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Approximately 22 billion records were exposed in data breaches in 2022. That data is available on the dark web and can be used to ruin financial lives. Cyberattacks on companies are also costly. Installing the right antivirus software at home or your business is one step you can take to ensure that you don't become a future statistic.
But with hundreds of antivirus software solutions available, it can be hard to decide which is best for you. We investigated 20 options recommended by cybersecurity experts as their software of choice and considered the software's antivirus, malware, and ransomware protection. We also considered features such as multiple device protections and free version offerings. Here are our top picks for best antivirus software.
The 6 Best Antivirus Software of 2023
- Best for Multiple Devices: McAfee Antivirus Plus
- Most Well-Rounded: Bitdefender Antivirus Plus
- Best for Windows: Norton 360 With LifeLock
- Best Premium Option: Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security
- Best for Mac: Webroot SecureAnywhere
- Best Malware Scanning: Malwarebytes
Best for Multiple Devices : McAfee Antivirus Plus
- Cost: $19.99 for the first year, $64.99 per year in later years; $64.99 to $149.99 for MTP 10 Family plan
- Promotional deal: Price drops to $19.99 per year for two years with subscription; 30-day money back guarantee
- Primary protections: Malware detection, firewall
McAfee Antivirus Plus is our top choice for multiple devices because its subscriptions offer protection for every device in the home at a reasonable cost.
Offers protection for all devices, including Android and iOS
Good malware detection
First year discounts
No options for protecting one single device
McAfee Antivirus Plus is the one antivirus platform that recognizes the growing number of devices that are used in a single household. Many homes have four or even more different operating systems.
The basic package supports up to 10 devices, support, secure web browsing, and antivirus. The MTP 10 Device plan for 10 devices also includes features such as full protection for the home network, password manager, encrypted storage, safe family, and identity theft protection.
The one-year basic subscription, MAV Plus, is $19.99 for the first year then $64.99 per year. If you purchase a subscription for two years of MAV Plus, the price drops to $19.99 per year for each of the first two years, then $59.99 for a renewal. The MTP 10 Family plan is $64.99 for the first year and then $149.99 a year. There is a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Most Well-Rounded : Bitdefender Antivirus Plus
- Cost: $23.99 for one Windows device for one year, then $39.99 per year
- Promotional deal: 30-day free trial
- Primary protections: Ransomware, anti-tracker, password manager with some packages
Bitdefender Antivirus Plus is one of our top picks because its paid version offers the most well-rounded protection across multiple devices.
Anti-Tracker for better data privacy
Password manager with some packages
Frequent updates with subscription
Some packages can be expensive
VPN available with higher tier packages only
Bitdefender was founded in 2001 and is headquartered in Bucharest, the capital of Romania. The company has over 1,600 employees with offices all over the world. Antivirus Plus is the company’s entry-level antivirus software offering, making it ideal for home users who lack technical skills and anyone who wants basic defense against threats.
Antivirus Plus offers an array of security-first features because viruses aren’t the only cybersecurity risks. They include ransomware prevention, monitoring online purchases and web-based transactions, and protection against fraud and phishing all managed through an easy-to-use dashboard.
Antivirus Plus is only available for Windows, but there are similar versions of the antivirus program available for other operating systems like Mac and Android. A free version of Bitdefender for Windows offers computer scans and other antivirus features, as well as web protection against phishing and fraud. The paid version includes Safepay for financial transactions, multi-layer ransomware protection, and vulnerability assessments. A virtual private network (VPN) is also offered with higher tier packages.
One year of coverage for one Windows device on the Plus plan is $14.99 and $39.99 after that first year. There is a 30-day free trial.
Best for Windows : Norton 360 With LifeLock
- Cost: $99.99 to $179.99 per year with one license
- Promotional deal: None
- Primary protections: Malware, firewall and backup, password manager
Norton 360 with LifeLock keeps improving on its history as a top antivirus option with its PC maintenance features, making it the best for Windows computers.
PC protections including firewall and backup
Excellent malware protection
LifeLock identity theft protection with most 360 packages
Ransomware detection could be improved
Slows the computer during full scans
One of the more expensive offerings
Norton introduced its first antivirus software in 1991 under the Symantec umbrella. Symantec purchased LifeLock in 2017, and the name was changed to NortonLifeLock in 2019 after the company's enterprise division was sold. The company is based in Tempe, Arizona.
Norton 360 with LifeLock won best antivirus for Windows because of how it has continued to build on its history of protecting Windows machines. The identity theft protection capabilities of LifeLock alone give this product an edge.
There are several versions of this product, so users can pick the features they need, but even the lowest plan provides 250GB of cloud backup. The lowest plan is the only one without LifeLock service.
The mid-range Norton 360 with LifeLock Standard is $179.99, with data breach notifications and dark web monitoring. For a cheaper option, Norton Antivirus Plus is $59.99 per year with one license.
Best Premium Option : Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security
- Cost: $19.95 for the first year, then $39.95 per year
- Promotional deal: 30-day money back guarantee
- Primary protections: Protects online financial transactions, ransomware detection
Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security has an aggressive antivirus system at a reasonable price, making it our pick for best for premium options.
Protects online financial transactions
Most versions only work on Windows
Trend Micro was founded in 1988 in the U.S., but it's headquartered in Tokyo as of 1992. The company operates worldwide and has many partnerships in the tech industry. Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security not only has an aggressive antivirus system at a reasonable price, but it also offers a number of security tools including ransomware protections, protections for children online, and a Pay Guard browser that provides the safest levels of protection for online banking and purchases.
