Short on time? Here’s the best antivirus for 2021:
- 🥇 Norton: Excellent virus and malware protection, with tons of extra features like a VPN, a password manager, and parental controls. Get the best protection of 2021 here.
There are hundreds of antiviruses out there — and they all claim to offer the best protection at the best price. While it may feel a bit overwhelming, it’s actually pretty easy to find the right antivirus software for you.
At a minimum, antivirus software needs to include protection against new and advanced forms of malware — viruses, spyware, rootkits, worms, trojans, and ransomware — and every antivirus on this list offers world-class protection against all kinds of malware.
Most antivirus software now comes included in full-suite internet security packages that contain a lot of different cybersecurity features. Things like:
- Virtual private network (VPN) — for protecting your online activity.
- Password management — for storing login information and creating secure passwords.
- Parental controls — for keeping your family protected.
Each one of these features offers improvements to your device’s native security systems. Because the more secure your device is, the less likely you are to expose your credit card numbers, your login information, and all of your sensitive data to internet hackers.
So how do you know which products offer the best protection? I compared the top antiviruses on the market and ranked them on security, functionality, speed, and price.
Here’s what I found out.
Quick summary of the best antivirus software for 2021:
- 1.🥇 Norton — Best antivirus for Windows + Android (also good for iOS and Mac).
- 2.🥈 McAfee — Best antivirus for iOS (also good for Windows, Android, and Mac).
- 3.🥉 Intego — Best antivirus for Mac (only for macOS systems).
- 4. Bitdefender — Best for cloud-based scanning with lots of additional features.
- 5. TotalAV — Easy-to-use internet security suite.
- Numbers 6-10 of 2021‘s top antiviruses.
- Overview comparison table of all top picks.
- FAQ about antiviruses and internet security software.
How I Rated the Best Antivirus Software of 2021
- Strong malware protection. I only recommend products that have proven to protect against the most advanced malware threats — not only viruses, but also spyware, rootkits, ransomware, and anything else that could cause me or my devices harm.
- High-quality features. Most antivirus brands offer additional internet security features, but a lot of times, these extras are just flashy additions that will weigh your computer down and affect your device’s performance. The products on this list include valuable tools that are genuinely useful and effective, not just flashy extras.
- Speed and efficiency. The best antiviruses are lightweight and run smoothly — even on older or slower computers — across all of the software’s intended operating systems. I personally tested and measured how quick and efficient each antivirus on this list performed against all the other antiviruses on the market.
- Easy-to-use. Whether you’re an amateur or an expert, you still need virus protection. I’ve personally tested each antivirus software here to make sure that pretty much anyone will be able to set them up easily and use them properly.
- Good value. Antivirus software can be a big investment. I considered all relevant factors such as web and browsing protection features, how many devices are covered, and whether or not there’s a free trial or money-back guarantee. I personally feel that all of these top antiviruses provide great value.
Top Brands That Didn’t Make the Cut:
I’ve limited my list to the 10 best antivirus programs available, but there are some pretty good products that weren’t quite good enough to earn one of my top spots.
- Avast/AVG. Avast (who also owns AVG) has been credibly accused of tracking and selling user data for profit. Because of this, we no longer recommend any Avast product on this site. You can read more about the allegations and our decision over here.
- ESET. ESET makes great contributions to the field of cybersecurity. Unfortunately, its current home antivirus product is not user-friendly enough for me to put on this list. However, ESET’s Android app did get a spot on my top 5 free antivirus apps for Android.
- Comodo. Comodo is one of the best antivirus products for Linux, but that’s largely because there’s less competition on Linux. Comodo’s cross-platform antivirus product currently has too many bugs, and certain features don’t work properly.
🥇1. Norton 360 — Best Antivirus for Windows + Android
Norton 360 offers unbeatable virus and malware protection. It’s a well-built and well-maintained internet security suite that fully ensures all information stays secure, private, and protected — and it works well across all operating systems (especially Windows + Android).
