If you're looking for the best possible protection for your online devices in 2022, then you've come to the right place - we've tested all of the best antivirus providers out there to come up with a definitive list of the absolute greatest.
Downloading antivirus software is the first step to staying protected online. It remains the strongest defense against the cybercriminals who want to expose your online devices for their own financial gain.
The way that viruses behave and their end goal has changed over the years, but generally the purpose is the same - to steal your money. Threats come in many forms, but malware, ransomware and Trojans are generally designed to either take your data or do enough damage to your system that you'll pay a high price to reverse the effects. And then there are outright scammers...
We're not trying to scare you and, since you’ve come to this page, you probably already have a fair idea why virus protection is such an essential tool. Thankfully, 2022's best antivirus providers combine watertight protection, extra features to keep you safe from scams, and are easy to install and use. From excellent ones that protect your Windows and Android devices to the best Mac antivirus, here are our top picks.
The best antivirus for 2022
1. Bitdefender - today's best antivirus software (opens in new tab)
You may be more familiar with names such as Norton, McAfee and AVG – but Bitdefender has been the overall best antivirus available for a few years now. It combines watertight security tools with an array of other excellent security features. It’s also really easy to use and, best of all, offers extremely good value for money.
2. Norton - great protection with useful features (opens in new tab)
It's a name almost synonymous with the word 'antivirus', and Norton didn't disappoint when it came to our testing. As well as the kind of malware prevention you'd expect, the extra features packaged in really add value, too.
3. Trend Micro - really strong antivirus protection (opens in new tab)
Less bothered about a long list of features and more concerned about buying an antivirus plan that strikes fear into trojan horses, ransomware and other viruses? Then Trend Micro scores among the very best when it comes to independent testing labs.
Scroll through the options below and you'll discover how the likes of Avast, Avira and Sophos rank. And there's even a highest ever placement in our chart for Microsoft's very own free Defender virus protection.
Indeed, if it's free antivirus that you're after, we have some top recommendations for you, too (as well as some top business packages). But considering some of the best antivirus providers out there cost less than $10 / £10 / AU$20 per year, we’d still recommend playing it safe and paying for protection as you head into 2022.
Top 10 best antivirus software of 2022(opens in new tab)
Bitdefender is top of the tree as TechRadar's best antivirus, beating some stiff competition and doing so without asking all that much in terms of subscription costs.(opens in new tab)
So what makes it so good? For starters. the sheer amount of features incorporated with Bitdefender is seriously impressive. Even if you opt for the entry-level Bitdefender Antivirus Plus product, you get Safepay online banking protection, which is essentially a secure browser and one which covers you from all kinds of angles. There’s also a password manager, a vulnerability scanner, and a good quality VPN with a 200MB daily limit.
Bitdefender is brilliantly user-friendly, with a polished and well-balanced interface that’s equally suitable for complete beginners to the antivirus world, or experts who want to tweak things.
The company offers more extensive suites, too, with Bitdefender Internet Security providing all the above plus a tools to help speed up your computer and to help you find your mobile devices if they're lost or stolen.
As the flagship offering, Bitdefender Total Security comes complete with an array of PC maintenance tools, plus it supports Android and iOS devices as well as covering Windows and Mac machines - basically, it's a single solution to your entire family's online security needs.
At this point of previous years' reviews, we'd be talking about how Bitdefender beats the rest when it comes to pure virus protection, too. That's not quite the case this year, with the report from AV-Comparatives showing less accurate results than usual. Considering Bitdefender's strength in previous years, we're happy to give it the benefit of the doubt for now, but we'll have a keen eye on the independent lab results this year to see whether that picture changes.
Whichever version of Bitdefender you choose, you’re getting a whole lot for your money, particularly with Total Security if you’ve got a lot of different devices (or a family to protect). Plus that secure feeling of knowing you're being kept safe by 2022's overall best antivirus software.
