Find the Best Antivirus

By Ivan Stevanović May 21, 2020

The flu season never ends for computers, but antivirus software is the flu shot defending them from any incoming attackers guarding your precious data.

Nowadays, using the best antivirus is not optional – it’s obligatory. The malware of today comes in all shapes and sizes, and it lurks in every corner of the internet. These malicious pieces of code can flood your devices with indelible pop-up ads, completely lock you out of your device and demand ransom payments in exchange for your files, or just quietly corrupt your hardware so that, say, your webcam keeps filming even though you haven’t turned it on. That’s why you don’t just need something to clean up your devices when they get infected – focus on preventing such disasters from happening in the first place, using the best antimalware protection in 2021:

The Best Antivirus Solutions On the Market

  • Top-notch spyware protection
  • Effective ransomware protection
  • Payment protection
  • VPN has daily data cap
Best price $29.99/year
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  • LifeLock identity protection
  • Webcam protection
  • Dark-web monitoring
  • Only one license in basic plan
Best price $39.99/year
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  • Home-network security
  • “Find my phone” feature for Android
  • Password manager
  • Only one license in basic plan
Best price $39.99/year/device
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  • High malware detection rates
  • Powerful antivirus scanner
  • Unlimited encrypted traffic
  • Limited VPN bandwidth
Best price $14.99/year
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  • File encryption with shredding for originals
  • Cross-platform password management
  • Unlimited VPN protection
  • Limited parental control
Best price $19.99/year
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  • Powerful virus scanner
  • No interruptions or slowdowns
  • Malicious URL blocking
  • Can be slow to boot
Best price FREE
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  • Secures personal folders
  • Blocks unsafe links, downloads, and email attachments
  • PC performance scanning
  • Tracks user browsing habits
Best price FREE
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  • Real-time antivirus protection
  • Advanced parental control
  • Optimized for streaming and gaming
  • VPN sold separately
Best price 59.99/year
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  • AI learning for better malware detection
  • Advanced parental locks
  • Email-scam safeguard
  • Cheaper plans only cover Windows PCs
Best price $29.95/year
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  • Feature-rich parental control solution
  • Comprehensive firewall tool
  • No need for renewals
  • Basic antivirus software
Best price FREE
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  • Moderate system impact
  • Excellent web protection
  • Remote device management
  • Lack of features and customizability
Best price $46.66/year
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This is a quick glance at the current state of affairs on the antivirus program market. Of course, there are many more options to choose from, but we’ve decided to limit our selection to only the best of the best.

These 11 products include antivirus software that will meet all your needs. Whether you’re in the market for a free antivirus, cheap software for your small business, ransomware protection, or even a solid virtual private network (VPN) solution, we’ve got them all.

Antivirus products have come a long way in just the past few years. These apps come with many tools up their digital sleeves and provide the best internet security for computers, smartphones, and even tablets.

Hunting down malware on your hard drive is just the first part of staying safe. Device protection is a complex puzzle, and as technology has evolved, so have the threats against it. Thankfully, the antivirus programs of today are now capable of defending your computer from extremely sophisticated bot and ransomware attacks. Some of the more modern antiviruses can even serve as password managers and include parental locks.

So what are the best antivirus programs?

1. Kaspersky Internet Security

" Best overall "

  • Number of devices
    3-5
  • Renewal
    1-3 years
  • AVAILABLE ON
    Windows macOS Android iOS
  • Free version:
    Yes
  • VPN
    Depends on the service plan
  • PRICE RANGE
    $29.99–$99.99/year

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Top-notch spyware protection
  • Effective ransomware protection
  • Payment protection
  • VPN has daily data cap

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Top-notch spyware protection
  • Effective ransomware protection
  • Payment protection
  • VPN has daily data cap
  • Number of devices
    3-5
  • Renewal
    1-3 years
  • AVAILABLE ON
    Windows macOS Android iOS
  • Free version:
    Yes
  • VPN
    Depends on the service plan
  • PRICE RANGE
    $29.99–$99.99/year

Kaspersky is a household name in the world of cybersecurity. One of the company’s products, Kaspersky Internet Security, offers more than just malware protection and scanning. Whether you’re looking to protect your PC, Mac, tablet, or smartphone, Kaspersky is the best antivirus around.

