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The 7 Best Anti-Adware Software (2024 Update)

Updated: January 2024

By: Tibor Moes is the founder of SoftwareLab. He has tested 28 antivirus brands and studied Cybersecurity at Stanford. Read how we test antivirus.

Norton is the best anti-adware software of 2024

Norton 360

Ranked #1 of 28 brands

  • Adware Protection 100% 100%
  • Security Features 100% 100%

Norton has the best anti-adware protection, excellent security features, and a great price. It’s the best anti-adware of 2024.

  • Adware protection: 100%. Norton stopped all 1,200 malware and adware attacks in our test.
  • Security features: 100%. Anti-phishing, firewall, VPN, password manager, and more.
  • Speed impact: 100%. Norton did not slow down our test PC. 

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

Avast is the second best anti-adware software of 2024

Avast One

Ranked #2 of 28 brands

  • Adware Protection 100% 100%
  • Security Features 80% 80%

Avast offers excellent protection, many bonus features, and a beautiful design. However, it lacks a password manager.

  • Adware protection: 100%. Avast stopped all 1,200 malware and adware attacks in our test.
  • Security features: 80%. Avast does not include a password manager.
  • Speed impact: 100%. Avast did not slow down our test PC. 

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

The best anti-adware software

In 2024, we tested 39 anti-adware programs from 28 brands. We infected our test PC with 1,200 malware attacks, including famous adware like Fireball and the Ask Toolbar. We also inspected the password managers, VPN, anti-phishing browser extensions, firewalls, and other security features.

These are the best anti-adware software of 2024:

  1. 🥇 Norton 360 – The #1 in 2024
  2. Avast One
  3. TotalAV
  4. Bitdefender
  5. McAfee
  6. Panda
  7. Avira

Scroll down for the reviews.

Norton Antivirus Review

Norton Review

Ranked #1 out of 28 brands

Norton Antivirus 2024

Norton is ranked #1 of 28 brands.

Norton is the best anti-adware of 2024. It has perfect anti-adware protection, no impact on the speed of your PC, all the security features you need, and an excellent price.

Buy it if you want complete protection. You will get excellent anti-malware, anti-phishing, a firewall, a password manager, and an unlimited VPN, which will protect your privacy online.

  • Adware protection: 100%. Norton detected and removed each of the 1,200 malware and adware samples in our test.
  • Speed impact: 100%. Norton’s anti-malware engine is lightweight and did not slow down our test PC.
  • Features: 100%. Norton includes anti-malware, anti-phishing, firewall, VPN, password manager, and more.
  • Price: 100%. Compared to similar products at Bitdefender and McAfee, Norton offers more value for money.

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Detailed Review

Norton 360 Anti-Adware Review 2024

Norton stands out for its robust anti-adware capabilities across all operating systems.

Anti-Adware and Malware Protection

We’ve observed Norton’s exceptional performance in detecting and neutralizing adware threats. Their real-time protection tool, SONAR, excels in identifying adware, often disguised as legitimate software.

Our tests, combined with the last 10 scores from AV-Test, confirm Norton’s efficiency in this area. SONAR employs heuristic analysis and machine learning, adept at spotting both known and emerging adware threats.

Firewall

Norton’s Smart Firewall goes beyond standard protection. It monitors both incoming and outgoing connections for adware-related activities. This proactive approach is superior to basic firewalls like Windows’, which primarily check incoming traffic.

Norton’s firewall also conceals inactive ports, an essential feature to thwart adware spread through techniques like port scanning.

VPN

The unlimited VPN offered by Norton enhances adware protection. Its features – high speed, strong encryption (AES-256 & OpenVPN), strict no-logs policy, torrenting support, ad tracker blocking, and split tunneling – provide an added layer of security against adware, especially those distributed online.

Password Manager

Norton’s password manager indirectly contributes to anti-adware security. By generating and securely storing complex passwords, it reduces the risk of adware attacks that exploit weak or reused passwords.

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 for Gamers costs € 35 (Europe) or $ 45 (USA). It adds a gamer optimizer. 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.

Additional Features

Additional tools enhance Norton’s anti-adware effectiveness:

  • Web protection: Blocks adware-laden websites.
  • Cloud backup: Safeguards data, reducing risks from adware attacks.
  • Parental controls: Protects against adware targeting younger users.
  • Webcam protection: Prevents adware from unauthorized webcam access.
  • Dark web monitoring: Alerts on personal information appearing in risky areas.

Is Norton the Best Anti-Adware Software of 2024?

In our assessment, Norton is a top choice for anti-adware protection in 2024. Its comprehensive approach, combining device security and online privacy, makes it a robust defense against adware threats. We recommend trying Norton risk-free with its 60-day return policy.

Avast Antivirus Review

Avast Review

Ranked #2 out of 28 brands

Avast Antivirus 2024

Avast is ranked #2 of 28 brands.

Avast is one of the best anti-adware of 2024. It has perfect anti-adware protection, no impact on the speed of your PC, many security features, and one of the best designs we’ve seen.

Buy it if you want excellent protection and superb design. You will get anti-malware, anti-phishing, a firewall, and a VPN. However, Avast does not include a password manager.

  • Adware protection: 100%. Avast detected and removed all of the 1,200 malware and adware samples in our test.
  • Speed impact: 100%. Avast’s anti-malware engine is lightweight and did not slow down our test PC.
  • Features: 80%. Avast one includes anti-malware, anti-phishing, firewall, VPN, and more. But no password manager.
  • Price: 100%. Considering Avast’s excellent security features and design, its price is more than fair.

