Online threats are becoming increasingly worse. Hackers are more sophisticated than ever before, and more of what we do takes place online, leaving us exposed to possible threats nearly everywhere we go. Many people use a VPN to protect online endeavors, as well as antivirus software to keep their computers safe from viruses and malware. Having two separate subscriptions isn't ideal, though, which is why many opt to bundle these two together.
Both tools have their purpose and one cannot replace the other, but having both ensures that you'll stay safe when using your computer locally and when conducting yourself online.
Many of the top providers are now offering antivirus and VPN bundles to give you all the tools you need in one place. Some even have additional features like data leak protection or password managers.
The real question is, are VPN and antivirus bundles like this a better bet than standalone services? What are you really getting in return? Read on to find out!
VPN vs antivirus: what's the difference?
While both services are necessary to protect your digital privacy, they do so in a very different way.
Antivirus software can be seen as a shield for your device. Hackers use malware, viruses and ransomware to infiltrate your sensitive data. Every email you send or receive, app you download, websites you visit – these all put you at risk of infection from malicious software if you're not careful.
Antivirus works by scanning your smartphone, tablet or laptop to find and eradicate these threats as quickly as possible. Many services use real-time protection to secure the safety of your device at all times. Plus, regular checks and automatic updates prevent malicious code from infiltrating among your stored data.
On the other hand, a VPN can be defined as a mask that protects all of your data in transit. Short for virtual private network, a VPN makes you anonymous when surfing the web by hiding your real IP address and simultaneously securing your information inside an encrypted tunnel.
As your ISP will be tricked to think that you are connected from a different location, no snoopers will be able to track you down. This feature is not only advantageous for safeguarding your privacy, but it can help you to bypass online censorship in stringent regimes across the globe. A good streaming VPN will enable you to unlock geo-restricted catalogs, no matter where you are in the world. And connecting to one of the best services will allow you to torrent safely, too.
Sound complicated? We explain more in depth here.
Pros and cons of getting a VPN and antivirus together
Previously, you could really only get a VPN and antivirus software as separate services. Recently, however, that's changed. More and more providers are bundling services like VPN, antivirus, password management, data leak protection and more. Now, you can easily get everything you need with just one subscription from one provider.
Still, if you're particular about just how well your VPN or antivirus of choice does its respective job – or you really want the best of both worlds – you may still need to have separate services.
Choosing a VPN and antivirus bundle can be advantageous to cut down your costs. These packages can be quite a lot cheaper than standalone plans. Plus, having all your security tools in one app can make it easier to manage the two programs and stay on top of your digital hygiene.
However, standalone VPNs are notably better equipped than the services that antivirus firms can offer. As providers may prioritize the antivirus side of the package, virtual private network often come with limited security features, few servers and data caps. They are generally not very effective to unlock internet restrictions, either.
This is also true for antivirus software included with VPN companies' suites. Firstly, even though they are getting more popular, these bundles are still less common. Plus, the software itself cannot compete with their standalone counterpart. In some instances - like in the case of NordVPN Threat Protection - the tool offered can be a fine addition, while not quite yet being considered a complete antivirus in the traditional way.
But all-in-one security bundles a doubtlessly a growing trend, and you can expect to see the technology - on both sides - to develop and improve in the future. For now, however, below we have pinpointed the best of the current crop that are combining VPN and antivirus.
Best VPNs with antivirus(opens in new tab)
1. Surfshark One (opens in new tab)
Surfshark One is a complete package, offering four cybersecurity tools with just one subscription. These include its own VPN, a data leak detection system, a private search engine and antivirus software.
Surfshark VPN - one of the most secure and cheapest VPN services available - boasts easy-friendly apps, unlimited devices connections and top-notch security features. It's one of the best streaming VPNs too, unlocking all the major platforms. Users can choose among an array of more than 3,000 servers across 65 countries.
Surfshark Antivirus - powered by Avira's anti-malware SDK - offers both real-time protection from malware, viruses, and privacy-intrusive apps as well as scheduled scans to stay on top of your devices' digital hygiene with ease. At the time of writing, this software is only available for Windows and Android platforms, with the real-time feature available just for the mobile app. The provider has plans to introduce new versions soon, though.
