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The 10 Best Antivirus for Windows 11 (2022 Update)
By Tibor Moes / September 2022
Do you need antivirus software on Windows 11? Yes, you do. Windows 11 is Microsoft’s safest operating system yet. But our digital world is a dangerous place. Malware hides everywhere: On malicious websites, in email attachments, on USB drives, and in free software. A single wrong click or download is all it takes.
Buying the best antivirus for Windows 11 will improve your security, privacy, and peace of mind. You will significantly improve your protection from malware and add valuable security features to your arsenal:
- A VPN to hide your internet activity from advertisers and keep you safe on public Wi-Fi networks.
- A password manager to create and store highly secure passwords for all your accounts.
- A dark web monitor to track whether your personal data is sold on the dark side of the internet.
On top of that, the best antivirus for Windows allow you to protect other operating software too. As most people shop and bank on their mobile phones too, protecting those vulnerable devices is essential. So don’t take chances online. Invest in your cybersecurity today and prevent problems tomorrow.
- Device Security 100% 100%
- Online Privacy 100% 100%
The best antivirus for Windows 11
Norton has a 100% anti-malware test score and excellent security features:
Password manager, unlimited VPN for free, firewall, parental controls, webcam manager, dark web monitor, web protection, and cloud storage.
Choose Norton if you want the best protection for your devices, privacy, and identity.
Try it risk-free, thanks to its 60-day return policy.
- Device Security 99% 99%
- Online Privacy 96% 96%
Excellent protection at a low price
Bitdefender has a 99% anti-malware test score, a low price, and many security features:
Windows-only password manager, free but limited VPN, firewall, parental controls, webcam manager, dark web monitor, web protection, and an anti-tracker.
Choose Bitdefender for excellent and affordable protection for your Windows 11 PC.
Try it risk-free, thanks to its 30-day return policy.
Antivirus Ranking and Reviews of 2022
We have tested and reviewed security software since 2014. Below, we have selected the top 5 from 19 paid and free antivirus software.
- 1. 🥇 Norton Antivirus - The best antivirus software of 2022.
- 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 2022?
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 19 Antivirus
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 2022?
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 19 Antivirus
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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 2022?
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 19 Antivirus
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 2022?
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 19 Antivirus
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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 2022?
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
How we test the best antivirus for Windows 11?
We tested 36 different antivirus software for Windows 11 PCs. For each of them, we ran through the following tests:
Malware protection test 1
The most important feature of antivirus software is the detection and removal of malware. Malware is not a single type of malicious software but a whole range, including worms, viruses, trojans, spyware, ransomware, keyloggers, adware, and much more.
Anti-malware detects these malware types through two main methods: Virus-signature detection, which compares the computer code of potentially malicious programs against those in a database. And heuristic analysis, sometimes called behavioral analysis, which analyses the behavior of apps for suspicious patterns.
The second one, heuristic analysis, is the most modern version. It allows anti-malware to discover threats that haven’t been seen before, like zero-day attacks. Once a file is flagged as dangerous, is it executed in a safe environment, called a sandbox. Here its behavior can be studied securely.
The fastest way to analyze the anti-malware protection for Windows 11 is to measure the test results of the independent test labs: AV-Comparatives, AV-Test, and SE Labs. In our comparison, we use the average of AV-Test’s results for Windows since October 2016.
Malware protection test 2
Our in-house anti-malware tests are more time-consuming. During these tests, we expose a Windows 11 PC to a wide range of malware via a USB drive. We also visit fraudulent websites, which are known for phishing attacks. And we open the attachments in various phishing emails.
We then check whether the third-party antivirus providers can detect and remove each threat. And whether they can beat the built-in Windows Defender, also called Microsoft Defender.
Of course, we will be the first to admit that we don’t have the same amount of virus definitions as the independent test labs. Therefore, we let their results determine the most significant part of our anti-malware protection score.