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Detailed Review

Avast Anti-Adware Review 2024

We recently evaluated Avast One, focusing on its anti-adware capabilities. Similar to leaders like Norton and Bitdefender, Avast demonstrates proficiency in detecting adware across platforms such as Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS.

Anti-Adware and Malware Protection

In our rigorous testing, Avast impressively identified over 1,200 adware and malware samples. Full system scans averaged 54 minutes. Its real-time protection efficiently halted encrypted adware downloads. However, the free version tends to frequently prompt for upgrades.

Firewall

Avast’s firewall allows for detailed network traffic monitoring and app blocking. It’s more manual compared to Norton’s and Bitdefender’s automated approaches. A significant omission is the Wi-Fi Inspector on Windows, which is vital for spotting vulnerable devices that could be adware targets.

VPN

The Avast One Essential VPN, free with 5GB data weekly, is a decent offering for basic users. The paid VPN versions, though, fall short in speed and capabilities, particularly in comparison to Bitdefender’s VPN services.

Utility Tools

Avast comes with a suite of utility tools enhancing its anti-adware stance:

  • Browser data clearing: Essential for removing adware traces.
  • Software updater: Keeps applications adware-free by updating them.
  • Ransomware shield and email security: Additional layers against adware.
  • Tracking prevention: Available in premium versions to combat adware tracking.

Is Avast the Best Anti-Adware Software of 2024?

Avast is a formidable option for anti-adware protection, excelling in several areas. Its lack of an integrated password manager is a gap, but for users prioritizing anti-adware capabilities, it remains a strong choice.

For those seeking comprehensive solutions including password management or parental controls, alternatives like Norton 360 Deluxe may be more suitable. Avast’s 30-day return policy provides a no-risk opportunity to evaluate its effectiveness.

For more details, read the full Avast review.

TotalAV Antivirus Review

TotalAV Review

Ranked #3 out of 28 brands

TotalAV Antivirus 2024

TotalAV is ranked #3 of 28 brands.

TotalAV is one of the best anti-adware of 2024. It has near-perfect anti-adware test scores, an intuitive design, no impact on the speed of your PC, and lots of security features.

Buy it if you want an easy-to-use anti-adware at a great price. You will get anti-malware, anti-phishing, a password manager, and a VPN, which will protect your privacy online. But no firewall.

  • Adware protection: 99.8%. TotalAV detected and removed nearly all of the 1,200 malware and adware samples in our test.
  • Speed impact: 100%. TotalAV’s anti-malware engine is lightweight and did not slow down our test PC.
  • Features: 90%. TotalAV includes anti-malware, anti-phishing, VPN, and a password manager. But it doesn’t have a firewall.
  • Price: 90%. TotalAV offers generous discounts in the first year, but high renewal prices in the second year.

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Detailed Review

TotalAV Anti-Adware Review 2024

TotalAV has proven to be a valuable and accessible solution in our anti-adware evaluations. Its straightforward interface and affordability make it an appealing choice.

Anti-Adware and Malware Protection

TotalAV’s integration with Avira’s engine led to impressive results in our testing. It efficiently conducted various scans – Quick, System, Smart, and Custom – with the System Scan completing in about an hour and minimally impacting performance.

It detected 99.8% of threats, including adware, ransomware, and spyware. The real-time protection was particularly effective at stopping malicious adware downloads immediately.

VPN

The Safe Browsing VPN offered by TotalAV performed admirably. With 48 server locations and commendable speeds, it supports popular streaming services and P2P file sharing. The inclusion of a kill switch and auto-connect on public networks enhances its value, making it a strong contender, even if not as fast as standalone VPN solutions.

Password Manager

Total Password, tested for its reliability and security, stood out with its 256-bit AES encryption. Its features, such as auto-save and auto-fill, two-factor authentication, and a user-friendly interface, contribute significantly to anti-adware protection by securing login credentials.

Bonus Features

TotalAV enriches its offering with bonus features:

  • Identity theft protection by Aura: Crucial in safeguarding against adware-related identity threats.
  • System tune-up suite: Includes tools like a Startup Manager and Junk Cleaner, which can help remove remnants of adware.

Is TotalAV the Best Anti-Adware Software of 2024?

TotalAV presents itself as a strong, affordable option in the anti-adware software market. With robust anti-adware capabilities, an efficient VPN, and a secure password manager, it caters well to those seeking comprehensive and user-friendly security solutions.

The 30-day refund policy further underscores its appeal, allowing users to evaluate its efficacy risk-free.

For more details, read the full TotalAV review.

Bitdefender Antivirus Review

Bitdefender Review

Ranked #4 out of 28 brands

Bitdefender Antivirus 2024

Bitdefender is ranked #4 of 28 brands.

Bitdefender is an excellent anti-adware program in 2024. It has perfect anti-adware protection, no impact on the speed of your PC, many security features, and an excellent price.

Buy it if you want outstanding protection. But keep in mind that you will get anti-malware, anti-phishing, a firewall, and a few bonus features. Not the password manager or unlimited VPN.

  • Adware protection: 100%. Bitdefender detected and removed each of the 1,200 malware and adware samples in our test.
  • Speed impact: 100%. Bitdefender’s anti-malware engine is lightweight and did not slow down our test PC.
  • Features: 80%. Bitdefender has anti-malware, anti-phishing, and a firewall, but it misses a password manager and a VPN.
  • Price: 100%. Although Bitdefender misses a few features, it has an excellent price, which gives it good value for money.

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Detailed Review

Bitdefender Anti-Adware Review 2024

In our analysis of Bitdefender’s capabilities, we focused on its anti-adware performance, which aligns with its reputation for excellent protection and resource efficiency.