Surfshark One can be purchased for around $4 per month (opens in new tab) if you subscribe to its longest two-year plan (prices will differ in different territories). You can also add the bundle to an existing Surfshark VPN subscription with an additional tiny fee around $1.50 per month.(opens in new tab)
2. CyberGhost Security Suite (opens in new tab)
CyberGhost has joined forces with antivirus provider Intego to offer its users an 'all-in-one privacy and security solution.' The package includes the VPN, antivirus software, its own password manager and ID Guard tools.
CyberGhost VPN is a strong and secure service that boasts more than 7,000 servers spread across 90 countries. Good for streaming and website unblocking, it offers a 45-day money-back guarantee and fair pricing (especially if you're willing to commit). The only downside is that it does not offer independent audits just yet.
Its Intego and Avira-powered antivirus is propelled by behavior analysis and a malware engine, offering 24/7 protection against all the biggest online threats around right now. These include protection from malware, trojans, spyware, adware and ransomware. A Security Updater alerts you to outdated apps, and Privacy Guard makes it easy to manage your privacy settings.
The downside here is that CyberGhost Security Suite protects Windows users only. Plus, according to our testing, its antivirus can't compete with the best providers around (although it was last on test in early 2021). But what is excellent is the cost, with its longest two-year plan and security bundle costing less than $3.00 per month (opens in new tab).
3. Private Internet Access with Antivirus add-on (opens in new tab)
Private Internet Access (PIA) now offers its users the possibility to bundle its VPN subscription with its own antivirus software. You will need to be a PIA VPN user to add on its antivirus extension.
Private Internet Access VPN hosts more than 10,000 servers across 78 countries. Although not being the fastest service around, it is equipped with many security features as well as with good Android VPN and iPhone VPN apps. But like CyberGhost, it doesn't carry out independent audits just yet.
PIA Antivirus is packed with features for protecting your device from any threats. These include a DNS-based ad blocker, a prevention engine to find and fix your computer’s in-built defenses, a real-time 24/7 protection as well as an up-to-date cloud database to prevent even the newest viruses and malware from infecting your devices. You can also customize your data settings for a full control over your digital privacy.
Add at the checkout the antivirus software to your VPN subscription – at the time of writing, one of the best cheap VPN provider - paying less than $1.50 per month (opens in new tab) if you choose its 2-year plan.(opens in new tab)
4. NordVPN Threat Protection (opens in new tab)
One of our favorite VPN services, NordVPN has developed a new feature to secure users from cyber threats. The good news is that you will be able to enjoy this benefit without having to purchase any extra software.
Threat Protection will prevent your devices from being infected with malware by blocking access to malicious websites and checking the files you download. It also stops web trackers before they can intrude your browsing activity, while hindering those intrusive and malicious ads from loading on the page you visit.
It is worth noting that even if it looks quite similar on the surface, the Threat Protection tool does not exactly work as other antivirus software does - for example, it's limited in its scope only to scan executable files without monitoring processes for suspect behavior. However, it can still enlarge the security grip of your NordVPN subscription, guarding you from some cyber threats that regular VPN services don't usually block.
NordVPN is a secure, fast and reliable service ideal for torrenting safely, streaming and bypassing online censorship at ease. Turning on its Double VPN system, all your internet traffic will be encrypted not one but twice. For users ready to commit to its longest plan, a the monthly price comes down to around the $3.00 mark (opens in new tab).
Best antivirus with VPN(opens in new tab)
1. Norton 360 (opens in new tab)
Norton's 360 packages add new layers of security for their users, with unlimited access to its own VPN and password manager tools. The Norton 360 Deluxe plan comes with its Dark Web Monitoring tool, too, which searches for your exposed information on the dark web. While those choosing the Advanced suite will also benefit from Identity Restoration Support and Social Media Monitoring.
Norton antivirus is a trusted software that include a really useful firewall and cloud backup space. Powered by AI machine-learning, it secures your devices against viruses, malware, spyware and ransomware.
