Malware has become so sophisticated that, despite all of the latest innovation, your online protection is at stake if you don’t have an antivirus program installed.
The best antivirus programs on the market will work hard to protect you from the Trojans trying to infiltrate your data, the bots trying to hijack and the ransomware doing its best to destroy your precious files – but not all will do so to the same extent.
- Intego – Best for Mac OS
- Comodo – Best for Extra Features
- NANO – Best for Highly Customizable Scanning
- TotalAV – Best for Its Cost-Effective Premium Plan
- Avast – Best for Included Ransomware Protection
- AVG – Best for Phishing Protection
- Avira – Best Free Antivirus
- Norton Security – Powerful Antivirus, Best for All-Around Protection
- BullGuard – Best for Speedy Malware Removal
- Malwarebytes – Best for Ease of Use
Selecting the Best Antivirus Software For You: Features to Look Out For
But – no two antiviruses are ever alike, and not all even give you the full protection you need online!
Most of the best antivirus programs that we review will have solid malware protection across a variety of features…but be warned, ‘malware’ is a pretty large topic, and what one antivirus software might protect against, another one might not.
A basic antivirus software will have on-demand scanning and real-time malware protection. Some features of antivirus software might even block certain actions or items on your system or device, as it detects something insecure or harmful.
Overall, the best antivirus programs will have some kind of spyware protection. While malware is more directly harmful – it tries to make something bad happen – spyware might be even more harmful: it sits silently among your programs, quietly mining your personal details for later fraudulent use.
But, software isn’t perfect, and you usually need other, stronger resources to prevent you from becoming vulnerable online – and you need to do this by filling in the gaps that the malware detection doesn’t quite reach.
Antiviruses And Unknown Program Solutions
A solid antivirus software will identify and remove the bad programs and leave the good ones alone – but how do they deal with the programs that they just don’t know are good or bad?
The answer is: it really depends on the antivirus software. Some programs might have behavior detection included, a feature that identifies anything – files or programs – behaving suspiciously, and then quarantining it, just in case. This is a secure solution, but not a perfect one, usually leading to a lot of false positives that could mean your programs don’t work properly as a result.
Other antivirus software might have a whitelisting function, allowing only ‘good’ programs to run, and banning anything that doesn’t fall into either ‘bad’ or ‘good’ from running. Again this isn’t a perfect solution, because what if those ‘bad’ programs aren’t really bad? Another way of getting around this is sandboxing – allowing the unknown programs to run, but to do so in a way that doesn’t give them full system access.
Extra Protection Features: Firewalls, Ransomware And More
Some of our best antivirus software suggestions come equipped with extra features to keep you protected online: ransomware protection, firewalls and more.
These aren’t basic antivirus features, but they’re likely everything you need in order to remain protected online, performing functions like ensuring your financial transactions are carried out using a fully secure browser, your sensitive files are deleted securely, and even protecting your keyboard virtually in order to keep you safe from keyloggers looking to steal your passwords and other data
Some of the best antivirus products also include ransomware protection, which prevent any unauthorized changes to files, usually by monitoring the files for suspicious behavior that would suggest malware, or work by reversing the damage caused to files. If you could, we recommend always looking for an antivirus program with added ransomware protection – because it’s always better to be protected, than try to reverse damage later on!
The strongest antiviruses work reactively, protecting your device and files from any incoming threats – but with an added antivirus VPN feature, your actual internet connection can be secured, meaning you won’t ever connect to any potentially dangerous sites.
The Best Antivirus Software – Updated for 2019
We’ve researched over 40 of the antivirus market’s most popular software, looking specifically for:
- Cost: obviously, you have to be protected online, but for an affordable monthly or annual sum.
- Reliability and accuracy: it’s better for an antivirus program to be over cautious, but otherwise, you want your chosen program to be as accurate and reliable as possible.
- Range of features: ‘Antivirus’ is actually a catch-all term, and while an antivirus program has to protect your device, the way in which it does this varies according to the type of virus it’s up against. Not all antivirus software will include anti-phishing functions, for example.
We’ve divided our antivirus software recommendations into the best for each types of devices, giving you our honest feedback in each in-depth review. We looked at most antiviruses, including the likes of Webroot and BitDefender. Though these are good antiviruses and will get the job done, we believe the following list provides the best examples of antiviruses on the market.
For the overall best antivirus of 2019, we recommend Intego. It scored the highest across all of our review categories – security, features, ease of use, support available and cost.
1st Place: Intego – Best for Mac OS
Although it labels itself ‘the only Antivirus specially designed for your Mac’, Intego works well also on Windows and Linux devices too.
With three packages available, the Premium Bundle X9 has everything a user could need. Incorporating the company’s proprietary virus and malware detection tool (VirusBarrier X9, also the name of one of the packages), and in our tests, removed 100% of Mac malware samples we provided it with.
Intego makes the perfect introductory or higher-level Antivirus for Mac users: It has a one-click installation – perfect for first-time Antivirus users who are less than tech-savvy, and the range of features – auto-scan (allowing you to sit back and relax – and only be alerted if and when something needs your attention) and real-time protection should be more than enough for most users.
