The Best Antivirus Software of 2020

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Our antivirus software reviews are the result of over 40 hours of research on 110+ antivirus software companies from across the web. These reviews and our antivirus software guide help small businesses and startups find the best antivirus software for their business.

The Best Antivirus Software Companies of 2020 

antivirus-software-badge

How We Chose the Best Antivirus Software

As more and more of our lives and economy move online in the modern world, it’s never been more important to have protection from online threats: attempts to hack and hijack our data, breach our privacy, even to steal our identities. The solution to these threats is up-to-date and effective antivirus software.

There are plenty of providers touting antivirus software with a bewildering array of features and supposed benefits. Focusing on a few key, essential criteria was how we cut through all this noise to find what’s really important. Our analysis focuses on the three key deliverables of the kind of antivirus software that offers true online security.

Strong Protection

Protection is the name of the game with antivirus software. Automatic updates, up-to-date content libraries, real-time scanning, firewalls, anti-theft and anti-spam protection are all major factors in delivering the best standards of protection. It’s also important that your antivirus software is designed to defend against the broadest possible array of external threats and can alert you to your vulnerabilities.

Additional Features

As long as you have the fundamentals of protection covered, you may get even better value for your money from antivirus software that provides useful added features. Some of the most important kinds of additional features include parental controls and system backups: the kind of added layers of protection that can prevent problems before they happen or recover your system if something should get through your defenses.

Number of Devices

When you’re trying to protect the data of your family or small business, it’s best to have an antivirus plan that covers all the devices you might need. We looked closely at per-device coverage and pricing.

The 20 Best Antivirus Software Companies of 2020

CompanyCostMaximum Devices CoveredMore
Avast antivirus$89.99/year for Premium Security
$119.99/year for Ultimate
10 DevicesVisit avast.com
AVG Technologies$49.99/year for AVG Internet Security
$79.99/year for AVG Ultimate
10 DevicesVisit avg.com
Avira Mobile Security for iOSAvira Antivirus Pro
$44.99/year for 1 Device
$57.99/year for 3 Devices
$70.99/year for 5 Devices

Avira Internet Security
$57.99/year for 1 Device
$70.99/year for 3 Devices
$83.99/year for 5 Devices

Avira Prime
$99.99/year for 5 Devices
$129.99/year for Unlimited Devices
Unlimited DevicesVisit Avira in the App Store
Bitdefender Antivirus Plus$19.99 1 device for the first year
$29.99 3 devices for the first year
$69.99 5 devices for the first year
$79.99 10 devices for the first year
$69.99 1 device for 2 years
$62.99 3 devices for 2 years
$109.99 5 devices for 2 years
$129.99 10 devices for 2 years
$89.99 1 device for 3 years
$83.99 3 devices for 3 years
$149.99 5 devices for 3 years
$179.99 10 devices for 3 years
10 DevicesVisit bitdefender.com
BullGuard Antivirus$23.99/year/Device for Antivirus
$44.99/year/Device for Internet Security
$59.99/year/Device for Premium Protection
Multi-DeviceVisit bullguard.com
Cisco AMP for EndpointsPriced per endpoint protected; contact vendor for more informationContact vendorVisit cisco.com
CrowdStrike Falcon$8.99/endpoint/month for Falcon Pro
$15.99/endpoint/month for Falcon Enterprise
$18.99/endpoint/month for Falcon Premium
Contact vendorVisit crowdstrike.com
ESET NOD32 Antivirus$39.99/year/Device for ESET NOD32
$49.99/year/Device for ESET Internet Security
$239.00/year/5 Devices for Endpoint Security Solution
10 DevicesVisit eset.com
F-Secure Anti-Virus€29.99/year for 1 Device
€39.99/year for 3 Devices
3 DevicesVisit f-secure.com
Kaspersky Anti-VirusEssential Protection
3 PCs 1 Year $29.99
5 PCs 1 Year $39.99

Advanced Protection
3 Devices 1 Year $39.99
5 Devices 1 Year $44.99

Premium Protection
5 Devices 1 Year $49.99
10 Devices 1 Year $74.99
10 DevicesVisit kaspersky.com
Malwarebytes PremiumPremium
$3.33/month for 1 Personal Device
$6.67/month for 5 Personal Devices

Premium + Privacy
$7.50/month for 5 Personal Devices
Business $119.97/year for 3 Devices for teams
$699.90/year for 10 Devices for Endpoint Protection
$849.90/year for 10 Devices for Endpoint Detection and Response
10 DevicesVisit malwarebytes.com
McAfee AntiVirus Plus$29.99/year for 1 Device
$34.99/year for 5 Devices
$39.99/year for 10 Devices
10 DevicesVisit mcafee.com
Microsoft DefenderNo cost5 DevicesVisit microsoft.com
NortonLifeLockNorton AntiVirus Plus: $14.99/year
Norton 360 Standard: $39.99/year
Norton 360 Deluxe: $49.99/year
Norton 360 with LifeLock Select: $99.99/year

*Pricing listed is for the first year
1 to 5 devicesVisit us.norton.com
Panda Security for Desktops$35.49/year for 1 Device
$47.49/year for 3 Devices
$53.49/year for 5 Devices
$65.49/year for 10 Devices
$71.49/year for Unlimited Devices
Unlimited DevicesVisit pandasecurity.com
Sophos Home Premium$45/year for Premium10 DevicesVisit home.sophos.com
Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security$39.95/year for Maximum Security
$39.95/year for Internet Security
$29.95/year for Antivirus+ Security
5 DevicesVisit trendmicro.com
VIPRE Advanced Security$29.99/year Antivirus Plus for Home
$38.49/year Advance Security for Home
$76.00/year Ultimate Security for Home
10 DevicesVisit vipre.com
VMware Carbon Black Cloud Endpoint Standard$40/year/endpoint for U.S. hosted sites
$44/year/endpoint for non-U.S. hosted sites
Contact vendorVisit carbonblack.com
Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus$29.99/year for 3 devices
$37.49/year for 3 devices
3 DevicesVisit webroot.com

