool is great at removing stubborn malware infections, which regular antivirus solutions may fail to disinfect. The scanner relies on forensics-based detection, instead of a malware signature database. You can use Hitman Pro to scan for malware, ransomware, viruses, malicious browser cookies, trojans, PUPs, etc, and remove the infections easily.

Malwarebytes Anti-malware:

malwarebytes

Malwarevbytes Anti-malware has been the best secondary scanner in the industry for over a decade now, and the security which it offers has only improved over time. You may have used the free version, which has the on-demand scanner, but the premium version offers a lot more.

Malwarebytes Anti-malware Premium offers real-time protection from malware, viruses, ransomware, spyware, rootkits, etc, and can be used alongside your existing antivirus security solution. It can also prevent bad websites and connections to malicious IP addresses. The anti-exploit shield helps prevent the system from attacks which may try to exploit vulnerabilities in software. There is also an auto-updater which keeps the databases up-to-date, and a task scheduler which can automatically run scans at a time and date which you set, or at regular intervals.

Avira Antivirus Pro:

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Avira is renowned for its excellent detection rates, and helps prevent and removing viruses, spyware, malware, worms, Trojans, ransomware etc. It also has a web protection module which can prevent malicious websites from hampering your PC. The mail protection scans your inbox for malware, and blocks malware in attachments, or phishing mails. The child protection helps keep them safe from harmful content on websites including social networks.

Avira Internet Security Suite:

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Avira Internet Security has some extra tools in the form of a firewall, a Safe browsing option which prevents malicious websites from loading in the browser, and has backup options to protect your data from malware. The System Speedup tools can be used for optimizing your PC, cleaning junk files, invalid shortcuts, registry entries, etc, managing the startup items, and for defragging your hard drive.

Avira Ultimate Protection Suite:

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In addition to all the features of the Internet Security, you get the SuperEasy Driver Updater which can be used to update all your device drivers, and notifies you whenever a new driver is available.

Mobile Devices:

Choosing an antivirus for a mobile device, is much more complicated than for a computer. Why?

Apple has a much greater control over its AppStore, and its iOS operating system, so there are actually no real antivirus apps for iOS. But the Android side of the story, is quite the opposite. The fact that there are a great many fake apps available for Android, makes it all the more difficult to choose an antivirus.

Personally we believe it is better to be safe than sorry. So, we advise using an antivirus on your Android phone. There are many reasons why.

But, a lot of Android users believe that since Android is based on Linux, and that the OS sandboxes each application, malware cannot impact the device. Is that so?

Let us examine this fact. Have you ever used the web browser on your phone? Of course you have, but have you paid attention to the webpages closely. You cannot miss it really, most webpages have some ads or the other.

These ads could be some small banner on the bottom of the webpage, or the top, or both. But the content of the ads themselves, are a cause for worry. Many ads have misleading words like “Speed up your phone” “Make your phone faster” “Clean up your phone”, “Your device is slow, tap to fix it”.

The ads are intelligently designed too, as they read the device’s model name and display that in the ad. Some ads even vibrate the device continuously, with a pop-up message “Your device is infected. Click to clean it”. So the unaware user, is tricked in believing that, and clicks the ad. Occasionally, nothing untoward happens, and you are merely redirected to the Play Store, where you can chose to download an app.

The app may be a reputed one, usually with fake reviews or so, which also plays a role in the user downloading the app. Sometimes, these apps are harmless and in turn may have ads themselves, to boost the revenue of the app’s developer.

But sometimes, the ad on the webpage could be linked to a malicious app. This gets downloaded often silently in the background, or otherwise. If you installed the app, then the chaos begins. In worst case scenarios, the malware app could root your phone.

We have seen such instances on phones under testing scenarios. The malware app began displaying ads randomly on the infected phone. And these ads were not displayed in apps, they began appearing on the homescreen, the settings screen, basically anywhere on the device. This was with no antivirus installed, and the OS didn’t prompt us saying the device is infected.

So, we decided to try and clean the phone by performing a factory reset, which meant that all the data on the device would be lost. But, guess what? The malware had set itself deeply in the system partition, that it managed to survive the reset process.

Then we downloaded an antivirus app on the phone, and ran a scan, and it accurately told us what the malware was. Unfortunately there was no way to remove the malware in a normal way. We had to manually wipe the partitions and flash the firmware from the company’s website to get rid of the malware.

So, there you go. Use an antivirus on your Android phone just to be safe. These days most phones come with 3GB of RAM or more, so you won’t notice any lags by using one anyway. But don’t use a free antivirus, as they don’t really have any good features, and there are a lot of malware apps which are listed as free antivirus apps, which can wreak havoc on your phone.

Just like the paid antivirus logic for computers, opt for a premium solution for your phone. In fact, some premium security solutions do bundle in a mobile security as part of the package.

Bitdefender Total Security

Bitdefender Total Security offers all the features of the Internet Security, plus some extras including antivirus security for your Android mobile phones. There is an anti-theft tool built-in to the software, which can be used to trace a lost or stolen device, be it a Windows, iOS or Android device. Windows users also gain a One-click optimize tool which can securely delete your private data from your browsers, temporary files, monitor your start-up items, etc.

bitdefender

The Bitdefender Mobile Security & Antivirus Android app has a malicious website blocker which prevents bad websites in Chrome and the default Android browser. The app lock can be used to prevent unauthorized access to app, with a pin code. The privacy advisor scanner can be used to determine which permissions are used by each app, and the Account privacy option can be used to find if your email account has been hacked.

There is a BitDefender Family Pack, which can be used on unlimited number of Windows, Mac and Android devices.

Bullguard Internet Security and Bullguard Premium Protection

bullguard

The multi-device plans of both of these subscriptions offer the mobile security app as part of the package.

VIPRE Mobile Security Premium:

VIPRE Mobile Security

You can use the app to track a lost device, and to take a picture of the thief, and lock or remotely wipe the data on the phone. The premium version also allows you to backup your data on the cloud. Parents can monitor the activity of their children’s internet, call and text histories using the app.

Avira Antivirus Pro, Internet Security and Ultimate Protection Suite:

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The Mobile protection can be used for scanning devices for malware, finding a stolen or lost phone, and for remotely locking the device to prevent your data from being stolen.

Panda Mobile Security:

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The Panda mobile apps for iOS helps you track your lost or stolen iPhone. The Android app offers antivirus, device optimization features, in addition to an anti-theft tracking system similar to the iOS app.