False positives test
Even good antivirus software make mistakes. For example, they can confuse innocent software for malware, mistake a clean file for malicious computer code, or stop a harmless site from opening in your browser. These events are called false positives. Because the antivirus program falsely flags an innocuous file as malware positive.
Luckily, most antivirus software don’t have a lot of false positives. Our favorite independent test lab, AV-Test, has a dedicated “Usability” section where they screen for nothing but false positives. We use their findings as a guide in this section.
Most brands score 100% each time, meaning they don’t have any false positives. But interestingly enough, Malwarebytes and Bitdefender have slightly more false positives than most antivirus software. This might be because their engineers prefer to flag one file too many than one too few.
System performance test
Your system’s resources shouldn’t be used up by your antivirus program. To determine whether the antivirus apps consume too much of your PC’s power, we measure how much of your CPU’s performance goes to the antivirus while running a full system scan and a quick scan.
We also analyze the performance part of AV-Test. Here, the test lab measures the delay in opening websites and the slow-down when downloading, installing, and opening programs.
A two-way firewall will monitor incoming and outgoing connections on your Windows 11 PC. It is the first line of defense against hackers and incoming cyber threats from the internet and local networks.
On top of that, it will block suspicious connections made by software on your PC to other devices. And it will hide open ports so that hackers can’t discover them.
To analyze whether the firewall correctly blocks our test PC’s ports, we use the ShieldsUP! test of the Gibson Research Corporation.
Password manager test
You would be surprised to learn how many people use their pet’s name as their online banking password. And even worse, they use this password on all their accounts. This is very dangerous. Because if a hacker gets a hold of the password, he’ll be able to access all accounts.
A password manager solves this problem. It helps you create and store unique and secure passwords for all of your accounts. On top of that, it will automatically fill out those passwords when you attempt to log in. And if you want, you can even fill out your credit card details.
The best password managers also add extra security features. Such as two-factor authentication (2FA) and the ability to log in to your password vault with your fingerprint or facial recognition feature (biometrics).
On Windows 11, some of these features are included in the browser, called the Password Generator in Microsoft Edge. The obvious problem is that the browser only works on Windows. Yet you will need those passwords on your Android or iOS devices too. Therefore, a cross-device password manager, like Norton or McAfee, is much better.
We test whether the password managers do what they should (create, store, and auto-fill passwords), whether they work on all operating systems, and how easy or complex they are to use.
Parental control test
The internet can be a dangerous place, especially for curious children. The Kids Mode on Microsoft Edge adds strict content filters to help parents protect their children online. But as with the browser’s password manager, this feature only works on Windows. Because Windows Security features aren’t available on other operating systems.
Luckily, the parental control features of third-party antivirus software solve this. They give parents the tools to monitor their children online and set protective boundaries through screentime rules and website filters.
When we test parental controls, we set these boundaries on our test device and then attempt to circumvent them as an intelligent kid would try to. We also test whether screentime rules work, whether content filters block inappropriate content, and whether the reporting is accurate.
A VPN hides your internet activity and makes you anonymous online. It does this by sending your data through an encrypted connection to the internet (called a VPN tunnel). Especially on public Wi-Fi networks, where man-in-the-middle attacks are common, this is very important.
We have tested many VPNs. The core features we test for are security (encryption protocol and strength), privacy (log policy), and speed (download, upload and ping).
On top of that, we test whether the VPN works with popular streaming providers like Amazon Prime, Disney Plus, Hulu, and Netflix. And finally, we test whether peer-to-peer downloading via torrent clients is allowed.
Supported devices and operating software test
An antivirus provider should offer multi-device protection for every operating system, including Windows 10 and 11, macOS, Android, and iOS. Although on iOS, we are content with a VPN, web protection, and dark web monitor.
In reality, the protection for Windows devices is often much better than those for other operating software. So we check how many devices can be protected and whether the antivirus services offer robust protection for all devices, not just Windows 11 PCs.
