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The 5 Best Antivirus for PC (2023 Update)
By Tibor Moes / Updated: March 2023
Do you need an antivirus program on your PC? Yes, you do. Your security and privacy are in danger.
- Malware is everywhere: If you visit the wrong website, connect a USB stick, install free software, or open an email attachment, it might already be too late. You could have infected your PC with malware.
- You can infect others: Some malware, like computer worms, are designed to spread. Once they are in your PC, they will automatically infect other computers and phones you connect with.
- Your privacy is not guaranteed: Search engines, social networks, and other advertisers follow you across the web. They track what you visit, download, and watch so that they can show you personalized ads.
By buying the best antivirus for PC, you secure your devices, safeguard your privacy, and restore your peace of mind. Malware won’t be able to infect your devices. Advertisers won’t be able to track you online. Hackers can’t steal your passwords. And your children will be safe from dangerous websites.
- Device Security 100% 100%
- Online Privacy 100% 100%
The best antivirus software for PC
Norton offers the best protection for your PC. It is the only antivirus software with a 100% anti-malware score. And it has tons of features:
Unlimited VPN for free, a password manager for all devices, webcam protection, dark web monitor, web protection, cloud storage, and more.
Buy Norton if you want the best protection. It will secure your devices, protect your privacy, and safeguard your identity. You can try it risk-free, thanks to its 60-day money-back guarantee.
- Device Security 99% 99%
- Online Privacy 96% 96%
Excellent and affordable protection
Bitdefender offers excellent protection for your PC at a low price. It has a 99% anti-malware score and a lot of extra features:
200 MB / day VPN for free, a password manager for Windows, webcam protection, dark web monitor, web protection, an anti-tracker, and more.
Buy Bitdefender if you want excellent security at an affordable price. But remember to get the premium VPN for complete online protection. You can try it risk-free, thanks to its 30-day money-back guarantee.
Antivirus Ranking and Reviews of 2023
We have tested and reviewed security software since 2014. Below, we have selected the top 5 from 20 paid and free antivirus software.
- 1. 🥇 Norton Antivirus - The best antivirus software of 2023.
- 2. 🥈 Bitdefender Antivirus - Excellent protection at a low price.
- 3. 🥉 Panda Antivirus - Most flexible pricing.
- 4. Kaspersky Antivirus
- 5. McAfee Antivirus
- Comparison table
- How we test
- How to choose
- Antivirus tested
- Frequently asked questions
Click the links or scroll down for more.
Norton Antivirus Review
Norton 360 Antivirus Review
Norton offers the best antivirus protection on all operating systems.
Norton antivirus is the only brand with a 100% malware protection score. No other brand has achieved this. Its real-time malware protection tool, called SONAR, is the best.
To get to this score, we averaged all test scores since 2016 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 software on your computer makes suspicious outgoing connections to other devices.
And that's not all. Norton's firewall also cloaks your inactive ports, so that 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.
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 starts at € 15 and offers basic protection: Anti-malware, firewall, and password manager. It protects 1 PC or Mac.
- Norton 360 Standard starts at € 20 and adds the unlimited VPN and webcam protection. It protects 1 device.
- Norton 360 Deluxe starts at € 25 and adds dark web monitoring. It protects 5 devices.
- Norton 360 Premium starts at € 30. It protects 10 devices.
- 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.
Is Norton the best antivirus software of 2023?
Yes, Norton is the best antivirus program in our test.
Modern security software need to offer far more than just anti-malware protection. By combining device security, online privacy, and identity theft protection, is Norton the best internet security suite you can buy.
You can try Norton risk-free, thanks to its 60-day return policy.
Bitdefender Antivirus Review
Ranked #2 out of 20 Antivirus
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 99% malware protection score. This was its average of all independent tests by AV-Test since October 2016. It puts Bitdefender ahead of all competitors, except Norton.
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.
Bitdefender's password manager is a bit useless, because it only supports Windows. And not macOS, Android, or iOS.
