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The 7 Best Antivirus (2024 Update) // We Tested 28 Brands

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 antivirus of 2024

Norton Antivirus

Ranked #1 of 28 antivirus

  • Malware Protection 100% 100%
  • Security Features 100% 100%

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

  • Malware protection: 100%. Norton stopped all 1,200 malware 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 antivirus of 2024

Avast Antivirus

Ranked #2 of 28 antivirus

  • Malware Protection 100% 100%
  • Security Features 80% 80%

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

  • Malware protection: 100%. Avast stopped all 1,200 malware 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 antivirus of 2024

Cybercrime is on the rise. Phishing attacks target you via email and text. Ransomware tries to lock your files and photos. Your passwords can be hacked. And your identity could be stolen. The need for antivirus software has never been greater.

For 2024, we tested 39 antivirus from 28 brands. We infected our test PC with 1,200 malware samples to test the protection. We also inspected the firewalls, password managers, anti-phishing, VPNs, and other security features in detail. These are the best antivirus software of 2024:

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

Scroll down for the reviews.

Norton Antivirus Review

Norton Review

Ranked #1 out of 28 Antivirus

Norton Antivirus 2024

Norton is ranked #1 of 28 antivirus brands.

Norton is the best antivirus of 2024. It has perfect anti-malware 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.

  • Malware protection: 100%. Norton detected and removed each of the 1,200 malware 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 Antivirus Review: Updated for 2024

If you’re looking for top-notch antivirus software, Norton 360 is the clear winner in our book.


In the antivirus realm, a 100% protection score is almost unheard of. But Norton nails it. Its SONAR tool is a rock star in real-time malware protection. To verify this, we looked at the past 10 test scores from AV-Test, an independent lab. In our own tests, Norton flawlessly detected all 1,200 malware and phishing attempts as they happened.

SONAR isn’t just another scan tool; it’s a smart one. Using heuristic analysis and machine learning, it spots both known and emerging threats based on odd behavior, not just known bad code.


Norton’s Smart Firewall isn’t just “smart”—it’s genius. It monitors both incoming and outgoing traffic, stopping threats before they wreak havoc. By contrast, Windows’ built-in firewall only checks what’s coming in. Norton even hides inactive ports, thwarting hacking attempts like port scanning.


We’re big fans of Norton’s unlimited VPN. Speedy and rock-solid, it’s encrypted with AES-256 and uses OpenVPN. While competitors like Bitdefender cap daily data at 200 MB, Norton’s VPN has no data limits and it’s included at no extra charge. It also supports torrenting, has an auto-connect feature, a kill switch, ad tracker blocking, and even a split tunnel.

Password Manager

Managing passwords is a breeze with Norton. We found the auto-fill feature accurate and quick. Plus, the biometrics support—whether fingerprint or facial recognition—adds an extra layer of convenience and security.

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.

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

Bonus Features

  • Web Protection: With the Safe Web extension, malicious websites don’t stand a chance.
  • Cloud Backup: Securely store your crucial files.
  • Parental Controls: Keep tabs on your kids’ online activities.
  • Privacy Monitor: Track down who has your personal info.
  • Webcam Protection: Stop unwanted eyes from hijacking your webcam.
  • Dark Web Monitoring: Know when your information ends up in shady places.
  • LifeLock Identity Theft Protection: This is a U.S.-only feature, but it’s incredibly effective at spotting and remedying identity theft.

Conclusion: Is Norton the Best Antivirus Software of 2024?

In a word, yes. Norton offers an all-in-one solution that’s more than just a malware bouncer. It’s a comprehensive security suite that keeps your devices, privacy, and identity safe. And with a generous 60-day return policy, you can try Norton 360 without risking a dime.

There you have it. Norton is not just good; it’s the best we’ve tested.

Avast Antivirus Review

Avast Review

Ranked #2 out of 28 Antivirus

Avast Antivirus 2024

Avast is ranked #2 of 28 antivirus brands.

Avast is one of the best antivirus of 2024. It has perfect anti-malware 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.

