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5 Best Antivirus Programs for 100% Protection in 2023

Updated on: September 22, 2023
Fact Checked by Kate Davidson
Tyler Cross Tyler Cross
Updated on: September 22, 2023

Short on time? Here’s the best antivirus for 100% protection:

  • 🥇 Norton 360: It has an advanced scanner that offers 100% protection against all kinds of malware. It also has excellent web protection, an unlimited-data VPN, the most comprehensive dark web monitoring around, and some of the best parental controls on the market.

Every antivirus claims to be the best, but only a handful of products genuinely offer 100% protection. Online threats are getting more and more advanced, so I wanted to find which antiviruses offered the best protection against even the most sophisticated malware.

I was able to find several antiviruses that offer flawless malware protection. But it wasn’t easy. Most of the programs I tested were unable to catch all (or even most) of my malware samples, and many of them were also overpriced (and with limited additional features).

The brands on this list have advanced malware prevention and detection, a ton of extras, and affordable pricing. My top choice is Norton, but all of the products I recommend are also good, budget-friendly choices for improving your online security.

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Quick summary of the best antivirus programs for 100% protection:

🥇1. Norton 360 — Best Antivirus for 100% Protection in 2023

🥇1. Norton 360 — Best Antivirus for 100% Protection in 2023

Norton gives you complete protection from viruses and other malware. It uses a massive database of known viruses and advanced heuristic analysis, meaning it’s able to detect even the newest and most advanced threats.

During my tests, Norton detected and removed 100% of the sample malware I downloaded onto my PC. The full scan took around 40 minutes, which is faster than most competitors. I tested its real-time protection as well, and it immediately blocked every malware sample I tried to download.

Norton also provides a comprehensive range of protection tools:

  • Anti-phishing protection.
  • Smart Firewall.
  • Ransomware protection.
  • VPN (unlimited data).
  • Password manager.
  • Parental controls.
  • Dark web monitoring.
  • And a lot more…

Norton’s Safe Web browser extension provides excellent anti-phishing protection. It blocked every phishing website during my tests, detecting more risky sites than even top competitors like McAfee. It also performed better than Chrome or Firefox’s built-in protection.

The dark web monitoring offered by Norton is the best in the industry, with live agents constantly scanning through the dark web for your personal information. If the agents find any of your info on the dark web, like email addresses, credit/debit card details, phone numbers, or gamer tags, you’ll be alerted immediately. Norton will also give you advice on what steps to take to resolve the problem.

My favorite plan is Norton 360 Deluxe, which costs $49.99 / year and covers 5 devices. Users on a budget can take a look at Norton AntiVirus Plus, which costs $19.99 / year and comes with the malware scanner, real-time protection, firewall, and 2 GB of cloud storage. All Norton plans come with a generous 60-day money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line:

Norton is my favorite antivirus in 2023, offering 100% protection against all kinds of malware. In addition to an advanced malware scanner, Norton offers great web protection, a Smart Firewall, an unlimited-data VPN, and the best dark web monitoring on the market. Its plans come with a 60-day money-back guarantee so you can try it risk-free.

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Read the full Norton 360 review

🥈 2. Bitdefender — Excellent Malware Scanner With Loads of Extra Features

🥈 2. Bitdefender — Excellent Malware Scanner With Loads of Extra Features

Bitdefender provides excellent defense against viruses with its advanced cloud-based malware scanner. It uses a massive malware directory and AI to find and remove all kinds of malware. During my tests, Bitdefender was able to successfully detect every threat I’d buried in my device — and since it’s cloud-based, it didn’t slow my system down at all.

I also really like Bitdefender’s real-time protection. It scans every file and email attachment you access for malware, potentially unwanted applications, and more. When I tested it out, it blocked 100% of the malware samples I attempted to download. More advanced users will also appreciate how customizable Bitdefender’s real-time protection is, with options to include or exclude applications, archives, and scripts.

