There are hundreds of antiviruses out there, and they all claim to offer the best protection at the best price. While it may feel a bit overwhelming, it’s actually pretty easy to find the right antivirus software for you.
At a minimum, antivirus software needs to include protection against new and advanced forms of malware — viruses, spyware, rootkits, worms, trojans, and ransomware — and every antivirus on this list offers world-class protection against all kinds of malware.
Most antivirus software now comes included in full-suite internet security packages that contain a lot of different cybersecurity features. Things like:
- Virtual private network (VPN) — for protecting your online activity.
- Password management — for storing login information and creating secure passwords.
- Parental controls — for keeping your family protected.
Each one of these features offers improvements to your device’s native security systems. Because the more secure your device is, the less likely you are to expose your credit card numbers, your login information, and all of your sensitive data to internet hackers.
So how do you know which products offer the best protection? I compared the top antiviruses on the market and ranked them on security, functionality, speed, and price.
How I Rated the Best Antivirus Software of 2020
I’ve tested more than 70 cybersecurity software products, and I have very high standards when it comes to online safety. Here’s what I require from an antivirus product before I’ll recommend it:
- Strong malware protection. I only recommend products that have proven to protect against the most advanced malware threats — not only viruses, but also spyware, rootkits, ransomware, and anything else that could cause me or my devices harm.
- High-quality features. Most antivirus brands offer additional internet security features, but a lot of times, these extras are just flashy additions that will weigh your computer down and affect your device’s performance. The products on this list include valuable tools that are genuinely useful and effective, not just flashy extras.
- Speed and efficiency. The best antiviruses are lightweight and run smoothly — even on older or slower computers — across all of the software’s intended operating systems. I personally tested and measured how quick and efficient each antivirus on this list performed against all the other antiviruses on the market.
- Easy-to-use. Whether you’re an amateur or an expert, you still need virus protection. I’ve personally tested each antivirus software here to make sure that pretty much anyone will be able to set them up easily and use them properly.
- Good value. Antivirus software can be a big investment. I considered all relevant factors such as web and browsing protection features, how many devices are covered, and whether or not there’s a free trial or money-back guarantee. I personally feel that all of these top antiviruses provide great value.
1. Bitdefender Total Security — Best for Extra Features
Bitdefender has become one of the biggest names in cybersecurity software, with more than half a billion users worldwide.
Bitdefender Total Security is Bitdefender’s top-tier home antivirus product. In addition to being a powerful and highly effective antivirus solution with perfect detection rates, Bitdefender offers one of the most comprehensive security suites available.
Here are just some of the extensive range of features available with Bitdefender Total Security:
- On-demand and real-time protection against all types of malware.
- Web protection, including protection against phishing, fraud, and spam.
- Anti-theft tools.
- Tune-up tools.
- Parental controls.
- Password manager.
The list goes on — As noted in our full review, Bitdefender provides every cybersecurity tool imaginable across its Total Security plan.
Of course, quality is more important than quantity, and these are all superb features. Bitdefender Total Security gives you highly effective tune-up tools, reliable anti-theft software, and a fast and easy-to-use VPN.
Most importantly, though, Bitdefender’s antivirus engine is extremely powerful. I love that its Advanced Threat Defense is constantly monitoring my active applications for suspicious behavior, and the Multi-Layer Ransomware Protection is safeguarding my files from encryption.
The only drawback is that the software is relatively complicated, and installation and setup take a long time to finish. But if you have the time required to set it up properly, you’ll be rewarded with a seriously powerful antivirus.Bottom Line:
Bitdefender Total Security offers a phenomenal range of security tools for a cheaper price than most competitors. And it doesn’t compromise on quality — these are seriously powerful security tools that will enhance your online life. I recommend Bitdefender if you’re confident with computers and you take your online safety extremely seriously.
2. Kaspersky Internet Security— Best for Online Shopping + Banking
Kaspersky Internet Security takes Kaspersky’s well-known, solid antivirus protection and adds some impressive bonus features that will help keep you safe online.
Shopping and banking online are risky activities — without proper protection, you’re vulnerable to financial theft. Falling victim to a banking Trojan or keylogger spyware can have devastating consequences. I know several people who have lost thousands of dollars because they weren’t careful enough when shopping online.
Many antivirus packages offer some sort of online payment protection, but I really like Kaspersky’s solution — “Safe Money”. Kaspersky can detect when you’re about to make a payment or use online banking. You can then launch a safe, sandboxed browser window that’s impenetrable to malware, and use Kaspersky’s On-Screen Keyboard to avoid keylogger detection.
And Kaspersky’s antivirus engine consistently delivers some of the best results in the industry against all types of malware.Kaspersky was 100% effective in anti-malware testing.
In my opinion, Internet Security is Kaspersky’s best value plan. The entry-level product, Kaspersky Anti-Virus, is a solid — but basic — antivirus application. The most expensive product, Kaspersky Total Security, includes some pretty useless features, and it isn’t worth the upgrade.
Kaspersky Internet Security is a powerful, well-designed antivirus package that earned perfect malware detection results in my testing. I really like Kaspersky’s Safe Money feature, which provides a secure environment to protect financial information — an essential safeguard if you frequently shop or bank online.
3. Avira Prime — Best for Anti-Malware Engine + System Optimization
Avira has one of the best antivirus engines in the world — consistently scoring perfect 100% scores during testing (full review here). And Avira brings this powerful antivirus into a wide range of internet security packages. I’ve selected Avira’s top-tier antivirus package for this list, Avira Prime, which has the premium version of every Avira product, including:
- Real-time malware protection.