Avast Antivirus

Avast-antivirus-logo
Avast Antivirus was long a giant on the antivirus market, known not only for a genuinely impressive free offering but also for tested and proven performance at its paid tiers of service. It provided reliable and effective protection against viruses and malware, a firewall and mobile-compatible security. Further features included behavioral analysis, a built-in password manager, a secure browser and a VPN service. It automatically scanned wireless routers and the devices connected to them, and anti-rootkit, anti-ransomware, AI-driven phishing protection and anti-Trojan features ensured an excellent breadth of security coverage. Its comprehensive anti-theft features could be managed remotely while backup and disaster recovery were just as robust. About all that Avast was missing in its feature-rich package was parental controls.

Unfortunately, Avast was scrubbed from the Mozilla, Chrome and Opera marketplaces after some issues with suspicious data collection. Avast has stated that they have terminated the relationship with the data collection firm and have claimed that no personal user data was compromised. Users will need to make their own determinations about whether those assurances are enough.

CostMaximum Devices CoveredFeatures
$89.99/year for Premium Security
$119.99/year for Ultimate
10 Devices>Remote managed anti-theft features
>VPN service and firewall
>Across-the-board virus and malware protection
>More features at avast.com

Pros & Cons of Avast Antivirus

ProsCons
>Reliable and effective against a wide array of viruses and malware>Avast was caught selling user data to third parties, a practice the company claims it has since terminated.
>Won't slow down devices on which it runs
>Superb mobile security features and powerful all-round feature set

What Customers Are Saying
Customers still using Avast’s paid services have generally positive reviews of it: “I have been using Avast Premier, VPN. Passwords and clean-up for almost five years, and love the company. I have all of these products on both my desktop (Windows 10 Pro) and my Surface Pro 6 laptop. . .” Nevertheless, the company may face an uphill climb with some users in convincing them that it truly respects the privacy of their data in the wake of the recent scandal.


AVG Technologies

AVG-Technologies-Logo
AVG has consistently placed high in independent tests of internet security products, consistently stopping any attacks it detects along with the vast majority of attempted “zero-day exploits” (attempts to attack systems through previously undetected vulnerabilities for which no patches or solutions have yet been implemented). Though relatively no-frills — it doesn’t include anti-theft or parental control features, backups or disaster recovery or anti-spam filters — it delivered well on the core mission of protection and its features did include background scanning and firewall protection. It was noted for affordable pricing and ease of use and installation and was competitive even with big names like Kaspersky and Bitdefender.

You’ll notice the above is largely framed in the past tense. After becoming a subsidiary of Avast, AVG was swept up in the Avast scandal involving the sale of user data to third parties through the data collection firm JumpShot, and like Avast has been removed from multiple online marketplaces as a result. Customers have also complained of glitchy billing practices and difficulty uninstalling the software. Parent company Avast claims it acted legally and within the bounds of GDPR regulations but has shut down its relationship with JumpShot. Users will have to decide for themselves whether this is sufficient assurance of their privacy.

CostMaximum Devices CoveredFeatures
$49.99/year for AVG Internet Security
$79.99/year for AVG Ultimate
10 Devices>Background scanning
>Firewall protection
>Affordable pricing
>More features at AVG Technologies

Pros & Cons of AVG Technologies

ProsCons
>Easy to use and install>AVG's parent company Avast was caught selling user data to third parties through a firm called JumpShot, a practice it claims to have terminated early in 2020
>Solid record for protection>Common user complaints of billing glitches and difficulty removing the software

What Customers Are Saying
Unfortunately, customer reviews for AVG are predominantly negative at the current time, including frequent complaints like “I discontinued AVG and they continue to bill me via VISA. Tried to contact AVG and can only reach tech support.” Rehabilitating the software’s reputation, despite its otherwise positive performance reports, will have to involve addressing these issues.


Avira Mobile Security for iOS

Avira-Mobile-Security-Logo
Avira Mobile is a very specifically focused product. While Apple doesn’t allow antivirus applications to reside in their App Store, Avira’s Mobile Security does more than simply scanning the iOS / iPad OS against malware. It spots phishing scams, provides comprehensive reports of activity on your phone, discovers devices that are on the same network as yours, protects your data traffic via the embedded free VPN feature, and improves performance by removing duplicate photos along with anti-theft protection. It can also be used in concert with other Avira products as part of a larger suite of security tools in order to protect people across all of their devices.

Obviously, security software with a focus this specific can’t be truly compared to more comprehensive antivirus in an “apples-to-apples” way. Still, designed to be easy to use and light on system resources, Avira Mobile delivers well on its core mission, and its compatibility with other Avira products makes it a potentially attractive option for those looking to build a more comprehensive security package in modular fashion.

CostMaximum Devices CoveredFeatures
Avira Antivirus Pro
$44.99/year for 1 Device
$57.99/year for 3 Devices
$70.99/year for 5 Devices

Avira Internet Security
$57.99/year for 1 Device
$70.99/year for 3 Devices
$83.99/year for 5 Devices

Avira Prime
$99.99/year for 5 Devices
$129.99/year for Unlimited Devices
Unlimited Devices>Phishing website detection
>VPN service
>Useful activity reports
>More features at Avira Mobile Security

Pros & Cons of Avira Mobile Security for iOS

ProsCons
>Performs strongly at its core anti-phishing mission>Narrow and specific in its security focus
>Easy on system resources and easy to use
>Integrates with other Avira products for those seeking more comprehensive protection

What Customers Are Saying
Most customers of Avira Mobile Security give it positive notices: “I . . . installed it on my phone and I now have peace of mind with the unlimited data usages with the VPN.” Another user puts it succinctly, “Easy to use, does its job, and uses little battery.”


