Best Antivirus Software

Of course, you want to be safe on the Internet. A virus scanner is a good place to start. But which virus scanner is best for you? Is a paid version always necessary? When purchasing, keep these questions in mind, obviously there are a lot of different types available on the market which makes choosing the right one quite hard. Read our guide and learn everything about the best antivirus software of 2022.

Ben Grindlow

Ben Grindlow is the founder of ProXPN, a company that provides reviews about VPN products and services. Ben's interest in cybersecurity and privacy led him to start ProXPN, which has become one of the most well-respected VPN providers in the world. Ben is passionate about his work, and he is constantly exploring new ways to improve ProXPN's in-depth guides.

Last updated: 10:10AM 7/5/2022

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Table of Contents

Buying the best malware protection program for your needs is the first step toward being better protected online. These software packages, generally easy to download and use, remain the first line of defense against cybercriminals who want to exploit vulnerabilities in your online devices for their own financial gain.

What has changed in recent years is how viruses behave and what their end goal is – usually to rob you of your money one way or another. Prevention is always better than cure, so read on to discover all the ins and outs of the best antivirus software so you can be as protected as possible.

1.Norton 360 Deluxe

  • Type of security: Complete security solution
  • License duration: 1 year license
  • Number of devices: 3 PCs/Macs/tablets/smartphones
  • Platform: Windows

2.McAfee Total Protection Security Software

  • Type of security: Complete security solution
  • License duration: 1 year license
  • Number of devices: 1 PC/Mac/tablet/smartphone
  • Platform: MAC, Windows, Android, iOS

3.NORTON 360 Deluxe (18 months, for 5 devices)

  • Type of security: Internet Security
  • License duration: 1 year license
  • Number of devices: 5 PCs
  • Platform: Windows

The buying guide to the best antivirus software

Malware is generally designed to either steal your data or do so much damage to your system that you have to pay a heavy price to undo the effects.

The best antivirus software combines waterproof protection with extra features to protect you from scams. Installing and using it is generally a breeze. Read on to find all the information you need to purchase the right antivirus program for your needs.

What does antivirus software scan for?

Broadly speaking, antivirus software looks for anything that could pose a threat to your device. This means scanning for and blocking viruses, worms, and Trojan horses that could damage your system or allow cybercriminals to remotely take control of it.

The best antivirus programs also protect you from phishing scams, which are designed to trick you into handing over your personal information or money to cybercriminals. Other features you may find in antivirus software include firewalls, which help protect your system against unauthorized access, and anti-spyware tools, which detect malicious programs that are designed to collect and transmit your data without your knowledge. The following threats are being checked by antivirus software:


Malware is an umbrella term indicating a number of different types of cyber threats. Essentially, malware is designed to access people's devices without their consent or awareness, for various devious purposes. Once the malware is in, it can steal your personal information and use it for identity theft or simply to tamper with your settings.

  • Malware takes the form of computer worms, among other things. Those are programs that duplicate themselves in a network to make it collapse. Computer worms appear in email messages or attachments; this is why you should never click on unknown emails.
  • There are also Trojan viruses, malware disguised as legitimate software, like the Trojan horse, which gives hackers access and control over devices.

There are many kinds of these malicious programs that your malware protection software should be able to fend off. Below are some different types of malware:


Spyware refers to programs that infect devices to collect your information, such as your bank and credit card details, names, and more. One type of spyware is keyloggers, which record keystrokes to steal data.


One can demand ransom not only from people, but also from devices. Hackers can hijack a computer and block access until they get your ransom payment.


Adware hides on devices, displays ads to the user and monitors their online behavior. This helps brands target their advertising based on what the user searched for.


Scams come in many forms, be it texting, online messaging or emails. In the case of unsolicited commercial e-mails, it is junk mail. Always keep in mind: most reputable services don't spam their customers with this kind of junk mail.


