The internet is teeming with threats to your digital security, and seeing as we spend a lot of our lives online, it's important to make sure you're well-prepared to deal with these dangers—and that's where antivirus software enters the picture.
After all, it's your best defense against cybercriminals, viruses, and malware. These threats aren't new, but digital crooks are constantly finding new ways to leverage these tools, capture your personal information, and ultimately commit identity theft.
Antivirus software gives your devices an added layer of protection, and comes with some handy extra features, that'll safeguard against a wide variety of scams. This still applies to you if you're a Mac user. More and more threats, like ransomware, are engineered to target Mac devices.
In this guide, we'll cover the best antivirus options on the market. Each service includes outstanding security and privacy tools that'll allow you to work, play, and enjoy your day-to-day browsing without worrying about being compromised by an opportunistic cybercriminal or interruptions from scams and popups. Here are our top three recommendations:
The three best antivirus at a glance
Want a sneak peek of our favorites? Here are the three best antivirus solutions available today:
1. Bitdefender: today's best antivirus software True to its name, Bitdefender puts a stop to both new and unknown malware, and acts so quickly that you won't even realize you're in danger. Bitdefender doesn't take up a huge amount of resources and packs a lot of value into reasonably priced plans.
The solution also comes with a VPN, safe banking tools, and a firewall. You can try Bitdefender Total Security free for 30 days before committing to a subscription.
2. Norton: malware and identity protection
Access to LifeLock identity protection services makes a Norton subscription worth every penny—but you'll also get other impressive benefits. These include strong protection against malware, browser security and parental controls, and even a password manager.
Norton has a 60-day money-back guarantee and a Virus Protection Promise if you sign up for its auto-renewal program.
3. Avast One: the gamer's ally
Boot up a game and Avast will automatically put itself in gamer mode. This will keep you protected and ensure that you're not interrupted by popups, reminders, or other frustrating distractions.
Other perks include VPN access and a handy system scanner. Plus, a stripped-down free version is available to try, so you can get a feel for the Avast toolkit.
In our latest round of testing, we've added new insights into each of our reviews, made sure all the facts and figures and prices are accurate, and made adjustments to the page's overall structure.
The best antivirus services in 2023
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Whether you're looking for the total antivirus package or hunting for specific features, like banking protection, our guide has you covered. Keep reading to check out my top 10 favorite antivirus solutions (and a few honorable mentions).
The best antivirus overall
Our expert review:
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
✔️ You want a full antivirus toolkit: Bitdefender's features can hunt down malware and protect against ransomware without disrupting your browsing.
✔️ You don't want to sacrifice too many resources: Bitdefender doesn't take up a lot of storage space, so you don't need to worry about sacrificing system speed for security.
✔️ You're new to antivirus solutions: Bitdefender is easy to install and use. Its real-time protection is even enabled from the get-go.
❌ You want quick scans: initial and deep scans take almost an hour to complete (five times longer than other antivirus on average). Thankfully, you'll still be able to work, play, and browse when they're running.
❌ You need identity theft monitoring: Bitdefender has some monitoring tools to track online identities, but for real round-the-clock protection from identity theft, you'll want to check out Norton.
❌ You're already infected with malware: Bitdefender isn't as effective when it comes to removing threats already attacking your system. For current infections, try Malwarebytes.
🔒 Bitdefender is the best antivirus package on the market—and has been for a few years. It combines watertight security tools with straightforward apps and, best of all, offers fantastic value for money.
Our Bitdefender review explores all of its subscription tiers, the available tools, and digs into whether a cheaper plan is just as good as the all-in-one suite.
Bitdefender consistently impresses with its ability to identify threats and stop them in their tracks. Malware files are pinpointed even before they begin downloading, web trackers are likewise rooted out and blocked, and if you try to access a site with known threats you'll receive a warning that's hard to ignore.
