5 Best Virus Removal Software in 2020: Get Protected Now

Short on time? Here’s the best virus removal software in 2020:

I tested all of the top virus removal programs on the market — and I found 5 with excellent malware removal tools while also providing protection against other internet security threats like phishing, spyware, and ransomware.

However, this wasn’t an easy task. A lot of antivirus programs promise to improve on an operating system’s built-in antivirus protection, but they’re actually really bad, ineffective, and overpriced. Fortunately, there are a few really good antiviruses that can accurately detect and remove all types of known and emerging viruses. These high-quality programs can detect sophisticated malware with various kinds of advanced scanning technology, such as:

  • Real-time scanning.
  • Malware database scanning.
  • Advanced heuristics.
  • Machine learning.
  • Behavior analysis.

Whether you’re looking for a simple virus remover or a comprehensive internet security suite, you will find it here — all of the programs I recommend have excellent malware detection rates, come with a wide range of internet security protections, are very intuitive and user-friendly, and come at a great value.

Quick summary of the best virus removal software in 2020:

How I Rated the Best Virus Removal Software

  • Virus removal. I tested every antivirus program against a range of the latest malware, including viruses, trojans, worms, ransomware, spyware, rootkits, and adware. Only the most effective virus removal programs with excellent detection rates made this list.
  • Usability. I looked for antiviruses that are both intuitive and feature-rich while still being easy to understand and use, even for users who aren’t tech-savvy.
  • Features. I tested each antivirus program’s features to ensure that they work as advertised. I gave extra points for additional features like system optimization, identity theft protection, parental controls, a password manager, and a virtual private network (VPN).
  • Value. I analyzed whether or not each program is a good value — I compared features and prices and gave extra points for free trials, money-back guarantees, and transparent refund policies.
  • Customer service. I tested each antivirus’s support team by calling, emailing, and/or chatting online with their customer service departments. I ranked support teams for response times, accuracy of the information provided, and availability of support in multiple languages.

Top Brands That Didn’t Make the Cut

  • Avast/AVG. Avast/AVG has been accused of selling users’ personal browsing data to corporations, so I could not in good conscience add Avast/AVG to this list. You can read about the scandal here.
  • Comodo. Comodo offers a lot of sophisticated settings for advanced users. However, I found that Comodo slowed down my system a lot, especially during virus scans, and it didn’t provide good protection against phishing and ransomware.
  • Sophos. Sophos is easy to install and use, but it didn’t catch (or remove) as many viruses in my testing as the other products on this list.

🥇1. Norton 360 — Best All-Around Virus Removal Software in 2020

🥇1. <a href="https://www.safetydetectives.com/go/vendor/210/?post_id=32040&alooma_btn_name=Affiliate+Link+-+209679" title="Norton" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-btn-name="Affiliate Link - 209679" data-btn-indexed="1">Norton<i> </i>360</a> — Best All-Around Virus Removal Software in 2020

Norton 360 is by far the best virus removal software I tested. I tested Norton on my Windows PC, MacBook Pro, Android tablet, and iPad — and Norton worked equally well on all of these devices, detecting every single piece of test malware (including very sophisticated viruses that most competitors missed).

Norton’s virus scanner uses a huge malware database and advanced heuristics to detect known viruses and other malware, plus artificial intelligence to detect zero-day threats that traditional virus scanners can’t catch.

Norton 360 also comes with a ton of internet security protections, like:

  • Wi-Fi network scanner.
  • Firewall.
  • Anti-phishing protection.
  • VPN (unlimited data).
  • Password manager.
  • Parental controls.
  • Cloud backup (10-500 GB).
  • Identity theft protections (US only).

I was really impressed with all of Norton’s features — but my favorites ones are the VPN and parental controls (Norton ranked #1 for best antivirus with a VPN and #1 for best antivirus with parental controls).

Norton’s VPN offers encrypted internet access, servers in 30+ countries, a strict no-logs policy, and very fast speeds — I connected to overseas servers and streamed video content in HD without a significant drop in speed (this is pretty rare, even in standalone VPNs).

And Norton’s parental controls allowed me to set device and app time limits, supervise YouTube usage, block unsafe sites, and even track device location — I had no problem customizing settings for my kids’ devices.

Norton offers 3 plans to choose from — Norton 360 Standard is a good plan for individual users, whereas Norton 360 Deluxe is perfect for families or households with multiple devices (includes parental controls and up to 5 devices). Norton 360 Deluxe with LifeLock adds identity theft protection (but it’s only available for users in the US).

Bottom Line:

Norton 360 is my favorite virus removal software — it has the most powerful antivirus scanner on the market and comes with plenty of additional features, including an excellent VPN and the best parental controls around. Norton 360 Standard is a good entry-level plan for single users, whereas Norton 360 Deluxe provides the best value for most users (includes coverage for up to 5 devices). All Norton purchases come with a generous 60-day money-back guarantee.