  • Malware protection: 100%. Avast detected and removed all of the 1,200 malware 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 Antivirus Review: Updated for 2024

We tested Avast One and found it to be a reliable antivirus solution. Its malware detection is on par with industry leaders like Norton and Bitdefender.

Paid plans offer a rich set of tools including an unlimited VPN and system cleanup. It works on Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, and supports multiple devices.

Overall, it’s a top choice for robust, multi-platform security.


We scanned over 1,200 malware samples using Avast; it caught all of them. Full scans took around 54 minutes. Real-time protection stopped even encrypted malware downloads. On the downside, the free version pushes upsells aggressively.


Avast’s firewall lets you monitor network traffic and manually block apps. It lacks the user-friendliness and automation found in Norton and Bitdefender. A notable absence is the Wi-Fi Inspector tool for Windows, which identifies vulnerable devices.


We tried the Avast One Essential’s VPN and found it adequate for free users, offering 5GB of data per week. However, paid plans lagged in speed and unblocking features compared to competitors like Bitdefender.

Bonus Features

Avast also includes a range of utility tools: browser data clearing, software updating, password protection, ransomware shielding, and email security. Some features are premium-only, like tracking prevention.

Conclusion: Is Avast the Best Antivirus Software of 2024?

Avast offers comprehensive security features, excelling in malware protection. It lacks a password manager, but otherwise, it’s a strong contender.

If you’re looking for a password manager or parental controls, consider Norton 360 Deluxe as an alternative. Avast’s 30-day return policy allows for a risk-free trial.

For more details, read the full Avast review.

TotalAV Antivirus Review

TotalAV Review

Ranked #3 out of 28 Antivirus

TotalAV Antivirus 2024

TotalAV is ranked #3 of 28 antivirus brands.

TotalAV is one of the best antivirus of 2024. It has near-perfect anti-malware 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 antivirus 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.

  • Malware protection: 99.8%. TotalAV detected and removed nearly all of the 1,200 malware 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 Antivirus Review: Updated for 2024

TotalAV offers affordable, intuitive, and straightforward protection.


TotalAV impressed us with its nearly flawless malware detection. Using Avira’s engine, it offers Quick, System, Smart, and Custom scans.

Our System Scan took about an hour and had minimal impact on performance. The software caught 99.8% of various malware, including ransomware and spyware. Its real-time protection also halted malicious downloads immediately.


TotalAV’s Safe Browsing VPN performed well, with 48 server locations and solid speeds. It’s compatible with popular streaming services and supports P2P file sharing. Features include a kill switch and auto-connect on public networks. While not as fast as standalone VPNs, it’s a strong bundled offering.

Password Manager

We tested Total Password and found it reliable and secure, thanks to 256-bit AES encryption. It offers auto-save and auto-fill, two-factor authentication, and a user-friendly vault. Though lacking some advanced features like hardware-based 2FA, it covers all the basics effectively.

Bonus Features

Additional features include identity theft protection by Aura and a system tune-up suite featuring a Startup Manager and Junk Cleaner, among others.

Conclusion: Is TotalAV the Best Antivirus Software of 2024?

In conclusion, TotalAV is a robust, affordable antivirus solution. It offers strong anti-malware capabilities, a solid VPN, and a useful password manager. The 30-day refund policy makes it risk-free to try. Recommended for comprehensive, hassle-free security.

For more details, read the full TotalAV review.

Bitdefender Antivirus Review

Bitdefender Review

Ranked #4 out of 28 Antivirus

Bitdefender Antivirus 2024

Bitdefender is ranked #4 of 28 antivirus brands.

Bitdefender is an excellent antivirus program in 2024. It has perfect anti-malware 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.

  • Malware protection: 100%. Bitdefender detected and removed each of the 1,200 malware 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 Antivirus Review: Updated for 2024

Bitdefender stands out for its high-quality antivirus engine, rich security features, and efficient use of system resources. We dug deep into these offerings to provide you an up-to-date and accurate assessment.

