We earn commissions from links on this site.

The 5 Best Adware Removal Tools (2023 Update)

By Tibor Moes / Updated: September 2023

Do you need adware removal software? Yes, you do. In an era where our lives revolve around the digital realm, cyber threats like adware lurk around every corner, waiting to disrupt your digital peace.

  • First, investing in top-notch anti-adware software bolsters your first line of defense, keeping your valuable information safeguarded from relentless hackers.
  • Second, these antivirus brands do more than just adware removal. They offer comprehensive protection against a broad array of cyber threats, securing your online journey.
  • Lastly, by preventing slowdowns and annoying pop-ups that adware typically causes, these tools can optimize your system’s performance.

By buying the best adware removal tool, you will empower yourself with a robust shield, safeguarding your digital world against invasions and providing an uninterrupted, smooth online experience.

Norton is the best adware removal tool of 2023


Ranked #1 of 28 antivirus

  • Malware Protection 100% 100%
  • Speed Impact 100% 100%

Norton has the best protection, excellent privacy features, and a great price. It’s the best adware removal tool of 2023.

  • Malware protection: 100%. In the last 10 tests, Norton removed all malware (incl. adware). It will protect you against all threats.
  • Speed impact: 100%. In the last 10 tests, Norton had no impact on the speed of the test PC. It will not slow you down.
  • Features: 100%. Anti-phishing, firewall, VPN, password manager, identity protection, cloud backup, and more.

Try it risk-free, thanks to its 60-day return policy.

Bitdefender is the second best anti-adware software of 2023


Ranked #2 of 28 antivirus

  • Malware Protection 95% 95%
  • Speed Impact 100% 100%

Bitdefender offers excellent protection and bonus features. However, it’s expensive if you want the VPN and password manager.

  • Malware protection: 95%. In the last 10 tests, Bitdefender removed nearly all malware. It offers great protection.
  • Speed impact: 100%. In the last 10 tests, It had no impact on the speed of the test PC. It will not slow you down.
  • Features: 95%. Anti-phishing, firewall, and more. But the VPN and password manager cost extra.

Try it risk-free, thanks to its 30-day return policy.

The best adware removal tools

We have reviewed security software since 2014. Based on our in-depth tests of 28 brands in 2023, these are the best adware removal tools:

  1. 🥇 Norton Antivirus – The #1 in 2023
  2. Bitdefender Antivirus
  3. McAfee Antivirus
  4. Panda Antivirus
  5. Kaspersky Antivirus

We have tested their anti-malware protection, security features, speed impact, false positives, and price. Scroll down to read the in-depth reviews.

Norton Antivirus Review

Norton Review

Ranked #1 out of 28 Antivirus

Norton Antivirus on Windows 11


Norton has the best device, privacy, and identity protection. It has all the security features you need and a great price too.

  • Malware protection: 100%. Norton averaged 6 out of 6 in the last 10 protection tests. It is excellent at detecting and removing malware.
  • Speed impact: 100%. Norton averaged 6 out of 6 in the last 10 performance tests. It does not slow down your PC.
  • Features: 100%. Norton offers anti-malware, anti-phishing, firewall, unlimited VPN, password manager, parental controls, and more.
  • Price: 95%. Norton offers better value for money than all competitors, except for Kaspersky, which is slightly cheaper.

Discount: Temporarily save up to 70% 🔥

Norton 360 Antivirus Review

Norton offers the best antivirus protection on all operating systems.


Norton is one of the few brands with a 100% malware protection score. Its real-time malware protection tool, called SONAR, is the best.

To get to this score, we averaged the last 10 test scores by AV-Test, an independent test lab. We also ran our own tests, during which Norton was able to detect malware attacks and phishing attempts in real-time.

Norton SONAR applies heuristic analysis and machine learning to spot known and unknown security risks. This means it identifies new threats through suspicious behavior rather than malicious computer code.


Norton’s Smart Firewall checks incoming and outgoing connections for suspicious behavior. It stops any attack before it becomes a problem.

By contrast, Windows’ firewall only checks incoming connections. It does not monitor whether the software on your computer makes suspicious outgoing connections to other devices.

And that’s not all. Norton’s firewall also cloaks inactive ports, so hackers can’t find them through hacking techniques like port scanning.


Norton’s unlimited VPN (Virtual Private Network) is outstanding. It is fast, secure (AES-256 & OpenVPN), private (no logs), allows torrenting (P2P), and features auto-connect, a kill switch, ad tracker blocking, and a split tunnel.

Most VPN services, like those by Bitdefender, have a daily data limit of 200 MB. To remove the data limit, you’ll have to pay extra. Norton, however, includes its unlimited VPN for free.

Password Manager

Norton’s password manager is excellent. Creating passwords is easy. Auto-filling them is accurate. And you can access your password vault using biometrics scanners (fingerprint or facial recognition).

Prices & Packages

  • Norton Antivirus Plus costs € 15 (Europe) or $ 20 (USA). It offers antivirus, a firewall, and a password manager. It protects 1 PC or Mac.
  • Norton 360 Standard costs € 30 (Europe) or $ 40 (USA). It adds a VPN and dark web monitoring. It protects 1 (Europe) or 3 (USA) devices.
  • Norton 360 Deluxe costs € 35 (Europe) or $ 50 (USA). It adds a privacy monitor and parental controls. It protects 5 devices.
  • Norton 360 Advanced costs € 40 in Europe and is not sold in the USA. It adds identity theft protection and protects 10 devices.
  • Norton 360 Select + LifeLock costs $ 99 in the USA and is not sold in Europe. It adds LifeLock identity theft protection and protects 10 devices.

