The Surface Book 2 is finally in India

Microsoft today announced that from February continuing through to April, both the Surface Book 2 13.5-inch and 15-inch flavours will be rolling out to India, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates, as well as the following countries: Bahrain, China, Hong Kong, Italy, Korea, Kuwait, Malaysia, Oman, Portugal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Taiwan, and Thailand.

The hybrid hasn’t previously been on sale in these territories, and pricing is still to be confirmed.

The 15-inch model features an 8th-gen Core i7 processor alongside a more powerful GPU than you’ll get in the 13.5-inch Surface Book 2 – it runs with a GeForce GTX 1060 with 6GB of video memory (as opposed to a GTX 1050 with 2GB of video RAM).

Previously, the bigger and beefier 15-inch convertible had only been launched in the US, but pre-orders are about to go live in the UK and Australia, as well as in Canada and Ireland, alongside the following nations: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland.

So there’s more pixel-shifting power here, which is just as well as the display of the 15-inch version has a resolution of 3,240 x 2,160 compared to the smaller Surface Book 2’s 3,000 x 2,000 (but because it’s a bigger screen, it actually has a slightly lower pixel density – although this is a very minor difference and nothing you’d actually notice).

Those who want to partake in a spot of gaming on the move will also appreciate that the 15-inch Surface Book sequel has built-in wireless connectivity for an Xbox One controller.

Another benefit of the bigger Surface Book 2 is a beefier battery, with our testing showing that the 15-inch machine lasts for 7 hours and 40 minutes in PCMark 8 Home’s battery benchmark, with the 13.5-inch model running for just shy of 6 hours (still very respectable).

      

The best mining pools of 2018

Slush Pool

If you’ve taken the plunge with cryptocurrency mining and have a shiny new ASIC miner to hand, you may be tempted to fire it up immediately and start mining Bitcoins or your chosen cryptocurrency on your own. However, for the most popular currencies such as Bitcoin and Litecoin, it can take centuries to generate a valid ‘block’ on your own and make money.

Mining pools exist as a way for multiple devices to work together across the internet, pooling their resources in performing complex calculations to generate blocks of data. The mining ‘reward’ as it’s known is then split proportionally amongst each participant.

The method used to allocate rewards and the final amount you’ll receive will depend on the mining pool in question. In this guide we’ve explored five of the best known pools online today, to help you decide which is right for you.

Where possible we’ve found pools with multiple servers around the world, allowing you to connect easily. If these pique your interest and you want more information, head over to the Bitcoin Wiki to see a detailed comparison of all the top pools.

  • We also show you

    Slush Pool started out in 2010 when it was known as Bitcoin Pooled Mining Server before rebranding itself. It’s the oldest currently active mining pool and has an excellent reputation for stability and accuracy. Currently Slush Pool is the fourth largest mining pool representing around 11.4% of hash power overall.

    The sign-up process is very simple and you can create a demo miner in order to familiarize yourself with the dashboard. The website itself offers both a simple and a more advanced interface for experienced miners.

    You can also set your minimum pay-out threshold to as little as 0.001 BTC, but there are additional fees for any pay-outs under 0.01BTC.

    Slush Pool is democratic in that you can register your preferences about the kind of mining you want your devices to perform, for instance: Bitcoin Core strict rules only.

    The website also has some very useful sections for those who are new to mining. This section on mining rewards is particularly helpful as it contains a detailed explanation of how pay-outs are measured by each user’s scoring hash rate. If you switch from Slush Pool to another, then try to return, your score will drop significantly.

    Pool fees stand at 2% which is a little higher than some of the other pools out there. Slush Pool has servers in the US, Europe, Singapore and China.

    AntPool is currently the largest mining pool operating today, representing just over a quarter of hash power worldwide. It’s owned and operated by Bitmain, a China-based firm which also manufactures the Antminer series of ASIC mining devices (you can check out our guide to the best ASIC devices here).

    AntPool has servers all around the world and makes use of an innovative peer-to-peer mining protocol to link your device to the one nearest to you during setup, for a faster and more reliable connection.

    Once you’ve set up your account and entered your wallet address, payments are sent every day between 08:00-15:00 Beijing time (which is eight hours ahead of the UK), provided that the amount you’ve mined is at least 0.001 BTC.

