Best Antivirus 2021 – Virus Protection Software

There is plenty of antivirus software out there, and each of them claims to provide the best protection. But we’ve tested 30 of the best antivirus software, and choose the top 5 of them that are effective enough, secure enough, and strong enough to be considered the top antivirus software.

At a minimum, the best antivirus software should include powerful virus protection against advanced and new forms of malware – ransomware, Trojans, worms, rootkits, and spyware. Every antivirus on this article provides the best virus protection against all types of cyberthreats.

1
4.9 / 5
TOTAL SCORE

The Only Chromebook Dedicated App

2
4.7 / 5
TOTAL SCORE

PC Cloud Backup

3
4.6 / 5
TOTAL SCORE

Virus Protection Promise

4
4.6 / 5
TOTAL SCORE

Keep Your Sensitive Data

5
4.3 / 5
TOTAL SCORE

Effective malware detection

Types of Malware

The most common malware types include rootkits, spyware &adware, bots/botnets, logic bombs, ransomware/crypto-malware, Trojans, worms, keyloggers, and viruses. You’ll need the best virus scanner to identify these types of malware.

Viruses

It’s one of the most common malware attacks. For the virus to attack your system, or you have to do is copy it to a host of media. Many viruses replicate without the user’s knowledge. Viruses can spread from one device to another through network connections, removable media, website downloads, instant messaging, and email.

Keyloggers

Keyboard capturing or keylogging logs the user’s keystrokes and then sends data to a threat actor. Users are often not aware that everything they do on their PC is being monitored.

Worms

In the same way as viruses, worms can easily self replicate and spread segments and full copies of themselves through instant messages, email attachments, and network connections. However, unlike viruses, worms don’t require a host program to self replicate, run or propagate.

Trojan Horses

The Trojan horse program is malware often disguised as legit software. The Trojan horse virus hides on your PC until it’s called upon. Upon activation, Trojans can allow some threat actors to start spying on you and steal personal data.

Crypto-malware/ransomware

Ransomware is a kind of malware that’s built to lock users from their system or even deny access to your PC data until you pay a ransom. It’s a type of ransomware, which encrypts user files and demands payment often through bitcoin, which is untraceable.

Bots

A bot is a kind of computer system attached to a network with compromised security. Bots are controlled remotely.

Spyware & Adware

Spyware and adware are undesired software. Adware are usually created to serve ads on screens in the web browser. On the other hand, spyware is a malware type created to gain access and destroy your PC. It collects sensitive data such as personal identification information, browsing history, and habits.


Short of Time? See Our Top 5 for August, 2021

1. Malwarebytes – Stops ransomware attacks
2. Norton – Excellent malware protection
3. Bitdefender – Offers “Don’t Track” for optimized privacy
4. IObit – Optimize the PC performance
5. McAfee – Several Bonus Features


5 Best Antivirus Software

Following are the best antivirus software for 2021. All these are essential tools to offer maximum virus protection and bonus features that you’ll find very useful. The best antivirus software does not have to cost hundreds of dollars. We’ve listed some great antivirus programs that won’t cost you a fortune. Regardless of the device, you’re using to browse the Internet, the antivirus software you choose must protect your device. As online activity grows, so does the need for the best virus protection.

Furthermore, in this antivirus review we don’t just pick the #1 – we recommend investing a few minutes to find the best service which perfectly suits your tastes and preferences.

🥇1. Malwarebytes

4.9 / 5
TOTAL SCORE

Malwarebytes is an outstanding antimalware and antivirus solution that can block and detect many attack vectors. The AI-powered protection comprises four security layers that can protect your privacy and also keep your PC safe. This doesn’t just apply to the widely spread malware, but also the next malware generation, thanks to its Machine-learning algorithm. The good news is Malwarebytes is pretty easy to use, doesn’t use lots of resources, and scans fast, unlike some of the antivirus tools out there.