Kaspersky owes a lot of its effectiveness to its security feature set, which covers a lot of bases even in its cheaper format. You get ransomware protection, spyware detection, a shield from data collection apps and cookies, and even your webcam is secure from unauthorized remote control.

It comes with a list of outstanding features, including VPN, which is limited to 200 MB of daily traffic, as well as a layer of encryption for your browser that keeps your payment information from falling into the wrong hands. Even banks rely on it because it’s the best antivirus app for online shopping, ensuring safe payments for their clients. All of the aforementioned features are available on desktop, laptop, and mobile.

One license covers three devices in any combination you wish. Meanwhile, several payment and renewal options allow you to save a lot of money. You have the option of either protecting more than one device at the same time or getting a prolonged license.

In addition to this, Kaspersky’s interface is clean and easy to navigate, as one would expect from the best paid antivirus. Some features are reserved for the more expensive Total Security package, including a password manager and cloud protection for your files. This is a good option for parents who wish to protect their children from inappropriate online content and keep track of them via a GPS for smartphones. The Total Security version increases the number of licenses to five, as well.

2. Norton 360

" Best All-in-One Security "

  • Number of devices
    1-10
  • Renewal
    Monthly and annually
  • Available on
    Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
  • Free version
    30-day trial
  • VPN
    Yes
  • Price range
    $39.99–$149.99/year

Things we liked / disliked:

  • LifeLock identity protection
  • Webcam protection
  • Dark-web monitoring
  • Only one license in basic plan

Things we liked / disliked:

  • LifeLock identity protection
  • Webcam protection
  • Dark-web monitoring
  • Only one license in basic plan
  • Number of devices
    1-10
  • Renewal
    Monthly and annually
  • Available on
    Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
  • Free version
    30-day trial
  • VPN
    Yes
  • Price range
    $39.99–$149.99/year

Symantec makes the best antivirus for PC and mobile devices after Kaspersky. The number ‘360’ in its range of Norton 360 products doesn’t mean the company made 359 products beforehand. Instead, it stands for 360°, a reference to Norton’s and Symantec’s all-encompassing protection package that covers all the bases.

This product is a favorite for both office and home use, particularly for anyone who hates installing a bunch of different apps when they can get all the features they need under one roof. Norton 360 is considered the best antivirus software for Mac because of its “Swiss Army knife” approach. In other words, it defends against all kinds of malware, has a smart firewall, a secure VPN, webcam hijacking protection, and a virus protection promise. That last bit sets it apart from the competition, as you’re guaranteed reimbursement in case a bad actor manages to get past Norton and cause damage to your computer system.

Even the basic Norton antivirus package comes with cloud backup for your files, ranging from 10 GB to 100 GB. The program’s integrated password manager app looks after all your login details, and can also feel safe browsing the dark web with Norton’s dedicated monitoring tool.

Although it’s the best antivirus for Mac, Norton 360’s value proposition isn’t that impressive. The basic plan covers just one device, and the price can easily double with additional features. Parental controls are available only with the more expensive plans, while online shopping protection can cost you even more. That said, Norton 360 with LifeLock Ultimate Plus is perfect for businesses of all sizes: It offers unlimited licenses with just one purchase.

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3. ESET NOD32 Antivirus

" Best for Gamers "

  • Number of devices
    1-5
  • Renewal
    Annual
  • Available on
    Windows, macOS, Linux, and Android
  • Free version
    30-day trial
  • VPN
    Yes
  • Price range
    $39.99–$59.99/year/device

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Home-network security
  • “Find my phone” feature for Android
  • Password manager
  • Only one license in basic plan

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Home-network security
  • “Find my phone” feature for Android
  • Password manager
  • Only one license in basic plan
  • Number of devices
    1-5
  • Renewal
    Annual
  • Available on
    Windows, macOS, Linux, and Android
  • Free version
    30-day trial
  • VPN
    Yes
  • Price range
    $39.99–$59.99/year/device

For many years, NOD32 was considered the best antivirus around. The title was well-deserved, as ESET is continuously working on improving the virus protection algorithms and phishing detection every customer gets with this software.