Bitdefender Antivirus Plus

Bitdefender-Antivirus-Plus-Logo
Bitdefender is one of the top antivirus solutions currently on the market, offering a wide breadth of features including ransomware protection, encryption and parental controls. It provides solid defenses against most online threats and doesn’t take up undue resources on the systems being protected, offering notably rapid and accurate scanning that’s strongly competitive with other leading contenders. It also provides mobile-compatible security features like website screening and phone tracking for iPhones and iPads in particular, and it offers robust backup and recovery features.

Bitdefender’s antivirus defenses are close to — but not quite — flawless, with very small vulnerabilities detected in the ability of its heuristic scans (which look for system behaviors that might indicate infection) to catch potential “zero-day” attacks. There are also some minor imperfections in its malware detection. It’s worth noting, however, that these flaws are far from rising to the level of deal-breaker and that no antivirus software offers genuinely flawless performance in the real world. Bitdefender still ranks high on “best-of” lists and provides unlimited VPN usage at its top tier of service.

CostMaximum Devices CoveredFeatures
$19.99 1 device for the first year
$29.99 3 devices for the first year
$69.99 5 devices for the first year
$79.99 10 devices for the first year
$69.99 1 device for 2 years
$62.99 3 devices for 2 years
$109.99 5 devices for 2 years
$129.99 10 devices for 2 years
$89.99 1 device for 3 years
$83.99 3 devices for 3 years
$149.99 5 devices for 3 years
$179.99 10 devices for 3 years
10 Devices>Supports mobile security
>Powerful scanning engine
>Encryption and parental controls
>More features at BitDefender

Pros & Cons of Bitdefender Antivirus Plus

ProsCons
>Performs well on most devices without slowing down system operations>Slight vulnerabilities in anti-malware coverage and ability to detect and block zero-day attacks
>Very fast scanning and strong virus and malware protection
>Unlimited VPN use at top tier of paid service

What Customers Are Saying
Bitdefender’s users praise it for easy setup and hassle-free performance: “The anti-virus is silent, it does its job without bothering me. Due to the good name of the company I can feel safe using my PC, and not thinking too much about security. Never had a problem with it. The setup was easy, no hidden check-boxes that are ticked by default and install unwanted software.”


BullGuard Antivirus

BullGuard-Antivirus-Logo
BullGuard is a strong contender on the antivirus market, offering many of the common features that users have come to expect from a well-made security program. It detects and protects against both viruses and malware, provides parental controls and a VPN service, offers firewall protection and a secure browser and boasts specialized identity theft protection features. It also has a feature, called the GameBooster, which focuses on boosting system performance and protection during high-powered online PC gameplay. Its mobile app for Android backs your data up to the cloud and includes theft protection.

The software’s drawbacks are relatively minor. There are other antivirus solutions on the market that have more intuitive UIs and make it easier to set up scheduled scans, for example. Still, it’s a very solidly performing antivirus suite, and its gaming mode actually increases the efficiency of PC gaming online, making it a particularly useful option for gamers and their families.

CostMaximum Devices CoveredFeatures
$23.99/year/Device for Antivirus
$44.99/year/Device for Internet Security
$59.99/year/Device for Premium Protection
Multi-Device>Mobile app for Android
>Secure browser and firewall protection
>Parental controls on both mobile
>More features at BullGuard

Pros & Cons of BullGuard Antivirus

ProsCons
>Uniquely high-performing GameBoost feature>UI isn't as intuitive as it could be
>High-functioning malware and virus detection>Lacks a mobile app for iOS
>Identity theft protection ideal for customers who shop or do business online

What Customers Are Saying
BullGuard has a reputation among users for being effective, affordable and lightweight: “I highly recommend BullGuard. It does not slow down my system like other antiviruses did, and I saved [plenty of] money buying it as the price tag is very affordable.”


Cisco AMP for Endpoints

Cisco-AMP-for-Endpoints-Logo
The venerable network giant Cisco has been a major player in multiple areas of IT, including the wide range of Collaboration Endpoints — hardware peripherals and software clients designed to facilitate calls and meetings — for which Cisco AMP provides anti-malware security. AMP stands for Advanced Malware Protection, and it’s highly sophisticated, using overlapping detection engines (including Cisco’s own antivirus engine) to analyze unknown files against hundreds of behavioral indicators. Those that show signs of malicious activity are blocked and quarantined, with a remarkable rate of efficiency. It’s estimated that globally, AMP blocks some 20 billion threats per day.

Software like AMP is also called EDR software (endpoint detection and response). It can be thought of as an evolution beyond basic antivirus, designed to secure large business networks. As such, some of the added features we look for with other companies, like firewalls or parental controls, either aren’t relevant or are rendered redundant by more advanced approaches. Cisco AMP incorporates adaptive intelligence engines, detection and response automation and machine learning, all aimed at its core mission of endpoint protection. It delivers complete reliability against some of the most advanced and subtle threats the internet has to offer.

CostMaximum Devices CoveredFeatures
Priced per endpoint protected; contact vendor for more informationContact vendor>Behavioral analysis provided by multiple detection engines
>Automated detection and response
>Adaptive intelligence and machine learning
>More features at CISCO

Pros & Cons of Cisco AMP for Endpoints

ProsCons
>Extremely impressive set of features focused on malware and virus detection and quarantine>High sensitivity of detection also leads to numerous false positives
>Remarkably reliable protection for communication endpoints against advanced threats

What Customers Are Saying
Cisco AMP is much beloved of IT professionals in office environments, who are its largest user base: “The solution makes it possible to see a threat once and block it everywhere across all endpoints and the entire security platform . . . right down to the file and application level across all devices based on policies [such as] blacklisting and whitelisting of software and applications . . . [it has] the ability to identify threats very quickly, then lock them and the network down and block the threats across the organization and all devices, which is what you want.”