Anti-Adware and Malware Protection

Bitdefender showcases a 100% malware detection rate, indicative of its robust anti-adware capabilities. The Advanced Threat Defense feature is particularly effective, employing behavioral monitoring rather than traditional signature-based detection.

This approach has yielded high detection rates with minimal false positives. During our tests, Bitdefender promptly identified and neutralized the latest adware types.

Firewall

The firewall in Bitdefender is adept at managing both inbound and outbound network traffic, crucial for identifying and blocking adware communications. Its ability to detect and thwart port scans adds an extra layer of defense against common adware intrusion methods.

VPN

Bitdefender’s free VPN, with a daily cap of 200 MB, is suitable for basic use, although limited for intensive online activities. For unlimited data, upgrading to Bitdefender Premium VPN or Premium Security is necessary. The VPN’s performance is solid, benefiting from AES-256 encryption and HydraVPN technology.

Password Manager

Notably, Bitdefender’s password manager is not included in all packages and must be purchased separately or as part of the Premium Security suite. This tool is crucial for safeguarding against adware that exploits weak passwords.

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.

Bonus Features

Bitdefender includes several additional features:

  • Online threat prevention, vulnerability scans, ransomware remediation.
  • Safepay for secure online transactions.
  • Video and audio protection to guard against adware accessing webcams and microphones.
  • Anti-tracker browser extension and parental advisor.

    Is Bitdefender the Best Anti-Adware Software of 2024?

    Bitdefender stands out in our tests as a top-tier anti-adware solution. Its comprehensive suite of features, including an advanced firewall, effective VPN, and additional security tools, make it a compelling choice.

    However, its pricing structure, particularly for the password manager and unlimited VPN, may be a consideration for those seeking a more inclusive package. In comparison, Norton offers these features at no additional cost. Nonetheless, for users prioritizing robust anti-adware protection, Bitdefender remains a strong contender.

    McAfee Antivirus Review

    McAfee Review

    Ranked #5 out of 28 brands

    McAfee Antivirus 2024

    McAfee is ranked #5 of 28 brands.

    McAfee is an excellent anti-adware program in 2024. It has perfect anti-adware protection, no impact on the speed of your PC, an intuitive design, and all the security features you need.

    Buy it if you want complete protection. You will get anti-malware, anti-phishing, a firewall, a password manager, a VPN, and, depending on where you live, identity theft protection.

    • Adware protection: 100%. Mcafee detected and removed each of the 1,200 malware and adware samples in our test.
    • Speed impact: 100%. McAfee’s anti-malware engine is lightweight and did not slow down our test PC.
    • Features: 100%. McAfee includes anti-malware, anti-phishing, firewall, VPN, password manager, and more.
    • Price: 90%. McAfee is slightly more expensive than Norton, but allows you to protect an unlimited number of devices (in the US).

    Discount: Save 70% on this secret page

    Detailed Review

    McAfee Anti-Adware Review 2024

    McAfee has made significant strides in its anti-adware capabilities, as evidenced in our recent evaluations. Its comprehensive coverage for an unlimited number of devices makes it a standout choice.

    Anti-Adware and Malware Protection

    McAfee’s performance in anti-adware detection is commendable. Achieving a 100% score in AV-Test’s protection tests since April 2020, it demonstrates reliability in detecting and removing both offline and online adware threats.

    Its Scan Engine is particularly effective, combining traditional antivirus scans, sandboxing for analyzing malicious code, heuristic techniques for recognizing new threats, and efficient removal of dangerous code.

    Firewall

    The firewall in McAfee excels at filtering both incoming and outgoing traffic, essential for blocking adware communication. Additionally, it effectively conceals open ports, thwarting adware spread through port scanning techniques.

    VPN

    Safe Connect, McAfee’s VPN, offers unlimited data and maintains a balance of speed and security (AES-256 encryption), without keeping activity logs.

    While it supports streaming services and torrenting, some features like the kill switch and split tunneling are not universally available across all operating systems. The VPN is reduced to 500 MB/day if auto-renew is turned off.

    Password Manager

    McAfee’s True Key password manager competes well with top-tier options like Dashlane. Its user-friendly interface, accuracy in auto-filling, and biometric login options (facial recognition and fingerprint scanner) add a layer of security against adware attacks that exploit weak passwords.

    Prices & Packages

    • McAfee Basic: Basic antivirus, anti-phishing, firewall, password manager, and VPN for 1 device.
    • McAfee Essential (Plus in Europe): Same features, covering 5 devices.
    • McAfee+ Premium: Adds personal data cleanup, unlimited device protection.
    • McAfee+ Advanced: Includes identity theft protection, unlimited devices.
    • McAfee+ Ultimate: Additional identity theft protection, unlimited devices (USA only).

    Bonus Features

    McAfee’s suite of additional features enhances its anti-adware capabilities:

    • Secure apps, app boost, browser security, web boost, tracker remover.
    • ID Protection for dark web scanning.
    • File shredder and File Lock for secure data handling.
    • Anti-spam and Safe Family for comprehensive online protection.

    Is McAfee the Best Anti-Adware Software of 2024?

    In our evaluation, McAfee emerges as a top contender in the anti-adware software category. Its perfect scores in virus protection, along with a robust password manager, a free unlimited VPN, and a user-friendly design, make it a compelling choice.

    The range of premium and advanced plans, particularly in the U.S., offering extensive privacy and identity protection, further enhances its appeal. McAfee’s 30-day return policy offers a risk-free opportunity to assess its effectiveness.

    For more details, read the full McAfee review.