You’ll only be able to access some of the more advanced features by upgrading to the Premium Bundle X9, including firewall network protection and anti-phishing protection – which are important additions, but not totally necessary. Parents of young children may also be interested in the content blocking feature, complete with a time-limit function to control your children’s time online.
Complete with a 30-day free trial before committing to the annual or two-year license, which works across 1-5 devices, Intego has everything an individual or a family needs in an antivirus program.
2nd Place: Comodo – Best for Extra Features
With a clean, easy to use interface and also including an instant virus removal tool, Comodo has a range of interesting features, such as ‘application control’ (ensuring all apps installed and running on a user’s device are healthy and not malicious) and instant file scanning.
Running on Windows, Linux and Mac OS, Comodo is highly versatile – so versatile in fact, that it offers a ‘Game mode’ in which you can easily silence any antivirus quarantine messages and popups when you’re sitting down to play your latest online game. World of Warcraft fans, rejoice!
Comodo’s award-winning firewall and spyware scanning are included as standard across each of their paid plans, with even more advanced secure features (such as 50GB online storage and backup, and 10GB TrustConnect WiFi security) included in its Premium plan.
3rd Place: NANO – Best for Highly Customizable Scanning
Maybe you’ve heard of NANO, the Russian antivirus software. Either way, we think you’ll like it: its scheduled scanning menu alone is so customizable, you can easily choose which drives, folders, types of files and more you want to scan, and receive a highly detailed (and deletable) customizable, searchable event log.
NANO is pretty straightforward in its approach to features: you can expect a File Guard (which protects your files 24/7 from any cybersecurity threats – and not only when a scan is run – by which time, it’s often too late). The Web Guard features scans your internet connection and email program to make sure everything connecting to your device is legitimate and protected.
Another cool feature that you don’t often see in an antivirus is the false positive list – those falsely-quarantined programs, which NANO clearly displays and allows you to quarantine. Hey, it’s always better to be too protected, than not protected enough, right?
NANO works on Windows OS only – sorry Mac and Linux fans! – which would be its one drawback.
4th Place: TotalAV – Best for Its Cost-Effective Premium Plan
TotalAV might not hold the big-name appeal of its rivals McAfee and Kaspersky, but it sure rivals the in terms of its offering!
In fact, it’s one of our best antivirus programs of 2019 for several reasons, mostly due to its cost-effectiveness: a premium plan from Total AV costs about half the price of one with any other big-name alternatives, and includes more features too.
For one thing, TotalAV add in their complimentary VPN, which functions well and is rarely included as standard in other antivirus packages. Otherwise, it also features a solid firewall, protecting your device from incoming attacks – again, this is not a given for other antivirus programs.
Mostly, its flexibility is what attracted our admiration: TotalAV is available on Windows, Mac OS, iOS and Android devices! Finally – an antivirus program for every (ok, most) OS user.
5th Place: Avast – Best for Included Ransomware Protection
Maybe one of the most complete set of antivirus tools on the market, Avast really will keep you protected online. From their powerful virus, spyware, malware and phishing attacks protection, you can be certain that you’ll always be protected from attacks online. In fact, you likely won’t even experience these features, since Avast also analyzes and protects your WiFi connection, meaning that if there’s anything trying to infiltrate your device, it will be caught at the door.
Another great feature of Avast is that it provides ransomware protection too, which is not included as standard on our other best antivirus programs of 2019 list. The Ransomware Shield feature offers a safe, ransomware-free are to store your most sensitive files, and also allows you to choose which programs can open them.
If it all sounds too good to be true, there’s one huge catch: Avast is mostly for Windows users, with some Mac OS features on there too. It’s still one of the best Antivirus programs of 2019…but only for Windows users.
6th Place: AVG – Best for Phishing Protection
AVG is very highly respected in the Antivirus world, and for good reason: it’s been around for so long that it’s really picked up a thing or two, and evolved over time to give its customers what they really want.
And what they want is protection: protection when they’re connecting online, from ransomware and phishing. Fortunately, AVG offers these features, which not many of the best antiviruses on our list actually do.
AVG is also known as being highly innovative in the face of new attacks: sure, most top antiviruses can keep you protected from the old, well-known malware, but how do they compare in the face of new and as yet unknown threats? According to Virus Bulletin, AVG will catch 99% of these new, potentially devastating attacks
Otherwise, AVG’s firewall will protect you from ransomware (again, this isn’t a standard feature of most top antiviruses, but it is with AVG). It also has a good payment protection feature, which monitors your emails for both spam and scam, and will report these if and when they are found – and will also prevent you from opening them in the first place.
7th Place: Avira – Best Free Antivirus
We’ve found that people tend to be a bit wary of Avira, after all, it’s a free Antivirus, and you might think that you get what you pay for.
While that’s certainly true of other things, Avira makes our best antivirus programs of 2019 list for its simple, clean interface and suite of very powerful antivirus features.
Though it will only remove malware (there aren’t any ransomware, phishing or online protection features), it does so very well indeed. Whether you’re running a scan or not, Avira is always running in the background, quietly vetting anything it detects as potentially harmful. It will even find and delete files you never knew existed, but that could have done a fair amount of damage before you even knew it was there.