Bitdefender Antivirus Plus | 1 year |
$39.99 $19.99 | 50% off (opens in new tab)
Not only is this one of the cheapest deals, it's coming from the world's best antivirus provider. Bitdefender Antivirus Plus comes with the added bonus of a VPN and Safepay as well as boasting multi-layer ransomware protection. A fantastic price, for a fully-featured antivirus.
Norton AntiVirus Plus is a trusted antivirus software app from the security company now known as NortonLifeLock. The main attraction here is the absolute stack of features you get - even with the entry-level Antivirus Plus product – not to mention the quality of those features.
They include a really useful intelligent firewall, which is a genuinely big help in terms of policing your system, along with some very thorough browser protection measures to keep you safe on the web.
There are also extras you don’t normally get with other antivirus applications, including a bundled cloud backup tool which offers 2GB of online storage (it’s very user-friendly, too, ensuring that backing up is a breeze), and some useful PC maintenance utilities.
The package’s central antivirus defenses are tight, as we found in our testing, and as evidenced by the independent test labs (albeit with slightly mixed results from one of those labs). And in our very own ransomware testing, we Norton came up a little bit short compared to the more effective protection offered by Bitdefender.
If you want more then NortonLifeLock offers a range of higher-level suites. Norton 360 Standard adds some nifty extra bits of functionality, including an integrated full VPN service, more backup storage (10GB) and dark web monitoring (for some countries, including the US and UK). There are also strong mobile apps for Android and iOS.
However, if coverage for more than one device is required, then you’ll need to step up to Norton 360 Deluxe – this grants protection for up to five devices, along with even more backup space (50GB) and an in-depth system of parental controls. While 360 Premium ramps that up again to 75GB backup and 10 devices.
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Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security offers simple but effective protection, with a user-friendly interface that spells out its various options in plain English without resorting to confusing jargon.
The app’s antivirus engine is rated very highly by the main independent test labs and has achieved some excellent results in recent evaluations – with the slight caveat that some testing found it raised a few more false positives than the top competition. We didn’t find this problematic in our Trend Micro review, though, and moreover, we observed that Antivirus+ Security’s anti-ransomware protection was a particular strength.
Another strong suit is the fact that this antivirus is currently top dog when it comes to blocking phishing sites (according to AV-Comparatives), and it provides great web browsing protection including Pay Guard as a secure environment for the likes of online banking.
Weak points? Well, system performance is impacted more than some rivals, and there aren’t as many options or features as some of the competition – this is an app more targeted at novices rather than experts. However, you do of course get more functionality with the higher-level security suites from Trend Micro.
The next tier product, Trend Micro Internet Security, throws in some interesting extras including parental controls and social media protection tools. However, for most folks, it’ll be worth spending a bit more on Trend Micro Maximum Security, which delivers protection for Mac and mobile devices as well as Windows (plus it adds a password manager and secure file vault).
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Whereas most 2022 updates on this list are fairly superficial, Avast ripped everything up and started again for its latest release - introducing Avast One.
Avast One takes the firm's trusted free antivirus (now known as Avast One Essential) and builds on it with extra features.
Whether you choose to go free or upgrade, the software is really in favor with the independent testing labs at the moment, ranking towards the top of the pile in real-world malware tests and anti-phishing tasks.
You also benefit from a simple firewall, data breach scanning to warn you if your online accounts are breached, and apps for Windows, Mac, Android and iOS
So why bother paying for Avast One? It adds a VPN from old head HideMyAss with a generous 5GB weekly allowance, tune-up tools, ad blockers, webcam protection, malicious URL blocking and... well, not a lot more. You'd have to really want one of those specific add-ons to want to part with your cash, otherwise we'd suggest going for a more fully featured internet security suite or just sticking with the free Essential download.
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We saw a lot more thought pieces coming out in 2021 suggesting that the time was at an end to pay for your antivirus software. And while we generally disagree with that notion, Microsoft Defender is probably the best argument in its favor.
That's because if you're a Windows user, there's a perfectly capable virus protection already sitting within your operating system.
Microsoft Defender is a solid product that gives capable mid-range protection - mostly without users ever even knowing it's there. Defender has a dashboard, its own scan options and so on, but you'll never even see them unless you go looking.
