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Best antivirus software for Windows 11

Compared to third-party antivirus solutions, Microsoft Defender Antivirus (formerly Windows Defender), isn’t as good. While protection is adequate, it is less effective than dedicated antivirus apps.

Dedicated antivirus services focus on dealing with malware and other cyberthreats by quickly adapting to the changing landscape, while Microsoft Defender takes longer to update. And although Microsoft Defender is free, it doesn’t have as many resources allocated to it as premium services have, including additional security features. As such, I recommend installing one of the best antiviruses for Windows 11 to enhance your computer’s cybersecurity.

To help you make the right decision, together with our expert team, we researched and tested 25 antivirus services regarding malware and real-time protection, additional features, customer support, and more. Continue reading to find out the best antivirus programs for Windows 11 so you can make an informed decision.

Which antivirus is best for Windows 11?

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Does Windows 11 need antivirus?

Yes, Windows 11 needs a reliable antivirus; otherwise, you cannot guarantee robust antivirus protection. While Windows 11 includes Windows Security with Microsoft Defender, which can be good enough to deal with common malware, it won’t protect you against more sophisticated zero-day attacks, virus-laden ads, and other online nuisances.

The best third-party antiviruses for Windows 11, first and foremost, ensure real-time protection against existing malware. In-house testing revealed that Microsoft Defender is not 100% reliable in detecting threats. Third-party antivirus solutions, on the other hand, showed better detection and performance results.

Trusted antivirus software can also help you detect risky websites. Note that a website can be dangerous even if it looks legitimate on the surface. Antivirus software can help you avoid wandering off to the shady side of the web.

With a reliable antivirus, you also don’t need to wonder which ads can be trusted and which ones cannot, as all ads are blocked automatically. The best antiviruses block online advertisements because they are frequently used to distribute malware. Meanwhile, Microsoft Defender doesn’t provide such functionality.

Another thing to consider is protection for children. If you’re a parent, the safety of your children is probably your biggest concern. Some antivirus services include parental control features or even location monitoring tools.

If you’re still unsure whether you need a third-party malware detection and removal tool, many providers offer free versions or 30-day money-back guarantees with their products. I suggest utilizing these offers to see if the services suit your Windows 11 security needs.

Expert comment
Tech copywriter and security expert
Recent updates
With the latest update, I’ve reassessed each provider, and TotalAV has been moved to the first position as the best antivirus for Windows 11 due to its effective real-time protection, security features, and the overall great price-to-value ratio. I’ve also provided more information about why a built-in antivirus isn’t enough to offer comprehensive Windows protection.

The best antivirus software for Windows 11 – detailed list

Together with our research team, I reviewed 25 antivirus solutions for Windows 11. During the evaluations, we assessed real-time protection, scan capabilities, extra security features, and other essential criteria. Most of the services I recommend offer free versions, which is one of the primary reasons users continue using Microsoft Defender. Here’s a detailed list of the best antiviruses for Windows 11.

1. TotalAV – best antivirus for Windows 11 overall

Total AV banner new
Max devices:
Free version:Yes
Platforms:Windows, macOS, iOS, Android
Current deal:Get TotalAV, now 80% OFF!

TotalAV is the best antivirus for Windows 11 in 2024, especially if you’re on a budget. It’s not only affordable, but also offers excellent handling of cyberthreats and top additional features. Most importantly, the antivirus has proven to be effective against 100% of malware, which is one of the characteristics that earned TotalAV the coveted top position.

While TotalAV offers one of the best security suites in the business, it also provides great pricing, making it a very wallet-friendly option. There is even a free plan. Of course, this version offers the most basic features and antivirus protection.

The free TotalAV version grants adequate antivirus protection against malware and phishing attacks. It also includes several scan options to ensure malware isn't lurking on your device. Unfortunately, the free version lacks real-time protection, which is vital for well-rounded security.

