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Best antivirus software in 2024

Best antivirus software

With the majority of our lives taking place online, having the best antivirus software is a necessity. The digital landscape is fraught with dangers that lurk around every corner, from malware to data breaches. And what if you stumble upon an unsafe domain while streaming free content? Or download a corrupted torrent file? An antivirus hops in to shield you.

After all, the role of an antivirus has evolved beyond mere computer scans and virus removal. They go beyond the conventional purposes. A comprehensive suite of reliable software safeguards your online transactions, prevents online and device-based threats, and even hands you the tools to optimize your system’s performance.

However, you might soon get frustrated if you explore the official provider websites and opinions on their products online in search of the best antivirus software. Finding the right option is daunting, especially if you’re new to the industry. Sure, there are independent test labs and Reddit threads discussing the ins and outs of every antivirus. But it takes precious hours, if not days, to determine what you need.

We compiled a list of the best antivirus in 2024 relying on the insights from our experts, results from in-house tests, and those of independent sites, along with user complaints and praises. The performance, extra features, malware detection rate, pricing, and other factors didn’t slip our watchful eyes. More so, we discuss the controversies surrounding our anti-recommendations.

Read onward to save hours of frantic exploring and pick your new antivirus in a matter of minutes.

Overall best antivirus software 2024: shortlist

  1. Best antivirus software of all-time
    9.7
  2. Reliable & fast anti-malware solution
    9.3
  3. Best antivirus software with minimal impact
    9.0
  4. Versatile & intuitive antivirus software
    8.9
  5. Robust antivirus with focus on privacy
    8.6
  6. Robust shield against online threats
    8.3
  7. Linear plug-and-play malware removal
    8.1
  8. Top-notch antivirus for tech-savvy
    7.8

Didn’t find the provider you were hoping to see? Stick with us to find out why their name didn’t grace our hall of fame.

Do I need antivirus software and why?

Yes, you do need an antivirus. Modern devices have built-in protective features, especially Apple products. However, it’s deceiving. They’re not even remotely enough against the advancing trickery of cybercrooks. Your data isn’t safe just because you don’t click on the links of scammy texts and emails. Online banking isn’t secure just because it’s a bank. At the end of the day, the scope of cyber threats is immeasurable.

Not to mention that there’s a whole different story with offline dangers, targeting your device through unsafe downloads and such. Even a technically inclined person can’t withstand all the fronts, which is where an antivirus comes to arms. So, yes, you do need a reliable antivirus, and that’s why:

  • Protection against malware. An antivirus is designed to protect you from various forms of malware: viruses, worms, Trojans, adware, spyware, phishing, ransomware, etc. These malicious pieces can infect your device, steal sensitive information, corrupt files, and disrupt your system’s functionality. Thanks to a firewall, real-time scans, and other features, an antivirus easily detects and removes such threats before they can wreak havoc.
  • Secure online browsing. You may stumble upon malware unbeknownst to you. A reliable antivirus web protection warns you about harmful websites and blocks access to them. That way, you dodge a bullet without needing to be vigilant all the time.
  • Safe file downloads. Such software scans every single downloaded file to ensure it’s safe. It’s a great protection aspect since it prevents inadvertent downloading of infected files, especially from untrustworthy sources.
  • Device performance boost. Beyond security, high-tech antivirus providers offer performance optimization features. They identify and resolve issues that slow down your device, improving the overall system speed.
  • Shielding personal data. Nowadays, data is one of the most precious currencies, and yours is being harvested practically every time you browse the web. After all, web cookies requests are a lie as they continue to collect information. An antivirus prevents advertising companies and hackers from harvesting data with smart features.
  • Parental controls. Parents wish to create a safe online environment for their children. Fortunately, an antivirus with parental controls can help do just that. This feature allows you to determine what content must be prohibited and which websites are allowed to visit.

The true beauty of the best antivirus software 2024 is its versatility. The providers acknowledge that each person has different needs, and they need to offer dynamic functionality to remain at the top of the game. Thus, you get the better end of the deal.

