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The best antivirus software 2022

PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
The words 'best antivirus software' next to a laptop PC
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Looking for the best possible protection for your online devices in 2022? You've come to the right place! We've intensively 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 and most important step in 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 the root is the same: they want 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 fairly good 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

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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.

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Click here if you're in the UK (opens in new tab)
Click here if you're in Australia (opens in new tab)

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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.

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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

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1. Bitdefender Antivirus

2022’s best antivirus rocks tons of features

Specifications

Operating system: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS options
Maximum devices covered: 10
Stand out features: Safepay banking protection, privacy tools, multi-layered anti-ransomware, VPN

Reasons to buy

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So many features available
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Speedy scans
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Configurable interface
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Superb value for money

Reasons to avoid

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Room for improvement on detection

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.

TechRadar Editor's Choice logo

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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.

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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.

Click here if you're in the US (or anywhere else) (opens in new tab)
Click here if you're in the UK | £16 (opens in new tab)
Click here if you're in Australia | AU$28 (opens in new tab)

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2. Norton AntiVirus

Solid protection with genuinely useful features

Specifications

Operating system: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS options
Maximum devices covered: 5-10
Stand out features: Intelligent firewall, PC maintenance features, bundled backup tool with online storage

Reasons to buy

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Loads of handy features
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Useful bundled backup tool
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Impressive browsing protection

Reasons to avoid

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Mixed results from the testing labs

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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3. Trend Micro Antivirus

Antivirus that values strong protection above all else

Specifications

Operating system: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS options
Maximum devices covered: 10
Stand out features: Ransomware monitoring, Pay Guard banking protection, high-quality URL blocking

Reasons to buy

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Strong antivirus engine
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Impressive anti-ransomware performance
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Very user-friendly

Reasons to avoid

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Not as many features as key rivals

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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4. Avast One

Avast's revamped antivirus is a vast improvement

Specifications

Operating system: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS options
Maximum devices covered: 30
Stand out features: Free VPN, ransomware shield, malicious URL blocker

Reasons to buy

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Stacks of features
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Accurate antivirus engine
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Free VPN included

Reasons to avoid

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Not a huge upgrade from free version

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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5. Microsoft Defender

A solid free option for Windows users

Specifications

Operating system: Windows only
Maximum devices covered: N/A
Stand out features: Anti-ransomware, webcam and privacy protection, web filtering

Reasons to buy

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It's completely free!
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Built in to Windows already
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Decent array of features...

Reasons to avoid

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...but features are quite basic
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Doesn't have best detection rates

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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6. Avira antivirus

Solid security across devices

Specifications

Operating system: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS options
Maximum devices covered: 25
Stand out features: Proactive anti-ransomware, software updater, web protection

Reasons to buy

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Impressive anti-phishing and web protection
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Configure as you like it

Reasons to avoid

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Ratings from some independent test labs are a concern

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.

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7. McAfee antivirus

Well-featured antivirus suite that’s competitively priced

Specifications

Operating system: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android options
Maximum devices covered: 10
Stand out features: VPN, spam filter, intelligent firewall

Reasons to buy

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Loads of features
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Bundled VPN with unlimited usage
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Higher-end plans represent solid value

Reasons to avoid

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Antivirus engine isn’t up there with top rivals
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Entry-level product only covers one device

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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8. Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus

A tempting lightweight antivirus option

Specifications

Operating system: Windows, Mac and Android options
Maximum devices covered: 5
Stand out features: Identity theft protection, real-time anti-phishing, firewall monitor

Reasons to buy

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Very well-featured
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Incredibly streamlined app
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Superfast virus scans

Reasons to avoid

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Below average results in independent tests 

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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9. Sophos Home

A great choice for multi-device protection

Specifications

Operating system: Windows and Mac
Maximum devices covered: 10
Stand out features: Central management console, AI-powered threat detection, advanced ransomware protection

Reasons to buy

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Capable antivirus engine
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Great value for protecting a lot of PCs

Reasons to avoid

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Lack of options
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Clunky interface in some respects

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.


Antivirus FAQ

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