    Being the largest pool allows users some perks in that they can choose how they want to be rewarded. One method is PPS (Payment Per Share) which means you’re charged 4% on pay-outs plus 2% of any transaction fees earned. You can also choose PPLNS (Payment Per Last N Shares) which is free but AntPool will keep all transaction fees.

    You can mine solo if you wish but it’s very unlikely you’ll make a profit doing so unless you have a colossal amount of hash power. Whichever method you choose, remember that individual pay-outs are generally smaller for larger mining pools.

    BTC.com

    This outfit is one of the most well-known brands in the world of cryptocurrency, and owns the domain Bitcoin.com as well as BTC.com. Prior to starting a mining pool in 2016, BTC.com was already famous for creating a powerful Bitcoin wallet as well as its own blockchain explorer.

    BTC.com operates one of the most popular mining pools, vying with AntPool for the top spot. It currently represents over 20% of overall global hash power. Mining servers are located in both the EU (Germany) and China. BTC.com currently supports mining only Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash.

    Ever innovative, BTC.com has its own method of rewarding miners known as FPPS (Full Pay Per Share). FPPS calculates a standard transaction fee within a given period,adds it to the block reward (currently 12.5 BTC) and then distributes the whole to miners as with traditional PPS (Payment Per Share). Sharing transaction fees, especially when they are high, makes mining much more lucrative which may explain BTC.com’s popularity.

    The only small criticism we can level at BTC.com is that we found the website to be rather flaky. For example, the page explaining how FPPS works failed to load, and while the help section of the website is useful, there’s no specific ‘getting started’ guide as with Slush Pool. We were nevertheless able to find all the information needed to configure a miner. Windows users can also add and configure miners easily using BTC tool and BTC Smart Agent.

    KanoPool

    KanoPool has been around since 2014. Despite being one of the smaller pools out there (currently representing only 0.3% of global hash power), it has become popular due to its low mining fees and easy setup.

    Registration with KanoPool is optional: when configuring your miner, you only need to enter your BTC wallet address as the username to begin mining right away. However, users who do choose to register can view more detailed statistics about the mining pool.

    The payment method used by KanoPool is PPLNS (Payment Per Last N Shares). ‘N’ in this case is five times the network difficulty, immediately after a block is found.

    The pool fee itself is 0.9% and transaction fees are included in the block reward, meaning pay-outs are quite generous relative to rival larger mining pools, although payment may take some time. You can find a more detailed explanation of how pay-outs are managed on KanoPool’s website.

    If you do choose to visit the KanoPool web page, you’ll see that the layout is extremely simplistic, and there are no detailed tutorials as all the information you need to get started is on the help page. Nevertheless Kano himself is an active participant in the BitcoinTalk forum and is very prompt to respond to questions about the pool.

    F2Pool

    F2Pool (also known as DiscusFish) is a Chinese-based mining pool and has been operating since 2013. It has several servers on the Chinese mainland as well as in Hong Kong and the US.

    F2Pool is relatively large, representing around 5.5% of the hash power for the most popular Bitcoin mining pools. It’s also one of the most diverse pools in that while you can mine BTC, F2Pool also supports Litecoin, Zerocoin, Ethereum, Siacoin, DASH and Monero to name just a few.

    Pay-outs are made at midnight UTC each day on a PPS (Payment Per Share) basis of negative 3%. The pool keeps all transaction fees. Right now, the threshold for Bitcoin payments is 0.005 BTC.

    The website is also currently offering a little extra incentive to miners in that once your mining totals 1 BTC exactly, you’ll automatically receive 5 NMC (Name Coin), 100 SYS and 1 EMC (Emercoin). Currently these have a market value of around $640 (around £470).

    The website itself is well laid out and contains useful information, but non-Chinese users who need support are encouraged to use the official F2Pool English language thread in the BitcoinTalk forums.

    The sign-up process for the pool can be a little tricky as you need to fill out a Captcha and also verify your identity via text message, meaning you must have access to a mobile phone to start mining.

          

The best free SEO tools of 2018

Techradar, one of the largest technology websites in the world, is visited by millions of users each month, the majority of them coming through Google and other search engines.