In brief, phishing is a form of email and SMS fraud attempted when someone impersonates another company (in most cases) or individual. Phishing protection programs should check emails and text messages that appear to come from banks and postal delivery companies, as those are common covers for phishers.

These contact attempts contain malicious links to dangerous websites or downloads.


Pharming is similar to phishing in that it involves fake websites and malicious code. But instead of contacting users via email or text message, hackers plant the malicious code for pharming directly on a computer or server, leading you to fake websites without clicking anything.


Spoofing happens when someone impersonates someone else to get your credentials so they can access your systems, steal information and spread malware. This is done via email, websites, text messages and other methods.

Attacks with remote access

Remote access attacks are malicious actions that target one computer or an entire network of computers. Rather than attacking the computers themselves, these attacks seek out the machine's vulnerabilities to access and steal data, introduce malware and viruses, and do other nefarious things.


Finally, a virus is a malicious code or program that attaches itself to legitimate files or programs and corrupts data, affecting the software itself. They can range from wildly annoying to utterly destructive.

Protection percentage

Your antivirus software should lock out more than 95 percent of the malware it detects. Make sure that this detection rate is not associated with a high rate of false positives. False positives happen when the antivirus incorrectly marks benign files as malware.

Some of the best producers of antivirus packages are:

  • Bitdefender, which makes Bitdefender Total Security
  • Kaspersky Lab, with the Kaspersky Anti Virus product

Some of the best malware detection among products for Windows, Mac and Android devices is done by:

  • Norton and Trend Micro

closely followed by

  • Avast and AVG

What is the best antivirus software for identity theft protection?

The best antivirus software for identity theft protection is one that offers multi-factor authentication, continuous monitoring of online accounts, and real-time alerts when your personal information is compromised. Many of the top security suites include these features and many more to protect you from various types of cyber threats. Read online reviews to determine which ones are most effective before buying one.

Do all the best antivirus software have ransomware protection?

Not all the best antivirus software offers ransomware protection, but this is becoming more and more common. Many of the most popular antivirus programs now include a special feature that protects against ransomware attacks. Some even offer additional tools like file shredders or encryption services to help protect important files from being compromised. So it's definitely worth considering one of the best antivirus programs listed below.

What is dark web monitoring?

The dark web is a part of the internet that can only be accessed using special software. It's often used by criminals to buy and sell illegal goods or services, or to share sensitive information. Dark web monitoring is a feature offered by some antivirus programs that keeps an eye on the dark web for any mention of your personal information, so you can be alerted if your data is being traded or sold. This can be a valuable tool for protecting your identity and personal information.

Note: Some antivirus programs may also offer other features like firewall protection, password management, or parental controls. Be sure to read the descriptions carefully to see what each program offers before making your final decision.

Free antivirus software

Some free antivirus products provide solid virus protection and malware detection. These include Kaspersky Security Cloud Free, Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition, and even Microsoft's built-in Windows Security. There are some con's to using free antivirus software, including less-robust support options and sometimes more aggressive advertising.

  • If you want to take your protection a step further, consider investing in an internet security suite instead of just an antivirus package. Internet security suites typically offer additional features like parental control, identity theft monitoring and firewall protection.

Paid antivirus software generally has a lot more extra features, especially on Windows. For example, Bitdefender Antivirus Plus has built-in ransomware protection, a file shredder, a browser for safe browsing and a password manager, in addition to malware detection and protection.

What are the free antivirus software in 2022?

Some of the top free antivirus software in 2022 will include Kaspersky Security Cloud Free, Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition, and Microsoft Windows Security. These programs offer solid virus protection and malware detection, as well as additional features like ransomware protection, password management, and parental controls. The top 5 bet free antivirus versions are:

1.Kaspersky Security Cloud Free

Kaspersky Security Cloud Free is one of the top free antivirus products, offering robust protection and detection across various types of cyber threats.