    Panda Antivirus Review

    Panda Review

    Ranked #6 out of 28 brands

    Panda Antivirus 2024

    Panda is ranked #6 of 28 brands.

    Panda is an excellent anti-adware program in 2024. It has near-perfect anti-adware protection, no impact on the speed of your PC, all the security features you need, and flexible pricing.

    Buy it if you want great protection and customization options. You will get anti-malware, anti-phishing, a firewall, a password manager, and an unlimited VPN, which will protect your privacy online.

    • Adware protection: 99%. Panda detected and removed nearly all of the 1,200 malware and adware samples in our test.
    • Speed impact: 100%. Panda’s anti-malware engine is lightweight and did not slow down our test PC.
    • Features: 100%. Panda Dome includes anti-malware, anti-phishing, firewall, VPN, password manager, and more.
    • Price: 80%. Compared to similar products at Norton, Panda Dome is expensive. However, its flexible pricing is excellent.

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    Detailed Review

    Panda Dome Anti-Adware Review 2024

    Panda Dome presents a versatile and cost-effective solution in the realm of anti-adware protection, as we found in our recent evaluation.

    Anti-Adware and Malware Protection

    In our tests, Panda antivirus achieved a 99.9% real-world protection score, confirming its efficiency against adware and malware. However, it exhibited a higher rate of false positives compared to its rivals. This is a crucial aspect when considering its impact on user experience.

    Panda leverages big data, AI, and machine learning to combat a wide array of threats, including zero-day malware, ransomware, and advanced adware.

    Firewall

    Panda’s firewall effectively filters both inbound and outbound network traffic. It intelligently assigns permissions to applications based on their risk level, with the option for users to customize these rules.

    VPN

    The VPN included with Panda’s antivirus products is limited to 150 MB/day, which may not suffice for heavy usage. Utilizing Aura’s technology, it ensures speed and security (AES-256 & HydraVPN) but lacks additional features like a kill switch.

    The cost-effectiveness of its VPN offering compared to others in the market, like Bitdefender, is a consideration for potential users.

    Password Manager

    Panda’s password manager excels in both functionality and user experience. It supports two-factor authentication and biometric login, essential for protecting against adware attacks through compromised credentials. The seamless integration across browsers and operating systems enhances its usability.

    Prices & Packages

    • Panda Dome Essential: Basic antivirus and firewall.
    • Panda Dome Advanced: Adds anti-phishing and parental controls.
    • Panda Dome Complete: Includes a password manager and system optimizer.
    • Panda Dome Premium: Offers an unlimited VPN and update manager.

    All plans can be upgraded to cover an unlimited number of devices.

    Bonus Features

    Additional features that bolster Panda’s anti-adware capabilities include:

    • Safe browsing, dark web scanner, PC cleanup.
    • Wi-Fi protection, anti-theft, file encryptor.
    • File shredder, USB protection.

    Is Panda the Best Anti-Adware Software of 2024?

    Panda Dome stands out for its effective anti-adware protection, versatile password manager, and flexible pricing. While it competes closely with Norton, particularly regarding VPN offerings and multi-platform support, Panda remains a strong choice for those primarily focused on Windows PC protection.

    Its 30-day money-back guarantee offers a risk-free trial to assess its suitability.

    For more details, read the full Panda review.

    Avira Antivirus Review

    Avira Review

    Ranked #7 out of 28 brands

    Avira Antivirus 2024

    Avira is ranked #7 of 28 brands.

    Avira is an excellent anti-adware program in 2024. It has perfect anti-adware protection, no impact on the speed of your PC, all the security features you need, and a great design.

    Buy it if you want excellent protection and intuitive design. You will get anti-malware, anti-phishing, a password manager, and a VPN. On top of that, Avira finally includes an excellent firewall.

    • Adware protection: 100%. Avira detected and removed all of the 1,200 malware and adware samples in our test.
    • Speed impact: 100%. Avira’s anti-malware engine is lightweight and did not slow down our test PC.
    • Features: 100%. Avira includes anti-malware, anti-phishing, firewall, VPN, password manager, and more.
    • Price: 90%. Avira has a great price. But with Norton, you’ll get a few more features for the same amount of money.

    Discount: Save up to 70%

    Detailed Review

    Avira Anti-Adware Review: Updated for 2024

    In our latest review, we explored Avira’s effectiveness specifically against adware, and it stood out as a powerful contender in this area.

    Anti-Adware and Malware Protection

    Our tests of Avira’s anti-malware tools yielded impressive results. The cloud-based scanner promptly detected all types of malware, including adware, without hampering system performance.

    Avira’s Smart Scan feature extends beyond simple malware detection, identifying privacy risks and system issues, thereby offering comprehensive protection suitable for both novice and expert users.

    Firewall

    Avira’s firewall customization options are noteworthy. It employs algorithmic rules to efficiently monitor data and allows personalized settings for each application. Its intruder prevention capability adds an additional layer of security against unauthorized data extraction often associated with adware.

    VPN

    Avira’s Phantom VPN performed well for basic online activities, with a modest speed reduction of 25-30%. Its strong security protocols, including 256-bit AES encryption, ensure safe browsing, which is essential for preventing adware. Although it supports P2P, its ability to bypass geo-restrictions on streaming services was limited.

    Password Manager

    The password manager included with Avira provides unlimited storage even in the free version and uses robust 256-bit AES encryption along with two-factor authentication. However, the absence of a password generator in the browser extension is a drawback, especially considering the importance of strong, unique passwords in preventing adware-related security breaches.