In some countries, Norton 360 Advanced is called Norton 360 Premium. This is essentially the same product, without identity theft protection.

Bonus Features

  • Web protection: Block malicious websites via the Safe Web extension.
  • Cloud backup: Back up important files in secure cloud storage.
  • Parental controls: Monitor and protect your kids online.
  • Privacy monitor: Scan data brokers for your personal information.
  • Webcam protection: Prevent unauthorized access to your webcam.
  • Dark web monitoring: Scan the dark web for your personal information.
  • LifeLock identity theft protection: Discover and restore identity theft.

Note: Norton’s identity protection features are only available in the USA.

Conclusion: Is Norton the best adware removal tool of 2023?

Yes, Norton is the best adware removal program in our test.

Modern security software needs to offer far more than just anti-malware protection. By combining device security, online privacy, and identity theft protection, Norton is the best internet security suite you can buy.

You can try Norton risk-free, thanks to its 60-day return policy.

Bitdefender Antivirus Review

Bitdefender Review

Ranked #2 out of 28 Antivirus

Bitdefender Antivirus on Windows 11


Bitdefender offers excellent protection and bonus features. However, it’s pricey if you want the VPN and password manager.

  • Malware protection: 95%. Bitdefender averaged 5.95 out of 6 in the last 10 protection tests. It is excellent at removing malware.
  • Speed impact: 100%. Bitdefender averaged 6 out of 6 in the last 10 performance tests. It does not slow down your PC.
  • Features: 95%. It offers anti-malware, anti-phishing, firewall, parental controls, and more. But the VPN and password manager cost extra.
  • Price: 75%. If you only want the antivirus, Bitdefender offers great value. But if you want all features, Norton offers a better deal.

Discount: Save 50% on this secret page

Bitdefender Antivirus Review

Bitdefender’s antivirus engine is famous for its outstanding protection, many security features, and multi-layer ransomware protection, while being light on system resources.


Bitdefender antivirus has a 95% malware protection score. This is the average of the 10 most recent protection tests by AV-Test. It puts Bitdefender ahead of all competitors, except Norton, McAfee, and Kaspersky.

Bitdefender’s real-time protection feature, Advanced Threat Defense, offers solid virus protection and advanced ransomware protection.

It does not rely on traditional malware detection methods, which use virus signatures. Instead, it continuously monitors the behavior of apps. The apps are blocked if Bitdefender spots an anomaly, such as code injection.

This method offers excellent malware detection rates while having a low number of false positives. During our own tests, Bitdefender detected the latest malware types instantly.


Bitdefender’s firewall can block inbound and outbound connections on local networks and the internet. On top of that, Bitdefender detects and blocks port scans that hackers use to find open ports on your device.


Bitdefender’s free VPN has a data limit of 200 MB / day. That equals 5 minutes of streaming at 720p or the opening of 100 websites.

Bitdefender uses Aura’s VPN tech but has built its own apps. The VPN is fast, secure (AES-256 & HydraVPN), private (no logs), allows torrenting, and has a few extra features: start-up, auto-connect, kill switch, and split tunneling.

You will have to buy Bitdefender Premium VPN or Bitdefender Premium Security, for unlimited data transmission.

Password Manager

Bitdefender’s password manager is sold separately. It is not included with Bitdefender Antivirus Plus, Internet Security, or Total Security. To get it, you have to buy it separately or buy Bitdefender Premium Security.

Prices & Packages

  • Bitdefender Antivirus Plus starts at € 15 (Europe) or $ 15 (USA). It offers antivirus and anti-phishing. It protects 1 to 10 PCs.
  • Bitdefender Internet Security starts at € 19 (Europe) or $ 25 (USA). It adds a firewall and parental controls. It protects 1 to 10 PCs.
  • Bitdefender Total Security starts at € 35 (Europe) or $ 40 (USA). It adds an optimizer and support for other OS. It protects 5 to 10 devices.
  • Bitdefender Premium Security starts at € 55 (Europe) or $ 60 (USA). It adds an unlimited VPN and password manager. It protects 10 devices.

Note: There is also Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition, the free version of Antivirus Plus. This is the best free antivirus software. But honestly, it’s very basic and not much better than the built-in Microsoft Defender. So instead, we recommend Bitdefender’s paid antivirus software. It’s worth it.

Bonus Features

  • Online threat prevention: Anti-phishing protection for malicious sites.
  • Vulnerability scan: Scan the operating system, apps, and network.
  • Ransomware remediation: Restore files encrypted by ransomware.
  • Anti-spam: Customize anti-spam for Outlook and Thunderbird.
  • Safepay: Open a secure browser for online banking protection.
  • Video and audio protection: Webcam and microphone protection.
  • Anti-tracker: Remove tracking cookies via this browser extension.
  • Parental advisor: Monitor the digital activities of your kids.
  • Anti-theft: Locate and wipe your devices remotely.
  • One-click optimizer: Clean up your hard drive and browsers.
  • Data protection / file shredder: Permanently remove files.

Conclusion: Is Bitdefender the best adware removal software of 2023?

Bitdefender is one of the best anti-adware software in our test. Its anti-malware, firewall, password manager, and VPN are highly advanced. On top of that, there are tons of extra features.

However, Bitdefender can be expensive. It sells its password manager and unlimited VPN separately or as part of its Premium Security suite. This makes it pricey if you want all security features.

By contrast, Norton includes these features for free.