CrowdStrike Falcon

CrowdStrike-Falcon-Logo
Like Cisco AMP, CrowdStrike Falcon is focused on securing endpoints on business networks against malware and virus intrusion. It is an EDR (endpoint detection and response) tool, designed to give large organizations and networks a more advanced and responsive cybersecurity option than typical antivirus software. Falcon’s distinguishing feature is that it brings the resources of the cloud to bear on the constant “arms race” with hackers. The system operates entirely within the cloud, and threat data from an incident faced by any user is shared to upgrade the security of all users.

With the brains of the system inside the cloud, users download lightweight “agent” installations to Windows, Linux or Mac devices (mobile compatibility for Android and iOS is expected to come soon). The agents are kept up to date with the most current threat data and systems on this model become easily scalable. CrowdStrike offers sophisticated incident reports, granular remediation tools, and at higher service tiers provides direct support for IT teams by CrowdStrike’s own security teams (called Overwatch) to inform them of new threats.

CostMaximum Devices CoveredFeatures
$8.99/endpoint/month for Falcon Pro
$15.99/endpoint/month for Falcon Enterprise
$18.99/endpoint/month for Falcon Premium
Contact vendor>Innovative cloud-based architecture
>Runs through lightweight agent installations that won't affect performance
>Sophisticated reporting and remediation tools
>More features at CrowdStrike Falcon

Pros & Cons of CrowdStrike Falcon

ProsCons
>A genuinely innovative approach to cloud-based EDR management makes it responsive to new threats>Not all IT teams will like the idea of having their threat data shared with everyone using Falcon
>Cloud-based architecture is almost infinitely scalable>Definitely a solution designed for large companies with large IT teams, not small business
>Dedicated "Overwatch" security consultancy at upper service tiers

What Customers Are Saying
CrowdStrike Falcon’s power and flexibility draw praise from its customers: “There aren’t many scenarios where I wouldn’t recommend CrowdStrike. You’ll have the ability to create protection policies for different parts of your environment so that sensitive machines have as much protection as possible, and low-risk machines aren’t overly locked down.”


ESET NOD32 Antivirus

ESET-NOD32-Antivirus-Logo
ESET NOD32 is an entry-level antivirus offering focused specifically on Windows users. Ranked in the upper tier of antivirus programs by independent testing labs, it performs well in what users most want from their antivirus software: detecting, tracking and neutralizing threats (including viruses, malware and phishing attempts) without compromising their computer’s performance. ESET NOD32 also offers parental controls, anti-spam and a user-friendly installation process and interface.

At higher tiers of service, it’s possible to get versions of ESET compatible with Mac or Android devices, for the latter of which it offers mobile-compatible anti-theft features. Unfortunately, ESET doesn’t presently provide automatic backups or automatic database updates, making its effectiveness reliant on the user remembering to manually initiate these processes. ESET can also get expensive quickly for users trying to employ it across all their devices. Still, it’s a solid choice, and NOD32 is a particularly attractive option for Windows users.

CostMaximum Devices CoveredFeatures
$39.99/year/Device for ESET NOD32
$49.99/year/Device for ESET Internet Security
$239.00/year/5 Devices for Endpoint Security Solution
10 Devices>Protection against viruses, malware and phishing
>Anti-spam and parental control
>Compatible with Windows, Mac & Android
>More features at ESET NOD32

Pros & Cons of ESET NOD32 Antivirus

ProsCons
>Proven reliability in protection>The lack of automatic updates and backups is a big missing piece
>Won't interfere with a system's performance>Can get expensive to use on a large set of devices
>Easy to use and install

What Customers Are Saying
ESET users often find that it outperforms competing antivirus solutions: “ESET has picked up viruses that others e.g. McAfee missed. The fact that they update continually gives them a distinct advantage for a reasonable price. I have instances of bringing a removable drive home from an institution where I teach. Their anti-virus did not find anything, yet, when inserted onto my home desktop the drive was found to have been infected.”


F-Secure Anti-Virus

F-Secure-Anti-Virus-Logo
F-Secure has a reputation for providing powerful and solidly tested protection from viruses and malware. At its upper tiers of service, it offers a friendly UI, mobile-compatible security apps, robust parental controls, ransomware and web browser protection, banking protection and all-around reliable defense for Windows and macOS systems. Reliable enough, in fact, that it should be a contender for the top spots in the antivirus market. What holds it back from the highest honors is a relatively light list of additional features that keeps it from being a truly comprehensive security suite.

Even those subscription tiers that offer password management, for example, offer it in only a limited form that doesn’t match the offerings that come with some other antivirus packages. More expensive levels of service also offer VPN access — but to a network on the limited scale of just over two dozen servers in 18 countries. No version of F-secure offers firewall or webcam protection or support for Linux devices. That said, it still delivers well enough on the core mission of malware and virus protection that it could be a worthwhile home solution for some users.

