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The 5 Best Antivirus for Windows 11 (2023 Update)

By Tibor Moes / Updated: March 2023

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.

The Best Antivirus for Windows 11 PC: Norton

Norton Antivirus

Limited Time: Save 70% 🔥

  • 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.

The 2nd Best Antivirus for Windows 11 PC: Bitdefender

Bitdefender Antivirus

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  • 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 2023

We have tested and reviewed security software since 2014. Below, we have selected the top 5 from 20 paid and free antivirus software.

Click the links or scroll down for more.

Norton Icon New

Norton Antivirus Review

Ranked #1 out of 20 Antivirus

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.

Password Manager

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

Prices & Packages

  • Norton Antivirus Plus 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.

Bonus Features

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

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

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

Bitdefender Antivirus Review

Ranked #2 out of 20 Antivirus

Bitdefender Antivirus Review
Bitdefender: Save 60% on this secret page 🔥

Bitdefender Antivirus Review

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


Bitdefender antivirus has a 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.

Password Manager

Bitdefender's password manager is a bit useless, because it only supports Windows. And not macOS, Android, or iOS.

Prices & Packages

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

Bonus Features

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

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

Panda Antivirus Review

Ranked #3 out of 20 Antivirus

Panda Antivirus Review

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.

Password Manager

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

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

Prices & Packages

Bonus Features

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

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

Kaspersky Antivirus Review

Ranked #4 out of 20 Antivirus

Kaspersky Antivirus Review

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.


Kaspersky's free VPN has a data limit of 300 MB / day and a poor privacy policy. So we don't recommend it.

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

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

Password Manager

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

Prices & Packages

  • Kaspersky 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.

Bonus Features

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

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.

However, its VPN privacy policy is disappointing. A VPN is a privacy product and shouldn't be used for marketing.

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

McAfee Antivirus Review

Ranked #5 out of 20 Antivirus

McAfee Antivirus Review

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.

Password Manager

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

Bonus Features

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

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 

Starting Price
€ 15 / year
€ 16 / year
€ 17 / year
€ 20 / year
€ 30 / year
Malware Detection Rate

Password Manager

Parental Controls

Dark Web Monitor

Free VPN Data Limit
200 MB / day
150 MB / day
300 MB / day
Unlimited (if auto-renewal is active)
Operating Systems
Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Chromebook
Windows, macOS, iOS, Android
Windows, macOS, iOS, Android
Windows, macOS, iOS, Android
Windows, macOS, iOS, Android
Number of Devices
Up to 10
Up to 5
Up to 10
Up to 10
Money Back Guarantee
60 days
30 days
30 days
30 days
30 days

How do we test the best antivirus for Windows 11?

Antivirus protection for Windows 11 goes beyond just detecting malware. The top antivirus programs provide 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.

The best antivirus software should offer virus protection, identity theft protection, and privacy protection, all within a user-friendly interface and at a reasonable cost. To determine which antivirus provider is worth investing in, we subjected them to 15 tests.

> Test 1: Anti-malware protection test

Malware refers to malicious software that includes various online threats such as adware, keyloggers, ransomware, spyware, trojans, viruses, worms, and more. While some of these threats are known malware that cybersecurity companies have previously encountered, others are unknown malware, meaning they are new and have not been seen.

These latest malware threats can be especially problematic because traditional real-time protection relies on virus definitions to detect threats. This means that it scans the code of potential malware against a database of malicious code samples. However, this method is ineffective against unknown malware.

To address this issue, the best anti-malware software has evolved to use heuristic analysis, a method of behavior monitoring that allows the antivirus software to scan for suspicious patterns in the behavior of apps. This behavior-based detection can identify malware before its code is added to the database.

To determine which antivirus packages have the best real-time malware protection, we conduct our tests and consider evaluations from independent antivirus testing labs such as AV-Test, SE Labs, and AV-Comparatives.

In our tests, we infect a Windows PC with various viruses and malware using a USB stick. Then we assess the malware scanning capabilities of the antivirus software to see if it can remove all threats.

Among the independent test labs, AV-Test is our preferred source. We averaged their protection test results for Windows 10 and 11 since 2016 to find the best malware removal software.

> Test 2: False positives test

Antivirus software may mistakenly identify a legitimate program as malware, confuse a harmless file for malicious code, or block access to a safe website – this is a false positive.

While false positives are a regular occurrence for all antivirus programs and generally not a cause for concern, a high number of them can be annoying.

To help us understand the prevalence of false positives, we reference the findings from AV-Test’s large-scale analysis of false positives in their usability test.

> Test 3: System performance test

It’s essential to surf the web safely, but it can be problematic if antivirus software consumes all your PC’s resources. That’s why we measure the CPU load while the antivirus software runs quick and complete system scans. If the security software requires fewer system resources, you will have more of your computer’s performance left for other tasks.

We also consider the results from AV-Test’s performance section, which measures the slow-down caused by antivirus software on opening websites and downloading, installing, and launching software. These are good indicators of the impact on a device’s performance.

> Test 4: Firewall test

Firewalls are security systems that sit between a computer and a network (like the internet or a local area network) and filter incoming and outgoing data streams to prevent malware and hackers from gaining access.

They can be software-based, hardware-based, or provided as a service. The software-based firewalls are included with antivirus programs and consume some of a PC’s CPU and RAM. In return, however, they offer a high level of protection against malware, filter incoming and outgoing traffic, and allow for precise control over the connectivity of each program on a computer.

There are various types of firewalls, including packet-filtering, circuit-level gateway, application-level gateway, stateful inspection, and next-generation firewalls.