Even though it cannot compete with the top VPN services, we found that Norton Secure VPN can still unlock US Netflix, BBC iPlayer and Amazon Prime. It has a no-log policy and kill switch feature for its Android apps, with split-tunneling available for Windows users. Unfortunately, the service doesn't offer obfuscation technology and P2P traffic - so, it can't be used to bypass strong online censorship or download torrents.
Norton 360 packages – all of which include that Secure VPN - start from around $10/month (opens in new tab). So, when you compare that to purchasing a VPN, it's really excellent value.(opens in new tab)
2. Bitdefender (opens in new tab)
The current leader in our best antivirus chart is Bitdefender, whose bundles all add a secure browser - called Safepay online banking protection - password manager tool, a vulnerability scanner and a good quality VPN.
The things that stood out to use about Bitdefender Antivirus were its user-friendly interface that can suit either complete beginners or experts who want to tweak things. It also has some impressive features like real-time protection, advanced threat defense, web attack prevention, anti-phishing and anti-fraud.
Bitdefender VPN is a basic service with some solid speed results and effective kill switch. It's not made in house, but uses Hotspot Shield technology instead. It promises not to keep any logs, also allowing P2P sharing. If it manages to unblock BBC iPlayer, it fails to do the same with other streaming platforms like Netflix. Its most notable downside though is a 200 MB daily limit included with the bundle. So, if you want more freedom, you need to upgrade to the premium version - in this case, we strongly recommend opting for one of the best VPN services around instead.
You can get hold of Bitdefender's VPN and antivirus plan for not much more than $20 for a whole year (opens in new tab).(opens in new tab)
3. Avast One (opens in new tab)
Avast One is a security bundle that combines antivirus, VPN, data breach scanning and even a firewall in just one subscription. The good news is that all this can be yours for free with its Essential plan - yes, you read it right. Upgrade to its premium package for adding an anti-tracking, webcam monitoring, a powerful disk cleaner, extra device speedup tools and automatic updates for your apps.
Avast Antivirus is packed with useful features to protect your devices. These include real-time protection and different types of scans - you can customize those to better suit your own needs. It automatically detects folders with user documents, adding them to Avast's Ransomware Shield Protect list to guarantee stronger protection.
4. McAfee Total Protection (opens in new tab)
McAfee Total Protection Basic suite includes its antivirus - currently ranked at #7 on our best antivirus guide - secure VPN, an intelligent firewall, password manager and identity monitoring tools. Upgrade to the Premium to add parental controls and a Personal Data Cleanup to help you remove your data from risky data broker sites. If you opt for the Ultimate package, you will also have up to $1M ID theft coverage and attorney restoration.
McAfee antivirus keeps its antivirus scanning options to a minimum. You can perform quick scans, full system scans or focused checks on specific items directly from the Explorer right-click menu. Despite this it offers several features like a device cleaner and Depending on file shredder tools. Depending which plan you choose, you can connect up to one, five or unlimited devices with one subscription.
Powered by TunnelBear technology, McAfee VPN comes with unlimited data for all paid plans and 50 server locations for you to choose from. Despite this, it's a quite basic VPN service offering poor unlocking performance as well as lacking some security features like a kill-switch.
Another downside of McAfee bundles are its prices, higher than the suites mentioned before. At the time of writing, its Plus plan (the most basic) comes to around $40 per year (opens in new tab) and its most expensive one up to $90 (opens in new tab).
VPN and antivirus bundles: should I get one?
It's clear that both antivirus and VPN providers are reacting to current cyber threats by enlarging their security tools offer. Increasingly companies are understanding that users need internet security suite when online and, although there are no perfect packages yet, reaching that point seems near.
Currently, these services don't quite fulfil the brief. The VPNs included with traditional antivirus still lack of many advanced features included in their standalone counterparts. And the same goes with the antivirus software sitting in the offering of virtual private network providers.
So, should you go with a security bundle or not? And, is it more important that you get a powerful VPN or strong antivirus?
That depends on from your own needs, really. If you are simply looking for an extra layer of security when online, an antivirus with VPN suite may be the right choice for you. But, if you are looking to use the service for streaming or torrenting, a VPN with antivirus package is surely more advantageous. Moreover, there also are many good free antivirus and free VPN services that you can use along your paid subscription.