Anti-Malware Performance

We tested Bitdefender against a suite of 1,200 malware samples. It detected each one without fail. On top of that, it scored an impressive average of 95% across the last 10 AV-Test trials. This positions Bitdefender ahead of most rivals, lagging only behind Norton, McAfee, and Kaspersky.

Advanced Threat Defense

Bitdefender’s real-time protection, known as Advanced Threat Defense, goes beyond traditional virus-signature methods. It observes app behavior in real-time, blocking them if unusual activity, like code injection, is noticed. In our own trials, Bitdefender identified new strains of malware instantly and with very few false positives.

Firewall Capabilities

Bitdefender’s firewall effectively blocks both incoming and outgoing connections. It’s smart enough to detect and prevent port scans, a common hacking technique. We found this feature extremely reliable in safeguarding our test network.


The free VPN offering from Bitdefender is limited to 200 MB/day. This roughly equals 5 minutes of 720p video streaming or browsing 100 websites. We noted that Bitdefender employs Aura’s VPN tech but with its proprietary apps.

The VPN is fast, robustly encrypted (AES-256 & HydraVPN), and keeps no logs. Extra perks include start-up, auto-connect, kill switch, and split tunneling. For unlimited data, you’d need to upgrade to a premium plan.

Password Manager

It’s important to note that the password manager is not bundled with Bitdefender’s basic antivirus packages. To get it, you must purchase it separately or opt for the Bitdefender Premium Security suite.

Prices & Packages

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

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

Bonus Features

  • Online Threat Prevention: Anti-phishing tools protect you from malicious websites.
  • Vulnerability Scan: Scans your OS, applications, and network.
  • Ransomware Remediation: Helps recover ransomware-encrypted files.
  • Anti-Spam: Custom settings available for Outlook and Thunderbird.
  • Safepay: Launches a secure browser for safe online banking.
  • Video and Audio Protection: Secures your webcam and microphone.
  • Anti-tracker: A browser extension to remove tracking cookies.
  • Parental Advisor: Monitors your children’s online activities.
  • Anti-theft: Locate and wipe your devices remotely.
  • One-click optimizer: Cleans hard drive and browser junk.
  • Data Protection/File Shredder: Securely erases files.

Conclusion: Is Bitdefender the Best Antivirus Software of 2024?

Bitdefender excels in almost every category we tested. From malware detection to VPN services, it is a comprehensive solution. However, its premium features like the password manager and unlimited VPN data come at an additional cost.

Norton offers some of these perks in their standard package, making it a worthy competitor. But thanks to Bitdefender’s 30-day return policy, you can give it a test run risk-free.

McAfee Antivirus Review

McAfee Review

Ranked #5 out of 28 Antivirus

McAfee Antivirus 2024

McAfee is ranked #5 of 28 antivirus brands.

McAfee is an excellent antivirus program in 2024. It has perfect anti-malware 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.

  • Malware protection: 100%. Mcafee detected and removed each of the 1,200 malware 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).

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Detailed Review

McAfee Antivirus Review: Updated for 2024

McAfee Total Protection distinguishes itself by offering unlimited device protection for customers in the United States, a rarity in the antivirus world.

Anti-Malware Performance

We’ve personally tested McAfee’s anti-malware capabilities, and our findings mirror its stellar reputation. With a consistent 100% score in AV-Test’s protection tests since April 2020, it sets the gold standard. In our own rigorous evaluation, McAfee caught all 1,200 malware samples we threw at it, effectively eliminating both online and offline threats.

The efficacy of McAfee’s Scan Engine is notable. Here’s why:

  • It runs thorough scans to match files against known malware samples.
  • It isolates and tests suspicious code in a sandbox.
  • Utilizes heuristic methods to detect novel malware.
  • It cleans corrupted files by removing harmful code.

Robust Firewall

In our testing, we found McAfee’s firewall robust and versatile. It monitors both incoming and outgoing traffic efficiently. Plus, it conceals open ports, foiling hackers who rely on port scanning techniques.

