Find the Best AntivirusBy Julija Anđelić May 13, 2020
For computers, the flu season never ends. That’s why you need antivirus software. These are the trenches, moats, and dragons guarding our precious data.
In 2020, using the best antivirus programs is not optional, it’s obligatory. Today, malware comes in all shapes and sizes. Some of these malicious apps can flood your computer or smartphone with pop-up ads. Others can completely lock you out of your device, demanding ransom payments in exchange for your files. You shouldn’t be focused on cleaning your computer when it gets infected, but rather on preventing the disaster from happening in the first place.
Here is the best anti malware protection for 2020:
Here are some of our best VPNs for 2020:
Kaspersky Internet Security
- Privacy protection
- Data leak checker
- App permission manager (Android)
- 10 GB cloud backup
- All-in-one solution with firewall
ESET NOD32 Antivirus
- Defends against ransomware
- Prevents phishing attacks
- Protects against spyware
Bitdefender Antivirus Plus
- Fast VPN
- Safe banking features
McAfee Total Protection
- Great password manager
- Excellent customer support
- Checks social media for malicious links
Avast Free Antivirus
- Good set of protection features
- Fast performance
AVG Antivirus Free
- Simple to use
- Optional browser extension
- Decent protection
- Parental locks
- Multi-device security solution
- Device locator
Trend Micro Internet Security
- AI-based antivirus
- Protection against fraud
- Protection against ransomware
Microsoft Windows Defender
- One-way firewall
- Parental controls
- Browser protection
This is a quick glance at the current state of affairs on the antivirus 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 10 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 VPN, 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 this complex puzzle. Antivirus programs are now capable of defending your computer from bot and ransomware attacks. Some of the more modern antiviruses can even serve as password managers and parental locks.
So what are the best antivirus programs?
- Number of devices - 3-5
- Renewal - 1-3 years
- All-round cybersecurity solution
- VPN included
- Desktop and mobile security with one license
- VPN has daily data cap
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, this is the best antivirus around.
Kaspersky owes a lot 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 an 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. 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 opting for a multiyear license.
In addition to this, Kaspersky’s interface is clean and easy to navigate, making it the best paid antivirus. Some features are specifically reserved for the more expensive Total Security package, which includes 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.
Finally, the Total Security version increases the number of licenses to five, so it’s also a good choice for startups and small businesses that don’t have a lot of computers.
- Number of devices - 1-10
- Renewal - Monthly and annually
- All-in-one security
- Virus protection promise and smart firewall
- VPN included
- Big cloud backup storage
- Only one license in basic plan
The second best antivirus for PC and mobile is Symantec, which comes with a range of Norton 360 products. The number 360 doesn’t mean the company made 359 products beforehand. Instead, it stands for 360°, a reference to its all-encompassing package that covers all bases.
This is a favorite for both office and home use and among everyone who hates installing a bunch of different apps when they can get all the features 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 comes with the 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 comes with cloud backup for your files and ranges from 10 GB to 100 GB. A password manager app is integrated into this antivirus to look after all your login details. And you can also feel safe browsing the Dark Web with a dedicated monitoring tool.
Although it’s the best antivirus for Mac, Norton 360 doesn’t offer the same deal as Kaspersky. First of all, 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, the Ultimate plan is perfect for businesses of all sizes; it offers unlimited licenses with just one purchase.
With its incredibly easy-to-use interface, this is a perfectly suitable product for a vast array of users.
- Number of devices: - 1-10
- Renewal: - 1-3 years
- Small system footprint
- Ransomware shield included
- Phishing detection
- International 24/7 support
- Only one license in basic plan
- Can get expensive
For many years, NOD32 was considered the best antivirus around. The title is well-deserved, as ESET is always working on improvements to virus protection algorithms and phishing detection that every customer gets with this software.
This antivirus is widely used by gamers who tend to get annoyed when a giant pop-up covers the ammo count while they’re playing their favorite multiplayer shooter. ESET responded by building a Gaming mode alongside the best malware protection for your gaming device.
NOD32 is also known as an economic antivirus and not a system hog like many others. While having very little impact on your system’s performance, 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.
However, a basic plan only covers one device, so you’ll have to spend a little more cash if you need an antivirus for Mac and a mobile device. ESET’s plans are also on the expensive side.
That said, ESET Smart Security Premium is a great 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 with this option, the starting price only covers one device. Although this may sound pricey, keep in mind that you’re also paying for tech support available 24/7 in many languages, as well as complex security software for your system.