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Read the full Norton review >

🥈2. McAfee Total Protection — Excellent Virus Scanner (with Advanced Web Protections)

🥈2. <a href="https://www.safetydetectives.com/go/vendor/203/?post_id=32040&alooma_btn_name=Affiliate+Link+-+209686" title="McAfee" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-btn-name="Affiliate Link - 209686" data-btn-indexed="1">McAfee Total Protection</a> — Excellent Virus Scanner (with Advanced Web Protections)

McAfee Total Protection has one of the most comprehensive virus scanners around — it uses machine learning and advanced heuristics to block all kinds of viruses and malware, from relatively harmless adware to well-disguised spyware.

McAfee instantly detected all of the viruses I placed on my devices, and its full virus scan barely affected my system performance (the scan took around 1 hour).

McAfee also has some of the most effective web protections on the market, including:

  • Wi-Fi scanner.
  • Anti-phishing protection.
  • VPN.
  • Parental controls.
  • Identity theft protection (US only).

McAfee’s Wi-Fi network scanner is really good — it let me view a map of every device connected to my Wi-Fi network, immediately labeling suspicious or unsafe devices that could compromise the safety of my entire network.

I also like McAfee’s anti-phishing protections which I think are the best on the market — McAfee blocked 100% of phishing attacks during my tests!

McAfee Total Protection also has 3 plans to choose from — the Individual plan covers 1 device, the Multi-Device plan provides coverage for up to 5 devices, and the best-value Family plan offers protection for up to 10 devices, plus extras like parental controls.

Bottom Line:

McAfee Total Protection provides advanced virus protection — it performed really well in my tests, blocking and removing all of the viruses and other kinds of malware I placed on my computers and tablets without affecting my devices’ performance or speed. McAfee also has some of the best web protection around, including an excellent Wi-Fi network scanner, excellent anti-phishing protection, and a good VPN. All of McAfee’s plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

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🥉3. Avira — Cloud-Based Virus Removal (with System Optimization Tools)

🥉3. <a href="https://www.safetydetectives.com/go/vendor/191/?post_id=32040&alooma_btn_name=Affiliate+Link+-+209693" title="Avira" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-btn-name="Affiliate Link - 209693" data-btn-indexed="1">Avira</a> — Cloud-Based Virus Removal (with System Optimization Tools)

Avira has a great, easy-to-use antivirus scanner that operates in the cloud — it’s very fast (the full system scan takes around 45 minutes), has the lowest CPU usage out of all the competitors I tested, and it doesn’t cause any system slowdown (even on old computers).

Avira identified, blocked, and removed all of the viruses from my devices — I tested both Avira’s antivirus scanner and real-time protection, and Avira instantly detected all of my samples, including really tricky ones that came bundled with legitimate programs.

Avira also has very good system optimization tools which clean your computer, free up space, improve start time, and boost overall speed. I tested these tools on my old Windows PC — Avira actually improved my computer’s performance (I was able to use this old computer even when I was performing full system scans, which was impossible with a lot of the competitors!).

Avira also has:

  • Privacy optimization.
  • Anti-phishing protection.
  • VPN (unlimited data).
  • Password manager.

I really like Avira’s privacy optimization tools which remove browser cache and history, delete chat logs, and even prevent companies from tracking and using private data.

Avira’s VPN is pretty good, encrypting internet traffic and bypassing geo-restrictions without logging any user data. Avira’s VPN is also pretty fast, letting you stream video with minimal interruptions (Norton’s VPN is faster, but Avira’s VPN works well, too).

Avira Antivirus Pro comes with an antivirus scanner as well as privacy optimization tools. Avira Internet Security adds a password manager. And Avira Prime also includes a VPN with unlimited data, system optimization, and protection for up to 5 devices.

Bottom Line:

Avira has an advanced, cloud-based virus scanner — it’s fast, lightweight, and it instantly detected and removed all of the virus samples from my computers. Avira also comes with really good system optimization tools that improve system speed and performance — these tools had my old testing computer running like new! Avira also has privacy optimization tools, a VPN, a password manager, and more. You can try out Avira with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

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Read the full Avira review >

4. TotalAV — Best Virus Removal Software for Beginners

<a href="https://www.safetydetectives.com/go/vendor/318/?post_id=32040&alooma_btn_name=Affiliate+Link+-+209700" title="Total AV" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-btn-name="Affiliate Link - 209700" data-btn-indexed="1">TotalAV</a> — Best Virus Removal Software for Beginners

TotalAV is excellent at virus detection and removal — during my standard series of tests, it consistently scored a 100% perfect detection rate against all of the latest viruses and other types of malware (including well-hidden spyware).