This antivirus is also more attractive to specific user markets. For example, it’s widely used by gamers, to save them from both the annoyance of a giant pop-up covering their ammo count while they’re playing their favorite multiplayer shooter, and other, less inconsequential, threats. ESET recognized its customer base by building a Gaming mode, made specifically to serve as the best malware protection for your gaming device.

NOD32 is also known for being light on your system, not hogging system speed like its competitors tend to. It can detect and defend against ransomware script-based attacks like DDoS, phishing, exploits, and even the level-0 malware that sneaks deep into operating systems with minimal impact on your device performance.

However, ESET’s basic plan only covers one device, so you’ll have to pay extra if you need an antivirus for both your Mac and a mobile device. ESET’s plans are on the expensive side, unfortunately.

That said, ESET Smart Security Premium is an excellent option if you’re in the market for more than just the best computer antivirus: The package includes a password manager, botnet defender, and firewall. But even this option only covers one device. Nonetheless, you’ll be getting tech support available 24/7 in many languages, as well as complex security software for your system. It’s not a bargain, but it’s far from a bad deal.

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4. Bitdefender Antivirus Plus

" Best for Affordability "

  • Number of devices
    1-3
  • Renewal
    Annual
  • Available on
    Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
  • Free version
    Yes
  • VPN
    Yes, capped at 200 MB/day/device
  • Price range
    $14.99-$129.99/year

Things we liked / disliked:

  • High malware detection rates
  • Powerful antivirus scanner
  • Unlimited encrypted traffic
  • Limited VPN bandwidth

Things we liked / disliked:

  • High malware detection rates
  • Powerful antivirus scanner
  • Unlimited encrypted traffic
  • Limited VPN bandwidth
  • Number of devices
    1-3
  • Renewal
    Annual
  • Available on
    Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
  • Free version
    Yes
  • VPN
    Yes, capped at 200 MB/day/device
  • Price range
    $14.99-$129.99/year

Bitdefender is already known as the best free antivirus for Windows, but its Antivirus Plus version is much more than a simple malware blocker. This software is capable of assessing the level of your system’s vulnerability, advising you if your Wi-Fi network is unsecured, and protecting you from trackers, fraudsters, and ransomware.

Every plan includes a VPN, albeit limited to just 200 MB of traffic per day, as well as a file shredder and password manager. You can even set locks on your most important files so that Bitdefender monitors them and prevents any unauthorized changes.

Although it’s regarded as the best antivirus for Android, multi-device support will cost you if you want to protect both your phone and your computer. If you need an antivirus for your Windows, Android, iOS, and macOS devices, you’ll have to buy the Total Security plan, with five additional licenses. Otherwise, the antivirus is limited to just one OS. Upgrading will also net you a firewall, webcam defender, parental control tools, and an anti-theft system for your portable devices.

One of Bitdefender’s most interesting features is its OneClick Optimizer, which quickly analyzes and suggests what apps you can disable from starting up and running in the background to speed up your computer or smartphone.

Not only is Bitdefender possibly the best antivirus for laptop and desktop computers, but it’s also affordable. In fact, the basic annual plans for mobile and desktop devices alike are the cheapest among the products on this list. Give its free internet security a spin, and you’ll see why this antivirus is so popular.

