Updated on: December 1, 2021
Short on time? Here’s the best antivirus for 2021:
There are hundreds of antiviruses out there — and they all claim to offer the best protection at the best price. But I tested 66 of the top antivirus software on the market and only a few of them are strong enough, secure enough, and effective enough to be considered one of the best antiviruses of 2021.
At a minimum, antivirus software needs to include strong virus protection against new and advanced forms of malware — spyware, rootkits, worms, trojans, ransomware, etc. — and every antivirus on this list offers world-class malware protection against all kinds of internet security threats.
But most antivirus packages nowadays include more than just an antivirus scanner — they come with features that add additional protection, like a network firewall, a virtual private network (VPN), a password manager, and parental controls (among a lot of other things). These extra features provide improvements for your device’s native security systems. Because the more secure your device is, the less likely you are to get hacked or expose your sensitive data online.
So how do you know which antivirus products offer the best security, the best malware protection, and the best value? I compared the top antiviruses on the market and ranked them on security, functionality, speed, and price.
Quick summary of the best antivirus software for 2021:
- 1.🥇 Norton — Best overall antivirus in 2021.
- 2.🥈 Bitdefender — Most comprehensive internet security suite.
- 3.🥉 Intego — Best antivirus for Mac (only for macOS systems).
- 4. TotalAV — Best for ease of use (recommended for beginners).
- 5. McAfee — Best web protections (with a great family plan).
- Numbers 6-10 of 2021‘s top antiviruses.
- How I rated the best antivirus software of 2021.
- Top brands that didn’t make the cut.
- Comparison table of all top picks.
- FAQ about antivirus software.
🥇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 antivirus software uses a unique scanning engine powered by heuristic analysis and machine learning, making it capable of scanning, finding, and removing all of the newest and most advanced types of malware. It scored a 100% protection rating during all of my independent tests, and it consistently scored higher on detection and threat prevention than built-in antiviruses (like Windows Defender). One of my favorite things about Norton 360, especially the Windows version, is that it’s both very easy to use and still offers many advanced settings for more technical users who want to customize their security protections.
Norton 360 comes with:
- Secure firewall.
- Password manager
- Webcam protection.
- VPN (with unlimited data).
- Dark web monitoring.
- Cloud storage.
- Ransomware protection.
- And a lot more…
Norton provides excellent features across all of its 360 packages. Even on Norton 360 Standard (the cheapest plan), you get real-time malware protection, unlimited VPN access, a password manager, and 10 GB secure cloud storage, for . While the password manager is not amazing, getting all of this in one package is a really good value for an entry-level, paid antivirus.
There are also some pretty big benefits to upgrading to Norton 360 Deluxe — for , you get more licenses (up to 5), more storage space (up to 50 GB), and access to some of the best parental controls on the market. Starting at , Norton 360 with LifeLock also adds identity theft protection and credit monitoring via Norton’s sister company, LifeLock — but these advanced plans are only available for US customers.
Norton 360 is simply a great antivirus — it’s strong, affordable, reliable, and easy to use. It’s the best choice for home users looking for a complete, intuitive antivirus with some of the best cybersecurity protections out there, all for a low-cost yearly subscription.
Norton 360 provides the best antivirus protection in 2021. Norton offers one of the strongest cybersecurity packages around — complete protection from all malicious threats alongside a ton of excellent extra features, like a VPN (with unlimited data), a password manager, secure cloud storage, parental controls, and a lot more. You can try Norton risk-free with the company’s 60-day money-back guarantee.
🥈2. Bitdefender Total Security — Advanced Malware Protection with Tons of Additional Features
Bitdefender has an extremely advanced antivirus engine — it uses a massive malware database together with machine learning and artificial intelligence to detect and protect against malware more effectively than almost any other competitor on the market.
During my testing, Bitdefender found and removed every single malicious threat from my system. And because Bitdefender’s engine is cloud-based, all of Bitdefender’s malware scans take place on Bitdefender’s cloud server, offloading the strain on your device. Bitdefender caused virtually zero system impact to both my Windows and Mac laptops, even during intensive, full-disk scans.
Similar to Norton, Bitdefender includes advanced settings for users who know how to customize their antivirus protection. You can set custom scan settings for specific areas of your computer, like scripts, network shares, boot sectors, and even new/modified files. Bitdefender’s advanced settings help further its reputation as one of the most powerful and customizable malware scanning engines out there.