You can try Bitdefender risk-free, thanks to its 30-day return policy.

McAfee Antivirus Review

McAfee Review

Ranked #3 out of 28 Antivirus

McAfee Antivirus on Windows 11


McAfee offers excellent device, privacy, and identity protection. However, some features are only available in the USA.

  • Malware protection: 100%. McAfee averaged 6 out of 6 in the last 10 protection tests. It is excellent at detecting and removing malware.
  • Speed impact: 85%. McAfee averaged 5.85 out of 6 in the last 10 performance tests. So it has a minimal impact on your PC’s speed.
  • Features: 100%. McAfee offers anti-malware, anti-phishing, firewall, unlimited VPN, password manager, parental controls, and more.
  • Price: 95%. McAfee offers better value for money than most competitors, except Kaspersky, which is slightly cheaper.

Discount: Save 70% on this secret page

McAfee Antivirus Review

McAfee allows you to protect an unlimited number of devices.


McAfee is among the few brands with a 100% anti-malware test score. It has improved its cybersecurity tools a lot in recent years. Since April 2020, it has achieved a perfect 100% score in every protection test by AV-Test.

In our tests, McAfee offered reliable protection against malicious software and cyber threats. Which means that it successfully detected and removed all offline and online threats.

McAfee can reach these results because of its Scan Engine:

  • It runs antivirus scans and matches files with malware samples.
  • It executes malicious code in a safe environment, called a sandbox.
  • It applies heuristic techniques to recognize new malicious threats.
  • It removes dangerous code from corrupted files.


McAfee’s excellent firewall filters both in- and outgoing traffic. On top of that, McAfee hides open ports so that hackers can’t identify unused ones with their port scanning techniques.


McAfee’s VPN, Safe Connect, is free and offers unlimited data. It’s fast, secure (AES-256), private (no activity logs), has servers in 45 countries, works with Netflix on many servers, and allows torrenting.

However, it’s not perfect. For instance, not all security features (like the kill switch and split tunnel) are available on all operating systems. And if you turn off auto-renew, the VPN is limited to 500 MB / day.

Password Manager

McAfee’s cross-platform password manager, True Key, is one of the best.

Creating and storing passwords is easy. Auto-filling them is accurate. And you can use biometrics (facial recognition and fingerprint scanner) to log in. As a result, it can compete with the best password managers, like Dashlane. 

Prices & Packages

  • McAfee Basic costs € 30 (Europe) or $ 30 (USA). It offers antivirus, anti-phishing, firewall, password manager, and VPN. It protects 1 device.
  • McAfee Essential (called McAfee Plus in Europe) costs € 40 (Europe) or $ 40 (USA). It adds no additional features but protects 5 devices.
  • McAfee+ Premium costs € 45 (Europe) or $ 45 (USA). It adds a personal data cleanup and protects unlimited devices.
  • McAfee+ Advanced costs € 65 (Europe) or $ 80 (USA). It adds identity theft protection and protects unlimited devices.
  • McAfee+ Ultimate costs $ 190 (USA) and is not sold in Europe. It adds more identity theft protection features and protects unlimited devices.

McAfee is in the process of renaming its products. So in some countries, you’ll be shown McAfee Total Protection instead, which has the same features as McAfee Basic and Essential.

Bonus Features

  • Secure Apps: A vulnerability scanner for security updates.
  • App Boost: A performance boost for apps you frequently use.
  • Browser Security: An anti-phishing browser extension.
  • Web Boost: A browser extension that stops videos from auto-playing.
  • Tracker Remover: A feature that deletes tracking cookies.
  • ID Protection: A dark web scanner for your personal data.
  • File Shredder: A shredder that can delete files securely.
  • File Lock: An app that creates password-protected file vaults.
  • Anti-Spam: An anti-spam feature for Outlook and Thunderbird.
  • Safe Family: A parental control feature to monitor and protect kids online.

Conclusion: Is McAfee the best anti-adware software of 2023?

McAfee is one of the best adware removal software in our test. Its virus protection gets perfect scores, its password manager is excellent, its unlimited VPN is included for free, and its design is both user-friendly and beautiful.

On top of that, its premium and advanced plans allow you to protect an unlimited number of devices and offer extensive privacy and identity protection features, especially in the United States.

You can try McAfee risk-free, thanks to its 30-day return policy.

Panda Antivirus Review

Panda Review

Ranked #4 out of 28 Antivirus

Panda Antivirus on Windows 11


Panda offers excellent protection and has flexible pricing. However, it’s expensive if you want the unlimited VPN.

  • Malware protection: 99%. Panda averaged 99.9% in the malware protection tests. It is excellent at detecting and removing malware.
  • Speed impact: 99%. Panda averaged 99% in the performance tests. So it has almost no impact on your PC’s speed.
  • Features: 100%. Panda offers anti-malware, anti-phishing, firewall, unlimited VPN, password manager, parental controls, and more.
  • Price: 75%. Panda offers the most flexible pricing of all brands. But, if you want all the security features, Norton is more affordable.

Discount: Save 50% on this secret page

Panda Dome Antivirus Review

Panda offers the most flexible pricing for its antivirus packages.


Panda antivirus scored 99.9% in the real-world protection tests. However, it does have with a higher number of false positives than its competitors, which means that it frequently mistakes harmless software for malware.

This result is the average of all tests by AV-Comparatives since 2020. Usually, we quote AV-Test, another independent test lab. However, Panda does not take part in their tests. Both labs independently test the malware scanning capabilities of free and premium antivirus programs.