2.Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition

Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition is another popular option, with reliable virus scanning and malware detection as well as additional features like ransomware protection and a file shredder.

3.Microsoft Windows Security Free

Microsoft Windows Security is another free option for protecting against viruses and malware, with built-in protection tools like firewall defense, password management, and parental controls.

4.Norton Security Standard Free

Norton Security Standard is a premium antivirus program that offers top-notch virus scanning and malware detection as well as extra features like dark web monitoring, identity theft protection, and ransomware protection.

5.Avast! Internet Security Free

Finally, Avast! Internet Security is another powerful antivirus program that provides robust virus scanning and malware detection as well as additional features like parental controls and file encryption. Whether you choose a paid or free option, be sure to do your research and carefully review the features and protection offered by each program before making your final decision when you choose a free antivirus.

Be prepared to keep paying

You have to pay an annual subscription for an antivirus software license, so expect to pay the same price next year — or a little more if you got an introductory discount. One thing is for sure, the best antivirus software is not free, and it's important to do your research before you find the best antivirus protection. Read more to find out what you should look at when buying antivirus programs.

System load

Before deciding on a purchase, always read user reviews of the antivirus programs you have in mind to see how much the product slows down your computer. Antivirus programs can use system resources both in the background and during active malware scans. This is especially important for older, slower PCs — the ones that need antivirus programs the most. For an older PC, antivirus packages with fewer features might be less of a drag on the system.


Windows PCs often come with one- or three-month ‘free trials' of well-known antivirus products. When the trial period is over, you have to start paying for it or lose your antivirus protection. Take the time to look for an alternative antivirus product rather than automatically paying for the trial product. You might be able to get something better for the same price — or even less. It's worth the time to take a look.

  • In recent years, for example, Windows Security – the antivirus software built into Windows 8.1 and 10 – has improved a lot. It's amazing how quickly it has evolved into a top software package.
  • Windows Security is now as good at detecting malware as most, if not all, third-party antivirus software, especially on Windows 10. Keep in mind, though, that you still get more comprehensive antivirus protection from malicious websites, emails and email attachments when you use third-party antivirus software — especially the products you pay for.

Since 2009, Apple's proprietary antivirus software XProtect has been shipped on all Macs. XProtect scans all programs and files for viruses and malware, checking what it finds against a threat database that Apple updates daily.

Ease of use vs. advanced tools

Most antivirus users want a set-it-and-forget-it option, but sometimes you can benefit from digging deeper and fine-tuning your software exactly the way you want. With Trend Micro, for example, you can start scans directly from your home screen, and with Avira you can adjust settings that most people have never heard of.

Additional features of best antivirus software

In addition to the core features of antivirus software, many companies bundle this software with a free security suite that may include other malware protection services, such as VPNs, parental controls, and more.

Email and Internet Protection

You want antivirus software that automatically checks email attachments before you open them and that also checks websites before you load them. Nearly all the best commercial antivirus software does both. Of the free products, Avast Free Antivirus, AVG AntiVirus Free, and Bitdefender Antivirus Free do this as well.

Parental Controls

Parental controls allow parents to control what their children see online, what they can search for and how much they use certain devices. Children in the household mean a need for a certain level of parental control, depending on their ages.

Firewalls for Network Security

Firewalls not only scan devices for threats, but also the entire networks they are connected to. Firewalls are usually bundled with antivirus software as a free add-on, although sometimes they come only in more advanced packages. In short, firewalls provide network security by scanning your network and devices and alerting you to potential intruders.


Virtual private networks allow you to hide devices and IP addresses and to encrypt your web activities, making you less susceptible to hackers. Read more about the best VPN services for online security here.

Safe Browsers

Safe browsers differ from program to program, but at the very least they should prevent you from going to malicious websites or clicking on malicious attachments.

Password Manager

Password managers keep track of all your usernames and passwords in a safely encrypted virtual vault. They also perform a password check and generate new passwords to replace old, weak or repeated passwords. A password manager is a godsend for people who struggle to remember all their login information.