Norton’s computer antivirus uses a unique scanning engine, powerful enough to handle all of the newest and most advanced threats — scoring a 100% protection rating during all of my tests. One of my favorite things about Norton — especially the Windows software — is that it’s both extremely easy to use and still offers advanced settings for more technical users.
Norton provides excellent features across all of its 360 packages. Even on Norton 360 Standard (the cheapest plan), users get real-time malware protection, unlimited VPN access, a password manager, and 10 GB secure cloud storage. This is seriously good value for an entry-level, paid antivirus.
There are some big benefits to upgrading to Norton 360 Deluxe, too — more licenses, more storage space, and access to some of the best parental controls on the market. Norton 360 with LifeLock also adds identity theft protection and credit monitoring via Norton’s sister company, LifeLock — but this plan is only available for US customers.
Norton is simply a great antivirus — affordable, reliable, easy to use, and powerful. It’s the best choice if you’re looking for a complete, easy-to-use antivirus with some of the best internet security protections out there, all for a great price.
If you want a user-friendly antivirus which provides powerful, all-around internet security, Norton 360 is the best there is. Norton offers 100% guaranteed protection from malware and a ton of excellent features — an unlimited VPN, a password manager, secure storage, parental controls, and much more. And you can try out Norton risk-free with the company’s generous 60-day money-back guarantee.
🥈2. McAfee Total Protection — Best for Online Security (+ Best iOS Antivirus App)
McAfee Total Protection has almost every internet security feature you’ll ever need — malware protection, encrypted storage, a password manager, a browser extension, and a VPN.
McAfee’s excellent virus protection abilities alone make Total Protection a great product — scoring a perfect 100% detection rate against all of the malware samples during my series of tests. But the included extra features are great security additions, as well.
One standout feature of McAfee’s security software is “My Home Network”. This provides an easy-to-read map of all devices on your home Wi-Fi network, giving you total control over your online security and allowing you to lock out intruders.
And you never know when you’re going to need this. A few months ago, my partner downloaded the notorious “Switcher Trojan” virus on her Android phone. The virus infected our Wi-Fi router, giving hackers a backdoor into our entire home network. McAfee alerted me to this unauthorized access attempt and immediately stopped the attack!
McAfee Total Protection Individual is a good choice for users looking to cover just 1 device. However, users who want to protect multiple devices should consider the Multi-Device plan that also includes identity theft protection for US users or the Family package which adds excellent parental controls. Both the Multi-Device and Family plans also include McAfee’s iOS app which ranked as the #1 iOS antivirus app of 2021 — phishing protection, theft protection, a VPN, and lots more.
McAfee Total Protection offers an impressive range of internet security protection for all computers and mobiles. McAfee’s “My Home Network” feature is exceptionally good, offering centralized security control over every device on your network. This makes McAfee Total Protection particularly great for families looking to keep a highly secure Wi-Fi network. All Total Protection packages include a commitment-free 30-day money-back guarantee.
🥉3. Intego — Best Antivirus for Mac
Intego is a macOS-only antivirus exclusively designed to keep all Macs protected. Unlike many other antivirus brands which mostly focus on protecting Windows, all of Intego’s packages include internet security and optimization tools that enhance Apple’s built-in safety features with things like:
- Real-time malware protection.
- Mac optimization and cleaning tools.
- Advanced Mac backup options.
- Network security options.
- Parental controls.
Intego’s antivirus scanner is really fast, and during testing it scored a perfect detection rate against advanced macOS malware. Intego’s backup options, parental controls, and device optimization tools offer tons of customization over Apple’s own Mac tools, and they’re all packed into a convenient bundle.
Intego is not the most lightweight Mac antivirus out there, but it’s by far the best at enhancing and securing the macOS system.
