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Antivirus protects your computer from viruses and malware, which are malicious programs that damage your computer or spread to other devices. Malware can steal your data, encrypt it so you can’t access it and even erase your entire system.

Viruses are the most common type of malware, and they’re a serious threat to your privacy. They can steal your bank details and identity, and they can cause your device to malfunction or crash.

The best antivirus software can detect these threats based on an extensive list of known viruses and malware, which is regularly updated. They also employ advanced artificial intelligence to detect new malware strains, catching them before they can do any harm.

Most mainstream antivirus software can be purchased for $20 to $50 per year, depending on the company and its features. Many offer introductory discounts, and you can often switch to another provider the following year for an additional discount.

Prices are often more expensive for paid-for features like email protection, which could stop phishing attacks before they reach your inbox. But if extra peace of mind is important to you, these features can be worth paying for.

A high-quality antivirus suite will provide multiple far-reaching protections for your devices, including password manager, credit monitoring, identity theft coverage and a VPN. Some of these services will also give you 100GB of backup space and safe-browsing tools.

Most antivirus apps are standalone programs that can’t do much to protect your privacy or identity unless paired with other security tools. They don’t provide comprehensive online protection, but they can keep your computer and devices safe when paired with other software products that do.