On the flip side, paying customers unlock real-time protection, which guards devices against malware, ransomware, and phishing emails. It also blocks entry to malicious websites. The Smart Scan feature goes even further, doing a regular security check for malware, junk, trackers, and cached files.

TotalAV smart scan

When I evaluated TotalAV and its real-time protection capabilities, it managed to stop 100% of malware, and the full scan was also 100% effective. The latest AV-TEST results confirmed my findings – the antivirus can detect 100% or prevalent malware. As for zero-day malware, TotalAV caught 98.2%, which is a great result as well.

As for additional premium features, the best one is Safe Browsing VPN. It offers unlimited data and a solid browsing experience with no visible slowdowns. Top-of-the-line TotalAV plans also come with a secure password manager, which helps you store, organize, or recover your login credentials. Most importantly, these perks are included in all TotalAV apps, which are compatible with Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android.

While the application has many features, the user interface isn’t overwhelming to newcomers. I found it simple to use, thanks to organization of categories, and didn't notice any obvious effect on system performance.

Considering TotalAV is one of the top antivirus software in the market with impressive advanced features, the prices are excellent – starting at $19.00/year. I highly recommend choosing the premium version with real-time protection over the free plan.

2. Norton 360 – best antivirus for Windows 11 for malware removal

Norton Antivirus Banner new
Max devices:
Free version:No
Platforms:Windows, macOS, iOS, Android
Current deal:Get up to 58% OFF Norton Antivirus

Norton 360 is another great Windows 11 antivirus that offers excellent security tools. In addition to great malware detection and real-time protection rates, there are plenty of extra tools to keep every facet of your online life as secure as possible. And while the interface of Norton 360 isn’t the most intuitive, overall, the antivirus is great for both beginners and advanced users.

Norton uses artificial intelligence (AI) to detect online dangers. It protects your devices from all types of malware and cyberthreats: spyware, ransomware, and potentially unwanted programs (PUPs).

It also includes the Norton Safe Web tool that helps you detect which links can cause potential harm. Other useful features and browser extensions include Isolation Mode, Dark Web monitoring, a free password manager, and cloud backups.

Norton Safe Web

The most recent Norton 360 evaluations were very satisfying. Both real-time protection and full scan were 100% effective. And the most recent AV-TEST results showed 100% malware protection effectiveness with zero false positives and only minor impediments regarding performance – basically the same results I had during in-house testing. However, Norton 360 was quite heavy on system resources, which I didn’t experience when testing TotalAV.

I like that Norton 360 plans include a built-in Virtual Private Network Norton Secure VPN. With this tool, no third parties can access your information or your online activity. A two-way firewall is another Norton feature I want to highlight – it monitors sent and received network traffic on your computer.

On the downside, the interface requires some getting used to because there are two separate interfaces containing different features. I found this approach a bit confusing and hard to find the features I needed

Norton 360's starting costs ($29.99/year) are comparable to Bitdefender’s and Avira’s, making it relatively affordable. While Norton lacks a free plan, the 60-day money-back guarantee is an excellent alternative for risk-free testing.

3. Bitdefender – exceptional antivirus protection for Windows 11

Bitdefender interface newest
Max devices:15
Free version:Yes
Platforms:Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux
Current deal:Get Bitdefender for up to 50% OFF!

Bitdefender is also a great choice if you’re looking for a reliable Windows 11 antivirus due to exceptional malware detection rates, reliable real-time protection, and excellent security features. It’s frequently mistaken for Microsoft Defender due to its similar name and solid free version.

As expected, the free version of Bitdefender has only a handful of essential features. To be precise, you get a virus scanner, web attack prevention, and, what surprised me most, real-time protection, which is missing from other free AVs, including TotalAV.

For paying users, Bitdefender’s star feature is the Advanced Threat Defense tool that monitors all device processes. A password manager, a file shredder, a firewall, ransomware remediation, web protection, and a free VPN are also in the package. Just remember that you’re limited to 200MB of daily traffic per device.

