It doesn't take an IT professional to know that viruses are constantly evolving. Software that might have been safe from attackers just one month ago could be completely vulnerable to dangerous trojans and backdoors today. Antivirus software requires a constant stream of updates to keep up with the latest threats presented to the public. On top of this, the constraints of personal computers and laptops' RAM means that such applications must also be light on memory usage, whereby ordinary work isn't affected whenever antivirus programs undergo routine scanning. However, these aren't the only factors that should be considered when searching for a new antivirus program.
Some of the antivirus software shown below are already household names to the general public, such as Avast and Bitdefender. Every program is shown as the ability to find and detect viruses, but how well do they stack up against one another? Which features auxiliary attributes that aren't provided by (or are significantly better than) their competitors?
This guide of the best antivirus software of the year is separated by paid and free editions, with the latter beginning in the second section. Exclusive features will be shown on each antivirus program (if there are any), along with advantages and characteristics that make it worthy of consideration.
Here are the best antivirus programs of the year:
1. Kaspersky Anti-Virus
The Kaspersky Anti-Virus suite is an application that has a lot to offer for both beginners and users that want an anti-malware program with lots of advanced features. But this shouldn't be taken as something that makes the app harder to operate (for those that don't have much knowledge of running such apps). It's very easy to use, with most of the controls placed in easy-to-memorize areas of its window. Full system scanning is an automatic option yet can be tweaked to carry out pre-determined customs cans at will.
Scanning time, although dependent on the users' hard disk space and the amount of data on the system, should be completed for most people in a short amount of time. Memory scans are typically quicker. Running other programs won't interfere with Kaspersky's performance either. Running games that use a lot of RAM during a scan won't slow it down by any significant margin. Browsing the internet, particularly on unfamiliar sites, is much safer to do with Kaspersky. The application contains built-in widgets that scour the web for malicious sites, which is constantly updated in real-time. The sites are blocked based on their threat level.
This also includes phishing sites, the kind that is difficult for users to spot on their own. Furthermore, restricting sites at the user's discretion is also possible, a feature that's highly recommended for small children. Inexperienced people on the internet may potentially run into dangerous content on the web without knowing it, so URL restrictions based on what others believe to be potentially unsafe is a welcome addition to Kaspersky.
However, like all software, there is room for improvement, with installation being one of them. When Kaspersky is installed, the process is best done when other programs aren't running. But even when everything's closed, the level of memory usage may cause desktops running 2 GB of memory or less to experience lag or even freezing. When this is over, Kaspersky will restart the system and might lead to bouts of freezing before the restart is finalized. Yet overall, the Kaspersky anti-virus remains a well above average at successfully detecting and deleting malware of all kinds from personal computers.
2. Norton AntiVirus Plus
Symantec has released lots of updates and improvements to its Norton AntiVirus brand. This version is called the AntiVirus Plus edition, the lowest cost addition to the company's paid subscription plans. Still, the AntiVirus Plus might be all that most customers will require. Going through the comparisons to the versions that are higher in cost, it lacks some online privacy and identity theft protection features but maintains solid attributes for device security, at least when compared to the free Norton version. In short, AntiVirus Plus is one step up from its free counterpart.
One of the most noticeable perks is the level of customer and tech support that users and rely on. Malware can be removed by their customer support if the program is unable to resolve a compromised system. Users that come into the unlikely event of a virus that cannot be ridden of properly but the software by the simple submission of a diagnostic report. The Password Managers merges existing and future passwords into one easy-to-manage database. This is stored in the cloud only.
Sensitive keys such as bank usernames and passwords, social media accounts, and streaming content can now be accessed without reliance on the vulnerabilities that exist in many web browser's autofill caches. And unlike some antiviruses on the past (a few still have this annoyance), there are no instances of loud sounds or pop-ups that come up when the scanner does find malicious code or infected files. Another useful feature is Norton's powerful firewall.
With it, Network permissions can be set individually, completely blocking suspect programs that exist on a system. This means that the antivirus carries the machine-learning ability to adapt based on varied circumstances. Unfortunately, Norton AntiVirus Plus has no VPN service. This is something that users might find on a few of their competitors, to which it's lacking on this version (but is available on the Norton 360).