    Bonus Features

    Avira also includes several performance enhancement tools:

    • Device optimizer: Efficiently freed up over 1GB of space in our tests.
    • Startup optimizer, driver updater, and game booster.
    • Battery manager: While useful, it could benefit from additional features to identify power-draining applications.

    Is Avira the Best Anti-Adware Software of 2024?

    Based on our analysis, Avira Antivirus Prime ranks highly in the anti-adware software category for 2024. It combines effective adware protection with a user-friendly interface and a variety of useful tools.

    While it stands strong on its own, those looking for additional features like parental controls might consider alternatives like Norton 360 Deluxe. Avira’s 30-day return policy offers a secure way to test its capabilities.

    For more details, read the full Avira review.

    Specification comparison

    Below, we compare the following products:

    • Norton 360 Standard
    • Bitdefender Internet Security with the Premium VPN
    • TotalAV Total Security
    • McAfee Plus
    • Panda Dome Premium
    • Avira Prime
    • Avast One

    Our focus was on cost-effective plans that offer protection for at least one PC with these key features:

    • Anti-Adware
    • Anti-Phishing (Web Protection)
    • Firewall
    • Password Manager
    • Unlimited VPN (no data limit)

    Compare them in the table below.

    Norton
    Avast
    TotalAV
    Bitdefender
    McAfee
    Panda
    Avira
    Icon
    Norton
    Panda
    McAfee
    Bitdefender
    McAfee
    Panda
    Panda
    Rank
    #1 of 20
    #2 of 20
    #3 of 20
    #4 of 20
    #5 of 20
    #6 of 20
    #7 of 20
    AV-Test anti-malware score
    6.00 / 6.00
    6.00 / 6.00
    5.15 / 6.00
    5.95 / 6.00
    6.00 / 6.00
    Unknown
    5.95 / 6.00
    AV-Test speed impact score
    5.85 / 6.00
    5.90 / 6.00
    5.90 / 6.00
    6.00 / 6.00
    5.90 / 6.00
    Unknown
    5.95 / 6.00
    1st year price
    $ 39.99 / year
    $ 29.99 / year
    $ 49.00 / year
    $ 81.98 / year
    $ 39.99 / year
    $ 66.99 / year
    $ 29.99 / year
    2nd year price
    $ 94.99 / year
    $ 99.99 / year
    $ 179.00 / year
    $ 139.98 / year
    $ 84.99 / year
    $ 133.99 / year
    $ 104.99 / year
    Operating software
    Windows, Mac, Android, iOS
    Windows, Mac, Android, iOS
    Windows, Mac, Android, iOS
    Windows
    Windows, Mac, Android, iOS
    Windows, Mac, Android, iOS
    Windows, Mac, Android, iOS
    Devices
    3
    10
    1
    1
    5
    1
    5
    Money back
    60 days
    30 days
    30 days
    30 days
    30 days
    30 days
    30 days
    Anti-malware







    Anti-phishing







    Firewall


    -




    Password manager

    -

    -



    Unlimited VPN







    Test score comparison

    We not only relied on our in-house tests but also evaluated data from AV-Test, a German lab known for stringent anti-adware testing. Their scores are based on three factors:

    • Protection (1-6): How well the software blocks malware.
    • Performance (1-6): How much the software slows down your computer.
    • Usability (1-6): How often the software makes errors like false alarms.

    To offer a unified measure, we calculated a final score using the formula: 60% Protection + 20% Performance + 20% Usability.

    If a brand doesn’t appear in the AV-Test analysis, like Panda, ESET, and Sophos, that’s generally a red flag.

    Source: AV-Test.

    Final Score
    Protection
    Performance
    Usability
    6.00
    6.00
    6.00
    6.00
    6.00
    6.00
    6.00
    6.00
    5.98
    6.00
    5.90
    6.00
    5.98
    6.00
    5.90
    6.00
    5.97
    6.00
    5.85
    6.00
    5.96
    5.95
    5.95
    6.00
    5.94
    5.95
    6.00
    5.85
    5.93
    5.95
    5.95
    5.85
    5.91
    5.95
    5.75
    5.95
    5.87
    5.83
    5.83
    6.00
    5.81
    5.85
    5.55
    5.95
    5.77
    5.70
    5.95
    5.80
    5.60
    6.00
    6.00
    4.00
    5.47
    5.15
    5.90
    6.00

    Price comparison

    Price matters. So, we compared the second-year prices in the U.S. for each software, rounding up for simplicity (e.g., $99.99 becomes $100). Note that some brands lack key features, affecting their overall value.

    To make it a fair comparison, we looked at what it would cost us, to protect a  single Windows PC with the most essential features:

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

    Prices vary outside the U.S., so check the brands’ websites for your local pricing.

    Total price
    Missing features
    $ 50
    No firewall, password manager, and VPN
    $ 80
    No firewall and password manager
    $ 90
    No firewall
    $ 130
    No password manager
    $ 180
    No firewall

    User reviews

    TrustPilot scores offer another perspective. But caution is advised. Some brands, like TotalAV, are notorious for aggressive marketing that can inflate their scores. We found scores between 4.0 and 4.5 to be realistic and trustworthy. Anything higher is suspect, and lower scores (like McAfee’s) raise alarms about product or service quality.

    Source: TrustPilot.

    Review score
    Review count
    4.8
    5900
    4.7
    97000
    4.4
    1600
    4.3
    14500
    4.3
    4000
    4.2
    8300
    4.1
    13200
    4.1
    900
    3.9
    12000
    3.9
    26600
    3.8
    19000
    3.7
    7600
    1.2
    2000

    Buying Guide

    Common questions about anti-adware software

    What is anti-adware software and why do I need it?