Prices & Packages
- Bitdefender Antivirus Plus starts at € 16 and offers basic antivirus protection: Anti-malware, VPN, and password manager. It protects 3 PCs.
- Bitdefender Internet Security starts at € 24 and adds the firewall and several extra features. It protects 3 PCs.
- Bitdefender Total Security starts at € 32 and adds several extra features. It protects up to 5 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.
- 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.
Is Bitdefender the best antivirus software of 2023?
Bitdefender is one of the best antivirus programs in our test. Its anti-malware is exceptional, and the firewall and VPN are highly advanced. On top of that, its extra features are excellent.
We prefer Norton slightly, because its password manager works on all operating software (Bitdefender's only on Windows), and its free VPN is unlimited (Bitdefender's is limited to 200 MB / day).
However, we're also big fans of Bitdefender's internet security software. And as its renewal price is lower than Norton's, it's one of the best antivirus deals.
You can try Bitdefender risk-free, thanks to its 30-day return policy.
Panda Antivirus Review
Ranked #3 out of 20 Antivirus
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Panda Dome Antivirus Review
Panda offers excellent virus protection on Windows. And it has the most flexible pricing for its antivirus packages.
Panda antivirus scores 99.9% in the real-world protection tests. This is the average of all tests by AV-Comparatives since 2020. The score puts Panda ahead of all competitors, including Kaspersky, Bitdefender, and Norton.
Note that there are two independent testing labs: AV-Test and AV-Comparatives. Both test the malware scanning capabilities of free and premium antivirus programs. Usually, we quote AV-Test. However, Panda only takes part in the independent lab tests of AV-Comparatives.
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.
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 and offers entry-level antivirus protection: Anti-malware, VPN, and a firewall.
- Panda Dome Advanced starts at € 23 and adds several extra features.
- Panda Dome Complete starts at € 35 and adds the password manager and several extra features.
- Panda Dome Premium starts at € 35 and adds the unlimited VPN and several extra 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.
Is Panda the best antivirus software of 2023?
Panda is one of the best antivirus 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
Ranked #4 out of 20 Antivirus
Kaspersky Anti-Virus Review
Kaspersky offers exceptional online security for Windows PCs, Mac computers, and Android devices. And the introduction of Kaspersky Security Cloud brings protection to iOS too.
Kaspersky antivirus has a 99% 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.
It can offer such excellent malware protection through its triple-layer protection system:
- Locate vulnerabilities and threats pro-actively 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.
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.
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 Anti-Virus starts at € 20 and offers only antivirus protection. It protects 3 Windows computers.
- Kaspersky Internet Security starts at € 26 and adds the VPN, firewall, and several extra features. It protects 3 devices.
- Kaspersky Total Security starts at € 32 and adds the password manager and several extra features. It protects 5 devices.
- 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.
Is Kaspersky the best antivirus software of 2023?
Kaspersky offers excellent antivirus protection. Its anti-malware is industry-leading, its firewall and password manager are excellent, and it provides a wide range of extra features.
Therefore, we prefer Norton, which includes an unlimited VPN for free in its antivirus suite. And it doesn't track what you do online.
You can try Kaspersky risk-free, thanks to its 30-day return policy.
McAfee Antivirus Review
Ranked #5 out of 20 Antivirus
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McAfee Antivirus Review
McAfee Total Protection, McAfee's main antivirus product, is excellent. And its interface is one of the very best on all popular operating systems.
McAfee antivirus has a 96% malware protection score. Unfortunately, that puts it behind the top performers: Norton, Bitdefender, and Kaspersky. We got this score by averaging all test scores by AV-Test since 2016.
Luckily, McAfee has improved its cybersecurity tools a lot in recent years. Since April 2020, it has achieved a perfect 100% score in every 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 had some errors in our test. Although we had bought the unlimited VPN, we got a 500 MB / day limit on Android and iOS. And on macOS, the VPN didn't work at all. Only on Windows, it worked.
That said, the VPN is fast, secure (AES-256 & HydraVPN), and allows torrenting (P2P). But there are no extra features.