But Bitdefender isn’t just an anti-malware scanner — Bitdefender Total Security is one of the most comprehensive security suites available, providing some of the best protection for both computers and mobiles, with features like:
- Web protections.
- System optimizer
- VPN (200 MB/daily).
- Parental controls.
- Password manager.
- Webcam protection.
- Ransomware 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. I particularly love Bitdefender’s multi-layer ransomware protection, which adds a data-protection layer over your important files so that they can’t be encrypted during a ransomware attack.
Bitdefender’s VPN is also one of the best on the market, providing lightning-fast access to encrypted servers around the globe — unfortunately, unlike Norton’s VPN, Bitdefender’s VPN limits your daily data usage. If you want to get unlimited daily data, you have to pay an additional fee (but Bitdefender’s VPN is still cheaper than many standalone VPNs).
Bitdefender has a very limited free version of its paid antivirus (which is just simple malware detection). There’s also Bitdefender Antivirus Plus, which is priced at and has many of Bitdefender’s premium features (except webcam protection, parental controls, and a device optimizer), but it’s only available for Windows. Bitdefender Internet Security adds on parental controls, a firewall, and coverage for up to 3 Windows computers for . And Bitdefender Total Security provides all of Bitdefender’s premium features, and it’s available on all other operating systems (Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS). Priced at , Total Security is one of the cheapest full-featured internet security suites on this list — but if you also want a VPN with unlimited data, Norton 360 Deluxe is a better deal.
Bitdefender Total Security offers cloud-based antivirus scanning and a wide range of cybersecurity 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.
🥉3. Intego — Best Antivirus for Mac
Intego is the best macOS antivirus out there. Most antivirus brands only focus on protecting Windows PCs — even competitors like Norton and Bitdefender offer far fewer features for their macOS programs than they do for their Windows versions — but all of Intego’s Mac antivirus packages were exclusively designed to provide high-quality internet security and optimization tools to macOS — greatly enhancing 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 engine scored a perfect detection rate against all of my test malware (both macOS and PC malware). And its scans are fast — scanning over 800,000 files in under 2 hours. And subsequent scans take only a few minutes, thanks to Intego’s file caching system that ignores already-scanned files (Norton uses the same technology to skip over previously scanned files).
Intego has a lot of pretty cool features — I particularly like how you can connect an external drive or an iOS device to your Mac and run an antivirus scan of it with Intego’s virus scanner. Because Intego doesn’t offer internet security protection for mobile, this saves you from needing to get multiple antivirus packages to protect your iOS devices — but if you want to do more than run antivirus scans on iOS, you’ll still need to get another antivirus program.
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. Starting at , Intego is a bit more expensive than the competitors, but then again, most competitors offer very basic programs for Mac users (typically only malware scanners).
Intego also has a Windows product, Antivirus for Windows, but it’s just a simple virus scanner and not full-suite security software like Intego’s Mac products. If you need a Windows antivirus, any of the other ones on this list are better choices.
Intego’s excellent protection against Mac-based malware makes it the best antivirus for macOS in 2021. 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, so you’ll be able to see if it offers the best protection for you.
4. 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. The scanner caught 99% of all of my test malware, from viruses and trojans to ransomware, missing only a couple of tricky files (which Norton and Bitdefender managed to catch).
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 — if you want a good password manager bundled with an antivirus, I recommend Norton or Avira.
On the other hand, 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 — it’s secure, works with popular streaming sites, and maintains pretty fast speeds across all servers (which is why it ranks as one of the best antivirus-bundled VPNs on the market).
TotalAV Antivirus Pro is a good entry-level package for users looking to protect up to 3 devices, and it costs . However, TotalAV Internet Security is a much better value — it adds the VPN and coverage for up to 5 devices, for . TotalAV Total Security adds a password manager, ad blocker, and protection for up to 6 devices for .
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.
5. McAfee Total Protection — Best for Online Security
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 unlike Norton and Bitdefender, McAfee slowed down my computer during a full system scan — while I was able to browse the internet and use Microsoft Office, I couldn’t watch videos or play games.
On the other hand, McAfee has some pretty good extra features. 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 husband downloaded the notorious “Switcher Trojan” virus on his 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 Single Device 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.
Users who need coverage for more than 10 devices should take a look at McAfee Ultimate Coverage, which provides protection for an unlimited number of devices as well as a $1 million dollar identity theft insurance policy — this plan is McAfee’s best-value plan, but it’s only available in the US.
