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Best antivirus software in 2021

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Getting the best antivirus software is crucial, as new cyber threats, like ransomware, spyware, and malware appear every day – they are even more infectious than before. Currently, there are a variety of malicious programs that can steal data stored on your device and also put your privacy at risk.

The majority of antivirus software providers offer all-in-one security packages which include real-time protection from all types of viruses, a VPN, and even a password manager. These security tools can ensure the safety of macOS, iOS, Android, and Windows devices.

Even though the latest operating systems, like Windows 11 and 10 have in-built security solutions, they’re not robust enough to provide all-round protection from the highly advanced malware infections.

Here, I'll cover the best antivirus software offering the best virus protection in 2021. And it's not just the #1 pick which rules: these are all great options, and the perfect solution for you might just be a few floors below!

Best antivirus software of 2021

  1. Norton Antivirus – Best feature-rich option
  2. Bitdefender Antivirus – All-round antivirus protection
  3. TotalAV Antivirus – Essential free antivirus package
  4. McAfee Total protection – Best for multiple devices
  5. Avira Antivirus – Best free plan on the market

The best antivirus – our curated list

Below you will find our best antivirus programs for 2021. All of them have the necessary tools to provide maximum protection and bonus features that you may find useful. Once again, don’t just pick #1 – I recommend investing a little bit of time to find the service that best suits your needs.

1. Norton 360 Antivirus – best features if you can afford them

Norton logo and user interface
Maximum simultaneous connections:10 devices
Free version:No
Platforms:Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
Current deal:🔥Get Norton, save up to 53%!🔥

Norton, after nearly three decades from launch, remains a reputable name in the antivirus industry – independent antivirus testers score it highly. What’s more, this provider packages arguably the most extensive list of cybersecurity tools. This is an amazing service, but it’s among the most expensive suites in 2021 and also doesn’t have a free version.

Pricing plans and features

Norton 360 prices start from $39.99/yr with the Standard plan. In contrast, you get the best Bitdefender suite for such a sum. Standard plan gives you one device, core protection tools, a firewall, 10 GB cloud backup, a VPN, and a password manager. There’s also a SafeCam (Windows only) and Dark Web Monitoring, which is limited to your email only at this stage

For an extra $10/yr, you also get Parental Control and School Time features - this family-oriented plan that supports up to five devices is called Norton 360 Deluxe. Next come the plans that offer extra identity protection and should prove invaluable to those with the added risk of losing lots of money. Some call them rich people.

After this, prices spike as LifeLock is added to the mix. Here your social security number, name, address, DOB are added to your email monitoring, alerting you whenever this personal data is used by someone when applying for credit or services. You can also initiate Credit Monitoring and Reimbursement in case of identity theft.

Skipping the mid-range Norton 360 with LifeLock offer, we arrive at the Ultimate Plus for $299.99/yr (that’s for the first year and unlimited devices). With this offer, you get Identity Lock that can immediately lock your TransUnion credit file. Furthermore, Transaction Monitoring lets you centralize all info about cash withdrawals and other bank operations.

If that wasn’t enough, Court Records Scanning checks whether some criminal gave your name and DOB to the police. Finally, Norton 360 with LifeLock also checks your 401(k) and home title.

Is there something that Norton Antivirus doesn’t include? Well, you won’t find a file shredder, file encryption, and secure browser.

Verdict

To sum up, Norton 360 offers excellent protection while not overloading your device. It’s easy to use but at the same time provides plenty of options for advanced users. And while the prices are high, one would be hard-pressed to find a better deal when buying all the components one-by-one.

Visit Norton 360 to read more about the features

2. Bitdefender Antivirus Plus – superb virus protection in 2021

Bitdefender interface
Maximum simultaneous connections:5 devices
Free version:Yes
Platforms:Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
Current deal:🔥Get Bitdefender, now 70% OFF!🔥

Running for almost two decades, Bitdefender has earned its place among the best antivirus providers. It has over 500 million users, mainly because of its great free version, but the premium options are well-worth your money. And when you add a password manager and a VPN, Bitdefender Antivirus becomes a full cybersecurity suite. No wonder you will find it at the top of most best antivirus lists.

Features and pricing plans

The results from multiple independent antivirus testing labs have shown that Bitdefender is an elite antivirus software. It protects your web surfing, banking, and if you haven’t set automated updates, this service will inform you when it’s time to patch up your system. There’s also a secure browser with a virtual keyboard to prevent keylogging.

Another great feature of Bitdefender is a file shredder that you can utilize for disintegrating those sensitive documents for good. What’s more, your files will be protected from ransomware attacks.

I also particularly liked the anti-webcam hijack feature that comes with the Internet Security 2021 plan. Along with parental controls and a two-way firewall, it helps to keep your children safe.

The only disadvantage of this security suite is that Bitdefender might slow your system down while running in the background if you have an older device. Apart from that, it’s a premium protection tool.

There are three different subscription packages to choose from: the Antivirus Plus, the Internet Security, and the Total Security plans.

The Bitdefender Antivirus Plus costs $17.99/year and allows you to secure up to 3 Windows devices. It’s a standard security suite to help you protect against malware, adware, and ransomware.

The Internet Security plan has additional privacy protection and parental control tools. You can use it on 3 Windows devices as well for $24.00/year.

The most feature-rich package is the Bitdefender Total Security that supports 5 devices for $27.00/year. It’s compatible with both Windows and macOS devices.