CostMaximum Devices CoveredFeatures
€29.99/year for 1 Device
€39.99/year for 3 Devices
3 Devices>Tested and reliable malware and virus protection
>Robust parental controls
>Ransomware and browser protection at some tiers of service
>More features at F-Secure Anti-Virus

Pros & Cons of F-Secure Anti-Virus

ProsCons
>Reliable enough for basic protection to compete with the best on the market>Features like the password manager and VPN are not particularly robust
>Easy to install with a user-friendly UI>Doesn't offer firewall or webcam protection
>Solid ransomware, browser and banking protection at higher subscription tiers>No support for Linux devices

What Customers Are Saying
Many of F-Secure’s users praise its stability and hassle-free operation: “I would definitely recommend this software to others to protect their computers . . . I have played around with multiple anti-virus software and this one seems to work well.” Another user notes, “My internet provider (Xs4all) recommended this anti virus software to keep my PC free from viruses and attacks by hackers. Easy to install, updates are automated so you feel always secure and protected.”


Kaspersky Anti-Virus

Kaspersky-Anti-Virus-Logo
Kaspersky’s current version offers powerfully effective real-time protection against viruses, malware and ransomware. It provides fast and accurate scanning without sacrificing your device’s performance. At its paid tiers of service, it has a fully functional password manager, advanced VPN service, eCommerce protection and anti-phishing defenses, and webcam protection. One of its most distinguishing features is cloud protection. In similar fashion to CrowdStrike Falcon, Kaspersky Anti-Virus solicits malware reports from users to help it advance its protection standards more rapidly and shares that outcome with all of its user base.

CostMaximum Devices CoveredFeatures
Essential Protection
3 PCs 1 Year $29.99
5 PCs 1 Year $39.99

Advanced Protection
3 Devices 1 Year $39.99
5 Devices 1 Year $44.99

Premium Protection
5 Devices 1 Year $49.99
10 Devices 1 Year $74.99
10 Devices>High-quality VPN service
>Anti-phishing protection
>Constant security updates through Cloud Protection
>More features at Kaspersky Anti-Virus

Pros & Cons of Kaspersky Anti-Virus

ProsCons
>Fast, powerful and performance-friendly real-time scanning and remediation>There are potentially troubling privacy issues with Cloud Protection, which should be easier to deactivate
>Cloud Protection approach to developing responses to security threats is innovative
>Rich set of further features, particularly at upper service tiers

What Customers Are Saying
Customers generally give Kaspersky Anti-Virus positive reviews: “I have tried other services, but Kaspersky has always caught any intruders” and disposed of them for me. Best part is it doesn’t slow down the computer while it runs in the background. I use Kaspersky on all devices and the cost is extremely reasonable.”


Malwarebytes Premium

Malwarebytes-Premium-Logo
Malwarebytes’ name derives from an early era of cybersecurity in which “malware” and “viruses” were separate kinds of threat, the latter a kind of program that spread by corrupting the code of other programs. Early versions of Malwarebytes were designed to work alongside antivirus programs and complement them; only more recently has Malwarebytes taken up the mantle of providing comprehensive security suites in its own right.

Like most modern security software, Malwarebytes doesn’t base its detection approach on analyzing files but rather on analyzing behaviors of a program that might indicate that it’s malicious. The remnants of the company’s former mission are still visible in the efficiency with which their software handles malware protection and blocks suspicious URLs. The software is designed with an interesting layered defense against signatures, exploits, the aforementioned dangerous URLs and a Browser Guard plug-in for an extra boost in performance. Malwarebytes Premium provides good protection overall and is a genuine contender in the modern market, save that its ransomware protection could stand some upgrading and its anti-phishing defenses are not yet effective.

CostMaximum Devices CoveredFeatures
Premium
$3.33/month for 1 Personal Device
$6.67/month for 5 Personal Devices

Premium + Privacy
$7.50/month for 5 Personal Devices

Business
$119.97/year for 3 Devices for teams
$699.90/year for 10 Devices for Endpoint Protection
$849.90/year for 10 Devices for Endpoint Detection and Response
10 Devices>Powerful behavior-driven malware detection
>Reliable blocking of dangerous URLs
>Strong layered defense against threats
>More features at malwarebytes.com

Pros & Cons of Malwarebytes Premium

ProsCons
>Provides strong protection against most forms of malware and dangerous URLs>Anti-phishing defenses are weak
>Behavior-based detection is highly effective>Ransomware detection results are mixed
>Includes ransomware and exploit protections

What Customers Are Saying

Malwarebytes enjoys a strong word-of-mouth reputation for effectiveness, particularly among people familiar with cybersecurity. As one user says: “Malwarebytes was highly recommended to me by a friend/colleague who specializes in cybersecurity. Since owning Malwarebytes I have had 0 incidences of viruses, trojans, unwanted popups, or unwanted downloads on my computer. It allows me to do work without fear of stolen data, stolen passwords, or viruses that would negatively impact my time or computer speed.”


McAfee AntiVirus Plus

McAfee-AntiVirus-Plus-Logo
A veteran presence in the antivirus community, McAfee AntiVirus has excellent offerings for protecting your devices. It provides a full list of added features like a firewall, data shredder, McAfee WebAdvisor, tech scam protection, social media protection, QuickClean tracker remover and PC Boost performance optimization. Other third-party reviews and tests show that McAfee AntiVirus software achieves high marks for anti-malware protection and security.

CostMaximum Devices CoveredFeatures
$29.99/year for 1 Device
$34.99/year for 5 Devices
$39.99/year for 10 Devices
10 Devices>Solid malware and antivirus defense
>Robust firewall, data shredder, McAfee WebAdvisor, Tech Scam Protection and more
>Affordable per-device pricing
>More features at McAfee AntiVirus

Pros & Cons of McAfee AntiVirus Plus

ProsCons
>Reliable malware and antivirus protection>Lacks protection for online transactions and media devices
>Generous per-device pricing

What Customers Are Saying
McAfee is a venerable antivirus workhorse with a loyal customer base: “It is updated daily offering high levels of security against malicious virus attacks that can be found on the network. This powerful antivirus analyzes all applications and updates downloaded to our devices or computers detecting any malicious irregularities, eliminating them instantly.”


