Find the Best Antivirus

An antivirus program can rid your computer of malware and prevent future infections, guaranteeing the smooth operation of your devices and keeping your sensitive data safe. Here are the best options to consider.

Ivan Stevanovic Image

Updated: August 19,2022

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Editor's Choice

Nowadays, using an antivirus isn’t optional, it’s absolutely necessary. Malware 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 pop-up ads, completely lock you out of your device, and demand ransom payments in exchange for your files.

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. This is where antivirus software comes in. 

We’ve compiled a list of the best antivirus programs that you can get in 2022, so if you’re ready to add a much-needed layer of protection to your PC, read on!

Best Overall
PRICE RANGE:
$29.95–$69.95 /year
AVAILABLE ON:
iOS
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Mac
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Chrome
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Android
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Windows
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Overview

Given its focus on enterprise security, Trend Micro may not be as well-known to consumers as its competitors like Avast, Norton, or Kaspersky. Still, the provider quietly brings its business expertise to home solutions with its Trend Micro Internet Security plan. Affordably priced, as one of the best security software solutions, it scores excellent in anti-phishing and malicious-URL-blocking tests and protects up to three PCs per subscription.

KEY FEATURES:
  • Includes Advanced AI Learning
  • Trend Micro Pay Guard
  • Guards against phishing emails
  • Secures privacy on social media
  • Parental control
  • Minimal performance impact
Best All-in-One Security
PRICE RANGE:
$39.99–$149.99 /year
AVAILABLE ON:
iOS
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Mac
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Android
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Windows
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Overview

A household name in the world of cybersecurity, Norton offers some of the most popular antivirus software solutions to a wide range of users. One of its most popular options, the Norton 360 antivirus software, comes with AI-powered anti-spyware, antivirus, malware and ransomware protection, cloud backup, a secure VPN, smart firewall, and password manager regardless of the package you go for.

KEY FEATURES:
  • Webcam protection
  • Dark-web monitoring
  • LifeLock identity protection
  • Money-back guarantee
  • Parental control
  • Stolen-wallet protection
Best for Safe Online Shopping
PRICE RANGE:
$29.99–$99.99 /year
AVAILABLE ON:
iOS
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Mac
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Android
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Windows
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Overview

Offering top-notch real-time malware protection, plenty of useful additional features, and an easy-to-use interface with light system impact, Kaspersky has been among our top picks for years. Reasonably priced, this antivirus software covers all the basics brilliantly, although not all of its packages provide complete VPN protection.

KEY FEATURES:
  • Top-notch spyware protection
  • Effective ransomware protection
  • Payment protection
  • Password manager
  • Parental controls
  • VPN and ad blocker in higher-tier package
Best for Affordability
PRICE RANGE:
$14.99-$129.99 /year
AVAILABLE ON:
iOS
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Mac
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Android
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Windows
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Overview

An industry giant, the Bitdefender antivirus provides lightweight and affordable essential anti-malware protection for your devices. Not only does this software protect your device against all viruses and ransomware, but it also prevents online fraud and phishing while you browse and shop.

KEY FEATURES:
  • High malware detection rates
  • Powerful antivirus scanner
  • Helps you stay anonymous online
  • Unlimited encrypted traffic
  • Wi-Fi hotspot security
  • Protection for up to three devices
Best for Ransomware Protection
PRICE RANGE:
$46,99-$59.99 /year
AVAILABLE ON:
iOS
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Mac
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Android
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Windows
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Overview

Sophos Home Premium is an easy-to-use and effective antivirus software solution with advanced web protection, high malware-detection rates, and additional features such as webcam protection, remote management, and basic parental controls. Users can choose between one-year, two-year, and three-year subscription options. No matter which plan you opt for, you’ll be able to protect up to 10 PC and Mac devices in total.

KEY FEATURES:
  • Moderate system impact
  • Affordable solution
  • Excellent web protection
  • Parental controls
  • Remote device management
  • Covers up to 10 devices
Best for Families
PRICE RANGE:
$34.99–$159.99 /year
AVAILABLE ON:
iOS
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Mac
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Android
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Windows
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Overview

McAfee Total Protection provides top-notch security and password management for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android devices, and parental control features for everything except Macs. Its top antivirus plan comes with identity theft protection and excellent phishing protection. The no-limits VPN is the cherry on top.

KEY FEATURES:
  • Cross-platform password management
  • File encryption with shredding for originals
  • Identity protection
  • Unlimited VPN protection
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • 24/7 customer support
Best Free Antivirus
PRICE RANGE:
$0-$79.99 /year
AVAILABLE ON:
iOS
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Mac
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Android
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Windows
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Overview

The Avast free antivirus software comes with a powerful antivirus engine and a surprisingly long list of bonus features for a fee-free option. In addition to excellent antivirus protection, this program provides a network security scanner and browser protection, among other security-related features, plus a bunch of additional protection on its premium plans.