AV-Comparatives, a third-party test lab, reported positive results when it put Bitdefender to the test. The solution blocked 99.4% of threats (coming in second only to the likes of Norton and McAfee) and didn't have a huge impact on the speed of computer processes. When I put Bitdefender under the microscope myself, I saw it block real-world ransomware before it could wreak havoc. However, I did notice that the Ransomware Remediation feature isn't enabled by default—so you'll need to dive into the settings to ensure that your files remain secure.
Earlier this year, Bitdefender released a decryptor for the MortalKombat ransomware—free of charge, providing the company's commitment to countering cyberattacks. Victims across the US were targeted at random by ransomware, which spread through bogus emails containing a .ZIP attachment and a BAT loader script. To tackle this threat, the decryptor backs up affected files before attempting decryption, just in case, and can be executed via the command line.
There are three Bitdefender plans on offer, and they all come with useful security tools. If you really want to get your money's worth, however, you'll want to opt for the Total Security package, which includes safe banking tools, a (admittedly limited) VPN, social media protection, file shredder, parental controls, and much more. There's even a handy vulnerability scanner that'll find weak spots in your network and offer suggestions on how to resolve them. You'll be able to use Bitdefender on any device, too, thanks to user-friendly apps for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, and take advantage of multiple licenses (up to 10) to protect the entire family.
Bitdefender gets straight to work with a full scan when you start using it, and combs through your system in its entirety to look for threats and intruders. This is par for the course, although Bitdefender took almost a full hour to complete a scan of 50 Gb executable files. It's possible to configure scans, customize them, and set them to run on a schedule or on-demand, and Quick Scans can even be run once a day, or weekly, and dig into individual files.
I found Bitdefender incredibly easy to use—so even if you're new to the world of antivirus, you'll have no trouble navigating sleek and well-designed apps. You can even customize the dashboard by adding or removing default features. So, if you don't make use of the VPN, you can substitute it in a few clicks for the password manager or scan manager. Most of the features you'll need are already enabled by default, too, which means you won't have to spend ages configuring each and every setting. However, if you do need help with particular tools, you can count on Bitdefender's in-program tutorials to help you make the most of these privacy-enhancing functionalities.
Bitdefender's Total Security plan is available from $39.99 for a single year—although the price does jump to $95 after this introductory period. However, you can take advantage of a 30-day money-back guarantee to put the solution through its paces, run your own tests, and see whether its suite of tools is worth the investment.
|Protection||Consistently earns high marks from third-party security test labs||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Performance||Won't impact your speed or create noticeable slowdown||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Ease of use||Most key features are automatically enabled and apps are intuitive||⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Advanced tools||Safe banking features, webcam monitoring, and parental controls to name a few||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Customer support||Bitdefender lacks live support but has a library of video tutorials, how-to articles, and a helpful community||⭐⭐⭐|
|Value||There are cheaper solutions out there, but you're getting a lot of functionality and value with Bitdefender||⭐⭐⭐⭐|
Best antivirus with ID protection
Our expert review:
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
✔️ You need identity theft protection: LifeLock protection keeps an eye on the dark web and stolen data, and alerts you if your details are found there.
✔️ You want multi-device protection: keep your mobile phones and tablets secure with sleek apps that include Wi-Fi security.
✔️ You need to secure your browser: Norton hides your VPN, and your browsing history, so you can surf the web without leaving an identifiable trail.
❌ You're on a budget: Norton is hardly a budget option—even with its new-user deals—and only gets pricer on renewal.
❌ You need backup: the cheapest plans come with 2 Gb of space, which isn't all that generous.
❌ You want a stellar VPN: while solid, Norton Secure VPN doesn't top our best VPN list.
🔒 Norton excels when it comes to basic malware protection and offers some awesome advanced tools—like its LifeLock identity theft monitoring service. These extras make it an expensive option, however.
Our Norton review takes an in-depth look at its LifeLock service, VPN, and antivirus suite.