McAfee's cross-platform password manager 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 Total Protection Basic starts at € 30. It protects 1 device.
- Mcafee Total Protection Standard starts at € 35. It protects 3 devices.
- Mcafee Total Protection Plus starts at € 40. It protects 5 devices.
- Mcafee Total Protection Premium starts at € 45. It protects 10 devices.
- 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.
Is McAfee the best antivirus software of 2023?
McAfee has improved its virus protection significantly in recent years. On top of that, its password manager is one of the best, and its design is both user-friendly and beautiful. So it's a good antivirus program.
However, if we look at the long-term anti-malware performance since 2016, it is tied with Windows Defender, and behind Norton and Bitdefender. And its VPN still had some errors during our tests. So we prefer Norton.
You can try McAfee risk-free, thanks to its 30-day return policy.
Comparison table of the best antivirus software
The best antivirus deals:
How do we test the best antivirus for PC?
In 2023, antivirus protection for PC needs to cover more than just detecting malware on Windows computers. The best antivirus programs offer comprehensive protection against various cyber threats, such as data breaches, malware attacks, phishing attempts, privacy violations, ransomware attacks, spyware infections, zero-day attacks, and more, for all major operating systems.
In addition to providing robust security features, the top antivirus software should also be easy to use and reasonably priced. To determine which antivirus provider is worth investing in, we subjected them to 15 tests.
> Test 1: Anti-malware protection test
Malware is any form of malicious software and can include various online threats such as adware, keyloggers, ransomware, spyware, trojans, viruses, worms, and more. Most of these threats are known malware, meaning cybersecurity companies have encountered them before. However, some are unknown malware, meaning they are new and have never been met.
These latest malware threats are difficult to detect with traditional real-time protection, which uses virus definitions to identify threats by scanning the code of potential malware against a database of malicious code samples.
The best anti-malware software has evolved to include heuristic analysis or behavior monitoring to scan for suspicious behavioral patterns and discover malware before it can be added to the database.
To determine which antivirus packages have the best real-time malware protection, we run our own tests and analyze results from independent antivirus testing labs, such as AV-Test, SE Labs, and AV-Comparatives.
> Test 2: False positives test
False positives refer to situations where antivirus software wrongly identifies a legitimate program as malware, mistakes a harmless file for malicious code, or blocks access to a safe website.
These mistakes are common for all antivirus programs and are not a cause for concern. However, a high number of false positives can be annoying. To gain insight into this issue, we refer to AV-Test’s large-scale analysis of false positives in their usability test.
> Test 3: System performance test
While it is essential to surf the web safely, it can be problematic if antivirus software consumes all your PC’s resources. Therefore, we measure the CPU load while the antivirus software runs quick and complete system scans to address this. This allows us to determine whether the security software requires many system resources, leaving less of your computer’s performance for other tasks.
We also look at the results of AV-Test’s performance section, which measures the slow-down caused by antivirus software on opening websites and downloading, installing, and launching software. These factors provide insight into the impact on a device’s performance.
> Test 4: Firewall test
A firewall is a security tool that monitors and controls incoming and outgoing network traffic. It can be implemented as hardware, software, or a service. Firewalls are often included in antivirus programs and protect against malware.
There are different types of firewalls, such as packet-filtering, circuit-level gateway, application-level gateway, stateful inspection, and next-generation firewalls.
Next-generation firewalls are the most advanced and are used in industries that require a high level of security, like finance and healthcare. They use deep packet inspection and stateful inspection in conjunction with other network security systems like anti-malware.
To determine whether the antivirus software effectively blocks all ports, we use the ShieldsUP! test from the Gibson Research Corporation.
> Test 5: Password manager test
A password manager is a tool that helps you generate and store strong, unique passwords for your online accounts and can also automatically fill in login information on websites and apps. It helps increase the security of your online accounts by allowing you to use complex passwords and avoid reusing them.
Password managers offer additional security features such as two-factor authentication and alerts for potential account breaches. We test all these features.