Bitdefender has tons of extra features, including:

  • Advanced ransomware protection.
  • Web protection.
  • Password manager.
  • System optimization.
  • VPN (200 MB/day).
  • Parental controls.
  • And tons more…

I was very impressed by Bitdefender’s web protection. When I tested the anti-phishing protection out, it blocked every single phishing site I tried to access, putting it right up there with Norton when it comes to 100% protection from malicious sites.

Bitdefender’s VPN is one of the fastest antivirus-bundled VPNs on the market. Unfortunately, it’s limited to only 200 MB per day, unless you get the most expensive plan. Norton, on the other hand, offers unlimited VPN data on most of its plans.

Bitdefender Total Security costs $35.99 / year and covers 5 Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android devices. The plan comes with the scanner, real-time protection, web protection, parental controls, password manager, and a lot more. The most expensive plan, Bitdefender Premium Security, adds an unlimited-data VPN, covers up to 10 devices, and costs $49.99 / year. All Bitdefender plans are covered by a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try them out risk-free.

Bottom Line:

Bitdefender has an advanced, cloud-based scanner with 100% malware detection. Its real-time protection and web protection are great, and it offers a fast VPN, a decent password manager, good parental controls, and much more. All plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can make sure it’s right for you.

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Read the full Bitdefender review

🥉 3. McAfee — 100% Malware Detection With Great Web Protection

🥉 3. McAfee — 100% Malware Detection With Great Web Protection

McAfee is able to detect and remove both new and zero-day threats. It scored a perfect 100% detection rating in my tests, and its real-time protection blocked all of the sample malware I attempted to download too.

The only thing that didn’t impress me about the scans was how they slowed my computer down. I wasn’t able to run CPU-intensive games during the scan. The slowdown wasn’t extreme, but it impacted my system a lot more than cloud-based competitors like Bitdefender.

McAfee’s web protections are very good, with strong anti-phishing, anti-exploit, and browser-based cryptojacker protection. During my tests, McAfee blocked many more suspicious websites than browsers like Chrome or Edge, and its anti-exploit protection is much better than some of its competitors, like TotalAV and Avira.

McAfee’s security suite also includes:

  • Firewall.
  • Password manager.
  • VPN.
  • Parental controls.
  • And more…

McAfee’s firewall detected more network intrusions than my native firewall, and it also performed better than most of its antivirus competitors. It’s highly customizable too, allowing you to control individual programs’ access, adjust trust settings for networks, and a lot more. If you lack technical experience though, its default settings will work fine.

McAfee’s plans begin at $39.99 / year with McAfee Plus, which covers up to 5 devices and offers the malware scanner, real-time protection, firewall, web protections, password manager, and VPN. But my favorite plan is the Premium family package, which includes parental controls and unlimited device coverage and costs $64.99 / year. All of McAfee’s plans are backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line:

McAfee offers a comprehensive malware scanner and some of the best anti-phishing protection of any antivirus. Its network firewall works well, and it’s also one of the only antiviruses that allows you to cover unlimited devices. This is especially good for large families who want to cover all of their devices under the same plan. All McAfee’s plans come with a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.

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Read the full McAfee Total Protection review

4. TotalAV — Excellent Real-Time Protection

4. TotalAV — Excellent Real-Time Protection

TotalAV uses the same technology as Avira’s scanner to score a nearly perfect (99.6%) malware detection rating. During my tests, its scans were fast and caught nearly every virus buried in my device — only missing a few that Norton, Bitdefender, and McAfee were able to find.

TotalAV’s real-time protection is as good as other top competitors. It successfully blocked all incoming malware samples before they could infect my device.

TotalAV also offers:

  • Anti-phishing protection.
  • Unlimited-data VPN.
  • Password manager.
  • System cleanup.
  • Data breach monitoring.
  • And more…

I was pretty pleased with TotalAV’s anti-phishing protection, which blocked almost all of the suspicious websites I tested it against. That said, I think Norton’s web protection is more advanced and more user-friendly. However, I do like how TotalAV’s web protection is available as a completely free download.