Only 2 GB of data can be backed up here, which is better than nothing but may not be suitable for people that need a secure place to backup important data. Unless a large number of sensitive files must be in a cloud-based service with a lot of safeguards, this attribute should be compared to other services that cost less than the Symantec brands do. But if this isn't the case, AntiVirus Plus might be the final anti-malware application that customers will rely on for a long time.
3. Bitdefender Antivirus Plus
The Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2020 edition has a comprehensive layout that's anyone can get the hang of quickly. There are loads of customization options for people that don't want to rely on lengthy full system scans, although these alone won't take up too much of anyone's time. Additionally, Bitdefender has been known for having innovative updates that place the product far outside the barometer for being a standard anti-malware tool. For instance, their defenses against zero-day malware have been persistently touted as one of the best around.
It does this by protecting computers against exploits that have no signatures. When stacked up against the competition, Bitdefender manages to nearly 100-percent of all such attacks. This is something that few of its rivals have been able to do with almost perfect detection rates. Regardless, Bitdefender's abilities aren't capped at this alone. The Rescue Mode will prevent other types of viruses from running during a reboot. Although many of the new threats don't require that a computer be restarted to be executed (such as trojan horses), it's a nice thing to have around, more so for computers and operating systems that aren't new or regularly updated.
For Microsoft programs that are older than Windows 7, Bitdefender is incompatible. This version of the antivirus cannot be installed on any Linux-based distros. Mac has all of the features that are given to the application on Windows.
Bitdefender's VPN with plus is limited to bandwidth cap of only 200 megabytes per day. However, this won't be an issue unless there's a heavy reliance on proxies to access blocked content. The app can also block suspicious links that are hosted on various social media platforms. Facebook is one such website that has seen a large number of questionable scripts, the sort that might harbor a gateway to dangerous phishing websites. Another important feature is Bitdefender's gaming mode. The application will run silently in the background when games or work is conducted by users.
No spam-like pop-ups will happen when malware is captured; the results are displayed on a screen that automatically logs the information when the scan is finished. On top of this, the antivirus can delete files in a way that leaves them untraceable. It's a small but safe way to prevent personal information from being recorded by spyware, as files of most operating systems can linger undetected regardless of whether they've been "deleted." Of course, the average users won't need to worry about this but the feature would surely appeal to people that are most vulnerable to attackers. The only noticeable thing that needs polishing up is the installation time, which might take longer than ten minutes. This aside, little else is wrong with Bitdefender's Antivirus Plus. Highly recommended.
4. F-Secure Antivirus SAFE
F-Secure Antivirus SAFE contains a truckload of neat things that place it deep within the category of the other great antivirus software packages shown. But it sits well by the fact that first-time use of the service requires no payment obligation at all. From the company's websites, users can fill in their info and download the application.
Three devices can be protected with just one account. And best of all, the trial period lasts for one month. Again, no payment info is needed at all to try it out, something that will only be required after the allotted time has passed four weeks later. Because of this, potential buyers have plenty of time to go through all components on the application. Familiarity is without any expense from the customer from the beginning is something that goes a long way for attracting people that need to step up their operating system's protection.
For this reason, F-Secure is strongly recommended for people that have used free antivirus software before but wish to upgrade to something, yet won't depend on all the fancy gizmos shown in the brand's competitors. As for necessities, the program functions as expected. Scans go by relatively quickly, so long as no other programs are open during when this happens. And the time it takes for the scanning to run its course isn't too time-consuming.
F-Secure's specialty (outside of finding a majority of viruses) is spyware detection. Dangerous keyloggers and rootkits of all kinds show up quickly during a scan. If such threats attempt to gain access to a system through browsing the internet or peer-to-peer applications, F-Secure will get rid of them quickly through its live protection. Most ransomware and zero-day malware is found immediately and deleted from computers.
However, even this may not happen when the apps' browsing protection feature is used. Scans done on smartphone devices are also quick, never rising the temperature of mobile devices when the scan is running. Depending on the version, some iPhones may experience the occasional crash (something that's known to occur with iOS regardless of the app in use). There is no VPN support included with this version of F-Secure.
This might be due to the company promoting a VPN that runs separately from the antivirus. Given that it's the lowest cost version of the other option (F-Secure Total) this isn't too much of a surprise. While it would be nice to see virus scans that weren't so memory heavy, F-Secure rightfully earns its place as a good choice for anyone that isn't looking for more advanced antivirus features.
5. Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus
One of the most overlooked features for the latest antivirus applications is the quality of their widgets and tools that help protect the user's privacy when browsing the net in potentially vulnerable ways. A good example of this is VPNs. While some may not use the VPN on an antivirus application as much as one that's built from a company that specializes in the field alone. With this in mind, it might be surprising for some to know that Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus has not only an outstanding VPN but altogether great features outside of protecting operating systems from malware.
Apart from this, the system is fully automated, whereby users aren't required to manually input any features is they choose to use this antivirus in this manner. While this is an obvious selling point for beginners, even better attributes abound. Webroot analyzes the behavior of all applications, granting and prohibiting permissions based on their threat levels. This might get in the way of some programs, and cause intermittent false positives. Torrent clients are a likely candidate. With the antivirus, users can access their account (and all of the features included with it) on up to three devices. This must be chosen before finalizing payment. The cheaper alternative is one but all other features remain (so long as the SecureAnywhere version is chosen).
However, it should be noted that Webroot does come with a slight learning curve. This is somewhere ameliorated with a helpful guide that exists throughout the application itself. Whenever a user hovers over anything or clicks one of the buttons on the app's windows, information appears. These instructions show what the highlighted field does, how it can affect the program's functionality. Still, this might not be enough to satisfy people that are going into an antivirus completely blind. As such, it's Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus is suggested for users that are familiar with the software in this category.
6. Panda Dome Essential
Panda Dome Essential is another antivirus application that offers a free one-month trial period. After that, customers have the option of checking out with four versions, to which Essential is the lowest in cost. Mains features make up Wi-Fi protection and a virus scan that can detect malicious software on external USBs and hard disk drives. The Wi-Fi protection monitors wireless networks, alerting and restricting any potential adversaries from accessing content on personal networks. It also helps guard against vulnerabilities through the presentation of recommended actions that should be undertaken if a network attempting to be compromised. If this is the case, it presents a perfect opportunity for hackers wishing to take advantage of people with little to no security on their personal computers.
Everything from man-in-the-middle to DDoS attacks can be done if this happens, to which Panda Dome is perfectly capable of negating. External devices are done when plugged in, whereby the application notifies the user on what should be done with newly attached drives. Larger HDDs will take a bit longer than small thumb drives. As has been shown, the Panda Dome Essential contains more than the bare essentials needed to make home computers safe. False positives are likely, more so for people that download lots of software that changes an operating system's configuration unusually. Peer-to-peer networks and individually programmed software are some of the most conspicuous, which may trigger alerts unless the applications have configurations set for them in the program's settings.
7. Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security
Trend Micro is another paid antivirus software that will rid home PCs and laptops of new viruses, no matter the lengths they try to go to remain hidden from computers. Customization is its selling point, with the application having lots of features that can be altered according to how users with the program to function. It's especially the case for web browsers. Malicious sites can be blocked based on a threshold that's entirely build from what the users want. However, this doesn't mean that beginners are left in the dark. The database for suspicious sites is constantly updated, which includes phishing sites as well. As this is the Antivirus Plus edition of the software, ransomware protection is included.
Any attempt by malicious software to overtake and illegally encrypt personal files is overwritten by the antivirus, yet it wouldn't likely get this far, to begin with. Scanning might see a bit basic from the start but this is due to the customization being the app's primary advantage. Full system scans are carried out automatically if needed. Unfortunately, this version of Trend Micro is only downloadable for Windows operating systems. No parental controls exist on the system and it has no password manager.
Some of its competitors that have been mentioned do maintain these features; users can check with them if a near bare-bones antivirus doesn't sound like a good investment. But for anyone wishing to keep things simple, Trend Micro's Antivirus Plus should suffice.
8. ESET NOD32 Antivirus
ESET NOD32 Antivirus performs great, having a fast scanning time that won't take several hours to finish (at least for most users). It also refrains from being RAM heavy. The careful usage of memory makes it the ideal choice for anyone uses heavy amounts of data on their computer, such as gamers and programmers.
The software will never get in the way, working silently in the background and only alerting users after scanning is finished. ESET maintains a detailed logging system that's easy to find and just as simple to send to the company's tech support in the event of an issue. Unusual changes to the system are kept in a section known as SysInspector (logging info). Getting in touch with them shouldn't take too long. The live chat support is reachable throughout the weekends. However, users outside North American won't have access to this.