VPN: Safe Connect

McAfee offers a free VPN, Safe Connect, with unlimited data. We found it quick and secure, employing AES-256 encryption. The VPN is also private, not storing any activity logs. It features servers in 45 countries, supports Netflix streaming, and allows torrenting. A minor drawback: not all features like the kill switch and split tunneling are available on every OS. Also, turning off auto-renew restricts you to 500 MB/day.

Password Manager: True Key

True Key, McAfee’s password manager, impressed us. It makes password creation and storage simple, and its auto-fill feature is spot-on. Biometric login options like facial recognition and fingerprint scans add an extra layer of security, putting it on par with top competitors like Dashlane.

Prices & Packages

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

Bonus Features

  • Secure Apps: Scans for needed security updates.
  • App Boost: Enhances the performance of frequently used apps.
  • Browser Security: Anti-phishing browser extension.
  • Web Boost: Stops auto-playing videos.
  • Tracker Remover: Erases tracking cookies.
  • ID Protection: Scans the dark web for your personal data.
  • File Shredder: Deletes files securely.
  • File Lock: Creates password-protected file vaults.
  • Anti-Spam: For Outlook and Thunderbird.
  • Safe Family: Parental controls for online safety.

Conclusion: Is McAfee the Best Antivirus Software of 2024?

Based on our extensive testing, McAfee stands out as one of the best antivirus solutions available. Its flawless anti-malware performance, excellent password manager, free unlimited VPN, and user-friendly design make it a top pick.

The premium plans are particularly attractive for users in the United States, providing comprehensive device, privacy, and identity protection features.

Interested in giving McAfee a spin? You can do so risk-free with its 30-day money-back guarantee.

For more details, read the full McAfee review.

Panda Antivirus Review

Panda Review

Ranked #6 out of 28 Antivirus

Panda Antivirus 2024

Panda is ranked #6 of 28 antivirus brands.

Panda is an excellent antivirus program in 2024. It has near-perfect anti-malware 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.

  • Malware protection: 99%. Panda detected and removed nearly all of the 1,200 malware 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 Antivirus Review: Updated for 2024

Panda offers a highly versatile pricing structure for its antivirus packages, making it an attractive option for budget-conscious users.

Anti-Malware Capabilities

In our extensive testing, Panda Antivirus scored an impressive 99.9% in real-world protection. However, we did notice that it had more false positives than competitors like Norton and McAfee, meaning it sometimes incorrectly flagged benign files as threats.

We generally rely on AV-Test for independent evaluations, but since Panda does not participate in their tests, we used data from AV-Comparatives. Both labs offer unbiased assessments of malware detection efficacy.

Technologically, Panda leverages big data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to scrutinize every app on your system. This multi-layered approach enables it to tackle a broad spectrum of threats, including zero-day malware and ransomware.


Panda’s firewall does an excellent job of managing network traffic. It auto-assigns permissions to applications based on their risk profiles. However, for those who like to take control, the settings can be manually adjusted per app, which we found to be a user-friendly feature.


We found that Panda’s built-in VPN has a daily data limit of 150 MB. While secure and speedy—thanks to Aura’s underlying technology—it’s fairly limited for streaming or heavy browsing. The lack of a kill switch also stands out, making the €50.00 pricing seem steep compared to the competition.

Password Manager

We were particularly impressed with Panda’s password manager. It makes password generation and storage a breeze, while its auto-fill feature worked flawlessly in our tests. The two-factor authentication and biometric login support add an extra layer of security.

The user interface is consistent across all platforms, offering a seamless experience whether you’re on an Android, iOS device, or using a browser extension on Chrome or Firefox.

Prices & Packages

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

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

Bonus Features

  • Safe Browsing: Effectively blocks malicious URLs and phishing sites.
  • Dark Web Scanner: Searches the dark web for compromised email addresses.
  • PC Cleanup: Efficiently deletes cookies and files to optimize system performance.
  • Wi-Fi Protection: Analyzes and enhances Wi-Fi security.
  • Anti-Theft: Locates lost or stolen PCs.
  • File Encryptor: Password-protects sensitive files.
  • File Shredder: Permanently erases files beyond recovery.
  • USB Protection: Scans USB drives for malware, which is a handy addition.

