Installing the best antivirus program for Windows and Mac is almost essential these days. But with dozens of antivirus tools available, choosing the right one can feel like guesswork. To make the decision process easier for you, we’ve developed a data-backed approach to determine which providers you can rely on to provide the best possible protection against malware, phishing, potentially unwanted programs, and more.

16 best antivirus for 2021

Based on our research we think these are the best antivirus:

  1. Norton Internet SecurityBest antivirus for individual PC and Mac users. Delivers well-regarded internet security that can include ID theft protection with LifeLock.
  2. TotalAVBest antivirus for web browsing protection. Actively scans for suspicious websites and monitors for criminal use of your private information.
  3. Intego AntivirusBest web protection for Mac users. The company is a rarity, focusing its services and builds primarily on OSX and iOS devices.
  4. McAfee Total ProtectionOffers well-respected protection for individuals or families.
  5. VIPRE AntivirusConsistently scores above more well-known brands in independent testing lab analyses.
  6. Bitdefender Internet SecurityMaintains consistently reliable performance and includes a webcam protection tool.
  7. Kaspersky Lab Internet Security – Best selection of features. Includes a secure, encrypted browser for online shopping.
  8. Panda Antivirus – Among the only providers with an “unlimited devices” option for extensive device protection.
  9. ESET Internet Security Provides a highly-awarded internet security tool for every major operating system.
  10. Avira AntivirusBlocks phishing attacks on social media and email.
  11. Avast – Analyzes app behavior for potential malicious activity
  12. AVG Internet SecurityActively used by over 200 million people worldwide.
  13. Trend Micro – Well-respected brand with a significant focus on business endpoint protection.
  14. Sophos – Multi-device coverage with free option
  15. Webroot – Incredibly feature-rich for the offered price.
  16. Comodo Internet SecurityNo frills antivirus scanning and real-time protection

The antivirus market is fairly dense. You could spend hours trying to find a reputable antivirus tool that fits your needs. This page should help get you on the right path.

Our list of trusted antivirus tools is based on hours of research into the most important criteria for AV tools. We evaluated over 45 free and subscription-based AV tools against the following benchmarks:

  • Protection. This is an analysis of how well the AV tool effectively scans and removes malware or viruses
  • False positives. Some AV tools can misfire and incorrectly identify and even block safe programs as viruses.
  • System impact. A calculated measure of the “drag” on your system’s resources (including memory and RAM). A good antivirus won’t noticeably slow your system down.
  • Transparency. We believe AV tools need to be transparent in their billing practices from the moment you sign up. We look at whether pricing is clearly identified in product pages, whether auto-renewal is turned on or off automatically at checkout, and how easy (or difficult) it is to cancel your subscription on-demand.

You’ll find that many antivirus tools may fit your needs. Most have a very similar set of tools and functions and may include only one or two distinguishing features. The biggest aspect that we’ve found that separates various AV tools is the price, effectiveness of their malware scanning and removal engine, and their level of transparency.

16 best antivirus tools for 2021 (Windows and Mac)

Our data-backed analysis of the 45+ antivirus tools filters down to these top 10 as the most trustworthy and reliable programs offered at the best prices.

1. Norton Internet Security

Norton Antivirus

Our research into critical areas important in verifying the quality of antivirus tools leads us to give Norton Internet Security the following scores:

  • Protection score: 99.75
  • Performance score: 92.5
  • False positives score: 86.9
  • Transparency score: 80

Norton by Symantec is one of the most well-known antivirus and internet security tools on the market. Users will find a much wider selection of options when browsing for protection from Norton Internet Security, which offers more comprehensive security tools, simpler antivirus software, and specialized privacy and security protection apps.

Those looking for an all-encompassing security solution from Norton can opt for one of the Norton 360 plans. These carry Norton’s award-winning real-time antivirus scanning and removal tool, cloud backup, webcam protection, parental control, credit monitoring, and access to the LifeLock Identity Alert™ System. Even the base-level Norton 360 Select option includes most of these features, as well as ID Verification Monitoring and data breach notifications.


  • One of the most comprehensive security packages on the market
  • Multiple package options for all type of computer users
  • Protection for every major operating system (Windows, macOS, Android and iOS)
  • Major identity protection features, including access to LifeLock


  • Turning off auto-renewal can be a hassle
  • May attempt to block some legitimate programs

BEST ANTIVIRUS:Norton is our #1 choice antivirus for Windows, Mac, Android and iPhone users. It’s easy to set-up, fast, offers great protection and lots of extra features. Includes a 60 day money-back guarantee so you can try it risk free.

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2. TotalAV


Our research into critical areas important in verifying the quality of antivirus tools leads us to give TotalAV the following scores:

  • Protection score: 91.6
  • Performance score: 83.3
  • False positives score: 100
  • Transparency score: 90

We’ve witnessed an almost night and day transformation of TotalAV’s product over the past few years. While other services may best it in areas like Performance (the impact on the user’s system resources), few can claim to have worked harder at responding to customer demands for improvements. Over the years, TotalAV’s customers have pushed for the company to overhaul the app’s functionality and design, as well a new approach to billing transparency. TotalAV listened and responded in the way you’d hope a company would.

This antivirus application offers a high-grade real-time scanning tool and a healthy list of “antis”:anti-phishing, anti-ransomware, anti-adware, and anti-spyware. The service also bundles in a Safe Browser VPN, system optimization tools to help improve the speed and functionality of your computer, a password manager, and a dark web monitoring service.


  • Heavily improved billing transparency
  • Well-regarded antivirus protection
  • Dark web monitoring
  • Apps for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS


  • Auto-renew can only be turned off after purchase
  • No cheaper option for single device coverage

BEST BUDGET ANTIVIRUS:Great protection at a low cost. Works well on all systems and is hard to beat for the money.

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3. Intego Antivirus

Intego – Mac Premium Bundle

Our research into critical areas important in verifying the quality of antivirus tools leads us to give Intego Antivirus the following scores:

  • Protection score: 91
  • Performance score: 91
  • False positives score: 100
  • Transparency score: 75

Intego owners have a little something to boast about here. Of the many antivirus apps on the market, Intego is one of the (very) few that puts makes Mac computers its primary focus. That approach pays off with an AV app that’s among the most effective in the market for Mac users, and in general.

The company provides several packages that include its well-rated VirusBarrier X9 software, and its NetBarrier X9 software. VirusBarrier X9 is a full-coverage antivirus tool that includes real-time scanning alongside other threat protection tools. Meanwhile, NetBarrier X9 is constructed around preventing unauthorized access to Mac devices.


  • Mac-focused AV provider
  • Multiple packages for multi-device coverage
  • High ratings from independent testing labs
  • Can also protect Windows computers


  • Poor transparency regarding auto-renewal

INTEGO:Best for Mac users Offers various packages and threat protection tools.

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4. McAfee Total Protection


Our research into critical areas important in verifying the quality of antivirus tools leads us to give McAfee Total Protection the following scores:

  • Protection score: 91.73
  • Performance score: 92.5
  • False positives score: 97
  • Transparency score: 95

McAfee is unequivocally one of the best internet security apps on the market. It’s security software consistently scores well in independent testing lab results and on consumer review websites. With both single device and family options that can protect up to 10 devices at once, McAfee should be on everyone’s shortlist for internet security.

Depending on the exact package you get from McAfee, you’ll find real-time virus scanning, added firewall protection, protection against phishing sites and other suspicious links, and encrypted storage for protection against threats like ransomware. All Total Protection software packages also include McAfee Shredder, which will fully delete files from your system. If you go all-out with Total Protection, McAfee also adds in identity theft protection.


  • Consistently-awarded antivirus protection
  • Offers an easy-to-use family plan
  • Provides identity theft protection under Total Security
  • Apps available for Windows, macOS, Android and iOS


  • Auto-renew can only be turned off after purchase

MCAFEE:Award winning antivirus. One of the most popular brands and for good reason. A simple to use antivirus that gets the job done.

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5. VIPRE Antivirus


Our research into critical areas important in verifying the quality of antivirus tools leads us to give VIPRE Antivirus the following scores:

  • Protection score: 99.83
  • Performance score: 94
  • False positives score: 100
  • Transparency score: 100

VIPRE’s biggest problem is that you may never have heard of it before. But based on its excellent scores and complete pricing and billing transparency, it should be one of the options you consider as you search for a trustworthy security tool. VIPRE has an advanced and well-regarded virus engine for subscribers. But it also maintains a number of other security tools that will keep your computer and your identity protected as you browse the web.

Available on both Windows and Mac computers, the VIPRE Home Protection software includes its top-rated real-time antivirus engine alongside other must-have security features. At a minimum, you’ll also get ransomware protection and added cloud-based security against malware and spyware.

In its more advanced security packages, VIPRE also offers application patching (automatically updates your apps to the latest version), email spam filtering, anti-tracking, sensitive document auditing, a dark web scanner (warns you if your private information appears on the dark web), and much more.


  • Transparent and consumer-friendly billing practices
  • Offers apps for Mac and Windows computers
  • Monitors the dark web for stolen data
  • Protects against all forms of viruses and malware


  • No free trial for the Ultimate Security Bundle

VIPRE:Reliable performance. Lesser-known contender that scores high marks on transparency and false-positive detection. Offers more than just anti-virus protection.

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6. Bitdefender Internet Security

Bitdefender Total Security

Our research into critical areas important in verifying the quality of antivirus tools leads us to give Bitdefender Internet Security the following scores:

  • Protection score: 99.3
  • Performance score: 91.5
  • False positives score: 100
  • Transparency score: 100

Bitdefender is one of the fastest-growing internet security tools on our list, especially when it comes to name recognition and usage. It’s currently trusted by over 500 million computer users worldwide. The software is almost as highly utilized as tools offered by McAfee.

Bitdefender has among the largest number of security packages of any option on our list. The basic coverage includes its high-functioning real-time antivirus software. Its newest package option, Bitdefender Premium Security, offers multi-layer ransomware protection, a secure VPN, parental controls, a device optimizer, and minimal system impact. There are also over a dozen privacy protection features, including anti-tracking, microphone and webcam protection, social network protection, safe online banking, and more.

What’s more, Bitdefender’s software comes included when you the company’s smart home security hub device, the Bitdefender Box.


  • Newly-offered anti-tracking and microphone monitor
  • Protects every major operating system, including Windows, macOS, iOS and Android
  • Large number of software packages for different user needs
  • Works with Bitdefender Box for added protection


  • No free trial for the Ultimate Security Bundle

BITDEFENDER:Set-and-forget. Multi-platform protection to suit most needs. Covers microphone, webcam, social media, internet banking, and more.

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7. Kaspersky Internet Security


Our research into critical areas important in verifying the quality of antivirus tools leads us to give Kaspersky Internet Security the following scores:

  • Protection score: 99.75
  • Performance score: 90
  • False positives score: 100
  • Transparency score: 100

Kaspersky Lab is an extremely well-respected entity in the software security market. While the company has an extensive research arm, digging deep into the on-going war between hackers and consumers, it also extends its reach into the consumer software security market. Kaspersky offers half a dozen software security tools for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android users, including its all-inclusive Kaspersky Security Cloud suite.

For those who want basic security, the Kaspersky Anti-Virus package delivers streamlined protection with its means-tested real-time antivirus engine. For more extensive internet security, you may want to opt for its Internet Security, Total Security, or Security Cloud packages, which protect against webcam hijacking, man-in-the-middle attacks, phishing attempts.

Kaspersky’s higher-tier packages not only offer parental controls but were designed specifically for families and their multitude of devices. Get coverage for up to 20 devices when you opt for Kaspersky Security Cloud.


  • Covers up to 20 devices with Cloud Security package
  • Transparent billing and consumer-friendly pricing
  • Provides apps for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android
  • Multiple security packages available
  • No credit card required for 30-day free trial


  • No options available for coverage on fewer than 3 devices

KASPERSKY:Industry benchmark. Veteran provider. Intuitive software with a great support team that will get you set up in no time. One sign-up covers 20 devices.

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8. Panda Antivirus

Panda Antivirus

Our research into critical areas important in verifying the quality of antivirus tools leads us to give Panda Antivirus the following scores:

  • Protection score: 99.75
  • Performance score: 90
  • False positives score: 60
  • Transparency score: 80

Panda has a few unique features that make may help make the case for those shopping around for antivirus protection. Alongside its high protection score, with near-perfect results from independent testing labs, Panda is one of a select few AV providers that has an “unlimited devices” option for buyers. As with all tools, the price is a bit higher for more device coverage, but if you’re planning to protect more than 10 devices, most providers would require you to purchase another subscription.

The software focuses on machine learning to protect against malware, ransomware, and other threats. Still, its approach can be a bit heavy-handed, leading to an excessive amount of false positives. If you can put aside the fact that it’s a bit aggressive in labelling perceived threats, you’ll find its ultra-high-tech approach means it offers far better protection than many competing tools.


  • Uses machine learning (artificial intelligence) to identify threats
  • Offers a growing list of tools and packages
  • Rare “unlimited devices” offer


  • Has a higher-than-average rate of false positives

PANDA:Unique features High protection score and unlimited devices option for buyers.

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9. ESET Internet Security


Our research into critical areas important in verifying the quality of antivirus tools leads us to give ESET Internet Security the following scores:

  • Protection score: 99.5
  • Performance score: 90.5
  • False positives score: 99.7
  • Transparency score: 90

ESET’s suite of tools is among our preferred options thanks to the company’s dedication to its craft. We’ve found ESET offers notably reliable protection, with a near-perfect protection score averaged across several independent testing labs. The company also follows a highly ethical and transparent billing process that makes it clear what you’re getting, when and how the service auto-renews, and how to turn off auto-renewal before the subscription period turns over.

As a security solution, ESET delivers a wide range of features and tools that cover the breadth of your security and antivirus/antimalware needs. At the Essential level, ESET offers high-grade protection against viruses, malware, and ransomware. The Premium-grade application includes added firewall protection, secure password management, encrypted online shopping and banking, anti-phishing, and physical tracking in case your computer is lost or stolen.


  • Transparent billing policy
  • Numerous additional tools for internet protection
  • Apps for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS
  • 30-day money-back guarantee


  • Auto-renew can only be turned off after purchase
  • Essential Protection offers minimal features beyond virus scanning and removal

ESET:High-grade reliable protection.  A one-stop-shop solution with a wide range of features to cover most needs.

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10. Avira Antivirus

Avira Antivirus

Our research into critical areas important in verifying the quality of antivirus tools leads us to give Avira Antivirus the following scores:

  • Protection score: 99.75
  • Performance score: 90
  • False positives score: 95
  • Transparency score: 75

Germany-based Avira performs well among independent lab tests. Its protection, performance, and usability (false positives) scores are all above the 90% range, making it one of the top products to explore. Particularly of interest to consumers may be the monthly billing option. While most other internet security tools only allow for 1-3 year protection plans, Avira lets you sign up for a month-to-month option, making it easier to cancel your subscription and avoid 2nd-year renewal price shocks.

There are just 3 package options available for Avira subscribers, including a free tool. All offers its expertly-crafted real-time antivirus engine, privacy tools that eliminate online tracking, a free (limited) VPN, and performance optimization features, and a password manager. If you upgrade to its paid packages, Avira throws in a software updater, a more advanced password manager, and in the Prime package, unlimited VPN among other desirable features.


  • Offers month-to-month billing option
  • Free version includes a limited VPN
  • Includes a password manager
  • VIP customer support with Avira Prime
  • Protection for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android


  • The check-out process does not allow shut-off of automatic renewal or offer instructions for shut-off

AVIRA:Flexible monthly billing plans.  A great performer with a low level of commitment. Easily switch between packages as your needs change.

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11. Avast Antivirus

Avast Antivirus

Our research into critical areas important in verifying the quality of antivirus tools leads us to give Avast Antivirus the following scores:

  • Protection score: 100
  • Performance score: 100
  • False positives score: 100
  • Transparency score: 75

Avast is well-known for its free antivirus option, but it also has a well-regarded subscription-based AV tool with an exceptional number of features. Its independent testing lab scores are as high as could be, with AV-Test giving it a perfect score on all three testing categories. Given this company also owns a few other privacy-related properties (such as AVG and the VPN service HideMyAss) it’s not too much of a surprise that they understand what it takes to make a winning product in this market.

The company’s real-time antivirus scanner is backed by a cloud-based machine learning algorithm that dynamically assesses and determines when threats occur. And because it’s a learning algorithm, it’s also capable of pinpointing zero-day viruses. Surprisingly, these excellent features are available at the free level. With Premium or Ultimate, the service adds some extensive security extras, such as anti-tracking and anti-ransomware tools.

This service scores well, but it adds far too many hoops and layers for subscription cancellation, leading to a lower score on that end.


  • Low cost
  • Monthly subscription option for Ultimate plan
  • Machine learning software
  • Robust free version available


  • Intentionally-difficult cancellation process

AVAST:LOW-COST PROIVDER With Avast’s free and paid option, they offer an Antivirus solution for any type of user

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12. AVG Internet Security


Our research into critical areas important in verifying the quality of antivirus tools leads us to give AVG Internet Security the following scores:

  • Protection score: 100
  • Performance score: 91.6
  • False positives score: 100
  • Transparency score: 75

Although AVG is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Avast (another AV product company), nothing has changed about what it offers. Its long and respected history in the antivirus and software security market spans nearly 30 years. During that time, the company made a name for itself by offering one of the best-functioning free antivirus tools. That free tool is still a major feature of its catalog, but it also delivers more extensive subscription-based security packages.

All of AVG’s software packages deliver speedy real-time antivirus protection as well as a digital blockade against phishing attempts. The company’s Internet Security package also provides features for safe browsing and online banking, enhanced firewall, webcam protection, and secure file encryption (helps stop the impact of ransomware). With the Ultimate package, AVG tosses in an anti-theft feature to help track stolen devices, app and device locking, and its Secure VPN.


  • Experienced AV protection
  • Trusted, lightweight free tool
  • Extended security protections, including blocks against webcam hacks
  • Protection for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android.


  • Pricier than many competitors with a similar product
  • Only allows subscription cancellation; does not  provide a turn-off function for auto-renewal

AVG:Decades of experience.  A leading company that pioneered many of the industry’s threat protection technology. Packages offer a wide choice of features to suit your needs.

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13. Trend Micro Antivirus

Trend Micro Antivirus

Our research into critical areas important in verifying the quality of antivirus tools leads us to give Trend Micro Antivirus the following scores:

  • Protection score: 97
  • Performance score: 88
  • False positives score: 88
  • Transparency score: 95

Trend Micro has an exceptionally large suite of tools for business users and home users, making it a great option for both. In fact, it has among the largest number of package options of any provider on our list, including Home Network Security for smart homes devices, ID Security that sweeps the web for leaked data, and mobile device security for both iOS and Android.

The company’s 2nd-year prices trend on the higher side due to forcing specific device coverage amounts. As a nod to that fact, Trend Micro offers exceptionally favorable first-year pricing discounts that give you ample time to try out the software before deciding if it’s worth the full price.


  • Impressive first-year discounts
  • Carries a large number of package options and features
  • Extended warning system for leaked data


  • On the pricier end after the first year

TREND MICRO:LARGE SUITE OF TOOLS Significant focus on business endpoint protection.

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14. Sophos

Sophos Antivirus

Our research into critical areas important in verifying the quality of antivirus tools leads us to give Sophos the following scores:

  • Protection score: 70
  • Performance score: 80
  • False positives score: 83
  • Transparency score: 50

Sophos is the very definition of a “mixed bag”. While it has some positives, many of these are outweighed by very notable and hard-to-ignore negatives. For example, Sophos offer a wide range of features with its free version (which is free forever, by the way). Many of the premium features, like Identity Protection, Advanced Malware Scan and Clean, Banking Protection, Ransomware Protection and others are included on a 30-day trial basis. That’s far more than most of its competitors.

However, Sophos is not widely accepted or adopted for home users. So much so that it consistently gets ignored by major independent testing labs, like AV-Test, which hasn’t bothered testing the tool in nearly a decade. Our own tests indicate that Sophos does work to identify and remove malware from systems, but it doesn’t give users much information about scan results.

What’s more, Sophos does everything it can to prevent you from canceling your account. Like most other antivirus tools, Sophos is subscription-based with a yearly plan. But it doesn’t give you this information on the sign-up page, offers no information on how to cancel the subscription before auto-renewal, and in fact, gives no information on auto-renewal at all when you go to pay. And if you do want to cancel, Sophos makes you jump through a lot of hoops to get there, with no way to manually turn auto-renewal on or off independently as a customer.

You might find value in Sophos as a tool, especially if you use the free version. But if you plan to pay, make sure you dig deep into the knowledge base to figure out how to cancel if you don’t like the service.


  • Heavily-featured free option
  • Up to 10 devices with introductory paid version
  • Unique security features available with premium subscription


  • Hides auto-renewal information
  • Regressive customer retention policies

SOPHOS:UNIQUE SECURITY FEATURES Wide range of features available with its free version.

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15. Webroot


Our research into critical areas important in verifying the quality of antivirus tools leads us to give Webroot the following scores:

  • Protection score: 73
  • Performance score: 73
  • False positives score: 73
  • Transparency score: 70

While it’s more of a “C” student in its scoring, we don’t want to count out Webroot thanks to a few unique selling points. Most obviously, Webroot provides its tool at bargain pricing. First-year discounts are available, but even its second-year prices are roughly half of what competitors like Trend Micro offer for a similar product.

A big draw for potential Webroot users is its system impact. Its antivirus scanner is designed to search only critical system areas where malware tends to hide out, leading to faster scan times and less resource-heavy scans. This is a bit of a double-edged sword approach, however, as it’s the primary reason Webroot’s independent testing lab results tend to be middling.

Nevertheless, those who need the comfort of reasonable protection and who don’t engage in excessively risky web surfing will find Webroot is cheap and effective for what it does.


  • Low prices for the first year and beyond
  • Fast scan times and limited impact to system resources while scanning
  • Takes up minimal hard drive space, making it a good option for Windows netbook users


  • Mediocre independent testing lab results
  • Inconvenient auto-renewal information location
  • Difficult cancellation process

WEBROOT:LOW-SYSTEM IMPACT Bargain pricing and low system impact make this provider a good choice for netbook users

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16. Comodo Internet Security

commodo logo

Our research into critical areas important in verifying the quality of antivirus tools leads us to give Comodo Internet Security the following scores:

  • Protection score: 100
  • Performance score: 91.6
  • False positives score: 91.6
  • Transparency score: 80

Comodo is not what first comes to people’s minds when they think of consumer internet security, but it’s not one we could leave out. The company specializes in a large range of internet security concerns, more notably for websites. But its home-based security product is not only rated well but is also one of the least expensive products on the market. Granted, the lower price comes with significantly fewer features, but if you’re on a tighter budget this is a trustworthy option to consider.

There are several antivirus options available through Comodo. Its free version carries the full version of its real-time antivirus protection tool. A wider range of internet security protection is available through its Complete and Pro packages, which add an additional firewall, automatic sandboxing of unknown viruses, secure shopping, Wi-Fi hotspot protection, online file storage and backup, and unlimited live access to experts for troubleshooting and virus removal.


  • Free option available for simple AV protection
  • Extremely low cost compared to competing AV tools
  • Wide protection against major internet security threats


  • Mentions recurring payments, but does not offer easily visible information on turning off auto-renewal or subscription cancellation

COMODO:Budget-priced minimum protection. Fewer features than others on this list. Good coverage for most situations.

Antivirus FAQs

You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers. Here are some of the most commonly-asked questions about antivirus software.

Which is the best antivirus?

There are dozens of AV tools on the market and multiple ways to rank them based on quality. We believe the best available include:

  • Norton Internet Security
  • TotalAV
  • McAfee Total Protection
  • VIPRE Antivirus
  • Bitdefender Internet Security
  • Kaspersky Lab Internet Security
  • Avira Antivirus
  • ESET Internet Security
  • AVG Internet Security 
  • Comodo Internet Security

Is antivirus necessary?


There were over 400,000 new malware variants in 2019. Phishing websites, emails, and links are also growing rapidly. Phishing sites have even replaced malware sites, according to Google's Transparency Report. It's not always easy to determine when you're dealing with a phishing attempt, but AV software can warn you and block phishing attempts.

What does antivirus software do?

At a base level, your antivirus software will regularly scan your computer's files and folders for malware. Most AV tools also include a real-time antivirus engine that blocks active attempts to install malware onto your computer. Most AV providers also include multiple additional tools for internet security, including additional firewalls, secure file encryption, data backup, password managers, and VPNs. 

Can I just use Windows Defender?

Windows Defender is a great tool, but it underperforms all of the top options on our list, including the free tools. But Windows Defender is limited and won't protect you against more extensive threats such as phishing and ransomware.

I have a Mac computer. Do Macs get viruses?

Yes, Mac computers are just as vulnerable to getting viruses and malware as Windows users. It's all about volume.

Less than 10% of internet users are operating on a Mac device. Hackers tend to focus on the bigger target, which is Windows. However, Mac viruses still exist and are a threat. Additionally, phishing websites and emails can impact anyone, regardless of the operating system.

How much does antivirus cost?

You'll find there are free AV tools and paid AV tools. Most AV tools that you pay for are offered on an annual subscription basis. Paid tools can cost anywhere from around $20 per year to over $100 per year. What you pay typically increases based on how many computers you're covering, and how many features the package offers.

Does the subscription cost stay the same?

Many antivirus providers offer steep first-year discounts. After that, prices tend to increase. We highly recommend looking for information regarding renewal pricing, and if you don't like the renewal price, turn off auto-renewal. As part of our review and rating system, we've included a transparency score that reflects whether an AV provider offers information prior to the final checkout on renewal pricing, auto-renewal policies, and information on how to turn off auto-renewal.

How to find a trustworthy antivirus program

It’s hard to objectively pick the best antivirus. To help eliminate subjectivity, we used multiple data points from independent testing labs as well as our rating rubric for antivirus billing transparency.

There are currently dozens of antivirus tools available on the market. Big-name options such as Norton, McAfee, and Bitdefender typically get the most headlines and the most attention. But are the top-branded tools on the market truly the best?

Unfortunately, parsing through the many different lab tests, consumer reviews, and other data can be time-consuming. Even more so, comparing each available service against the other ones is not a simple task.

We’ve taken on a large bit of the hard work for you! Using currently available data from recent independent testing labs, pricing data, and consumer review site scores, we’ve developed simple tools that will help you quickly and easily compare over available 50 antivirus tools.

Our tools offer a completely unbiased approach to finding the best antivirus software for the price. This way, you know you’re not getting sold a product that could be ineffective at finding and removing malware from your system.

Consumer-friendly table of antivirus software

If you’re looking for a quick and easy reference guide, use this table to look up the software you may be interested in purchasing, or to compare different software based on certain, important criteria, such as price.

Aggregated antivirus scores and data

Use the following tool to compare antivirus tools based on protection (how effectively they identify malware), performance (how efficiently they run on your computer), and false positives (how often they incorrectly identify safe programs as viruses). You can also filter for price, and by how many device installations you’ll get for the lowest price possible.

How to use this tool

There are multiple ways you can use this tool.

First, you can filter by aggregated protection, performance, or false positive scores. Simply click the box for that name.

Each tool is organized based on how many independent labs have a recent test for that software.

All software available in the data is colored by the aggregated scores they received (0-100, with 100 being a perfect score). Each point in the chart is sized by how many device installs you get for the minimum purchase price.

Use the filters on the right side look up specific tools by name, or to filter based on the minimum number of devices with 1-year purchase, annual subscription price (if any), the number of independent labs testing each program, and by the average score for that category.

All operating systems are vulnerable to virus infections

All computer users should consider installing at least a free, third-party antivirus tool. At present, most operating systems come with a free tool pre-installed, but you should also consider purchasing or downloading a separate application. Our data suggest that the programs included in most operating systems are not nearly as effective.

The single best solution to stopping a malware infection is to use an antivirus program. These tools continuously scan your computer or mobile device and your web browser, looking for known viruses and anything that looks and acts like a virus. When a suspected virus is detected, the tool will automatically quarantine it, preventing it from infecting your device. You will then get a message that gives you the option to either delete the file if it’s a virus or release it if it was a false positive.

If you’re installing an antivirus tool on a device that’s already infected, you can also use the tool to scan the device and remove any pre-existing malware or other infections.

Windows antivirus

Although Mac users should also consider getting an antivirus tool, Windows users, in particular, have the greatest need. Over 99 percent of malware that exists were specifically designed to infect Windows computers.

This does not mean that Windows computers are inherently more vulnerable than Mac computers. However, the prevalence of viruses impacting Windows computers means that as a Windows user, you are simply more likely to run into a virus at some point while browsing the web or using your email.

Mac antivirus

One of the biggest threats for Mac users is complacency. Although most viruses that exist were designed for Windows computers, Mac computers are still susceptible to getting virus infections.

Notably, there are far fewer antivirus programs that exist for Mac computers, mostly because of the far lower number of Mac computers and fewer number of viruses impacting Mac computers. As a result, our research only focuses on Windows computers. Still, you can find a review of top Mac antivirus programs here.

Linux antivirus

There’s an on-going debate in the Linux community about whether or not antivirus is necessary for this operating system. The argument is essentially the same as with Mac users. Because there are fewer Linux users, there are also far fewer viruses attacking Linux operating systems.

However, we’ve found that Linux computers can and do get viruses. You can find out more here in our study on Linux viruses.

Android and iOS antivirus

Viruses on mobile devices are far less common, but they do exist. Among the mobile device world, the situation is similar to Windows vs. Mac. If you have an Android device, you are extremely susceptible to getting a virus infection, especially from malicious app downloads.

According to mobile cybersecurity company Lookout, phishing is among the biggest threats facing mobile users. Importantly, many mobile users are not prepared to stop phishing attempts, which increasingly come in the form of spam text messages.

Many of the antivirus tools we cover in our data provide mobile tools. However, there are also many tools available specifically for Android and iOS devices.

Our antivirus review method

Using independent antivirus lab tests, we’ve gathered data on over 30 AV tools currently available to consumers and business. We then created a tool which compares each tool based on its average lab test results across the three major categories tested:

  • Protection: How effectively each tool identifies and stops malware
  • False Positives: How often each tool incorrectly labels safe programs as malware
  • Performance: The overall impact each tool has on system resources (such as memory and CPU usage)

There were 5 testing labs’ data used in our analysis:

  1. AV-Test
  2. AV-Comparatives
  3. SE Labs
  4. Virus Bulletin
  5. MRG Effitas

Each lab maintains different rating standards and methods. For example, AV-Test creates a score out of 6 for each category. Meanwhile, AV-Comparatives assigns a score out of 100 for Protection, but uses the raw number of False Positives instead of creating a score.

Additionally, not every lab tested all of the same AV tools, and some, like MRG Effitas, did not test for all three categories (MRG Effitas only offers Protection results).

To account for these differences, we took averages and made adjustments to equalize their ratings. We also created our charts to differentiate by how many lab tests each AV software appeared in.

Furthermore, we added extra filters to help consumers identify which tools might be the best value. For that, we included a minimum purchase price, the number of devices allowed for the purchase, and an average score based on other consumer review sites, where available.

A Note on Avast and AVG

While Avast performed extremely well in our review, this service now comes with a warning. A Motherboard and PCMag investigation published in January 2020 found that Avast was not only secretly recording and collecting user web browsing data, but was then selling that data for profit. According to the report, Avast was recording “Every search. Every click. Every buy. On every site”. The company was then selling that data to major companies, including Google and Microsoft.

The data was sent to and processed by Avast-owned company Jumpstart, which marketed and sold the data. Since the report published, Avast killed its Jumpstart subsidiary company, but the damage had already been done.

Note that Avast also owns AVG, making this well-rated antivirus program suspect as well.

Outside of these issues, both Avast and AVG are well-performing antivirus tools. However, consumers who have extra concerns may want to avoid these tools in favor of other equivalently-rated programs.

Results overview

There are a few interesting takeaways from the data that may interest consumers.

First, it should be noted that almost every AV tool on the market that was tested by the 5 testing labs performed similarly with regard to Protection. That means that almost any tool you purchase is likely going to identify, quarantine, and clean malware from your system with a high degree of success. Of the tools tested by the labs, only 4 received sub-par scores:

  1. ViriT eXplorer PRO: 40.83/100
  2. Webroot Antivirus: 72.75/100
  3. Rising Security Cloud Client: 77.86/100
  4. Quick Heal Total Security: 79.40

All others received aggregated scores of 90/100 or better. This means consumers’ best option is to consider more carefully the other areas of value: Performance, False Positives, Price, and the number of devices allowed per purchase.


The protection score is a measurement of how effectively the tool was able to identify and remove malware, including zero-day viruses. Many tools score well on this front, with some of the best scores going to the following consumer-focused apps:

  1. AVG Internet Security (100%)
  2. Avira Internet Security (100%)
  3. Comodo Internet Security (100%)
  4. Faronics Anti-Virus (100%)
  5. Panda Free Antivirus (100%)
  6. Total AV (99.9%)
  7. VIPRE Advanced Security (99.83%)
  8. Avira Antivirus Pro (99.75%)
  9. Bullguard Internet Security (99.75%)
  10. Kaspersky Internet Security (99.75%)
  11. Norton Internet Security (99.75%)
  12. NANO Antivirus (99.7%)
  13. Arcabit AntiVirus (99.52%)
  14. Total Defense Premium (99.52%)
  15. ESET Internet Security (99.5%)
  16. Microsoft Windows Defender (99.3%)
  17. Bitdefender Internet Security (99.3%)
  18. Cyren Command Anti-Malware (99.17%)
  19. K7 Total Security (99.15%)

That’s a long list of AV tools that scores 99% or above in their ability to detect and remove malware! But you’ll note that not all of these made our top 10, and some that made our top 10 scored slightly less than 99%. That’s because the ability to detect and remove malware is only one important factor when deciding on which AV tool to go with.

Additionally, small variations in the protection scores are usually acceptable. Most users will experience few, if any, differences when using tools that have protection rates within a few percentage points of each other.


  • eScan Internet Security Suite
  • Ahnlab V3 Internet Security
  • Panda Free Antivirus

Ahnlab is not available to consumers, however, and while Panda Free Antivirus scored well in performance, its false positives score was extremely subpar. That makes eScan Internet Security Suite the best in this category.

False Positives

Four testing labs used False Positives as a measure for testing. Not every tool showed up in every lab test, however, and we had to make some adjustments particularly for AV-Comparatives, which did not create an average score for that category but instead offered only gave a raw number (e.g., the total number of false positives each tool sent back).

25 tools in this category scored a perfect 100, meaning they did not send back any false positives. However, when you consider the Performance and Protection scores, the top tools in this category are:

  • eScan Internet Security
  • Vipre Advanced Security

eScan comes out on top in this category as well, although Vipre performed noticeably better in the Protection category, whereas eScan scored a perfect 100 Performance and False Positives.

Price (free)

Quite obviously, most consumers prefer a free tool versus a paid one. And indeed, many of the free tools on the market are high-quality options worth considering.

The best free antivirus tools on the market, based on score averages across all three categories, include:

  • Tencent PC Manager
  • Avira Free Security Suite

Consumers may also want to consider using Microsoft Windows Defender, which comes loaded with any new installation of Windows, or Panda Antivirus Free. Those two tools score well in the Protection and Performance categories, but poorly in False Positives.

Price (paid)

As far as low-cost options, however, there are a few stand-out AV tools that may offer great value and quality, while there are some notable exceptions that are far too pricey for what they deliver.

Among the paid tools, the best include:

  • Comodo Internet Security: $19.69/year
  • NANO Antivirus: $12.03 for 500 days (may not be available to US or UK consumers)
  • Arcabit Antivirus: $23.64/year
  • Avira Antivirus Pro: $35.99/year
  • G-Data Internet Security: $39.95/year
  • eScan Internet Security: $49.95/year

Beyond these, most services cost $50/year or more, and indeed, the services with the best test results are also ultimately among the most expensive. eScan is the only exception, making it one of the best-paid options based on its positive test results.

A few tools are simply not worth the price, however, as they are both expensive and poor performing. These include:

  • Quick Heal Total Security: $74/year
  • PC Pitstop: $50/year

Other available tools may still be worth the price when consumers take into consideration other features. Individual investigation of those features may be prudent before making a final decision based on price.

Minimum devices per purchase

Most AV companies charge more money per month for more device installations. However, each offers a certain number of device installations for the base price. In most cases, you can install the software on multiple devices with one subscription. If you need to cover multiple devices while saving money, two AV tools are standout options:

Those looking to cover multiple devices may be better served with one of these options, all of which have good test results as well.