Explore cyberspace safely with TotalAV

Best antivirus software: detailed list

  1. TotalAV – the best antivirus software for lightweight and personalized experience
  2. Norton – an antivirus solution with nearly 100% malware detection rate
  3. Bitdefender – high-quality anti-malware protection with low impact
  4. Surfshark AV – the best antivirus with unique package of features

Whether you’re looking for a comprehensive solution or hunting for specific features, our Top 4 antivirus picks will cater to all your needs. The providers made the final cut after rigorous testing. I also overviewed the assets they bring, like real-time protection, firewall, scans, additional features, impact on performance, and pricing plans. Let’s dive right into it.

1. TotalAV – best antivirus software for all things malware

Support
Support:
24/7 live chat
Minimal price
Minimal price:
$29.00/year
  • Streamlined setup & use
  • High precision in detecting malware
  • Vigilant real-time protection
  • No firewall

TotalAV is the best antivirus because it perfectly combines protection with hefty extras and wraps them in a beginner-friendly dashboard. This intuitive interface spans Windows, MacOS, Android, and iOS devices, making it a perfect fit for newbies. Also, it puts minimal strain on PC and mobile systems. Furthermore, I found the installation process swift – it only took me about 5 minutes, and the whole process was straightforward and well-led.

Security-wise, TotalAV leaves little room for fine-tuning. Even without the firewall, the antivirus maintains a constant 98% success rate at detecting and blocking malware. Our own tests align with data from AV-Comparatives. We hid 10 malware files, from viruses to Trojans – TotalAV sniffed out 9 of them. Also, the rating includes 96% of zero-day and 99% of 4-week-old malware. On the bright side, the former time staple is the oldest malware the software caught.

TotalAV real-time protection

The icing on the cake is the full range of extra features overlooking different user needs. Of course, the package varies based on the plan you choose. For example, the streaming-friendly TotalAV VPN is a solid addition to the whole arsenal. Parental controls help you create a safe online space. At the same time, WebShield ensures you don’t get lost in the suspicious corners of the internet. As for performance boost, Device Tune-Up declutters your files in the blink of an eye.

For more in-depth look, I recommend checking out the TotalAV review that we did. Otherwise, I recommend one of TotalAV’s premium plans to unlock comprehensive protection and access the hefty extras. The most popular tier – TotalAV Antivirus Pro – comes with a moderate price tag of $29.00/year. If you’re curious to explore the nooks and crannies of the premium service, you can do so risk-free with a 7-day free trial and the 30-day money-back guarantee.

2. Norton – multi-device malware protection with feature-rich suite

Support
Support:
24/7 live chat
Minimal price
Minimal price:
$19.99/year
  • Potent identity-theft prevention
  • Device optimization tools
  • Protects from online & device-based threats
  • No free version

Norton is a rock-solid addition to your cybersecurity package on all major operating systems. As one of the best antivirus software providers, it ensures that the apps don’t have a high impact on the system. While they’re a bit cluttered and some extra features require separate apps for each, they don’t load your mobile or computer. The installation process took around 7 minutes, and it took me little time to figure out how to use it.

During Norton Antivirus review process, the software impressively fended off a whopping 100% of threats, including ransomware, malware, and malvertising. The malware protection effectiveness lies in Norton’s AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning implementation. So, no wonder it discovered 9/10 concealed malware files that we slipped into the devices. The apps also eliminated 95% of zero-day malware, while some took 4 to 5 weeks for the software to find.

Norton antivirus: real-time protection

Apart from the standard firewall, real-time protection, and malware scans, Norton 360 plans offer rich hosts of hefty extras. For instance, a password manager helps you create strong passwords and keep them in a safe vault. For families, the built-in parental controls ensure a safe online environment for the little ones. And the list goes on to cater to different needs of people: a VPN, ad blocker, system optimization tools, etc.