Bitdefender advanced threat defense

Our internal Bitdefender antivirus test results were pretty satisfactory. Both real-time protection and Whole System Scan garnered a 100% success rate. Furthermore, the Bitdefender Windows app showed 100% effectiveness against various malware in the latest AV-TEST evaluations, earning it perfect scores in all categories.

Regarding compatibility, there are apps for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. I found the apps easy to use and pleasant, especially because they don’t spam you with random pop-up notifications. Plus, the features are conveniently separated into different categories with settings panels nearby.

Bitdefender prices start from $29.99/year. Depending on the plan you pick, you can connect up to 15 devices. If anything, there’s also a 30-day money-back guarantee available.

4. Surfshark Antivirus – one of the best antivirus solutions for multiple devices

Surfshark AV banner new
Max devices:5
Free version:No
Platforms:Windows, macOS, Android
Current deal:Get Surfshark Antivirus - 80% OFF + 3 months FREE!

Surfshark Antivirus is another reliable anti-malware solution for Windows 11. It’s not just a simple scanning tool – you get a full security suite with malware protection features and Surfshark VPN for online security. However, there’s no free version, making it unsuitable for low-budget users.

Regarding malicious programs, Surfshark antivirus offers excellent real-time protection and continuously monitors your device for suspicious activity. You can also manually perform quick, complete, scheduled, and drag-and-drop item scans.

Moreover, this antivirus suite includes additional security features like webcam protection to make sure your sensitive information is safe. It even has a private search engine to prevent data tracking when browsing online.

Surfshark webcam protection

As for performance results, while reviewing Surfshark antivirus, real-time protection garnered a solid 90% success rate. Unfortunately, the full scan was only 70% effective during my testing. I must also note the scan was pretty heavy on system resources. Additionally, independent evaluations from AV-TEST are relatively old (December 2022), making their findings rather unhelpful in 2024.

While Surfshark VPN is compatible with almost any device, the antivirus only works with Windows, macOS, and Android. I found Surfshark’s Windows app intuitive and easy to set up and use.

As for the price, you can protect up to 5 devices from $47.85/year, and each subscription comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

5. Avira Antivirus – reliable and easy-to-use Windows 11 security software

avira antivirus banner new
Max devices:50
Free version:Yes
Platforms:Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
Current deal:Get 1 year of Avira at 43% OFF!

Avira is one of the best antivirus options for Windows 11 with a free plan. However, even though the free plan offers some extra benefits, the paid subscription has many more helpful features.

To be precise, Avira’s free version includes real-time protection, scanning, malware blocking, a VPN with 500MB of monthly data, and even a password manager. While that doesn’t seem like much, it's more than what Microsoft Defender includes, making it a superior free antivirus for Windows.

Unsurprisingly, upgrading to the premium version greatly improves the free version’s features and unlocks more perks. Additional features and network protections include web and email protection, which keeps you safe from phishing attacks, browser hijackers, and viruses in attachments. And if you’re a gamer, you’ll benefit from Game Booster, which optimizes performance by disallowing unnecessary apps from using CPU resources. Avira also has a firewall, unlike Surfshark or TotalAV.

Avira firewall feature

We performed thorough real-time and scanning tests for the Avira Antivirus review. My latest findings showed an impressive 90% success rate for real-time protection but only 70% system scanning effectiveness. Meanwhile, the most recent AV-TEST Avira evaluations show 100% effectiveness against widespread malware and 99.4% effectiveness against 0-day malware.

Like any worthwhile antivirus, Avira works with Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS devices. Whichever platform you use, you’ll gain a good-looking and intuitive antivirus application that’s manageable to newcomers and experts alike.

Starting at $26.99/year, the cheapest version offers basic antivirus features – and the more premium plans come with a software updater, PC speed, and tune-up tools. All in all, Avira offers a solid all-around package based on your needs.

