5 Best Antivirus Software for Families in 2020

Short on time? Here’s the best antivirus for families:

  • 🥇 Norton 360 Deluxe: Comprehensive internet security suite with advanced malware detection and a ton of useful features for up to 5 users. Comes with a VPN, parental controls, secure storage, a password manager, and a lot more.

I tested all of the top antiviruses on the market, looking for a product that would work for my whole family — one that provides excellent protection against malware, is easy to use, comes with useful internet security protections, and works seamlessly across all devices.

A lot of the products I tested were really bad — some programs have inconsistent malware detection, some of them have bad internet security protections, and some are way too complicated for non-technical users. I was also surprised to find that many big-name antiviruses are missing essential family-friendly features like parental controls, remote access, and system cleanup tools!

However, I did find several antiviruses that provide all of the internet security features that a family needs to stay safe online, such as:

  • 100% malware detection and removal.
  • Anti-phishing protection.
  • Parental controls.
  • VPN (virtual private network).
  • Password manager.
  • Data breach monitoring.
  • And a lot more…

The antivirus programs on my list provide excellent protection along with intuitive user interfaces that will keep everyone safe online — from kids to adults.

Quick summary of the best antiviruses for families in 2020:

How I Rated the Best Antiviruses for Families in 2020

Over the past few months, I downloaded the most popular antiviruses on the market and tested them with my two kids, my partner, and my parents. We tried all popular antivirus family plans to see if they had these 5 qualities:

  • Strong protection. I tested antiviruses against a variety of malware samples, including viruses, spyware, ransomware, rootkits, and trojans. I also looked for things like real-time malware protection, secure web-browsing, and smart firewalls. The products that made it to my list all proved capable of protecting against even the most advanced malware.
  • Ease of use. An antivirus needs to be simple and intuitive, so that everyone, including less tech-savvy users, can easily access all of its important features. I used all of these products with both my kids and parents to figure out which of them would provide the right balance of security and accessibility.
  • Family-friendly features. I made sure that the products on my list all have useful features for families, like parental controls to keep kids safe online, remote access to let tech-savvy users protect their family’s devices, and secure virtual private networks (VPNs) to keep everyone’s internet activity private.
  • Excellent customer support. I also took into account customer support options like email, phone, and 24/7 live chat. I double-checked the accuracy and helpfulness of the data the support teams offered, and I gave extra points for comprehensive knowledge bases, FAQs, and active community forums.
  • Value. I compared the number of features, devices covered, and prices of each antivirus package to ensure that they are all priced competitively when compared to other products on the market.

🥇1. Norton 360 Deluxe — Best Overall Family Antivirus in 2020

🥇1. <a href="https://www.safetydetectives.com/go/vendor/product-4/210/?post_id=30112&alooma_btn_name=Affiliate+Link+-+120471" title="Norton" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-btn-name="Affiliate Link - 120471" data-btn-indexed="1">Norton 360 Deluxe</a> — Best Overall Family Antivirus in 2020

Norton 360 Deluxe is my favorite antivirus for families on the market today. I tested Norton’s real-time malware detection on my Windows 10 PC, MacBook Pro, and Android tablet — across all devices, Norton detected every single piece of malware in my testing.

Norton 360 also provides a full suite of internet security tools that can help keep families safe online, such as:

  • Parental controls.
  • VPN (with unlimited data).
  • Password manager.
  • Phishing protection.
  • Identity theft protection (US only).

I really love Norton’s parental controls — there’s app usage limits, content filters, location tracking, and YouTube monitoring. These are all the protections my family needs, and every one of these features worked really well during testing (ranking as the #1 antivirus with parental controls in 2020.)

I particularly like Norton’s usage limits. I was able to easily schedule device usage and even limit the time allowed for certain apps, so I could be sure my kids were using their devices for homework instead of just playing Fortnite in the middle of the night!

Norton’s other security features were also really helpful — my parents appreciated the built-in password manager that made it easy for them to track all of their logins. And I set up Norton’s VPN on all of my family’s devices —  while most VPNs slow down internet connection, Norton’s VPN was so quick that nobody in my family even noticed it was running (Norton also scored #1 antivirus with a VPN in 2020). 

Norton 360 Deluxe offers protection for up to 5 devices, and all of Norton’s advanced protections are offered for PCs, Macs, iOS, and Android devices. For families in the US, Norton’s advanced 360 plans include LifeLock identity theft protection, up to 500 GB of cloud storage, and even stolen wallet protection!