5. McAfee Total Protection

" Best for Families "

  • Number of devices
    1, 5, 10, or unlimited
  • Renewal
    Annual
  • Available on
    Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
  • Free version
    No
  • VPN
    Yes, with Total Protection
  • Price range
    $19.99–$159.99/year

Things we liked / disliked:

  • File encryption with shredding for originals
  • Cross-platform password management
  • Unlimited VPN protection
  • Limited parental control

Things we liked / disliked:

  • File encryption with shredding for originals
  • Cross-platform password management
  • Unlimited VPN protection
  • Limited parental control
  • Number of devices
    1, 5, 10, or unlimited
  • Renewal
    Annual
  • Available on
    Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
  • Free version
    No
  • VPN
    Yes, with Total Protection
  • Price range
    $19.99–$159.99/year

The McAfee antivirus suite has come a long way from being an underdog among security products to one of the best Android antivirus options. The company rightfully declares that its product is “more than just antivirus software, it’s peace of mind.”

McAfee’s Total Protection plan is an all-around great cybersecurity solution, mainly aimed at home users, specifically families with children. Even the cheapest plans are packed with features, and the Family plans have very affordable upgrades covering up to 10 devices.

The astonishing list of essential features includes a password manager, an advanced file shredder, 256-bit encryption for your local files, and even some lifesavers like an auto-play video blocker. However, even the best antivirus isn’t free from some disadvantages. The most glaring one, in this case, is the unavailability of a VPN without a selected renewal option, followed by the total absence of a parental lock. But these shortcomings do little to detract from McAfee’s competence in providing safer browsing and network protection.

Those having difficulty navigating the app can always turn to McAfee’s support team. McAfee’s team can help you choose from several different products, including what could possibly be the best phone antivirus, as well as options tailored for gamers and small-business owners. Free 30-day trials are available for all of McAfee’s products.

6. Avast Free Antivirus

" Best Free Antivirus "

  • Number of devices
    1 or 10
  • Renewal
    Annual
  • Available on
    Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
  • Free version
    Yes
  • VPN
    On Ultimate plan only
  • Price range
    $0-$79.99/year

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Powerful virus scanner
  • No interruptions or slowdowns
  • Malicious URL blocking
  • Can be slow to boot

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Powerful virus scanner
  • No interruptions or slowdowns
  • Malicious URL blocking
  • Can be slow to boot
  • Number of devices
    1 or 10
  • Renewal
    Annual
  • Available on
    Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
  • Free version
    Yes
  • VPN
    On Ultimate plan only
  • Price range
    $0-$79.99/year

Many regard Avast as the best free antivirus on the market, but this provider has a premium service as well. The first choice for many and BBB-accredited with an A+ rating, this antivirus has found its place in the world of gaming PCs and laptops due to its unintrusive nature. Thanks to its Game Mode, Avast ensures that all notifications, including those regarding updates, are hidden. The feature is especially convenient when you’re watching a movie or playing a video game.

Even though this is the best free antivirus software, this zero-dollar option comes with a few caveats. Avast’s antivirus offers fewer features in its basic free edition than the cheapest versions of competing software. It is a far cry from what is now considered a standard among antivirus programs. Fortunately, its premium plans are all reasonably priced, with the most expensive option landing at $59.99 for the first year of use. This gives you additional ransomware and Wi-Fi protection, as well as some other bonuses from Avast’s security suite.

On the flip side, even the basic Avast has a Wi-Fi scanner, and, with its set of free browser add-ons, it can alert you if you run into malicious websites, so it’s still the best free Mac antivirus. It also has a modern design, with clearly labeled buttons in its desktop and mobile versions. The software might bug you about upgrading to paid plans, but Avast’s advanced virus protection is worth checking out.

One reason we didn’t rank Avast higher is because of its CPU dependency. On Windows systems, it’s pretty common for this antivirus to take a sizable chunk of your computer’s resources.

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7. AVG Antivirus Free

" Best for Mobile Devices "

  • Number of devices
    1 or 10
  • Renewal
    Annual
  • Available on
    Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
  • Free version
    Yes
  • VPN
    Only with AVG Ultimate
  • PRICE RANGE
    $0-$119.99/year

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Secures personal folders
  • Blocks unsafe links, downloads, and email attachments
  • PC performance scanning
  • Tracks user browsing habits

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Secures personal folders
  • Blocks unsafe links, downloads, and email attachments
  • PC performance scanning
  • Tracks user browsing habits
  • Number of devices
    1 or 10
  • Renewal
    Annual
  • Available on
    Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
  • Free version
    Yes
  • VPN
    Only with AVG Ultimate
  • PRICE RANGE
    $0-$119.99/year

AVG is another contender for the best mobile antivirus. Along with Avast, this software has been a favorite form of internet security among professionals who need a simple and free anti-malware solution for their smartphone or laptop.