Features

Malwarebytes is a renowned antimalware tool in the industry. Although it started as a complimentary antimalware tool, it has over the years been used as a standalone solution.

It provides four layers of AI-powered protection:

  • Exploit protection
  • Ransomware protection
  • PUP and malware protection
  • Web protection

The four layers work simultaneously to protect users from infected URLs and known malware. Furthermore, the Machine-learning algorithm usually helps secure all your devices from unseen and new malicious software.

Furthermore, Malwarebytes has a configurable exploit filter that can protect you against zero-day malware and software vulnerability malware.

  • Browser Guard – Malwarebytes features a free browser extension. It stops infected and malicious URLs, blocks cryptojackers and undesired ads.
  • Hide alerts – it’s 2021, and every antivirus app should feature a do not disturb mode for giving presentations, watching videos, and gaming. Malwarebytes isn’t an exception – it hides all alerts if the chosen app runs on full screen. Also, you can set up every app, which activates this great feature.

Pricing

Malwarebytes comes with a free antivirus plan. Here you get all the available features for two weeks, and after the trial expires, you’ll have the free spyware and virus removal tool. Unfortunately, the free plan doesn’t provide real-time protection. This means if you wish to continue using real-time protection after 14 days, you’ll need to buy.

  • US$3.33 per month for one device
  • US$6.67 per month for five devices

→ Try Malwarebytes Free! ← 


🥈2. Norton 360

4.7 / 5
TOTAL SCORE

After almost 30 years since it was launched, Norton remains a leading brand in the antivirus market – independent antivirus testers score very highly. Furthermore, this provider usually packages a very detailed list of high-quality cybersecurity tools. It’s an incredible service, but it’s one of the most costly suites in the year 2021 and doesn’t feature a free version.

Pricing plans & features

Norton 360 price usually starts at $33.99 per year with a standard plan. Also, you’ll get the Bitdefender package from such an amount. The standard plan offers you one device, a password manager, 10 GB Cloud backup, a firewall, and core protection tools. Also, there is a Dark Web Monitoring and SafeCam that’s limited to your email.

For an additional $10 per year, you also get School Time and Parental Control features – this is a family-oriented plan that supports up to 5 devices, referred to as Norton 360 Deluxe. You’ll also find some other plans that provide extra identity protection and must prove priceless to people with extra risks of losing more money.

The next package is where the prices increase with LifeLock being added to the family. With LifeLock, your DOB, address, name, and social security number are added to the email monitoring, notifying you every time someone uses that personal data when applying for services or credits. Also, you can start Credit Monitoring and Reimbursement in case your identity is stolen.

After this, we go to the Ultimate Plus, which is available for $299.99 per year. With such offers, you’ll have Identity Lock, which can instantly lock the TransUnion credit line. Moreover, Transaction Monitoring allows you to centralize all the information regarding bank operations, such as cash withdrawals.

As if that’s not adequate, Court Records Scanning allows you to check if some criminal gave your DOB and name to the police. Overall, Norton 360 with LifeLock checks your home title and 401(k). What does Norton antivirus miss? Well, you will not find a secure browser, file encryption, and file shredder.

Norton 360 Advantages and Disadvantages

What We Like

Easy to use
Low resource usage
Powerful identity theft suite
Plenty of extras
Excellent protection
What We Dislike

No free version
Expensive

Verdict

Finally, Norton 360 provides superb protection without overloading your devices. Moreover, its user friendly but also offers lots of options for advanced users. And although the prices are pretty high, one won’t be hard-pressed to find better deals when buying all the components.

→ Try Norton 360 Free! ← 


🥉3. Bitdefender

4.6 / 5
TOTAL SCORE

Running for nearly two decades, Bitdefender has built a solid reputation for itself as one of the best virus protection software companies. It has more than 500 million users, primarily because it’s an incredible free version, but the premium version is worth every penny. And if you add a VPN and password manager, Bitdefender is a complete cybersecurity suite. It’s without a doubt that it’s the second on our list of the best antivirus software.

