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Best malware removal software in 2024


Excellent malware removal software ensures your device isn’t susceptible to malicious software that can cause severe issues. Whether it’s ransomware, spyware, adware, or any other variation, the services we recommend will ensure viruses don’t damage your system.

For example, adware can be annoying because it causes ads to pop up everywhere and slow down your device. Meanwhile, ransomware can be extremely devastating since it makes your device completely unusable unless you pay an exorbitant ransom. And that’s just scratching the surface of what frustration malware can cause.

We evaluated 25 programs to determine which are the best for identifying and removing malware in 2024. After careful consideration, we picked the following 8 providers that perfectly balance effectiveness, affordability, and versatility against malware.

Top 5 best malware removal tools

How to choose the best malware removal

Choosing effective malware protection can be challenging, with many providers offering various features at different prices. To make the process easier, consider these factors before deciding:

  • Match security features to your needs. Interestingly, the most reliable malware removal tools are usually some of the best antivirus services because they include vital tools like comprehensive device scanning and malware detection. Pay special attention to these features when picking your digital protection suite.
  • Consider your budget. Cheaper malware removal software usually includes essential features for protection against malware. However, you don’t necessarily have to opt for a pricier solution to get a bundle of security features, as many providers offer an excellent price and quality combination that can fit your needs for malware removal software.
  • Evaluate the performance. It’s one of the most essential things an anti-malware software must include. The more threats a provider detects and removes, the better protection against malicious entities you get. We’ve included references to independent antivirus lab test results, such as AV-TEST, and mentioned our test results.
  • Assess the provider’s compatibility. Regardless of the device you’re using, you are susceptible to threats on mobile and computers. Therefore, choose a provider compatible with the operating systems you’re using to be protected at all times. Always check device compatibility on a provider’s website for the latest information.

The best malware protection and removal in 2024

You’ll find the best 8 premium (some even have free versions) malware removal programs in the list below. Each ensures strong malware protection, an excellent price-to-quality ratio, and apps for popular devices:

1. Bitdefender – the best malware removal tool overall

Bitdefender interface
Free version:Yes
Platforms:Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux
Price:From $29.99/year
Current deal:Get Bitdefender for up to 50% OFF!

Bitdefender is the overall best malware removal tool in 2024. It consistently demonstrates excellent malware detection and cleanup results in third-party and internal evaluations. Moreover, it includes an impressive number of features to keep customers secure against various malware (ransomware, adware, etc.) and other online threats like ads and trackers.

As expected, the latest February 2024 Bitdefender analysis from AV-TEST resulted in maximum points in all tested categories (protection, performance, and usability). Similarly, our in-house Bitdefender tests showed that the service’s real-time protection is 100% effective, while its deep scanning feature found 90% of the malware samples we tested against it.

Bitdefender threat detected

Regarding scanning options, Bitdefender offers quick and deep scans. Although the quick scan lives up to its name (elapsed less than one minute), I was disappointed that it couldn’t detect any malware samples. Thankfully, the deep scan found 90% of malware in roughly 9 minutes among 480k files.

I was happy that Bitdefender’s security features are split into protection, privacy, and utility categories for added convenience. These features include perks like advanced threat defense, online threat prevention, a vulnerability scan, a firewall, ransomware remediation, and more. Even better, I was able to customize each feature’s settings separately to make it fit my personal needs. Overall, the intuitive interface makes finding and understanding Bitdefender’s features a breeze.

Bitdefender offers a robust free tier if you’d like to test its virus scanning and real-time protection capabilities before purchase. However, we recommend opting for the premium tier, which costs merely $29.99/year and unlocks many of its coveted features. There’s even a 30-day money-back guarantee.

2. Norton 360 – feature-rich malware removal tool

Free version:No
Platforms:Windows, macOS, iOS, Android
Price:From $29.99/year
Current deal:Get up to 58% OFF Norton Antivirus

Norton 360 is an excellent alternative to Bitdefender if you’re looking for one of the best malware removal tools. It’s similarly priced and equally effective, according to independent labs. However, our internal test results weren’t as favorable as with Bitdefender.

The latest findings about Norton 360 from AV-TEST in February 2024 show top scores in all categories, putting it in the same tier as Bitdefender. However, we ranked the service lower because it didn’t perform as well in our in-house Norton 360 tests. To be precise, its real-time and deep scanning features were 80% effective, which is pretty solid but overall lower than with Bitdefender.

