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Antivirus software is an essential investment in today’s digital world. Around 32% of people use antivirus technology for business and personal use, while 41% use it for personal protection alone. As people continue to spend more time online since the 2020 pandemic, and the number of reported cybersecurity issues continue to skyrocket, Antivirus tools are more important than ever.
The question is, which antivirus software is best? There’s plenty of options to choose from. You can choose between all-in-one security suites with malware protection and VPN support, as well as simple, budget-friendly anti-virus tools.
Today, we’re going to explore some of the top antivirus software options to help you protect your digital presence.
What is Antivirus Software?
Antivirus software is a program or technology suite designed to protect against computer viruses. Today’s technology can set defenses to reduce your chances of being hit by viruses, search for evidence of virus issues, and remove malicious content from your PC.
The exact features of your chosen antivirus software will depend on the product you choose. Most will scan specific files and directories on-demand, and automatically for attack symptoms. You should also be able to schedule scans according to your needs, collect information on discovered viruses, and remove malicious code whenever its discovered.
Some virus software will also show you the “health” of your computer, by tracking things like how many protections you have in place.
Let’s check out some of the top Antivirus options.
McAfee Antivirus Total Protection is an all-in-one solution for staying secure on your digital devices. The antivirus technology comes with home network security, password manager, McAfee document shredder tools, performance optimization and safe web browsing installed. You’ll also get security expert guidance and support when required from the McAfee team, and an identity protection service.
Ideal for customers who want to invest in a more comprehensive form of protection, McAfee Total protection offers a lot of features with a lightweight system fingerprint. In other words, you won’t lose a lot of space on your device. There’s also the option to get multi-device coverage if you’re looking for safety for the whole family.
McAfee Antivirus is also wonderfully easy to use, so you shouldn’t have any trouble setting up and exploring the available features. On the downside, McAfee’s overall antivirus protection doesn’t have the best rating among its competitors.
Extensive range of features
Excellent VPN with unlimited usage
Multiple package options
Intelligent firewalls, spam filters, and secure file vaults
Lightweight for your computer
Antivirus protection isn’t as reliable as some revivals
Can be expensive for one device
Pricing: The Total Protection antivirus software ranges from $24.99 for one device for an initial two-year subscription. You’ll pay $159.99 per each two years if you renew after that. There’s also Family protection for $39.99 for up to 10 devices.
Norton Antivirus Plus, similar to McAfee Total Protection, offers more than just basic antivirus coverage with each package. You get all-around protection from a range of features, including a real-time threat detection and protection service. There’s a password manager, so you can worry less about remembering complex passwords, and a smart firewall for both PC and Mac users.
Norton provides a host of extras you wouldn’t typically get from other entry-level antivirus offerings, such as 2GB of online storage for your data, and tools for PC maintenance. Perhaps most importantly, the antivirus defenses are strong and reliable – though not the best on the market.
For families, a special version of Norton Antivirus offers features like parental control, school time management, and even safe camera protection. The wide range of flexible features available from Norton makes it a top pick among a lot of security fans. However, it’s worth noting the technology can show down your device slightly.
Extra features like cloud storage
Anti-virus, spyware, malware, and ransomware in one
Multiple packages, including family-friendly options
Decent antivirus protection for Mac and PC
Identity and online privacy support
Can slow down your device slightly
Pricing: For one account, Norton Antivirus Plus costs $59.99, you can also pay for subscriptions for multiple devices at once.
Rated among the top antivirus products for price and functionality, Kaspersky Antivirus is specifically dedicated to Windows protection. The service promises to protect you against viruses and malware in real-time. You’ll also get support to keep your machine effectively running every day. Performance optimization features are built into the basic package.
The triple layer security at the heart of Kaspersky features proactive threat detection, real-time blocking of cyber threats and instant neutralization. Basic antivirus protection also helps to defend you against fake websites and emails with phishing protection.