The web is awash with SEO tools and resources, but it pays to do your homework first and pick your kit carefully. Just like the practitioners within the search marketing industry itself, there’s the good the bad and, well, the ugly. Here is our list of five of the best free tools around today.

1. Google Search Console

Even if you’re not headstrong on SEO, whatever the size of your site or blog, Google’s laudable Search Console (formerly Webmaster Central) and the myriad user-friendly tools under its bonnet should be your first port of call. The suite of tools gives you valuable information about your site at a glance: it can assess your site’s performance and observe potential problems to troubleshoot (like negative spammy links), help you ensure your site is Google-friendly and monitor Google’s indexing of your site.

You can even report spam and request reconsideration if your site has incurred a penalty. Plus, if you don’t refer to their Webmaster Guidelines now and again, well, you’ve only yourself to blame if you go wrong. A new version of Search Console is due to be rolled out imminently and will include additional functionality such as Index Coverage, Job posting, Search performance and AMP status as well as an updated user interface (finally!).

2. SEOQuake

SEMRush’s SEOQuake is one of the most popular toolbar extension adored by millions. It allows you to view multiple search engine parameters on the fly and save and compare them with the results obtained for other projects. Although the icons and numbers that SeoQuake yields might be unintelligible to the uninformed user, skilled optimisers will appreciate the wealth of detail this add-on provides.

Gauge details about number of visitors and their country, get a site’s traffic history trended on a graph, and more. The toolbar includes buttons for a site’s Google index update, backlinks, SEMRush ranking, Facebook likes, Bing index, Alexa ranks, web archive age and a link to the Whois page. There’s also a useful cheat sheet and diagnostics page to have a bird’s view of potential issues (or opportunities) affecting a particular page or site.

3. Google AdWords keyword planner

Knowing the right keywords to target is all-important when priming your web copy. Google’s free keyword tool, part of Adwords, couldn’t be easier to use. Plug your website URL into the box, start reviewing the suggested keywords and off you go. Jill Whalen, CEO of HighRankings.com is a fan and offers advice to those new to keyword optimisation: “make sure you use those keywords within the content of your website.

It’s really a question of being descriptive as keyword phrases typically describe what you offer. Think about the fact that you’re trying to answer someone’s question at the other end of the search engine. They’re typically searching Google because they have a question or a problem to solve. Make your website answer those questions and solve those problems and it will be the one to show in the search results.”

4. Google Optimise

Yet another Google tool on that list (not a surprise isn’t it). Optimise is not for the faint hearted and will make even seasoned SEO experts uncomfortable. SEO isn’t all about rankings and without the right balance of content that engages with your visitors and drives conversions, you’re earnest optimisation could be wasted.

Google’s free service helps take the guesswork out of the game, allowing you to test your site’s content: from simple A/B testing of two different pages to comparing a whole combination of elements on any given page. Note that in order to run some of the more complicated multivariate testing, you will need adequate traffic and time to make the results actionable, just as you do with Analytics.

5. Live Keyword Analysis

Any seasoned search engine optimisation specialist will tell you keywords matter, and while simply clawing keywords into your text arbitrarily can do more harm than good, it’s worth ensuring you have the right balance. Live Keyword Analysis is a breeze to use: simply type in your keywords and then paste in your text and your keyword density analysis will be done on the fly. Don’t forget to proof and edit your text accordingly for optimum readability. A must for website copywriters especially as you don’t need to register or pay for anything.

      

Samsung trademarks new material – but Galaxy S9 fans shouldn’t get excited

Samsung has trademarked a new material called ‘Metal 12′ which will make its devices lighter while still maintaining strength.

The new material – which was used on the new Notebook 9 2018 – offers strength while allowing the devices to be lighter than previously.

Samsung says this is made possible through a Micro Arc Oxidation process that gives the surface an oxide coating – a process that was used on the beautifully-designed HTC One S from years ago.

That’s something that would be a big win in both smartphones and smartwatches – and interestingly both are listed in the trademark application.

In fact, everything from ‘3D Active Glasses’ to ‘leather cases for smart phones’ are listed as possible uses for the material, suggesting Samsung has found something it believes could be used to improve the quality and feel of a number of devices.

(Non) heavy metal

The fact Metal 12 has been used on a notebook already hints that it could be used in the Samsung Galaxy S9, but in reality it’s likely to need more development to be used in something so small.