In the testing from independent lab AV-Comparatives, Defender ranked pretty much slap bang in the middle of the 17 tested providers. That means it's better at protecting your PC than even some of paid-for software out there.
Outside of pure virus protection, it features lots of bonus features such as multi-layered anti-ransomware, firewall, webcam and privacy protection, web filtering, parental controls and backup.
So what's stopping you from forgetting the rest and simply getting Defender up and running? Well, those features mentioned above are all pretty basic and aren't up the standard of those offered by most of the security suites above. And it probably goes without saying that Defender is only available on Windows PCs - forget protecting your Mac or smartphone - and some features only play nice if you use Edge as your browser.
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In truth, Avira is probably best known for its Avira Free antivirus option (opens in new tab) (which is among the best out there - see further down this page), but its premium packages should not be sniffed at.
That’s the name of Avira’s entry-level antivirus and it includes everything you’d expect of a modern-day security app: real-time scanning for malware, dedicated defenses against ransomware, a software updater feature that works very nicely to keep all your apps secure, plus various privacy tools including a file shredder for extra confidentiality.
The interface is smart and the various features – including the free (but limited to 1GB monthly) VPN – are now better integrated within the UI overall.
The caveat here is that the ratings of the antivirus engine from independent test labs are only middling at best – but the app does provide a decent enough level of protection.
Upgrading to the Internet Security or Prime plan adds further features like a full password manager, and the Pro version of Software Updater (which provides automatic updates for your apps), plus Prime gives you the unlimited usage version of the VPN and mobile app support.(opens in new tab)
McAfee takes an interesting approach with its security range, as all the offerings are variants of its core Total Protection product, with the main difference being more devices are supported at higher tiers. McAfee Total Protection Single Device is the entry-level antivirus product, and as the name suggests, it covers one device.
The good news here includes a commendably light system footprint, meaning that McAfee won’t use much of your PC’s resources. There are also a ton of features on offer, particularly for a baseline product, and even if not all of them are of the highest quality, you get a lot for your money. That includes an intelligent firewall, an integrated (TunnelBear-powered) VPN with unlimited data, a quality spam filter, secure file vault, and some PC speed-up options.
The main stumbling block here is that the antivirus engine itself is not the best out there – although some results from independent test labs come out better than others – but this has to be something of a concern. There’s also the fact that you only get a single device protected with the basic package.
If you want antivirus software coverage for more than one piece of hardware, you’ll need to purchase the Multi-Device package which supports up to five devices including mobiles (plus it provides identity theft protection, at least for US users). Then there’s McAfee Total Protection Family which ups the ante to 10 devices and further bolts on a fully-fledged system of parental controls.
The latter could be a tempting choice for those with kids to keep safe online, and given McAfee’s typical pricing – with Multi-Device and Family subscriptions not being much more than the entry-level product, after discounts – you’re likely best off going for one of these higher-tier plans
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Just about every antivirus tool claims to be ‘lightweight’, but Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus really delivers on this front. Installation takes seconds, and it only uses a tiny amount of drive space – plus the app’s memory footprint is just as minuscule (less than 2% the size of some internet security suites), with virus definitions stored in the cloud.
Considering this, there’s still no compromise on features, which makes Webroot all the more impressive. You get extremely quick virus scans that take no more than around 20 seconds, along with a smart ‘firewall’ monitoring system, accurate real-time anti-phishing, identity theft protection and much more.
SecureAnywhere AntiVirus isn’t ranked by the big-name testing labs, save for SE Labs, which in its most recent Home Anti-Malware report rated Webroot as solid in terms of malware protection – although not quite up there with the top competition.
Further up the Webroot range, SecureAnywhere Internet Security Plus expands coverage from Windows and Mac PCs to mobile devices, also providing a password manager (courtesy of LastPass) and covering up to five devices (rather than three).