Some antivirus companies are more trustworthy than others. For instance, Avast was caught selling its users’ online habits. It collected these via its browser extension, called Online Security. And then went on to sell these via its subsidiary, Jumpshot. The incident severely impacted its reputation.
We read news articles, privacy policies, and press releases on cybersecurity companies to find out whether any of them commit such crimes against the privacy of their customers. If they do, they won’t make our list.
Customer support test
Every company needs a good customer support team. But when you deal with cybersafety, it is even more essential. That’s why we connect with the support staff of the various brands via 24/7 live chat and email support. We also read through their forum, FAQ, and knowledge base.
We look for response time, knowledge level, and politeness. Ideally, the problem is solved in a single message received within three hours.
Easy of use test
Most users know very little about the antivirus tools they use. A good antivirus tool should therefor be easy and fast to install, intuitive to use, and work perfectly on default settings. So we test the installation time and the ease of understanding and adjusting the settings.
Value for money test
In an ideal world, we would download and install a free antivirus for Windows 11 and be done with it. However, that’s sadly not how it works. The paid version of many security suites is much more comprehensive than the free version.
Still, cybersecurity should be affordable to everyone. Therefore, we analyze the first-year and second-year prices of the various brands. Then, we look at how many devices you can install and what features you get. At a minimum, we want anti-malware, a free VPN, and a password manager.
How to choose the best antivirus for Windows 11?
You only need to ask yourself three questions when buying the right antivirus software:
- What devices do you want to protect?
- What security features do you need?
- Should you use free antivirus software? (No, you shouldn’t).
What devices do you want to protect?
Protection is straightforward if you only have a Windows 11 PC to protect. The five brands recommended on this page will all do a great job.
However, you likely have more devices to protect. Perhaps you must secure an iOS device, Android phone, or Mac computer as well. In those cases, you can look to one of your comparisons below to find the right security software for you:
- The best antivirus software of 2022. This is a comparison of the best multi-device antivirus software that you can install on any operating system. Search for security software that offers complete protection on Windows 10 and 11, macOS, Android, and iOS.
- The best antivirus for macOS. Apple’s desktop operating system, macOS, is safer than Windows PCs because less malware exists for it. However, there are also fewer full-featured antivirus software for Mac. So search for a security app that combines anti-malware with a two-way firewall, VPN, and password manager.
- The best antivirus for Android devices. Google’s mobile operating system, Android, is the most popular mobile OS in the world. But, sadly, it’s less safe than that of Apple. Therefore, having an excellent anti-malware scan, VPN, and password manager is very important on Android.
- The best antivirus iPhone and iPad. Apple’s mobile operating system is the safest in the world. Its apps live in closed-off spaces from which they cannot infect the device. So the threat of malware is limited. However, it’s still essential to have a VPN and password manager.
- The best antivirus with a VPN. If you spend a lot of time online, especially on public Wi-Fi networks, you must use a VPN. Man-in-the-middle attacks are more common than we would like. Look for security software with an advanced and unlimited VPN that’s included for free.
- The best VPN providers. If you prefer to separate your antivirus and VPN provider, you can look at our comparison of VPN providers. Core features to look for are security (encryption standard and protocol), privacy (log policy), speed (download and upload), and security features (Kill Switch, Auto-Connect, and more).
What security features do you need?
Windows 11 is Microsoft’s safest operating software yet. In addition, its built-in security features, called Microsoft Defender Antivirus and Firewall, are competent. But cyber safety is not Microsoft’s core business. So we can’t expect the same level of protection as a cybersecurity company can offer.
Essential security features:
Anti-malware protects you from adware, spyware, trojans, viruses, worms, and more. The antivirus included with Windows 11 is good but can’t yet compete with Norton’s perfect anti-malware test results.
Anti-phishing protects you from malicious links and sites. It does this by blocking dangerous links and websites before they can open. This is a security feature that should be installed in your internet browser.
