We should all know the rules of how to protect our privacy and keep Windows secure: Don't tap questionable links or download apps from shady sites, don't open unexpected messages and emails, don't give out personal information, use secure passwords, and keep your Windows software up to date.

You can also take a few extra steps to make sure you're safe online with a PC: Use a password manager to keep track of login credentials, a VPN to protect your internet traffic, and an end-to-end encrypted messaging app to keep people from spying on your communications.

But if you are looking for a place to start with keeping your Windows device secure, a good first step is to run the best antivirus software. The best antivirus solution monitors your app downloads and watches for malicious software and suspicious software behavior.

And here's the first important thing for you to know about the best antivirus software: Microsoft Defender -- the free antivirus program and security software that comes free with Windows 10 and until recently was called Microsoft Windows Defender -- does a fine job of protecting your PC. (Amazingly, Microsoft provided no built-in protection for Windows back in the days of Windows 98 and XP.) Using Microsoft Defender should be your starting point for the best antivirus security on Windows, and most users will find they don't need to go any further.

However, you can make the case that the Windows security ecosystem is healthier when users don't depend on just one company for protection from a virus or malware. If you favor robust platform diversity, you can easily find solid virus or malware protection from third-party security companies that are up to the task of guarding your PC for free. And most let you also protect all your devices with an annual...

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