    Anti-adware software is a type of security program designed to detect, prevent, and remove adware from a computer system. Adware is a form of malware that displays unwanted advertisements, redirects search requests to ad websites, and collects data about you without your consent for marketing purposes. This can not only be intrusive, affecting your user experience, but also pose a significant privacy risk.

    You need anti-adware software because it provides a layer of protection against these unwanted software intrusions. It helps maintain your privacy by preventing adware from tracking your online activities and personal data. Furthermore, adware can often be a gateway for other malicious software to enter your system, so anti-adware software plays a crucial role in your overall digital security strategy.

    How does anti-adware software protect my computer?

    Anti-adware software protects your computer through several mechanisms:

    • Real-time Protection: It constantly monitors your computer for activities typically associated with adware, such as background advertisement pop-ups, browser hijacking, or unauthorized changes to your browser settings.
    • Scanning and Detection: The software scans your computer files and applications for known adware signatures. This includes checking against databases of known adware traits and behaviors.
    • Heuristic Analysis: Advanced anti-adware solutions use heuristic analysis to detect new or unknown adware based on suspicious behavior patterns, even if the adware is not in the existing databases.
    • Quarantine and Removal: Once adware is detected, the software isolates it (quarantine) to prevent it from causing harm. It then provides options to remove or delete the adware from the system completely.
    • Preventive Measures: Some anti-adware programs offer additional features like browser extensions to prevent adware installation from the internet.

     

    Will anti-adware software slow down my computer?

    The impact of anti-adware software on system performance varies depending on the software’s complexity and your computer’s specifications. Modern anti-adware solutions are designed to be lightweight and efficient, minimizing the impact on system resources. However, during full system scans, you might notice a slight decrease in performance. It is advisable to schedule these scans at times when you are less likely to need full processing power, like during breaks or non-peak hours.

    Can anti-adware remove existing adware from my PC?

    Yes, one of the primary functions of anti-adware software is to detect and remove existing adware from your PC. It can effectively identify and eliminate adware that has already infiltrated your system, restoring your computer to a safer, adware-free state. However, the effectiveness in removing adware can vary based on the software’s capabilities and the complexity of the adware.

    Can anti-adware software protect my mobile devices as well?

    Yes, many anti-adware software providers offer solutions for mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets. These mobile versions are tailored to the specific operating system (like Android or iOS) and are designed to protect against adware and other mobile-specific malware. It’s important to install these mobile security solutions to safeguard your personal information, especially considering the increasing use of mobile devices for daily online activities.

    What should I do if my anti-adware detects adware?

    If your anti-adware software detects adware:

    • Follow the Software’s Guidance: Most anti-adware programs will provide specific instructions on how to deal with the detected adware. This often involves quarantining and then removing the adware.
    • Update Your Software: Ensure that your anti-adware and other security software are up-to-date, as updates often include new virus definitions and enhanced detection capabilities.
    • Conduct a Full System Scan: After the initial removal, conduct a full system scan to check for any other instances of adware or malware.
    • Change Passwords: If the adware was capable of data collection, consider changing passwords and monitoring accounts for unusual activity.
    • Stay Informed: Keep abreast of new threats and recommended actions to protect your system, as adware tactics constantly evolve.

    Remember, proactive measures and regular maintenance of your anti-adware software are key to ensuring your system’s safety and privacy.

    What are the most common types of cyber threats today?

    • Phishing Attacks: These involve deceptive emails or messages that trick users into revealing sensitive information. They often mimic legitimate sources to steal data like login credentials and credit card numbers.
    • Ransomware: This malware encrypts a user’s data and demands a ransom for its release. It can spread across networks, locking down entire systems.
    • Adware: Unwanted software that displays ads and tracks user behavior. It’s often bundled with free software and can be intrusive and privacy-invading.
    • Spyware: Software that secretly monitors and collects user activities. It’s used for data theft, including personal and financial information.
    • Trojans: Malware disguised as legitimate software. Once installed, it can perform various malicious activities, such as data theft or system damage.
    • Viruses and Worms: These self-replicating threats infect files and systems, potentially leading to data corruption or system failure.
    • DDoS Attacks (Distributed Denial of Service): These overwhelm a system’s resources, making it unavailable to legitimate users, often targeting websites or online services.
    • Zero-Day Exploits: Attacks that target vulnerabilities in software before the developer has released a fix or even knows about the vulnerability.
    • Cryptojacking: Unauthorized use of someone else’s computer to mine cryptocurrency.
    • Man-in-the-Middle Attacks: Interception of communication between two parties to steal or manipulate the data.

    Understanding these threats is crucial for choosing the right protective measures.

    What is the difference between anti-adware and anti-malware?

    • Anti-Adware: Specifically targets and removes adware, which is primarily designed to display ads and sometimes track user behavior. It focuses on software that, while often annoying and invasive, is not always malicious in intent.
    • Anti-Malware: Provides a broader level of protection, targeting a wide range of malicious software, including viruses, worms, trojans, ransomware, spyware, and adware. It’s designed to combat software that is intended to harm the user’s system or data.

    In essence, while all anti-adware is anti-malware, not all anti-malware software focuses specifically on adware. Anti-malware is more comprehensive.

    How do I choose the best anti-adware software for my needs?

    • Effectiveness: Look for software with a strong track record in detecting and removing adware. Check independent test scores and user reviews.
    • System Compatibility: Ensure the software is compatible with your operating system and doesn’t require more resources than your system can provide.
    • Ease of Use: Choose software that is user-friendly, with clear instructions and intuitive interfaces.
    • Features: Consider what additional features are important to you, such as real-time protection, automatic updates, or heuristic analysis.
    • Cost vs. Needs: Balance the cost of the software with your specific needs. More expensive doesn’t always mean better, especially for basic home use.
    • Customer Support: Good customer support can be crucial, especially if you encounter complex issues.
    • Reputation: Opt for software from a reputable company known for its commitment to privacy and security.