The Multi-Device, Family, and Ultimate Coverage 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.
Ranging from , McAfee’s 1-year subscription plans are pretty expensive when compared to competitors like Norton and Bitdefender, but McAfee offers amazing discounts on its 2-year plans for multiple devices, making it one of the best long-term deals out there.
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.
6. Avira Prime — Excellent Antivirus Scanner + System Optimization
Avira has one of the strongest and most robust antivirus engines on the market — it consistently earns high scores during independent testing (and scored a 100% detection rate during all of my tests), and it’s so good that Avira’s anti-malware technology has been licensed out to several competitors, including TotalAV. And since Avira’s antivirus engine operates entirely in the cloud, it won’t slow down your devices like many other competitors that download bulky software packages to your system.
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 some of 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 particularly good antivirus if you have an old or slow PC that’s often low on hard disk space. Avira’s system optimization tools had my old Windows 7 computer running like new — in fact, it almost seemed faster than my new Windows 10 PC!
At , Avira Prime is a good value, but it’s pricier than some top-rated antivirus packages. Avira does have cheaper plans, including Internet Security (), but Prime is the only package that includes advanced system optimization, the VPN, and mobile apps.
If Avira sounds like a good antivirus, but you don’t want to spend any money right now, Avira’s free version is the best free antivirus software on the market — coming with free real-time protection, free ransomware protection, and even a free version of Avira’s VPN.
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. 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. While I’m a fan of Safe Money, I slightly prefer Bitdefender’s secure browser, Safepay, which loads much faster than Kaspersky’s. 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, for — this is a good deal, but it’s still slightly more expensive than some higher-ranked competitors. 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, for .
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.
8. 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).
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’s plans are a good mid-price choice for both casual users and avid gamers, with plans starting at .
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.
9. 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 Bitdefender or TotalAV.
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, and a file encrypter and shredder. And all of Panda’s premium plans are backed by 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 antivirus scanner scored pretty well in my testing, catching the majority of viruses, trojans, ransomware, and spyware on my system, though it didn’t score as well as top competitors like Norton and Bitdefender.
However, phishing protection is where Trend Micro’s 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’s plans start at .
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. Malwarebytes — Minimalistic Antivirus (with Good Web Protections)
Malwarebytes is a simplistic, easy-to-use antivirus that offers good virus protection for all operating systems and devices. During my tests, Malwarebytes’s advanced malware scanner detected around 90% of my test malware, which is pretty good (but not as good as top competitors like Norton or Bitdefender).
Malwarebytes also comes with excellent web protections, which successfully identified and blocked most of the phishing sites I tried visiting during testing. And Malwarebytes also offers a VPN with unlimited data, servers in 30 countries, and decent speeds. However, Malwarebytes’s VPN isn’t a good choice for streaming or torrenting (if you’re looking for a good VPN to access streaming sites and torrent files, I recommend ExpressVPN).
Unfortunately, Malwarebytes doesn’t have any additional features that the other antiviruses on this list offer (like a firewall, PC optimization tools, parental controls, etc.). While I’d like to see Malwarebytes add some of these extra features, I still think it’s a pretty good choice for users looking for a minimalistic antivirus program that they can install and forget about. Malwarebytes starts at .
Malwarebytes offers a good malware scanner, excellent web protections, and a decent VPN, but not much else. While Malwarebytes lacks a lot of the features I’d like to see in a premium antivirus in 2021, it’s still an overall good choice for users looking for a simple, no-frills antivirus. Malwarebytes comes with a generous 60-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, with packages starting at , 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.
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. I personally conducted dozens of malware tests, stress-tests, and CPU performance tests to make sure that these products can provide rock-solid protection against all viruses, malware, and other dangerous internet security threats.
- No (or minimum) false positives. While no antivirus software is 100% immune to false positives, some programs raise fewer false positives than others — I still think it’s better for an antivirus to raise false positives than to miss real malware, but constantly getting false alerts can be pretty annoying. The antiviruses on this list returned zero or very few false positives during all tests.
- High-quality features. Most antivirus brands offer additional internet security features in their paid antivirus packages. But a lot of times, these extras are just flashy additions that will weigh your computer down and affect your device’s performance (not to mention increase the price). I personally tested each of the features for each of the products on this list to guarantee that each antivirus’s features are genuinely useful and effective, not just expensive, 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.