Intego has a few package options. The Mac Internet Security X9 plan only has real-time malware protection and a firewall, but the excellent Mac Premium Bundle X9 bundle comes with all of Intego’s best features, including disk optimization tools and parental controls.
Intego’s range of features and its excellent protection against Mac-based malware make it the best antivirus for most Mac users. It greatly enhances and improves upon Apple’s already built-in security and device optimization tools, and it comes at a great price. And there’s a 30-day no-risk money-back guarantee, you’ll be able to see if it offers the best protection for you.
4. Bitdefender Total Security — Most Comprehensive Internet Security Suite
Bitdefender has an extremely advanced antivirus engine — it uses a huge malware database together with machine learning to detect malware more effectively than almost any other competitor on the market.
During my testing, Bitdefender removed every single piece of malware from my system — and because Bitdefender’s engine is cloud-based, it didn’t slow my computer down at all, even during full system scans.
But Bitdefender isn’t just an anti-malware scanner — Bitdefender Total Security is one of the most comprehensive security suites available, with features like:
- Web protections.
- System optimizer
- VPN (200 MB/daily).
- Parental controls.
- Password manager.
- Webcam protection.
- And a lot more…
Bitdefender’s web protections are excellent — the anti-phishing protection blocked the vast majority of phishing sites in my testing, and I’m a big fan of Safepay, which is a secure, encrypted browser window for online banking and shopping.
Bitdefender’s VPN is also one of the best on the market, providing lightning-fast access to encrypted servers around the globe — unfortunately, you have to pay an additional fee to get unlimited daily data, but it’s still cheaper than many standalone VPNs.
Bitdefender Total Security provides all of the cybersecurity tools most users need to stay safe online — and it’s one of the most affordable internet security suites around.
Bitdefender Total Security offers cloud-based antivirus scanning and a wide range of internet security tools for a cheaper price than most competitors. I recommend Bitdefender if you’re confident with computers and looking for a comprehensive cybersecurity suite with extras like a VPN, parental controls, and password manager. And you can try out Bitdefender risk-free with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
5. TotalAV — Easiest Antivirus Software to Use
TotalAV has an excellent antivirus scanner and a couple of really good extras, all inside a very intuitive dashboard — making TotalAV a particularly great choice for beginner and non-technical users.
TotalAV’s antivirus scanner — largely powered by Avira’s virus protection technology — is fast, reliable, and has near-perfect malware detection rates (it caught 99% of all of my test malware, from viruses and trojans to ransomware).
TotalAV also provides a full range of extra internet security features, like:
- Phishing protection.
- Performance optimization.
- Password manager.
Most of TotalAV’s features are very good (except for the password manager, which I think needs a lot of improvement). I particularly like TotalAV’s performance optimizer — during my tests, it cleaned up more space on my computer than most other competitors. I also like TotalAV’s VPN, which didn’t significantly slow down my connection and enabled me to remove geo-blocks and access content that’s otherwise unavailable in my country.
TotalAV Antivirus Pro is a good entry-level package for users looking to protect up to 3 devices. However, TotalAV Internet Security is a better value — it adds the VPN and coverage for up to 5 devices. TotalAV Total Security adds a password manager, ad blocker, and protection for up to 6 devices.
TotalAV has a powerful antivirus engine and a good range of features inside a user-friendly dashboard — I recommend TotalAV for first-time users just needing something safe, secure, and easy to use. TotalAV’s packages all have a wide range of features, and they’re all designed for maximum ease of use. And all TotalAV purchases have a 30-day money-back guarantee.
6. Avira Prime — Excellent Antivirus Scanner + System Optimization
Avira has one of the best antivirus engines around — consistently earning high scores during testing (100% detection rate). Avira’s antivirus engine is also very fast because it operates entirely in the cloud, meaning it won’t slow down your devices like most competitors.
Avira Prime also comes with a lot of really good features, such as:
- Real-time malware protection.
- Advanced ransomware protection.
- Privacy optimization.
- System optimization.
- Password manager.