One major perk is that newer customers will never have to worry about another edition coming along too soon after the day of beginning a subscription with the antivirus. Updates generally take the form of a download, which is available at no cost to consumers.
The Best Free Antivirus Software of the Year:
1. Avast Free Antivirus
Avast has been churning out great security applications for a long time now, with the Free Antivirus remaining as a highly recommended app for personal computers. It can quickly detect more malware that comes its way without slowing down or damaging the operating system that it runs on. This is a major problem with a lot of free antivirus programs and was once an issue with Avast as well. However, the latest version does little to cause lagging at any time that it's on, including during full system scans. Avast can detect virus signature with ease and has a large database that's always growing with new threats and improvements.
Updates occur on a regular, often daily. And by updates, this also includes components to the application itself (not only updates to the virus database). As this is free antivirus software, users can expect some major functions that are seen on paid services to be missing with this application. The most obvious for Avast is the lack of any zero-day detection. This means that any malware that doesn't possess a signature would probably be ignored by the application. There's no firewall either.
Depending on the operating system, some factory defenses might need to be disabled before the installation of Avira. Although these might seem like negatives on the surface, the lack of side additions is quite common among free anti-malware. With this in mind, Avira does have enough included to ensure that most users maintain a healthy environment for their laptops and PCs.
2. Kaspersky Free
The Kaspersky Free Antivirus harbors a few tools up its sleeve, some of which aren't regularly seen on free anti-malware programs. Its database is one of the strongest around and uses the same as what's provided by Symantec's paid subscription plans. Simultaneously, the app uses only a small amount of RAM to keep the computer protected. It won't interfere with hardly anything at all and has hardly any impact on a computer's overall performance.
False positives will happen at times, more so for people that don't bother to grant programs any permissions. Like paid and free antivirus programs, other apps are configurable in the settings area of Kaspersky's software. Thee may also be false alerts on some websites. Granted, this isn't a huge thing to make a fuss over since it's nice to have live protection on freeware of this sort. Over 80-percent of dangerous URL will be blocked with Kaspersky. And if any malicious software is unknowingly downloaded from a browser, detection is sensitive enough to find it almost immediately when the download appears to begin.
A VPN is included with the free bundle as well, although there is a cap on the bandwidth that starts new again every 24 hours. Most users may quickly go over the limit since there are only 200 megabytes allotted for the VPN per day. Yet this also includes other devices. Kaspersky free with work with more than one device is need be. The VPN isn't the same on every piece of hardware that the antivirus program runs on. For example, one computer that uses all of the VPN's bandwidth will maintain 200 MB, even after the first system's bandwidth has been used up.
Areas of improvement are few outsides of what are normally listed as complaints (or requests) by customers who use similar free tools. But Kaspersky does offer some attributes that put it on top of a lot of what constitutes as "free" VPNs. Some of the free versions are funded through intrusive ads, some of which could theoretically be labeled as adware on their own. But Kaspersky has none of these issues and continues to be a go-to antivirus for people who cannot afford to get a monthly subscription.
3. Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition
Bitdefender's Antivirus Free Edition grants users full access to their database, which can find and eliminate viruses in real-time or at the ending of scans. Turning on scans is simple, done by going into the app and following the easy-to-read navigational buttons. One key feature is how the program never requires the user to manually activate the program for use. It does this automatically when a PC/laptop is opened. The scheduled scan runs silently and smoothly in the background without ramping up too much memory.
Virus definitions are updated almost daily, to which they finish quickly. Most users of the software won't even know it was doing this it wasn't for the notifications alerting them to important updates on components and its database. And since hardly any memory will get eaten up, the program is great for older computers or people running older versions of Windows (Windows 7 at the earliest). Speaking of Windows, the software is fully compatible with For Macs, the earliest is Yosemite.
There is no Linux support given. The controls on the app are simple and comprehensive, particularly for beginners. Bitdefender does a good job of not over-complicating things for people that aren't savvy with maintaining their computer's security. Custom scans aren't an option, although users can decide to scan individual sections of an HDD or system memory. It doesn't get in the way of all the other good features that Bitdefender has to offer. It's suggested for newer users or any that must rely on a computer with some years under its belt.
