Best Antivirus Software Guide & Reviews

Thomas Gilham

Hackers and cyber criminals have been plaguing the internet for decades, and we’re no closer to getting rid of them than we were 15, 10, or even five years ago.

In fact, quite the opposite is true. Between malware, ransomware, and phishing scams, cybercrime has continued to grow each and every year. So, it’s more important than ever to arm yourself with the best antivirus software out there.

Chances are you’re already familiar with some of the big names in internet security and antivirus protection, such as McAfee, Norton, and AVG, but are these antivirus powerhouses really the best options?

Like you, we were curious, so we tested all of them to find out once and for all what are the best antivirus software packages available today. Whether you’re looking for the best antivirus for Mac, the best antivirus for PC, or the best antivirus for Android or iPhone, one of the following software programs is sure to fit the bill.

Best Antivirus 2020

1. Bitdefender Antivirus Plus

What we like:

• Solid and reliable
• Ransomware and malware protection
• VPN and privacy tools
• Affordable

If you’re looking for the best antivirus for Windows 10 or any Windows-powered PC, Bitdefender is the way to go.

Bitdefender Antivirus Plus is considered by many top tech sites as one of the world’s best antivirus products. Just have a look at any antivirus software rankings and you’ll see Bitdefender Antivirus at or very near the top of the list.

Needless to say, Bitdefender’s security suite of antivirus tools offers accurate and reliable virus detection and prevention. It features a secure browser to safeguard your online shopping and banking transactions, web filtering to keep you from accessing malicious sites, and a handy password manager that even auto-fills your credit card information into web forms.

Bitdefender Antivirus Plus also scores high marks for its ability to thwart phishing attempts. It will alert you whenever malicious links appear in your search engine results and deny access to any potentially dangerous sites.

If that weren’t enough, it also offers several layers of ransomware protection. Not only does it heuristically learn the actions and behaviors of these threats, but it also utilizes its Bitdefender Central app to scan each of your linked devices.

That said, nothing is without its faults. While Bitdefender scores extremely well in just about every category, it’s only available for the Windows operating system. It’s also quite resource-heavy, which means it uses more resources than some other antivirus software options and may slow down your PC a little bit.

Nonetheless, when you consider its great detection rates, performance, and bonus features, a little lack of speed is more than justifiable. When you add it up, if you’re wondering what are the best antivirus programs, Bitdefender deserves a spot at the top of the list.

2. Norton Antivirus Plus

What we like:

• Real-time antivirus protection
• Blocks the newest malware
• Doesn’t use a lot of system resources
• Intelligent behavior monitoring

As one of today’s best antivirus options, Norton Antivirus Plus offers top-notch security and protection for your Microsoft PC. This popular malware hunter and antivirus software offers automatic protection and plenty of settings, options, and features to make any security software pro a happy camper.

One of these features is its helpful URL blocker, which keeps you from accessing malicious websites. If the URL blocker misses something, Norton’s fantastic file reputation service will also have your back. As a top internet security feature, it’s designed to heuristically recognize suspicious downloads and vanquish them immediately.

If malware is still able to find its way through, the software’s intelligent behavior monitoring will quarantine the threat by using the latest virus definitions. Yes, the Norton testing labs have certainly been busy.

While it does all of this automatically like Bitdefender, McAfee, and others, you can also run full, on-demand scans whenever you like if you prefer a more hands-on approach. You can even schedule scans in advance and set them to run anytime you want.

Of course, as one of the best antivirus on PC, it also comes with a handy password manager as well as 2GB of cloud backup. Pretty neat indeed.

That said, its browser extensions can run into trouble from time to time. In our testing, the Chrome browser would sometimes stop working.

Aside from this, Norton Antivirus Plus delivers on just about every front. It’s simple and easy to use, offers plenty of configuration options, has minimal drain on resources, and scores highly in the testing labs, making it a solid choice if you’re looking for the best antivirus on Windows 10 or any other Windows OS.

Is it the best antivirus free? At $39.99 a year, it’s affordable but certainly not free. However, if you’re wondering what is the best antivirus, it has the features, performance, and reputation to make it a serious contender.

3. Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus

What we like:

• Inexpensive
• Lightning fast
• Very lightweight and easy on system resources

If you’re on the hunt for the best antivirus for Mac, Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus deserves a look. Designed for use on both Macs and PCs, it’s extremely lightweight yet loaded with first-class anti-malware and ransomware features.

Almost all antivirus programs claim to be lightweight. However, Webroot SecureAnywhere truly delivers in this regard. Despite offering very good malware detection and prevention, it only takes seconds to install, the RAM footprint is almost non-existent, and it only takes up 2MB of hard drive space.

It doesn’t compromise on features either. In addition to core protection, it includes a firewall, real-time anti-phishing, smart behavior monitoring, anti-ransomware, a network connection monitor, and several other nice extras.

While Webroot is rarely evaluated by the testing labs, when it tested, it scores quite well. In other words, it offers accurate and reliable malware protection.

All in all, there’s plenty to like about Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus. With an unheard of 70-day money-bac guarantee as well, it’s obvious the company is confident in its flagship product.

If you want the best antivirus Mac or PC, Webroot SecureAnywhere should definitely be towards the top of your list, just like it is ours.

4. ESET NOD32 Antivirus

What we like:

• Highly customizable
• Exploit blocker and UEFI scanner
• Covers up to five devices

What is the best antivirus? I know we’re a few products in and should have answered this by now. However, if you have some technical skill, then ESET NOD32 Antivirus might be the answer to this Holy Grail of internet security questions.

Considered by some the best antivirus, ESET NOD32 provides expert-level malware protection for users with the experience and technical chops to use it. Although it lacks a catchy name and doesn’t offer a laundry list of features, such as a firewall or password manager, it’s definitely heavy on power, performance, and the fundamentals of antivirus protection.

In fact, ESET NOD32 provides real-time malware protection, top-flight heuristic detection, exploit protection, anti-ransomware, URL filtering, and the ability to prevent harmful attacks via malicious scripts and PowerShell.

Plus, a device control module minimizes the risk of infection by controlling access to eternal hard drives, USB sticks, and optical storage media. It even blocks access from devices connecting via FireWire and Bluetooth. This is a unique yet very useful extra, especially if others have access to your PC.

Another neat feature is the UEFI scanner. It’s able to protect your PC from threats before you even fire up Windows. How cool is that?

Once again, however, ESET NOD32 isn’t for beginners. The interface isn’t exactly the easiest to use, and some of its features are quite advanced.

That said, if you’re an experienced user, you’re sure to appreciate its configurability and sheer power. It offers above average protection and a lightweight design that won’t slow your PC down like many other antivirus software programs on the market today.

So, if you’re wondering which is the best antivirus for both protection and performance, ESET NOD32 is tough to beat. It’s not compatible with smartphones, so it isn’t the best antivirus for iPhone or Android. However, as far as the best antivirus Win 10, it’s definitely a top contender.

5. F-Secure Antivirus SAFE

What we like:

• Very user-friendly
• Excellent assortment of antivirus tools
• Can be used on PCs, Macs, Android, and iOS devices
• Solid value

At the other end of the spectrum is F-Secure Antivirus SAFE. If you’re idea of the best antivirus software is one that’s point-and-click simple, then it was made with you in mind.

Why is it so easy to use? The answer lies in its interface. It’s lightweight and designed for you to leave it alone and while it safeguards your PC. You’ll notice little to no effect on your OS performance and you can do almost anything with just a couple of clicks.

Although it’s super user-friendly, F-Secure Antivirus SAFE offers an impressive collection of security tools. With it, you get banking protection, family safety tools, ransomware protection, and it even comes with a device finder that allows you to track down your iOS or Android device should you misplace it.

F-Secure also scores high marks from AV-Test and with AV-Comparatives too. However, it also generates more false positives than many of its competitors, but this is a small price to pay for the added protection it provides.

It’s also a little more expensive than some of the other antivirus options. However, unlike many other antivirus software programs, it can be used with Mac, Windows, Android, and iOS devices. That’s right; you can use F-Secure on PCs, Macs, and all mobile devices.