    Is free anti-adware reliable enough for basic protection?

    Free anti-adware software can be reliable for basic protection needs. They often offer core scanning and removal capabilities, which might be sufficient for users with low-risk browsing habits. However, they may lack advanced features like real-time protection, automatic updates, and comprehensive system scanning. Also, free versions might come with ads or prompts to upgrade to a paid version. It’s important to research and choose free anti-adware software from reputable sources.

    Does anti-adware software come with customer support?

    Many anti-adware software packages come with customer support, but the level and availability can vary. Paid versions typically offer more comprehensive support options, such as 24/7 live chat, email support, and extensive online resources. Free versions might offer limited support or rely more on community forums and FAQs. When choosing anti-adware software, consider the type of customer support offered and how important this is for your needs.

    Advanced questions about anti-adware software

    How do we test anti-adware software?

    At SoftwareLab, we are committed to delivering comprehensive and unbiased reviews of anti-adware software. Our methodology encompasses a range of critical aspects to ensure that our assessments are thorough and relevant to our users’ needs.

    1. Anti-adware and anti-malware protection (30%)

    • As the core function of anti-adware software, we prioritize protection from all forms of malware. We conduct in-house testing with a diverse set of 1200 malware and adware samples, including the latest threats, and simulate real-time attack scenarios to gauge the software’s effectiveness.
    • To reinforce the reliability of our findings, we compare our results with those from AV-Test, a respected independent security institute.

    2. Security and privacy features (30%)

    • Web protection: We evaluate the software’s ability to protect against phishing sites and other web-based threats.
    • Firewall: Our tests include intrusion simulations to assess the effectiveness of the software’s firewall.
    • Password manager: We examine the ability of the integrated password manager to generate, store, and auto-fill passwords securely.
    • VPN: We test for VPN speed, encryption quality, server locations, and the ability to conceal IP addresses.
    • Parental controls: We assess the efficacy of filters and restrictions for safe browsing for children.
    • Identity theft protection: Monitoring capabilities and alert responsiveness are tested.
    • Secure cloud storage: We evaluate the software’s cloud storage solutions based on capacity, ease of use, and security.
    • Anti-ransomware: Effectiveness against ransomware attacks is a critical part of our testing.
    • Dark web monitoring: We check how well the software scans for personal information on the dark web.

    3. Speed impact (10%)

    • We assess how the anti-adware software affects system performance during common tasks, such as file copying, program downloads, and installations. Our assessment criteria are aligned with the AV-Test performance tests.

    4. False positives (10%)

    • It’s crucial that anti-adware software distinguishes between safe and harmful applications. We evaluate the frequency of benign software being incorrectly flagged as malware, referring to AV-Test’s usability tests for additional insights.

    5. Price (10%)

    • We consider the overall value for money, analyzing the features offered against the long-term costs of the software.

    6. Ownership and reputation (10%)

    • The trustworthiness of the software’s provider is integral. We examine the company’s history, its data handling practices, commitment to user privacy, and its response to any incidents of unethical conduct or data breaches.

    Our rigorous testing approach ensures that we provide our users with reliable and up-to-date information, helping them make informed decisions about their cybersecurity solutions.

    Read more on how we test antivirus software.

    How does anti-adware work?

    Anti-adware software works by scanning your computer for specific patterns or behaviors that are characteristic of adware. It uses various detection methods to identify and remove or quarantine these unwanted programs. Key functions include:

    • Signature-Based Detection: Identifying adware based on a database of known adware signatures.
    • Heuristic Analysis: Detecting unknown adware by looking for suspicious behavior or file structures.
    • Real-Time Monitoring: Constantly checking system activities to prevent adware installation or execution.
    • Browser Protection: Adding extensions or plugins to your web browser to block adware before it can be downloaded.

     

    What is signature-based detection?

    Signature-based detection is a method used by cybersecurity software to identify malware, including adware, based on a predefined database of known malware signatures – essentially, unique strings of data or specific patterns associated with each malware. When a file or program matches a signature in the database, the software flags it as potential malware. This method is highly effective against known threats but can struggle with new, unknown malware.

    What is heuristic analysis?

    Heuristic analysis in cybersecurity is a technique used to detect new, previously unknown viruses and malware, based on behavior and characteristics often found in malicious software. Unlike signature-based detection, heuristic analysis doesn’t rely on a database of known malware signatures. Instead, it analyzes the code of a program to see if it behaves like malware. This can include examining the code structure, how it interacts with other files, and any attempts to conceal its presence.

    What is behavior-based detection?

    Behavior-based detection is a cybersecurity approach that identifies malicious activities based on how a program behaves on a system. Instead of looking for known malware signatures, it monitors programs in real-time for activities typically associated with malware, such as unauthorized system changes, suspicious network connections, or attempts to access sensitive data. This method is effective against both known and unknown threats, adapting to new malware tactics.

    What is machine learning within cybersecurity?

    Machine learning in cybersecurity refers to the use of algorithms and statistical models to enable software to improve its detection and response to cyber threats without being explicitly programmed. It analyzes vast amounts of data to learn from patterns and anomalies associated with malicious activities. Machine learning enhances the ability of cybersecurity tools to predict, identify, and respond to novel attacks more efficiently.

    What is cloud-based anti-adware?