If you decide to get Bitdefender, it accepts credit card and PayPal payments, as well as cash at 7-Eleven/ACE. There’s also a 30-day free trial that might help make up your mind before committing.

Verdict

To conclude, Bitdefender found the courage to do things differently and packed the most features into its cheapest version, making it more than an afterthought for most home users. Indeed, when you provide quality for a fraction of the price, it’s hard not to reach the top.

Visit Bitdefender to read more about the features

3. TotalAV – the essential free antivirus package

Total AV user interface
Maximum simultaneous connections:6 devices
Free version:Yes
Platforms:Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux
Current deal:Get TotalAV, now 80% OFF!

TotalAV is a reliable antivirus service that protects you from all kinds of online threats. The bar of entry is low, and everyone can make use of their product. Aside from their premium package, they also have a free version. It's available to everyone.

Features and pricing plans

With the TotalAV free version, you're getting the essential level of safety. It includes a malware scanner for your local cleanup. With it, you will be able to purge nasty viruses from your device. On the online frontier, you'll be getting anti-phishing protection. It will filter out fake websites aiming to get your credentials or other information. Customer support isn't off-limits, either.

If you raise the stakes and go with their premium plans, you're getting more of everything. Your security coverage expands a great deal with real-time protection and ransomware shields. On top of that, it also includes a Cloud scanner that gives you more up-to-date countermeasures against zero-day exploits.

There are other benefits, as well. For example, there are disk cleaner and optimization tools. These will help you free up some space in your hard drive and make your startup more efficient.

The tool doesn't aim to hurt your wallet. Premium plans can be had for a fairly reasonable price. When put side by side with most of its competitors, it doesn't seem all that expensive, which is always a positive for the end-user.

Verdict

Overall, TotalAV is a simple but powerful addition to your system. It will remove most online germs you caught while surfing the web, but it won't overload your device. This antivirus can be recommended to everyone who needs a simple solution to stay safe online or offline.

Visit TotalAV to read more about the features

4. McAfee Total Protection – great cross-platform support with basic plan

McAfee user interface
Maximum simultaneous connections:10 devices
Free version:Yes
Platforms:Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
Current deal:Get McAfee, save up to 71%!

Even though John McAfee himself has called his antivirus “one of the worst products on the f*cking planet,” nowadays, you will find McAfee Total Protection on most best antivirus lists. The company was owned by Intel from 2010 until 2017 when Intel and TPG Capital closed a strategic deal to convert Intel’s Security division into a company called McAfee.

Features and pricing plans

McAfee Antivirus offers Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS support starting from the basic plan. However, apps for Apple devices have fewer features. For $29.99/year, you can get a single license for any device. If you subscribe for 2 years, the price decreases to $24.99/year.

Just like Bitdefender, McAfee offers most features for everyone and adds only a few in the pricier plans. The core package includes a VPN, a password manager, file encryption, and a file shredder, among other features.

Keep in mind that this antivirus also has a plan for couples which gives 2-year protection services for up to 5 devices for the same $29.99/year price. However, if you need security for more devices, McAfee's Family plan costs $49.99/year for 10 devices.

Talking about mobile security, I really liked the mobile-oriented Guest Mode, which allows you to lock certain apps and give the phone to your kids to play some games or watch some videos.

I also must mention Home Network Security – it allows managing all devices connected to the wifi and alerts you of any intrusion attempts.

If you’re interested in McAfee, you can purchase the subscription plans with a credit card or PayPal account. Also, there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee for you to test all the features without the risk of committing to an unsatisfactory service.

It’s important to note that McAfee doesn't have a free version.There used to be one for a now-defunct product called Security Cloud, but I don't think we'll see something similar in the near future.

Verdict

Looking at the results from the independent tests, I can say that McAfee does great most of the time. However, there are more than a few below-average results from MRG Effitas that didn’t certify Avira and this antivirus in Q2 2020.

When summed up, it’s clear that McAfee belongs on this list, but it’s certainly not at the very top. Nevertheless, I can recommend this antivirus software to anyone, especially families and groups with many devices.

Visit McAfee to read more about the features

5. Avira Antivirus – best free plan on the market

Avira user interface
Maximum simultaneous connections:25 devices
Free version:Yes
Platforms:Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
Current deal:Get Avira, now 40% OFF!

500 million users have made the right choice by choosing Avira Antivirus, as it’s one of the best antivirus software available in both free and premium segments.

Features and pricing plans

Avira’s free version is great. It includes a VPN, a firewall, and a password generator when most of the time you’ll be paying extra to get some or all of them.

The Pro version has advanced ransomware protection and greatly expands the available suite of features. It includes a complete web protection for safe online shopping, as well as email protection. You can get the Avira Antivirus Pro plan for as low as $4.99 per month for 1 device.

There’s also the Internet Security suite which includes automatic software updating feature, a tool for browser safety, and a password manager along with regular malware protection solutions. It costs $5.99 per month for the security of 1 device.

Additionally, there are yearly subscription packages available – 1-year, 2-year, and the 3-year options. If you’re on a tight budget, it’s best to get the 3-year subscription which costs $34.69/year for the Pro plan, and $43.33/year for the Internet Security suite.

This antivirus software is compatible with Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS devices. You can manually select how many devices you want to protect – one, three, or five – during the payment process. The company accepts PayPal and credit card payments and offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Furthermore, what distinguishes Avira from other antiviruses is its system optimization tools. For example, you can speed up the booting of your device or concentrate the juice towards one resource-heavy task, such as video rendering.