And at the top of the tree is Internet Security Complete which introduces an automatic backup tool (with 25GB of secure cloud storage) and additional online privacy features. There’s also a Family Pack version of the flagship suite which ups device coverage to 10 pieces of hardware, and provides 100GB of cloud storage.
SecureAnywhere AntiVirus gives you everything you need, really, although Internet Security Plus is our top pick for the most rounded package. And another boon worth bearing in mind here is Webroot’s confidence-instilling lengthy 70-day 100% money-back guarantee.
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Sophos Home Premium covers (up to) an impressive 10 devices (Windows and Mac computers). It’s designed with novices in mind, which is no bad thing, although experts may find the interface oversimplified, and be disappointed that there are few options or low-level tweaks on offer.
The UI is also rather clunky in some ways – although that said, the web management console could be great for those who wish to take control and manage their non-tech-savvy family members’ devices.
Sophos provides capable virus protection, and worked well in passing our own anti-ransomware tests. For the antivirus software on offer – and given the 10 device ceiling – Sophos Home Premium could work out as a great value proposition for those who want to protect multiple computers.
Just note that Sophos no longer offers a long-term free version to new users. You'll see on the website you can download it for free, but that's just a trial version rather than an all-singing all-dancing free antivirus package.
Editors' note: Kaspersky Anti-Virus used to appear on this list. Considering the current climate however, we've taken the decision to remove the provider. Although much of the company's core processes are now take place in Switzerland, the fact that its headquarters remain in Moscow and there have been previous allegations around government coercion, it feels prudent to use the provider with caution. And, when there are so many other excellent providers to choose from, it's impossible to whole-heartedly recommend Kaspersky at this time.
- Apple user? Then you can head to our bespoke best Mac antivirus guide
- We’ve also looked at the best secure messaging apps
- Check out the best Android antivirus apps for your phone
What is the best antivirus of 2022
We've tested all of the biggest names in internet security, we've found that the very best antivirus software in 2022 is Bitdefender (opens in new tab).
It's a superb bit of software - from its entry-level Bitdefender Antivirus Plus and its cast-iron malware defenses, excellent threat detection and genuinely value-adding extra features, right up to its all-singing, all-dancing Total Security that adds an array of maintenance tools and can be used to protect your family's computers, tablets and phones.
What does antivirus do? How does virus protection work?
An antivirus app sits on your device like a guard dog, watching over the entire system and sniffing out any intruders (malware, or indeed anything suspicious). In short, it offers real-time defenses against viruses or other threats, which if detected are immediately dealt with, preventing them from carrying out their destructive payload. As well as this automated protection, you can run manual virus scans whenever you wish.
Antivirus applications use what are called virus ‘definitions’ to catch intruders. Think of these as the fingerprints of malware, and if something is spotted coming onto your system that has a matching fingerprint, the antivirus leaps into action, quarantining the offender. As another line of defense, antivirus programs also use what are called ‘heuristics’ that look for any file or process exhibiting suspicious behavior – this allows the app to potentially catch any freshly made malware which isn’t yet in its definitions database.
For more details on this topic, see our full breakdown of exactly how antivirus software works.
How do I choose the best antivirus software?
The obvious answer is staring you in the face...quite literally! Consult our rankings in this article, which is based on our expert knowledge and thorough, continually updated reviews of the top antivirus players.
That said, obviously you also have to bear in mind your own particular needs. Our number one pick might not be the ideal choice if you’re on a very tight budget, for example, and you only want to protect a single PC. Or at the other end of the scale, maybe you have a large family with a ton of devices to protect, and you need a package to cater for that. Or maybe you want a VPN service as well as antivirus, so a bundled package will save you a lot of money on subscription fees.
In short, our recommendations are here as firm guidance, but modify these appropriately based on your individual requirements. For more thoughts on this, check out our article exploring how to choose the best antivirus.
Do I really need antivirus in 2022?
The short answer to this question is yes, you really should have an antivirus app installed.
You may have heard arguments that if you’re very careful about where you browse on the web, and what you download or click on, you’ll be fine – and that’s true to a certain extent, but we really wouldn’t risk it. Even well-known websites might occasionally be victims of malware being peddled via their adverts (in other words, the ad networks they work with), for example, so no matter how cautious and tech-savvy you are, it’s worth having an antivirus app as a fall-back defense.