Panda combines big data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to scan all apps on your device. This allows it to counter known malware and advanced emerging threats like zero-day malware, ransomware, and API’s.


Panda’s firewall filters incoming and outgoing connections on local networks and the internet. It automatically assigns permissions to each application based on its risk level. But you can edit the rules per app.


Panda includes a free VPN with its antivirus products. However, this built-in VPN is limited to 150 MB / day, which isn’t a lot. That equals about 4 minutes of streaming at 720p or the opening of 75 websites.

Like Bitdefender, Panda’s VPN uses Aura’s technology. This means that the VPN is fast, secure (AES-256 & HydraVPN), private (no logs), and allows torrenting. However, it lacks extra features like a kill switch, making its € 50.00 price expensive.

Password Manager

Panda’s password manager is excellent. Generating and storing passwords is easy. Auto-filling them is accurate. And both two-factor authentification and biometrics login is supported.

The design of the browser extension for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox is identical to the apps on Android and iOS, which gives it a seamless experience across all major operating systems.

Prices & Packages

  • Panda Dome Essential starts at € 17 (Europe) or $ 24 (USA). It offers antivirus and a firewall.
  • Panda Dome Advanced starts at € 23 (Europe) or $ 28 (USA). It adds anti-phishing and parental controls.
  • Panda Dome Complete starts at € 35 (Europe) or $ 43 (USA). It adds a password manager and system optimizer.
  • Panda Dome Premium starts at € 60 (Europe) or $ 67 (USA). It adds an unlimited VPN and update manager.

All of Panda’s plans can be upscaled to an unlimited number of devices.

Bonus Features

  • Safe browsing: Block malicious URLs and phishing sites.
  • Dark web scanner: Search the dark web for your email address.
  • PC cleanup: Delete cookies or files with the system optimization tools.
  • Wi-Fi protection: Check and improve the security of your Wi-Fi network.
  • Anti-theft: Locate your PC if it is lost or stolen.
  • File encryptor: Encrypt sensitive files with a password.
  • File shredder: Securely and permanently delete files.
  • USB protection: Scan a USB drive for malware.

Conclusion: Is Panda the best adware removal tool of 2023?

Panda is one of the best anti-adware software in our test. We really like the password manager and flexible pricing.

But we prefer Norton, because it includes an unlimited VPN at a lower price. And because it offers better protection for Macs and mobile devices.

However, if you only have a Windows PC to protect, Panda’s excellent internet security suites are a great choice.

You can try Panda risk-free, thanks to its 30-day money-back guarantee.

Kaspersky Antivirus Review

Kaspersky Review

Ranked #5 out of 28 Antivirus

Kaspersky Antivirus on Windows 11


Kaspersky has excellent protection at a low price. But the war in Ukraine raises concerns about its ties to the Russian government.

  • Malware protection: 100%. Kaspersky averaged 6 out of 6 in the last 10 protection tests. It is excellent at removing malware.
  • Speed impact: 100%. Kasperksy averaged 6 out of 6 in the last 10 performance tests. So it does not slow down your PC.
  • Features: 100%. Kaspersky has anti-malware, anti-phishing, firewall, unlimited VPN, password manager, parental controls, and more.
  • Price: 100%. Kaspersky Plus is the most affordable way to protect a Windows PC with all essential features, including an unlimited VPN.

Discount: Save up to 50%

Kaspersky Anti-Virus Review

Kaspersky offers exceptional online security at a low price.


Kaspersky antivirus has a 100% malware protection score. This was its average in the independent tests by AV-Test since October 2016. This puts it ahead of all other antivirus companies, except Norton and McAfee.

It can offer such excellent malware protection through its triple-layer protection system:

  • Locate vulnerabilities and threats proactively via heuristic analysis.
  • Block cyber threats in real-time.
  • Instantly isolate and remove dangers.


Kaspersky has one of the most advanced firewalls in the industry. It will filter incoming and outgoing network activity on local networks and the internet. And although it works perfectly on the default settings, there are plenty of customization options too.


Kaspersky includes an unlimited VPN for free with Plus and Premium.

Like Bitdefender’s VPN, it uses Aura’s technology. Therefore, the VPN is fast, secure (AES-256 & HydraVPN), and allows torrenting (P2P). It also features several extra features: Auto-connect, kill switch, smart protection, and website protection.

However, by default, Kaspersky will collect information on your device, location, VPN server, and WiFI network (including IP and DNS settings). It does this to improve product quality, send ads and create marketing offers.

Password Manager

Kaspersky’s password manager is excellent. Creating and storing passwords is easy, and auto-filling them is accurate. Unlike Norton and McAfee, Kaspersky’s password manager is a desktop app rather than a web app. But that doesn’t get in the way of a great user experience.

Prices & Packages

  • Kaspersky Standard starts at € 20 (Europe) or $ 28 (USA). It offers antivirus, anti-phishing, and a firewall. It protects 1 to 5 devices.
  • Kaspersky Plus starts at € 26 (Europe) or $ 37 (USA). It adds a firewall and an unlimited VPN. It protects 1 to 5 devices.
  • Kaspersky Premium starts at € 32 (Europe) or $ 48 (USA). It adds identity protection and parental controls. It protects 1 to 20 devices.

Kaspersky has replaced the old product names Kaspersky Anti-Virus, Internet Security, and Total Security, with Standard, Plus, and Premium.