- Premium apps for Android and iOS.
While many antivirus products include tune-up tools designed to help your device run smoothly and free up hard drive space, I think Avira’s system optimization tools are the best on the market — they include:
- Startup optimizer. Saved a full 2 minutes from my PC’s start time!
- Game booster. Automatically allocates system resources and stops background processes to improve system performance.
- Junk file cleaner. Removes duplicates, unused files, and some cached files.
Avira Prime is a great investment if your computer is slow or often low on hard disk space. Avira’s system optimization tools had my old computer running like new — in fact, it almost seemed faster than when I first bought it! Coupled with Avira’s cloud-based antivirus scanner — which takes up almost no system resources during scans — Avira probably has the lowest impact on CPU performance of any antivirus on my list.
Avira’s cloud-based scanner and excellent system optimization tools make it the most lightweight security suite on my list. Avira’s Prime package also has a VPN, password manager, and coverage for up to 5 devices across all operating systems. You can try out Avira risk-free with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
7. BullGuard — Best Antivirus for High-Powered Protection (and Gamers)
BullGuard offers powerful anti-malware protection, along with many additional features — including an excellent gamer booster, a customizable firewall, a performance optimizer, intuitive parental controls, and identity theft protections.
BullGuard’s antivirus engine scored very well in all of my recent tests — detecting every single piece of malware I placed on my computer. I also think BullGuard has one of the best phishing protections around, scoring perfect results when I tested it against hundreds of fake websites.
One BullGuard feature I really like is Game Booster — it frees up system resources to enhance CPU performance during gaming. During my tests, Game Booster increased my frame rate and decreased my load times while playing high-performance games like Destiny 2: Beyond Light and Apex Legends — I was honestly impressed! This feature helped BullGuard rank as the #1 best antivirus for gamers.
I also like BullGuard’s identity theft protections, which provide live credit monitoring and identity theft insurance to users in the US, Canada, and much of Western Europe (Norton and McAfee only protect US users with their identity theft protections).
On the other hand, I’m not a big fan of BullGuard’s parental controls, and I don’t like that the company doesn’t include a VPN as part of its antivirus packages (you can get the VPN as a separate purchase).
BullGuard Antivirus includes malware and phishing protection, game booster, and coverage for 1 device. BullGuard Internet Security adds multi-device coverage, performance optimization, and parental controls. BullGuard Premium Protection also includes a home network scanner and identity theft protection.
BullGuard provides a good malware scanner, lots of added features, and a specialized game booster that improves performance for PC gamers. Users looking for extras like identity theft protection and coverage for up to 10 devices can download BullGuard Premium Protection, while gamers looking for a simple antivirus for 3 devices should check out BullGuard Internet Security. All of BullGuard’s plans include the game booster and come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
8. Panda Dome — Best for Flexible Pricing
Panda offers its advanced virus scanner and easy-to-use interface across 5 different pricing plans — I love that Panda provides its excellent security solution to everyone, regardless of budget.
During testing, Panda’s malware scanner performed well (95% malware detection rate and 100% ransomware detection rate), and I also liked most of the additional features. One Panda extra I really like is the Rescue Kit, which is a bootable version of Panda that can be operated from a thumb drive (in case your computer gets heavily infected by malware).
Panda’s flexible pricing options include:
- Free. Includes real-time virus protection for Windows and an app scanner for Android, plus a Rescue Kit and a VPN (limited to 1 server and 150 MB per day).
- Essential. Adds Android and macOS real-time malware protection, a Windows firewall, and Wi-Fi protection.
- Advanced. Adds parental controls for Windows, protection against ransomware, and safe browsing.
- Complete. Adds a password manager, device optimization tools, and a file encrypter and shredder.
- Premium. Adds unlimited VPN access, an update manager, and 24/7 priority technical support.
All of Panda’s plans offer a good value. Even the free plan is pretty good, offering real-time virus protection — something that many free antivirus products lack.