> Test 6: Virtual Private Network (VPN) test
A VPN is a secure, encrypted connection between a device and a network, such as the internet. It allows you to access the internet privately and securely, even using an unsecured public network.
Our team evaluates the security and privacy of the VPN built into the product and its speed and compatibility with popular streaming services. We also check if it offers unlimited data and allows downloading through peer-to-peer networks and torrent clients.
> Test 7: Parental control test
Parental controls are features that help parents manage their children’s internet usage and protect them from inappropriate content. They can include setting time limits, blocking certain websites and apps, and monitoring communication with others.
To assess the performance of the parental control features, we set them up on a test device and attempted to bypass them as a savvy child might. We also verify that the parental control admin accurately and promptly tracks our behavior on the test device.
> Test 8: Anti-phishing protection test
A phishing attack is an attempt by a cybercriminal to obtain sensitive information from you by pretending to be a trustworthy entity. This is often done through fake emails, social media messages, or text messages that ask you to click on a link or enter your login information. Additionally, the attacker may use urgency or threats to get you to act quickly.
Anti-phishing software is a program that helps protect you from phishing attacks by detecting and blocking fraudulent websites and emails. It scans the links and content of websites and emails and compares them to a database of known phishing threats. If a threat is identified, the software will prevent you from accessing the website or email and warn you of the potential danger.
We test the anti-phishing capabilities of the antivirus software.
> Test 9: Ransomware protection test
A ransomware attack is a cybercrime in which an attacker encrypts your data and demands payment for the decryption key. In addition, the attacker may threaten to delete your data or release it publicly if you do not pay the ransom within a specified time frame. Ransomware attacks can be especially damaging for businesses, resulting in lost productivity and revenue.
Anti-ransomware software is a program that helps protect your computer from ransomware attacks by detecting and blocking malware that may try to encrypt your data and demand payment for the decryption key. It works by scanning your computer for known ransomware threats and stopping them before they can do damage.
We test the anti-ransomware capabilities of the antivirus software.
> Test 10: Bonus features test
An antivirus program is not just limited to protecting against viruses – it can also come with a wide range of additional features. These can include basic spam filters, advanced secure browsers, and premium options like secure online storage. While we can’t cover all the details, these valuable cybersecurity tools are worth considering.
- Ad Blocker
- Dark web monitoring (identity protection)
- Email protection
- File encryption
- File shredder
- Gaming mode
- Microphone protection
- PC maintenance features
- Secure browser (hardened browser to protect your online banking)
- Secure cloud storage (cloud backup)
- Spam filter
- Startup optimizer
- Tune up tools
- Virtual keyboard
- Webcam protection
> Test 11: Operating system and multiple devices test
Antivirus software needs to protect all operating systems, not just Windows. However, many antivirus programs don’t prioritize security for other systems like Mac, Android, and iOS. We test all antivirus software on every operating system to ensure comprehensive protection.
> Test 12: Ownership and reputation test
It’s essential to be wary of antivirus companies with questionable reputations when handling customer data. For example, Avast was found to have tracked and sold the browsing habits of millions of its users through its Online Security browser extension and subsidiary, Jumpshot. While the company claims to have stopped these practices and has been sold to Norton, the damage to its reputation remains.
We take the time to read press releases, news articles, and privacy policies, especially for browser extensions and VPN services, when evaluating cybersecurity companies in our tests to ensure that they have a good reputation regarding customer data.
> Test 13: Interface test
antivirus software to be quick and easy to install, and intuitive to use. We test the installation speed of each program, as well as how straightforward it is to use on the default settings and how complex it is to adjust the advanced settings.
> Test 14: Customer support test
In a perfect world, everything would always go according to plan. But in reality, things sometimes go smoothly – people may click on dangerous links, open malicious files, fall for phishing scams, or answer spam emails. In these situations, it’s crucial to have good customer support to help out.
That’s why we ensure antivirus companies offer 24/7 live chat, email, and phone support and review their knowledge base, forums, and FAQs. We also test the support team by contacting them with difficult questions to evaluate their speed and capabilities.