The AVG AntiVirus FREE plan covers all the malware detection and protection bases. It’s able to shield your device from ransomware, spyware, and adware. It also comes with a virus checker. Just like Avast, AVG has an optional browser extension for safer browsing and shopping. This antivirus can also save you from downloading malicious files or opening phishing emails.

AVG is similar to the other best free malware removal tools in that it reserves its more impressive features for its premium version. The free version includes everything mentioned above, plus a PC scanning tool that reveals potential performance bottlenecks on your system. It does exactly what it says on the tin and is super easy to set up and use.

What’s more, the upgrades are often extremely discounted, so the AVG Ultimate plan can cost as little as $35.99 for the first year. But even without the webcam defender, encryption, and firewall that come with the premium plans, this is still the best free Android antivirus. However, one concerning aspect of using AVG’s software is that it will track the browsing habits of its users.

8. F-Secure SAFE

" Best for Multiple Device Owners "

  • Number of devices
    1, 3, 5, or 7
  • Renewal
    Annual
  • Available on
    Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
  • Free version
    Free trial
  • VPN
    Yes, by itself or with the TOTAL plan
  • PRICE RANGE
    €59.90–€99.90/year

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Real-time antivirus protection
  • Advanced parental control
  • Optimized for streaming and gaming
  • VPN sold separately

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Real-time antivirus protection
  • Advanced parental control
  • Optimized for streaming and gaming
  • VPN sold separately
  • Number of devices
    1, 3, 5, or 7
  • Renewal
    Annual
  • Available on
    Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
  • Free version
    Free trial
  • VPN
    Yes, by itself or with the TOTAL plan
  • PRICE RANGE
    €59.90–€99.90/year

Today, most households have two or more computers, smartphones, tablets, and maybe even a smartwatch. That’s why F-Secure has come up with the best antivirus app for Android, iOS, Windows, and macOS, to keep our computers and all our gizmos secure.

The basic version of the F-Secure antivirus is called SAFE and, even in its basic form, covers three devices with top-of-the-line internet security. That means you’re safe from viruses, ransomware, and other forms of malware.

F-Secure also protects your credit card details by letting you know whether a banking or shopping website is safe. Harmful sites that might impact the performance of your computer are restricted, and if you end up losing your smartphone, a finder tool is available, as are remote tools for managing F-Secure’s software on all devices where it’s installed. This is the best Mac antivirus for macOS 10.13 and newer.

If you’re a parent, you will be happy to know that F-Secure has thought of you, too. Both SAFE and TOTAL have a set of parental controls, allowing you to configure screen time for your kids, while also providing them with a safe online space and protecting them from harmful and inappropriate content.

The downside of this security software is its price. The basic version F-Secure – SAFE – costs significantly more than any other software we reviewed, even if it is a top antivirus app. This is especially troubling due to the lack of an integrated VPN or tracking protection. The cheapest version of the TOTAL package, which includes both of these, starts at a whopping €79.99.

9. Trend Micro Internet Security

" Best for Social Media Users "

  • Number of devices
    1, 3, 5, or 10
  • Renewal
    Annual or biennial
  • Available on
    Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Chrome OS
  • Free version
    Free trial
  • VPN
    Only with Premium Security Suite
  • Price range
    $29.95–$69.95/year

Things we liked / disliked:

  • AI learning for better malware detection
  • Advanced parental locks
  • Email-scam safeguard
  • Cheaper plans only cover Windows PCs

Things we liked / disliked:

  • AI learning for better malware detection
  • Advanced parental locks
  • Email-scam safeguard
  • Cheaper plans only cover Windows PCs
  • Number of devices
    1, 3, 5, or 10
  • Renewal
    Annual or biennial
  • Available on
    Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Chrome OS
  • Free version
    Free trial
  • VPN
    Only with Premium Security Suite
  • Price range
    $29.95–$69.95/year

Every piece of software that has made our best PC antivirus list includes some level of protection against advanced threats, offers unique tools, and has a modern, easy-to-understand design. Trend Micro’s antivirus program ticks all those boxes. Indeed, this is a very modern-looking piece of software designed for a variety of users.