6. ESET NOD32 – great antivirus for Windows 11 protection

eset nod new
Max devices:5
Free version:No
Platforms:Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS
Current deal:Get ESET, save up to 15%

ESET antivirus demonstrates great independent lab test results in overall protection and usability. It’s a good all-around protection suite for your Windows device. Sadly, this robust Windows antivirus tool doesn’t offer a free plan that could replace Microsoft Defender at no cost.

This antivirus provides ransomware protection, which secures your device data from being forcibly encrypted. The software also includes a banking and privacy security tool. It starts working when you access a financial website and prevents your payment data from leaking. I like the System cleaner tool, which restores your computer to a usable state after getting rid of cyberthreats.

ESET system cleaner

Regarding performance, our ESET antivirus tests showed excellent results. The service’s real-time protection feature was 100% effective, while scanning didn’t fall behind with its 90% positive score. In addition, I checked AV-TEST results which showed perfect malware detection rates.

You can get ESET applications for Windows, macOS, and Android. It also has an interesting anti-theft feature, which gives you access to the location of your stolen laptop or even a webcam. Additionally, ESET includes a password manager, a firewall, Gamer Mode, and allows the encryption of sensitive data.

For me, TotalAV was easy to set up and use. It has a clear and organized user interface, making it simple to navigate. The provider doesn’t have 24/7 customer support, but phone and email response times are still quick, and the agents are super helpful.

The prices are similar to many other antivirus providers in the market, starting at $49.99/year. With solid overall antivirus protection, ESET is a decent choice to stay safe online.

7. Trend Micro – easy-to-use antivirus for threat protection

Trend Micro antivirus banner new
Max devices:10
Free version:Yes (Android and iOS)
Platforms:Windows, Linux, macOS, Android, iOS
Current deal:Get Trend Micro, now 54% OFF!

Trend Micro is another solid antivirus for Windows 11. This antivirus provider offers robust protection with a user-friendly interface. It does not only efficiently catch threats using AI technologies but also has a few extra features to keep your everyday browsing as secure as possible. Sadly, its free version is only available on Android or iOS mobile devices, which means you only get free mobile security.

Trend Micro offers innovative features like Social Media Privacy Protection or Pay Guard for secure online shopping. There’s also dark web monitoring that informs you if any of your data has been found on the dark web. However, Trend Micro doesn’t offer a bespoke firewall. It relies on a pretty strong built-in Windows Firewall for all typical firewall tasks.

Trend Micro privacy scanner

The most recent Trend Micro tests we conducted returned average results. Real-time protection was 70% successful at stopping all types of malware, while the full scan underperformed and was only 40% effective. However, the latest results from AV-TEST show different results where Trend Micro is 100% effective against malware, scoring top marks.

Besides Windows, Trend Micro works with macOS, Android, and iOS devices. The apps look clean and easy to use, but some quirks confused me during the testing process. It seemed like some malware samples were undetected when, in reality, the antivirus simply removed the malware from the files without notifying.

You can use the free version to test some functionalities of this antivirus on mobile. As for the paid version, the prices start at $19.95/year, and you can use a 30-day money-back guarantee if needed.

8. Malwarebytes – resource-friendly Windows 11 antivirus

Malwarebytes-banner new
Max devices:20
Free version:Yes
Platforms:Windows, Android, macOS, ChromeOS, iOS
Current deal:Get Malwarebytes, now 25% OFF

Malwarebytes is a popular alternative to Microsoft Defender due to its ease of use, effectiveness, and free plan. However, whether you choose the paid or free plan, this Windows 11 antivirus lacks some crucial security features.

Malwarebytes' free plan is limited to various scanning options for periodically checking your computer for all types of malware. Unfortunately, real-time protection is absent, leaving you vulnerable to immediate attacks.

