Do HP Laptops Need Antivirus? (Beginner’s Guide)

Antivirus is always a hot topic and still today new threats are emerging every day. It’s important to keep your data and computers safe.

That being said, the big computer companies are also becoming better at fighting back against viruses.

But what about laptops from a big company like HP?

Do I Need Antivirus for HP Laptops?

HP computers run on Windows which has built-in antivirus protection (Windows Defender). It does a good job of protecting your computer. It is recommended to use this in conjunction with a trusted antimalware program.

In this article, we tell you everything you need to know to make an informed decision.

Do I Really Need Antivirus for HP Computers?

If you use your computer to browse the web, email, online banking, etc. it’s a very good idea to have a strong antivirus program installed. We strongly recommend it. It’s a cheap price to pay to secure your computer and do what you can to keep the bad guys out.

Almost all HP computers run on a Windows operating system from Microsoft. And if you just got your HP laptop at the store you will be running Windows on the system.

So, what does that mean for my protection level regarding viruses?

It means that your HP computer is as vulnerable to attacks as virtually any other laptop that runs the Windows operating system. In Windows 10 you find a program called Windows Defender.

It does the same thing as the classic antivirus programs and you can in many cases just go with this option.

The operating system is the most central program on the machine and it’s the vulnerabilities around Windows we need to protect by installing a proper antivirus program on the computer.

So, does Microsoft Windows still need antivirus protection today?

Yes – and if you’re using Boot Camp or Parallels you will definitely need antivirus.

That’s the very short answer to that question and it’s exactly because all PC computers use Windows that we need to be careful. It’s by far the biggest operating system out there, and that’s why it’s typically a popular target for hackers and other people with bad intentions and high IT skills.

We recommend you use the built-in Windows Defender program together with Malwarebytes.

It’s a good program that helps you keep many other types of threats at the door. Viruses are not really the most critical threat to HP computers today, there are many other types of malware out there such as:

  • Adware
  • Keyloggers
  • Trojans
  • Worms
  • Etc.

Relax, you DON’T need to understand what all these things are.

Just make sure you install a good malware protection software such as Malwarebytes that we link to below.

What’s the Best Antivirus for HP Laptops?

There are many antivirus programs to choose from. You probably figured that out already.

Here’s a list of some of the biggest antivirus programs on the market with a good reputation:

We recommend you go with the first two options: MalwareBytes and the free Windows Defender program that you already have installed on your HP computer as part of the Windows system.

Most of these have a 30-day trial period or even a free version.

The Windows Defender program is a part of Windows 10.

If you are currently using Microsoft Windows XP, Vista, or Windows 7 you should upgrade. Upgrade your HP computer for free at It’s a free upgrade from Microsoft.

Malwarebytes is a little different than the classic antivirus programs in that they protect against a broader variety of things. They don’t necessarily need to know the bad software in advance to recognize a threat to your system. They are highly recommended by many IT specialists.

Also by the Wirecutter, which is a company by the New York Times publishing house.

It’s recommended to be ready to pay a bit for your antivirus program as it is a crucial piece of the puzzle to ensure you have a safe computer.

All these vendors have their advantages but it’s a competitive market and these companies have been in the market for many years and they all employ a list of IT professionals to make sure their systems are kept up to date. That’s the most important part when it comes to choosing an antivirus program for your HP computer.

To make sure you go with an antivirus program that keeps updating according to new threats and viruses on a daily basis.

Do I Need CCleaner?

CCleaner is a fine little program made for PCs to help you keep your machine fast and clean.

We wrote a separate article about whether you need both CCleaner and an antivirus program for your PC.

Best Free Antivirus for HP Laptops

There are many free antivirus programs out there that work well for HP laptops.

You can choose any of the programs from the list above as they all have proven over time that they consistently update their software according to new viruses and threats.

You might be wondering how antivirus programs can be free.

There are many reasons for this and you definitely want to avoid free antivirus programs from untrusted vendors. Read our article here about how antivirus programs can be free and the pitfalls you need to avoid.

These vendors all have a free version:

Or at least they have a free trial period.

These are also the best options for Lenovo laptops. We also have an article on whether you need antivirus for Lenovo laptops.

Do HP Computers Come with Antivirus?

HP computers come with Windows Defender Antivirus pre-installed as part of the Microsoft Windows operating system. It’s a fine antivirus program that does much of the same things as the third-party antivirus programs.

So yes, your HP laptop or desktop computer already have an antivirus program installed inside the Windows suite.

In many cases, you don’t need other antivirus programs for your HP laptop to stay protected. But there are several things you need to remember to stay safe even though you have a trusted antivirus program installed.

How Do I Activate McAfee Antivirus on an HP Laptop

You activate McAfee by clicking on the pop up they show to visit their website where you can sign up for a paid plan. You can also open the McAfee program from the menu and choose to click there to upgrade.

That being said, we suggest you just get rid of that program and rely on the Microsoft Defender Antivirus program that came with your HP computer.

It will be sufficient in many cases.

According to sites like (a German independent company that tests cybersecurity software), Windows Defender Antivirus does a pretty good job of protecting you.

They get the same rating as some of the top paid antivirus programs you can use with your HP laptop.

The third-party antivirus programs like McAfee that often will be pre-installed on HP computers will prompt you to update the software.

They do so because you typically have a free trial period where the antivirus program is free to use and after that period you will need to pay to keep the protection they offer.

How Do I Know If I Have a Virus on My HP Computer?

How Do I Get Rid of a Virus on My HP Laptop?

When you suspect you have an infected computer you need to put your HP computer in “Safe Mode”. You do that by restarting your computer and as soon as you see something on the screen you press “F8”.

That will let you enable safe mode on your computer. And please note that you can still go online during safe mode.

Now you can open the Windows Security app to a complete scan of your computer. Hopefully, the program will locate the virus and help you solve the problem. If not, you might need to reinstall Windows on your HP computer.

But let’s assume we found the problem.

Here’s how we do it:

  1. Open the “Virus & Threat Protection” program in Windows
  2. Click the blue button that says “Scan options” to scan your system.
  3. Choose “Windows Defender Offline scan” and click “Scan Now”.
  4. When the problem is found you can follow the instructions on the program to clean your system.

What Else Should I Do to Keep My HP Computer Safe?

It is important to create some good habits around your HP computer in order to keep you safe online.

Here are some good tips to remember:

  1. Avoid public Wi-Fi
    Try not to connect your computer to free Wi-Fi in airports, restaurants, cafes, etc. They are unsecured networks that are very easy to hack.
    You might end up with something bad on your computer.
  2. Don’t reuse passwords
    Even though it’s a hassle (we know!) you should avoid repeating your passwords between websites and applications.
    Keep a notebook (offline) with all your passwords and save a copy of them at a friend’s house that you trust.
  3. Use strong passwords
    After all, your passwords are typically the only thing that keeps intruders out of your programs and logins. Make sure not to use passwords like 1234, petname+year, etc. You need passwords that are at least 8 characters long and contain no English words.
    You should also insert special characters like: @’*^?#”!&% etc.
    That makes it much harder for anyone to guess your passwords.


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