However, it’s important to note that not all features are available for both macOS and Windows devices – email protection and download scans are for Windows users only.

Verdict

I was glad to see great scores from independent test labs. Avira Internet Security got the maximum of 6 points in performance, protection, and usability testing by AV-Test in October 2021.

Additionally, tests completed by AV-Comparatives in September and October 2021 also show impressive results. According to the experts, it successfully blocks 99.2% of cyber threats and is rated as an advanced security tool in terms of its malware protection features and performance.

I would conclude that Avira antivirus is a great security solution that offers a decent price-quality ratio and has great test results.

Visit Avira to read more about the features

6. ESET NOD32 – the best lightweight antivirus software

NOD32 user interface
Maximum simultaneous connections:10 devices
Free version:No
Platforms:Windows, macOS, Android
Current deal:Get ESET, save up to 26%!

If you aren't phased that NOD32’s product mascot is basically the Judgment Day Terminator, you’ll find a great antivirus in this leading Slovak cybersecurity product. Not only does it include robust anti-malware protection, but it’s also supported on a wide array of devices. It’s also not a memory hog and will run smoothly on weaker machines.

Features and pricing plans

ESET NOD32 is able to achieve a lot of things because their antivirus is genuinely cloud-based. It offloads most of the heavy processing to their servers. This means much less work for your device and better performance.

There's also a Gaming mode, which suspends all scans and notifications, so you can be focused on the more important things, while your antivirus doesn't get in the way.

If you're worrying that basic NOD32 protection might not be enough, you can opt for ESET Internet Security. You'll get a slight price bump, plus protection against harmful Java script, webcam protection, network monitoring, and more. For those who want to go all-in, there's an option to pick ESET Smart Security Premium. It will add ransomware protection, a password manager, and encryption for personal files.

Verdict

ESET aims to be a lightweight solution for your devices. It's perfect for those who need a quick scan once in a while to make sure their devices are clean. Not all antiviruses need an elaborate list of features. However, if you want to go that route, no one's stopping you. By climbing up to higher pricing tiers, you can get a lot out of ESET antivirus products, including support for macOS, and iOS devices, and additional cybersecurity tools.

Visit ESET to read more about the features

7. Kaspersky Anti-virus – superb performance and protection

Kaspersky user interface
Maximum simultaneous connections:10 devices
Free version:Yes
Platforms:Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
Current deal:Get Kaspersky, save up to 50%!

Kaspersky is an old-school antivirus provider with an excellent reputation for solid protection. It's always at or near the top in independent antivirus tests.

Features and pricing plans

Once again, the features differ greatly among pricing plans. The cheapest plan starts at $29.99/year for 3 Windows computers. In addition to basic virus and malware protection, Kaspersky adds a phishing filter, anti-ransomware, and network defender features.

Moving on to the Internet Security suite, we get apps for macOS and Android plus a bunch of new features. Those include a two-way firewall, a webcam blocker, and payment protection. The latter is named Safe Money and loads every check-out page on Kaspersky’s encrypted browser with a built-in virtual keyboard, thus protecting you from hackers.

Finally, with Total Security (from $44.99/year) comes iOS support and an option to upgrade from 5 to 10 simultaneous connections. This plan adds file encryption, a password manager, and parental controls. So is it worth upgrading to? Well, you be the judge.

Payment options include credit cards and PayPal. The 30-day money-back guarantee means you can test the priciest Kaspersky plan and see which features are a must for you. Also, you might want to try the free version, which is unfortunately based on different antivirus software

Verdict

To conclude, Kaspersky Anti-Virus is a powerful tool, even when we’re talking about the basic plan. Still, it cannot compete with the price and the number of features that Bitdefender provides.

There’s nearly a 100% chance it will block any type of malware, just like it’s been doing so far. At the moment of writing this review, Kaspersky had the highest score in AV-Test, AV-Comparatives, and SE Labs tests.

Visit Kaspersky to read more about the features

8. BullGuard Antivirus – best option for gamers

BullGuard user interface
Maximum simultaneous connections5 devices
Free version:Yes (Android-only)
Platforms:Windows, macOS, Android
Current deal:Get Bullguard, now 60% OFF!

BullGuard has over 19 years of experience in the antivirus software industry. More than 80 million users in 150 different countries trust their services. This company continuously updates and improves their security solutions to help users feel confident in their online security.

Features and pricing plans

You'll be surprised how capable BullGuard’s malware engine and firewall is. Their combination will ensure that most malware doesn’t get through, and if it does it won’t stay on your device for long.

If you're worried that this antivirus will clog your system and occupy a significant portion of your resources, there's good news. It's one of the friendliest services to gamers. There's a Game Booster that prioritizes full-screen software processes.

There's also a Secure Browser feature that offers additional protection against DNS poisoning attempts. This will save you from phishing sites and other such scams. Plus, it protects your payment information from surveillance.

Premium tiers also include BullGuard's ID Protection, which scans the dark web and pastebins for your leaked personal data and accounts. Speaking of pricing, Bullguard offers 3 different service tiers. If you're not sure whether you want to commit straight away, you can try the service with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Verdict

Overall, Bullguard is an exceptional service. However, it's more exceptional on some operating systems than on others. It's superb on Windows, but it isn't very impressive on macOS and iOS. Seeing how malware continues to be prevalent on Mac as well as on Windows, that's something that we'd like to see improve. That aside, BullGuard stands as one of the best antivirus services we've tried.