KEY FEATURES:
  • Powerful virus scanner
  • Six layers of security
  • No interruptions or slowdowns
  • Malicious URL blocking
  • Wi-Fi scanner
  • Vulnerability scan
Best for Mobile Devices
PRICE RANGE:
$0-$77.88 /year
AVAILABLE ON:
iOS
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Mac
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Android
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Windows
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Overview

Well-known as a solid free solution, the AVG AntiVirus FREE offers easy-to-use software and the opportunity to customize the solution to run the way you want it to. Possibly the best free Mac antivirus, this solution is praised for not slowing down devices too much; this free antivirus option also provides a versatile file shredder.

KEY FEATURES:
  • Secures personal folders
  • Blocks unsafe links, downloads, and email attachments
  • PC performance scanning
  • Separate free URL screener
  • Optional browser extension
  • Support for multiple operating systems
Best for Gamers
PRICE RANGE:
$39.99–$59.99 /year
AVAILABLE ON:
Mac
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Linux
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Android
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Windows
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Overview

In addition to providing basic features such as uncovering any malware infections that took place before its installation and making sure to prevent any further attacks, the ESET NOD32 antivirus program takes things a step further. Among other features, this solution also provides a Host Intrusion Prevention System, an elaborate device-control system, and a PC firmware scanner.

KEY FEATURES:
  • Password manager
  • Home-network security
  • Payment security
  • Photo encryption
  • “Find my phone” feature for Android
  • Small system footprint
Best for Multiple Device Owners
PRICE RANGE:
€59.90–€99.90 /year
AVAILABLE ON:
iOS
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Mac
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Android
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Windows
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Overview

If you subscribe to F-Secure’s SAFE solution, you’ll get comprehensive, moderately-priced antivirus software for your Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS devices. As one of the top antivirus options for iPhone, PC, or any other device, F-Secure’s SAFE comes with a free trial and a 30-day money-back guarantee. It can support up to seven devices with a single license.

KEY FEATURES:
  • Real-time antivirus protection
  • Banking protection
  • Advanced parental control
  • Optimized for streaming and gaming
  • Free customer support
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
Best for Windows 10
PRICE RANGE:
Free
AVAILABLE ON:
Windows
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Overview

Built into Windows 10, Microsoft Defender Antivirus is always active if there isn’t another antivirus present. When you install a third-party security solution, to avoid any conflict, Microsoft's antivirus software goes dormant. As the best Windows 10 antivirus, to ensure that all PC users get at least some level of security, not only does Microsoft Defender offer protection against Trojans, viruses, and different types of malware, including ransomware, but it also manages your overall security.

KEY FEATURES:
  • Feature-rich parental control solution
  • Comprehensive firewall tool
  • Phishing protection
  • Find My Device feature
  • Password manager
  • No need for renewals

Choosing the Right Antivirus Solution

This is a quick glance at the current state of affairs in 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 absolute best.

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

Antivirus software has 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, and many even come with a free version you can try out.

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 capable of defending your computer from extremely sophisticated bot and ransomware attacks. Some of the more modern antivirus packages can even serve as password managers and include parental controls.

So what are the best antivirus programs?

Top Antivirus Programs

  1. Trend Micro
  2. Kaspersky
  3. Norton 360
  4. ESET NOD32
  5. Bitdefender
  6. McAfee
  7. Avast
  8. AVG
  9. F-Secure
  10. Microsoft Defender Antivirus
Reviews
Best Overall
Number of devices:
1, 3, 5, or 10
Price range:
$29.95–$69.95/year
Renewal:
Annual or biennial
Free version:
Free trial
Available for:
Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Chrome OS
VPN:
Only with Premium Security Suite
Pros
  • AI learning for better malware detection
  • Advanced parental locks
  • Email-scam safeguard
Cons
  • Lacks VPN on the more affordable plans

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 wide range of users. That's why we put it at the top of our list.

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 provides ransomware and phishing protection - the 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, these security features are very good to have. Moreover, if you love online shopping, the integrated Pay Guard software will keep your credit card details safe and provide another layer of identity theft protection.

We hoped to crown Trend Micro as the top antivirus for Android devices, too, but mobile protection is only available with the Trend Micro Maximum Security package and is absent from the more affordable plan. However, this program 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.

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Best All-in-One Security
Number of devices:
1-10
Price range:
$39.99–$99.48/year
Renewal:
Monthly or annual
Free version:
30-day trial
Available for:
Windows, macOS, iOS, Android
VPN:
Yes
Pros
  • Affordable all-in-one security
  • Virus protection promise
  • Big cloud-backup storage
Cons
  • Only one license in the basic plan

Symantec makes what is possibly the best antivirus for PC and mobile devices, and it’s also one of the most popular ones. The “360” in the product name indicates that the Norton 360 antivirus software offers all-encompassing 360-degree real-time protection for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android operating systems.