Bottom Line:

Norton has exceptional malware protection, advanced internet security tools, and comprehensive parental controls — if you’re trying to keep your family safe and also looking to regulate your kids’ device usage, Norton is the best there is. And Norton’s secure VPN and password manager are both good additions for users who want to enhance their online security. Norton 360 Deluxe comes with a 60-day money-back guarantee.

Download Norton 360

Read the full Norton review >

🥈2. McAfee Total Protection Family — Best Value for Large Families

🥈2. <a href="https://www.safetydetectives.com/go/vendor/families/203/?post_id=30112&alooma_btn_name=Affiliate+Link+-+193472" title="McAfee" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-btn-name="Affiliate Link - 193472" data-btn-indexed="1">McAfee Total Protection Family</a> — Best Value for Large Families

McAfee Total Protection Family provides one of the most full-featured anti-malware packages on the market — there’s a ton of great internet security tools, strong parental controls, and coverage for up to 10 devices.

McAfee detected every malware file during my testing, and its real-time scanner barely slowed my system down — even while I was streaming HD video on Netflix!

Families trying to protect their privacy online will appreciate McAfee’s additional security features, like:

  • Parental controls.
  • VPN (with unlimited data).
  • Anti-theft protections.
  • Home Wi-Fi scanner.

McAfee’s parental controls are excellent — they provide content filtering, app and device usage limitation, geo-fencing, and browser monitoring. The geo-fencing feature is really well-made — I made a “safe zone” around my son’s middle school, and I received notifications when he both arrived and left the school.

McAfee’s anti-theft features are also really good — location tracking, remote access, a loud alarm tone, and an automatic selfie cam make it much easier to recover a lost or stolen phone. I tested this out on my Android by logging into McAfee’s online dashboard and triggering an extremely loud alert that rang throughout the whole house!

McAfee Total Protection Family covers up to 10 devices for less than most competitors, and McAfee’s multi-year payment option makes it one of the best-value antivirus packages on the market today.

Bottom Line:

McAfee offers powerful malware scanning, good security features, comprehensive parental controls, and coverage for up to 10 devices. McAfee includes geo-fencing and excellent content filtering for kids, as well as Wi-Fi protections, anti-theft protection, and a VPN. McAfee Total Protection Family comes with a big discount (especially for a multi-year subscription) and a 30-day money back guarantee.

Download McAfee Total Protection

Read the full McAfee review >

🥉3. BullGuard Premium Protection — Best for Gaming Families

🥉3. <a href="https://www.safetydetectives.com/go/vendor/663/?post_id=30112&alooma_btn_name=Affiliate+Link+-+120482" title="BullGuard" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-btn-name="Affiliate Link - 120482" data-btn-indexed="1">BullGuard Premium Protection</a> — Best for Gaming Families

BullGuard Premium Protection is a well-designed internet security suite — coming with advanced malware detection, a good variety of additional features, and a unique Game Booster mode which enhances CPU performance on gaming PCs.

BullGuard quickly detected, quarantined, and removed all malware threats during my testing — and its ransomware scanner detected ransomware more quickly than most other competitors.

My teenager tested out BullGuard’s Game Booster on his refurbished gaming laptop. The Game Booster significantly increased his frame rate and CPU performance — without interrupting his gaming sessions with annoying notifications or automatic virus scans. This powerful Game Booster helped make BullGuard the #1 gaming antivirus of 2020.

BullGuard also offers a ton of additional internet security features, like:

  • Parental controls.
  • System cleanup tools.
  • Identity theft protection.
  • Firewall.
  • VPN (separate purchase).
  • Home network scanner.

BullGuard’s parental controls are decent, but they’re not as good as Norton’s or McAfee’s. BullGuard’s content filter missed several inappropriate sites during my tests, and there’s no geo-fencing option.

However, BullGuard’s system cleanup tools and firewall are really well designed, and its identity theft protections provide real-time credit monitoring for users in the US, Canada, and most of the EU (unlike Norton and McAfee which only offer ID protection for US users).

BullGuard’s Internet Security plan comes with the Game Booster and parental controls, but BullGuard Premium Protection is where you get the ID protection, home network scanner, and coverage for up to 15 devices across all major operating systems.