Microsoft Defender

Microsoft-Defender-Logo
Microsoft Defender, also known as Windows Defender, comes pre-installed on Windows machines and is the only free antivirus solution in this guide. That’s because, for free antivirus, it’s surprisingly feature-rich, including a firewall, sophisticated parental controls that allow the whitelisting and blacklisting of functionalities and imposition of time limits, phishing protection and integration with Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage system to provide backup options against ransomware incursions.

It offers basic antivirus and malware protection too, but this isn’t updated frequently enough to be competitive with paid entries on this list. Though it’s adequate for the PC that doesn’t engage in risky online activity and has some intriguing and useful features, we recommend a paid option if you need more security.

CostMaximum Devices CoveredFeatures
Free5 Devices>Sophisticated parental controls
>Integration with OneDrive
>Phishing Protection and Firewall
>More features at Microsoft Defender

Pros & Cons of Microsoft Defender

ProsCons
>Free antivirus pre-installed with Windows>Basic protection is not competitive with the paid options here
>Surprisingly rich in features and especially sophisticated parental controls
>Firewall and phishing protection included and robust for the price point

What Customers Are Saying
The same strengths and weaknesses noted above are pretty widely known to Windows Defender customers: “One of the undeniable strengths of Windows Defender is that it is free . . . the service is very light on the system and one doesn’t even get to know when a background check is going on in the background. I never had to open the application to run scans . . . When it comes to the latest threats and malware, it is not the most updated antivirus software in the market.”


NortonLifeLock


The venerable Norton AntiVirus Plus suite has aged reasonably well into the modern age, providing solid malware protection that defended against 93% of threats in a recent test. It offers a whole suite of defenses against spyware, ransomware and phishing, along with registry protection, parental controls, anti-theft, software backups and firewalls. It scans for rootkits and stealth items, uses heuristics to seek out unknown threats, detects cookies and does full and fast scans of local files and discs. NortonLifeLock provides an easy and intuitive UI and responsive around-the-clock customer support; its major drawbacks are that full scans significantly affect a computer’s performance (and can take up to an hour to complete) and doesn’t provide a secure web browser.

CostMaximum Devices CoveredFeatures
Norton AntiVirus Plus: $14.99/year
Norton 360 Standard: $39.99/year
Norton 360 Deluxe: $49.99/year
Norton 360 with LifeLock Select: $99.99/year

*Pricing listed is for the first year
1 to 5 devices depending on the plan>Reliable malware defense
>Heuristic analysis to identify unknown threats
>Registry protection
>More features at NortonLifeLock

Pros & Cons of Norton AntiVirus Plus

ProsCons
>Well-reputed around-the-clock customer support>Full scans are slow and affect system performance
>Easy and intuitive UI>No secure web browser
>Reliable malware and virus defense

What Customers Are Saying

The veteran security brand has a devoted user following that continues to appreciate its modern offerings: “Norton has a high standard of quality and offers us online protection for our devices, with very extensive features, an intuitive navigation design and various customer service options at a relatively affordable price.”


Panda Security for Desktops

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Panda Security epitomizes what many modern users are seeking from their antivirus solutions: lightweight, easy on resources, easy to use and install and rich in features. It delivers on all these fronts, offering (for example) a Smart Shopping feature with inbuilt browser defenses against phishing schemes; the Panda Safe Web feature that bundles together a tracker blocker, an ad blocker and a website health monitor; a file shredder, a file encryptor and a PC tune-up tool; and at the premium level, a full-featured password manager and a VPN service.

Unfortunately, some of Panda’s most interesting features come with downsides. Safe Web only works with Panda’s own proprietary (and unimpressive) browser. The password manager’s interface is clunky and no match for simply buying specialized software for that purpose. The VPN service is third-party and has a privacy policy that, alarmingly, lets it collect and share your IP address with government agencies who request it. The package is not quite as appealing as it initially sounds, and Panda’s baseline protection — while still reliably defending from upwards of 95% of threats — doesn’t match the really leading players in the industry.

CostMaximum Devices CoveredFeatures
$35.49/year for 1 Device
$47.49/year for 3 Devices
$53.49/year for 5 Devices
$65.49/year for 10 Devices
$71.49/year for Unlimited Devices
Unlimited Devices>Smart Shopping to guard online transactions
>Panda Safe Web provides all-in-one browser safety
>Password manager and VPN at Premium tier
>More features at Panda Security

Pros & Cons of Panda Security for Desktops

ProsCons
>Large number of interesting features>Some of the most potentially interesting features presently have large flaws
>Easy on system resources and mostly easy to use>Protection is a few points less reliable in tests than leading names in antivirus

What Customers Are Saying
Despite the flaws mentioned above, there are plenty of customers who get solid utility out of Panda Security: “It is a product we use internally, as well as recommend to clients. It is easy to use, easy to implement, cost appropriate, and effective. A great product that none of our clients have been disappointed with, nor have we internally. A great product that requires little interaction and just works.”


Sophos Home Premium

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Sophos Home Premium is a rather unique product that leverages the company’s business tools, which are focused on endpoint protection for companies, into strategies aimed at home use. Much as EDR software functions through small, local agents, Sophos Home works by installing a small client on your home computer and handles management and configuration from an online dashboard. Just as IT departments in a business manage EDR software from a central console, Sophos Home’s setup allows one person to remotely manage home solutions for a whole network of home machines.

Providing fundamental defense against malware and viruses, Sophos Home opens banking protection, keystroke encryption, webcam protection (albeit not as sophisticated as webcam protection features in suites like BitDefender and ESET) and protection against ransomware and exploits. Its range of features will be a little mystifying to non-techies, but for users with enough IT aptitude, it’s an excellent choice.

