Many antivirus programs look for viruses and malware. The best antivirus programs will also provide real-time protection, which monitors shady sites, suspicious links, and other bad behaviors. They’ll also look at the documents you download and watch their behavior to identify new threats, which aren’t yet known to be. Nowadays, a good antivirus software also needs to recognize and remove ransomware. Some products do this through Sandboxing, in which suspicious encrypted files are put in a separate part of the operating system to be analyzed before they can be allowed to be used to be installed on the rest of the computer.

The best antivirus suites make use of minimal system resources and are extremely fast to run. They don’t just look for malware and viruses but also safeguard your privacy by encrypting emails as well as monitoring social media websites and ensuring that online transactions and banking are done using secure connections. Some suites offer useful tools, such as password management or file shredder online security for safe shopping and much more.

If you decide to pay for a program make sure it covers all the devices and operating systems you wish to protect. Many of the top picks cover all of the major platforms which include Windows PCs (three out of four laptop and desktop computers), macOS and iOS. Some of the more advanced paid antivirus applications work with Android devices. However, you will need to check each company’s site for specifics. Some companies offer physical copies of their product at electronic stores, however most will send you a code to download the program from their website or app store.