TotalAV’s antivirus scanner is pretty fast. The full system scan took just over 1 hour — and it didn’t slow down my computer even when I simultaneously ran other CPU-intensive programs (like games and video editing software).

I’m also a huge fan of TotalAV’s intuitive interface — I was able to change my real-time protection settings, schedule scans, and access additional features without any problems at all.

TotalAV also has good internet security protections, such as:

  • Anti-phishing protection.
  • System cleanup & optimization.
  • VPN (unlimited data).
  • Password manager.
  • Identity theft protection (US, Canada, and most European countries).

TotalAV’s anti-phishing protection is more accurate at detecting and blocking phishing sites than Chrome or Firefox’s built-in anti-phishing tools — I tested TotalAV against a huge database of phishing sites and it identified almost all of the fake and risky sites (with 99% accuracy).

TotalAV’s system cleanup tools are also excellent — they removed 10+ GB of junk, duplicate, and useless files from my old Windows computer, noticeably improving its speed.

TotalAV has 3 plans — TotalAV Antivirus Pro includes antivirus protection for up to 3 devices, TotalAV Internet Security adds a VPN and coverage for 5 devices, and TotalAV Total Security also has a password manager, ad blocker, and coverage for 6 devices.

Bottom Line:

TotalAV has an excellent antivirus scanner — it caught all of my test viruses, and it didn’t slow down my computer (not even when I was running a full system scan and editing video at the same time!). TotalAV also has a very intuitive interface, making it a great choice for new and non-technical users, and it comes with really good anti-phishing protection, system cleanup and optimization tools, a VPN, and lots more. All TotalAV purchases have a risk-free, 30-day money-back guarantee.

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Read the full TotalAV review >

5. Bitdefender — Best Lightweight Virus Scanner

<a href="https://www.safetydetectives.com/go/vendor/192/?post_id=32040&alooma_btn_name=Affiliate+Link+-+209707" title="Bitdefender" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-btn-name="Affiliate Link - 209707" data-btn-indexed="1">Bitdefender</a> — Best Lightweight Virus Scanner

Bitdefender is a very fast and very lightweight antivirus — it has a cloud-based virus scanner that offloads most of its processing power to the cloud, so users can run full disk virus scans without almost any slowdown on their device.

In my tests, Bitdefender detected and removed most viruses and other malware quickly and efficiently — but it did miss some test files that all the other products on this list caught.

Bitdefender also includes useful security features, such as:

  • Advanced ransomware protection.
  • Firewall.
  • Network scanner.
  • VPN.
  • Password manager.
  • Parental controls.

I really like Bitdefender’s ransomware protection feature — it automatically creates backups of compromised files if Bitdefender detects a potential ransomware file, ensuring that you don’t lose any files in case of a hacker attack.

Bitdefender’s firewall and VPN are both pretty good, too. The firewall blocked network threats that my PC’s built-in firewall didn’t detect, and the VPN provided a fast, encrypted internet connection which helped keep my browsing information 100% private. Unfortunately, Bitdefender’s VPN is limited to 200 MB per day (the VPN with unlimited data can be upgraded during checkout).

Bitdefender Antivirus Plus comes with an antivirus scanner, ransomware protection, a password manager, a limited VPN (200 MB per day), and coverage for 3 Windows devices. Bitdefender Internet Security adds a firewall, webcam and microphone protection, a network scanner, and parental controls. Bitdefender Total Security also includes anti-theft tools, device optimization, and coverage for up to 5 devices across all operating systems.

Bottom Line:

Bitdefender has a lightweight antivirus scanner — it takes up few system resources and has a minimal impact on system performance. Bitdefender also has good ransomware protections which automatically backs up user files during a ransomware attack and a firewall that is better than most operating system’s built-in network protections. All Bitdefender purchases include a 30-day money-back guarantee.

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Bonus. Intego — Best Virus Removal Software for Mac Users

Bonus. <a href="https://www.safetydetectives.com/go/vendor/mac/218/?post_id=32040&alooma_btn_name=Affiliate+Link+-+209714" title="Intego" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-btn-name="Affiliate Link - 209714" data-btn-indexed="1">Intego</a> — Best Virus Removal Software for Mac Users

Intego is my favorite Mac-only virus removal tool — it’s excellent at detecting and removing Mac-specific viruses, it’s pretty lightweight, and it comes with useful extras that improve on Mac’s built-in functionalities.

During my tests, Intego performed a quick scan in under 5 minutes — quicker than most competitors. However, the full scan took over 2 hours on my MacBook — longer than all of the other antiviruses on this list.

Intego also has some additional features, including:

  • Firewall (with customizable settings).
  • Mac optimization and cleaning tools.
  • Customizable Mac backup options.
  • Parental controls.

