TotalAV is a cheap antivirus software designed to actively scan your computer for malware and stop any incoming malware from downloading onto your machine.
We set out to find if the TotalAV antivirus app can compete with its more expensive rivals.
TotalAV is a fully-featured antivirus software suite with a lot to offer. The paid version of TotalAV costs just $19 for the first year and includes protection from viruses, spyware, ransomware, and other forms of malware.
TotalAV’s features include:
- Real-time antivirus
- Updated viruses definitions
- Data breach monitoring
- Smart scanning
- Safe browsing VPN
- Remote firewall
The service also offers a suite of other features you may want to explore. You can do so by taking TotalAV for a trial run with its available free version.
You can get TotalAV free through the website, but the free version only offers its basic scanner. The free version of TotalAV allows you to scan for and remove malware. However, it does not provide a real-time scanner, among other limitations. If you want expansive protection for your device, use the full version of the software.
What’s new in the latest version of Total AV?
Total AV constantly updates its malware protection and antivirus scanner to protect against the latest threats. Each year some modifications are also likely to be found in the software suite being offered. In 2021 TotalAV’s VPN has expanded from 40 servers worldwide to over 100, including 57 in North America.
The latest tests I have run on the 2021 version show that, compared with its peers, Total AV has a relatively large impact on PC systems such as CPU, memory, and control disk usage.
Updates to TotalAV software
After a few years on the market and a few bloody noses from customers, TotalAV changed its software, billing practices, and refund policy for the better. It’s now one of the most consumer-friendly services on the market today, a move that prompted us to re-evaluate our previously negative review of the service.
EXCLUSIVE DEAL:TotalAV is offering our readers a $19/year deal, which even beats the current deal it has running on its website. This includes a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try it risk-free and cancel for a full refund.
Value for money is an important factor in our ratings, so we have elected to bump the rating based on the discounted pricing and money-back guarantee.
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.
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. As a result, we’ve bumped the score back up to better reflect the company’s positive change.
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.
We’ll monitor customer feedback including the comments we receive here to see if more ethical billing practices are maintained.
Minimum system requirements
TotalAV makes applications for Windows, Android, Mac, and iOS.
For Windows and Mac, that includes standard antivirus protection. For Android devices, you’ll get antivirus protection, an optimizer, and an app manager. The iOS version is notably limited, offering an optimizer to help speed up your phone, a photo manager that helps you clean up your photos and avoid the dreaded “Storage Full” message, and a safe browsing tool.
It’s difficult to tell exactly what the system requirements are for each. TotalAV does not list any information about system requirements on its website. Instead, when you click on “download” for Mac or Windows, or go to the Google Play Store or iTunes, you’ll either find that it downloads pretty easily, or you’ll run into errors. This is not an entirely good way of helping customers figure out if their devices can handle the software, but most modern devices with up-to-date operating systems should work.
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.
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.
Primary security features
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.
The real-time scanning and blocking tool is highly effective. We found it blocks potential malware immediately when it detects malware within a downloaded file.
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.
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.
Virtual private network (VPN)
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 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. 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, 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 includes a web filtering tool that is automatically set to block suspicious websites and web browsing activity. The tool blocks “low trust” website, cryptomining 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.
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.
Effectiveness as a security solution
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 finetune 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 types of threats into categories, which wasn’t always the case with the tool.
The addition of the VPN does make 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. And since we first reviewed this tool back in 2017, TotalAV has adopted many changes to it that have improved its functionality, usability, and trustworthiness.
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.
The application does its duty when malicious files are inbound. The 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.
Help and support
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. 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.
How to avoid extra charges
While TotalAV offers a steep discount on their services for the first year, the product is ultimately rather pricey after the renewal. Prior to our revised review of the service, many consumers complained about getting caught by surprise from 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 on 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.
Note that if you don’t want to experience the sticker shock on TotalAV’s full, standard price (currently $99 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.
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 sure-fire 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.
Antivirus Testing Methodology
We run in-depth testing on all the Antivirus software suites we review to ensure you get a clear picture of its strengths and weaknesses.
The technical side of our testing includes:
- Testing the antivirus against EICAR samples
- Running live malware samples
- Reviewing the latest independent antivirus lab test results
Alongside this we also review other important aspects such as pricing and transparency of the provider.
If you’d like to know more about how we analyse antivirus software, we have a dedicated post on our antivirus research and testing methodology.
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 a large increase once the first-year discount runs out.
TotalAV is a low-profile, fully-functioning application with a lot of character. In today’s market for consumer products, a company needs 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 the score of TotalAV up to a 9 out of 10.