Visit Bullguard to read more about the features

9. Panda Dome – top-notch quality and flexibility

Panda Dome Antivirus user interface
Maximum simultaneous connections:Unlimited devices
Free version:Yes (Android-only)
Platforms:Windows, macOS, Android
Current deal:Get Panda Dome, now 50% OFF!

Strange name aside, this service is one of the most popular antivirus services for home users. This is due to the fact that it has a free version, which could be used on its own and still provide reliable security.

Features and pricing plans

Panda Dome Antivirus uses cloud-based solutions to provide real-time virus countermeasures. Although it seems unlikely, even the free version is as potent as some of the rivaling options.

There's also a smart Data Shield that protects your personal information from leaking on the dark web. The service also includes a password manager. It isn't as extensive as other third-party offers, but it gets the job done if you want something simple.

If you want the best out of the package, the paid plans don’t disappoint. With each plan your first month is free, so you will have plenty of time to test the service in-depth. Each of these plans adds significant subscription benefits.

The Essential plan adds multiple device protection against malware, a wifi shield, and external device virus scanning. The advanced plan includes ransomware protection and parental controls. The Complete plan adds a password manager and a Data Shield for personal data protection. Then, there's the Premium offer with unlimited VPN access and priority customer support.

Verdict

All things considered, Panda Dome is one of the few antivirus suites that have real-time protection available on the Free plan. Plus, you can try the paid offers for a month before you're required to pay up. If you don't need every feature that they have in their package or need something more, you can customize the service with additional protection modules like Panda Cleanup, Panda Dome Passwords, Panda VPN, or Panda Family.

Visit Panda Dome to read more about the features

10. F-Secure SAFE – reliable protection in a slick package

F-Secure user interface
Maximum simultaneous connections:25 devices
Free version:No
Platforms:Windows, macOS, Android, iOS

Scandinavian company F-Secure has developed one of the most powerful antivirus solutions. Here's what you should know about it.

Features and pricing plans

F-Secure SAFE doesn’t have a long list of features to boast about. It includes the necessary basic measures that you could expect from an antivirus suite. Plus, there is ransomware protection, parental controls and support for a wide range of devices.

Sadly, you won't find a firewall, which should be included in every top contender's resume. However, when it comes to internal malware protection, F-Secure is a robust solution. You can even upload malware samples to their databases to get them adequately analyzed. There's also a browser extension that enables you to browse safely.

Their pricing plans can leave many confused about which option to pick. There's the basic antivirus, but it only includes a very barebones suite for a steep price. You should go for F-Secure SAFE and customize its subscription length and number of devices supported.

Verdict

F-Secure is quite an expensive product. However, if you're only looking for a traditional antivirus, F-Secure should be a perfect fit. With that said, other services offer a lot more bang for your buck. Our advice: wait for deals and only then pull a trigger on this service.

Visit F-Secure to read more about the features

How we curated our best antivirus software list

Picking the best antivirus solutions isn’t easy. First of all, we had to weed out all the software that doesn’t meet our security standards, i.e. the programs that aren’t good at detecting malware (which is their primary job) or the apps that are just simply too buggy.

Providers tested:19
Operating systems used:Windows, macOS, Android
Minimum virus detection rate:>95%
Features tested:Real-time protection, spam filters, firewall, parental controls, bonus features

Then, we paid attention to the selection of features. Naturally, most antivirus software offers a similar set of features, such as real-time scanning or defense against ransomware.

For most users, solid basics can be enough, and they don’t have any reason to pay more for something they don’t want. On the other hand, unique features are what make an antivirus solution stand out from the others.

Here are the criteria that we used to determine the best antivirus programs in 2021:

  • Independent antivirus testing. Does the company even invest in such testing? What are the results? We take a look at results from AV-Test Institute, SE Labs, AV-Comparatives, and others.
  • In-house antivirus testing. This one is mostly for spyware, adware, and other types of malware. It’s one thing to launch an antivirus that scores highly and another to retain the position throughout the year
  • What is its record with false positives? New malware examples come out each day, and even the best antivirus software can’t catch it all 100% of the time. But how does one solve the problem of false positives? I look at which antivirus solutions don’t overreact and let you browse freely.
  • Bonus features. I check which antiviruses offer firewalls, spam filters, secure browsers, and other extras. Then I compare the number of features you get and the asking price.
  • Supported devices. If you’ve found the best antivirus for Windows 11, that doesn’t mean it will work on your iPhone.
  • Performance. If you don’t have the latest hardware, an antivirus scan can hamper your device’s performance.
  • Ease of use. No matter how sophisticated the best antivirus software is, any user should be able to scan their device.
  • Reputation. It’s hard to stay clean, but only clean antiviruses can reach the top. And that’s why you won’t see AVG or Avast at the top of our list.
  • Price. You shouldn’t be trying to save on protecting your devices. On the other hand, there’s no reason to choose overpriced antivirus software. In any case, the majority of best antivirus software developers offer different packages for individuals, families, and businesses.
  • Customer support. Is there 24/7 support? If so, is that via email or a live chat? These are important questions that say a lot about your provider’s outlook on its clients.