Bonus Features

  • Internal scan: Scan for worms, spyware, rootkits, and other malware.
  • External scan: Scan external drives, like a hard disk or USB drive.
  • Vulnerability scan: Scan your device for security risks.
  • Kaspersky protection: A hardened browser extension for secure banking.
  • Parental controls: Monitor and protect your children online.
  • Webcam protection: Block programs from accessing your webcam.
  • Private browsing: Block and remove tracking cookies in your browser.
  • Backup and restore: Backup files to cloud backup storage.
  • File encryption: Lock sensitive files in a secure vault.
  • File shredder: Permanently delete files via advanced protocols.

Conclusion: Is Kaspersky the best anti-adware software of 2023?

Kaspersky offers excellent anti-adware protection. Its anti-malware is industry-leading, its firewall and password manager are excellent, and it provides a wide range of extra features.

However, its VPN privacy policy is disappointing. A VPN is a privacy product and shouldn’t be used for marketing. On top of that, Kaspersky struggles with the tensions between the West and Russia, due to the war in Ukraine.

Therefore, we prefer Norton, which includes an unlimited VPN for free in its antivirus suite, doesn’t track what you do online, and isn’t caught up in a geopolitical struggle.

You can try Kaspersky risk-free, thanks to its 30-day return policy.

Specification comparison

Below, we compare the following products:

  • Norton 360 Standard
  • Bitdefender Internet Security with the Premium VPN
  • McAfee Basic
  • Panda Dome Premium
  • Kaspersky Plus

Each one delivers crucial functionality for at least one PC, encompassing Anti-Malware, Anti-Phishing (Web Protection), Firewall, Password Manager, and Unlimited VPN without data constraints.

#1 of 20
#2 of 20
#3 of 20
#4 of 20
#5 of 20
Speed impact
1st year price
$ 39.99 / year
$ 54.99 / year
$ 29.99 / year
$ 66.99 / year
$ 36.99 / year
2nd year price
$ 89.99 / year
$ 129.99 / year
$ 89.99 / year
$ 133.99 / year
$ 75.99 / year
Operating software
Windows, Mac, Android, iOS
Windows, Mac, Android, iOS
Windows, Mac, Android, iOS
Windows, Mac, Android, iOS
Money back
60 days
30 days
30 days
30 days
30 days



Password manager

Unlimited VPN

Test score comparison

We’ve assembled a side-by-side comparison of the last 10 test scores for each antivirus brand, with data courtesy of AV-Test, a leading German anti-malware testing lab. Their evaluation criteria include:

  • Protection (1-6): Antivirus protection against malware attacks.
  • Performance (1-6): System slowdown caused by the antivirus.
  • Usability (1-6): Frequency of false alarms and disruptions.

We used their results, and this formula, to calculate the final score:

Final Score = 60% Protection + 20% Performance + 20% Usability.

Non-participation in AV-Test analysis, like Panda, ESET, and Sophos, can often signal a red flag.

Final Score

Price comparison

We’ve compared the prices of the top antivirus products for Windows. To make it a fair comparison, we looked at what it would cost us, to protect a Windows PC with the following essential features:

  • Anti-malware
  • Anti-phishing (web protection)
  • Firewall
  • Password manager
  • Unlimited VPN (no data limit)

A few notes:

  • Some brands are missing features, lowering their value for money.
  • Prices are second-year prices in the USA, without first-year discounts.
  • Prices are rounded up for readability (e.g., $99.99 becomes $100).

Brands have different prices outside the USA. See those on their website.

Total price
Missing features
$ 60
No firewall and password manager
$ 65
No firewall, password manager, and VPN
$ 90
$ 90
No firewall
$ 100
$ 130
No password manager
$ 179
No firewall

User reviews

We’ve compared user feedback for each antivirus brand, using scores and review counts from TrustPilot, a preeminent user review platform. However, bear in mind that some brands are known to artificially boost their ratings.

We approach exceedingly high scores with caution, particularly for brands like TotalAV, notorious for their assertive marketing and sales ploys.

In our view, a score between 4.0 and 4.5 is credible and commendable. Anything higher may be suspect, while lower scores could reflect inferior product quality or customer service, as evident in McAfee’s disconcerting scores.

Review score
Review count

What is antivirus software?

Antivirus software, an indispensable tool for the digital age, is a program designed to protect your computer or network from malicious software known as ‘malware’. This broad umbrella term ‘malware’ encompasses various threats including viruses, worms, trojans, ransomware, and adware.

Adware, short for advertising-supported software, is a form of malware that bombards you with unwanted advertisements and can seriously hinder your online experience. Comprehensive antivirus software doesn’t just detect and quarantine these threats; it also removes them, including pesky adware, keeping your digital environment clean and your data safe.

In conclusion, antivirus software incorporates adware removal tools.

For more, read our blog post on what antivirus software is.

How does antivirus software work?

Antivirus software employs several methods to identify and neutralize threats. Its approach combines signature-based detection, heuristic analysis, and behavior-based detection.

Signature-based detection

Signature-based detection, the cornerstone of traditional antivirus solutions, works much like a criminal fingerprint database. Each piece of malware has unique code known as a ‘signature’. Antivirus software maintains a vast database of these signatures and continuously scans your computer for any match. When it finds a file with a matching signature, it flags it as malware.

However, this method’s limitation is that it can only detect known malware whose signatures exist in the database.

Heuristic analysis

To compensate for the limitations of signature-based detection, antivirus software uses heuristic analysis. This method identifies malware by examining the structure and behavior of suspicious files rather than looking for a specific signature. It uses algorithms to analyze the attributes and code patterns of known malware types and applies this knowledge to detect new, unknown malware or variants of existing malware.

