Best ransomware protection of 2024

The best ransomware protection software makes it simple and easy to protect your data from being encrypted by hackers to prevent you accessing it.

Ransomware has, unfortunately, been growing from strength to strength, with organizations of all sizes across numerous industries succumbing to the scourge. The frequency and devastation of attacks is increasing by the year, and it shows no sign of slowing down.

That’s why having the best ransomware protection is more important than ever - to prevent the loss of your personal or company data, as well as your finances and reputation.

Ransomware protection can safeguard your files from being corrupted in the event of an attack. Typically, this corruption means you’ll be unable to access them until the threat actor sends you a decryptor in exchange for an exorbitant fee (and even then, there’s no guarantee they’ll uphold their end of the deal).

So here, we’ve listed the best ransomware protection tools, and assessed them based on their effectiveness, ease of use, compatibility, and price.

However, it is worth noting that even the best ransomware protection may have its limitations. It is always best to try and prevent attacks from landing in the first place, which you can do with the best antivirus software and the best malware removal tools.

The best ransomware protection of 2024 in full:

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Best ransomware protection overall

(Image credit: Bitdefender)
The best ransomware protection

Reasons to buy

Accurate levels of detection
Password manager included
Cheap subscription costs

Reasons to avoid

Can be resource-hungry

Get a 50-60% discount on Bitdefender Antivirus Plus
TechRadar's #1 rated antivirus in a world packed with loads of virus protection providers, and doesn't even cost that much more than free antivirus downloads.

One at any rankings of big independent antivirus, and you’ll see that Bitdefender's premium security products always rise to the top.

Bidefender Antivirus Plus is reliable and accurate in its virus detecting, boasting web and URL filtering to block access to malicious sites, as well as a secure browser that keeps your online banking and shopping transactions safe. Plus, there's a password manager which auto-completes credit card details in web forms - although if you require more advanced features, you'll probably want the best password manager. It also scores high for its excellent anti-phishing module, which alerts you to malicious links in your search engine results and blocks access to dangerous sites.

That’s not all: of course, there's also the multi-layer ransomware protection that heuristically learns the behavior of such threats to keep you safe as well as the ability to scan all your linked devices via the Bitdefender Central mobile app. 

There are one or two issues – it grabs more resources than average, and might conflict with some programs – but Bitdefender Antivirus Plus is still a likeable package which offers excellent detection rates, great performance, and more than enough bonus features to justify the price.

Bitdefender Internet Security builds on AVP and triples the number of devices covered plus offers anti-spam, firewall, parental advisor and file encryption features.

For a little bit more you can purchase the Bitdefender Total Security edition. It adds all of the above and covers up to five PCs, Macs, Android and iOS devices.

Read our full Bitdefender Antivirus Plus review.

Best ransomware protection for remote scanning

(Image credit: AVG)
Ideal for scanning PC remotely

Reasons to buy

Quite configurable
Great track record of malware protection

Reasons to avoid

Deep scans can be slow

If you're looking for ransomware protection that keeps quiet and won't disturb your work, be warned – AVG Antivirus Free is quite vocal with its notifications, and irks us from time to time with pop-ups telling us we've done something fantastic with regard to our online security.

As a ransomware shield and anti-malware app, though, it's very good. The dashboard is user-friendly, there's protection not just from downloadable threats, but from dodgy links too, and you can use your mobile to scan your PC remotely, which is pretty clever.

Although the free version offers basic antivirus protection, you really need to upgrade to the paid version to get the full-featured protection against ransomware, as well as additional security software protections such as data encryption options as well as a firewall.

Read our full AVG Antivirus Free review.

Best ransomware protection for multiple device protection

(Image credit: Avast)
Best for multiple device protection

Reasons to buy

Anti-virus and anti-malware
Excellent detection rates
Worthwhile upgrades
Doesn't slow your system

Reasons to avoid

Advertising prompts

Avast Antivirus is one of the most competent internet protection suites out there. While the company is famous for providing free antivirus software, it's worth noting that this now comes bundled with an anti-malware feature that uses behavioral monitoring to spot rogue programs.

What's even better is that not only are Avast's basic products free, but they are also available for mobile devices as well as for desktops, which makes Avast a particular ideal choice if you have multiple devices you need to check.