Even the most rudimentary plan has a number of special features. First of all, Trend Micro’s entire antivirus suite relies on artificial intelligence to provide the best virus protection possible, building heuristics based on user behavior. It defends your computer from ransomware and email scams – AI can determine whether email offers are fake or if your social network platform is storing your private information. At a time when so much of what we do online is tracked, this is welcome news. Finally, if you love online shopping, the integrated Pay Guard software will keep your credit card details safe.

We hoped to crown Trend Micro as the best antivirus for Android smartphones, but it lacks some of the platform-specific features that higher-ranked antiviruses provide on a basic plan. However, the antivirus has a solid reputation among users and often offers generous discounts, too, so it can become a pretty frugal choice if you snag the right deal.

10. Microsoft Windows Defender

" Best for Windows 10 "

  • Number of devices
    Unlimited
  • Renewal
    Not required
  • Available for
    Windows
  • Free version
    Yes
  • VPN
    No
  • Price range
    Free with Windows license

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Feature-rich parental control solution
  • Comprehensive firewall tool
  • No need for renewals
  • Basic antivirus software

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Feature-rich parental control solution
  • Comprehensive firewall tool
  • No need for renewals
  • Basic antivirus software
  • Number of devices
    Unlimited
  • Renewal
    Not required
  • Available for
    Windows
  • Free version
    Yes
  • VPN
    No
  • Price range
    Free with Windows license

This antivirus differs slightly from the rest of the products on our list. Microsoft has substantially improved its Windows Defender antivirus in recent years, making it the best antivirus for Windows 10. It’s exclusive to Windows, and there’s a good chance you’ve already got it installed on your PC if you’re running the latest version of the operating system. It doesn’t include any paid features and is considered the least intrusive antivirus ever made.

This product is plain when compared to premium software, but it’s got a few aces up its sleeve. For example, if your OneDrive account is connected to it and malware infects one of the local files, the software will just pull up a clean version from the cloud.

Another feature that makes Defender the best free antivirus for Windows 10 is its fast USB-thumb-drive scanner. In the nearly six years since its release, Microsoft Defender Antivirus has proven itself as a capable contender in the antivirus field.

There is a simple yet functional firewall, and you can even set some basic parental controls on your computer. The best thing is that this is an entirely automated piece of software, so you normally won’t have to set up anything for it to work.

While it may not be the best Windows antivirus if you’re running an older version of the OS, on Windows 10, Microsoft Defender represents the best feature-to-value ratio. It offers more options and better protection than any free version of internet security software. And if you want to switch to another, paid option, it’s easy to disable until you need it again.

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11. Sophos Home Premium

" Best for Ransomware Protection "

  • Number of devices
    1-10
  • Renewal
    1-3 years
  • Available on
    Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
  • Free version
    Free trial
  • VPN
    No
  • Price range
    $59.99/year; $99.99 for two years; $139.99 for three years

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Moderate system impact
  • Excellent web protection
  • Remote device management
  • Lack of features and customizability

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Moderate system impact
  • Excellent web protection
  • Remote device management
  • Lack of features and customizability
  • Number of devices
    1-10
  • Renewal
    1-3 years
  • Available on
    Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
  • Free version
    Free trial
  • VPN
    No
  • Price range
    $59.99/year; $99.99 for two years; $139.99 for three years

Rarely listed among the top antivirus software and often overlooked, Sophos has gone all the way from zero to hero. Refreshingly simple, with a user-friendly interface and only two products to choose from, it offers a no-frills approach that many customers love. This is a great relief for users who are not tech-savvy but still want top-notch malware protection.