Bitdefender Pros and Cons

What We Like

Frequent updates
Good value for money
Excellent free version
Feature-rich
Excellent core
Best malware protection
What We Dislike

Access to a full VPN requires paying extra

Features

The results from independent testing labs have found Bitdefender to be a top antivirus program. This can be attributed to the software’s extensive feature package where other competitors would be glad to put a pricier tag. But Bitdefender does do this. Bitdefender antivirus protects your Internet banking and surfing, and in case you have not yet set automatic updates, the service informs you if you need to patch up the system. Also, there’s a secure web browser that comes with a virtual keyboard to prevent keylogging.

File shredder is another great feature you’ll get in Bitdefender. You can use this to disintegrate the most sensitive documents. Furthermore, all your files will be well protected from any ransomware attacks. We especially liked an anti-webcam hijack module, which comes with an Internet Security plan. Along with a two-way firewall and parental controls, it will help keep your kids safe.

On the other hand, if you choose the Total Security plan, you’ll find everything you might want, including many features of antivirus competitors. The only downside to our #2 solution is that Bitdefender may slow your PC or mobile device as it runs in the background if you own an old device.

Verdict

Overall, Bitdefender tried to overdo its competitors by doing things differently and is packed with many features into the cheapest version, making it a great option for users looking for affordable antivirus software.

→ Try BitDefender ← 


4. IObit Advanced SystemCare

4.6 / 5
TOTAL SCORE

IObit Advanced SystemCare is a leading PC optimization tool that helps clean up system junk, speed up CPU and RAM, free up memory, free up space on your disk, clean registry and monitor web browsing and system, and block malicious sites to protect personal data. Although system optimization is the main suite, IObit Advanced SystemCare comes with great products, including Drive Booster, MacBooster, Uninstaller, and malware fighter.

Features

  • Clean and optimize – special options and 12 tools, scan by category
  • Speed up – 4 tools and more unique options, with three modes (economy/game/work).
  • Protection – logs for up to 12 months, extra software to setup
  • Interface – functional, user friendly, and well organized
  • Scanning progress – cancel & pause options, autofix option
  • Quarantine – informative, accessible, and interactive after scans
  • Reports
  • Support – 24/7 customer support

IObit Advanced SystemCare is quite adjustable and flexible. For instance, with regards to the interface, one can choose the font size, choose a skin, set the program Windows transparency rate, and upload your images in the background.

Because of the comprehensive and all-encompassing approach, the IObit Advanced SystemCare is one of the top PC optimization tools in the market today. Optimization and cleanup are the main functions, allowing users to undertake tasks by certain categories.

IObit Advanced SystemCare Merits and Demerits

What We Like

Restore/backup
Structured features
Modern interface
Integration with other products
Free version and competitive prices
What We Dislike

Complicated rescue center
Can only access quarantine after scanning

→ Try IObit Advanced SystemCare ←


5. McAfee

4.3 / 5
TOTAL SCORE

McAfee Total Protection is one of the best virus protection software available, and that’s why we’ve featured it on this list.

Features & pricing plans

McAfee antivirus separates itself from competitors by offering iOS, Android, MacOS, and Windows support beginning from the basic plan. Nevertheless, apps for apple devices only have a few features. For only $29.99 per year, you get one license for every device. Moreover, in the same way as Bitdefender antivirus, McAfee offers numerous features for everyone but is slightly costly. The basic package includes a file shredder, file encryption, a password manager, and a VPN.

You can even throw in a few extra dollars and get five devices as well as identity protection essentials. Today, the family plan is available for a maximum of 10 devices and is available for only $39.99 per year, but it doesn’t have any extras. Moreover, the Ultimate plan is over 2x pricier than Bitdefender top site, but you can connect to as many devices as you want. Furthermore, you get a complete anti-identity theft package with $1 million in insurance and dedicated agents.