TotalAV’s VPN is one of the best antivirus bundled VPNs I’ve tested, with fast connection speeds and a decent range of server locations (70+ across 30+ countries). It’s great for both streaming and torrenting, and it comes with a kill switch, leak protection, and a strict no-logs policy.

TotalAV Internet Security costs $39.00 / year and provides coverage for up to 5 Windows, Mac, iOS, or Android devices. It includes features like web protection, ransomware protection, the VPN, and a lot more. TotalAV Total Security covers 6 devices and adds a password manager and an ad blocker for $49.00 / year. All TotalAV plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line:

TotalAV offers excellent malware scanning technology, great web protection, and the best antivirus-bundled VPN on the market. All of its plans are backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it out for yourself.

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Read the full TotalAV review

5. Avira — Best Free Malware Protection Software

5. Avira — Best Free Malware Protection Software

Avira’s malware scanner uses heuristic analysis and machine learning to detect threats, and it operates completely in the cloud. When I tested Avira’s scanner, it was able to detect 100% of the sample malware I’d hidden in my PC. Since it’s cloud-based, I was able to play a few rounds of an online game at the same time with no noticeable difference in performance.

Avira also comes with:

  • Web protection.
  • VPN.
  • Password manager.
  • PC optimization tools.
  • And more…

Avira’s Browser Safety web extension is a bit of a mixed bag. While its anti-phishing works really well to block suspicious websites, its anti-exploit protection isn’t very good. During my tests, Avira only caught about 10% of the exploit attacks I tested it against, while top competitors like Bitdefender and Norton were able to catch 100% of them.

That said, Avira has one of the best free PC plans on the market. Avira Free Security includes the malware scanner, real-time protection, and other features like a VPN (500 MB per month), password manager, and device optimization tools. However, it only covers 1 device.

Upgrading to Avira Prime gets you all of Avira’s features without limitations. It covers 5 devices across all operating systems and costs $59.99 / year. All plans are backed by a 60-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it risk-free for 2 months.

Bottom Line:

Avira’s cloud-based scanner is one of the best on the market, and it has a range of extra features to keep your device fully protected. It comes with real-time protection, device optimization tools, a VPN, and decent web protections. Avira also has one of the best free plans on the market, and its paid plans are covered by a generous 60-day money-back guarantee.

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Read the full Avira Prime review

Comparison of the Best Antivirus for 100% Protection in 2023

Antivirus Starting Price Malware Detection Rate Firewall Anti-Phishing VPN Free Version Money-Back Guarantee
1.🥇Norton $54.99 / year 100% Unlimited data 60-days
2.🥈Bitdefender $14.99 / year 100% Unlimited data (with Bitdefender Premium Security) 30-days
3.🥉McAfee $39.99 / year 100% Unlimited data 30-days
4. TotalAV $19.00 / year 99.6% Unlimited data (with TotalAV Internet Security & Total Security) 30-days
5. Avira $45.99 / year 100% Unlimited data (with Avira Prime) 60-days

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How to Choose the Best Antivirus for 100% Protection in 2023

  • Great malware detection. I only included products with perfect (or near-perfect) malware detection, which are able to find and remove threats like trojans, rootkits, spyware, adware, and anything else that might be infecting your device. I performed dozens of tests to ensure that these high detection scores hold true and to make sure all the antiviruses on this list will provide you with excellent protection against malware.
  • Anti-phishing protection. Downloading malware isn’t the only threat you need to worry about online. A lot of deceptive websites will phish for your personal information. The antiviruses I chose can protect you by flagging suspicious websites and preventing you from accessing them. I personally tested each of these products and all of them block more phishing scams than browsers like Chrome or Edge. In fact, Norton and Bitdefender managed to block 100% of the phishing sites I tried to access.
  • Extra features. All listed antiviruses offer great bonus features, from ransomware protection to parental controls. For me, Norton has the best add-ons, but the rest of the antiviruses I tested all have unique features I found useful.
  • Consider each antiviruses overall value. Price, features, free trials, and device coverage are key factors. I’ve ensured my recommendations encompass diverse, value-rich plans catering to varying user requirements.
  • Multi-platform support. The best antiviruses should offer multi-platform support with security suites for Windows, Android, iOS, and Mac that provide excellent malware detection rates — and considerably more features than the antivirus protection your device comes with. The products on my list work well with all the main operating systems and come with browser extensions that also enhance your browser’s security.