The good news is that the best antivirus products are getting cheaper and cheaper to purchase, and free products are getting more and more effective... just take a look at how well we rank Microsoft Defender these days!
Is free antivirus enough?
The answer to this one isn’t straightforward – it’s a bit of a ‘yes, but no’ kind of reply.
A good free antivirus – like the ones we recommend on this page below – is a perfectly reasonable option for protecting your PC, with Microsoft Defender now the best we've ever seen it. It’ll do the basics of defending your system well, as any reputable vendor uses the same virus protection engine – the central tech that polices the device and repels malware – as the paid product.
That said, premium antivirus programs offer extra features above and beyond the fundamentals. A robust system of parental controls could be a huge win for those with kids, for example. Or a dedicated anti-ransomware layer of protection that only comes with the paid-for product could help catch one of the most dreaded infections and halt it in its tracks.
Given how cheap some premium antivirus apps are - particularly with the various deals on offer - it’s well worth considering going this route instead to get extra features that could give you more peace of mind.
For more on this, read our full piece on whether free antivirus is enough to protect you. Or just keep scrolling as we reveal today's best free antivirus software providers...
Best free antivirus downloads
Paying for a premium service means you get more features like spam filters, parental controls, system scans and advanced firewalls. This makes them more suitable for power users, those who want a bit of extra security and anyone who needs their system to run as smoothly as possible.
It also means you avoid annoying pop-ups that try and tempt you to upgrade to the full version. And, as you've discovered above, they won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
In fact, these days you can get top quality protection absolutely free, with just about every single major vendor out there offering a free antivirus. By doing so, developers gain access to more devices from which they can collect data, and therefore improve their knowledge and security platforms so it’s really not in their interest to reduce the amount of protection provided by the free version.(opens in new tab)
Avira Free Antivirus for Windows continues to score highly on AV-TEST's stringent testing program, quashing 99.7% of tested threats, and it generally doesn't put too big a burden on your hardware. That's pretty good for a freebie, and why we have no qualms at all in naming it as our #1 best free antivirus download.
As well as the essential security smarts, we also love the clean, friendly interface and the fact it has a track record of throwing up minimal false positives. The introduction of a free security suite to optionally run alongside it – with anti-ransomware and a 500MB/month free VPN and various speedup promises – just sweetens the deal.
In fact, the list of features reads more like a fully paid premium package. It throws in identity protection, a password manager, anti-scam protection to prevent phishing attempts, and even a PC cleaner to keep your system spick and span.
If there's one thing we'd change then it's the tad overeager badgering - although popups and advertisements are very common to free products, and that doesn;t prevent us from wholeheartedly recommending Avira Free Antivirus.
Review and where to download: Avira Free Antivirus (opens in new tab)
Avast and AVG haven't yet fully merged, despite the former formally acquiring the latter in mid-2016. The newly combined company says the two free antivirus products will remain separate, although there's apparently a joint AV package on the way soon. Obviously, though, Avast now has a lot more data to work with, having expanded its effective userbase (and, therefore, its threat detection network) to a whopping 400 million users.
The latest edition of Avast's free antivirus - now branded Avast One Essential - adds an automatic gaming mode to mute popups and reduce system load when you're firing up a processor-hungry game, which is very handy indeed, and the interface has been given a clean new overhaul. There's a password manager, too, which is an undeniably good addition to your security portfolio.
It scores well on AV-TEST's widespread malware benchmark and continues a clean sweep against 0-day attacks – presumably that expanded detection network is really helping. Less impressive is the slight negative effect Avast has on software launch times, and its slightly popup-heavy attitude.
Review and where to download: Avast Free Antivirus
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Microsoft Defender (formerly Windows Defender) was generally seen as a bit of a joke in the not-too-distant past. It performed terribly by most measures and was a good advert for why you should really pay for antivirus.