If you upgrade to Kaspersky total security, you’ll also get VPN access, payment protection, webcam protection, an adult content blocker, screen-time management, GPS child location, file protection and more. There’s also a helpful password manager available, so you can reduce the risks of using the same easy-to-remember password everywhere.
Extensive range of potential features
Good anti-phishing protection
Performance optimization built-in
Not available for Mac if you buy the essential suite
Pricing: Pricing generally starts at around $59.99 for coverage of 3 years on one PC. However, you can get great discounts on the Kaspersky website.
Widely considered one of the best antivirus products available, Bitdefender Antivirus plus is a convenient and affordable tool for real-time protection. Designed for Windows PCs, the software protects users from dangerous ransomware and viruses, prevents phishing, and even includes a secure VPN for online privacy.
While there’s a free version of the Bitdefender service available, you’ll get a lot more functionality with the “Pro” protection, which is also extremely affordable. Bitdefender offers excellent protection against infections, while having minimal impact on computer performance. The more you’re willing to pay for your service, the more features you’ll get, including VPN support, network threat prevention, vulnerability assessments and anti-fraud support.
Bitdefender has won a number of awards for its antivirus protection, including the “Outstanding Security Product” award from AV-Comparatives. You’ll also get performance boosting features like Bitdefender Photon, Autopilot and battery mode in some packages.
Extensive features like Safepay banking protection and VPN
Lots of internet and computer protection
Fantastic value for money
Top-of-the-line protection from viruses with minimal performance impact
Access to host of performance boosting features
Only for Windows PC
Limited VPN usage
Pricing: Pricing starts at around $39.99 per year for one license, putting it on par with some of the cheaper competitors in the market.
An excellent antivirus product for gamers hoping to minimize the impact on their computer performance, Eset NOD32 antivirus is quick, efficient, and lightweight. Suitable for both Mac and Windows devices, the dependable antivirus technology comes with a 30-day free trial, and support for protection against viruses, malware, and more.
The antivirus technology from NOD32 requires minimal power from your computer, so you can continue watching videos and playing games without much of an impact. The technology also automatically updates, so you won’t have to spend as much time worrying about patching the software.
One handy feature of Eset is the option to remotely check your devices from a distance with the smartphone app. There’s also access to easy license sharing, if you want to deliver the tech to more than one family member, and centralized license management. The license management features of Eset make it a good choice for small companies too.
Convenient app control center
Support for both Mac and Windows devices
Powerful antivirus protection
Automatic updates and patches
Minimal power usage for gamers
A little difficult to use
Pricing: The cost of a NOD32 subscription is around $49.99 per year, with additional licenses available for an extra $10 per year.
Simple and effective, Trend Micro Antivirus helps to protect you against all kinds of threats online. The set-and-forget technology stops viruses in their tracks, helps users to browse safely by blocking dangerous websites, and even detects ransomware. You can also access features for guarding against phishing emails too.
With minimal confusing features to get used to, it’s easy to set up your computer protection in a matter of minutes. However, you might find the tech occasionally raises a few “false positives” from time to time. On the plus side, it’s one of the best tools on the market for phishing protection, and it also provides Pay Guard for online banking defense.
Like most antivirus products, the more you pay, the more features you’ll get. Higher-end products can include things like parental controls and protection or social media use. There’s also the option for password protection and secure file vaults, in case you find yourself working with a lot of sensitive data at home or in the office.
Wide range of tools to choose from
Strong anti-virus performance
Excellent anti-ransomware and phishing protection
Easy to use with no complicated tools
Family protection options available
Can reduce device performance slightly
Pricing: Costs for Trend Micro Antivirus start at around $39.95 for one year on one device, with multi-device and multi-year packages available.
Avira Antivirus is perhaps most popular due to its free protection option, which is one of the most generous packages on the market. However, if you want extensive protection, it’s probably best to stick with the premium plans. The award-winning technology is trusted by over 500 million users worldwide and comes with an intuitive interface that’s easy to manage.
The Avira security packages come with everything you need from a modern security app, including real-time malware scanning, dedicated ransomware defenses, a software updating tool that works perfectly with a range of apps, and privacy tools like a file shredder.