Every version of this antivirus software includes Trend Micro’s Advanced AI Learning feature that detects new ransomware strains and other emerging threats, stopping them before they damage the computer network. Password management and protection are only offered in the product family's highest tier.
This is the antivirus software option for those who don’t want to have to micromanage their security. The first two plans are only for Windows. The highest tier plan works on Windows, Mac, Chromebook, iOS, and Android.
The first year of subscription to Antivirus+ Security is $19.95. After that, it costs $39.95 per year. The company offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Best for Mac : Webroot SecureAnywhere
- Cost: $39.98 to $129.98 per year
- Promotional deal: Reduced rate for first year
- Primary protections: Virus scanning, phishing detection
Webroot SecureAnywhere for Mac offers excellent phishing detection and fast scanning ability in a complete Mac version of its antivirus software.
Excellent phishing detection
Fast virus scanning
Labels malicious links during online searches
Webroot is not as well known as other antivirus companies
Webroot is based in Broomfield, Colorado and has offices in Japan, Europe, Australia, and California. The company was founded in 1997 and it introduced its first antivirus product in 2006. OpenText acquired the company in 2019.
Webroot SecureAnywhere for Mac is our choice for antivirus protection that's best for Mac computers. There's still a belief that Mac computers are safe from cyberattacks, and most viruses are targeted at Windows computers but Macs are vulnerable to other malware, ransomware, phishing attacks, and even Apple-targeted viruses.
This software boasts a very small footprint on your computer's operating system but it offers very fast security scans and is one of the best at phishing detection. Webroot's interface is more similar across platforms than other antivirus software for those who use both Windows and Mac.
You'll pay $39.98 per year for antivirus protection after a promotional rate. You can add Webroot Wifi Security and protect up to three devices for $109.98.
Best Malware Scanning : Malwarebytes
- Cost: $44.99 for one device; $89.99 for up to five devices
- Promotional deal: Free trial, and a limited free version
- Primary protections: Blocks ransomware, detects and removes malware
Malwarebytes, our top choice for malware scanning, is the best at removing malware on demand among any providers.
Free version only cleans computers, but doesn't protect
Malwarebytes is headquartered in Santa Clara, California, and was founded in 2008. The free version of Malwarebytes is limited but powerful. It doesn't have many advanced features and protections. It doesn't protect your computer against threats. It simply detects and removes malware from infected computers.
Malwarebytes does an excellent job of capturing, quarantining, and removing malware that's wreaking havoc on your system. You can run a full or quick scan of the free version whenever it's needed, and it will create a report on your system.
The paid version of Malwarebytes offers 24/7 monitoring, and it protects vulnerabilities from exploits until the software is patched. It blocks ransomware and shields against infected websites. Unlike the free version, this paid, premium version is full-fledged antivirus software. The free version runs on demand, scanning for and removing malware, but should always be used in tandem with more comprehensive antivirus software.
The software is available for multiple operating systems, but a few features are limited to the Windows version. A one-year paid subscription is $44.99 for one device or $89.99 for five devices. A free trial is available for a limited time, but the free version remains on your computer to be used on demand.
We chose Bitdefender Antivirus Plus as the most-well rounded antivirus software because it offers the most extensive protection, at least with its paid version. It detects ransomware and protects your data with an anti-tracker on top of that, and it guards against fraud and phishing, too. Its dashboard is streamlined and easy to navigate, so it offers a lot of protection for users who aren't particularly tech-savvy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do You Really Need Antivirus Software?
Hackers don't just make money by selling your personal information. They can use that data to buy things fraudulently, compromise your credit score, drain your bank account, and generally wreak havoc on your and your business's financial life. Adding antivirus software to your computers is the least you can do to protect yourself. Other things you can do to protect yourself include installing anti-malware software, using a VPN, improving your password, and setting up two-factor authentication on your devices.
How Much Does Antivirus Software Cost?
There are free options of antivirus software, but you get better protection and more features with a paid subscription. Paid versions offer features such as VPN, password management, and parental controls. Prices range from $20 to over $100 a year, depending on the number of licenses, the number of devices you want covered, and the features you prefer.
Is It Worth Paying for Antivirus Software?
Free AV software has improved greatly over the years, and anyone using Windows 10 or higher already has free AV software that works pretty well. Free is good if all you want is software that detects malicious software, blocks it from doing damage, and scans your system. But paid versions will offer protections on web browsing, protect identity, or offer VPN services, as well as password managers and parental control across multiple devices and operating systems. These services are becoming more essential as more people are working remotely or using a single device for work and personal computing.
What's the Difference: Antivirus Software vs. Antimalware?
Viruses are designed to replicate and spread. Malware is a catchall name for all types of malicious code aimed at damaging a computer or network. All viruses are malware, but not all malware is a virus. AV software identifies threats through signature detections based on what's already known in the signature database. The two types of defense software complement each other, but the two are different and protection against both is necessary for true protection.
There are hundreds of antivirus software solutions available. We investigated 20 popular solutions often considered the software of choice by cybersecurity experts. Of critical importance was the ease of use with all providers, making it something every consumer could navigate and use.
We then considered whether or not the provider had offerings beyond antivirus software. This included malware, ransomware protection, and multiple device protections. Those that had a free version or trial were given preference. We gave particular importance to platforms that were easy to use and integrate.
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Bitdefender. "About Bitdefender."
Norton. "The Evolution of Norton Protection."
Silicon Angle. "Symantec Is Now NortonLifeLock."
Norton. "Norton LifeLock."
Forbes. "Trend Micro Celebrates 35 Years of Consistent Success."
Webroot. "Official Contact Information."
Webroot. "The History of Webroot."
CrunchBase. "Malwarebytes Corporation."