Best antivirus software compared

Bitdefender Norton 360McAfeeAviraTotalAVBullGuard Panda DomeESET NOD32KasperskyTrend MicroF-SecureSophosMalwarebytes
Brandlogologologologologologologologologologologologologo
Rating
4.9
4.7
4.5
4.5
4.4
--
4.4
4.3
4.3
--
4.0
Free versionYesNoYes (Android, iOS)YesYesYes (Android-only)YesNoYesYes (Android and iOS)NoYesYes
Pricefrom $17.99/yearfrom $14.99/yearfrom $24.99/yearfrom $34.69/yearfrom $19.00/yearfrom $29.99/yearfrom $47.99/yearfrom $39.99/yearfrom $17.99/yearfrom $37.75/yearfrom $69.99/yearfrom $35.99/yearfrom $16.00/year
Free vs paid
  • Network Threat Prevention
  • Multi-Layered Ransomware Protection
  • Vulnerability Assessment
  • Rescue Environment
  • The dedicated SafePay browser
  • Password Manager
  • VPN
  • File Shredder
-
  • Desktop apps
  • Internet protection
  • Email protection
  • Customer support
  • Real-time protection
  • Ransomware protection
  • Cloud scanning
  • Phishing scam protection
  • Disk cleaner
  • Optimisation tools
  • 24/7 customer support
  • Desktop apps
  • Premium virus protection
  • Wi-Fi protection against hackers
  • External devices malware scan
-
  • Malware protection
  • Ransomware blockers
  • Desktop apps
-
  • Customer support
  • Real-time protection
  • Ransomware protection
  • Parental controls
  • Remote management
  • Example text
  • Three system scan modes
  • Real-time protection
  • Device Alerts
Customer supportFAQs, guides, phone, email, live chatguides, FAQs, live chat, phoneguides, FAQs, live chatphone, email, guides, FAQsphone, email, ticket24/7 email, community forum, live chat24/7 email, phonephone, email, guides, FAQsguides, FAQs, email form, hone linePhone, email, social mediaPhone, email, community forumsguides, FAQs, live chat,emailsguides, FAQs, email forms
Device supportWindows, macOS, Android, iOSWindows, macOS, iOS, AndroidWindows, Mac, Android, iOSWindows, Mac, Android, iOSWindows, Mac, iOS, Android, LinuxWindows, macOS, AndroidWindows, macOS, AndroidWindows, Linux, Mac, AndroidWindows, Mac, Android, iOSWindows, macOS, Android, iOSWindows, macOS, Android, iOSWindows, Linux, Mac, Android, iOSWindows, Android, macOS, ChromeOS, iOS
Features
  • Advanced Threat Defense
  • Profiles
  • Ransomware remediation
  • AntiSpam
  • Anti-tracker
  • File shredder
  • Anti-webcam hijack
  • VPN
  • Password manager
  • Real-time threat protection
  • VPN
  • Smart Firewall
  • Password manager
  • Cloud backup
  • SafeCam
  • Ransomware protection
  • QuickClean
  • Shredder
  • Vulnerability scanner
  • McAfee WebAdvisor
  • McAfee Speed Up
  • Password manager
  • Includes password manager
  • Supports many operating systems
  • Safe shopping suite
  • Adds up to your browser protection
  • Reliable malware removal
  • Safe Browsing (VPN)
  • WebShield extension
  • Secure Password Vault
  • Ad blocker
  • System tune up
  • Game Booster
  • Effective malware scans
  • Custom malware scan
  • Free version for mobile users
  • Vulnerability monitor
  • Good scores in synthetic tests
  • Frequent discounts
  • Great free version
  • Attractive UI
  • Support for a wide range of OSs
  • Cloud-based
  • Efficient at removing malware
  • Great performance scores
  • Anti-theft tools
  • Password Manager
  • Switch Protection Mode
  • Secure browser
  • Safe money
  • Password manager
  • Privacy protection
  • Protection for kids
  • VPN
  • Most advanced antivirus on the market
  • Great at removing malware
  • Highly customizable
  • Many bonus features
  • Layered ransomware protection
  • Sophisticated spam filter
  • Mute mode
  • Simple to use
  • Effective against malware
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Low system impact
  • Rare notifications
  • Parental controls
  • Remote management capabilities
  • Lightweight antivirus software
  • Real-time protection
  • Exploit protection
  • Browser Guard
Cons
  • Restrictive VPN
  • macOS support only with paid plans
  • iOS app is a lackluster
  • Paid options somewhat expensive
  • Not the cheapes
  • No free version
  • Prompts to open additional tabs and apps
  • Interface could be more intuitive
  • Web and App Boost are lackluster
  • PC Web Boost only works on Chrome
  • LiveSafe and Total Protection difference unclear
  • May report false positives
  • Free version lacks web protection
  • Slow customer support
  • Only covers six devices
  • The browser extension isn’t particularly user friendly
  • Safe Search doesn’t always work
  • Multiple device usability is limited
  • Dated UI
  • Clogs up system if not in gaming mode
  • Mediocre parental controls
  • No iOS support
  • On the expensive side
  • No iOS support
  • Free version has annoying ads
  • Bonus features locked behind protection modules
  • Password manager is dated
  • More expensive than Norton 360 or Kaspersky
  • No iPhone app
  • Gets very expensive with more than one device
  • A bit expensive
  • Unremarkable features in higher-priced plans
  • Lowest-priced plan is Windows only
  • Low brand trust due to 2017 scandal
  • Resource-hungry
  • Expensive
  • Limited parental controls
  • Setup can be tricky
  • Limited features
  • Basic plans offer poor value
  • Overpriced
  • No anti-phishing protection
  • One year plans only
  • Locks out many features
  • Weak internet security
  • No scan customisation
  • Free version has no real-time protection
  • No live chat or phone support
  • Only covers up to five devices
  • No firewall feature
ReviewBitdefender reviewNorton 360 reviewMcAfee reviewAvira reviewTotalAV reviewBullGuard reviewPanda Dome reviewESET NOD32 reviewKaspersky reviewTrend Micro reviewF-Secure SAFE reviewSophos Home reviewMalwarebytes review

Video review: Best antivirus software of 2021

Best antivirus software video review

Do I need antivirus at all?