However, heuristic analysis can sometimes lead to false positives where legitimate files are flagged as malware.

Behavior-based detection

Behavior-based detection, also known as behavioral monitoring, observes the behavior of applications in real-time. Instead of relying on malware signatures or analyzing code, it checks for suspicious behavior, such as unauthorized attempts to access sensitive data or modify system files.

This method helps detect zero-day threats—new, previously unidentified malware that traditional signature-based methods might miss. However, like heuristic analysis, it can sometimes result in false positives.

For more, read our blog post on how antivirus software works.

What’s the difference between antivirus and adware removal tools?

Antivirus software is a comprehensive security solution designed to safeguard your digital environment from a plethora of cyber threats. These include but are not limited to viruses, trojans, worms, ransomware, spyware, and adware.

It uses multiple detection methods, such as signature-based detection, heuristic analysis, and behavior-based detection, to identify, isolate, and eliminate these threats. Antivirus software is often characterized by its holistic approach to system protection.

On the other hand, adware removal tools, as their name implies, are specialized programs that primarily focus on identifying and eradicating adware. Adware is a type of malware that inundates users with unwanted advertisements, often slowing down system performance and compromising user privacy.

However, it’s essential to understand that adware removal is not an isolated concept. Instead, it’s a key component of the wider toolkit that antivirus software brings to the table. While an adware removal tool might excel in dealing with its specific type of threat, it falls short of providing the all-encompassing protection offered by antivirus software.

In other words, think of antivirus software as a Swiss Army knife with tools for tackling a wide range of malware types, including adware. In contrast, an adware removal tool would represent just one tool within that multipurpose gadget — highly effective for its designated task but lacking the broader utility.

For most users, a robust antivirus software that includes adware removal in its suite of protective measures offers the most comprehensive defense against the diverse threats found in today’s digital landscape.

For more, read our blog post on whether Windows 11 needs antivirus.

How do we test antivirus software?

Testing antivirus software is an intricate process that involves examining six key components, each with different weightage:

  • Anti-malware protection (30%)
  • Security and privacy features (30%)
  • Speed impact (10%)
  • False positives (10%)
  • Price (10%)
  • Ownership and reputation (10%)

Each of these components plays a crucial role in providing comprehensive protection to the user. Our evaluation process is designed to ensure that the software you choose offers an optimal balance of protection, speed, value, and reliability.

Anti-malware protection (30%)

The robustness of an antivirus program’s anti-malware protection is arguably its most essential characteristic. As such, this feature carries the most weight in our evaluation. Our testing process for this component is twofold: we conduct in-house tests and scrutinize the findings of reputable third-party labs, such as AV-Test.

In-house testing

Our in-house testing involves subjecting a test computer to hundreds of unique malware samples through a USB drive. The aim is to gauge the proficiency of the software’s malware scanner in detecting and neutralizing these threats.

But, we don’t stop there. We also simulate real-world malware attacks by executing malware files and initiating ransomware attacks. This tests the antivirus software’s real-time protection capabilities—how effectively it can thwart these invasions and safeguard the system.

AV-Test results

While our in-house testing is comprehensive, we supplement our results with data from AV-Test, a highly respected independent lab renowned for their rigorous antivirus software evaluations.

We meticulously analyze their protection test results for Windows, Mac, and Android platforms. Their ratings provide valuable insights into how the software performs under different operating systems, making our evaluations more comprehensive and reliable.

Our combined approach ensures that our anti-malware protection scores are both thorough and impartial, giving you confidence in the antivirus software’s ability to defend your system.

Security and privacy features (30%)

The range and efficacy of security and privacy features that an antivirus software offers are critical factors in our evaluations, accounting for 30% of our test score. We assess these features individually, ensuring each contributes to an all-rounded protection suite.

Web protection (anti-phishing)

Web protection safeguards users from harmful websites and phishing attacks, which aim to steal sensitive information by masquerading as trustworthy entities. We test this feature by accessing known malicious and phishing websites to see whether the software correctly identifies and blocks them.


A firewall monitors network traffic, providing a barrier between your computer and potential threats from the internet. We evaluate the firewall’s performance by attempting to connect to the test computer through various ports. The more intrusions the firewall prevents, the higher its score.

Password manager

Password managers securely store and auto-fill your passwords, offering enhanced convenience and security. We assess this feature’s efficacy by testing its storage capacity, encryption strength, and ease of use across various websites.

Virtual private network (VPN)

VPNs encrypt your internet connection, enhancing online privacy. We test VPNs for speed, location masking, and data leakage to ensure they provide reliable and effective protection.

Parental controls

Parental controls help parents restrict or monitor their children’s online activities. We assess these by testing their filtering capabilities, time control features, and ease of customization.

Identity theft protection

This feature monitors the internet for the unauthorized use of your personal information. We evaluate its performance by checking its monitoring coverage, alert promptness, and recovery support.

Secure cloud storage (cloud backup)

Secure cloud storage safeguards your data by backing it up to the cloud. We evaluate its performance based on storage capacity, backup speed, security, and ease of data recovery.


Anti-ransomware features protect your data from ransomware attacks, which lock your files until a ransom is paid. We test this feature by simulating ransomware attacks on the test system and evaluating the software’s ability to prevent them.

Dark web monitoring

Dark web monitoring scans the dark web for your personal information that might be sold by hackers. We evaluate this feature based on its monitoring range, alert system, and the guidance provided for damage control.

Testing each feature in detail ensures that the antivirus software you choose offers comprehensive protection and privacy in the face of various online threats.