Microsoft is only responsible for Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge. So it doesn’t offer protection for other browsers like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Apple Safari. However, the best antivirus software for PC, like Norton, have created browser extensions for nearly every browser available.
A two-way firewall blocks dangerous in- and outgoing connections and allows you to edit any of its rules. The firewall built into Windows 11 is quite good and can compete with most firewalls.
A password manager creates and stores unique and secure passwords for all your accounts. It also automatically fills in these passwords when you log in to a website.
Windows 11 does not have a multi-device and multi-browser password manager. Instead, it only has a password generator in its Microsoft Edge browser. But that one won’t work on other operating software or in different browsers.
That’s why we recommend the password managers by Norton, Kaspersky, Panda, or McAfee. They are all excellent and will significantly improve your safety.
Optional security features:
VPN (Virtual Private Network)
A VPN hides your IP address and makes you anonymous online. It is an essential security feature if you spend a lot of time on public Wi-Fi networks. It will keep your data safe, even if you shop or bank on unsecured networks.
Ransomware attacks are increasingly common, especially if you are a small business owner. Sadly, over a third of ransomware victims who pay the ransom never see their data back. Of all the cybersecurity software we’ve tested, Bitdefender offers the most reliable ransomware protection.
Kids are born into a digital world. But it’s hard to protect them online in the same way that you can offline. Parental controls can help by allowing parents to set filters on the internet, blocking categories of websites like adult entertainment and gambling.
They also allow parents to set screentime rules after which the device blocks certain apps, like YouTube, computer games, or the internet browser.
Is it safe to use free antivirus programs?
In short: No. We only recommend paid antivirus software. If you don’t have any money to spend on cybersecurity, stick with Microsoft Defender. There is no need to replace it with a free antivirus program.
Even the best free antivirus software for Windows 11 offer nothing more than the basics: An on-demand malware scan and some web protection.
What antivirus for Windows 11 have we tested?
We tested 36 security programs from 19 brands. These includes free and paid antivirus programs, full-featured internet security suites, and VPN services. Below is a list of all the software we have tested:
- Avast Antivirus Free, Avast Premium Security & Avast One
- AVG Antivirus Free & AVG Ultimate
- Avira Free Security & Avira Prime
- Bitdefender Antivirus Plus, Bitdefender Internet Security, Bitdefender Total 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 Internet Security, Kaspersky Total Security & Kaspersky VPN Secure Connection
- MacKeeper Antivirus
- Malwarebytes Free & Malwarebytes Premium
- McAfee Total Protection Premium
- 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 Internet Security
Frequently asked questions
What is the best antivirus for Windows 11?
What antivirus offers the best anti-ransomware?
Do you need antivirus protection on Windows 11?
How do antivirus programs work?
Antivirus programs detect and remove malware from your PC. They discover malware by scanning their malicious code or suspicious behavior. Once malware is detected, it is quickly isolated, repaired, or removed.
Is free antivirus software safe?
Is Kaspersky still safe in 2022?
In 2020, before the war in Ukraine, Kaspersky had already moved its data processing from Russia to Switzerland. On top of that, ties between the Russian government and Kaspersky have never been proven. So until we see proof, we continue to recommend Kaspersky.
What is the cheapest antivirus?
Bitdefender is the cheapest antivirus in most countries. This is due to its deep first-year discounts. However, the page with these discounts is hidden from the public. So click the link on our site to find it.
Will antivirus slow your computer down?
Will antivirus protect you 100% ?
Does antivirus remove existing viruses?
Yes. Antivirus programs detect and remove existing viruses on your computer, tablet, and phone. They also stop new threats from becoming a problem.
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
- Microsoft 1
- Microsoft 2
- Norton 1
- Norton 2
- Norton 3
- Norton 4
- Norton 5
- Norton 6
- Panda 1
- Panda 2
- Panda 3
- Panda 4
About the author
Founder & Chief Editor at SoftwareLab
Tibor is a Dutch engineer and entrepreneur. He has tested security software since 2014.
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