Is it the best antivirus on Android, Windows, or iOS? Probably not, but it offers solid protection and a simple interface any beginner can easily use.

6. Kaspersky Anti-Virus

What we like:

• Great performance
• Easy to use
• Excellent malware protection

Like McAfee, Norton, and AVG, Kaspersky is a big brand in the realm of internet security, malware, and spyware protection. As such, it has a lot to live up to. Does it? In our opinion, it definitely does.

In fact, it’s one of the best antivirus software packages available. Despite being stripped down compared to some of the other options on this best antivirus list and only focusing on the core online security essentials, it offers solid security and protection for experts and beginners alike.

So, what does it do? Kaspersky Anti-Virus does three things really, really well: It’s web filtering function blocks potentially dangerous URLS, its accurate engine identifies and removes malicious threats, and its smart monitoring tracks and reverses any harmful actions.

While a password manager and some other extras would be nice, it excels in all of these areas. In fact, we’ve found Kaspersky to consistently deliver some of the industry’s best malware blocking results. It also consistently scores high marks with AV-Comparatives and AV-Test.

If that weren’t enough, Kaspersky Anti-Virus is also easy to use. It has an intuitive, well-designed interface with just the right number of options. It isn’t too complicated or basic, and there are ample on-screen instructions explaining what everything does and how everything works.

If you’re a beginner, you’ll feel right at home with Kaspersky. However, if you want to know what is the best antivirus free, you’ll have to keep reading because Kaspersky has a price tag, albeit a reasonable one, just like the other great antivirus programs above.

That said, a few dollars a month is certainly worth the protection and peace of mind Kaspersky Anti-Virus provides. If you can forego all of the bells and whistles and just need consistent and reliable malware protection, it should serve you very, very well.

7. Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security

What we like:

• Strong antivirus protection
• Ransomware and email scam protection
• Affordable pricing

Last but not least, Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security is another great option for anyone in search of the best antivirus and malware protection. In our testing, we found it to be a very capable antivirus software for PCs that puts Windows Defender to shame.

Best of all, it continues to get better each and every time we use it. How good is it? Well, according to AV-Test, it’s highly accurate and gives few if any false positives at all.

Our experience with Trend Micro Antivirus+ is much the same. In fact, its protection is on par with Bitdefender, which is our top choice for best antivirus PC. We did experience some false positives, but certainly not enough to noticeably hinder the performance of your machine and your user experience.

As far as features go, it has plenty. Some of our favorites include email scam safeguarding, ‘Folder Shield’ ransomware protection, PayGuard, and advanced AI learning.

Nonetheless, we recommend taking Trend Micro up on their free 30-day trial to test it out for yourself. If you don’t experience any issues, its impressive virus detection and extra features are more than enough to win you over.

However, like many other top antivirus options, it isn’t free. But, at just over $2 a month, it’s definitely affordable. It’s also only available for Windows. So, if you’re on the hunt for free antivirus or the best antivirus Android, we recommend checking out one of the other great choices in this guide.

Best Free Antivirus 2020

As you can see, there are some quite powerful and affordable antivirus software options out there to choose from. Although these paid packages offer more features, like password managers and automatic system scans, these features come at a price.

Fortunately, there are some rock-solid free antivirus programs available as well. If you want to pinch your pennies and know what is the best antivirus free, chances are one of the following software options will be a perfect fit for your wallet and your needs.

1. Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition

What we like:

• Great virus and malware detection
• Fast scanning
• Phishing protection and behavioral analysis
• Available for Windows, Mac, and Android

Arguably the best antivirus software free, Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition is essentially the antivirus portion of Bitdefender’s full paid product. As such, it’s clean, lightweight, and features good scanning mechanisms that are noticeably faster than others in the industry.

With unparalleled virus definitions as well, Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition is at the top of the free antivirus food chain.

This free version basically runs on autopilot, which makes it extremely easy to use. However, it gives users less control, so it can be double-edged sword at times.

AV-Test also found some flaws in its ability to handle zero-day threats. Considering the full-fledged Bitdefender, which is our top choice for the best antivirus software being made today, is only around $2 a month, it may be worth giving up a Starbucks here and there for all of the great performance and features it provides.