PayPal and credit cards are also accepted. Furthermore, there is a 30-day refund guarantee for users to test the available features with a chance to get a refund if they don’t like the service. We liked the Guest Mode for mobile devices. This allows you to lock some apps and give your tablet or smartphone to your children to watch videos or play games. Also, there’s a new option to lock specific apps.

McAfee Positives and Negatives

What We Like

Solid firewall
Generous device limits
Standard package has lots of features
Available plans support all major platforms
What We Dislike

Apple devices have few features

Verdict

Depending on the results from 3rd party lab tests, we can say McAfee excels in protecting user devices.

→ Try McAfee ←


How we Rate the Top Antivirus Software?

Essentially, many antivirus and anti malware software offer a wide range of features like defense against ransomware or real-time scanning. For many years, solid basics will be sufficient, and they do not have a reason to pay anything more for things they do not need.

However, special features are what make antimalware software stand out from its competitors. Following is the criteria we use to find the best antivirus software in 2021.

  • Independent antivirus lab tests – Does the antivirus company in question invest in such lab tests? What were the results? To find the top antivirus solutions, we look at results from AV-Comparatives, SE Labs, AV-Test Institute, and others.
  • In-house antivirus software tests – This often applies to adware, spyware, and other malware. A company can quickly create an antivirus program that scores highly in the initial tests, but can it retain the same scores throughout the year?
  • What’s the software’s record with the false positives? New malware types come out every day, and even the top antivirus program can’t catch all these malware 100% every time. However, how does the suite solve the issue of false positives? We look at the top antivirus software that doesn’t overreact and gives you the peace of mind to browse safely.
  • Bonus features – We check into the top antivirus software that offers secure browsers, spam filters, and firewalls, and other extras. We then compare the available features without asking prices.
  • Supported devices – the fact that you’ve found an antivirus for Mac, doesn’t mean the same will work for iPhone.
  • Performance – If you do not own the latest hardware and software, the antivirus scan can affect the performance of your device.
  • Ease of use – Regardless of how complex the top antivirus software is-must properly scan their devices.
  • Price – We check whether the antivirus software is affordable depending on the available features.

Why Do You Need Virus Protection Software?

The correct answer to this question depends on the type of Internet user you are. Can you spot a fake website or spot a phishing email? If so, it’s highly likely your devices will remain malware-free. Nevertheless, this depends on the current security levels and whether the websites you visit are legit.

Moreover, if you do not use a secure email, a good VPN service, or a password manager, you may benefit from a high-quality antivirus program. Today, they include many cybersecurity tools that substantially reduce the risks of infecting your PC or mobile devices. Another important factor to consider is whether you regularly shop online. If you often enter your banking details, it’s advisable that you use virus protection software, which puts your web transactions in a secured browser screen.

Moreover, if you have children, ensure they remain safe even when using the Internet. With parental controls like webcam blocking, you can perfectly protect your kids even when you aren’t at home. Also, it’s highly likely you’ll have more devices connected to your Wi-Fi at home. Good antivirus software can protect all the devices at once, saving you the hassles of catering to each of them separately.

Today, one needs specific efforts to avoid potential threats when surfing the Internet. Even when you do not click on the suspicious advertisements and never visiting malicious URLs, this does not necessarily mean you’ll be 100% safe. The computer virus might come from download files or streaming movies that have malware.

There are different ways through which viruses can damage your mobile device or computer. You can easily download the virus by checking your mail and clicking on the pop-up window. At times, a single click on the “Read More” button when reading a blog is enough. All these actions could damage or, in some cases, destroy a gadget/computer.

The good news is that you can use the best antivirus software to heal an infected PC or mobile device. Nowadays, the market is filled with different offers from renowned software companies. You should choose antivirus software that suits your budget and needs best. Following is what you can do to help find the best antivirus security suite.

  • Try the available free versions
  • Only pay for the software and other tools that suit your needs and activities
  • Check if the antivirus software can remove the malware
  • Keep in mind that iOS rarely needs any top rated antivirus protection

Top-Rated Antivirus for Windows

If you’re looking for the top-rated antivirus for Windows, the list below will be very useful and will help you find the best virus protection for Windows 10.