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 offers thorough malware protection, has a smart firewall, a secure VPN, and webcam protection. Moreover, Norton offers a Virus Protection Promise, which guarantees a refund if a bad actor manages to get past the program 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 you can also feel safe browsing the dark web with Norton’s dedicated dark web monitoring tool.

Although it’s the best antivirus for Mac, Norton 360’s value proposition isn’t that impressive. The basic Norton antivirus plan covers just one device, and the price can easily double with additional security features. Parental controls are available only with the more expensive plans, while online shopping protection can cost you even more. 

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Best for Safe Online Shopping
Number of devices:
3-5
Price range:
$29.99–$49.99/year
Renewal:
1-3 years
Free version:
Yes
Available for:
Windows, macOS, iOS, Android
VPN:
Depends on the service plan
Pros
  • Affordable
  • All-round cybersecurity solution
  • Desktop and mobile security with one license
Cons
  • VPN has a 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 real-time protection and malware detection. Whether you’re looking to protect your PC, Mac, tablet, or smartphone, Kaspersky could be the ideal antivirus for you.

Kaspersky owes a lot of its effectiveness to its extensive set of security features, 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 protection against unauthorized remote control.

Moreover, it comes with a list of outstanding features, including a VPN, as well as identity theft protection in the form of a layer of encryption for your browser that keeps your payment information from falling into the wrong hands. Even banks rely on Kaspersky because it’s the best antivirus app for online shopping, helping ensure safe payments for their clients. All of the aforementioned features are available on desktop, laptop, and mobile versions.

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 an extended 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.

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Best for Affordability
Number of devices:
1-3
Price range:
$14.99-$129.99/year
Renewal:
Annual
Free version:
Yes
Available for:
Windows, macOS, iOS, Android
VPN:
Yes, capped at 200 MB/day/device
Pros
  • Password manager included
  • Security advisor tools
  • Money-back guarantee
Cons
  • Limited VPN bandwidth

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

Every plan includes a VPN, albeit it’s 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 also 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 antivirus software for your Windows, Android, iOS, and macOS devices, you’ll have to buy the Bitdefender Total Security plan, with five additional licenses. Otherwise, the antivirus is limited to just one operating system. Upgrading will also net you a firewall, webcam protection, parental controls, 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 the Bitdefender antivirus possibly the best antivirus for laptop and desktop computers, too, but it’s also quite affordable. In fact, the basic annual plans for mobile and desktop devices alike are the cheapest among all the products on this list. Give the free version a spin, and you’ll see why this antivirus is so popular.

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Best for Windows 10
Number of devices:
Up to 10
Price range:
46,99-59.99/year
Renewal:
Annual, biennial, or triennial
Free version:
Free trial
Available for:
Windows, macOS, iOS, Android
VPN:
No
Pros
  • Straightforward interface
  • Excellent detection of malicious software
  • AI-powered Windows protection
Cons
  • Lack of features and customizability

Rarely listed among the top antivirus software solutions 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 will appreciate. This is a great relief for users who are not tech-savvy but still want more than just basic antivirus protection.

Once you start the full system scan, you’ll have to wait some 55 minutes, as neither the Home nor the Business options 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 programs is that it will do its job without bothering you.

You can use the free antivirus program, but after your 30-day trial expires, some of the additional benefits such as anti-phishing, an extra anti-ransomware layer, privacy tools, and advanced malware protection 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 a great 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. At the same time, real-time protection features 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.

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Best for Families
Number of devices:
1, 5, 10, or unlimited
Price range:
$19.99–$69.99/year
Renewal:
Annual
Free version:
No
Available for:
Windows, macOS, iOS, Android
VPN:
Yes, with Total Protection
Pros
  • Password manager included
  • Performance optimization
  • Local storage encryption
Cons
  • Limited parental control

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.”

The McAfee 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 such as an auto-play video blocker. 

However, as good as it is, McAfee isn’t free from disadvantages. The most glaring one, in this case, is the lack of a VPN without a selected renewal option, followed by the total absence of parental controls. But these shortcomings do little to detract from McAfee’s competence in providing safer browsing and network protection.

Those having difficulty navigating the McAfee antivirus app can always turn to the company’s support team. The support team can also 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.