Even better is that ransomware protection is included in the free version of the Avast Antivirus platform, so you don't even need to pay to upgrade for this, though additional security features are available if you do.

For business users, there are paid-for internet security options to cover a range of needs and options.

Read our full Avast Antivirus review.

Best ransomware protection for a lightweight solution

(Image credit: Webroot)
Best lightweight ransomware protection

Reasons to buy

Extremely light on system resources
Lightning fast speeds

Reasons to avoid

No testing data from the top labs

Just about every antivirus tool claims to be ‘lightweight’, but Webroot Antivirus is really the only one to deliver on this front. Installation takes seconds, the program files barely use 2MB of your hard drive, RAM footprint is tiny, and there are no bulky signature updates to tie up your bandwidth.

Considering this, there's no compromise on features, which makes it all the more impressive. Along with the core protection, there's smart behavior monitoring, accurate real-time anti-phishing, a firewall and network connection monitor, enhanced anti-ransomware, and other interesting bonuses.

It's not easy to compare Webroot's accuracy with the competition, as the big testing labs rarely evaluate the company's products. However, when they are reviewed, they generally score high, and our own tests show solid and reliable protection.

Features include always-on security, identity protection, real-time anti-phishing, firewall monitor.

Read our full Webroot Antivirus review.

Find the best deals on Webroot products with our Webroot promo codes.

Best ransomware protection for experts

(Image credit: ESET)
Best choice for expert users

Reasons to buy

Highly configurable
Device access control

Reasons to avoid

Not for beginners

If you judge antivirus software on the length of its feature list, ESET NOD32 Antivirus might be a bit of a disappointment. There’s no firewall, password manager, file shredder, vulnerability scanner or any of the bundled bonuses you'll often find in its rivals.

This doesn't mean the package is short on power, however. It's just more focused on the fundamentals. ESET NOD32 Antivirus comes with real-time malware protection, some of the best heuristic detection around, an anti-ransomware layer, exploit protection, URL filtering to block malicious websites, and modules to prevent attacks using PowerShell and malicious scripts.

A Device Control module limits the risk of infection from other devices by controlling access to USB sticks, external hard drives, optical storage media, even devices connecting by Bluetooth and FireWire. It's an unusual addition, but could make a difference if others are regularly plugging devices into your PC.

Just bear in mind that ESET NOD32 Antivirus isn't aimed at beginners. The interface is clumsy sometimes, some features are very advanced, and even the Help isn't always helpful.

Experienced users will appreciate ESET’s power and configurability, however. Above-average protection does a good job of keeping you safe, and a lightweight design ensures the package won't slow you down.

ESET Internet Security builds on NOD 32 and triples the number of devices covered plus offers firewall, botnet protection, webcam protection, antispam and more. Alternatively, you can purchase the ESET Smart Security Premium edition for not much more. It adds all of the above as well as password management and secure data.

Read our full ESET NOD32 Antivirus review.

Best ransomware removal software

The best malware removal software available right now is: Malwarebytes Premium

The best malware removal software available right now is: Malwarebytes Premium
If you're suffering from a malware infection and free software isn't getting the job done, Malwarebytes Premium could be the silver bullet you need. It uses heuristic analysis to identify new strains of malware, cleans up existing infections, helps protect you from phishing scams, and helps stop you downloading further malicious software in the future, including ransomware.

Best ransomware removal software overall

(Image credit: Malwarebytes)
The most effective ransomware remover

Reasons to buy

Deals with all kinds of malware
Deep scanning

Reasons to avoid

Free and paid versions overlap

If you have a ransomware infection, Malwarebytes Anti-Malware should be your first port of call. It’s updated daily, so you can trust it to identify and remove new threats the minute they appear.

The first time you install Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, you’re given a 14-day trial of the premium edition, which includes preventative tools like real-time scanning and specific protection from ransomware. After two weeks, it reverts to the basic free version. This has to be activated manually, but is still a top-notch security tool. We recommend running it at least once a week to check or any nasties that you haven't noticed, or if you notice that your web browser has suddenly started acting strangely (likely a result of adware).