That does mean something like the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 or the possible Samsung Gear S4 could be prime candidates for the new material.

Then again, Apple’s been trying to use the ‘future material’ LiquidMetal for many, many years now and it’s never been used in great quantities for its smartphones, so this could be the last time we ever talk about Metal 12 too.

From TMDN via GalaxyClub

      

Google Maps has gingerly returned to China after an eight year absence

When asked to bow down to China’s strict censorship laws in 2010, tech giant Google made the decision to pull its most popular services entirely from the country rather than comply. The company has now returned to the Chinese market – albeit in a tentative way – by reintroducing a localized version of Google Maps.

The China-specific version of Google Maps is available via desktop browsers and as an iOS app (China doesn’t have the Google Play Store, so there’s no Android version), which both allow users to navigate within the country, although with some caveats.

For example, due to its extended absence, Google hasn’t been collecting consistent mapping information, and as such, many of the streets don’t match the satellite information, or are missing altogether. Further to this, all turn-by-turn navigational features link out to the AutoNavi app, a service owned by Chinese internet monolith Alibaba.

Google’s Chinese New Year

At this stage, some of Google’s biggest tools are still absent from China – its search engine and YouTube are both unavailable in the local market, presumably because of the impact that the country’s censorship would have on these services in particular (so don’t expect to see a Chinese Google Home any time soon).

An article by Asian industry publication Nikkei cites Beijing’s interest in developing its AI capabilities as the potential reason for Google’s renewed cooperation, particularly when it comes to AI-driven self-driving technologies.

      

Plusnet’s £50 cashback £18.99pm broadband deal ends tonight

You have until midnight tonight to claim the best value broadband deal on the market. BT-owned Plusnet is flogging standard ADSL internet for £18.99 per month. That’s as little as you’ll be anywhere right now, and it has halved the upfront cost to a fiver, too. Pretty good in it’s own right, but fantastic when you consider that it will also give you £50 cashback when you sign up.

Cheap broadband is a competitive battlefield. With the likes of Sky, TalkTalk and even John Lewis on the scene, internet providers have to come up with some pretty special rates to lure customers their way. But Plusnet has the measure of all of them at the moment.

The internet deal – more on which below – expires today, so you’ve got until midnight to sign up. Or to see just how well Plusnet Unlimited Broadband competes against its rivals, you can head to our best cheap broadband only deals guide.

Plusnet’s cheap broadband only deal:

What about if I want fibre broadband?

If you need to crank up the speed of your home internet then you’ll be interested to know that Plusnet has also reduced the price of its entry-level super fast fibre optic broadband. Plusnet Unlimited Fibre Broadband now costs £23.99 per month. It’s another 18 month plan and the activation costs absolutely nothing upfront, but that tidy little cashback perk isn’t available.

But unlike on ADSL, Plusnet isn’t the king when it comes to the best fibre broadband deals. At a mere £20 per month and free activation, Vodafone Unlimited Fibre 38 is unbeatable for price at the moment. And if you really have a taste for cash perks, then take a look at BT Broadband Unlimited Infinity 1 for £29.99 a month – you get a £100 pre-paid Mastercard and up to rapid 52Mb connection speeds.

How do I claim the cashback?

It all sounds pretty simple. Plusnet says that once your broadband and home phone line is activated you will receive an email. Follow the instructions therein and Plusnet will send you a cheque for £50 cashback. Don’t delay though – you have to submit your cashback claim within 2 months of receiving the email, otherwise you’ll lose out.

Existing Plusnet broadband customers

If you’re a current Plusnet customer, unfortunately this offer doesn’t apply to you. Similarly, you’re not permitted to claim this price if you’ve had Plusnet before. This sensational offer is only for customers that are new to the provider.

Best broadband deals

You can’t beat Plusnet purely on price at the moment. But if you want an all-singing, all-dancing package that features broadband and TV, Plusnet can’t help you. It’s only dealing in broadband at the moment.

With TechRadar’s price comparison tool you can compare and contrast all of the best deals available on the market right now. Head to our best broadband deals page, pop in your postcode, filter your requirements and we’ll spit out the best deals on the market specifically for you.