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Top Brands That Didn’t Make the Cut

  • PC Matic: PC Matic has good malware detection rates, but it also blocked more safe programs than any of the brands on this list. It’s also missing important security features like a VPN, a password manager, and parental controls.
  • Panda: Panda Dome is a good antivirus, offering a lot of extra features that secure your device, including a firewall, a VPN, and a password manager. Unfortunately, it only has a 95% malware detection rating, which is good, but not as good as other top antiviruses.
  • Kaspersky: Kaspersky’s premium antivirus just barely misses the cut; it’s a good antivirus with a 100% malware detection rating, but some of its extra features aren’t as good as the extras offered by the brands that made it to the list.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need an antivirus in 2023?

The short answer is yes — as long as you’re online, you need protection from the wide range of online threats that can infect your device. Luckily, if you’re on Windows, Mac, or a mobile OS, you already have a built-in antivirus. These built-in antiviruses can detect and block some threats — but the antiviruses on my list offer far better malware detection and removal.

Apart from offering 100% protection from malware, the best antiviruses also offer extra features to keep your device fully protected. My top pick, Norton, includes features like anti-phishing protection, a Smart Firewall, a VPN to encrypt your data, and a lot more.

What protection does an antivirus offer?

An antivirus will scan your device for malware like viruses, trojans, rootkits, adware, and more. It will then remove these threats safely. Most antiviruses use a combination of massive directories of known malware and heuristic analysis to detect the latest threats.

A premium antivirus like Norton will also do more than just remove malware — it will provide you with a comprehensive set of security features, including anti-phishing protection to keep you safe from malicious websites.

You can read about the top antiviruses on the market here.

What is the best antivirus software for Windows?

In my opinion, Norton is hands down the best antivirus for Windows on the market. It provides the best overall protection from all types of malware, phishing scams, network threats, and more. During my tests, it scored a 100% malware detection and removal rating, and its real-time protection blocked every threat I tested against it.

That said, any antivirus on this list will provide you with significantly more security than Microsoft Defender, Windows’s in-built antivirus. If you’re looking for a free option, I’d recommend Avira’s free plan, which has a perfect malware detection rate, comes with real-time protection, and is incredibly lightweight.

Does an antivirus have more protection than Microsoft Defender?

Yes, a good antivirus will provide a lot more protection than Microsoft Defender. While Microsoft Defender is a solid antivirus in its own right, it lacks the flawless malware detection, anti-phishing protection, and some of the more advanced security features offered by any premium antivirus on this list.

Norton, for example, doesn’t just offer far better malware detection and removal than Windows Defender — it also has a great range of extra features like a VPN, parental controls, and a password manager. You can read more about it here.

The 5 Best Antiviruses for 100% Protection — Final Score:

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We rank vendors based on rigorous testing and research but also take into account your feedback and our commercial agreements with providers. This page contains affiliate links.
About the Author
Tyler Cross
Updated on: September 22, 2023

About the Author

Tyler is a writer at SafetyDetectives with a passion for researching all things tech and cybersecurity. Prior to joining the SafetyDetectives team, he worked with cybersecurity products hands-on for more than five years, including password managers, antiviruses, and VPNs and learned everything about their use cases and function. When he isn't working as a "SafetyDetective", he enjoys studying history, researching investment opportunities, writing novels, and playing Dungeons and Dragons with friends."