Whether you need an antivirus at all depends on your level of IT skills and online browsing habits. It’s relatively hard for us to give a straightforward yes or no answer.

However, there are a few simple questions you can ask yourself to help you decide if you need an antivirus.

  • Do you often end up on suspicious websites? Unreliable websites are the primary source of various cyber threats that can infect your devices. Premium antivirus tools can block malicious sites and intrusive ads to help you avoid malware.
  • Do you shop online regularly? If you’re entering your credit card details nearly every day, it would be wise to use an antivirus that puts your transactions in an encrypted secure browser screen.
  • Do your kids use your device? If you have family and kids, making sure they stay safe is even more important. With parental controls, such as webcam blocking, you can protect your children even while not at home. Chances are there are more than a few devices connected to your home wifi. An antivirus can protect all of them at once, saving the hassle of catering to each separately.
  • Do you have multiple other security solutions as individual tools? If you use a password manager, a VPN service, or a secure email as separate products, you might benefit from a quality antivirus suite. Nowadays, they incorporate most of these cybersecurity tools, so it’s significantly easier to use them and ensure all-round security of your device.

If the majority of the answers are positive, we advise you to get a trustworthy antivirus product for your device. It doesn’t have to be a premium option, but at least a trustworthy one.

As the years go by, it’s less about viruses and malware but about cybersecurity in general. Keep in mind that great antivirus solutions are feature-rich and come cheaper than getting a file encryptor or a VPN separately.

Antivirus is not a cure-all remedy

Just like any other software, antiviruses are prone to vulnerabilities. They can also slow your device down or even collect data about you, especially when we’re talking about free versions. Besides, if you’re a Windows user, you already have a robust anti-malware tool in Defender. If you’re a Mac owner, there’s simply less malware and vulnerability points to lose your sleep on.

Finally, it’s all about your online habits – if you throw your credit card details all around the dark web and let your children play with your phone, you’re in the risk group. And compared to the possible damage of a ransomware attack or identity theft, those few bucks a month for the best antivirus software should be a no-brainer.

How to choose the best antivirus software?

Choosing the best antivirus software might seem challenging at first. There are so many options offering a variety of features. So, how to decide which one suits your needs?

Here are a few simple factors that you should consider before choosing an antivirus:

  • Check security features. The best antivirus solutions should include high quality security features. You can pick one of our top 5 products which are listed above – they come in an all-in-one bundle. However, if you’re already using some kind of online protection (maybe it’s a VPN or a password manager), you can get other antivirus programs that are not so feature-rich.
  • Seek for all-round protection. If you’re not the only one using a computer or a mobile device, you should consider getting an antivirus that would provide extra protection. Some providers have solid parental control features while others protect your whole home network and alert about possible dangers.
  • Consider your budget. Not all antivirus programs offer the same bang-for-the-buck ratio. That’s why spending thirty dollars on Kaspersky instead of Avira might be a good idea.
  • Try the software first. Keep in mind that you have to like the software because most companies sell 1-year or longer subscriptions. Thus, you should test it before purchasing. Luckily, the majority of products offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, so testing before buying will save you both time and money.

Best antivirus based on your OS

The market for antivirus programs is wide and can be confusing. Also, each OS works best with specifically customized antivirus software. For example, the perfect antivirus for Windows might deliver disappointing results on your Android device. Therefore, we have tried many antimalware programs with different operating systems for the best security results.

The key points that we paid attention to have helped us to discern the AV programs. Independent organization lab scores, efficiency, available features, quality of customer support, and, of course, price – all of this can help you find out which tool offers the strongest protection.

After lots of testing, we have picked Norton 360 as the best AV option. It’s versatile, secure, and adapted for various operating systems. Yet, you can find our full lists of the best antivirus services for different OS down below:

  • Antivirus for Windows. Many antivirus providers claim to offer all the most important features for security, as well as great protection scores. However, the programs may still lack development. Thus, we have done the testing for you and listed the top antivirus programs for Windows 10 and Windows 11.
  • Antivirus for Mac. Many antivirus programs for Mac were ported from Windows AV programs. Therefore, most of them lack personalized features. The application ends up as incomplete and not as safe as the built-in security options. So, we have tested and picked the best antivirus fully customized for Mac.
  • Antivirus for Chrome. It is said that Chromebooks are incredibly safe and immune to malware. Thus, many people skip fully securing their Chrome devices. The remained gap omits viruses and malware. Moreover, the AV for this OS must be compatible with Android, as Chrome OS and Android are basically the same. That’s why researched the most suitable antivirus programs for Chrome OS.
  • Antivirus for Android. Even though Android devices have Google’s built-in security, they are not as protected as they should be. The built-in security may overlook malware and detect false positives. To secure your mobile even more, you can choose the best antivirus software for Android from our list.
  • Antivirus for iOS. It’s a pity how most of the antivirus providers skip developing applications for iOS. This causes their apps to have low-quality security without real-time protection. So, we have chosen for you the best antivirus options specifically for iOS devices.