Norton is tough on threats and has earned excellent scores in several third-party protection tests, including our own. Apps are available for just about all operating systems, too, so you can secure every internet-enabled gadget in the home with a single subscription. Regardless of the plan you choose, you'll have access to a long list of features designed to protect against malware, cybercriminals, and malicious URLs.
I was also impressed with Norton’s scan speed—it took 29 minutes for the solution to complete its initial scan of 50 Gb of files. It’s not the quickest antivirus I've seen, but still beats the likes of Bitdefender and Avast.
Norton shines when it comes to identifying threats, however. My tests, and those conducted by AV-Compatatives, found that it blocked all attacks before the malware could be downloaded. If you have the technical know-how, you can even use the Insight tool to check out reports on individual files to see if there are unidentified threats lurking on your system—and this is particularly handy when dealing with new strains of malware that Norton hasn't encountered.
Norton is also incredibly good at blocking dangerous URLs and preventing you from landing on a page that's determined to ruin your day. You'll see a warning message with additional information about the malware and a heads-up about other sites that contain the same threat. The Safe Web browser extension gives you even more peace of mind by adding site ratings to search results, helping you steer clear of dodgy domains.
Norton wants to help you get better at identifying and avoiding threats, too, as evidenced by the development of an AI-powered chatbot. Dubbed "Norton Genie", the bot can let you know whether that suspicious email you received is legitimate or a phishing attempt—and all you have to do is send it a screenshot or copy and paste some of the text.
The Norton Secure VPN isn't my favorite VPN on the market, but does a solid job of keeping your IP address hidden, your browsing private, and can even unblock a decent amount of streaming services. Combining the VPN with the intelligent firewall really maximizes your digital security, and you'll be alerted right away if an untrustworthy program attempts to connect to the internet. You can allow or block the connection, and Norton gives you plenty of detail (like the age of the program and the URL it's attempting to reach) to help you make a security-conscious decision.
Admittedly, Norton is a pretty pricey solution partially because of its LifeLock feature. This goes above and beyond the usual identity theft protection you get with other antivirus providers and will let you know if your details crop up on the dark web—and can even check to see if someone is using your identity as an alias. LifeLock even walks you through the process of restoring your identity if the worst happens.
It's worth noting that Norton's subscription prices do jump up after the introductory period. This isn't all that unusual, and you'll still be getting a huge amount of functionality in return for your investment. However, if you'd rather not commit to a long-term plan, you can try the antivirus software for free with a 7-day free trial—just remember to turn off auto-renewal to avoid being charged at the end of the week.
|Protection||Excellent at detecting known malware, malicious URLs, and threats to your identity||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Performance||Slight lag when running, placing it right in the middle of the pack||⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Ease of use||Its dual dashboards can be tricky to navigate||⭐⭐⭐|
|Advanced tools||An impressive tool set, including a solid VPN, password manager, and cloud backup||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Customer support||No problems reaching out to Norton via email, live chat, and even telephone||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Value||An undeniabley pricey product, but a plethora of tools ensure you're getting your money's worth||⭐⭐⭐|
The best antivirus security suite
3. Avast One
Our expert review:
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
✔️ You want the best malware protection: Avast came out on top in all our malware-blocking tests
✔️ Gaming is your priority: An automatically enabled gaming mode blocks untrustworthy incoming connections
✔️ You want to try before buying: Avast's free plan has its limitations, but effectively showcases the product's capabilities
❌ You don't want to delete unwanted apps: Avast will do its best to install its own internet browser and make it your default.
❌ You need better VPN access: depending on your plan, you might experience bandwidth caps and a limited choice of servers
❌ You need clear warnings: at times, unwarranted warnings can pop up with no clear way to stop them
🔒 Avast One stops malware dead in its tracks and won't slow your device down—plus, it's incredibly easy to use.
Our Avast One review dives into the details, and perks, of each subscription plan.