Conclusion: Is Panda the Best Antivirus Software of 2024?

Panda delivers solid performance in our tests, particularly excelling in its password manager and its versatile pricing plans. However, we lean toward Norton as our top pick due to its unlimited VPN offering and more comprehensive protection for Mac and mobile devices.

If you’re exclusively a Windows user, Panda’s excellent internet security suites are worth considering. Plus, the 30-day money-back guarantee allows for a risk-free trial.

So, while Panda may not be the unequivocal best in the market, it’s a robust contender that offers reliable protection and a plethora of useful features.

For more details, read the full Panda review.

Avira Antivirus Review

Avira Review

Ranked #7 out of 28 Antivirus

Avira Antivirus 2024

Avira is ranked #7 of 28 antivirus brands.

Avira is an excellent antivirus program in 2024. It has perfect anti-malware 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.

  • Malware protection: 100%. Avira detected and removed all of the 1,200 malware 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.

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Detailed Review

Avira Antivirus Review: Updated for 2024

We thoroughly tested Avira and found it to be a top performer. It caught every virus, providing a 100% protection score. The free plan is excellent, and paid plans offer great value for money. Avira is strong on both security and value.


We tested Avira’s anti-malware tools and were very impressed. The cloud-based scanner identified all malware quickly without slowing down our system. The Smart Scan feature went beyond malware, flagging privacy risks and system issues, making it a one-stop solution for both novices and tech-savvy users.


Avira’s firewall is highly customizable. It uses algorithmic rules to monitor data and allows you to set rules per app. Intruder prevention is also available to block unauthorized data extraction.


We found Avira’s Phantom VPN adequate for basic online activities, with a speed reduction of only 25-30%. Security is tight, featuring 256-bit AES encryption. P2P is supported, but it struggled with bypassing geo-restrictions on streaming services.

Password Manager

The password manager is feature-rich, offering unlimited storage even in its free version. It uses 256-bit AES encryption and two-factor authentication for added security. However, a password generator is missing from the browser extension.

Bonus Features

The device optimizer freed up over 1GB of space during our tests. Avira also offers a startup optimizer, driver updater, and game booster. The battery manager could be improved by adding features to identify power-draining apps.

Conclusion: Is Avira the Best Antivirus Software of 2024?

Avira Antivirus Prime is a top-tier antivirus solution offering robust security features and great design. Its 30-day return policy makes it risk-free to try. For those considering alternatives, Norton 360 Deluxe is similarly priced but offers extra features like parental controls.

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

Compare them in the table below.

#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
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
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, Mac, Android, iOS
Windows, Mac, Android, iOS
Windows, Mac, Android, iOS
Money back
60 days
30 days
30 days
30 days
30 days
30 days
30 days




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 antivirus 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

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

Buying Guide

Common questions about antivirus software

What is antivirus software and why do I need it?

Antivirus software is a program designed to detect, prevent, and remove malicious software, known as malware. This includes viruses, worms, trojans, ransomware, spyware, adware, and more.

Why You Need It:

  • Protection Against Malware: It defends your computer against malware that can steal personal information, damage your files, and slow down your PC.
  • Safe Web Browsing: Antivirus programs often include web shields that warn you about unsafe websites.
  • Prevent Identity Theft: By blocking phishing attacks and malware, antivirus software helps protect your personal and financial information.
  • Enhanced Privacy: It prevents spyware and other malicious applications from accessing your private data.

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

How does antivirus software protect my computer?

Antivirus software employs several methods to protect your computer:

  • Virus Definitions: It uses a database of known malware signatures to identify threats.
  • Heuristic Analysis: This involves detecting unknown viruses by examining code for suspicious patterns.
  • Behavioral Monitoring: It observes the behavior of programs to spot malicious actions.
  • Sandboxing: Running suspicious applications in a safe, isolated environment to assess their behavior.
  • Firewall Integration: Many antivirus programs include a firewall to monitor and control incoming and outgoing network traffic.