All of Panda’s features are great, but I was pretty disappointed with Panda’s VPN — it didn’t perform well in speed tests, and the unlimited VPN is only available on the most expensive plan. If you’re looking for a VPN included in an antivirus package, I’d recommend Norton or even Bitdefender.
If you want a simple free malware scanner with real-time protection or a full-featured internet security suite, Panda has an option for you. Panda comes with lots of extras, including advanced ransomware protection, a Rescue Kit for saving malware-infected PCs, a password manager, parental controls, a file encrypter and shredder, and more. And all of Panda’s premium plans are backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.
9. Kaspersky Internet Security — Best for Online Shopping + Banking
Kaspersky Internet Security takes Kaspersky’s well-known antivirus protection and adds some impressive bonus features that will help keep you safe online.
Kaspersky’s antivirus engine consistently delivers some of the best results in the industry against all types of malware — the program was 100% effective in all of my anti-malware testing.
Kaspersky also includes a good variety of cybersecurity features, such as:
- Anti-phishing protections.
- Safe Money secure browser.
- VPN (200 MB/daily)
- Webcam protection.
I really like Kaspersky’s Safe Money feature — the program detects when you’re about to make a payment online or access a banking website, offering to launch a safe, sandboxed browser window that’s impenetrable to malware and spyware. Kaspersky also lets you use a virtual keyboard when handling online payments to avoid keyloggers.
In my opinion, Internet Security is Kaspersky’s best-value plan, providing malware scanning, web protections, and the Safe Money secure browser for up to 5 users. However, parents will want to check out Kaspersky Total Security, which provides some of the best parental controls on the market for up to 10 PCs, Macs, Androids, and iOS devices.
Kaspersky offers a well-designed antivirus package with a good anti-malware scanner and useful extras like a secure browser for online finances. Parents should consider upgrading to Kaspersky’s premium Total Security plan which adds excellent parental controls. All of Kaspersky’s plans have a 30-day money-back guarantee.
10. Trend Micro — Best for Phishing Protection
Trend Micro has a decent anti-malware engine as well as some of the best phishing protection on this list.
Trend Micro’s malware scanner scored pretty well in my testing, catching the majority of viruses, trojans, ransomware, and spyware on my system.
However, phishing protection is where this antivirus really stands out.
Phishing scams are increasingly common, and they can be very difficult for antivirus software to detect. Cybercriminals can create duplicate websites (a tactic known as “domain spoofing”) designed to trick you into giving up your personal information and passwords.
Web browsers such as Chrome and Firefox integrate some phishing protection. But, Trend Micro’s anti-phishing feature detected more phishing websites in my testing than Chrome, Safari, or Microsoft Edge.
Trend Micro Antivirus + Security protects 1 Windows device with malware protection, advanced ransomware protection, and a secure browser for online finances. Trend Micro Internet Security protects up to 3 devices (PC only) and adds device optimization tools, social networking protection, and parental controls. Trend Micro Maximum Security protects up to 5 devices (including Windows, Android, Mac, iOS, and Chromebook) and adds a password manager.
Trend Micro offers a strong set of security and privacy features for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS users — the company even has a Chromebook app! Trend Micro is particularly good at phishing protection, and it will help you avoid malicious websites seeking to steal your credit card numbers or passwords. All Trend Micro plans are backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Bonus. Cylance Smart Antivirus — Simplest Antivirus Solution
Cylance is the only antivirus program on my list that relies exclusively on artificial intelligence to detect and eliminate malware.
Several other companies — such as McAfee and BullGuard — integrate machine learning along with traditional scanning technology in their antivirus engines. But Cylance claims its AI scanner doesn’t need the additional support of a malware database or advanced heuristics to keep your device 100% safe.
Cylance caught the majority of the malware on my test computer — more than free antiviruses like Windows Defender — but it still ranked lower than advanced antivirus suites like Norton, McAfee, and Bitdefender.