      

Barcelona abandons Windows and Office, goes with Linux instead

In another entire-city-abandons-Microsoft affair, Barcelona has announced that it’s dumping Windows and Office in order to migrate to Linux and other open source solutions.

The idea is, obviously enough, to save money by not paying subscription fees to Microsoft, because the beauty of open source software is that it’s free.

As to the reality of how the move pans out, we’ll just have to see, but as we mentioned at the outset, Barcelona isn’t the first European city to try this trick. Munich did so, initially instigating plans way back in 2003, and fully completing the move to open source by 2013. However, the city announced it was switching back to Microsoft software in 2016.

Nonetheless, Barcelona is treading this brave path, which involves doing away with Windows, as well as Microsoft Office and Exchange, in favor of Linux, Libre Office and Open Xchange.

Apparently some folks at the city council are already using Linux PCs with Ubuntu installed, as well as Firefox as the default browser, as part of a pilot scheme.

Fresh software

Barcelona won’t just be using existing open source software, but also plans to recruit developers to write fresh programs, which will then potentially be distributed and used in other cities across Spain, furthering cost-saving efforts.

As ever, only time will tell how successful this initiative will be, but there are plenty of doubters given the Munich episode.

Regarding the latter, as MS Power User reports, one of the main reasons for Munich reverting to Microsoft software was apparently the fact that the tailored Linux distro used (LiMux, based on Ubuntu) and Libre Office were seen to be “far behind the current technical possibilities of established standard solutions”, and were causing crashes and instability.

Although pro-open source advocates will doubtless argue that on an overall level, Linux has made impressive strides in terms of becoming more stable and fully supported in recent times.

Munich isn’t the only example of a city failing in a Linux migration campaign, either – Vienna tried to make the move in 2005, returning to Windows four years later.

      

Windows on Snapdragon desktop apps won’t be as power-hungry as first thought

Qualcomm and Microsoft’s partnership to bring Windows 10 to Qualcomm Snapdragon-powered laptops has promised always-connected laptops and day-long battery lives – but the worry was that would come at a price to longevity.

However, Qualcomm has now revealed that running standard Windows 10 desktop programs shouldn’t affect that impressive battery life too much.

We were previously led to believe that to benefit from the 20 or more hours’ battery life, owners of Windows 10 on Snapdragon (also known as Windows on ARM) devices would need to stick to UWP (Universal Windows Platform) apps.

These are apps downloaded from the Microsoft Store, and Windows 10 S, which Windows on Snapdragon devices run by default, is a locked-down version of Windows 10 that can only run those apps.

While some standard Windows 10 programs have UWP versions, many more do not, which meant some people worried that you would either be stuck without some of the desktop applications you rely on, or suffer from worse battery life.

Full apps, full battery

However, in a report published on Neowin, PJ Jacobowitz, a representative from Qualcomm, suggested that performance and battery life impact would be the same as if it was running on a PC with an Intel processor.

Neowin doesn’t supply the exact quote, so we’re not entirely clear what this means. However, many are interpreting it to mean that there won’t be a significant impact on battery life if you run full desktop programs – also known as Win32 applications.

Because Win32 applications require more power (and will be run with emulation in Windows 10 S) many thought they would further impact battery life with Windows on Snapdragon systems.

The report seems to dispute that, but the wording is ambiguous. It suggests Win32 applications will run as well as if they were running on a standard Intel machine, and will use the same amount of power.

So, these applications will still deplete the battery life faster than a UWP app might, but due to emulation not being an issue, the impact shouldn’t be as much as we feared.

We’ve contacted Qualcomm to get clarification and will update this story as soon as we hear back.

      

The best antivirus software of 2018

If you’re looking for the best antivirus software in 2018 to keep you and your PC secure online, then you’ve come to the right place.

Even in this day and age, it is still essential to have the best antivirus software you can get your hands on installed on your PC (be it Windows or Mac), as malicious users are still coming up with ways to access you machine, be it hijackers grabbing your search page, or the latest ransomware encrypting all of your files.

If you’re running Windows 10, then you may think that the built-in Windows Defender is enough to keep you safe. Sure, it’s free and easy to use, but independent tests show its protection rates can be considerably lower than the leading competition. Also, by making it so widely-used, it also means that if a virus writer wants to hit as many PCs as possible, making something that evades Windows Defender will be their biggest priority.