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

Will antivirus software slow down my computer?

Modern antivirus software is designed to be lightweight and efficient, minimizing its impact on system performance. However, factors like the age of your computer, available RAM, and processor speed can influence performance. High-quality antivirus programs optimize resource usage, ensuring minimal slowdown.

Can antivirus software remove existing viruses from my PC?

Yes, most antivirus software can detect and remove existing viruses. When a virus is detected, the antivirus software typically:

  • Quarantines: Isolates the virus, preventing it from causing harm.
  • Deletes: Removes the virus from your system.
  • Disinfects: Cleans infected files, restoring them to their original state.


Can antivirus software protect my mobile devices as well?

Yes, many antivirus solutions offer mobile versions that protect smartphones and tablets. These mobile antivirus programs provide:

  • Malware Protection: Scanning apps and files for malware.
  • Web Protection: Warning about unsafe websites.
  • Anti-Theft Features: Such as remote lock and wipe capabilities.


What should I do if my antivirus detects a virus or malware?

If your antivirus detects a virus or malware:

  • Don’t Panic: The antivirus has likely prevented the malware from causing harm.
  • Follow Instructions: The software will typically recommend actions like quarantine or removal.
  • Update Your Software: Ensure your antivirus and operating system are up to date.
  • Perform a Full Scan: Run a complete scan of your system to check for any other infections.
  • Change Passwords: If the malware could have compromised sensitive information, change your passwords.
  • Stay Informed: Learn about the detected malware to understand its potential impact and how to prevent future infections.


What are the most common types of cyber threats today?

  • Phishing Attacks: Fraudulent attempts to obtain sensitive information by disguising as trustworthy entities in electronic communications.
  • Ransomware: Malware that encrypts a victim’s files, with the attacker demanding a ransom to restore access.
  • Malware: Including viruses, worms, trojans, and spyware, designed to damage or perform unauthorized actions on a computer system.
  • Zero-Day Exploits: Attacks that target unpatched vulnerabilities in software or hardware.
  • Man-in-the-Middle Attacks (MitM): Where attackers intercept and potentially alter the communication between two parties.
  • Denial-of-Service (DoS) and Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) Attacks: Overwhelming a system’s resources to make it unavailable to its intended users.
  • Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs): Prolonged and targeted cyberattacks in which an intruder gains access to a network and remains undetected for an extended period.
  • Cryptojacking: Unauthorized use of someone else’s computer to mine cryptocurrency.

What cyber threats can and can’t antivirus protect me from?

Can Protect:

  • Viruses, Worms, and Trojans: By using signature-based detection and heuristic analysis.
  • Ransomware: With specialized ransomware protection features.
  • Spyware and Adware: Through real-time scanning and removal tools.
  • Phishing Attempts: Via web protection features that alert users about suspicious websites.

Cannot Fully Protect:

  • Zero-Day Exploits: Due to the lack of prior knowledge about these new vulnerabilities.
  • Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs): Often require more sophisticated security measures beyond standard antivirus capabilities.
  • Social Engineering Attacks: Like phishing, where success often depends on user awareness and behavior.
  • Physical Security Breaches: Such as someone gaining physical access to your computer.

Read more about these threats on our cybersecurity blog.

How do I choose the best antivirus software for my needs?

  • Determine Your Needs: Consider the level of protection you need based on your online activities.
  • Effectiveness: Look for antivirus software with a high detection rate and low false positives.
  • Performance Impact: Choose software that offers good protection without significantly slowing down your system.
  • Features: Consider additional features like firewalls, parental controls, and identity theft protection.
  • User Interface: Opt for software with an easy-to-use interface.
  • Price vs. Value: Balance the cost of the software with the protection and features it offers.
  • Compatibility: Ensure the antivirus is compatible with your operating system and other software.
  • Reviews and Recommendations: Check expert reviews and user feedback.

Is free antivirus software reliable enough for basic protection?