- Number of devices - 3
- Renewal - Annually
- Affordable plans
- Password manager included
- Security advisor tools
- Money-back guarantee
- Requires upgrade for Mac and mobile protection
- Limited VPN bandwidth
Bitdefender is already known as the best free antivirus for Android, but its premium version is much more than a simple malware blocker. This antivirus is capable of assessing the level of vulnerability of your system; it can advise you if your Wi-Fi is insecure and protect you from trackers, fraudsters, and ransomware.
Every plan includes a VPN, albeit limited to just 200 MB of traffic per day. But you also get a file shredder and password manager with even the most affordable plans. You can even set locks on the most important files so that Bitdefender monitors them and prevents any changes.
Although it’s regarded as the best antivirus for Android, we were surprised to learn that Bitdefender’s basic plan does not include mobile security. If you need an antivirus for your Android, iOS, or OSX device, you’ll have to buy the Total Security plan. That purchase extends the license to five devices. Upgrading will also net you a firewall, webcam defender, parental control tools, and an anti-theft system for your portable devices.
One of the most interesting features is OneClick Optimizer, which quickly analyzes and suggests what apps you can disable from startup or even from running in the background to speed up your computer or smartphone.
Not only is Bitdefender the best antivirus for laptop and desktop computers, it’s also affordable. In fact, the basic annual plan is the cheapest among the reviewed products on this list. If you’re still unsure, give its free internet security a spin and you’ll see why this antivirus is among the most popular ones today.
- Number of devices: - 1-10
- Renewal: - Annually
- Affordable family plans
- Password manager included
- Performance optimization
- Local storage encryption
- No VPN without renewal
- Lacks parental controls
McAfee antivirus 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-round great cybersecurity solution, mainly aimed at home users, specifically families with children. Even the cheapest plans are packed with features. Family plans have very affordable upgrades that cover up to 10 desktop or mobile devices.
The astonishing list of basic features includes a password manager, an advanced file shredder, 256-bit encryption for your local files, and even some lifesavers like 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 focus on providing safer browsing and network protection.
Those having difficulty navigating the app can always turn to McAfee’s support team. And if you need more than just the best phone antivirus, McAfee’s team can help you choose from several different products, some of which are tailored for gamers and small business owners. Free 30-day trials are available for all products on offer.
- Number of devices: - Unlimited
- Renewal: - Annually
- Easy to use
- Wi-Fi security scanning
- Not intrusive
- Lots of features are behind a paywall
- Consumes a lot of resources
Many regard Avast as the best free antivirus on the market. This antivirus has found its place in the world of gaming PCs and laptops due to its unintrusive nature. That’s thanks to its Game Mode, which ensures that all notifications including the ones about 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, that nice price of zero dollars comes with a few caveats. Avast 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. For example, additional ransomware and real-time Wi-Fi protection will cost you $70 a year.
On the flip side, even the basic Avast has Wi-Fi scanner, and, with its set of free browser add-ons, it can alert you if you run into malicious websites. It also has a modern design with clearly labeled buttons on both desktop and mobile versions. The software might bug you about upgrading to paid plans, but the advanced virus protection on offer is worth checking out.
One reason we didn’t rank Avast higher is because of its CPU dependency. On Windows systems, it’s quite common for this antivirus to take a sizable chunk of your computer’s resources.
- Number of devices: - Unlimited
- Renewal: - Annually
- Low system requirements
- Defence against all malware types
- PC performance scanner
- Expensive upgrade
- Tracks user’s browsing habits
Another best mobile antivirus option is AVG. Along with Avast, this software has been a favorite among internet security professionals who need a simple and free anti-malware solution for their smartphone or laptop.
AVG covers all the bases when it comes to malware detection and protection. It’s able to protect your device from ransomware attacks as well as spyware and adware. It also comes with a virus checker. Just like with Avast, you can install 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 the more impressive features for its premium version. The free version includes the aforementioned features and 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.
The upgrade, however, is quite pricey. It costs $100 per year if you want a webcam defender, encryption and a firewall. Without these upgrades, this is still the best free Android antivirus. However, it’s been getting a bit of a bad rap lately for tracking the browsing habits of its users.
- Number of devices: - 3-7
- Renewal: - Annually
- Multiple licenses in all plans
- Ransomware and banking protection
- Parental controls included
- Mobile device locator
- Very pricey
- VPN sold separately
Today, most households have two or more computers or laptops, a smartphone, a tablet, and maybe even an Android smartwatch. Securing all of them can be a daunting task. That’s why F-Secure has come up with the best antivirus app for Android, iOS, and many other gizmos we all have lying around.
It’s 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. It also protects your credit card details.
F-Secure lets you know whether a banking or shopping website is safe while protecting you from harmful sites that might impact the performance of your computer. If you end up losing your smartphone, a finder tool is available, as are remote tools for managing SAFE on all of the devices where it’s installed. This is the best Mac antivirus, and it supports OS X 10.13 and newer systems.