Upgrading to the premier versions of Avira Antivirus will definitely give you a lot more functionality to work with, such as the professional software updater, and unlimited VPN support. You can even access a mobile app to check the security status of your devices from a distance, or make updates to your malware protection wherever you are.
Extensive antivirus, malware, and ransomware protections
Tools to improve your PC performance
Free version available if you’re not ready for a paid plan
Another service popular for its free functionality, Avast Antivirus promises today’s digital explorers all the tools they need to stay secure online. You can download the free version of the antivirus, which includes tools for secure Wi-Fi browsing, shopping and banking safely, and device optimization. Alternatively, you can upgrade to a more advanced version of Avast’s service for extra functionality like sensitive data shield and premium security configuration.
Avast offers dedicated packages for different users, so you can track down the right kind of protection depending on whether you’re using a home or business device. There’s also a software updating tool available to ensure your applications remain patched and up-to-date. Avast has its own anti-phishing functionality, but it’s not quite as advanced as what you might get from some other competitors.
If you go all out for Avast Ultimate protection, you’ll get premium security bundled with the SecureLine VPN for safer browsing, and a host of PC cleanup tools. Unfortunately, the tech might have an impact on your device performance.
Excellent VPN and PC cleanup functionality
Free version of antivirus available
Software updating tool and device optimization
Safe banking and shopping
Can slow down your devices quite a bit
Pricing: If you upgrade from the Avast free antivirus package to the ultimate plan, you can spend $49.99 per year on coverage for one Windows device, or $59.99 for up to ten devices for the first year.
Sophos Home Premium is a dedicated anti-virus solution designed specifically for home or personal protection. You can defend both Mac and Windows devices with this technology, and the software is wonderfully easy to use. Though some experts might find the interface a little basic and lacking in customizations, beginners will love the intuitive design.
Sophos provides a high level of protection for a low price, so it’s great if you want peace of mind for the whole family without spending a fortune. Anti-ransomware is built-in, along with a selection of tools for helping you to surf the web safely. Sophos Home Premium also includes a performance boosting package to help clean your computer.
There’s a free trial available to give you a taste of what you can expect, and families can also access features like parental web filtering and AI threat detection in case your kid ends up on a dangerous site. For all-around peace of mind, Sophos performs well, and gives you a convenient place where you can track your device’s safety.
Excellent malware and ransomware security
Privacy and web protection included
Premium support and an easy-to-use design
Device optimization functionality included
A little basic for advanced threat protection
Pricing: The price for Sophos home premium starts at $59.99 per year with a 25% saving on your first one-year subscription. You can also buy multiple years of protection at once for an extra saving if you prefer.
What Makes a Great Antivirus Software?
The best antivirus software will be the one that gives you absolute peace of mind when you or your family is browsing online or using a digital device. Today’s antivirus tools come with a host of fantastic features to make your life easier and safer. Here are just some of the things you’ll need to consider to ensure you’re getting a great product.
Quality antivirus engine: The most important feature of any antivirus software is a good antivirus engine. A highly rated engine will be able to scan your PC quickly and effectively, finding potential threats, without wasting your time on false positives. You can usually find basic insights into the accuracy and performance levels of antivirus software online.
Budget: You do get what you pay for when it comes to antivirus protection. While free services do exist, it’s often much safer to choose a premium package with more extensive coverage. Make sure you think about your budget carefully and consider trying a free demo or free trial versions of the products you like before you spend your cash.
Protection level: If you just need a core antivirus solution and some basic protection against malware, then you can buy a pretty simple antivirus solution without spending a lot of money. If you need more in-depth features like access to a VPN and extensive configuration options, then you may need to spend a little more.
Number of licenses: Most antivirus software providers will allow you to choose between buying one license to cover a single computer or device, or multiple licenses. Typically, you’ll be able to get a slight discount if you’re buying multiple instances of the software at the same time.
