Best Antivirus Programs

computer error message

With so many viruses, spyware, and other malicious programs lurking about the Internet, you want to know you have one of the best antivirus programs installed on your computer before you head online. The programs below offer a variety of features that will help keep your files and sensitive information safe.

1. Symantec Norton Internet Security 2010

Symantec Norton Internet Security 2010 was PC World's top pick in a round-up of antivirus programs. It was also PCMag.com's Editor's Choice among security suites, receiving a 4.5 out of 5. Reviewers found the program was very effective at detecting malware, especially new threats, because it identifies potential malware by its behavior.

2. AVG

Lifehacker readers voted AVG the best antivirus program in a 2009 poll. It's the most popular antivirus download on CNET Download.com, with close to 1.5 million downloads in the week prior to the publication of this article. In addition, CNET editors give it 5 out of 5 stars and user reviews average 4 stars, with more than 20,000 votes submitted. AVG provides basic anti-virus protection, enough for most users, and it does it well at a price point that most anyone can agree on - free.

3. Kaspersky Lab Internet Security 2010

Kaspersky came in second in the PC World round-up of top antivirus programs, not quite making it to the top spot largely because of a higher retail price. The software worked efficiently, detected malware well, including new malware that could only be found through behavioral scanning, and was easy to use.

4. Spyware Doctor with AntiVirus 2010

Spyware Doctor is a PCMag.com Editor's Choice pick, receiving a review score of 4.5 out of 5. In the reviewer's test scan, the program detected 100 percent of the malware infections present on the system. Spyware Doctor can still scan while running in Safe Mode, a feature that many other products don't offer.

5. Avast Free 5

CNET editors gave Avast program 5 out of 5 stars. It offers the same or better protection than much more expensive programs. One of its main features is its layers of "shields" that work to keep users safe from threats that may appear in mail, across a network, through instant messaging, while connecting peer-to-peer, and on the web while also keeping an eye on current file systems and looking out for suspicious program behavior.

6. McAfee AntiVirus Plus 2010

CNET editors gave the program 4.5 out of 5 stars and lauded its streamlined interface. McAfee is proactive in keeping malicious files off your computer. The program's SiteAdvisor helps warn you of potentially malicious websites. In addition, McAfee scans files as you download them.

7. Panda Cloud Antivirus Free Edition 1.0

Panda Cloud is another PCMag.com Editor's Choice product. It received a 4 out of 5 for its malware detection. By using cloud computing, the program never needs updating and can easily adjust to new malware threats. It's also a small program, so it's quick and easy to download and install and won't tie up a lot of system resources to use.

Best Antivirus Programs