The best free antivirus software

Good antivirus software doesn’t have to cost much. Actually, it doesn’t have to cost anything at all. Four out of five antivirus solutions mentioned above have either good or great free versions.

However, you should be aware that there are many so-called antivirus programs that are less than reliable. Usually, you can encounter pop-up ads offering free security tools. Unfortunately, they often carry malicious programs inside their installers and are merely used to infiltrate malware.

Likewise, we highly advise you to avoid getting untested security programs which are advertised online. Instead, get antivirus solutions recommended and tested by the experts. We’ve picked the best free antivirus services for you to check out.

How does antivirus work?

There’s no unified description of what a virus is and what malware is. The word malware is an all-encompassing term for harmful software, such as viruses, Trojans, worms, and others.

In most cases, antivirus software scans your computer for possible malware and compares your files and programs to known viruses. It also checks possible variants of known malware types. Finally, the so-called heuristic scan tries to detect unknown malware by looking at the way your programs behave.

There are two types of scans that are usually available. The background scan provides real-time protection by actively checking the programs that are currently opened. In contrast, a full system scan checks every file on your hard drive. It’s recommended to run one after installing the antivirus and after the real-time scan finds an infection.

There’s always the chance of a false positive. It’s when your antivirus program thinks that it has found a virus while in fact, it’s a new but safe app that you’ve downloaded. Whitelisting can prevent future false positives.