If it all sounds too good to be true, there’s one slight catch: Avira antivirus is only available for Windows OS. But maybe that’s a good thing – Avira is a solid, focused Antivirus program, and it does what it does – malware protection for Windows users – very well indeed.
8th Place: Norton Security — Powerful Antivirus, Best for All-Around Protection
We like: Norton’s powerful antivirus technology is coupled with practical preventative measures to keep your devices and data safe.
We don’t like: The lower-priced plans aren’t as cost-effective as the premium tiers.
Norton claims that its antivirus program is so powerful because it’s backed by the “largest civilian cyber threat intelligence network”. That network is the Symantec Corporation — the software giant responsible for developing the machine-learning technology behind Norton Security Suite.
Most modern online threats can exploit your devices’ vulnerabilities in a myriad of ways, like ransomware — a type of malware which encrypts your files and makes them inaccessible until you pay off the hacker.
First, Norton’s Smart Firewall monitors web traffic to keep ransomware out.
Second, Norton uses Symantec’s SONAR technology to analyze the behavior of software on your device and detect any ransomware that’s slipped through its network defenses.
Third, Norton provides secure cloud storage. This means that even if the data on your device gets encrypted, you won’t have to pay a ransom because it’s backed up online.
But it’s not just the cutting-edge stuff; Norton has a well-earned reputation for overall cybersecurity excellence. Even the free plan will provide really good protection. But the best extra features (such as the VPN and identity theft detection) are only available on the paid plans.
9th Place: TrendMicro
TrendMicro might not be as widely known as some of its rivals, yet it offers unparalleled protection. Its scans focus on finding known threats, whereas its behavior monitor is always on the lookout for early signs of an attack. In recent independent lab studies, TrendMicro kept test devices protected against all zero-day malware attacks.
Advanced ransomware and real-time virus protection aside, all TrendMicro plans, even the most basic offerings, come with a selection of useful bonuses.
These include a configurable URL Blocker and a Folder Shield that keeps important files safe during ransomware attacks. Furthermore, the Pay Guard feature protects you as you carry out sensitive transactions online.
Additionally, TrendMicro’s premium plans come with impressive advanced features such as parental controls, social media defenses, and mobile security add-ons.
TrendMicro’s stellar protection, combined with its user-friendly interface, makes it one of the best antivirus programs on the market. The only drawback is that the program can significantly slow down your device. That being said, there are ways to work around this inconvenience.
TrendMicro doesn’t have a free version of its program, but it does give its users a generous 30-day free trial of its most advanced plan.
10th Place: BullGuard – Best for Speedy Malware Removal
If you’ve heard of BullGuard before, it’s likely because of its reputation among the best in the Antivirus industry from industry insiders and leading testing labs.
Its malware detection and removal is so powerful, taking only one minute (and 2% CPU) to scan everything on a device, and just a few seconds to detect and flag anything potentially troubling.
The features on offer in the paid plan are exciting too, including a vulnerability scanner (checking for risky and insecure files and connections), a powerful firewall and a backup option, where users can backup their important files to a cloud system (it integrates with DropBox, Google Drive and OneDrive).
Other features to watch out for on the paid plan include a PC tuneup – it’s a bit like the tool you remembered as the defragmenter from past Windows models, with added browser cache clearing and system optimizations to make your device run faster and more smoothly.
Otherwise, BullGuard has a parental control feature, which easily imports all user accounts on a device, and gives parents access to templates for permissions based on user ages, whitelists, blacklists – and the ability to set a maximum user period for their children.
Affordable and available on Windows, Mac, iOS and Android OS, BullGuard is one of the best antivirus programs of 2019 for quite a variety of reasons!
11th Place: Malwarebytes – Best for Ease of Use
Having been around for a while, Malwarebytes has evolved into a really streamlined Antivirus program.
Consisting of several scan ‘types’ – a threat scan, a ‘hyper’ system scan – that are highly customizable (you can turn on the ransomware scanning option, for example), Malwarebytes really digs deep into protecting your device: The real-time protection options alone lists four different types of protection – from connecting to a malicious or compromised website, from exploits (such as zero-day attacks), from malware and from ransomware maliciously encrypting your files. During the scan, if something is discovered, you’ll be alerted by a popup, asking you to take action – whether to safely dispose of a virus from quarantine, for example, or whether to continue to a website that’s possibly a Trojan.
The scans run quickly, taking around 3-4 minutes on average (obviously this depends on how protected or infested your device is). Afterwards, you’ll receive a detailed log of what was scanned, what was discovered, and even a list of Potential Unwanted Programs (PUPs) and Potentially Unwanted Modifications (PUMs).
Malwarebytes is super easy to use, so easy that even the least technologically-savvy user could easily install it and set it up!
While there’s a 14-day free trial, Malwarebytes’ real value comes from its deep scanning features – which aren’t available to free members after their trial has ended.
It’s available on Windows, MacOS, Android and iOS, and in our opinion, is well worth the price.
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