Bottom Line:

BullGuard is the best antivirus for gaming families, with an excellent malware scanner and tons of additional features. The Game Booster is really good — it significantly speeds up CPU performance for gaming PCs. BullGuard’s parental controls are not the best, but they’re not that bad, either. And BullGuard’s identity theft protections are both comprehensive and work in more countries than Norton’s or McAfee’s. You can try out BullGuard with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Download BullGuard Premium Protection

Read the full BullGuard review >

4. Bitdefender Total Security — Best for Families on a Budget

<a href="https://www.safetydetectives.com/go/vendor/192/?post_id=30112&alooma_btn_name=Affiliate+Link+-+120488" title="Bitdefender" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-btn-name="Affiliate Link - 120488" data-btn-indexed="1">Bitdefender Total Security</a> — Best for Families on a Budget

Bitdefender Total Security is a secure antivirus suite with a good malware scanner and tons of additional features — including an excellent mobile security app for both Android and iOS.

Bitdefender caught all of the malware in my testing. And because the scanner is cloud-based, I was really happy to see that Bitdefender’s scans barely affected the performance on my devices, even during full disk scans!

Bitdefender also offers helpful extras to keep families safe online, such as:

  • Parental controls.
  • VPN (200 MB daily limit).
  • Phishing protection.
  • Password manager.

Bitdefender’s parental controls are pretty good — the screen time limits were simple to set up, and I appreciated being able to track which apps my kids were using. Bitdefender also offers geo-fencing, which accurately tracked my children and notified me when they left a predefined safe zone.

I was pretty frustrated by the data limit on Bitdefender’s built-in VPN — but if you’re willing to pay for the upgrade (available at checkout), Bitdefender has one of the fastest VPNs on the market, providing lightning-fast connection to servers in over 20 countries.

Bitdefender has a range of plans, but Total Security is the best deal for families — it offers coverage for up to 5 devices across all operating systems and for a lower price than other major competitors.

Bottom Line:

Bitdefender is a solid antivirus with good real-time malware protection, tons of extra features, and decent parental controls — especially for Android and iOS devices. The phishing protections, VPN, and geo-fencing are all excellent tools for keeping families safe online. With coverage for up to 5 devices at a lower price than Norton or McAfee, Bitdefender is great for families needing a high-quality antivirus for a low cost — and there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Download Bitdefender Total Security

Read the full Bitdefender review >

5. Kaspersky Total Security — Best Ease of Use

<a href="https://www.safetydetectives.com/go/vendor/202/?post_id=30112&alooma_btn_name=Affiliate+Link+-+120493" title="Kaspersky" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-btn-name="Affiliate Link - 120493" data-btn-indexed="1">Kaspersky Total Security</a> — Best Ease of Use

Kaspersky Total Security is a pretty good family antivirus — it’s got excellent anti-malware protection, strong parental controls, and a lot of additional security features inside an intuitive, easy-to-use interface.

Kaspersky’s real-time malware scanner uses many advanced techniques to detect new and unknown malware threats. I tested Kaspersky’s “Quick Scan”, and it managed to detect and remove most of the malware on my test computer — even though I needed to run a “Full Scan” to remove some of the test ransomware files.

Kaspersky’s parental controls are pretty good — I think Kaspersky’s geo-fencing feature is the best out of any other parental control app. There’s also YouTube controls (including YouTube app), usage limits, real-time alerts, and an online content filter.

Kaspersky also provides all the features I expect from a premium antivirus suite, including:

  • Firewall.
  • VPN (200 MB daily limit).
  • Password manager.
  • Online shopping protections.

I think Kaspersky’s shopping protections are some of the best out there — they automatically offer a secure sandboxed browser window and on-screen keyboard so spyware like keylogging and screenlogging malware can’t access sensitive financial information.

Kaspersky Total Security is Kaspersky’s only plan with parental controls, and it covers up to 10 devices.

Bottom Line:

Kaspersky has some pretty good parental controls — with excellent geo-fencing and YouTube controls. And Kaspersky’s safe shopping features are really good, too. You can get any of Kaspersky’s plans as 1, 2, or 3-year subscriptions, and they all come with a 30-day money back guarantee.

Download Kaspersky Total Security

Read the full Kaspersky review >

Bonus: Intego Mac Premium Bundle X9 — Best Mac Antivirus for Families

Bonus: <a href="https://www.safetydetectives.com/go/vendor/product-2/218/?post_id=30112&alooma_btn_name=Affiliate+Link+-+120498" title="Intego" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-btn-name="Affiliate Link - 120498" data-btn-indexed="1">Intego Mac Premium Bundle X9</a> — Best Mac Antivirus for Families

Intego Mac Premium Bundle X9 is an intuitive and secure Mac-based antivirus that has some pretty good family protections. Intego’s primary security features are the VirusBarrier — a real-time anti-malware engine designed specifically for Macs — and NetBarrier — which protects users from phishing sites, malicious web scripts, and unsecured Wi-Fi networks.