Bonus features

An antivirus program can come with various entry-level functions, such as spam filters and secure browsers, and premium options like online storage with enhanced security. We consider the following bonus features worthy of your consideration:

  • Ad Blocker
  • Anti-theft
  • Email protection
  • File encryption
  • File shredder
  • Gaming mode
  • Microphone protection
  • PC maintenance features
  • Secure browser (hardened browser to protect your online banking)
  • Spam filter
  • Startup optimizer
  • Tune up tools
  • Virtual keyboard
  • Webcam protection

Speed impact (10%)

A vital aspect of our testing revolves around the impact of antivirus software on system performance, making up 10% of our evaluation. While robust security is a priority, we believe it shouldn’t come at the expense of your device’s speed or efficiency.

To guide our analysis, we rely on AV-Test’s performance tests. These tests measure how the software affects the speed of common computer operations like downloading and installing applications, copying files, or browsing websites. A lower impact on system performance corresponds to a higher score in our testing.

False positives (10%)

False positives, instances where the software incorrectly identifies benign files or websites as threats, can cause unnecessary interruptions and anxiety for the user. Accounting for 10% of our evaluation, we use AV-Test’s usability tests to guide our analysis.

These tests measure the frequency of false alarms produced during the installation and use of legitimate software, and while visiting websites. The fewer false positives an antivirus software generates, the better it scores in our testing.

Price (10%)

When it comes to antivirus software, value for money is a significant consideration. This category, contributing 10% to our evaluation, focuses on the cost of the software relative to its feature set and performance.

We take into account that many antivirus companies offer attractive discounts for the first year, but these prices often increase significantly in the second year. We’re looking for products that deliver excellent protection and features at a fair and sustainable price.

Ownership and reputation (10%)

Ownership and reputation of the antivirus brand make up 10% of our evaluation. Trust is essential in the cybersecurity field. Not all companies have operated with the same level of integrity or respect for user privacy. For instance, the Avast scandal—where the company was found to be selling user data through a subsidiary named Jumpshot—served as a stark reminder of the need for vigilance.

We delve into the background of each company, its past controversies, and its current standing in the industry. Companies with strong ethical track records and robust transparency measures score higher in this category.

For more, read our blog post on how we test antivirus software.

How to choose the best antivirus software?

Selecting the ideal antivirus software requires careful consideration of multiple factors. It’s essential to balance various elements, such as malware protection efficacy, update frequency, range of security features, performance impact, quality of customer support, and pricing, to meet your specific needs.

Reliable protection from malware

The primary purpose of antivirus software is to protect your devices from malware attacks. Look for a product that consistently scores high on independent antivirus testing platforms such as AV-Test or AV-Comparatives. The software should be effective against a variety of threats, including viruses, trojans, ransomware, spyware, and adware.

Security updates

Frequent security updates are crucial as new malware threats emerge daily. The best antivirus software providers regularly update their malware database and release patches to keep their users safe from the latest threats. Automatic updates can offer peace of mind that your defenses are always up-to-date.

Security features

Consider the range of security features on offer. Along with basic antivirus protection, look for features like anti-phishing, firewall, VPN, password manager, and parental controls. More comprehensive suites may also include identity theft protection, secure cloud backup, and dark web monitoring. However, be sure these additional features provide value to you, as they often come with a higher price tag.

Performance impact

Even the most robust antivirus protection should not significantly hinder your device’s performance. Review performance scores from independent testing labs and customer reviews to get a sense of the software’s impact on system speed. Ideal software provides top-tier protection without slowing down your device.

Customer support

Good customer support can be crucial, especially when you encounter issues or need guidance. Look for companies that offer 24/7 support through multiple channels, including live chat, email, phone, and extensive online resources like FAQs and troubleshooting guides.

First-year and second price

While first-year discounts can be attractive, consider the renewal price as well. Some antivirus solutions can become quite expensive after the initial discounted period. Seek out software that offers good value for money both in the first year and in the years to follow, without compromising on protection quality and feature set. Remember, the cheapest option isn’t always the most cost-effective if it doesn’t meet your security needs.

Operating system

If you have a specific operating system that you would like to protect, we probably have a dedicated antivirus comparison for it:

Click the links to be taken to your comparison of choice.

What cyber threats can antivirus protect you from?

Antivirus software offers robust defenses against a broad spectrum of cyber threats. While it may not offer absolute protection, a well-rounded antivirus can significantly lower the risk of falling victim to various forms of malicious software and cyber attacks. Here are some key threats that a good antivirus can shield you from:


Malware, short for malicious software, is a broad term encompassing all harmful or intrusive software, including viruses, worms, trojans, ransomware, spyware, adware, and others. It is designed to damage, disrupt, or gain unauthorized access to computer systems.

For more, read our blog post on malware or malware examples.


Adware refers to software that displays unwanted advertisements on your computer. While not always harmful, adware can be intrusive, affect system performance, and sometimes serve as a conduit for more malicious software.

For more, read our blog post on adware or adware examples.


A botnet is a network of private computers infected with malicious software and controlled without the owners’ knowledge. Botnets can be used to conduct various nefarious activities, including launching Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, stealing data, and sending spam.

For more, read our blog post on botnets or botnet examples.


Keyloggers are a type of monitoring software designed to record the keystrokes made on a computer, usually without the user’s knowledge. This data can be used to steal sensitive information like usernames, passwords, and credit card details.

For more, read our blog post on keyloggers or keylogger types.


Ransomware is malicious software that encrypts files on a victim’s computer, rendering them inaccessible. The attacker then demands a ransom from the victim to restore access to the data upon payment.