There are free antivirus solutions that can be used with other tools to keep you protected, but they don’t always provide a complete suite of antivirus software tools that the best paid-for antivirus software provides. For that reason, if you want an all-round antivirus tool that provides up-to-date protection against the latest threats, then paying for antivirus software is your best bet.

This doesn’t mean you have to start spending big money, however, and we’ve come up with this list of the best antivirus software that features our very own price comparison tool to help you find the very best price for protection.

  • Shopping for business or professionals? Then why not check out our listing of

    In a world packed with free security software, Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2018’s annual $39.99 fee may look expensive. Especially as this now only covers you for a single device, down from three last year.

    Still, there are compensations. Bitdefender’s engine is one of the most accurate and reliable around, for instance, loved by all the big independent testers.

    Web filtering blocks access to malicious sites, a secure browser keeps your online financial transactions safe, and there’s a password manager which auto-completes credit card details in web forms.

    An excellent anti-phishing module alerts you to malicious links in your search engine results, and blocks access to dangerous sites.

    There are one or two issues – it grabs more resources than average, and might conflict with some programs – but Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2018 is still a likeable package which offers excellent detection rates, great performance, and more than enough bonus features to justify the price.

    Alternatively, you can purchase the Total Security 2018 edition for not much more. It adds a firewall, parental control, antispam, file encryption and more, and covers up to five PCs, Macs and Android devices (iOS is ‘coming soon’).

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    If you judge an antivirus on the length of its feature list, ESET NOD32 Antivirus 2018 Edition might be a disappointment. There’s no firewall, password manager, file shredder, vulnerability scanner or any of the bundled extras you’ll often find elsewhere.

    This doesn’t mean the package is short on power, it’s just more focused on the antivirus fundamentals. ESET NOD32 Antivirus 2018 Edition comes with real-time malware protection, an anti-ransomware layer, exploit protection, URL filtering to block malicious websites, and modules to prevent attacks using PowerShell and malicious scripts.

    A Device Control module limits the risk of infection from other devices by controlling access to USB sticks, external hard drives, optical storage media, even devices connecting by Bluetooth and FireWire. It’s an unusual extra, but could make a difference if others are regularly plugging devices into your PC.

    ESET NOD32 Antivirus 2018 Edition isn’t aimed at beginners. The interface is clumsy sometimes, some features are very advanced, and even the Help isn’t always exactly helpful.

    Experienced users will appreciate ESET’s power and configurability, though. Above-average protection does a good job of keeping you safe, and a lightweight design ensures the package won’t slow you down.

    One of the new features in the 2018 Edition is the UEFI Scanner which protects you from threats that attack your PC before Windows has even started.

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    F-Secure Antivirus SAFE is a great collection of antivirus software tools, and while it’s a bit more expensive than some of the other antivirus software on this best of list, the amount of features you get makes the cost worthwhile.

    With F-Secure Antivirus SAFE, you get the brilliant antivirus software from F-Secure, along with banking protection for safe online shopping, family safety tools and a device finder that lets you track your lost Android or iOS device, and if needs be remotely lock or delete it as well.

    The package typically receives maximum marks for protection from AV-Test, and generally scores highly with AV-Comparatives, too. They also say it can generate significantly more false positives than most of the competition, but how that affects you will vary depending on how you use your computer.

    The interface is a major plus. It’s extremely easy to use, lightweight, and for the most part you can just leave the app alone to look after your PC. The program has minimal effect on your system performance, and if you do need to intervene then you can generally solve any issues in a couple of clicks.

    In 2018, F-Secure Anti-Virus SAFE remains an appealing package: fast, lightweight, and able to run alongside many other security tools without conflict.

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    Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2018 is a stripped-back security package which focuses on the core security essentials: web filtering blocks dangerous URLs, an accurate antivirus engine detects and removes threats, smart monitoring technologies track and reverse malicious actions, and that’s about it.

    Fortunately, what you do get works well. Very, very well. We’ve consistently found Kaspersky to be amongst the best at blocking malware, and removing it from an infected system, plus it’s regularly top-rated at sites like AV-Comparatives.

    The program is easy to use, too. A well-designed interface has just the right number of buttons and options – not too basic, but not complicated or intimidating, either – and there are plenty of on-screen instructions to explain how everything works. Even a beginner will be at home right away.