Avast One is the newest offering from Avast, and comes packed with all of the malware protection, advanced features, and ease of use you'd expect from an industry veteran. You'll also be able to use the solution on any Windows, Mac, Android, or iOS device.
Avast One's scan speeds were pretty average, taking 32 minutes to complete a scan of 50 Gb of executable files. These scans are hugely customizable, too, and give you granular control over where you want the solution to focus. Smart Scans take a few seconds to check for malware and dodgy browser add-ons, Targeted Scans look at specified folders and files, and Full Scans comb through your entire system.
Very few providers can keep up with Avast One when it comes to identifying and removing malware. None of my tests were able to crack its protection, and the latest report from AV-Comparitives revealed that it scored an outstanding 99.97% detection rate. So, you can rest assured that no threats will make it through to your device unseen.
Avast One shores up its security with a firewall that keeps tabs on your network traffic to thwart hackers, and can block your access to malicious websites to prevent infections. I also like that its Ransomware Shield was able to find folders containing user documents and automatically add them to its protect list.
The solution rounds out its antivirus package with useful extras—and the sheer amount of these features is what makes Avast One worth checking out. All of its paid subscriptions come with the HideMyAss!-powered SecureLine VPN, but if you're on the Essential plan, you'll have to deal with a limit of 5 Gb per week and a single server location. Despite these setbacks, this is still more than you need to catch up on your favorite Netflix shows.
Opt for a more expensive subscription and the VPN breaks free of these shackles. You'll have more than 50 server locations to choose from, and you'll also be alerted if you try to access a banking site, sensitive domain, or even a store without switching the VPN on first. This is a lifesaver if you want to go about your business without leaving an identifiable trail.
Avast One's features just keep coming. Subscribers get a password manager that'll check for compromised details, parental controls, webcam monitoring, and anti-phishing tools that ensure all aspects of your online life are secure.
If you're ready to take the plunge, there are three paid subscriptions to choose from. The Individual plan gets you access to all of the aforementioned tools and licenses for five devices, whereas the Family and Premium plans bump this number up to thirty (the latter also comes with an identity monitory that'll let you know if your data ends up on the dark web). Thanks to the Essential plan, however, you can try a limited version of the product without paying a penny.
|Protection||Top scores for malware protection from third-party test labs||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Performance||Doesn't create noticeable lag, and has an awesome gamer mode||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Ease of use||Friendly apps for all devices with a fresh design, and they're easy to use||⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Advanced tools||Paid users get the lion's share of features and access to an unlimited VPN||⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Customer support||No live chat, but you can typically get a response from support staff via email within 24 hours||⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Value||Subscriptions won't break the bank and come with a plethora of features, and the free plan is equally impressive||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
The best antivirus for mobile
Our expert review:
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
✔️ Mobile security is your priority: McAfee's mobile apps provide all-around protection that you can take on the go.
✔️ You want to protect your identity: check out a raft of tools and advanced features designed to safeguard against identity theft and phishing.
✔️ You need good network protection: keep hackers out of your home network system with an intelligent firewall for all of your devices.
❌ You're on a budget: McAfee is a big name with a big price tag, and particularly pricey on renewal.
❌ You use a Mac: although it does run on Mac computers, the solution still feels a little clunky compared to its Windows version.
❌ You want built-in parental controls: you'll need to pay extra to access parental controls, adding extra cost to a solution that's already pretty expensive.
🔒 McAfee is undoubtedly expensive, but earns its spot in our top five with standout mobile apps, advanced features, and its prioritization of identity protection.
Our McAfee review goes into more detail about the solution's identity theft services—and how they're much better than simple ID monitoring.
McAfee has moved on from its Antivirus Plus and Total Protection packages with McAfee+. The McAfee+ subscriptions still include all of the standard malware protection while adding important identity theft monitoring tools.