Extra security: It’s rare for most of the top antivirus products on the market today to come with antivirus protection and nothing else. There’s a good chance you’ll also be able to find things like malware protection, phishing protection, safer shopping and financial features, and even parental controls on your antivirus system.
VPN access: Although not all antivirus software options come with VPN technology built-in, it’s becoming an increasingly common feature. If you want complete privacy when you’re shopping or browsing online, a VPN can be a nice extra feature to have. It means you don’t have to go shopping for a VPN separately.
Ease of use: If you’re extremely digitally savvy and know your way around technology like antivirus software already, you probably don’t need to worry too much about ease-of-us. For everyone else, a clean, simple and easy-to-use interface will come in handy. Check out customer reviews to see if your software choice is easy to use.
Device optimization: A lot of modern antivirus tools come with device optimization features to ensure your computer or smartphone is working at its best. These tools allow you to clear out old files and get rid of malware whenever possible.
Don’t forget to check out some of the special benefits you can get from certain antivirus tools too. Products sometimes come with things like vault file protection for your secure files, or free cloud storage. These factors will definitely make a difference when you’re choosing the right item.
Antivirus Software FAQ
Q: What is the best antivirus software?
The right antivirus software for you depends on your specific needs. Bitdefender is one of the top products on the market if you’re looking for antivirus performance above anything else. If you want a wide range of bonus features from your antivirus, you might consider something like Norton Antivirus or Sophos Home Premium.
Q: Is antivirus software important?
Although some people do get by without antivirus software, anyone who uses a digital device regularly should have an antivirus application installed. Even if you’re extremely careful about where and how you use the internet, there’s always a chance that you could fall victim to dangerous malware, ransomware, and other viruses which have a direct impact on your data and your life. Antivirus software gives you the protection you need.
Q: How does antivirus software work?
Antivirus basically acts as the bounder or guard for your PC. Every time you interact with something, your antivirus gives it a background check to ensure there’s nothing suspicious going on behind the scenes. Essentially, this gives you real-time protection against all kinds of threats which could end up costing you a lot of time and money. Your anti-virus software can operate automatically, according to a specific schedule, or even when you want to check out specific programs.
Most antivirus software solutions will immediately notify you when a threat is detected and give you information on what you can do next. You can also use your antivirus software for things like computer optimization in some cases.
Q: Is free antivirus software good enough?
Whether you can get by with free malware or not will depend on the level of protection you need. A good quality free malware will be able to protect your PC from basic threats if you’re not going to be exposing yourself to anything particularly dangerous. The key to success is making sure you still choose a product with aw good antivirus protection engine.
However, while you can get basic protection from a free antivirus software, you won’t get nearly as much peace of mind as you would if you were to install a premium service. Premium packages often come with additional features like VPN access, parental controls for families, and enhanced device optimization features.
Q: Can you use antivirus software on any device?
This will depend on the kind of antivirus software you install. Some solutions are available for Mac, PC, and even mobile devices, whereas others will only work with Windows. You can check what kind of operating systems your software is compatible with before you download anything. Make sure you do this to avoid wasting your cash.
Q: How much do you have to pay for antivirus software?
The amount you’ll spend on antivirus software depends on a number of factors, including how many advanced features you need. In general, it’s best to go for at least a basic premium package over a free malware protection service. Remember you’ll often have to pay for a subscription to your antivirus provider, which means budgeting money for your subscription every year, or every couple of years.
Antivirus software has been a standard component of good digital security for some time now. For years, leaders like Norton and Avast have been delivering secure antivirus technology to users on computers around the globe. However, as we continue to make our transition into a more digital future, and attackers become more sophisticated in the way they attempt to breach our security systems, getting the right kind of technology is essential.
These days, the standard antivirus protection won’t be enough for every computer. Taking the time to carefully assess your options and find the technology right for you will ensure you get the most return on your investment. Remember, you can’t put a price on peace of mind.
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At Findstack.com, our research is meant to offer general software recommendations. We don't guarantee that our suggestions will work best for each individual or business, so consider your unique needs when choosing products and services.