    If you just need accurate, reliable and consistent malware protection, Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2018 will serve you well.

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    Norton AntiVirus Basic 2018 is a top quality malware hunter which can automatically protect your PC all on its own, but also offers plenty of tweaks, options and settings for those who need them, making it one of the best antivirus software suites in 2018.

    A handy URL blocker keeps you away from malicious websites, for instance. If that misses something, an excellent file reputation service recognises suspect downloads immediately. And if malware still finds a way through, intelligent behaviour monitoring kills it at the first sign of trouble.

    If you’re a more hands-on type, you can easily run scans on demand. Maybe set up and save custom scans to check just the areas you need. Even schedule them to run at a particular time, but only if your system is idle, and it’s not running on battery power.

    There can be problems with some of the browser extensions. The bundled Norton Identity Safe is a capable password manager when it’s running properly, but we’ve found the Chrome version sometimes stops working for no apparent reason. We’ve seen plenty of reviewers reporting similar problems, so there does seem to be a real issue here.

    Still, you don’t have to use Identity Safe at all, and Norton AntiVirus Basic’s main functions deliver on all fronts: it’s easy to use, has the configuration options experts need, comes highly rated by the testing labs, and is carefully designed to have the least possible impact on your system performance.

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    Real-time malware detection, speedy cloud-based scanning, URL filtering to block malicious websites: Panda Antivirus Pro has all the goodies you’d expect from the best antivirus software.

    That’s just the start. A simple two-way firewall helps to keep your system secure. An application control system can define exactly what runs on your PC, stopping even some brand new and undiscovered malware. A virtual keyboard helps you enter confidential data without it being intercepted by keyloggers. There’s even a tool to build a bootable USB rescue disc, ready to remove even the most stubborn threats.

    Some of these bonus features are relatively basic. The Panda firewall does its job and can make you more secure, for instance, but it doesn’t compete with the standalone firewall competition. Experienced network users will probably want more.

    The simplicity does at least keep everything very easy to use. Options are organised in a straightforward Windows 10-like interface, with all the main modules just a click or two away. Even the firewall doesn’t need to know anything more than your current network location: Home, Work or Public Place.

    There’s not a lot of Panda test results from the independent labs around right now, but the figures we’ve seen show the company delivers above average protection, and overall Panda Antivirus Pro does a good job of keeping malware at bay.

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    Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security is a capable antivirus package that’s simple to use with above average antispam and an effective ‘Folder Shield’ module to block ransomware.

    How good is it? The top testing labs all rate it highly for protection, although there’s some disagreement on the details. In particular, AV-Comparatives says it gives a high number of false positives, which could be a real nuisance. But AV-Test reports high levels of accuracy and no issues with false positives at all.

    If there’s a problem here, it’s likely to be performance impact. PassMark’s March 2017 Performance report assessed 15 security products on various performance-related benchmarks, and Trend Micro came bottom of the list.

    Our experiences with the product are a little more favourable: protection levels appear similar to Bitdefender, false positives are only marginally higher, and it doesn’t slow down our system noticeably more than anything else.

    We’d recommending running the trial for its full 30 days before you buy, then, to see if you notice any problems. But if you’re unaffected, its high levels of detection and excellent bonus features make Trend Micro a good choice.

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    Just about every antivirus tool claims to be ‘lightweight’, but Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus is the only one to really deliver on this front. Installation takes seconds, the program files barely grab 2MB of your hard drive, RAM footprint is tiny, and there are no bulky signature updates to tie up your bandwidth.

    There’s no compromise on features, though. Along with the core antivirus protection, there’s smart behaviour monitoring, accurate real-time antiphishing, a firewall and network connection monitor, enhanced anti-ransomware, and other interesting extras.

    It’s not easy to compare Webroot’s accuracy with the competition, as the big testing labs rarely evaluate the company’s products. But when they are reviewed, they generally score well, and our own tests show solid and reliable protection.

    There’s a lot to like about SecureAnywhere AntiVirus, and Webroot’s 70-day 100% money-back guarantee suggests it’s confident in the product, too. If you’re tired of overly complicated and bloated antivirus engines, Webroot must be on your shortlist.

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