You can snag one of the best antivirus software for the starting price of $19.99/year. Considering the extensive range of features offered, it’s undeniably an excellent price-and-value ratio. While Norton doesn’t have a free version, you can tinker with the software commitment-free during the 30-day free trial. Better yet, the 60-day money-back guarantee prolongs the free use of Norton 360.

3. Bitdefender – excellent premium service with first-rate protection

Support
Support:
email, knowledge base
Minimal price
Minimal price:
$29.99/year
  • In-built VPN (200 MB/day)
  • Low resource consumption
  • Solid anti-malware features
  • Full VPN access costs extra

Bitdefender is a good antivirus solution for people seeking capable software without intricate infrastructure. Notably, the antivirus’s performance imposes moderate to minimal demands on your CPU, whether during full-system scans or while keeping vigilance quietly in the back. Setting up the app is a breeze on PC and mobile devices. It took me only around 5 minutes to install Bitdefender, and the whole process was smooth sailing.

With this AV by your side, you can confidently navigate the web. Our own Bitdefender analysis affirm independent labs like AV-Comparatives’ results. In total, the antivirus consistently scores a 98% rate against malware. It successfully prevented most zero-day and older malware-infected files, including the stimulated ones – 8 out of 10. The dynamic firewall is the goldmine of Bitdefender, elevating your device security tenfold.

Bitdefender dashboard

As one of the top players in the industry, Bitdefender offers a range of features, varying on the selected pricing tier. The extra features create a commendable antivirus performance that both protects you and expands your digital capabilities. For example, a VPN will unlock the doors for media enthusiasts. Meanwhile, data breach scanning and anti-theft tools reinforce data security. Password manager, parental controls, web protection, ad blocker, etc. Basically, buckle up for a versatile antivirus experience.

The good news is that Bitdefender doesn’t rip you for the premium service. The lowest tier price starts at $29.99/year, which lets you tap into the antivirus’s potential. While there is a free version, it only covers very basic security. If you’re a curious cat, feel free to take advantage of the 30-day free trial period and prolong it with the 30-day money-back guarantee.

4. Surfshark AV– sturdy antivirus coupled with market-leading VPN

Support
Support:
24/7 live chat
Minimal price
Minimal price:
$36.32/year
  • Data-protective extra features
  • Dependable real-time protection
  • Beginner-friendly app navigation
  • No firewall

Surfshark AV is one of the best antivirus solutions in the market toppled with a rock-solid VPN and features for expanding your agency online. During our runs, Surfshark never really consumed a striking amount of CPU resources on PC and mobile devices even during full-system scans. Personally, the installation was done before the drop of the hat – took around 6 minutes to set up the app.

Regarding protection business, our Surfshark evaluation results align well with those of AV-Test and AV-Comparatives since we saw a stable 99% success rate against malware. It sniffed out our hidden malware files right away, but only 8/10. On the other hand, we were impressed that Surfshark blocked 99% of zero-day malware while 4-week instances were all wiped out without exception. This spells out that the antivirus holds a steady fort against malicious code.

Surfshark antivirus app dashboard

The antivirus boasts an array of advanced features, though we must note it warns parental controls. One of the most impressive extras is the Alternative ID, which actively shields you from online stalking, data breaches, identity theft. Meanwhile, Private Search Engine will be your best friend if you aren’t a fan of intrusive data tracking and stumbling upon malicious domains. Of course, you also get the famous Surfshark VPN, which unlocks all doors for torrenting, streaming, and other geo-blocked activities.

You can reclaim your online privacy and safety in an instant if you grab Surfshark AV for a chintzy price of $36.32/year. While the price seems greater than those of competitors, the antivirus software offers a variety of unique high-tech features, and a full-fledged VPN. But if you wish to check out the service first, feel free to with a 7-day free trial and 30-day money-back guarantee.