For more, read our blog post on ransomware or ransomware examples.


Rootkits are a type of stealthy software, often malicious, designed to hide the existence of certain processes or programs from regular detection methods, giving a third party unauthorized control over a system.

For more, read our blog post on rootkits or rootkit examples.


Spyware is software that gathers information about a person or organization without their knowledge, that may send such information to another entity without the user’s consent, or asserts control over a device without the consumer’s knowledge.

For more, read our blog post on spyware or spyware examples.


Trojans are a type of malicious software that misrepresents itself to appear useful, routine, or interesting to persuade a victim to install it. A Trojan will perform actions that include data theft, damaging the host computer, or creating a backdoor for remote control.

For more, read our blog post on trojans or trojan examples.


A computer virus is a type of malicious software that, when executed, replicates by reproducing itself or infecting other programs by modifying them. Viruses can cause detrimental effects, including damaging the system software or deleting files.

For more, read our blog post on viruses or virus examples.


Worms are a type of malware that spreads copies of itself from computer to computer. It can replicate itself without any human interaction and doesn’t need to attach itself to a software program to cause damage. Worms can consume bandwidth or overload a system’s resources, causing it to become unresponsive or slow.

For more, read our blog post on worms or worm examples.

What cyber threats can antivirus not protect you from?

While a robust antivirus solution offers significant protection against a range of cyber threats, it’s essential to recognize its limitations. There are certain types of threats that even the best antivirus software might struggle to guard against. These include social engineering attacks, zero-day exploits, and certain types of phishing and online scams.


Phishing refers to fraudulent attempts to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details by disguising oneself as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication.

While some antivirus solutions offer anti-phishing tools, they cannot guarantee complete protection because phishing techniques evolve rapidly, often bypassing traditional detection methods. User vigilance plays a key role in detecting and avoiding these scams.

For more, read our blog post on phishing or phishing examples.

Online Scams

Online scams are deceptive strategies used on the internet to defraud users. They range from advanced fee frauds, fake lotteries and prizes, to romance scams and fraudulent online marketplaces.

Antivirus software might not be able to protect you against all types of online scams as they often involve deception and manipulation that don’t necessarily involve malicious software.

For more, read our blog post on online scams.

Social Engineering

Social engineering is a method of tricking people into revealing confidential information, such as passwords or credit card numbers, by manipulating their natural tendency to trust others.

Social engineering attacks can be very sophisticated, often involving human interaction and psychological manipulation, making them hard for antivirus software to detect and prevent.

For more, read our blog post on social engineering.

Zero-Day Exploits

Zero-day exploits are cyber attacks that occur on the same day a weakness is discovered in software. At this point, it’s called a zero-day vulnerability. Until the vulnerability is patched, hackers can exploit it to adversely affect programs, data, additional computers or a network.

Antivirus software may struggle to protect against these threats, as by definition, they exploit previously unknown vulnerabilities for which no specific defenses have been developed yet.

For more, read our blog post on zero-day exploits.

What antivirus software have we tested?

We have tested 28 antivirus brands, ranging from entry-level free antivirus programs, to mid-range paid antivirus software and full-featured internet security suites.

As a rule of thumb, even the best free malware removal programs, like Avast One, cannot compete with the comprehensive malware protection offered by paid solutions, like Norton 360 Deluxe or Bitdefender Total Protection. Both are incredibly capable against adware and unwanted programs thanks to their advanced features and excellent adware removal capabilities.

Should you want a free adware remover, that is capable of both blocking adware and removing adware, we recommend sticking with Microsoft Defender (the free antivirus protection software that comes with Windows). However, this will be less effective against malware and potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) than the top adware removal tools, Norton and Bitdefender.

Below is the list of the 20 most important brands:

The best antivirus programs are Norton 360 Deluxe, Norton 360 Advanced, and Bitdefender Total Security. By comparison, the other antivirus software cost too much, offer less capable protection from malware threats, or have no unlimited VPN access.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are the most frequently asked questions.

What is the best adware removal tools?

Bitdefender and Norton are top picks for adware removal tools. They offer wide-ranging protection at reasonable prices. Plus, we offer special discounts on our website.

Do you need an adware removal tool?

Absolutely! An adware removal tool is a crucial part of your cyber defense. It ensures your online activity remains unintrusive and safe.

How do adware removal tools work?

Adware removal tools work by scanning your system, detecting adware, and removing it. The best ones function seamlessly without slowing down your device.

Will adware removal tools slow down your device?

High-quality adware removal tools, like Bitdefender and Norton, won’t slow down your device. But, others might, so choose wisely.

Is a free adware removal tool safe?

Free adware removal tools may not offer comprehensive protection and could compromise your security. It’s safer to invest in a trusted brand.

Is Kaspersky still safe?

Kaspersky is still safe. Despite its Russian origins, there’s no proven evidence suggesting it compromises user safety or data security.

Languages and sources

Similar pages in other languages on SoftwareLab.org:

Below are the sources and tools we’ve used to test the antivirus software:


Author: Tibor Moes

Author: Tibor Moes

Founder & Chief Editor at SoftwareLab

Tibor is a Dutch engineer and entrepreneur. He has tested security software since 2014.

Over the years, he has tested most of the best antivirus software for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, as well as many VPN providers.

He uses Norton to protect his devices, CyberGhost for his privacy, and Dashlane for his passwords.

This website is hosted on a Digital Ocean server via Cloudways and is built with DIVI on WordPress.

You can find him on LinkedIn or contact him here.