FAQ

Comments

wounducknow
wounducknow
prefix 5 months ago
How necessary is antivirus software? forgive me but I’ve been using my computer for ages without any protection and nothing happened. I never click on random links and generally try to be careful online so I don’t see how my computer could get infected. I also use vpn with blockers. I would be interested to know if I may actually face any threats even with such low risk . I’m genuinely interested, always eager to learn. Thank you for your help.
Mindaugas Jancis
Mindaugas Jancis
prefix 5 months ago
Dear wounducknow,
Words cannot describe how essential the antivirus software is. I’m happy that you were able to dodge malware so far, but the fact is that it’s getting more sophisticated, and there’s more and more of it. No matter how internet-savvy you are, you may still get infected with malware one day. Besides, Antivirus Suite would check whether your email ended up on a leaked database. Therefore, for starters, I recommend you install Bitdefender, which has a powerful free version. If you like it, you can get the full suite that will cost you less than a couple of bucks per month.
Andreas
Andreas
prefix 7 months ago
After similar hacking experiences on an Android cellphone as several posters mentioned (with VPN in fact), purchased a desktop-Windows 10 to discontinue internet use with cell. Have Comcast internet service with modem. Main use consists of sensitive and financial information. while having once burned twice shy-itis, which comprehensive paid anti-all program is best? Choosing a replacement for gmail is another conundrum. Don’t intend to sync with other devices or WiFi anything if can help it.
Mindaugas Jancis
Mindaugas Jancis
prefix 5 months ago
Hey, Andreas. In your case, I suggest the Norton Antivirus suite. It has its own VPN and password manager. And since none of the suites above offer a secure email service, you should choose either Tutanota or ProronMail.
Lannie
Lannie
prefix 7 months ago
Any article that includes Norton 360 in it, automatically is removed as a valid source. Their software has been a bloated nightmare for years. In corporate world their software is dangerous as it missed a LOT. Replacing with other solutions makes you aware of how much it misses.
It really is that bad of a product. When you lose up to 33% of resources because of it, you must uninstall.
AuSS
AuSS
prefix 9 months ago
The 5 best antivirus software of 2021?
Is this a joke?
I had trouble with them… not good experience… ha ha
Mindaugas Jancis
Mindaugas Jancis
prefix 7 months ago
Hi, AuSS. No, I’m afraid that’s not a joke. I’d love to hear about the antiviruses that you love most, though. Have a good day!
Leon
Leon
prefix 9 months ago
I can’t imagine my life without gaming. Actually, I spend a fortune on games, however, I don’t want to spend money on antivirus. They are expensive and not always needed ( on the daily basis). Suggest the best free antivirus for gaming. I sometimes download stuff for games (skins, mods, and so on) and websites mostly are very suspicious and download stuff at my own risk.
Mindaugas Jancis
Mindaugas Jancis
prefix 7 months ago
Hey, Leon. As there are not that many good free antiviruses, I’d consider choosing from our list of best free antivirus software for 2021.
Jourdan
Jourdan
prefix 9 months ago
Can someone explain the difference between antivirus and antimalware? Antivirus is detecting, blocking, and removing viruses, malware, and ransomware, as well as preventing identity theft and block phishing and fraud. Isn’t antimalware the same? It’s so confusing.
Mindaugas Jancis
Mindaugas Jancis
prefix 9 months ago
Dear Jourdan,
There is some confusion with these terms. Technically, malware is any type of software that does something bad to you. This includes viruses, Trojans, ransomware, and so on. However, there are plenty of products named Antivirus, while in fact, they combat all sorts of malware. Therefore, when choosing the best antivirus software, you should look at the features and whether there’s everything that you want. Some tools might not include ransomware protection, while others might ignore adware.
Anseel
Anseel
prefix 9 months ago
I guess Bitdefender is not only the best antivirus but also the world’s most popular antivirus. The premium plan is not expensive, and you get a lot in one bundle. That’s why I don’t buy a VPN for example. I used Avast when I purchased my first PC, however, I’ve switched to Bitdefender. It has a very understandable UI, and when I needed some help, live support just saved me.
TRAN VAN THUAN
TRAN VAN THUAN
prefix 5 months ago
Việt Nam
Oli Oli
Oli Oli
prefix 10 months ago
you can never be too secure, right? i use a vpn, which has some ad blocks, so many suspicious websites do not even load. but the main concern is – can i have two antivirus programs on my computer? will they conflict with each other, or it will just like double protection if one antivirus didn’t find potential malware, the other will?
Mindaugas Jancis
Mindaugas Jancis
prefix 10 months ago
Dear Oli Oli,
Thanks for the comment. You can have two antivirus programs, but they will most likely conflict with each other. In a way, it’s like using two condoms – double doesn’t always mean two times better. I’d suggest adding a password manager to your security suite instead. Stay safe!
JapanGO
JapanGO
prefix 10 months ago
i always thought that the answer to do smartphones need antivirus is no. i mean, i rarely download anything to my phone from suspicious places. however, i was so wrong! i visited one website and something automatically went downloading 🙁 my son when was playing with my phone installed it (simply clicked yes-yes-yes) and my phone went to brick mode.i had to install software from zero. from that moment – always use antivirus on my phone, on my pc, and even on the tablet.
RockerChell
RockerChell
prefix 11 months ago
My old man is so bored with this quarantine that he decided to pull out his old dusty Thinkpad. It takes eons to load, runs as fast as a crippled tortoise yet sounds like a jet engine. I don’t understand why he doesn’t get a new one.
Anyway, now he’s going to dive head first into the new internet. I’m a bit concerned, but I can’t stand over his shoulder all the time and tell him to not click on some weird links. And there’s no way that he would pay for a program. So, long story short – I’m looking for the best free antivirus for older computers. Any ideas?
Mindaugas Jancis
Mindaugas Jancis
prefix 11 months ago
Dear RockerChell,
Well, it seems that your dad is not yet ready to let it go 🙂 Convinging him into installing Panda Dome should work. Good luck!
Eddy Hepburn
Eddy Hepburn
prefix 11 months ago
Ok, here’s the thing – I got a Macbook Air for Christmas. Now, I’m not really a big fan of Apple so I never really used their products that much in the past, but I have a feeling this might change. I was told that Macs have better security than Windows, but I’m not convinced. I’d feel better with some extra security layers. Problem is – I don’t know what to choose. Do you have any suggestions on what’s the best antivirus scanner for mac? Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll get back to me!
Mindaugas Jancis
Mindaugas Jancis
prefix 11 months ago
Hi, Eddy. You’re right about not trusting your online security on Mac alone. As always, you can try a free antivirus first. Bitdefender Antivirus Plus, Kaspersky Anti-virus, and Avira Antivirus can all be great for macOS.
Duncan N.
Duncan N.
prefix 11 months ago
All these articles about hacks got me a bit concerned. I could use a program that would protect all of the devices in my house. What do you think is the best antivirus for multiple pcs? And would I need a different program for phones or tablets? So many devices are connected to the internet, yet I’m not sure if a VPN on my router would be enough protection.
Mindaugas Jancis
Mindaugas Jancis
prefix 11 months ago
Hey, Duncan! Thanks for stopping by. While using a VPN is a big step towards securing your home network, there are still many potential threats that only a reliable antivirus can handle. In your case, I’d suggest McAfee Total Protection. It works on both desktop and mobile devices, comes with plenty of features, and allows to easily manage all devices that are connected to wifi.
Phillip Hedley
Phillip Hedley
prefix 11 months ago
So my grandma decided that she needs a laptop. I think it’s great that she decided to stay more connected to everyone, was always against modern tech, but the pandemic really made her reconsider. Problem is she got some really cheap one with weak specs. So I have to ask – do you have recommendations for best antivirus for low resources computers? Not something that I can test on my own beastly rig so I got to ask the professionals.
Mindaugas Jancis
Mindaugas Jancis
prefix 11 months ago
Dear Phillip, thanks for the comment. I’m happy that your grandma has decided to go online! I suggest trying Panda Dome – it’s both free and doesn’t require the latest hardware to run smoothly.
Sherri Hardwick
Sherri Hardwick
prefix 11 months ago
Do you know what’s the best antivirus for students? A lot of us have to study remotely now and the universities don’t provide us with things like that, have to manage all of these cybercriminals by ourselves. Which is understandable I suppose, but I’d still like something that gives a good discount to students.
Mindaugas Jancis
Mindaugas Jancis
prefix 11 months ago
Hi, Sherri. First of all, you don’t have to pay for a good antvirus! There are at least a few with great free versions. I suggest you to try Bitdefender Antivirus Plus or Kaspersky Anti-virus.
MountainShard
MountainShard
prefix 11 months ago
Hey there, Cybernews. I was curious about what you think is the best antivirus for small businesses. We’re not in the IT business, but I’ve been reading all these stories about how all kinds of businesses get attacked with ransomware or other kinds of hacks. I have an online store so it’s really important to keep it running all the time. Right now we don’t need a lot of computers secure, but that could change in the future. I want something that wouldn’t cost too much when the amount of computers increases. Perhaps there are some antiviruses that have an unlimited amount of devices?
Mindaugas Jancis
Mindaugas Jancis
prefix 11 months ago
Hello, MountainShard. Getting an antivirus for business protecion is a very good idea. In your case, the best choice is Bitdefender Antivirus Plus. It has a great free version and isn’t pricey in case you decide to upgrade. When it comes to unlimited devices, McAfee Total Protection is probably your best bet. Good luck!
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