Best antivirus software 2024 compared

Antivirus softwareTotalAVNortonBitdefenderSurfshark AV
Starting price$29.00/year$19.99/year$29.99/year$36.32/year
Money-back guarantee30 days60 days30 days30 days
Free version✅Yes❌No✅Yes❌No
Malware scanner✅Yes✅Yes✅Yes✅Yes
Malware protection rate98%100%98%99%
Firewall❌No✅Yes✅Yes❌No
VPN✅Unlimited data (with TotalAV Internet Security)✅Unlimited data✅Unlimited data (with Bitdefender Premium Security)✅Unlimited data
Number of devicesup to 610up to 5up to 5
Supported devicesWindows, Mac, Android, iOS, ChromebookWindows, Mac, Android, iOS, ChromebookWindows, Mac, Android, iOS, ChromebookWindows, Mac, Android, iOS, Chromebook
Extra featuresSecure Password Vault, Disk cleaner,
Ad blocker, Safe Browsing VPN,
System tune up
Dark Web monitoring, Privacy Protection, WebShield extension
Real-time threat protection, Smart Firewall, Dark Web monitoring, Password manager, PC cloud backup, Privacy protection,SafeCam, Secure VPN, Parental control, AntiTrack, Norton Safe Web, System optimizationAdvanced Threat Defense, Ransomware remediation, AntiSpam, Profiles, Anti-tracker, File shredder, Privacy protection, Anti-webcam hijack, Password manager, Parental control, VPNCleanWeb,
Data breach monitoring,
Robust VPN, Private search engine, Real-time protection, Personal detail generator, Malware scans, Webcam protection

How we tested and selected the best antivirus software

Along with the team of experts and researchers, we used a versatile approach to test each antivirus provider and see what they’re made of. The tests took place on Windows 11 Pro, Android 13, and iOS 12 for over a month. Here’s a glimpse at our methodology:

  1. In-house testing. We tinkered with antivirus software to test them. This hands-on approach involves browsing the web and deliberately accessing unsafe domains. We especially liked to enter websites that certainly harbor malicious code. This manner of testing lets us directly assess how effectively an antivirus can detect and resolve these threats and, just as importantly, how swiftly.
  2. Custom-made malware. We use our experts’ deep IT knowledge to craft our own malware files tailored for specific testing scenarios. These files are carefully controlled and used to simulate new, unfamiliar threats that antivirus software may not have encountered before. It’s instrumental in gauging how well services deal with the unknown, adding a layer of complexity crucial in realistic situations. We also checked how the different software scans deal with varying sizes of file batches: 8,300 files, 147, 500, and 310,650.
  3. Independent lab results. Of course, we don’t limit ourselves to in-house testing. It’s essential to consider other perspectives, so we assigned final scores in conjunction with respected third-party labs like AV-Test and AV-Comparatives. In brief, they specialize in antivirus assessment and present thorough insights.

Surely, the multifaceted approach to the best antivirus software enabled us to make well-informed and reliable recommendations. On top of that, we paid attention to specific attributes and features during our tests that experts singled out as key factors in choosing the best solution. Here’s what we took into consideration:

  • Device support. Hackers’ nefarious fingers reach for our data through online webs and through our devices. For this reason, an antivirus must have solid device protection for major operating systems—Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and Chromebook.
  • False positives. Excessive alerts over wrongly classified apps, websites, and files can grow really annoying really fast. Our top selections prioritize seamless browsing and downloading experience with minimal if any, false positives. We also delved into the effectiveness of their firewalls: their response time and whitelisting.
  • Ease of use & CPU load. We closely monitored the impact on device performance. In our opinion, the best antivirus software must have a minimal drain on system resources during demanding full-scope scans. Besides, the app design shouldn’t confuse the user as it’s general-use software. So, we ensured you get options with sleek design and intuitive dashboards.
  • Additionals. An antivirus is no longer limited to malware detection and removal. They must offer a rich experience to maintain the competitive edge. Hence, our tops offer hefty suites with sought-after tools like parental controls, anti-theft protection, VPNs, and more.
  • Affordable plans. Affordability and value are paramount when making the final decision. We believe users should have a range of pricing tiers to fit their specific needs without breaking the bank.

