There’s one big problem with antivirus buying guides on the internet: they always steer you towards one antivirus product in particular.

That’s annoying. Sometimes, websites get paid to advertise a certain software program. In other cases, the website is just trying to trick you into downloading malware.

Today, I’m not going to mention any antivirus programs. Instead, I’m simply going to tell you how to separate good antivirus software from bad antivirus software and make a smart choice about your next software purchase.

Narrow down your options

What kind of computer do you have? Do you need antivirus coverage for multiple computers? Do you need it on your tablet or phone? Narrow down your list of antivirus software programs by identifying your requirements.

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Ideally, you’ll be left with a list between 3 to 10 antivirus programs. That’s fine. Move onto the next step.

What are your most important features?

What do you spend your time doing on your computer? Do you play PC games? Do you browse the internet? Do you work? Do you do a little bit of everything?

Antivirus programs often cater to different groups of users. Some programs offer 24/7 online scanning, for example, and will monitor every link you click on online. You might need this if you’re browsing the internet a lot – especially if you frequently visit shady websites.

If you spend a lot of time gaming, on the other hand, then you might want an antivirus software with “gaming mode” – yes, they do exist. In gaming mode, antivirus software uses fewer resources and doesn’t annoy you with notifications.

Check for certification and testing

At this point, some antivirus buyer’s guides will tell you to “read reviews online.” Instead of reading one person’s subjective opinion about a certain antivirus product, do this: check for certification and testing. There are a handful of organizations which currently certify and test antivirus products. Those organizations include:



-ICSA Labs

-AV Comparatives

-NSS Labs

-AV Test

A good antivirus software will be tested by most of these agencies. Look on the antivirus packaging or on the antivirus software’s official website.

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Check for detection ratings

Ignore all of the extra features for a second and look solely at detection ratings. An antivirus software is useless if it can’t reliably detect malware or viruses. Look for detection scores and protective ratings from all the certification agencies listed above.

The ratings will differ and the highest ranked software on one might not be the highest ranked on another. However, try to pick a software that’s in the top 3 or 5 on all of the certification agencies listed.

Narrow down your options with minor features

If you’ve come this far, then any antivirus software you pick is going to do a good job of protecting your PC. At this point, you’ll want to narrow down your options based on minor features.

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Here are some of the smaller features today’s antivirus software might have:

-Compressed file scanner

-Social media scanner (which scans for malicious links on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)

-Script Blocking

-Webmail protection

-Phishing protection

-Automatic virus updates

Ultimately, by carefully weighing all of these features, you can find a good antivirus software which works for your needs.

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