Cylance Smart Antivirus is affordable, but it doesn’t come with any extra features. There are no pricing plans — except for discounts for purchasing multiple licenses. If you want a powerful, simple-to-use, and cost-effective antivirus solution, Cylance is a good choice.
Cylance offers smart and simple malware protection. Cylance will help keep your computer malware-free — but if you need things like a password manager, secure browsing, a VPN, etc., you’ll need to look elsewhere for all-around protection.
Comparison of the Best Antiviruses of 2021
|Antivirus||Firewall||Cloud-Based Scanning||Included VPN||Free Version||Money-Back Guarantee|
|2.🥈McAfee||Yes||No||Unlimited data (with automatic subscription renewals)||No||30-days|
|4. Bitdefender||Yes||Yes||200 MB/day||Yes||30-days|
|5. TotalAV||Yes||Yes||Unlimited (with TotalAV Internet Security)||Yes||30-days|
|6. Avira||No||Yes||Unlimited data (with Avira Prime)||Yes||30-days|
|8. Panda||Yes||No||Unlimited (with Panda Dome)|
|9. Kaspersky||Yes||Yes||300 MB/day||Yes||30-days (USA) and 14-days (UK)|
|10. Trend Micro||No||No||No||No||30-days|
Best Antivirus Software for 2021 — Frequently Asked Questions
🤔 What’s the best antivirus software for Windows 10?
🤔 What’s the best antivirus software for Mac?
For Mac-specific antivirus software, I recommend Intego.
But most of the antivirus products on this list run on multiple platforms, including Mac.
For example, Norton 360 is a great choice for Mac users, but certain features (such as Cloud Backup and Parental Control) are limited on Mac due to Apple’s restrictions.
🤔 What’s the best antivirus app for Android?
In my view, the best antivirus app for Android is Norton Mobile Security. Norton 360 Deluxe comes with 5 licenses, and you can use as many as you want on mobile. If you’re looking for a free antivirus app for Android, Bitdefender Antivirus Free got the number 1 spot in my best 5 free Android antivirus apps.
🤔 What’s the best antivirus app for a Windows laptop?
A Windows laptop works in the same way as a Windows desktop computer — every antivirus product on my list will work on a Windows laptop. But because laptops tend to be slower than desktops, you may want to consider Avira Prime, which is my top choice for slower computers. But if you have a fast, new laptop, I would recommend Norton 360 which ranked as the #1 best antivirus for laptops in 2021.
🤔 How do I choose the best antivirus software for me?
Choosing the right antivirus software package can be a difficult decision — there are so many choices, and the most expensive products don’t always offer the best protection.
Here’s what you should do to help you find the right antivirus product:
- Decide what features you need. Basic antivirus protection is essential, but other internet security features are also important. If you use public Wi-Fi networks, you should choose a product that includes a VPN. If you have kids, you should find an antivirus with parental controls. The more comprehensive products on this list, such as Norton 360, provide these advanced features (and a lot more).
- Consider which and how many devices you need to protect. You might have more than one device that requires antivirus protection. All the products on this list offer plans with multiple licenses — for example, you can use the top McAfee plan on up to 10 devices, including smartphones. However, some antiviruses don’t have mobile apps — BullGuard doesn’t provide an iPhone app, but it’s amazing for PC gamers.
- Take advantage of a free trial/money-back guarantee. There are several brands on this list that offer a no-commitment free trial. For example, your first month using Panda is totally free. And almost every other brand offers a “no questions asked” money-back guarantee — for example, TotalAV offers a 30-day refund period, and Norton’s refund period is a generous 60 days.
- Test out the software. Spend some time testing the product you’ve chosen. If you’re not happy, reach out to customer support. Or simply get a refund — these brands have seriously good reputations to maintain, and they will 100% honor any valid refund request. You could conceivably test every product on this list — at no expense whatsoever — before settling on the right one.