Norton threat resolved

Norton 360 provides three scanning features for detecting malware – quick, full, and custom. Unsurprisingly, the quick scan was indeed quick (it took less than a minute), but didn’t find any malware samples. Luckily, the full scan was more effective and only needed around five minutes to scan 349k files.

My experience with Norton 360 was a bit frustrating because the user interface was somewhat confusing. The software has two interfaces, and each feature’s settings tab opens in a new tab, meaning it’s easy to get lost when getting familiar with this antivirus software.

Unlike a few other antivirus providers, Norton 360 doesn’t offer a free tier. That means you’ll have to pay for a premium plan, which starts at $29.99/year. There’s no risk involved because all subscriptions include a 60-day money-back guarantee.

3. TotalAV – affordable anti-malware software

Total AV user interface
Free version:Yes
Platforms:Windows, macOS, iOS, Android
Price:From $19.00/year
Current deal:Get TotalAV, now 80% OFF!

TotalAV is an affordable and effective alternative to the top two providers on our list. Unsurprisingly, its more affordable price leads to slightly less effective performance, which is confirmed by our and independent tests alike.

AV-TEST evaluated TotalAV in February 2024, where the service garnered 5.5 out of 6 in the protection and performance categories, while usability was 6. We also tested TotalAV, and the results weren’t perfect. More precisely, real-time protection and complete scanning were only 60% effective. Naturally, this doesn’t necessarily indicate that TotalAV is bad, but it’s something to consider when choosing a potential malware removal service.

TotalAV threat prevented

As is tradition among malware detection tools, TotalAV includes quick, full, and smart scanning options to accommodate various user needs. The complete scan took roughly 12 minutes, and its CPU usage fluctuated between 7 and 53%. On the other hand, the customizable smart scan checks the whole device for malware and other inefficiencies that can be removed, such as tracking cookies, junk files, duplicates, and cached items.

Despite its affordable price, TotalAV is feature-rich. For example, it unlocks a VPN, WebShield, Total ad block, data breach check modules, and more. Moreover, the app is user-friendly and easy to navigate, meaning newcomers can easily utilize all of TotalAV’s features without feeling overwhelmed.

TotalAV offers a free plan that includes its anti-malware scanner and anti-phishing protection. If you want to unlock all features, the premium plans start at just $19.00/year and come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

4. ESET NOD32 – efficient and effective malware removal tool

ESET NOD32 banner 1
Free version:Yes
Platforms:Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS
Price:From $49.99/year
Current deal:Get ESET, save up to 15%

ESET NOD32 is a robust malware removal tool boasting excellent results from independent and internal tests. However, it’s vital to note that this service is best suited for intermediate and advanced users due to its extensive customization capabilities and overwhelming user interface.

AV-TEST evaluated ESET in February 2024 and gave the antivirus service maximum points in all three categories. Our internal tests also resulted in perfect malware removal, thus confirming that ESET is a reliable malware removal service. I also appreciated the approachable interface which allowed me to thoroughly tinker with various settings to make the software better suited for my needs.

ESET NOD32 threat detected

Users can perform three scans using ESET – scan your computer, full system scan, and removable media scan. As expected, the scan your computer option thoroughly scans your device. I was surprised that this feature was quite resource-efficient during our ESET review, requiring merely 20-26% of CPU usage.

ESET antivirus comes in varying pricing options depending on your needs. The cheapest Security Essential plan starts at $49.99/year and allows securing one device per account. You can upgrade the simultaneous connection amount if you need malware protection on multiple devices.

5. Malwarebytes – solid malware remover with a free plan

Malwarebytes-banner
Free version:Yes
Platforms:Windows, Android, macOS, ChromeOS, iOS
Price:From $38.24/year
Current deal:Get Malwarebytes, now 25% OFF

Malwarebytes is an alright malware removal tool with a popular free version. However, the premium tier isn’t particularly feature-rich, while the free version lacks real-time protection. Therefore, I would suggest opting for the paid plan for effective malware protection and removal.

According to the latest October 2023 AV-TEST findings, Malwarebytes is excellent but imperfect. Like TotalAV, while usability garnered maximum points, protection and performance lost half a point. Meanwhile, in our hands-on Malwarebytes tests, the service worked best when the dedicated antivirus software was accompanied by its browser extension. More precisely, Malwarebytes’ real-time protection was 90% effective at detecting malware when visiting dangerous websites.