  • Norton 360 – Robust antivirus software with all essential features and some of the latest solutions.
  • Bitdefender – A great antivirus program; if you choose this program, you get all options and features that ensure high performance and all-inclusive protection of the devices.
  • McAfee – This is one of the best options for users who require effective and reliable protection software. With McAfee, you get a complete set against malware, ransomware, and viruses; moreover, this program guarantees the protection of Internet banking operations.

Top Antivirus for Mac

It’s important to note that not all antivirus software suites you find out there are compatible with iOS. If you’re looking for the top antivirus for Mac, you should consider the following brands.

  • McAfee – Great antivirus software for different reasons. This includes a user-friendly and comprehensive interface, superb anti-phishing layer, online protection, and personal firewall.
  • Norton 360 – the independent lab test results of software are pretty impressive. This antivirus software is ideal for Mac devices with regards to protection against malware and ransomware.

Best Antivirus for Android

Nowadays, the safety of your smartphone is very important. Following are some of the best antivirus for Android:

  • Malwarebytes – Affordable software to protect your smartphone. It offers automatic scanning, robust identity theft security, and full control.
  • Bitdefender – Excellent mobile protection and offers a secure Internet feature, task manager options, anti-theft, and real-time security.
  • IObit Advanced SystemCare – This program is amongst the best Android antivirus software. It provides an affordable feature set, anti-spam and theft tools, and a call blocking option.

Best Antivirus Free vs. Best Paid Antivirus

Are you not sure about the differences between the best paid antivirus software and free antivirus versions? This section explains how the best paid and the best antivirus free options differ:

The free antivirus software such as Bitdefender free antivirus for Mac offers basic protection for your PC. This helps protect your computer from viruses and malware, blocks dangerous apps and files, and warns users about malicious sites. In doing so, this helps keep your computer secure.

The technology used by the free antivirus software varies greatly. The best free virus scanner uses high-end security technology that receives real-time updates about the latest threats. This helps protect your computer against online threats. On the other hand, the best paid antivirus software provides more complete protection for your PC.

The benefits vary, but the best paid antivirus solution will help prevent any malicious attacks. You should consider the paid antivirus software as a proactive instead of a reactive way of protecting your PC.

The paid antivirus solution can control the way malware and dangerous apps behave, eventually preventing infections before they happen. Overall, free antivirus software provides basic protection against many common viruses, but paid antivirus software provides real time protection. For example, paid Bitdefender Antivirus uses real-time protection to scan and detect malware.


Best Antivirus Software FAQs

Is a paid antivirus worth it?

Is it worth paying for doctors or professional police offers? Obviously, it is! The same applies to the best antivirus programs. Keep in mind that there is nothing like free lunch, so free antivirus software cannot provide you with high-end protection and security features.

Do apple devices get malware and viruses?

Of course! But it's worth mentioning that Apple devices are more secure than Android and apple ones. Nevertheless, they aren’t completely immune to cyberthreats.

What’s the best antivirus for Windows 10 PC?

Bitdefender antivirus is by far the best antivirus program for Windows 10. It’s a high-quality type of software with excellent reviews from different cybersecurity experts. Bitdefender comes with many features along with 24/7 customer support and affordable rates.

What’s the best antivirus for Mac?

The best antivirus for Mac options are McAfee and Bitdefender. Both got great scores on different tests.

Does antivirus software remove viruses?

Yes, the best antivirus software removes viruses from computers and mobile devices. You just have to run a complete scan on your PC, and the program will immediately notify you about malware. You can then delete the infected file.
Author: Michael Jansen
When it comes to cyber-security & privacy protection, no one is better than our chief editor Michael Jansen. Michael started tinkering with computer networks in the early ’90s with led him to study computer science and network engineering at the university. He was always a privacy protection advocate and decided to start this project with his like-minded friends.