On the other hand, the paid version provides efficient real-time protection with a particularly nice-looking dashboard. It blocks malicious sites and protects against ransomware, malware, and PUPs. What's more, it monitors apps for vulnerability exploits, keeping your device safe at all times.

You can use one of three scan options if you suspect a malware infection. The Threat scan inspects memory, startup, registry, and other files for malware. The Quick scan is reserved for memory and startup only, and you can modify the Custom scan to check the entire drive or just specific folders.

Malwarebytes custom scan

The tests we conducted for our Malwarebytes review yielded some interesting findings. Under normal circumstances, real-time protection was only 60% effective, but the results improved to 90% when I installed Browser Guard, the antivirus web extension. Disappointingly, the full system scan was only 50% successful at finding malware. However, evaluations from AV-TEST show Malwarebytes is quite good at detecting malware – it was 99.2% effective with zero-day malware and 99.9% effective with prevalent threats.

Like most Windows antiviruses, Malwarebytes supports macOS, iOS, and Android. The software on all systems is approachable but looks a bit outdated by modern standards.

Malwarebytes Premium Plus plan includes Privacy VPN and costs $38.24/year to secure 3 devices. You can also use a limited free Malwarebytes version or a 60-day money-back guarantee to try it out risk-free.

Choosing Windows 11 antivirus: what you need to know

If you’re not a security expert, choosing a reliable antivirus for Windows 11 can seem like a difficult and confusing task. Especially considering all the options available on the market.

What I suggest doing first is checking antivirus software ratings on sites like Trustpilot or G2. Once you’ve got a general view of how people rate certain software, I’d read some reviews and comparisons on reputable websites. You can also check what people say on forums like Reddit or Quora.

After you’ve chosen a handful of seemingly reliable antivirus providers, check which ones offer free trials or money-back guarantees. This way you can test each or at least a couple to make sure they meet your security needs.

How we selected and tested these antivirus tools

To select only the best antivirus solutions for Windows 11, we researched and tested each provider extensively. 25 antiviruses were tested on a Virtualbox VM with Windows 11 (10GB RAM, 120GB dynamic HDD, and 2 CPU cores) installed on a Lenovo ThinkPad T14s Gen2 device (AMD Ryzen 5 PRO 5650U processor, 16 GBRAM, 256GB SSD, Windows 11 Pro OS).

Our research team installed various types of malware samples on the testing device and performed quick and full scans using each antivirus. We also checked how the device’s performance is impacted during scans, evaluated additional features and customer support. Here’s a glimpse into the testing process:

  1. Independent lab tests. We checked the latest independent lab test results. They allowed us to pick only those services that show great results. This includes ratings from independent testing labs AV-TEST and AV-Comparatives.
  2. In-house testing. We then performed comprehensive antivirus testing in house by planting threats on the device and running all types of scans the antivirus offers. We also visited malicious websites with the Windows 11 antivirus enabled. This way we could see how well the providers catch malware in real time, as well as their ability to detect existing threats. Norton antivirus testing process
  3. Performance. During the antivirus software testing process, we also monitored antivirus’ impact on system performance, including CPU and memory load.
  4. Security features. We researched what features each antivirus provides. Such additions as a firewall or real-time protection are beneficial for better protection.
  5. Customer support. We took into consideration the customer support options that antivirus providers offer. We included services that provide you with 24/7 human support – something Microsoft Defender doesn’t offer.
  6. Ranking. After reviewing the results gathered during extensive testing and research, I ranked the providers to introduce the best Windows 11 antivirus suites.