Yes, free antivirus software can be reliable for basic protection. They typically offer essential features like real-time scanning and malware removal.

However, they may lack advanced features found in paid versions, such as firewalls, identity theft protection, and support for mobile devices. For users with basic needs and a limited budget, free antivirus can be a viable option, but it’s important to choose a reputable product.

Does the antivirus software come with customer support?

Most reputable antivirus software comes with some form of customer support. The level of support, however, can vary significantly:

  • Free Antivirus: Often offers limited support, primarily through FAQs and community forums.
  • Paid Antivirus: Typically provides more extensive support options, including live chat, email, and phone support.
  • Premium Packages: May offer additional support services like 24/7 support, dedicated account managers, or personalized troubleshooting.

When choosing antivirus software, consider the type and quality of customer support offered, especially if you’re less tech-savvy or anticipate needing personalized assistance.

Advanced questions about antivirus software

How do we test antivirus software?

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

1. Anti-malware protection (30%)

  • As the core function of antivirus software, we prioritize anti-malware protection. We conduct in-house testing with a diverse set of 1200 malware 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 antivirus 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 antivirus 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-malware work?

Anti-malware software functions to identify, prevent, and eliminate malware. It employs various techniques to detect known and unknown threats, including signature-based detection, heuristic analysis, behavior-based detection, and increasingly, machine learning algorithms.

Anti-malware programs often run in the background, performing regular system scans and monitoring real-time activities for suspicious behavior. Regular updates to its database and algorithms ensure it can recognize both existing and emerging malware.

What is signature-based detection?

Signature-based detection is a traditional method used by anti-malware programs. It involves comparing the digital signatures of files and programs on your computer to a database of known malware signatures. A signature is a unique string of data or a pattern that is characteristic of a specific malware.

This method is highly effective for detecting known malware but can be less effective against new, unknown threats.

What is heuristic analysis?

Heuristic analysis is an advanced method used to detect new, unknown, or modified malware strains. Instead of relying on known signatures, it examines the code of a program or file to identify suspicious characteristics or behaviors that might indicate malware.

This method can detect malware that has been specifically designed to evade traditional signature-based detection.

What is behavior-based detection?

Behavior-based detection focuses on observing the behavior of software or applications in real-time. Unlike signature-based detection, which looks at static data, behavior-based detection monitors how programs interact with the system.

If an application behaves anomalously or tries to perform unauthorized actions, such as modifying system files or accessing sensitive data, the anti-malware software flags it as potentially malicious.

What is machine learning within cybersecurity?

Machine learning in cybersecurity involves training algorithms to recognize patterns associated with malicious activities. These algorithms can analyze vast amounts of data and learn from previous cyberattacks, improving their ability to detect and respond to new threats.

Machine learning enhances other detection methods, like heuristic and behavior-based detection, by enabling software to adapt and respond to evolving cyber threats more efficiently.

What is cloud-based antivirus?

Cloud-based antivirus refers to anti-malware protection that operates primarily over the internet rather than being fully installed on the user’s device. It leverages cloud computing to provide real-time updates and data analysis, reducing the processing load on the user’s system.

This approach allows for more comprehensive and up-to-date protection against threats, as the malware database in the cloud can be updated continuously.

What is sandboxing within cybersecurity?

Sandboxing in cybersecurity refers to the practice of running programs or code in a separate, safe environment (the “sandbox”) to observe their behavior without risking the main system. It’s used to safely execute suspicious code and understand its behavior. If the code is malicious, it can be neutralized without affecting the actual system.

What are false positives within cybersecurity?

False positives occur when a cybersecurity system incorrectly identifies a benign program or activity as malicious. This can lead to unnecessary actions such as deleting or quarantining legitimate files, potentially disrupting user activities or system functions.

While false positives are preferable to missing actual threats (false negatives), they can be inconvenient and erode user trust in the security system. Fine-tuning detection algorithms and regularly updating malware definitions help reduce false positives.

How does antivirus handle zero-day threats?