The basic subscription, McAfee+ Essential, lets you protect up to 5 devices, and the good news is that it works on just about every platform—Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and Chromebook included. Although it's a limited, first-level antivirus software, it still offers identity monitoring, a password manager, a firewall, a file shredder, and unlimited VPN access.
Two of the biggest independent test labs awarded McAfee top marks for online malware protection, which is incredibly encouraging. Still, I did notice slowdown when I put the apps to the test. McAfee is a pretty resource-hungry solution that takes up a lot of system resources—it won't slow you to a crawl, but other (cheaper) antivirus packages don't have this problem.
McAfee stands out from the crowd with a powerful identity theft prevention suite. The Online Account Cleanup tool can help you avoid being caught up in data leaks by pointing out which sites and services are holding onto your data. Then, it'll tell you which accounts you should keep, which you should delete, and even reduce the number of spam emails you receive—and that's in addition to alerting you if your information ends up on the dark web.
You can upgrade to a Premium or Advanced plan, although the Premium offering is somewhat disappointing. Its only advantages over the Essential plan are its system scans (it won't actually do any of the clean-up afterward, however) and unlimited device protection. I'd expect a lot more from a "premium" subscription.
However, I am impressed by McAfee's family protection. All family plans come with personalized insight and advice, and the Protection Score feature keeps tabs on everyone's digital security to generate that custom guidance. Armed with this information, you and your family will be able to navigate the web with more savvy, which is doubly important if you're sharing devices. McAfee's parental controls allow you to prevent children from accessing inappropriate content, manage screen time, and monitor their location.
One more important note, the VPN is available without any data restrictions regardless of the McAfee+ subscription you choose. However, it is only available if you agree to the McAfee autorenewal program.
|Protection||Excellent protection and plenty of extra tools to help keep you secure||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Performance||Infrequent lagging, but not enough to interrupt what you're working on||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Ease of use||Mobile apps are pretty straightforward to use, desktop is a bit overwhelming when you first use it||⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Advanced tools||Many tools focus on protecting your identity including a VPN and personal data cleanup, but how well they work depends on what you're willing to pay||⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Customer support||Decent FAQs section on its website, and a support community, live chat is with a Virtual Assistant and not a live agent||⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Value||One of the most expensive antivirus programs, but you can use it on any number of devices||⭐⭐⭐|
The best antivirus with network protection
Our expert review:
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
✔️ You have a lot of smart devices: F-Secure has one of the best network protection tools to secure every gadget connected to your home internet.
✔️ You value speed: scans balance speed with thoroughness without sacrificing either.
✔️ You need a VPN: the F-Secure VPN does have its limitations, but it's a useful tool to have in a pinch.
❌ You're new to antivirus: the dashboard is very text-heavy, which can be overwhelming, and it's not the easiest tool to install.
❌ You need Chromebook protection: unfortunately, F-Secure doesn't offer a Chromebook app—meaning you'll have to look elsewhere.
❌ You don't want to be slowed down: you might experience slower load times when opening programs or browsing the web, leading to serious frustration.
🔒 F-secure takes some getting used to, but all of the most important security and privacy tools are there—including incredible network protection and 24/7 live support.
Learn more in our F-Secure review, and explore how this antivirus solution protects desktops, mobile devices, and all of your smart gadgets.
F-Secure has had a makeover since we first started testing and evaluating antivirus software. It's better at detecting and blocking malware and is a lot lighter on device resources—but its star feature is its network protection.
Network protection keeps an eye on your internet connection, router movements, and everything that connects to your Wi-Fi, looking for anything suspicious. Ultimately, the feature acts as a shield against hackers attempting to break in through weak spots in the connection, and will warn you before they can do any real damage.
F-Secure has plenty of tools to help protect against other digital nasties, too—and its antivirus suite has even won awards from testing organizations, like AV-TEST. The service puts a stop to ransomware, spyware, and trackers, and can even let you know if your password is weak or overused. I like that F-Secure also tells you if any services you use (or have signed up for) have been compromised, so you can take proactive steps to secure your most sensitive information.