> Test 15: Value for money test
While it would be nice to download the best free antivirus software and have complete protection, that’s different from how it works. While some free antivirus programs may offer essential antivirus protection, they rarely do more than that, essentially making them free malware removal tools, which both Windows and Mac already have built-in.
Therefore, we recommend avoiding free antivirus products, as they may analyze your behavior and sell that data to marketing firms, protecting you from malware by installing spyware. Opt for a paid version instead. Cybersecurity shouldn’t have to be expensive, so we compare first-year prices and second-year renewal prices across antivirus providers and look at what you get for your money. Ideally, we want top-tier anti-malware protection, an unlimited VPN, and a password manager.
How to choose the best antivirus software for your computer?
There are three essential questions when looking for the right antivirus program for your PC. These are:
- Do you need to protect other devices as well?
- What security features do you need?
- Finally, is it safe to use a free antivirus program? (No, it isn’t).
Let us guide you through each question:
Do you need to protect other devices as well?
Your personal computer (PC) runs on Windows. Probably Windows 10 or 11. Many antivirus software are highly capable of protecting your PC. However, when it comes to other operating systems, like macOS, iOS, and Android, their capabilities aren’t guaranteed.
We recommend Norton as the best antivirus software for your computer (PC), Mac, Android, and iOS. Its anti-malware is industry-leading on each operating software, it offers a two-way firewall on both Windows and macOS, and its password manager and VPN work on each device.
However, if you want to protect a specific device in addition to your PC, have a look at the comparisons below:
- The best antivirus of 2023. In this comparison, we look at the best multi-device security software. That means we look for top-tier anti-malware and a range of bonus features on each operating system.
- The best antivirus for Windows 11. In this comparison, we focus on protection for Microsoft’s latest operating system: Windows 11. We analyze a range of security software and compare them to Microsoft Defender.
- The best antivirus for macOS. In this comparison, the focus is on Apple’s desktop operating software: macOS. We find that many antivirus programs don’t offer sufficient protection for it.
- The best antivirus for Android phones and tablets. In this comparison, we analyze the best security apps for Google’s mobile operating system: Android. After Windows, it is the most sensitive OS for malware.
- The best antivirus for iPhone and iOS. In this comparison, we focus on Apple’s mobile operating software: iOS. It is, by far, the safest OS available but not immune to privacy and identity theft problems.
What security features will you need?
There are a few security features that everyone should have on their PC:
- Anti-malware: A tool that detects and removes all forms of malware.
- Anti-phishing: A tool that protects you from dangerous links and sites.
- Two-way firewall: A tool that filters in- and outgoing data streams.
- Password manager: A tool that creates, stores, and auto-fills passwords.
Then there are several features that you might need on your PC, depending on your circumstances:
- VPN: It makes you anonymous online and secure on public Wi-Fi networks. It is the most important security feature if you spend a lot of time surfing the web on unsafe networks. If you use an antivirus with a VPN, you can shop and bank on any internet connection. Both McAfee and Norton include an unlimited VPN with their antivirus software.
- Ransomware protection: Small business owners are often targeted by ransomware attacks. This is an attack where your data is encrypted, and you only get the encryption key after paying a ransom. Sadly, more than a third of business owners never get their data back, even after paying the ransom. Bitdefender has one of the best anti-ransomware protection.
- Parental controls: To protect your children online, you need parental controls. They allow you to monitor the digital activities of your children and set protective boundaries. On top of that, they help you set screentime rules that limit how much your kids can spend on their devices.
Is it safe to use free antivirus programs?
No its. We only recommend using paid antivirus software. Even the best free antivirus programs aren’t much more than an on-demand scan and an anti-phishing browser extension. There is no real-time protection, no two-way firewall, no VPN, no password manager, no dark web monitor, etc.
If you have no money to spend on antivirus software for your PC, stick with Microsoft Defender. Its anti-malware and firewall aren’t the best in the industry, but a free security suite won’t beat them.