Once you start the full system scan, you’ll have to wait some 55 minutes, as neither the Home nor the Business solution have a quick-scan option. Another downside is the software’s intensive usage of resources; it takes up too many CPU cycles and bogs down the rest of your machine. However, what puts Sophos among the best internet security software is that it will do its job without alerting you.

You can use its free antivirus, but after your 30-day trial expires, some of the additional benefits such as anti-phishing, an extra anti-ransomware layer, privacy tools, and the Advanced Malware Removal option, will disappear. Keep in mind that if you opt for Premium, the price will cover up to 10 PCs or Macs, plus unlimited Android and iOS devices, all of which can be monitored from Android or iOS apps, or a unique dashboard.

So far, Sophos is the best antivirus software when it comes to integrated solutions for ransomware protection. The premium version includes a web protection layer that aims to keep you safe from dodgy websites. Antivirus features immediately detect and quarantine any malicious files, even before they can come into contact with test documents. The software generates very few false positives.

All in all, Sophos is missing some heavy-duty features, such as advanced scanning and email filtering, but its ease of use and ability to protect multiple devices brings it back into the running.

What You Need to Know About Antiviruses

After identifying the best antivirus, it’s time to delve deeper into what malware protection means and why millions of people use this software.

What Antivirus Software Is and What It Does

When we get ill, we rely on medication and home remedies to flush out the bug. That’s precisely what antivirus software does for your computer. What’s more, this software is designed to prevent the infection from occurring in the first place. You can set it up to scan all the data on your device from time to time or schedule scans when you know you won’t be using your computer. Today, the best antivirus apps are designed to provide a complete picture of how healthy your device is at all times.

How Antivirus Software Works

When you get sick, your doctor needs a certain amount of information to offer a diagnosis. When it comes to antivirus programs, this information comes in the form of a database of virus definitions that usually gets updated daily. Certain antivirus manufacturers may update their virus definitions several times a day. Some programs store these databases on your device, while the top antivirus apps store them in the cloud. They then use them in a so-called heuristics process to check if the scanned file is actually malware.

But, like a virus mutates, there are instances when malware morphs. Hackers are always trying to surprise antivirus companies with sneakier and more devastating versions of malicious code. That’s why a good antivirus must be able to heuristically figure out if the suspicious file should stay under supervision, based on whether it contains any similarities to the viruses the app is already familiar with.

Prevention is a key feature of modern antivirus programs. The best ones should be capable of catching zero-day and other undiscovered, but potentially harmful, malicious files.

Free vs. Paid Antivirus Software

The best malware removal tool doesn’t come for free. Many companies are now offering either entirely free antivirus programs or creating so-called “lite” versions of their existing software. That has led to concerns over whether the cheaper or completely free versions can protect devices amid suspicions that companies snub the freeloaders in favor of paying customers.

In our humble opinion, having any kind of computer protection always beats leaving your device completely vulnerable to hackers. However, free malware protection comes with some caveats, which can include a constant barrage of advertisements or some nasty surprises like tracking your browsing data. It goes without saying, but software manufactured by a reputable company should do neither.

It’s worth noting that even the best free antivirus for an Android phone, or any other device, lacks features found on premium versions. When you’re offered a free antivirus download, more often than not, there is an option to pay for an upgrade to a more complex program or a set of upgrades for the app you just downloaded. In the long run, it’s often better to invest in a paid option.

Do I Need an Antivirus?

One of the most common dilemmas is whether one even needs an antivirus anymore. While it is true that modern operating systems and browsers are way better at detecting malware than their predecessors, there’s still the threat of ransomware attacks. Seven billion virus attacks happen each year, and you need top malware protection to stay safe online.

So, whether you just want to browse the internet or run a business, you should install antivirus software on your computers and smartphones. At the end of the day, it’s better to have a small, unobtrusive app running in the background than lose months of work or your credit card details.