As with most of our top picks, F-Secure comes with its own built-in VPN. It's not a showstopper, and can't really compare to the likes of ExpressVPN when it comes to quality and quantity of features, but if you need an extra layer of protection when you're shopping online, accessing your banking accounts, or connecting to public Wi-Fi networks, then it's well worth having.
Getting started with F-Secure isn't too difficult. It'll walk you through the download and install process, though there are a lot of pages to click through, which can be overwhelming to new users. On that note, configuring the various tools and options isn't the most intuitive process.
Thankfully, F-Secure is one of the few antivirus software companies that has 25/7 live support available. You can reach out to an agent via live chat and, if you encounter a particularly tricky issue, the agent can even connect to your device remotely to fix it from their device.
|Protection||Excellent malware blocking and protects smart devices connected to your home network||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Performance||Some slowdown when launching programs or navigating the web||⭐⭐⭐|
|Ease of use||Not the easiest to figure out, but the tutorials do help||⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Advanced tools||Not as many tools as other antivirus software, but the ones included are helpful||⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Customer support||Live support is available including remote support for difficult issues||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Value||First-time users get a great bargain, but the price jumps higher on renewal||⭐⭐⭐⭐|
The best of the rest
Our expert review:
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
✔️ You bank or shop online: PayGuard is one of the best secure banking features in the industry.
✔️ You want web protection: Trend Micro has a robust URL blocker that will warn you if you stumble across a dangerous site.
❌ You're an avid gamer: unfortunately, Trend Micro impacts your system speed and can interrupt gameplay.
❌ You want to customize your experience: there aren't many opportunities to configure the software.
🔒 Trend Micro doesn't come with a ton of added features, but if you need a boost of security for your banking and online shopping, Pay Guard is a fantastic option.
Read our Trend Micro review to discover more about its Pay Guard tool, how you can put it to use, and other security features.
Trend Micro Antivirus+ might not top our list, but it is a user-friendly solution with a clean interface—no clutter in sight. Simply hit the Scan button to get started, or use the navigation icons to find the features and tools you need.
In terms of protection, Trend Micro received an average score across test labs and our own research. While opinions are mixed, I saw that the solution does stop threats, like malware and ransomware, and didn't experience the increased amount of false positives that other reviewers reported. This leads me to believe that your mileage may vary with this antivirus package—even so, it has the basics covered.
One of its strongest features is the Pay Guard tool. Essentially, it acts as a shield on sites or services where you hand over financial and personal information—like your bank account and online stores. These transactions are constantly targeted by hackers and cybercriminals, hoping to make off with your credit card number or login credentials, so I'm glad to see Trend Micro tackle vulnerabilities head-on.
Wondering if there are weak points? Well, Trend Micro impacts system performance more than its biggest rivals and doesn't have the same long list of features. The latter isn't entirely negative, of course, seeing as it makes the solution more usable for newcomers. Advanced users won't find a lot to customize, unfortunately. Most of the tools simply toggle on or off.
You can increase the functionality slightly by opting for a more expensive plan. The next tier, 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).
Price-wise, Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security is cheap, and its Internet Security Maximum Security programs are also fairly priced. Bear in mind that you can only protect a single Windows device with its basic antivirus, but its top product gives you 10 licenses to share across any Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, or even Chromebook device.
|Protection||Struggles a bit to stop brand new threats not included in malware databases||⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Performance||Causes some slowdown when downloading programs or launching an application||⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Ease of use||Very simple interface with essential security tools you need already turned on||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Advanced tools||Not a lot is included with its basic subscription, but Pay Guard comes with all antivirus subscriptions||⭐⭐⭐|
|Customer support||Phone, email, and chat support are all available, but there may be some delays when trying to connect||⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Value||Not too bad for basic protection of a single Windows device||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
Our expert review: