TotalAV is a popular budget-friendly antivirus software designed to scan your computer for malware and stop any incoming nasties from being downloaded.
But, the antivirus sphere is a crowded market with some stiff competition, so we set out to find if the TotalAV antivirus app can compete with its more expensive rivals.
This TotalAV review answers the following questions:
- How much does TotalAV cost?
- What features does it have?
- How effective is TotalAV against malware?
Read our full TotalAV review below to find out all of this information and more.
TotalAV review: At a glance
Need to make a quick decision? Start here!
Here’s a short summary of our findings about TotalAV:
- Offers both free and paid versions
- Effective real-time antivirus protection
- Includes a VPN with servers in over 30 countries
- Competitively priced with a 30-day money-back guarantee
- User-friendly and easy-to-navigate interface
- Lots of extra features, including data breach check
- Not the most affordable long-term option
- Expensive auto-renewal
- Slow installation process
Our extensive hands-on testing of TotalAV found that this fully-featured antivirus software has far more pros than cons and a lot to offer.
Although there is a free, stripped-back version, which includes the core antivirus engine, it’s the premium version which has real-time protection from viruses, spyware, ransomware, and other forms of malware. It even includes a VPN and data breach monitoring, among other security features.
If price is taken out of the equation, there are alternatives we prefer; however, for a solid, easy-to-use solution that comfortably beats all of the free (and some of the paid) antivirus software we have tested, TotalAV should be on your shortlist.
What’s new with the latest versions of TotalAV?
TotalAV is constantly updating its software in order to stay ahead of the latest security threats. The apps have greatly improved and are much easier to navigate than ever before. Furthermore, it continues to add to its VPN network, which now stands at over 50 servers in 30+ countries.
However, one of the biggest changes we’ve noticed is that the company, in response to negative comments and reviews by customers, has changed its billing practices and refund policy and is now far more transparent regarding its auto-renewal policy. It’s important to remember that you’ll still need to opt out of this if you don’t want to commit beyond a year. TotalAV also now includes a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it out risk-free.
These changes have made TotalAV one of the most consumer-friendly services on the market today and are what prompted us to re-evaluate our previously negative review of the service. Value for money is also an important factor in our ratings, so we have elected to bump the rating based on the discounted pricing and money-back guarantee.
We’ll monitor customer feedback, including the comments we receive here, to see if more ethical billing practices are maintained.
Is TotalAV safe?
TotalAV is 100 percent safe as long you download it directly from the provider’s website. A lot of people worry that because there is a free version, it’s not legit, but it is a well-trusted antivirus solution and should do an excellent job at protecting your computer. In this review, we will dig into each of the features so that you can understand exactly what is on offer and whether purchasing the premium version is right for you.
How much does TotalAV cost?
TotalAV costs just $19 for the first year. That price increases to $119 per year after the first 12 months. It’s worth noting that auto-renewal is automatically switched on, so if you don’t plan on sticking around after that first year, be sure to put something in the diary and cancel before you are charged the full amount!
TIP: The introductory price can fluctuate a bit. Make sure you use our link for the $100 first-year discount.
In our previous update on this service, we lowered TotalAV’s score due to customer complaints about consumer-unfriendly business practices, particularly regarding unintended payments, higher-than-expected bills, and an unclear auto-renewal policy.
Since then, TotalAV has listened to those complaints and moved positively in a more consumer-friendly direction. While the auto-renewal policy is now more transparent, renewals are expensive compared to the introductory price.
TIP: Total AV is great value for money for the first year, but the price jumps on renewal. After signing up for the discounted deal, contact the support team and ask them to switch off auto-renewal.
Here’s the important part of the renewal policy confirming how you can switch off auto-renewal and what the renewal price is if you do renew.
Can you get TotalAV for free?
You can get TotalAV free, but the free version only offers a basic scanner. The free version of TotalAV allows you to scan for and remove malware. However, it does not provide a real-time scanner and has several other limitations. As an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, we’d urge you to consider the paid-for version so that you can identify malware before it is downloaded… not after! If you’re not convinced, why not make the most of the 30-day money-back guarantee to try the service out before committing long-term?
There is a free version of TotalAV, but it lacks some key features, and it is the premium version that impresses us.
TotalAV’s premium features include:
- Real-time antivirus monitoring
- Updated viruses definitions
- Data breach monitoring
- Smart scanning
- Safe browsing VPN
- Remote firewall
Compatible devices and operating systems
TotalAV Antivirus, a leader among antivirus companies, is designed for comprehensive compatibility with various devices and operating systems. It offers TotalAV’s real-time protection against various online threats across multiple platforms. It supports:
- Windows: Covering Windows 7, 8, and 10, TotalAV Antivirus provides a robust shield against malware, employing high detection rates and system optimization tools tailored for Windows.
- macOS: Users of macOS versions, including Sierra, High Sierra, Mojave, Catalina, Big Sur, and subsequent releases, are protected against Mac-targeted malware and adware. Along with the detection and eradication of threats, system optimization tools are offered.
- Android: Mobile devices running Android 5.0 (Lollipop) and beyond can benefit from TotalAV Antivirus. It offers malware scanning, an app lock for additional security, and device optimization tools to enhance performance.
- iOS: Compatible with iOS 11.0 and onwards, the antivirus app includes features like safe browsing, device optimization tools, and a VPN for comprehensive privacy on your iPhone or iPad.
TotalAV Antivirus offers extensive coverage on different devices and operating systems, making it the ideal security solution for individuals or families with multiple devices. However, reviewing the specific features provided in each premium plan for every platform is essential since they may vary depending on the operating system.
Installation and setup
In the past, TotalAV required you to make an account before even purchasing or downloading the software. Now, thankfully, you can purchase and download the software first, then create your account after, making it easier to avoid giving up your information if you decide not to buy.
Once installed, TotalAV will spend a good few minutes updating its virus definitions onto your machine. Only after all of that can you actually install the program onto your computer. In all, installation took me just under 10 minutes, which seems a bit long to install a program. That said, most of that time spent waiting for the full installation was spent updating the virus definitions.
Once installed, TotalAV runs silently in the system tray but will load up the dashboard, at least for the first time. It used almost no space on my CPU and consumed around 20 MB of RAM on my machine. All in all, it keeps a low profile.
How to download and install TotalAV
- Start by going to the official TotalAV website.
- Click to download TotalAV on the device or devices you want to protect.
- Wait while the installation process takes place. This can take a few minutes.
- Open the app and be sure to enable real-time protection via the menu.
- That’s it! Your device is now protected from threats.
You certainly can’t fault TotalAV for paying attention to the visuals. The interface on this application is very easy to navigate.
The Malware Protection section is the default screen when you open the app. From there, you can adjust your real-time protection settings or run a Smart Scan.
You can quickly access over a dozen other features from the left side menu by hovering over each item.
TotalAV recently revamped the interface, making it all the more user-friendly, reducing clutter, and eliminating some unnecessary features that weren’t entirely popular either.
Its newly streamlined approach is more in line with some of the more popular tools on the market while making the app among the easiest AV tools on the market to navigate.
This application gives you all of the must-have tools you’re looking for in an antivirus program. Importantly, you’ll get real-time antivirus protection that monitors your computer constantly for malware activity. Or, you can opt for one of several manual scanning options.
To test the effectiveness of TotalAV’s real-time scanning, I used malware samples obtained from the EICAR, which provides test malware files to help understand the effectiveness of antivirus applications.
The four samples used from the EICAR contained an executable, a .txt file, and two compressed executables.
I also downloaded three live malware samples containing three zipped executables, which were a mix of adware and trojans.
|Website||totalav.com||Eicar Sample 1||Allowed||Eicar Sample 2||Blocked||Eicar Sample 3||Allowed||Eicar Sample 4||Allowed||Live Sample 1 (Adware)||Detected||Live Sample 2 (Trojan)||Detected||Live Sample 3 (Trojan)||Detected|
|Best deal (per month)||$1.09|
SAVE 80% on TotalAV Pro
As shown in the table above, TotalAV blocked one of the compressed EICAR files and allowed the others. For live malware, it detected all of the files but couldn’t remove them.
Meanwhile, running scans will check your file system for malware that may have slipped, either because it was missed by the real-time protection or because your computer was infected prior to installing the TotalAV software.
There are three scanning options: Smart Scan, Full System, and Custom Scan. The Smart Scan feature will scan a large yet targeted selection of files and folders on your hard drive. This scan focuses attention on the areas of your file system where malware is most likely to be rooted.
Once a scan is complete, TotalAV offers feedback on the number and type of malware threats discovered. It also scans and offers removal options for tracking cookies, junk files, autorun programs, browser history and cookies, duplicate junk files, potentially unwanted applications (PUAs), and offers security recommendations.
I performed a full scan of my system to see if TotalAV would detect and block the same test files used during real-time testing. Unfortunately, it only detected one of the EICAR files and one live sample.
Scan times will depend fully on the type of scan you choose and the size of your file system. Custom Scan can result in the fastest scan times if you limit to just a few select folders. Smart Scan, which is TotalAV’s “quick scan” equivalent, can take over 15 minutes. A Full Scan could take closer to an hour or more if your file system is large and limited in resources.
TotalAV includes a web filtering tool that is automatically set to block suspicious websites and web browsing activity. The tool blocks “low trust” websites, crypto mining URLs, and other malicious-acting sites. There’s a white list included for trusted websites that may trigger false positives.
The value in quarantining is the files found and cleaned may be necessary for other programs to correctly operate. Needless to say, you’ll have to be far more particular in how you use the free version given you have no quarantine option, lest you find yourself causing some damage to certain infected programs by mistake while trying to clean them.
Ultimately, the usefulness you’ll get out of TotalAV’s primary functionality is limited if you only stick to the free version.
TotalAV VPN Review
The service offers a VPN with a long list of VPN server locations: over 40. That’s comparable to some of the major VPN providers on the market, making this a decent VPN solution if you’re looking for location variety.
I asked TotalAV about whether their VPN service was provided by them or offered by a third party. I was told TotalAV’sVPN is their own homegrown service.
The company’s online Knowledge Base includes a few more details on the VPN, such that it uses 256-bit AES-CBC encryption run on the OpenVPN protocol. But beyond this, there’s no information on the VPN.
Due to the lack of info and features, I would not suggest using it for the time being if you’re looking for a serious VPN solution. It doesn’t come with any features commonly found on paid VPN services, such as DNS leak protection, a kill switch, or the option to change your ports. There’s also no word on a logging policy, something fundamentally important to anyone wishing to use this as a secure, anonymous VPN.
TotalAV for iPhone & TotalAV for Android
People often think of antivirus for phones as a bit of a gimmick – but iPhones and Android phones are increasingly becoming popular attack vectors for cybercriminals. Why? Simple… because that’s where we spend most of our time these days!
It’s true that iPhones and iPads are inherently more secure thanks to Apple’s ‘walled-garden’ approach to hardware and software development, but they are not immune to vulnerabilities.
The TotalAV companion app for iOS & Android is not really a full-blown AV product for your mobile, but it does offer WebShield on the go. This provides sophisticated real-time monitoring to prevent users from accessing malicious sites and files.
It also provides access to the VPN so that you can keep your mobile connection private.
Other privacy and security features
TotalAV includes a range of other privacy and security tools in the package that users may find useful. These include:
- Ad-Block Pro (requires additional activation)
- Data Breach Check
- Password Vault
- Junk Cleaner
- Duplicate File Finder
- Application Uninstaller
- Setup Manager (optimizes boot time)
- Browser Cleanup
These features are not uncommon among other paid antivirus tools. But at the low price offered, they create what is effectively a high-end package for a low-end cost, at least for the first year of service.
TotalAV as a security tool
When you consider what you get with TotalAV, it’s ultimately a good, if not perfect, security solution. With a few years of operation under its belt, TotalAV has some time to fine-tune its product, although there’s still room for growth. In particular, the company could do more to be transparent (an area where it’s made great strides in the past year), especially about the pricing after the service renews, and should make it easier for customers to turn off automatic renewal.
That said, one must consider what is available through the application. The firewall is there, and it works as intended, as far as we can tell. The virus scanner is thorough in picking up threats and nicely separates the different threats into categories, which wasn’t always the case with the tool.
The addition of the VPN makes it more valuable in this category for some users than most other antivirus solutions, weighing heavily in TotalAV’s corner as a more all-in-one security solution.
One of its newest features, the Data Breach Check, is a certainly useful feature, though TotalAV simply scrapes that data directly from the well-established site Have I Been Pwned, making it a feature that’s not altogether necessary as part of the tool.
The core features are built well, however, and go a long way toward protecting users. Since we first reviewed this tool back in 2017, TotalAV has adopted many changes to it that have improved its functionality, usability, and trustworthiness.
The application does its duty when malicious files are inbound. TotalAV’s firewall detected my attempt at downloading a test malware file and gave me a warning about it. The file’s download is automatically blocked, so if it’s a file you do want to download, you’ll need to turn the web filtering off first.
Impact on system resources
|Website||totalav.com||Full Scan Time (minutes)||199||Number of scanned objects||1200000||Full Scan CPU Utilization %||100||Full Scan Memory Utilization %||82||Full Scan Disk Utilization (seconds)||101||Control CPU Utliization % (no scan)||81||Control Memory Utilization % (no scan)||75||Control Disk Utilization (seconds) (no scan)||332||Quick Scan Time (seconds)||1740||Quick Scan CPU Utilization %||94||Quick Scan Memory Utilization %||154||Quick Scan Disk Utilization %||75|
|Best deal (per month)||$1.09|
SAVE 80% on TotalAV Pro
I found that TotalAV used very little of my system resources during both the quick and full scans. That’s an uncommon benefit, as some programs will simply fill up your processor to the extent that you can’t do much with your computer at all while performing regular malware scans.
Even more impressive is the fact that it didn’t slow down my netbook at all while scanning. Given a netbook tends to have very limited CPU resources, this may make TotalAV a good option for a good segment of users with low-powered machines.
TotalAV provides several support areas for those looking to use the software. The company offers 24/7 live chat on its website, which is something I think more companies should offer. I used this service once to find out information on their VPN. It took about four minutes to get a response. The service representative was able to answer my question fairly quickly and succinctly after that.
You can also email them, call them, or use the available knowledge base articles to find answers. The knowledge base is only marginally helpful, however, so chances are you’re more likely to turn to one of the more direct contact methods to get in touch with the company.
TotalAV Reviews from users: How to avoid extra charges
While TotalAV offers a steep discount on their services for the first year, the product is rather pricey after the renewal (although still cheaper than many competing products). Prior to our revised review of the service, many consumers complained about getting caught by surprise by the renewal price increase, as TotalAV was not overly clear about its auto-renew policy and was slow to process customer complaints.
There have been major changes, however. TotalAV now openly advertises its auto-renewal policy on its product pages and the final sign-up page. There’s also a 30-day money-back guarantee and a prorated refund if you cancel before a full year of service.
If you don’t want to experience the sticker shock on TotalAV’s full standard price (currently $119 per year), you’ll want to make sure you cancel before the first year is out. We suggest setting up a calendar reminder for yourself.
We recommend paying with PayPal. Here’s why:
Taking into consideration the above section avoiding extra charges, we recommend that you consider signing up to TotalAV or any other subscription-based service by using PayPal. All subscription-based services allow you to cancel your subscription, but they’re not always clear about how to cancel or make that cancellation process easy. Additionally, we’ve found many TotalAV users complain that the company still withdraws a subscription fee even after they’ve requested a cancellation.
While we can’t confirm whether TotalAV is taking money from accounts, using PayPal is the easiest way to prevent this from occurring. With a PayPal account, you can cancel any subscription by canceling the payment to a particular service provider from within your PayPal account. To cancel TotalAV or any other subscription payment in PayPal, do the following:
- Open your PayPal account from a desktop or laptop computer
- Go to Activity
- Next, click on your Profile icon on the top right
- Select Account Settings
- Find and select Money, Banks, and Cards from the list
- Scroll down to Automatic Payments and select Set Automatic Payments
- Locate the merchant (such as TotalAV) from the list and click on the merchant name
- Finally, next to Status, select Cancel and then confirm the cancelation
Again, this is a guaranteed way to prevent any merchant from withdrawing money from your account, regardless of whether they’ve processed your subscription cancelation request. It’s a surefire way to make sure you can end your TotalAV account without getting charged after the subscription ends or with any other subscription-based service. And from a security standpoint, it may be a good idea to go through and do this anyway with old accounts, just in case.
TotalAV is a low-profile, fully-functioning application with a lot of character. In today’s market for consumer products, a company needs the character to distinguish itself from the crowd. And the antivirus software market is very crowded indeed.
It’s a powerful program, to be sure, and the fact that it’s not a system hog is beneficial for all users, but especially for those using netbooks and other computers with limited processing power.
Nevertheless, it could use some sprucing up of its signature features, like the VPN, to be a truly viable alternative to the major contenders. Additionally, if TotalAV wants to improve both its image and its customer base, it needs to continue its push toward greater transparency, especially with its auto-renewal pricing.
The recent changes in clarifying its auto-renewal policy, as well as the addition of a prorated discount, are extremely fashion-forward, so to speak. But there’s still growth that can be had regarding other areas, such as allowing buyers to turn off auto-renewal at checkout as some competitors allow.
TotalAV packs a useful program into a pretty package, but you’ll need to strongly consider whether it holds value after the year 1 discount. The 1st-year price is competitive, easily matching some of the top names in the industry while providing almost equivalent security features and then some. However, the autorenewal price is well above what you’ll pay from competitors.
Note: While competitively priced, the discounted $19 pricing offered to Comparitech readers makes TotalAV a very good value. Value for money is one of many elements we factor into how we rate a service. Based on the currently discounted pricing and positive changes to its business practices, we have elected to bump TotalAV’s score up to a 9 out of 10!
Antivirus Testing Methodology
We run in-depth testing on all the Antivirus software suites we review to ensure you get a clear picture of their strengths and weaknesses.
Rather than relying purely on lab tests, we try to look through the eyes of a consumer by reviewing AV tools based on:
- Effectiveness at detecting malware
- Effectiveness at removing malware
- Pricing structure and transparency
- Auto-renewal policy and transparency
- System impact when running scans
- Basic features
- Advanced features
The technical side of our in-house testing includes:
- Testing the antivirus against EICAR samples
- Running live malware samples
- Reviewing the latest independent antivirus lab test results
We then compare our results to tests run by the world’s most respected antivirus labs, including:
Alongside this, we also review other important aspects, such as pricing and transparency of the provider.
We have a dedicated post on our antivirus research and testing methodology if you’d like to know more about how we analyze antivirus software.
TotalAV review: FAQs
What are the best alternatives to TotalAV
There are a few alternatives to TotalAV that I can recommend. The selections below all deliver robust security and privacy online and rival TotalAV for overall performance and additional features.
McAfee: One of the most well-known names in cybersecurity, McAfee has performed well in my previous antivirus tests and comparisons. I found that the pricing between the two companies’ product tiers is very similar, although Total AV offers better first-year discounts. McAfee wins on additional features and malware protection scores.
Bitdefender: A strong security solution with an impressive reputation in the antivirus market. Bitdefender scored well for performance, the depth of its scans, and additional features in my recent review and comparisons of its software.
Webroot: If you’re looking for another low-cost antivirus to compare with Total AV then Webroot is one of the lowest cost options around. The full-price version for its entry-level antivirus is $39.99 per year, meaning you will not be hit with an enormous increase once the first-year discount runs out.
How can I cancel TotalAV?
TotalAV does not include a way to cancel directly through the dashboard. At least, they didn’t at the time of testing. Get in touch with the live chat support and request a cancellation. It’s pretty painless.
How do I remove TotalAV from my PC?
You can remove TotalAV using the standard add/remove programs within Windows. Or you can follow these instructions:
- Type TotalAV in your windows search bar
- Right Click the TotalAV Application
- Click Uninstall
A new window should open with a list of applications.
- Find TotalAV
- Right click TotalAV
- Click Uninstall / Change
Can I use TotalAV with another antivirus?
No, we’d advise you not to use TotalAV with any other antivirus, as this can cause a software conflict that could harm your system. If you are using TotalAV with Windows, Microsoft Defender will automatically disable most of its built-in features to avoid conflicts.
Do I need to buy a premium antivirus like TotalAV?
There’s no obligation to upgrade to a premium antivirus provider like TotalAV, but the benefits often outweigh the cost. Most free antiviruses offer on-demand scanning and not real-time scanning, meaning they will miss any new threats to your system. Additionally, premium products often include added features like ransomware protection, a VPN, and other tools to increase your security.
Does TotalAV slow down my computer?
No, TotalAV is designed to work quickly and efficiently without slowing down your system. In addition, it uses minimal system resources, so you can continue to use your computer as usual while TotalAV runs in the background.
How often does TotalAV update its virus definitions?
TotalAV updates its virus definitions daily to protect you against the latest threats. It also updates its software regularly to ensure that you have the latest security features and performance enhancements.
Are there any drawbacks to using an antivirus?
While antivirus products are generally very effective at protecting your computer from malware, they can sometimes cause false positives (ie. flagging a file as being infected when it is actually safe). This can happen if the antivirus product is not up to date, or if it is not configured correctly. Additionally, some antivirus products can be quite resource-intensive, which can slow down your computer.
How do antiviruses work?
Antivirus products work by scanning your computer for viruses and other malware and then removing any infections they find. Premium antivirus products also include features like email filtering and real-time protection, which can help to protect you from new infections.
What benefits does a VPN provide?
A VPN, especially when bundled with antivirus software like TotalAV, brings numerous benefits to the table. It bolsters security and privacy by shielding your data from potential hackers, oppressive governments, and organizations seeking to track or censor your internet usage. The tool masks your IP address, granting you the freedom to surf the web without geographical constraints. Whether streaming Netflix in a region where it’s unavailable or ensuring that your email address and other personal information stay private, a VPN is your go-to tool. Lastly, it allows bypassing geographical restrictions, opening a world of entertainment from services like Netflix and Hulu, wherever you may be.
In a nutshell, VPNs provide a much-needed enhancement to online security, protect your privacy, and unlock content that you might otherwise miss out on.
Is Total AV easy to use for beginners?
Total AV is designed with user-friendliness in mind, making it suitable for beginners. The software offers a clean and intuitive interface allowing users to navigate its various features and functions efficiently. Its dashboard provides quick access to essential tools such as virus scans, system optimization, and web protection. Additionally, Total AV provides helpful prompts and explanations to guide users through different tasks, ensuring a seamless experience even for those who are not tech-savvy.