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Best Free Antivirus
Number of devices:
1 or 10
Price range:
$0-$79.99/year
Renewal:
Annual
Free version:
Yes
Available for:
Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
VPN:
On Ultimate plan only
Pros
  • Easy-to-use and unintrusive
  • Powerful network security inspector
  • Extensive list of security-related bonus features
Cons
  • Can be slow to boot

Many regard Avast as the best free antivirus software 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 Avast is widely regarded as the best free antivirus software, the zero-dollar option comes with a few caveats. Namely, Avast’s antivirus offers fewer features in its basic free version than the cheapest versions of competing programs. 

Fortunately, the 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 free version of 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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Best for Mobile Devices
Number of devices:
1 or 10
Price range:
$0-$35.99/year
Renewal:
Annual
Free version:
Yes
Available for:
Windows, macOS, iOS, Android
VPN:
Only with AVG Ultimate
Pros
  • Low system requirements
  • Defense against all malware types
  • Advances protection features
Cons
  • Tracks user browsing habits

AVG is another contender for the best mobile antivirus. Along with Avast, this software has been a favorite form of internet security among users who need free antivirus programs for their smartphone or laptop.

The AVG AntiVirus FREE plan offers real-time malware protection. It’s able to shield your device from ransomware, spyware, and adware, and 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 keep you from downloading malicious files or opening phishing emails.

AVG is similar to the other candidates for the best free malware removal tool in that it reserves its more impressive features for the 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.

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Best for Gamers
Number of devices:
1-5
Price range:
$39.99–$59.99/device/year
Renewal:
Annual
Free version:
30-day trial
Available for:
Windows, macOS, Linux, and Android
VPN:
Yes
Pros
  • Ransomware shield included
  • Phishing detection
  • International 24/7 support
Cons
  • Expensive multi-device licensing

For many years, NOD32 was considered one of the top options when it came to antivirus software. The title was well-deserved, as ESET is continuously working on improving the virus protection algorithms and phishing detection every customer gets with this program.

This antivirus software 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, so it’s not the ideal antivirus software for those with a limited budget.

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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Best for Multiple-Device Owners
Number of devices:
1, 3, 5, or 7
Price range:
€59.90–€119.99/year
Renewal:
Annual
Free version:
Free trial
Available for:
Windows, macOS, iOS, Android
VPN:
Yes, by itself or with the TOTAL plan
Pros
  • Ransomware and banking protection
  • Parental controls included
  • Mobile device locator
Cons
  • VPN sold separately

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 gadgets secure.

The basic version of the F-Secure antivirus is called SAFE and, even in its basic form, it 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 plans have a set of parental controls, allowing you to configure screen time for your children, while also providing them with a safe online space and protecting them from harmful content.

The downside of this antivirus 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.

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Best for Windows 10
Number of devices:
Equal to no. of Windows devices
Price range:
Free with Windows license
Renewal:
Not required
Free version:
Yes
Available for:
Windows
VPN:
No
Pros
  • Nearly invisible
  • Low resources required
  • Preinstalled on Windows 10
Cons
  • Very basic antivirus software

This antivirus software differs slightly from the rest of the products on our list. Microsoft has improved its Windows Defender antivirus substantially 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 malware detection 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 drive scanner. In the nearly two decades since its original release, the Microsoft Defender Antivirus has proven itself as a capable contender in the competitive field of antivirus software.

There is a simple yet functional firewall, and you can even set some basic parental controls on your computer. On top of 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 operating system, on Windows 10, Microsoft Defender offers an unmatched feature-to-value ratio. It offers more options and better protection than any free antivirus. And if you want to switch to another, paid option, it’s easy to disable it until you need it again.

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What You Need to Know About Antivirus Software Solutions

After determining what the ideal antivirus for your needs is, it’s time to delve deeper into what malware protection means and why millions of people use this type of 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, antivirus 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 software, this information comes in the form of a database of virus definitions that usually gets updated daily. 

Certain antivirus developers 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, much like a biological virus mutates, there are instances where 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. Any antivirus worth its salt 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.

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, such as the program tracking your browsing data. It goes without saying, but software made by a reputable company should do neither of those things.

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 reliable paid antivirus software that will keep all the bases covered.

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, and always use a secure browser. 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 programs and determine which one is the best, we’ve conducted an in-depth analysis of each product. 

Antivirus companies 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. Antivirus software that excels at threat detection is a better option than the program that’s jam-packed with features but has a mediocre virus recognition rate.

That said, a modern antivirus needs a complete toolset to stand out. Top antivirus software solutions often include features such as ransomware protection, phishing detection and prevention tools, password managers, webcam protection, file shredders, parental controls, and even dark web monitoring. 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 deal with an overly complex interface. The best antivirus protection software should make 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. 

Try before you buy - It’s ideal when you can dip your toe into the water before taking the plunge. Always be on the lookout for free trials or free versions of 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 offers that are fully capable of protecting your devices from malware, too, but keep in mind that a free security suite can only get you so far.

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 list of best antivirus software solutions offers apps for Apple computers.