In the light of these rigorous criteria, TotalAV emerges as the absolute best antivirus software. Though the competition is fierce, the provider’s attention to detail regarding design, usability, and functionality met every expectation we had. The app requires no technical expertise but offers high-tech protection against all kinds of malware. Besides, the wide range of plans lets you choose the most fitting suite with varied extras.

A cheap price for peace of mind online & offline

TotalAV is your highway to a more secure tomorrow with broader horizons delivered by hefty extra features like VPN, WebShield, and Password Vault. Oh, the list goes on. You know what else goes on? Your online ventures without fear. With TotalAV in tow, you’re donned with impenetrable armor against malicious code, ransomware, viruses, spyware, and phishing!

9.7 /10
Best interface for beginners
Well-rounded online protection
Prevents device-based attacks

Why don’t we recommend Kaspersky?

While there’s no denying that Kaspersky is a good antivirus, it’s hard to ignore that the company behind it faced negative attention in the media over the past few years. Well, put mildly so. Kaspersky Lab found itself in a tight spot with a federal ban in the United States over alleged ties with Russia. See, the company is based in Moscow.

Consequently, the US government and official institutions are prohibited from using Kaspersky Lab products, including the antivirus, in 2017. Since the ban is driven by possible ties with Russia, we also don’t want to recommend Kaspersky due to the current geopolitical situation. Best use caution until the possible connections are officially denied.

Why don’t we recommend Avast?

Avast usually appears in the top lists of best antivirus software recommendations. However, we shy away from the provider due to allegations made back in 2019. The company’s reputation was mired as reports surfaced alleging that Avast was involved in collecting and selling user data. The data was harvested through antivirus software and plug-ins and then sold through a subsidiary, Jumpshot.

Though Avast halted Jumpshot’s data collection and shut down all related operations back in 2020, the company never regained the trust of users. We, too, can’t really trust them, and their data policies remain rather vague. For this reason, we refuse to recommend Avast antivirus.

Why don’t we recommend Webroot?

Webroot doesn’t quite make the cut as a reliable antivirus software. It’s mainly due to the limited protection against certain types of malware. Our thorough testing found that its malware protection fell somewhat short of our expectations. For example, the anti-phishing and privacy monitoring tools were poor. Though it has a low impact on the devices, the protection simply isn’t worth the investment.

Free vs. paid antivirus: is it worth paying?

The age-old debate of free antivirus vs paid counterparts continues to be a topic of discussion. The choice between the two often boils down to the level of protection and additional features you need. So, let’s take a quick look at their pros and cons.

  • Free antivirus software. Most top providers offer free versions, including TotalAV and Bitdefender. While the free antivirus software covers basic security to a degree, it’s only essential protection. Unfortunately, it’s not enough against more advanced ransomware, spyware, and other malware attacks and scams. Apart from fundamental security measures, you typically get no extra features.
  • Premium antivirus software. Such antivirus takes protection to a whole new level. They offer comprehensive security, covering a wider spectrum of threats. That includes the emerging zero-day threats that free options tend to miss. After all, they employ advanced techniques like behavior-based detection and heuristic analysis to identify and neutralize unknown dangers. Plus, they come with nifty extras that transcend malware prevention and removal.

Ultimately, a top paid antivirus boasts a holistic security package enriched with high-value additionals. It’s the one you should go for if the price follows second after online protection in terms of priorities. Meanwhile, free antivirus software exists for the budget-conscious to retain online safety to an extent. It all depends on your budget and needs.

However, taking advantage of a premium service’s free trial and money-back periods is the key to the highest antivirus experience without financial commitment. So, if you’re in a tight spot, we advise doing just that. Besides, you can switch providers once you use up the trial and refund periods.