Malwarebytes quick scan test

Malwarebytes offers three scanning options for detecting malware. In our tests, the scan and quick scan variants were reasonably fast, making them less suited for precise malware detection. Instead, the configured scan worked best at thorough system scanning. More precisely, I had to select all system disks for scanning manually. Once completed, it was up to me to decide what I wanted to do with the malicious files, which might be too much responsibility for newcomers.

Malwarebytes is currently available for $38.24/year. You can test it beforehand using its free version, but keep in mind that it lacks real-time protection. As such, we suggest utilizing the 30-day money-back guarantee instead.

6. McAfee Total Protection – well-renowned antivirus with many features

McAfee user interface
Free version:No
Platforms:Windows, Mac, Android, iOS
Price:From $39.99/year
Current deal:Get McAfee, save up to 70%

McAfee Total Protection is a well-established antimalware service with numerous extra features. While it is effective (according to independent labs), our experience with this service was far from perfect.

The latest McAfee Total Protection evaluation by AV-TEST in February 2024 garnered the service top scores in all three categories. However, we could not replicate these perfect results in internal McAfee tests. Like with Malwarebytes, the dedicated antivirus software worked significantly better with the web extension installed. With it, McAfee had a 90% success rate against malware. However, in my opinion, this makes this tool pretty limited in its potential use cases. Also, some features are only accessible through the web, making the overall experience even more difficult. Otherwise, the desktop user interface is intuitive and understandable.

McAfee users have two scanning options – quick and complete. To save time, the quick scan only scans system directories that are most likely infected. For reference, the feature elapsed merely two minutes during our tests to scan 4000 files. During this time CPU load didn’t exceed 35%.

McAfee malware detected

Conversely, the full scan thoroughly evaluates the entire device. In our case, it took 40 minutes to scan 190K files. However, neither scan was 100% effective at detecting malware.

McAfee comes in three subscription plans – Plus, Premium, and Advanced. Prices start at only $39.99/year and include a 30-day money-back guarantee for risk-free testing without worry.

7. Avira Antivirus – excellent malware remover for gamers

Avira user interface
Free version:Yes
Platforms:Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
Price:From $26.99/year
Current deal:Get 1 year of Avira at 43% OFF!

Go with Avira Antivirus if you’re a gamer like me looking for an effective malware removal tool that can also improve your online gaming experience. Besides the usual antivirus package, Avira includes the Game Booster feature, which minimizes resource allocation to other apps while gaming, which I found a pleasant surprise.

Regarding independent lab tests, AV-TEST gave Avira Antivirus perfect scores in all categories (protection, performance, and usability) in the latest February 2024 evaluations. Meanwhile, our in-house Avira Antivirus tests didn’t result in perfection. Instead, the service accumulated a 70% success rate in scan tests, while real-time protection was an impressive 90% effective. I find Avira’s user interface exceptionally good-looking and easy to work with. Once it finds malware, there’s no need for added input from the user.

Avira scanning results

Avira Antivirus offers three scanning tiers for detecting issues – full, quick, and smart. We started our tests with a quick scan, which proved to be somewhat unreliable but indeed quick. It didn’t find any malware, but each time elapsed less than one minute. Conversely, the full scan was 70% successful and took roughly six minutes to scan over 200k files. During this time, the CPU load was between 54 to 92%.

You can start your Avira Antivirus journey with the free version but remember that it doesn’t include malware removal. As such, we suggest opting for the premium tier, which starts at only $26.99/year. Crucially, the paid plan comes with a generous 60-day money-back guarantee.

8. Trend Micro – one of the cheapest malware removal software

Trend Micro antivirus banner new
Free version:Yes
Platforms:Windows, Linux, macOS, Android, iOS
Price:From $19.95/year
Current deal:Get Trend Micro, now 54% OFF!

Trend Micro is one of the most budget-friendly malware removal options in 2024. Naturally, its affordability means the software isn’t the most effective or feature-packed alternative. As such, I’d recommend increasing your cybersecurity budget to avoid greater issues in the future.

AV-TEST evaluated Trend Micro in February 2024 and concluded that the service is a top product due to its excellent results across all categories. Unfortunately, the product tests during our internal Trend Micro review weren’t as positive. Scanning effectiveness topped at 40%, while real-time protection was a solid 70% successful at detecting malware.

Like most malware removal tools, Trend Micro includes three scanning methods – quick, full, and custom. As expected, the quick scan was pretty quick (it took no more than two minutes), yet it wasn’t particularly effective. Meanwhile, the full scan took almost an hour to around 376k files. Regarding other notable benefits, Trend Micro offers PC health checkups, a privacy scanner, a password manager, a folder shield, and more.

Trend Micro offers many free tools, such as a ransomware decryptor. However, there are no free malware removal options, meaning you must commit to the premium tier, which costs only $19.95/year. Plus, you’ll be happy to hear that the service provides a 30-day money-back guarantee for risk-free testing.

How we tested and selected malware removal software

Whether you’re looking for a paid or free malware removal software version, it’s important to evaluate how safe it’ll keep you and what value you can get. To provide these insights, we followed these criteria to provide you with the best malware removal tools:

  • Malware detection rates. A great malware removal tool must effectively detect and eliminate 98-100% of all malware on your device. To select the most reputable services, we evaluated results from our own and other trusted testers, such as AV-test and AV-comparatives.
  • In-house tests. We ran in-house antivirus software tests to provide a transparent look into each software’s ability to detect and eliminate malware threats.
  • Features. Free antivirus solutions sometimes offer limited security and anti-malware features compared to their paid versions. We looked into features available in both – free and paid packs of selected anti-malware software and reviewed crucial features like real-time protection, scanning, and file quarantine.
  • Compatibility. Nowadays, we do more operations on our mobile devices than computers. Therefore, it was essential to identify how the best anti-malware software works on the most popular operating systems, such as iOS, Android, Windows, and macOS.
  • Price. Our suggestions include paid and free anti-malware software, and you could also find an approximate price or what you can get for a particular package. It’s important to test the best price-to-quality ratio so you don’t break your bank keeping cyber villains away.

What is malware protection?

Malware protection is a cyber security solution that adds an extra layer of security to your computer. Such protection ensures your device is protected against spyware, phishing, adware, Trojans, viruses, and all the threats you can encounter online.

It regularly scans your computer to identify and remove any malware that can damage your device. So, your systems are secure, thanks to malicious software removal tools.

Malware protection safeguards your device from being infected by malicious software. A reliable malware removal tool circumvents the risks of data theft and keeps your device running smoothly. Therefore, it protects sensitive information and usually delivers a seamless user experience that allows easy navigation in fighting the malware.

Malware removal vs antivirus software: what's the difference?

While similar, malware removal and antivirus software have different purposes. For starters, malware removal tools are designed to combat malware by removing infected files from your device. Antivirus programs, on the other hand, are tasked with keeping your device safe and preventing any cyber threats.

Both tools can safeguard your devices and systems from malware on all fronts. This can include viruses, ransomware, adware, worms, Trojans, mobile malware, etc. The security level depends on what the antivirus/malware removal tool package includes.

For instance, Bitdefender offers a microphone, webcam, and anti-tracking protection in addition to malware removal. Some providers also offer a free version, which usually includes the essential – malware detection and removal.

So, if you want to keep your device secure from any type of malware, most antivirus software on the market will do the job faultlessly.

Ways to protect your device from malware

There are several ways you can protect your device from malware. Besides enabling specific software, you must also follow common cybersecurity practices to avoid dangerous situations. Here are a few tips you can combine to protect yourself from malware and other online dangers.

Malware removal software

One of the best things you can do for your device is to use malware removal software like Bitdefender.

Many anti-malware software run real-time scans. It means that whenever your device encounters malware, such software detects and removes it before you notice and before the damage is done.

It's an essential feature you should look for in an anti-malware provider.

Firewall

Enabling a firewall or choosing anti-malware software that includes such a feature is also a crucial step against malware.

A firewall is a crucial feature that monitors incoming and outgoing traffic in and out of your device. The purpose of such a feature is to protect your device against threats coming from external sources.

Password manager

Keeping your password strong is another essential step in avoiding malicious infections on your device. A reputable password manager with advanced security features can help you prevent unauthorized access to your device and avoid infecting it with malicious software.

Secure browsing and downloading

Practice secure browsing and downloading. For example, only download apps from authorized platforms, such as The Google Play and Apple App stores. And, of course – keep your device up to date to ensure robust security without any vulnerabilities.

What is the best malware removal tool?

Ultimately, Bitdefender is the best malware removal tool in 2024. It comes with a broad range of malware protection features and other essential cybersecurity tools, such as a VPN. Most importantly, it was extremely effective in internal and independent anti-malware tests. It even has a free tier if you want to test it yourself before committing to a paid subscription. However, remember that it doesn’t guarantee the premium tier’s effectiveness.

FAQ