    Cloud-based anti-adware is a cybersecurity solution where adware detection and analysis are performed on remote servers rather than the user’s local system. This approach allows for more robust and up-to-date protection, as the cloud infrastructure can process large datasets, update its threat database in real-time, and apply advanced analytics. It also reduces the load on the user’s system, potentially improving performance.

    What is sandboxing within cybersecurity?

    Sandboxing in cybersecurity is a security mechanism that isolates applications, programs, or code in a separate virtual environment to run and analyze their behavior. This ‘sandbox’ prevents potentially harmful programs from accessing critical system resources and data. If the program behaves maliciously, it can be closed and examined without affecting the main system. Sandboxing is essential for safely testing and validating untrusted code or applications.

    What are false positives within cybersecurity?

    False positives in cybersecurity occur when a security software incorrectly identifies a legitimate program or activity as malicious. This can lead to unnecessary alerts and can disrupt normal operations by blocking or quarantining safe files.

    While false positives are preferable to missing actual threats (false negatives), they can be problematic as they may reduce trust in the security system and cause users to ignore important alerts. Balancing the sensitivity of detection methods to minimize false positives without compromising the detection of real threats is a key challenge in cybersecurity.

    How does anti-adware handle zero-day threats?

    Anti-adware handles zero-day threats – new vulnerabilities that are exploited before the software vendor is aware and patches are released – by using advanced detection methods:

    • Heuristic Analysis: Detects unusual behavior patterns that might indicate a zero-day exploit.
    • Behavior-Based Detection: Monitors for abnormal activities, like unauthorized system changes, which can indicate a zero-day attack.
    • Cloud-Based Updates: Quickly updates detection capabilities with the latest threat intelligence from cloud-based databases.
    • Sandboxing: Runs suspicious programs in an isolated environment to analyze their behavior without risking the main system.

    These methods allow anti-adware to identify and respond to zero-day threats based on suspicious behaviors and patterns, rather than relying solely on known malware signatures.

    How does a firewall work?

    A firewall is a network security device that monitors incoming and outgoing network traffic and decides whether to allow or block specific traffic based on a defined set of security rules. It acts as a barrier between a trusted internal network and untrusted external networks, like the internet. Firewalls can be hardware-based, software-based, or both. They work by:

    • Filtering Traffic: Based on predetermined security rules (like IP addresses, domain names, protocols, programs, ports).
    • Stateful Inspection: Tracking the state of active connections and making decisions based on the context of the traffic and the state of the connection.
    • Proxy Service: Intercepts all messages entering and leaving the network and effectively hides the true network addresses.

     

    How does a password manager work?

    A password manager is a tool that helps store and organize passwords. It typically works by:

    • Storing Passwords Securely: Encrypting the password database with a master password – the only one you need to remember.
    • Auto-Fill Feature: Automatically filling in passwords on websites and apps.
    • Generating Strong Passwords: Creating complex, unique passwords for each site or service.
    • Synchronization Across Devices: Providing access to your passwords across different devices securely.

     

    How does a VPN work?

    A Virtual Private Network (VPN) works by creating a secure, encrypted connection between your device and a server operated by the VPN service. This process:

    • Encrypts Data: Encrypting your data so it can’t be intercepted by others.
    • Hides Your IP Address: Making it appear as if you are accessing the internet from the VPN’s location, not your actual location.
    • Secures Connection: Protects data transfer, even on unsecured networks.

     

    How does anti-phishing work?

    Anti-phishing works by:

    • Detecting Suspicious Emails: Identifying emails that may be phishing attempts by analyzing the source, content, and links.
    • Webpage Analysis: Examining web pages you visit for signs of phishing, like fake login screens.
    • Alerts and Blocking: Warning you about potential phishing attempts or blocking access to known phishing sites.

     

    How does ransomware protection work?

    Ransomware protection strategies include:

    • Access Controls: Restricting file access based on user roles to limit the spread of ransomware.
    • Regular Backups: Ensuring data is regularly backed up so it can be restored in case of a ransomware attack.
    • Behavioral Analysis: Identifying and isolating ransomware based on its behavior, like the rapid encryption of files.

     

    How does identity theft protection work?

    Identity theft protection services monitor various data points:

    • Credit Monitoring: Watching for changes in your credit reports.
    • Alerts: Notifying you of suspicious activities that might indicate identity theft.
    • Recovery Assistance: Providing support in case your identity is stolen, including legal and financial help.

     

    How do parental controls work?

    Parental controls work by:

    • Content Filters: Blocking access to inappropriate content.
    • Usage Controls: Setting time limits on device or internet use.
    • Monitoring Tools: Tracking online activities and app usage.
    • Location Tracking: For mobile devices, keeping track of your child’s location.

    These tools help parents manage and control their children’s digital experiences, ensuring safety and appropriateness.

    Other questions

    What anti-adware software have we tested?

    We have tested 39 anti-adware software from 28 brands. These range from free anti-adware programs, to entry-level paid anti-adware programs, mid-range paid anti-adware software, and full-featured internet security suites.

    These are the programs we recommend:

    We believe that Norton Antivirus Plus is the best entry-level anti-adware software and Norton 360 Deluxe the best anti-adware all around.

    Does this page exist in other languages?

    Yes, at SoftwareLab, we write in 11 languages:

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

    What sources and tools have we used?

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

    Click the links to be taken to the source or tool of your choice.

    Author: Tibor Moes

    Author: Tibor Moes

    Founder & Chief Editor at SoftwareLab

    Tibor has tested 39 antivirus programs and 30 VPN services, and holds a Cybersecurity Graduate Certificate from Stanford University.

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

    You can find him on LinkedIn or contact him here.