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Best antivirus software: hottest additional features

We keep talking over and over about how a rich suite of extra features can make or break the best antivirus software, especially in this competitive industry. It’s because they add a layer of functionality you typically didn’t know you needed, or it’s the exact opposite; it has the feature you’ve been hunting for. So, let’s look at the most popular extras an antivirus should have:

  • Firewall. In essence, a firewall keeps an eye on incoming and outgoing traffic. That way, you’re protected from guests peeking in or infected files coming through.
  • Secure VPN. A VPN in an antivirus is a great tool, especially if you like torrenting or streaming. You can access exclusive content thanks to geo-block circumvention and web traffic encryption. Of course, that depends on the capabilities of a VPN since it’s a built-in feature.
  • Password manager. This tool takes away the pain of managing the ever-growing list of credentials. They generate strong, unique passwords for your accounts and store them in a safe vault under a master password. It’s a win-win since you don’t need to remember the credentials or think of complex ones yourself.
  • Parental controls. For all the parents out there, this feature lets you play the role of the digital sheriff. You can monitor and manage your children’s online activities and ventures, ensuring they’re safe and sound on the vast web.
  • Identity theft protection. Guarding your online identity is crucial these days. Features of such nature monitor your personal information and send you alerts if something is afoot. This helps you prevent cybercrooks from snatching your digital identity.
  • Device optimization tools. Even a more technically inclined person may get lost between unused apps, duplicate and old files. An antivirus with tools for boosting your device performance is a must-have. They clear away all the unnecessary files and apps to ensure your system is in tip-top shape. Best of all, you only need to click a couple of buttons.

Final thoughts

More and more of our time takes place online. We even make doctor appointments, do online banking and shopping, have classes, work, and communicate online on a daily basis. This creates an unparalleled climate for cybercriminals to harvest our data and infect our devices with malware. We alone cannot handle such risks, but that’s where the first-rate antivirus solutions come into play.

TotalAV is the best antivirus software for all your devices because of its user-friendly design, top-notch extras, and well-rounded protection. Though it lacks a firewall, it makes up for it with advanced functionality, which didn’t downgrade malware detection and removal results during our tests one bit. The icing on the cake is the lightweight and sleek software, a great choice for users of all levels of tech-savviness.

What do you think is the best antivirus software of all-time? Let us know by leaving a comment!

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You may also like to read:
Best antivirus for Windows 11
Best antivirus for iPhone & iPad
Best antivirus for Chromebook
TotalAV antivirus review
Norton antivirus review
Bitdefender antivirus review


FAQ

Is it worth paying for antivirus software?

Yes, it’s worth paying for an antivirus. Modern software, like TotalAV Antivirus, don’t cost much compared to the value it delivers. You get a plethora of hefty extras that enrich and expand your options on top of effectively shielding you from malware, ransomware, spyware, and other kinds of threats.

What is the best antivirus of 2023?

The best antivirus software of 2023 is TotalAV. All our tests align with the results of independent labs, showing the outstanding capabilities of TotalAV, coupled with lightweight and sleek apps for all major systems. Besides, flexible pricing plans allow you to choose the best option.

How does an antivirus work?

An antivirus operates by detecting and removing malware and performing regular scans. Besides, top antiviruses often update their products to keep up with advancing cyber threats and scamming campaigns. The benefits extend to additional features like parental controls, password managers, and VPNs.

What’s the best antivirus with a firewall?

The best antivirus with a firewall is Bitdefender. While this provider may not be the best antivirus software, it offers a firewall solution for advanced users needing more customization options. The firewall monitors incoming and outgoing traffic splendidly, catching risky downloads almost each time.

Will an antivirus protect you 100%?

No antivirus can protect you 100% as there’s not a single foolproof software. However, with a reliable antivirus in tow, you can brave the web without any fears. For instance, TotalAV offers near-perfect malware detection and removal on top of optimizing your device and extending your capabilities.

Will an antivirus slow down my computer?

No, the best antivirus software won’t slow down your computer or mobile. They’re designed to be lightweight and have minimal impact on your device even during the demanding full-system scans. In fact, TotalAV boosts your device performance thanks to the optimization tools that clean files and apps.

What is the most trustworthy antivirus?

TotalAV is the most trustworthy antivirus. While there are several first-rate antivirus solutions in the market, TotalAV beats them with the robust security, lightweight and beginner-friendly apps, and full-fledged extra features. Together, the antivirus creates a seamless & safe journey online.

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