Intego’s parental controls offer a significant improvement over macOS’s built-in parental controls. While macOS only offers the option to block “adult websites”, Intego offers specifications for dozens of different criteria, like inappropriate language, religious content, pornography, and certain web stores. Intego also offers more options than macOS for limiting app usage, scheduling device usage, and monitoring emails for unsafe and predatory communication.

Intego also offers advanced system cleanup and device backup tools to help protect your family’s data and system performance. During my tests, I removed tons of duplicate files, junk programs, and cached web files from my dad’s Mac. I also synced up his backup with my MacBook, so his files automatically backed up to my drive.

Intego’s Mac Premium Bundle X9 covers up to 5 devices, and it comes with a pretty big discount if you opt for 2 years of protection.

Bottom Line:

Intego offers excellent protections against Mac-based malware in addition to really good parental controls. These parental controls, device backup tools, and system optimizer are more comprehensive than macOS’s built-in features, and they’re really easy to use, too! Intego comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Download Intego Mac Premium Bundle X9

Read the full Intego review >

Top Brands That Didn’t Make the Cut

  • TotalAV. TotalAV is a good internet security suite — offering advanced malware scanning, a fast VPN, and good identity theft protection. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have parental controls, so it isn’t a better family antivirus than the other products listed here.
  • Cylance. Cylance uses artificial intelligence to scan for malware more efficiently and accurately than many competitors. However, Cylance is only limited to a web-based dashboard and doesn’t offer family protections.
  • Avira. Avira’s advanced antivirus engine, intuitive interface, and additional features make it one of the better internet security suites on the market. Avira also provides my favorite free antivirus for both Windows and Mac — unfortunately, the lack of parental controls kept it off of my list.

🤔 Do I really need an antivirus for my family?

While an antivirus is essential for protecting a device from malware, families have their own unique online security needs. The best family antiviruses offer protections like parental controls, home Wi-Fi network scans, and even system optimization tools to help keep all of your family’s devices high-functioning, healthy, and secure.

Norton 360 Deluxe is my favorite family antivirus — it’s got perfect malware detection rates, excellent parental controls, advanced internet security protections like anti-phishing and anti-ransomware, and coverage for up to 5 devices.

🤔 Are there any free antiviruses for families?

While there are some free antiviruses available on the market today — Avira Free Security Suite being my favorite — none of them offer all of the protections that the best antivirus for families offer. .  

Avira’s free antivirus is a decent option for users looking for a bare-bones antivirus, but I wouldn’t recommend it for most families. If you’re looking for a good value family antivirus, McAfee Total Protection currently offers a huge discount on their 2-year family plan, and Bitdefender Total Security is my favorite antivirus for families on a budget.

🤔 Doesn’t my PC or Mac have good enough built-in antivirus protection?

Both Windows and Macs have built-in antiviruses, but all of the products on this list are way better.

Windows’s built-in antivirus doesn’t have an up-to-date malware database, so it frequently fails to detect newer malware threats. And it doesn’t have the internet security features that make third-party software so useful — like parental controls, advanced phishing protection, online privacy tools, device optimization, or identity theft protections.

But antiviruses like Norton 360 Deluxe have things like advanced malware detection, a fast VPN, and comprehensive parental controls for all PCs, Androids, Macs, and iOS devices.

🤔 Are antivirus parental controls as good as other parental control apps?

The parental controls found in the antiviruses on this list are some of the best parental controls on the market.

Some products, like Bitdefender, even monitor text messages and emails for sexual or aggressive language. And Norton 360’s parental controls come with guidelines that help parents talk with their kids about the importance of internet security.

While there are other standalone parental control applications on the market, it’s best to have these kinds of internet protections bundled with an antivirus package to ensure that your family stays safe, secure, and fully protected online.

About the Author

Bjorn Johansson
Bjorn Johansson
Cybersecurity researcher and digital rights advocate

About the Author

Bjorn is a cybersecurity researcher and digital rights advocate. Originally from Sweden, he now lives on the Maine coast with his wife and their two kids. When he’s not helping keep the internet safe for everyday people, he enjoys boating with his family and woodworking.
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