If you’re a parent, you will be happy to know that F-Secure has thought of you, too. SAFE has a set of parental controls, allowing you to set up 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 cyber security software is the price. It costs significantly more than any other software we reviewed, which is even more troubling when you don’t even get a VPN or tracking protection. F-Secure sells all of those features separately.
- Number of devices: - 1-10
- Renewal: - Annually
- AI learning for better malware detection
- Advanced parental locks
- Email scams safeguard
- Trend Micro Pay guard
- Lacks some advanced features
- Cheaper plans only cover Windows PCs
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 Internet Security ticks all those boxes. Indeed, this is a very modern-looking piece of software designed for a variety of users.
It has a number of special features even with its basic plan. First of all, the antivirus relies on artificial intelligence to provide the best virus protection possible, learning from both heuristics and user behaviour. It defends your computer from ransomware and from 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. Its basic offer lacks a VPN, but a minor price increase gets you multiple licenses. The antivirus has a solid reputation among users and often offers generous discounts. So if you’re only looking to cover your Windows machines, it’s a good third-party choice.
- Number of devices: - Unlimited
- Renewal: - Not required
- Nearly invisible
- Low resources required
- Preinstalled on Windows 10
- Very basic antivirus software
This antivirus differs slightly from the rest of the products on our list. 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.
Microsoft has made substantial improvements to Windows Defender antivirus in recent years, making it the best antivirus for Windows 10; it’s absolutely free to use and comes as a default antivirus with the OS. 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-scanning tool. These are scanned at the point of insertion.
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 a completely automated piece of software, so you normally won’t have to set up anything for it to work.
This is the complete list of the best antivirus programs on the market. It includes everything from the best Windows antivirus to the best software for mobile and some very appealing family security solutions. Our reviews will enhance your understanding of what modern internet security software can do. Opting for any of these options will improve your online security.
What you need to know about antiviruses
After identifying the best antivirus, it’s time to delve deeper into what malware protection actually means and why millions of people use this software.
What is antivirus software and what does it do?
When we get ill, we rely on medication and home remedies to flush out the bug. That’s exactly what antivirus software does for your computer. What’s more, this software is designed to prevent the infection from occuring 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 full picture of how healthy your device is.
How does antivirus software work?
When you get sick, your doctor needs a certain amount of information in order to offer a diagnosis. When it comes to antivirus programs, this information comes in the form of a database that usually gets updated daily. Certain antivirus manufacturers may update their virus definitions several times a day. Some programs store these databases on your own device, while the top antivirus apps store them in the cloud. Then they use them in a so-called heuristics process to check if the scanned file is actually malware.
But there are instances when malware can morph. Hackers are always trying to surprise antivirus companies with sneakier and more devastating versions of viruses. A good antivirus can heuristically figure out if the suspicious file should stay under supervision and whether it contains any similarities to the viruses that the app is already familiar with.
Prevention is a key feature of modern antivirus programs. The best ones should be getting multiple updates per day and be capable of catching zero-day and other undiscovered, but potentially harmful, malicious files.
Free vs. paid antivirus software
The best malware removal doesn’t come for free. Many companies are now offering either fully free antivirus programs or create 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 shouldn’t do this.
It’s worth noting that even the best free antivirus for an Android phone lacks features found on premium versions. When you’re offered a free antivirus download, more often than not there is an option to upgrade to a more complex version or a set of paid upgrades for the app you just downloaded. So, there’s no reason not to trust a free piece of antivirus software, but in the long run it’s 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 losing months of work or having your credit card details stolen.
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 important 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 computer protection is better than one jam-packed with features but with mediocre virus detection.
That said, a modern antivirus needs a complete toolset to really stand out. Top antivirus software offers ransomware protection, phishing detection, and prevention tools or a 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 like an integrated password manager. A number of antivirus manufacturers even incorporate some form of basic VPN functionality into their software, while others prefer to offer parental control tools. We also take into account the price increases these add-ons bring to the table.
Even the best mobile antivirus needs to be affordable. 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 face while scanning their system. The best antivirus protection software makes the most important information easily accessible.
Users should be able to 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 add-ons 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 when buying 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 familiar 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 to your nearest store and grab the best Android antivirus app. When signing up for one of these products online, it’s important 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 antivirus manufacturers now offer a 30-day free trial. Many have free versions that are fully capable of protecting your devices from malware.
Think about what you really need – 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. Antivirus removes the bug and is designed to actively prevent the intrusions. Check out the manufacturer’s website to make sure that the product you are getting fulfills your needs.
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 antiviruses 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.