How We Rank Antivirus Programs

In order to select the top 10 programs and determine which one is the best antivirus, we’ve conducted an in-depth analysis of each product. Antivirus manufacturers don’t really have a standardized set of features you can expect to get when purchasing software, so determining what’s most needed is an integral part of our evaluation. Here’s how we do it.

Features and Extras

A nice set of features is always a plus in our book, but this isn’t always a deal-breaker when choosing the perfect antivirus. An antivirus that excels at threat detection is better than one jam-packed with features but with a mediocre virus recognition rate.

That said, a modern antivirus needs a complete toolset to stand out. Top antivirus software offers ransomware protection, phishing detection and prevention tools, and a password manager or file shredder. All these contribute toward improving the software’s score.

A good antivirus doesn’t need to be a jack of all trades, but it’s always a plus when the software comes with extras, so long as they’re not all shine and no substance. A number of antivirus manufacturers even incorporate some form of VPN functionality into their software, while others add parental control tools.

Value

Even the best mobile antivirus needs to be affordable, or at least reasonably priced. We look at how many licenses you get with your purchase, whether it’s possible to save by getting a multi-year license, and if it’s possible to get a discount when ordering a mobile version along with a desktop one. Finally, we scrutinize the upgrade prices and how add-ons contribute to the overall package.

Ease of Use

Not everyone is a computer whiz, and a lot of people don’t like to have a bunch of buttons shoved in their faces while scanning their system. The best antivirus protection software makes the most important information easily accessible.

Users should be able to clearly see whether the scan finds any viruses and have all the features properly labeled and easy to reach. We also value programs that aren’t too pushy with premium ads and notifications. Sometimes, a user just wants to work in peace while the antivirus does its thing quietly in the background.

What to Look for in an Antivirus Program

Aside from the aforementioned general guidelines for finding the top antivirus, there are a few other things to keep in mind while shopping around.

Stick to well-known brands – There’s a reason some companies are better known than others, and it generally has to do with the quality of their products. Some of the names on our list are synonymous with malware protection and ingrained in the everyday lives of the digital population.

Licensing – You can’t exactly stroll into your nearest store and grab the best Android antivirus app. When signing up for one of these products online, it’s essential to keep an eye on the plan you’re choosing. There are monthly licenses, yearly licenses, multi-year contracts, renewable memberships, one-time payments, upgrades, and downgrades. Make sure you know whether the updates stop when your license expires and if the company charges you automatically each year. The best offers should cover more than just one device.

Try before you buy – It’s always best when you can dip your toe into the water before taking the plunge. Always be on the lookout for free trials or free editions for every top antivirus app. Due to growing competition, most manufacturers now offer a 30-day free trial or a money-back guarantee. Many have indefinite free versions that are fully capable of protecting your devices from malware, too.

Think about what you need – An antivirus isn’t the same as an anti-malware app. The latter is used as a cleanup tool once your computer is already loaded with spyware or adware. An antivirus not only removes the bug, but it’s also designed to actively prevent future intrusions. Check out the manufacturer’s website to make sure the product you are getting fulfills your needs.

FAQ

What is the best antivirus software?

Kaspersky is currently the best on the market. It’s a complete security solution for your PC and smartphone that’s both affordable and reliable.

Which internet security and antivirus is best?

Look no further than software produced by Kaspersky, Symantec, and ESET. These companies are known for creating the world’s leading antivirus and internet security solutions.

Is it worth paying for antivirus?

Yes, especially for the highest-rated ones. While even the best free antivirus for Windows 7 or Windows 10 can provide some protection, it’s never a complete package. Paid antiviruses always protect your computer better than their free counterparts.

Does Apple recommend antivirus software?

Every computer needs an antivirus. While Apple doesn’t state this explicitly, the company would surely encourage you to use any form of extra malware protection on your laptop or desktop computer. Hackers are increasingly targeting Macs, so every cybersecurity company we’ve included on our best antivirus list offers apps for Apple PCs, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.