I really like Intego’s firewall — it’s easy to configure, provides helpful network diagnostic tools, and during my tests it even blocked brute-force attacks that Mac’s built-in firewall couldn’t handle. Intego’s system cleanup, data backup, and parental control features are also more robust and useful than Apple’s native features.

Intego’s Mac Internet Security X9 comes with a malware scanner and firewall. The Mac Premium Bundle X9 adds system optimization features, parental controls, and backup tools.

Bottom Line:

Intego offers excellent real-time protection against viruses and other malware for Mac users. Intego offers a wide range of features that are a lot better than Mac’s built-in features — Intego has a really good firewall, backup tools, system optimization tools, and parental controls. You can try out Intego with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

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Read the full Intego review >

Bonus. BullGuard — Best Virus Scanner for Gamers

Bonus. <a href="https://www.safetydetectives.com/go/vendor/gamer/663/?post_id=32040&alooma_btn_name=Affiliate+Link+-+209721" title="BullGuard" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-btn-name="Affiliate Link - 209721" data-btn-indexed="1">BullGuard</a> — Best Virus Scanner for Gamers

BullGuard has a good antivirus scanner — it combines extensive virus databases with machine learning to detect, block, and remove all kinds of viruses, including next-gen and zero-day viruses.

During my tests, BullGuard caught 98% of the malware files I downloaded to my computer, missing only a couple of very tricky adware files — this is still an impressive result, especially considering that BullGuard detected and blocked all other threats, including very advanced viruses, trojans, rootkits, spyware, and ransomware.

BullGuard also has a standout Game Booster mode which re-allocates system resources and stops background processes to improve PC performance while gaming — Game Booster actually improved my frame rate during a test run which is really impressive (BullGuard ranked as the #1 antivirus for gamers).

Other notable BullGuard features include:

  • Firewall.
  • Phishing protection.
  • Home network scanner.
  • Parental controls.
  • Cloud storage.
  • Identity theft protection (US, Canada, and some EU nations).

BullGuard Antivirus comes with an antivirus scanner, Game Booster mode, and coverage for 1 device, whereas BullGuard Internet Security also includes a firewall, parental controls, cloud storage, and coverage for 3 devices. BullGuard’s Premium Protection package also adds a home network scanner, identity theft protections, and coverage for 10+ devices.

Bottom Line:

BullGuard is a good virus scanner for gamers — it uses machine learning to block viruses in real time and it has a unique Game Booster mode that speeds up PC performance while gaming. BullGuard also has an advanced firewall, a home network scanner that scans all IoT devices, parental controls, cloud storage, and more. You can try out BullGuard with a commitment-free 30-day money-back guarantee.

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Read our full BullGuard review >

🤔 What is the best virus removal software for Windows 10?

Norton 360 Deluxe is my favorite virus removal program for Windows 10 — it has one of the best virus scanners on the market, with 100% virus detection and removal in my tests, and includes additional security features like a firewall, Wi-Fi scanner, VPN, anti-phishing protection, and identity theft protections.

It should be noted that Windows 10 comes with a built-in antivirus (Windows Defender), but it only offers basic protection against some viruses — Windows Defender can’t protect your computer from cybersecurity threats like adware, spyware, ransomware, phishing, network-based attacks, or brute-force attacks.

On the other hand, third-party antivirus programs like Norton have advanced scanning tools like machine learning, heuristic analysis, and behavior monitoring to detect both known and zero-day malware.

🤔 Do I need a virus removal app for my Android device?

Yes! Android devices have built-in security features, but those features aren’t enough to keep you protected against malware, data breaches, or phishing attacks.

The virus removal software on this list all have excellent security suites that extend protection to Androids and provide a variety of really useful features to protect phone and tablet users.

Norton 360 has a really good Android app that blocks all malicious apps before you download them to your device. Norton also comes with advanced cybersecurity protections, including anti-phishing, a Wi-Fi network scanner, and lots more.

🤔 Is it true that iOS devices don’t need antivirus software?

No, it’s not true! While iPhones can’t get “viruses” because of their built-in protections, iPhone users are still vulnerable to cyber threats like phishing sites, unsafe Wi-Fi networks, adware, spyware, and ransomware.

To make sure your iPhone is protected against all these threats, you should get antivirus software that improves on iPhone’s built-in protections. While all the products I recommend have good iPhone apps, my favorite antivirus for iPhones is McAfee — which comes with an app scanner, anti-phishing protection, an app locker, a Wi-Fi scanner, anti-theft protection, and lots more.

🤔 What’s the best virus removal software for Macs?

The best Mac-only antivirus is Intego — it has excellent real-time protection, a highly customizable firewall, cloud backup, parental controls, and Mac optimization tools.

However, if you’re looking to protect multiple devices, including PCs and Androids, I recommend Norton or McAfee, both of which support all operating systems, are excellent at virus detection and removal, and have tons of additional features.

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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