CostMaximum Devices CoveredFeatures
$45/year for Premium10 Devices>Keystroke encryption
>Ransomware and exploit defenses
>Banking protection
>More features at Sophos Home

Pros & Cons of Sophos Home Premium

ProsCons
>Online centralized dashboard management makes it possible to run a remote EDR-style network for home users>Advanced features will mystify users without enough tech expertise
>Excellent lab scores for malware and virus protection>Parental controls and webcam protection are limited

What Customers Are Saying
Sophos Home Premium enjoys a positive reputation with long-term users, although some have mixed feelings about its cloud-based model: “I’ve used Sophos for a number of years now with no issues and nothing found with second opinion scans, it’s a great bit of software with one of the best anti-ransomware components but could do with more offline options rather than being all cloud-based.”


Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security

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Trend Micro is a well-known name on the antivirus market, with the substance of its most current offering illustrating why. Antivirus+ Security delivers on basic protection against malware: the detection of infections and the protection against new ones. It also offers a multitude of further features. Among them is a multifaceted approach to ransomware protection that combines the tactics of protecting files from unauthorized changes, using behavioral analysis and maintaining encrypted backups to recover from a ransomware attack. Other special features include phishing defenses, firewalls, anti-theft mobile coverage, anti-spam features, parental controls and a Pay Guard feature for securing online transactions.

Some of these features deliver more consistently than others. Trend’s malware protection isn’t quite as reliable as, say, Webroot SecureAnywhere (though the difference in lab test results is marginal); Trend’s spam filter, oddly, only works with Outlook, and Pay Guard doesn’t work as consistently as it could. Phishing and ransomware defenses, on the other hand, work splendidly, and the software excels at blocking malicious URLs. Overall, Trend Micro Antivirus+ is so feature-rich as to be well worth a look even taking its imperfections into account.

CostMaximum Devices CoveredFeatures
$39.95/year for Maximum Security
$39.95/year for Internet Security
$29.95/year for Antivirus+ Security
5 Devices>Multilayered ransomware protection
>Strong phishing defenses
>Consistent blocking of malicious URLs
>More features at Trend Micro

Pros & Cons of Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security

ProsCons
>Excellent antiphishing and malicious website protection>Pay Guard protection should be more consistent
>Pay Guard protection for online transactions is useful>Malware protection is solid but could improve
>Innovative multilayered ransomware defense approach>Anti-spam feature works with Outlook only

What Customers Are Saying

Trend Micro has a loyal and long-standing customer base who happily rely on its protection: “I’ve been using Trend Micro Antivirus on my Mac since 2015 and it has never disappointed me. As compared to some other top-rated antivirus, Trend Micro has the best scan results with blocking of online threats . . . The updates are delivered on time, so you never stand a chance of the latest virus threat or phishing.”


VIPRE Advanced Security

VIPRE-Advanced-Security-Logo
VIPRE Advanced Security has plenty to recommend it. It’s rich in the kinds of features modern antivirus solutions should have, easy on resource consumption, simple to set up and use and offers removal of viruses and malware as a standard feature for subscribers instead of simply quarantining threats. Offering protection from spyware and Trojans, worms and rootkits, spam and phishing, it’s available in mobile-compatible formats for Android and iOS and desktop versions for Windows and macOS. Parental controls and a personal firewall round out the essential package, making an ideal-looking suite for home use or use for small businesses seeking basic and efficient antivirus security.

Independent testing of VIPRE’s antivirus protection and malware-blocking capabilities have shown that it performs well enough to keep pace with most products on the market. It stopped well over 99% of malware attacks in a recent AV comparative test. With its good feature set, positive performance record and affordable prices, VIPRE is a solid choice.

CostMaximum Devices CoveredFeatures
$29.99/year Antivirus Plus for Home
$38.49/year Advance Security for Home
$76.00/year Ultimate Security for Home
10 Devices>Broad-based protection from viruses and malware
>Removes viruses and malware
>Parental controls and personal firewall
>More features at VIPRE

Pros & Cons of VIPRE Advanced Security

ProsCons
>Easy to install and use>Customer support is a bit weak
>Lightweight in terms of resource use>Ransomware protection could use work
>Very affordable for home users

What Customers Are Saying
VIPRE’s basic effectiveness and resource efficiency are big selling points for its customers: “I have been using Vipre for so many years I have lost count. When I needed support they were always prompt in their response. Vipre is not a resource hog like some other programs. Great product. Thank you.”


VMware Carbon Black Cloud Endpoint Standard

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Much like Cisco AMS and CrowdStrike Falcon, VMware Carbon Black is EDR (endpoint detection and response) software, something distinct from simple antivirus software. Like other EDR software, VMware aims to use sophisticated tools to evolve security beyond standard anti-virus solutions that are seen — particularly in the worlds of large corporate organizations and government — as decreasing in effectiveness. VMware’s particular approach to this problem is to examine the processes carried out on endpoints in a protected network algorithmically, letting it identify malicious activity quickly.

VMware is notable for providing next-generation antivirus protection and for doing so accessibly. It makes reviewing information, working out what is going on with a particular network and setting policies into simple and intuitive processes. The software captures and stores endpoint activity for review, provides real-time response to incidents, and keeps users updated on the latest threats with regular reports.

CostMaximum Devices CoveredFeatures
$40/year/endpoint for U.S. hosted sites
$44/year/endpoint for non-U.S. hosted sites
Contact vendor>Algorithmic malware analysis and detection
>Real-time incident response
>Detailed reporting
>More features at VMware Carbon Black

Pros & Cons of VMware Carbon Black Cloud Endpoint Standard

ProsCons
>Easy to use by EDR standards>Reporting and policy setting tools still lacking some flexibility
>Setting policies and identifying trends and events is easier and simpler than with most EDR
>Highly reliable real-time incident response

What Customers Are Saying
Carbon Black products earn high marks from customers both for their effectiveness and for their ease of use: “[The] management console was intuitive in the way it presented information and in how you manage policies. The other products, while strong contenders, were far more complicated in their ability to easily see what was happening and how any policy changes you make would affect your endpoints.”


Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus

Webroot-SecureAnywhere-Antivirus-Logo
Noted for being extremely fast and compact while delivering a considerable set of features, Webroot SecureAnywhere is fast and simple to install and consumes less than 10 Mb of RAM when operating in the background. Scanning is a swift process taking tens of seconds instead of tens of minutes; and SecureAnywhere also offers real-time detection, anti-phishing and anti-ransomware protection, the ability to block suspicious URLs, firewall protection and parental controls.

The software’s weak point, however, is that it has not scored impressively for its protection in tests by independent labs. MRG Effitas has recommended SecureAnywhere as a malware blocker, but it is the only independent firm of its kind to do so, and the suite’s ratings from other firms have ranged from the middling to outright disappointing.

CostMaximum Devices CoveredFeatures
$29.99/year for 3 devices
$37.49/year for 3 devices
3 Devices>Real-time detection and remediation
>Phishing and ransomware protection
>Featherweight and fast scanning
>More features at Webroot

Pros & Cons of Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus

ProsCons
>Extraordinarily efficient and lightweight operation>Has not tested particularly impressively with independent labs for the actual functionality of its protection
>Easy to install and use
>Extremely rich in additional features

What Customers Are Saying
Webroot’s convenient and lightweight nature earns consistent praise from its customers: “Webroot had a great reputation when I purchased it and has outperformed in my opinion . . . Other products I used in the past slowed down my devices. Not Webroot! I am well pleased and continue to purchase my subscription each time it needs renewing and I recommend it to my friends also.”

What Is Antivirus Software?

Antivirus software has the basic mission of security: protecting your devices against malicious downloads like viruses and malware. Antivirus software should have:

  • Access to an up-to-date library of potential threats
  • The means of detecting these threats, along with any suspicious or untrusted software
  • Reliable functionality in cleaning your system of these threats

The better your antivirus software is, the more consistently it should be able to carry this while keeping your system functioning efficiently and without generating false positives.

Antivirus software can buttress its central mission with additional features, in particular:

  • Firewalls, which monitor incoming internet traffic to spot and intercept external threats before they can access your system
  • Anti-theft cybersecurity features for mobile devices, which protect private mobile data and help recover a mobile device if it’s stolen or tampered with
  • Parental controls that limit the ability of some users to access certain sites and social networks on a device
  • Anti-spam tools to guard against junk email and phishing attempts
  • Backup tools and data recovery to help restore your system in the event of its being infected by malware or a virus

Finally, antivirus that can protect multiple devices is essential. Most private users today operate more than one device; businesses have greater needs yet.

Benefits of Antivirus Software

With the growing portion of our lives, data and business transactions that now take place online, we all need the benefits of solid antivirus software more than ever before:

  • Protection from fraud and identity theft. Hostile actors who can use malware to gain access to your account numbers or passwords can wreak serious havoc on your life and finances.
  • Protection from phishing attacks. Phishing is an attempt by a hostile outside actor to gain unauthorized access to your devices to steal data or render the device unusable.
  • Blocking spam ads and sites. Pop-up ads and other spam sites are common vectors by which a virus can infect your computer.
  • Detecting threats on removable devices. Antivirus can scan for and block threats on removable devices like thumb drives and external hard drives.
  • Faster computer speed. The presence of malware on a device can drastically slow down its functions and eat away at memory.
  • Antivirus automates the process of spotting virus files, deleting them, quarantining the threat and repairing damage.

The right antivirus software should give you overall peace of mind in dealing with online threats of all kinds.

Must-Have Features for Antivirus Software

To be truly secure, modern antivirus software should have the following basic features:

  • Real-time scans. Effective antivirus software should automate the scanning process and run scans in real time to detect any attempt to download malicious code to your device.
  • Automatic updates. Antivirus software is in a constant “arms race” against newly developed viruses and other kinds of malware, so it’s especially important for it to be fully up to date with frequent automatic updates.
  • Auto-cleaning options. Your antivirus software should be able to do more than just quarantine threats and wait for you to address them manually. You should have the option to set it to automatically delete malicious code that it detects.
  • Detection for all types of threats and malware. Some antivirus solutions are only built to look for certain types of malicious code. With the broad range of online threats modern cybersecurity has to cope with, software should protect against the broadest possible array of malware and viruses.

In addition to these features, more user-friendliness is always better. Given the critical mission of antivirus software, it’s important for it to be easily usable and understandable by anyone working on your system.

The Cost of Antivirus Software

The best antivirus software may not necessarily be the most expensive. Still, it doesn’t do to skimp on cyber-security measures that may well make the difference between safety and disaster. When considering the price of antivirus software, it should be considered in the context of value for money, the full feature set and specific implementation needs of the software in question and the number of devices your business may need to protect.

Most antivirus software is priced on a per-device basis. The costs can range widely, from around $6-$8 per device a year all the way up to $30 or more per device each year. The lower prices generally come at scale. Plans that cover more devices generally cost less on a per-device basis. There are also some impressive free antivirus solutions on the market, but you should generally expect to pay for functional, up-to-date antivirus software with multi-device coverage.

When choosing an antivirus solution, the best way to estimate value for price is to assess the features and get a complete picture of how the per-device costs stack up against competitors. Some providers make this easier to do than others, but a little added work to get an apples-to-apples comparison might be worth it for some software packages.

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