Recently, Malwarebytes bought Adwcleaner, which – as its name suggests – targets and removes annoying programs that hijack your browser by changing your homepage, resetting your default search engine, or adding unwanted toolbars. It’s also available free, and along with Anti-Malware, is a great addition to your security toolkit.

Read our full Malwarebytes Anti-Malware review.

Best free ransomware removal software

(Image credit: Avast)

2. Avast Free Ransomware Decryption Tools

Best free ransomware solution

Reasons to buy

Step-by-step guidance
Tackles 21 forms of ransomware
Frequently updated

Reasons to avoid

Not as thorough as some paid tools

Not all ransomware encrypts data in the same way, so security software providers have to create specific solutions as new threats emerge. At the time of writing, the security experts at Avast have developed Free Ransomware Decryption Tools to tackle 21 different strains of file-locking ransomware.

To help you work out which one you need, Avast has provided a detailed description of how each form of ransomware works, what extension you’ll see on the encrypted files, and an example of the type of message the virus creators have prepared for their victims. 

Once you’ve downloaded the appropriate tool, it will guide you through the process of wiping out the ransomware without paying the criminals. You’ll need to provide two versions of the same file – an encrypted one, and the original.

This will be easiest if you made a backup before the infection, but Avast also suggests locations where you might be able to find unaffected original files. The tool will then compare the two and use the results to determine the password.

Best ransomware removal software for small business

(Image credit: Kaspersky)

3. Kaspersky Anti-Ransomware Tool

Best small business option

Reasons to buy

Proactive ransomware protection
Can undo malicious actions
Monitors network activity

Reasons to avoid

Can slow down some devices

Ransomware on your home computer is bad enough, but an infection that locks you out of your business PCs could be an absolute disaster. Your accounts, customer data, client information and work could all be encrypted – and it could affect multiple machines on the same network. 

Kaspersky Anti-Ransomware Tool is designed to help small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) protect their data from such a catastrophe. Like Bitdefender Anti-Ransomware, it’s a preventative tool designed to prevent infection in the first place rather than decrypt files or unlock your desktop, though it can undo some malicious actions.

Once installed, Kaspersky Anti-Ransomware Tool runs happily alongside your regular security suite, monitoring network activity for anything that matches known ransomware behavior. Its threat database is stored on Kaspersky’s cloud servers, so updates are pushed out to all users immediately 

We've listed the best endpoint protection software.

Best ransomware protection FAQs

What is ransomware?

Adam Kujawa, Director of Malwarebytes Labs:

“The term malware, or ‘malicious software,’ is an umbrella term that describes any malicious program or code that is harmful to systems, including ransomware. Hostile, intrusive, and intentionally nasty, malware seeks to invade, damage, or disable computers, computer systems, networks, tablets, and mobile devices, often by taking partial control over a device’s operations. Like the human flu, it interferes with normal functioning. The motives behind malware vary - it can be about making money off you, sabotaging your ability to get work done, making a political statement, or just bragging rights."

How to choose the best ransomware protection for you?

When deciding which ransomware protection to use, first consider what your actual needs are, as budget software may only provide basic options, so if you need to use advanced tools you may find a more expensive platform is much more worthwhile. Additionally, higher-end software can usually cater for every need, so do ensure you have a good idea of which features you think you may require from your ransomware protection.

How we test

To test for the best ransomware protection we first set up an account with the relevant software platform, then we tested the service to see how the software could be used for different purposes and in different situations. The aim was to push each ransomware protection platform to see how useful its basic tools were and also how easy it was to get to grips with any more advanced tools.

Read more on how we test, rate, and review products on TechRadar.

We've also rated the best identity management software.

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Benedict Collins
Staff Writer (Security)

Benedict has been writing about security issues for close to 5 years, at first covering geopolitics and international relations while at the University of Buckingham. During this time he studied BA Politics with Journalism, for which he received a second-class honours (upper division). Benedict then continued his studies at a postgraduate level and achieved a distinction in MA Security, Intelligence and Diplomacy. Benedict transitioned his security interests towards cybersecurity upon joining TechRadar Pro as a Staff Writer, focussing on state-sponsored threat actors, malware, social engineering, and national security. Benedict is also an expert on B2B security products, including firewalls, antivirus, endpoint security, and password management.

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