But as we explain further up this article, Microsoft Defender has come on leaps and bounds and can now legitimately be mentioned in the same company as Bitdefender, Norton and Kaspersky.
As well as very solid virus protection, Defender has extra bits and bobs like a ransomware shield, webcam protection, privacy tools and even basic parental controls and cloud backup.
And the best bit... it's just sitting there on your Windows PC just waiting to be used. No need to download a thing, just find it in your menu and get protected straight away.
Read more and see how to use: Microsoft Defender review
The paid-for version of Kaspersky's Windows security software frequently tops charts of best virus prevention solutions and AV-TEST once again gave it full marks across the board in its latest round of testing.
As you would expect, Kaspersky Free is a scaled down version of the full program - a tool that we really like (more on which below). The free version ditches additional features such as privacy protection and safe payment sandboxes to concentrate on powerful, no-frills and - most importantly - free protection for your PC. The result is a tremendously easy to use and navigate bit of software that does an effective job of keeping you protected from viruses.
Using the nuts and bolts real-world scanning engine of the paid-for suite, Kaspersky Free is fiendishly hard for viruses and trojan horses to break down. And we love that it doesn't constantly pester you with nudges to upgrade to the full version.
But, ironically, we will just for a moment, because Kasperksy Anti-Virus (opens in new tab) isn't expensive to buy and yet affords much better protection to your PC (or PCs). The standard price is $29.99 to protect three computers and includes more muscle when it comes to preventing ransomware, spyware and Trojans.
Review and where to download: Kaspersky Free
Marketing itself as "business-grade security", Sophos Home does a little more than most free antivirus software, and actually seems better suited to families.
You get standard virus protection and anti-malware protection, along with browser tools like anti-phishing and, most importantly, content control. Combined with central management of up to 10 PCs, this means you can effectively lock down your kids' browsing options.
Although AV-TEST hasn't formally assessed Sophos' skills, fellow lab AV-Comparatives offers a decent rating of its abilities.
Although Sophos Home has always had desktop notifications, there was no premium version of the software for it to encourage an upgrade to. That changed in February with the launch of Sophos Home Premium.
Review and where to download: Sophos Home
Best business antivirus 2022
Each entry in this list has been carefully chosen for its business features, such as remote installation and central management. The best business antivirus software will have enterprise-level protection against threats, but that doesn't mean they have to cost a lot of money, either. The price per installation can sometimes be cheaper than even our recommended best antivirus packages.
1. Avast Business Antivirus Pro (opens in new tab)
An excellent business antivirus suite, giving you various tools such as virus protection, Firewall, email protection, anti-spam and the ability to sandbox applications for complete security. Avast Business Antivirus Pro (as opposed to the standard Avast Business Antivirus) also includes Sharepoint and Exchange protection, as well as a number of tools for your servers.
2. Bitdefender GravityZone Business Security (opens in new tab)
This package makes reliable protection its top priority. Bitdefender products are loved by the independent testing labs, highly rated for malware detection, removal, performance and usability. Most of the features work automatically – anti-malware, firewall, web advisor, URL filtering – but you can also customise the product to control user actions.
3. Symantec Endpoint Protection (opens in new tab)
Symantec's first benefit is the company's Insight file reputation technology, an effective way to detect and block even the very latest undiscovered threats. Other layers of protection include virus protection, behaviour monitoring, intrusion protection, a firewall, and the 'Power Eraser' to remove stubborn threats and repair your system.
4. Avira Antivirus for Endpoint (opens in new tab)
This is Avira's main small business product. It takes all the core features you'd expect – antivirus, baseline network protection, web filtering – and extends them with file server protection and optimisation, along with application whitelisting and blacklisting.
5. Kaspersky Endpoint Security Cloud (opens in new tab)
A small business product, which comes ready to protect Windows PCs, file servers, Android and iOS devices. The desktop side of the package has all the usual quality Kaspersky modules – antivirus, antispam, a firewall, more – but the mobile security technologies are even more impressive.
- Even if you own the best computer in the world, you're still at risk