- Multi-platform support. The top antiviruses are compatible with all operating systems, including popular ones like Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. While not all of my top choices support all platforms (for example, Intego is exclusively designed for Mac), most of the antiviruses I recommend work flawlessly across all operating systems.
- Easy-to-use. Whether you’re an amateur or an expert, you need virus protection for your computers, your phones, and your tablets. But if the software is so technical that you need to be an IT expert to stay protected, then most users will get too frustrated to even receive basic protection. I personally tested each antivirus software here to make sure that pretty much anyone will be able to set it up easily and use it properly.
- Good customer support. It’s important to have access to multiple customer support channels in case you need help with your antivirus software. The brands on this list offer a wide range of customer support options, including live chat, email support, knowledge bases, FAQs, and forums. I reached out to each company’s customer support team, browsed their knowledge bases, and posted questions on their forums, and I was satisfied with the way they handled my inquiries and resolved my issues.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
Comparison of the Best Antiviruses of 2021
|Antivirus||Starting Price||Firewall||VPN||Free Version||Money-Back Guarantee|
|4. TotalAV||Yes||Unlimited (with TotalAV Internet Security)||Yes||30-days|
|5. McAfee||Yes||Unlimited data (with automatic subscription renewals)||No||30-days|
|6. Avira||No||Unlimited data (with Avira Prime)||Yes||30-days|
|7. Kaspersky||Yes||300 MB/day||Yes||30-days (USA) and 14-days (UK)|
|9. Panda||Yes||Unlimited (with Panda Dome)||Yes||30-days|
|10. Trend Micro||No||No||No||30-days|
|Bonus. Malwarebytes||No||Unlimited (with Malwarebytes Premium + Privacy)||Yes||60-days|
Best Antivirus Software for 2021 — Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the best antivirus software for Windows 10?
I recommend Norton 360 as the best antivirus software for most Windows 10 users. It provides the best antivirus protection according to my tests, and it includes some excellent extra features — phishing protection, Wi-Fi protection, a password manager, a firewall, a VPN, and a lot more.
But all of the antiviruses on this list will work for all Windows 10 users (and many even work on older PCs that run on Windows 7 and Windows XP).
For Windows users looking for a free product that’s better than Microsoft’s built-in Windows Defender antivirus, I’d recommend Avira Free Security for Windows (scoring as the top choice for 2021’s best free antivirus software).
Do I really need an antivirus in 2021?
If you’re using the internet, you need to stay protected against online threats. The good news is that you’re probably already using an antivirus — if you’re on Windows, Mac, or mobile OS, your devices already have antivirus protection. And these built-in antiviruses are not bad. But they do leave a lot of holes in your cybersecurity.
The top antivirus packages all offer advanced protections — full-suite anti-malware engines (including phishing protection, ransomware protection, webcam protection, and Wi-Fi protection), security enhancements (including customizable firewalls, parental controls, and device optimization) and extra features (like password managers, file shredders, and VPNs. Norton 360 and Bitdefender Total Security both have all of these things and more.
So the question of buying an antivirus isn’t so much about if you need it — because you do — but it’s more about what level of protection you want to have.
What’s the best antivirus software for Mac?
I recommend Intego as the best antivirus for Mac. It’s designed exclusively for macOS, and it performed exceptionally well in my tests. It’s got a lot of cool features like real-time protection and a customizable network firewall.
That said, most of the antivirus products on this list have highly capable Mac applications as well. And they all run without any issue, even though there may be certain conditions.
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.
How do I choose the best antivirus software for me?
Choosing the right antivirus software package can be challenging — 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 (US users can also get McAfee for unlimited devices), including smartphones. While most of my top choices also offer top-quality apps for all major operating systems, including Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS, some antiviruses don’t have mobile apps — for example, 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.
Will an antivirus slow down my device?
Antivirus software may slow down your device — but system slowdown usually happens only during a full system scan. However, the best antivirus programs run quickly and smoothly even during full scans, allowing you to uninterruptedly use your device.
My top choices, Norton and Bitdefender, had zero impact on my device’s performance during testing — I could stream video, play games, work online, and make video calls while they were running in the background. They caused only minor slowdown during full system scans, but this was barely noticeable, and I could still engage in all of the above-mentioned activities without any problems.
Additionally, some of my top choices — including TotalAV and Avira — have excellent system optimization tools that will help clean and speed up your device. And some brands even include game boosters (I recommend BullGuard for gamers), which enable you to play high-performance games without any lag.