For as long as the PC has graced our homes, one of the first things we go to do when buying a new one is putting antivirus software onto it. Surely without such software, our computers will be susceptible to malicious attacks and nasty surprises from every corner of the internet – so why don’t all computers have antivirus built in?
While antivirus is a worthwhile purchase, you are also responsible for doing, well, responsible things with your PC. You should only visit secure sites, only engage in legal activities, and for goodness sake if a pop up says you’ve won an iPhone 11 – you haven’t, don’t click on it.
Antivirus software scans all your internet activity to prevent malicious viruses creeping into your system. Some block those pesky pop ups or flag suspicious email attachments and generally making sure what you’re doing won’t cause harm to your PC.
Buying antivirus software can be a drag, particularly when modern Windows PCs come with some of Microsoft’s firewall software preinstalled. Is it worth buying antivirus from a third party company? What do you gain?
Modern antivirus software actually does more than stop viruses. It usually scans for all the bad things: viruses, malware, ransomware, spyware and adware are words that you’ll probably see crop up. Malware often lies undetected without the correct software protection and will often leave your personal data vulnerable, leading to more problems than a blocked PC, so it’s best to opt for antivirus software that covers all these bases.
Often, antivirus software also includes things like firewall protection and secure web browsers, but many companies will have more expensive software products that offer more protection.
Many of the companies listed here provide more expensive and expansive full security software packages that have more features – these are their more basic antivirus packages that you can upgrade form if you wish.
Remember that most antivirus security software follows a subscription model, so you pay an annual fee but receive constant software updates that keep you protected from the latest threats.
You can pay a little more and get a one-off security software download, but given how fast threats evolve, we don’t recommend it as within a year or two you are more likely to be vulnerable to new software attacks.
Here are our picks of the best antivirus for PC users in Australia. Be sure to check the feature list before buying to make sure you’re getting what you want.
Good basic coverage
Lacks advanced features
If you have a Windows 10 PC then you already have simple antivirus software from Microsoft preinstalled. Windows Defender has an antivirus firewall protection turned on by default for all types of network connection to your computer. It constantly assesses the safety of your network traffic and will block and flag potential risks as it encounters them.
This is a great underpinning for your PC’s security, but it is fairly basic. It can be susceptible to letting phishing scams through its net where paid for antivirus software will not fail. Also, Defender only has internet browser protection if you use Microsoft Edge, so if you use Chrome, Firefox or another browser you won’t have full protection.
If you buy a third-party antivirus software package, Defender does a good job of letting the new software take over, but it continues to fill in the gaps in your security where necessary.
Secure browser included
Basic virus and malware protection
One of the best known and downloaded completely free antivirus packages for Windows is AVG. It offers basic virus and malware scanning without having to sign up with any personal details – but its more advanced firewall, data protection and ransomware features are only available if you pay a subscription.
Included with the basic free version is AVG Secure Browser that integrates with your Chrome set up and boom marks for easy, safe browsing for online shopping and banking while blocking ads and trackers.
For a free version it has a lot of excellent tools but only blocks virus and malware threats – you’ll still be susceptible to manual hacks, which it constantly reminds you with its slightly tiresome prompts to upgrade. But for basic antivirus software, AVG is free and has no strings attached.
If you decide to pay, then AVG’s Internet Security package costs A$89 annually for 1 PC.
Bitdefender Antivirus Plus
Comprehensive malware protection
200MB daily VPN included
Fast, easy to use dashboard
Bitdefender rightly has a great reputation for antivirus software thanks to good quality products like Antivirus Plus. If you just want to protect your Windows PC then it’s a good choice, getting you robust antivirus protection, a dedicated web browser called SafePay to securely access online banking from and 200MB of daily VPN use for quickly accessing secure apps or services on public Wi-Fi.
The package protects against viruses, ransomware, spyware and malware – all good things to protect your internet traffic against. It doesn’t come with a firewall or anti-spam protection for your email.
Clever features like Safe Files let you protect certain folders of files from ransomware for peace of mind, and you can allow certain applications to access protected files for granular control.
Overall for the price, Bitdefender Antivirus Plus is a well-rounded choice.
Good affordable option
Virtual secure keyboard in browser
The cheapest comprehensive antivirus package on this list is a sound choice thanks to its solid virus protection and measures to stop ransomware and even cryptocurrency hackers from putting mining malware on your system.
It has neat touches other software doesn’t have, like a virtual browser keyboard for entering sensitive information so potential hackers can’t log your keystrokes, and it runs smoothly and efficiently, highlighting potential phishing scams and harmful files with ease.
One black mark against Kaspersky are the accusations that it sends user information to the Russian government. These have been more recently rebuffed by the European Commission, but it’s worth researching and bearing in mind if you are concerned. It’s worth saying there is no hard evidence the company does this despite the accusations.
On a strictly software level, Kaspersky’s anti-virus is very good, and you can pay only $20 more per year and get its full security suite.
Norton Antivirus Plus
2GB file back up
Includes password manager
This is one of the best all-round basic security packages for the price. Norton offers anti-spyware, malware and ransomware protection, 2GB cloud back up (that isn’t much though) and a firewall.
But its best differentiator is that it also has a password manager – secure software that stores all your online passwords, which is far better than writing them down in a notebook or just using the same password for everything.
Another attractive part of Norton’s package is its 100% virus protection promise. If you get a virus while using Norton and its experts can’t remove it, you’ll get a full refund. It shows the company is pretty confident in its antivirus protection.
This basic antivirus subscription is fairly affordable, but if you need more features then Norton’s other packages get fairly expensive. You can get better value elsewhere without compromising protection.
More of a Mac user? Check out our guide to the best AntiVirus for Mac here.