4. Avira Free Antivirus
Avira Free Antivirus is another content that's been in the game for many years. But this program has remained a consistently recommended product ever since its inception. This is due to several reasons, with the most important being its gaming mode. As people turn to their PC to play games online, running other programs other than the game itself and potentially cause lack and freezing, to the point where the game cannot be played until the virus scan is finished. Not with Avira.
These problems won't happen since the antivirus keep things rudimentary during the scanning process. Avira can also improve itself based on the circumstances of the machine that's running it, also known and machine learning. Vulnerabilities may show up easier this way since the program can how what to look out for (and how to handle it if infections are to happen. The full system scan is outstanding when it comes to speed.
As long as the hard drive isn't too full, scanning should go by in either 30 minutes or an hour (or less, in some cases). Since Avira is free, the service relies on advertisements to pay for the content that's given. These ads can sometimes become borderline intrusive when going through the navigation menus on the application's dock. It may not be enough to drive off customers, but will likely become an annoyance and some point. Regardless, Avira is still a great antivirus that has top-charting detection rates of all sorts of malware.
5. Sophos Home
Sophos is a free antivirus app with very strong browser protection. People that run Google Chrome, Edge, or Firefox will feel much safe with this tool on their personal computers. It can filter out bad sites to the likes of which is usually only seen on paid antivirus subscriptions. There are parental controls as well, although this feature might be circumvented through the use of certain proxy servers.
Scan scheduling works by allowing the user to assign different times for scanning their computer systems. If it's something that's best done at a time when the device isn't in use, setting up the scan for such a time specified is painless. Again, some blocked content may not be properly filled out. Parents that wish to parental controls to restrict what their children can and cannot have access to might be better off trying one of the other free antivirus programs detailed. And phishing protections might not designate such domains as a "phishing site" to begin with.
Instead, the URL would only be blocked. Although this is better than nothing, it might cause some confusion among users that aren't aware of how the antivirus system works. While Sophos can detect phishing sites, they're almost always blocked to prevent an unwanted visitation. That aside, the application is good for either beginner or more advanced people on a budget.
How to Choose Antivirus Software
The most important thing for consumers to consider when choosing any malware-detecting application is whether or not add-ons are an important factor. If they are, then paid versions are recommended over their free counterparts. Most subscription-based antivirus apps will house attributes that go well beyond the scope of what antivirus programs did in the past. Most of them aren't technically antivirus programs at all, but rather security packages. Password managers, VPNs, and exclusive banking protections are some of the most commonly provided features on paid antivirus software. subscriptions are often divided up into sections that offer more components and widgets over another. For example, a paid antivirus package might have zero-day protections but lack an unlimited VPN.
Free antivirus software much more rudimentary, having only one existing version that's stripped away from many paid features' staples but might leave in a few perks, some of which may exist solely to encourage users to try out the paid subscriptions. However, they should be tested whenever possible. Many antivirus programs allow a one-month free trial period without the need for providing their card or bank details to the company (until the month ends). Free antivirus is best for people that are on a budget or don't need any of the fancy items to make their home network safe. More advanced users might like the stripped-down version for this reason alone so that they can fill in what's missing with their own written programs.
Knowing the Threats
Not only can individuals face an increased risk of getting infections or attacks from potential hackers, but entire regions might be riskier than others when it comes to malware. Some antivirus software can be narrowed down simply by knowing what type of threats can best penetrate a user's system or vulnerabilities that exist in said system. If ransomware attacks are more likely to be encountered through browsing or loading a distinct website, an antivirus with URL blocking and its unique ransomware protection could work.
All of the antivirus suites shown in the reviews have one thing in common: they're all designed to find malware at an efficient paste no matter if the other tweaks are free or not. This is a good thing, allowing other applications to try out something new on occasion. A computer with virus protection software is a safer computer overall. From this, there's not any wrong choice, even if a random antivirus is chosen.
Wirefly Is America's Most Trusted Source For All Cell Phones, Plans, TV, and Internet Deals
Wirefly offers great deals on a large selection of smartphones, cell phones, tablets, mobile hotspots, and other wireless devices for the nation's most popular carriers. Use Wirefly’s innovative cell phone and plan comparison tools to ensure you are getting the best deal on the market. Shop with confidence knowing that Wirefly wants to help you find the best prices on cell phones, cell phone plans, TV, and Internet service.