Our recommendation: Spend a little on your cybersecurity. It will avoid much bigger and more expensive problems later on.
What antivirus software for PC have we tested?
We have tested nearly every antivirus program available. In total, we have tested security software from 20 separate companies. We tested the free version and the paid version. The entry-level software and the premium one. And, if available, the VPN service.
These are the antivirus software for PC we tested:
- Avast Antivirus Free, Avast Premium Security & Avast One
- AVG Antivirus Free & AVG Ultimate
- Avira Free Security & Avira Prime
- Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition, Bitdefender Antivirus Plus, Bitdefender Internet Security, Bitdefender Total Security, Bitdefender Premium Security & Bitdefender Premium VPN
- BullGuard Antivirus & BullGuard Premium Protection
- Comodo Antivirus
- ESET Internet Security Premium Protection
- F-Secure Safe & F-Secure Total
- Intego Mac Internet Security X9 & Mac Premium Bundle X9
- Kaspersky Anti-Virus (Kaspersky Antivirus), Kaspersky Internet Security, Kaspersky Security Cloud, Kaspersky Total Security & Kaspersky VPN Secure Connection
- MacKeeper Antivirus
- Malwarebytes Free & Malwarebytes Premium
- McAfee Antivirus Plus & McAfee Total Protection Premium
- Microsoft Defender (Windows Defender)
- Panda Dome Essential & Panda Dome Premium
- Norton Antivirus Plus, Norton Norton 360 Premium & Norton Secure VPN
- Sophos Home Premium
- TotalAV Antivirus Pro & TotalAV Total Security
- Trend Micro Antivirus Security & Trend Micro Maximum Security
- Webroot Antivirus (Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus) & Webroot Internet Security
Frequently asked questions
What is the best antivirus for PC?
Norton and Bitdefender are the best antivirus programs for PC. Each has industry-leading anti-malware protection and includes a range of security features: VPN, firewall, password manager, and more.
What antivirus has the best ransomware protection?
Bitdefender and Norton offer the best ransomware protection. Especially Bitdefender’s Ransomware Remediation is highly recommended. It restores files that ransomware attacks have encrypted.
How does antivirus software work?
Antivirus programs detect malware through their virus signatures and behavioral patterns. When malware is spotted, it is isolated and repaired. If it can’t be repaired, it is removed.
Do you need antivirus software on your PC?
Yes, you need antivirus software on your PC. Whether your PC uses Windows 10 or 11, installing an excellent antivirus program like Norton or Bitdefender is always safer.
Is free antivirus software safe?
No, free antivirus software is dangerous. In the best case, it offers inadequate protection. Usually, only an on-demand malware scan and some web protection. And in the worst case, it’s spyware. So get a paid antivirus like Norton or Bitdefender instead.
Is Kaspersky still safe in 2023?
Links between Kaspersky and the Russian government have never been proven. On top of that, Kaspersky already moved its data processing from Russia to Switzerland in 2020, before the war. So as far as we know, Kaspersky is still safe to use.
What is the cheapest antivirus?
Norton Antivirus Plus and Bitdefender Antivirus Plus are the cheapest antivirus software. Norton allows you to protect a single PC or Mac. Bitdefender only will enable you to protect up to 3 Windows PCs.
Will antivirus slow your PC down?
Not all antivirus programs slow down your PC. The best antivirus software in our comparison, Norton and Bitdefender, have no negative speed impact.
Below are the sources and tools we’ve used to analyze the antivirus software and write our article.
- Apple 1
- Apple 2
- AV-Test 1
- AV-Test 2
- AV-Test 3
- AV-Test 4
- Bitdefender 1
- Bitdefender 2
- Bitdefender 3
- Hotspot Shield
- Kaspersky 1
- Kaspersky 2
- Kaspersky 3
- McAfee 1
- McAfee 2
- Norton 1
- Norton 2
- Norton 3
- Norton 4
- Norton 5
- Norton 6
- Panda 1
- Panda 2
- Panda 3
- Panda 4
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.