Antivirus software tackles zero-day threats — vulnerabilities that are exploited before the vendor becomes aware and releases a patch — through a combination of methods:

  • Heuristic Analysis: Identifying unknown threats based on characteristics and behavior patterns similar to known malware.
  • Behavior-Based Detection: Monitoring software behavior in real-time to catch malicious actions indicative of a zero-day exploit.
  • Sandboxing: Running suspicious programs in a controlled environment to observe their behavior without risking system security.
  • Cloud-Based Intelligence: Using global threat intelligence networks to rapidly update and deploy defenses against emerging threats.

Despite these methods, complete protection against zero-day threats is challenging due to their unknown nature at the time of discovery.

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. Firewalls can be hardware, software, or both, and operate on two main principles:

  • Packet Filtering: Inspects each packet entering or leaving the network and accepts or rejects it based on user-defined rules.
  • Stateful Inspection: Tracks the state of active connections and makes decisions based on the context of the traffic and the state of the network.

Firewalls are crucial for establishing a barrier between a secured internal network and untrusted external networks, such as the internet.

How does a password manager work?

A password manager is a tool that stores and organizes passwords for various accounts. It works by:

  • Creating a Secure Vault: Where all your passwords are stored. This vault is protected by a master password.
  • Generating Strong Passwords: Automatically creating complex and unique passwords for each account.
  • Auto-Filling Login Fields: Automatically entering usernames and passwords when accessing websites or applications.
  • Synchronization: Keeping passwords accessible across various devices.

Password managers encrypt the password database, ensuring that even if the data is intercepted, it cannot be easily deciphered.

How does a VPN work?

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) creates a secure connection over the internet between your device and the network. It works by:

  • Encapsulating Data Transmissions: It wraps data packets in an encrypted layer, making them unreadable to anyone who intercepts them.
  • Routing Through a Secure Server: The VPN hides your IP address and routes your internet traffic through a server in a location of your choice.
  • Maintaining Privacy: By encrypting your connection, VPNs keep your online activities private and secure from eavesdropping and tracking.

VPNs are widely used for secure browsing, remote work, and accessing geo-restricted content.

How does anti-phishing work?

Anti-phishing measures in cybersecurity tools work by:

  • Scanning Emails and Websites: Identifying suspicious links and content typically associated with phishing.
  • Using Blacklists: Blocking known phishing sites based on updated databases.
  • Heuristic Analysis: Detecting new or unknown phishing attempts by analyzing patterns and anomalies.
  • User Education: Providing alerts and guidance to users on identifying and avoiding phishing attempts.

These tools are integral in preventing unauthorized access to sensitive information like login credentials and financial data.

How does ransomware protection work?

Ransomware protection in antivirus software involves:

  • Access Control: Preventing unauthorized changes to files and directories.
  • Behavior Monitoring: Detecting patterns consistent with ransomware activity, like rapid file encryption.
  • Backup Solutions: Offering options to back up important files so that they can be restored in case of an attack.
  • Regular Updates: Keeping defenses up-to-date against the latest ransomware threats.


How does identity theft protection work?

Identity theft protection services monitor personal information on the internet and alert users to potential misuse. They typically include:

  • Credit Monitoring: Watching for changes in credit reports.
  • Dark Web Monitoring: Scanning dark web sites for personal information.
  • Fraud Alerts: Notifying users of suspicious activities.
  • Recovery Services: Assisting in recovering from identity theft, including legal support.

These services aim to detect identity theft early and minimize its impact.

How do parental controls work?

Parental controls are tools or software designed to help parents manage their children’s online activities and exposure. They include features like:

  • Content Filtering: Blocking access to inappropriate content.
  • Usage Controls: Setting limits on screen time or restricting use to certain times of the day.
  • Activity Monitoring: Tracking online behavior and usage patterns.
  • Application Blocking: Restricting access to specific apps or games.

These controls help protect children from online risks and help parents promote healthy digital habits.

Other questions

What antivirus software have we tested?

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

These are the programs we recommend:

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

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

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

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.