- Password manager.
- VPN (with unlimited data).
- Advanced ransomware protection.
- Privacy optimization.
- System optimization.
- Premium apps for Android and iOS.
While many antivirus products include tune-up tools — apps designed to help your device run smoothly and free up hard drive space — I think Avira’s System Speedup feature is the best one out there. Avira’s system optimization tools include:
- Startup Optimizer. Saved a full 2 minutes from my PC’s start time!
- Power Boost. Puts all available resources into a single task — great for gaming.
- OnWatch. Automatically cleans up computer according to pre-set specifications (e.g. when you hit 1 GB of temporary files).
I use a pretty old system to test all my antivirus software (I don’t want to purposely infect my best PC with malware, after all!), and Avira’s System Speedup had my old computer running like new — in fact, it almost seemed faster than when I first bought it. The Avira program itself is also super lightweight. Even with Avira’s deep scan running in the background, I could use my outdated testing computer with virtually no slowdown. This makes Avira Prime a great investment if your computer is slow or often low on hard drive space.Bottom Line:
Avira has a great range of highly respected cybersecurity tools. And Avira is well-known in the online security scene for producing one of the best anti-malware engines in the world. One thing I specifically like about Avira Prime is that it provides unlimited access to all of Avira’s products. And all Avira purchases are backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.
TotalAV — Easiest Antivirus Software to Use
TotalAV — Easiest Antivirus Software to Use
TotalAV is one of the newest cybersecurity brands on my list, and because a lot of new antivirus companies come and go all the time, I was skeptical when I first tested it. However, after my last review, I can confidently say that TotalAV is a very good antivirus product.
TotalAV is an Avira “white label”, meaning that Avira’s software powers TotalAV’s antivirus engine. So — although TotalAV is a new brand — it runs on some of the most trusted virus protection technology available.
TotalAV also has a really simple, easy-to-use design. It’s one of the best-looking antivirus products I’ve ever used. You can access all of TotalAV’s features from its home screen with just a couple of clicks, making it really easy to figure out. If you’re new to antivirus software, you’ll probably like the simplicity of TotalAV.
TotalAV also provides a full range of extra security features:
Most of its features are very good (except I think the phishing protection needs a lot of improvement). I particularly like TotalAV’s performance optimizer, cleaning up a lot of extra space that even Avira’s system optimizer failed to clean. That said, Avira has more options and is much more advanced. But if you’re not looking for something “advanced”, TotalAV is a good choice.
TotalAV has a powerful antivirus engine and a great range of features. It uses an attractive, user-friendly design, making it really easy for first-time users just needing something safe, secure, and easy to use. TotalAV’s packages all have a wide range of features, and they’re all designed for maximum ease of use. And all TotalAV purchases have a 30-day money-back guarantee.
4. McAfee Total Protection — Best for Online Security (+ Best iOS App)
McAfee Total Protection has almost every internet security feature you’ll ever need — malware protection, encrypted storage, a password manager, a browser extension, and a VPN.
McAfee’s excellent virus protection abilities alone make Total Protection a great product — scoring a perfect 100% detection rate when tested during our full McAfee review. But the included extra features are great security additions, as well.
One standout feature of McAfee’s security software is “My Home Network”. This provides an easy-to-read map of all devices on your home Wi-Fi network, giving you total control over your online security and allowing you to lock out intruders.
And you never know when you’re going to need this. A few months ago, my partner downloaded the notorious “Switcher Trojan” virus on her Android phone. The virus infected our Wi-Fi router, giving hackers a backdoor into our entire home network. McAfee alerted me to this unauthorized access attempt and immediately stopped the attack!
McAfee Total Protection offers an impressive range of internet security protection for all computers and mobiles. McAfee’s “My Home Network” feature is exceptionally good, offering centralized security control over every device on your network. This makes McAfee Total Protection particularly great for families looking to keep a highly secure Wi-Fi network. And all Total Protection packages offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it out and see if it’s the best antivirus for you.
5. Norton 360 — Best Overall Antivirus for Windows + Android
Norton 360 offers unbeatable virus and malware protection. It’s a well-built and well-maintained internet security suite that fully ensures all information stays secure, private, and protected — and it works well across all operating systems (especially Windows + Android).
Norton’s computer antivirus uses a unique scanning engine, powerful enough to handle all of the newest and most advanced threats — scoring a 100% protection rating when I tested it during my Norton 360 review. One of my favorite things about Norton — especially the Windows software — is that it’s both extremely easy to use and still offers advanced settings for more technical users.
Norton provides excellent features across all of its 360 packages. Even on Norton 360 Standard (the cheapest plan), users get real-time malware protection, unlimited VPN access, a password manager, and 10 GB secure cloud storage. This is seriously good value for an entry-level, paid antivirus.
There are some big benefits to upgrading, too — more licenses, more storage space, and access to the best parental control software I’ve ever used in an antivirus. US customers also get the added bonus of identity theft protection and credit monitoring via Norton’s sister company, LifeLock.
Norton 360 is simply a great product — affordable, reliable, easy to use, and powerful. It’s the best choice if you’re looking for a complete, easy-to-use antivirus with some of the best internet security protections out there, all for a great price.Bottom Line:
If you want a user-friendly antivirus which provides powerful, all-around internet security, Norton 360 is the best there is. Norton offers 100% guaranteed protection from malware and a ton of excellent features — an unlimited VPN, a password manager, secure storage, parental controls, and much more. And all Norton plans come with a 60-day money-back guarantee, so there’s no risk in trying it out.