Best antivirus software for Windows 11 compared

RatingFree versionWindows appStarting priceRenewal priceReal-time protectionFirewallParental controls
✅ Yes✅ YesFrom $19.00/yearFrom $99.00/year✅ Yes❌ No❌ No
Norton 360
❌ No✅ YesFrom $29.99/yearFrom $59.99/year✅ Yes✅ Yes✅ Yes
✅ Yes✅ YesFrom $29.99/yearFrom $59.99/year✅ Yes✅ Yes✅ Yes
Surfshark AV
❌ No✅ YesFrom $47.85/yearFrom $79.00/year✅ Yes❌ No❌ No
✅ Yes✅ YesFrom $26.99/yearFrom $44.99/year✅ Yes✅ Yes✅ Yes
❌ No✅ YesFrom $49.99/yearFrom $59.99/year✅ Yes✅ Yes✅ Yes
Trend Micro
✅ Yes✅ YesFrom $19.95/yearFrom $39.95/year✅ Yes❌ No✅ Yes
✅ Yes✅ YesFrom $38.24/yearFrom $44.99/year✅ Yes❌ No❌ No

Why is built-in antivirus not enough?

Windows Security, formerly known as Microsoft Defender, is a built-in security solution for Windows 11 users. However, while Windows Security can offer basic protection, it often cannot compare to dedicated third-party antivirus solutions in a few significant ways.

For one, a built-in Windows security tool does not always offer the best threat detection rates. On the other hand, a reliable antivirus, like TotalAV, for example, can successfully block 100% of cyberthreats – or as close to that as possible. The effectiveness of Microsoft Defender Antivirus heavily relies on security updates – if you don’t install them, you could miss important security patches.

Furthermore, Windows Security doesn’t come with all the extras that leading antiviruses can offer, including advanced firewall controls, online banking protection, identity theft protection, data encryption, parental controls, or data backups.

While third-party antivirus tools still use the resources of your Windows 11 system, in general, the top providers do not cause a significant disruption. Windows Security, however, may notably slow down the system during certain processes. This can negatively impact the user experience, too.

It’s also important to note that Windows Security doesn’t offer protection for other devices. With some dedicated third-party antiviruses, you can use the same license to protect multiple devices, including macOS laptops, iOS phones, or Android tablets. This can help enhance your overall security.

In short, while Windows Security might be convenient and cost-effective for basic security needs, you must stay on top of all updates to guarantee that security patches are applied. And even then, there are no guarantees that you will get full Windows 11 protection. I recommend using dedicated antivirus solutions instead for a more comprehensive protection and extra benefits.

Can I use a free antivirus for Windows 11?

Yes, a free antivirus can protect your Windows 11 device if you follow proper cybersecurity hygiene. After all, Microsoft Defender is free and has solid results on independent lab tests like AV-TEST.

However, as mentioned previously, it lacks many extra features free antivirus services from third-party vendors can provide. For example, Microsoft Defender Antivirus cannot offer a password manager, a VPN, or ad blocking and is more vulnerable to zero-day attacks.

Moreover, premium antivirus software can provide comprehensive real-time protection, device optimization, dark web monitoring, and numerous other security perks. Naturally, the overall package depends on the paid antivirus you choose.

At the end of the day, a free antivirus is not the worst choice. It’s better to have some security layers than no security at all.

Video review: Best antivirus for Windows 11

Find the best Windows 11 antivirus recommendations in this detailed video review. We assess apps and features, testing results, pricing, and more. Discover which antivirus solution might work best for you.


Using an antivirus with your Windows 11 is essential for preventing various cyberthreats. Microsoft Defender can be enough for basic protection but might not handle advanced threats. For the best protection, you need a service that ensures above-average independent malware test results and includes important security features, such as real-time protection.

Using extensive research and analysis, I selected antiviruses that don’t impact your device performance too much and provide you with excellent malware protection rates, as well as offer 24/7 support.

My top choice antivirus for Windows 11 is TotalAV. It secures you in real time, blocks 100% of threats (according to independent lab test results), and provides such extras as anti-phishing protection, a VPN, a password manager, and more.

To sum up, you can rely on Microsoft Defender for basic security, but remember that a quality antivirus not only protects against various types of malware, but also serves as a multifunctional tool to keep you safe whatever you do online.

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