2. Avast Free Antivirus

What we like:

• Great virus protection
• Won’t slow down your machine
• Comes with a password manager
• Available for Windows, Mac, and Android

Avast acquired AVG in 2016, but the two antivirus software companies have yet to fully merge. Although there is supposedly a joint package on its way, according to Avast, it will continue to provide two separate free antivirus products. Thanks to its expanded userbase, however, Avast now has much more data at its disposal, allowing it to up its game.

The latest Avast Free Antivirus edition continues to provide top-notch antivirus protection, but it offers more features users will surely appreciate. One of these features is its automatic gaming mode, which is a nice plus for a free version. Essentially, this feature mutes popups and minimizes system load whenever you fire up a resource-hungry game.

There’s also a password manager, which is a welcome addition, and its interface has been completely overhauled for a cleaner, simpler look and feel.

On top of these added features, Avast Antivirus Free also scores really well with AV-Test. In fact, thanks in large part to its expanded detection network, it reported no zero-day attacks

The only real drawbacks of Avast Antivirus Free is the number of popups that appear and the fact that it somewhat slows software launch times. However, for many users, both of these are easy to overlook considering it costs absolutely nothing to use.

With solid performance and some nice new features, it’s easily one of the best antivirus free options around.

3. Kaspersky Free

What we like:

• Accurate and reliable antivirus protection
• Very user-friendly
• Anti-phishing and email scanning

If you’re still not sure which is the best antivirus free, Kaspersky Free might be worth checking out. The paid version of Kaspersky’s antivirus software consistently ranks high in AV-Test. In fact, the last version earned high marks across the board.

As expected, Kaspersky Free is a slimmer version of the company’s paid antivirus software program, which we really like. The free version simply lacks some of the paid version’s added features. Instead, it concentrates on providing basic yet powerful free PC protection, resulting in a super easy-to-use piece of software that does an admirable job of providing virus and malware protection.

By utilizing virtually the same real-time scanning engine as the paid version, Kaspersky Free is extremely difficult for viruses to break down. It also doesn’t overwhelm you with pesky ads or try to get you to upgrade to the paid version.

Nonetheless, the full version is far from expensive and offers even greater protection. If you can swing a couple of bucks a month, then it’s worth upgrading. However, that’s just our two cents.

Best Antivirus for Business

If you run a business, then you need special business-focused features such as central management and remote installation. Each of the antivirus software products below have been carefully selected for their business features and their ability to provide enterprise-level virus protection.

1. Bitdefender GravityZone Business Security

It should come as no surprise that Bitdefender’s business package is at the top of this list as well. Why? For starters, the testing labs love it. It’s highly rated for its performance, ease of use, and most importantly, its ability to detect and remove malware. While its anti-malware, URL filtering, web advisor, and some other features are designed to work automatically, it can be customized according to the unique needs of each of its business users.

2. Avast Business Antivirus Pro

This is a great business antivirus product featuring a firewall, email scanning, anti-spam, sandbox capabilities, and other tools for premium security and virus protection. Avast Business Antivirus Pro also comes with Sharepoint and Exchange protection as well as several other tools to safeguard your business servers.

3. Symantec Endpoint Protection

With its file reputation technology, Symantec Endpoint Protection is able to detect and vanquish the very latest threats. Symantec’s other protective layers include virus and malware protection, intrusion protection, behavior monitoring, a firewall, and its Power Eraser feature, which not only removes threats but repairs your system as well.

Which Antivirus Software is Right for You?

Well, there you have it. We put all of today’s top antivirus software products to the test to find the best of the best. You honestly can’t go wrong with any of the antivirus products discussed above. However, each has different features and abilities. By considering your unique needs, you’ll be able to pinpoint the features that matter most and pick the right antivirus product for you.

Just remember, no matter how great your computer is, it’s still at risk. So, head back up to the top of this guide, read about each of the antivirus software products above one more time, and choose one to provide your PC, Mac, Android, or iOS device with the protection it needs to stay safe in today’s vulnerable cyber world.

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