Encrypted cloud storage

Some packages include a certain amount of encrypted cloud storage for the types of files that contain sensitive information.

System performance optimization

Some software offers optimization tools to ramp up your browsing speed and keep all your programs up to date, but this service is one you probably don't need to pay extra for. Instead, set your computer preferences to update your software automatically, and manually clean up your files often to free up space.

Antivirus protection bundles for multiple platforms and devices

If you've decided to pay for antivirus and other malware protection and you have a lot of computers and smartphones, check out the bundles that cover multiple Windows, macOS, Android, and even iOS devices for a single price.

The 5 best antivirus protection packages, including for multiple devices

If you want to find the best antivirus for your situation, and you want to start using it on multiple devices, make sure to look at the following products :

1. Norton 360 Deluxe

Norton 360 Deluxe is one of the most comprehensive antivirus and malware protection packages available. It includes firewall, parental controls, password manager, VPN support and system optimization tools.

  • Type of security: Complete security solution
  • License duration: 1 year license
  • Number of devices: 3 PCs/Macs/tablets/smartphones
  • Platform: Windows

2. McAfee Total Protection Security Software

McAfee Total Protection is another comprehensive antivirus solution that includes anti-spam and parental control functionality. It also comes with a two-year subscription for up to five devices.

  • Type of security: Complete security solution
  • License duration: 1 year license
  • Number of devices: 1 PC/Mac/tablet/smartphone
  • Platforms: MAC, Windows, Android, iOS

3. Bitdefender Antivirus Plus

If you're looking for the best antivirus protection with excellent malware detection and minimal impact on system performance, Bitdefender Antivirus Plus is an excellent choice. It's also compatible with macOS, Windows and Android devices.

  • Type of security: Internet Security
  • License duration: 1 year license
  • Number of devices: 5 PCs
  • Platform: Windows

4. McAfee Total Protection Security Software

Another powerful security suite is McAfee Total Protection, which includes anti-spam and parental controls. This bundle also comes with a two-year subscription for up to five devices and a two-year membership for three PCs or Macs.

  • Type of security: Complete security solution
  • License duration: 1 year license
  • Number of devices: 10 PCs/Macs/tablets/smartphones
  • Platform: Windows, Android, iOS, MAC

5. Kaspersky Internet Security

Kaspersky Internet Security provides excellent malware protection and a wide range of features, but its performance impact is high. If you don't mind sacrificing some speed for security, this antivirus program is a great choice.

  • Type of security: Internet security
  • License duration: 1 year license
  • Number of devices: 3 PCs/Macs/tablets/smartphones
  • Platforms: Windows, Android, iOS, MAC

Frequently asked questions about antivirus scanners

There are many questions you still have about the best antivirus software, to help you out we have selected a few of the most frequently asked questions about antivirus protection to make sure you know everything there is to know.

How do you remove a virus scanner?

First of all, why would you ever want to remove it? Well, there are many different antivirus programs on the market. If you already have an antivirus program on your desktop or other device and you want to install a different antivirus program for better malware protection, you must first uninstall the current antivirus.

Use the program's built-in uninstall feature by finding the folder for the antivirus program in the list of your downloaded programs. You will find this function there, and it will probably appear as an .exe file.

How do you turn off a virus scanner?

To disable your antivirus software, locate its icon in the notification area on the taskbar (usually in the lower-right corner of the desktop on Windows, or at the top of the menu bar in macOS).

Right-click (in Windows) or left-click (in macOS) on the icon and choose the option to disable or exit the program. Only disable your antivirus program right before installing new programs that can be trusted. Try to minimize the gap between the two programs so that you have nearly continuous malware protection.

What is the difference between a paid and free virus scanner?

The main difference between the free version and paid version of antivirus software is that the free version offers basic features, while the paid versions generally have more advanced features that provide more comprehensive protection for your device. Definitely consider the best antivirus software you can afford if you just bought a great laptop!

Which antivirus scanner should I buy?

Everybody is different, so this is up to you and your budget. What I can offer you is a handy table of some key specs for the best antivirus scanners. This should help you make the best choice in malware protection.

Norton 360 Deluxe

  • Type of security: Complete security solution
  • License duration: 1 year license
  • Number of devices: 3 PCs/Macs/tablets/smartphones
  • Platform: Windows

McAfee Total Protection Security Software

  • Type of security: Complete security solution
  • License duration: 1 year license
  • Number of devices: 1 PC/Mac/tablet/smartphone
  • Platform: MAC, Windows, Android, iOS

NORTON 360 Deluxe (18 months, for 5 devices)

  • Type of security: Internet Security
  • License duration: 1 year license
  • Number of devices: 5 PCs
  • Platform: Windows

McAfee Total Protection Security Software

  • Type of security: Complete security solution
  • License duration: 1 year license
  • Number of devices: 10 PCs/Macs/tablets/smartphones
  • Platform: Windows, Android, iOS, MAC

Norton 360 Deluxe 2020

  • Type of security: Complete security solution
  • License duration: 1 year license
  • Number of devices: 5 PCs/Macs/tablets/smartphones
  • Platform: Android, MAC, Windows, iOS

Play it safe out there

We are all enmeshed in our technology, and no one wants a virus on any of their devices, be it a smart TV, laptop, smartphone or anything else. Installing antivirus software for malware protection is an easy way to protect yourself and your devices.

Once you download the software for malware protection and enable automatic scans, there's little you need to do in terms of maintenance. As long as you don't disable the antivirus, you are protected. In your opinion, what are the best antivirus software programs that you prefer using to keep your device(s) safe? Speak up!

Frequently asked questions

Antivirus software is no exception to the rule that running programs on a computer will slow it down. When you conduct a scan, particularly a comprehensive one, the application will consume CPU cycles to complete the task. If you are simultaneously running many apps that need a substantial amount of processing power, you may experience a delay. Overall, the impact should be small, especially if you're using a recent computer, although certain antivirus applications are more resource-intensive than others.

Antivirus applications rely mostly on viral signature databases to identify harmful code on your computer. Even though they are now mostly kept in the cloud rather than on your hard disk, the majority of them are still vendor-specific. Consequently, one business may have spotted a hazard that another has overlooked. It is unlikely that a respected organization will lack a signature for a new piece of malware for an extended period of time, but it does occur on occasion.

If you've ever heard the old cliché “you get what you pay for,” then antivirus software is no exception. However, this does not mean that free antivirus products should be discarded out of hand – some are actually extremely good and may well be sufficient for some individuals..

Our own research shows that free antivirus programs generally perform worse than paid-for alternatives in independent tests. And we know from our own experience that these free programs may be lacking in features, offer subpar customer service, or be driven by an unhealthy obsession with up-selling.

In the end, it all comes down to what you do with your computer, how much you care about your personal data, and your own financial situation. Although it's always better to have some form of antivirus protection than none at all, it's important to keep an eye out for phony or otherwise ineffective free antivirus software.

If you're in the market for a new antivirus program, the best option for you is likely to be the one that has the features you want and that works well with your computer at a price you can afford. If you're looking for antivirus protection, you'll probably want to stick with products from the biggest and most well-known names in the business. These include businesses like Norton, Trend Micro, BitDefender and ESET.

We cannot emphasize this enough: Before purchasing or otherwise installing an antivirus product, conduct your own research. It's crucial to know what you're getting yourself into because you'll likely be using the same application for at least a year.

Yes, without a doubt. In general, two antivirus products shouldn't be installed on the same computer since they don't get along and may even mistakenly identify each other's viral signature database as a danger. So, the answer is to remove the previous antivirus application before installing the new one.

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