The most advanced next-generation firewalls are used by heavily regulated industries like finance and healthcare and combine deep packet inspection and stateful inspection with other network security systems like anti-malware. However, these firewalls are costly and require significant expertise and integration with other security systems.

We use the ShieldsUP! test of the Gibson Research Corporation to find out whether the antivirus software successfully blocks all ports.

> Test 5: Password manager test

A password manager is a tool that helps you generate and store strong, unique passwords for all of your online accounts. It can also automatically fill in your login credentials when you visit a website or app, saving you the hassle of remembering and typing your passwords.

Using a password manager helps protect your online accounts from being hacked because it allows you to use long, complex passwords that are difficult for attackers to guess or crack.

It also helps you avoid using the same password for multiple accounts. This is a security risk because if one of your accounts is compromised, the attacker could potentially gain access to all your other accounts.

Some password managers also offer additional features such as two-factor authentication and alerts when one of your accounts may have been compromised. We test all these security features.

> Test 6: Virtual Private Network (VPN) test

A VPN is a service that creates a secure, encrypted tunnel between your device and the internet. This tunnel helps protect your online activity from being monitored or intercepted by third parties.

To ensure the quality of the built-in VPN, we assess its encryption strength and VPN protocol, log policy, download speed, and compatibility with streaming services like Netflix, Disney Plus, and Amazon Prime. We also determine whether it offers unlimited data and allows for torrenting.

> Test 7: Parental control test

Parental controls are features that allow parents to set boundaries on their children’s internet use and protect them from harmful or inappropriate content. These controls can include setting time limits, blocking certain websites and apps, and monitoring communication with others.

Our team tests the effectiveness of all parental control features by installing them on a test device and attempting to bypass them as a clever child might. We also verify that the parental control admin accurately and promptly reports our behavior on the test device.

> Test 8: Anti-phishing protection test

A phishing attack is a technique cybercriminals use to steal sensitive information from you, such as passwords or financial information. The attacker may try to disguise themselves as a legitimate entity, often through fake emails, social media messages, or text messages. In addition, they may use urgency or threats to get you to take action quickly.

Anti-phishing software is a tool that helps protect you from phishing attacks by detecting and blocking malicious websites and emails. It works by scanning the links and content of websites and emails and comparing them to a database of known phishing threats. If a threat is detected, the software will block 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 cyber attack in which an attacker encrypts your data and demands payment in exchange for the decryption key. In addition, the attacker may threaten to delete your data or publish it online if you do not pay the ransom within a specific time frame. Ransomware attacks can devastate businesses, resulting in lost data, productivity and revenue.

Anti-ransomware software is a tool that helps protect your computer from ransomware attacks by detecting and blocking malicious software that may try to encrypt your data. 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 can come with various entry-level functions, such as spam filters and secure browsers, and premium options like online storage with enhanced security. We consider the following bonus features worthy of your consideration:

  • Ad Blocker
  • Anti-theft
  • 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

Ensuring that antivirus software can protect all operating systems is crucial. It might not seem like a big deal, but it’s surprising how many antivirus programs only cater to Windows 11 and 10 computers. However, security for Mac, Android, and iOS devices should also be addressed. That’s why we test all antivirus software on every operating system.

> Test 12: Ownership and reputation test

Some antivirus companies have a questionable reputation when handling customer data. For example, Avast was found to have tracked and sold the browsing habits of millions of its users via its Online Security browser extension and subsidiary, Jumpshot. While the company claims to have stopped these practices and has since been sold to Norton, the damage to its reputation remains.

When evaluating cybersecurity companies in our tests, we carefully review press releases, news articles, and privacy policies, especially for browser extensions and VPN services, to ensure that they have a good reputation regarding customer data.

> Test 13: Interface test

Since cybersecurity isn’t a thrilling subject for many people, antivirus software needs to be quick, easy to install, and intuitive. Therefore, we test the installation speed of each program, as well as how easy it is to use on the default settings and how complicated it is to adjust the advanced settings.

> Test 14: Customer support test

While it would be nice to live in a perfect world where everything goes smoothly, the reality is that things often go wrong. People may click on dangerous links, open malicious files, fall for phishing scams, or answer spam emails. In these situations, it’s essential to have good customer support to rely on.

That’s why we check whether antivirus companies offer 24/7 live chat, email, and phone support. We also review their knowledge base, forums, and FAQs. Finally, we test the support team by contacting them with complicated questions to gauge their speed and capabilities.

> Test 15: Value for money test

While it would be ideal to download the best free antivirus software and have complete protection, that’s not how it works. While some free antivirus programs may offer entry-level antivirus protection, they rarely do more than that. Essentially, this makes them free malware removal tools, which both Windows and Mac already have built-in.

On top of that, some free antivirus products may track your habits and sell that data to marketing firms. By installing one of those tools, you would be protecting yourself from malware by installing spyware. Not a great trade-off. So instead, opt for a paid version.

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 2023. 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.

Two-way firewall

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.

Password manager 

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.

Parental Controls

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 security programs from 20 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 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

The best ones are Norton, Bitdefender, Panda, Kaspersky, and McAfee.

Frequently asked questions

What is the best antivirus for Windows 11?

Norton and Bitdefender are the best antivirus for Windows 11. They offer excellent protection from malware, a fast and secure VPN, an advanced firewall, a password manager, and more.

What antivirus offers the best anti-ransomware?

Bitdefender and Norton offer the best protection from ransomware. Especially Bitdefender has an excellent tool, called Ransomware Remediation. It restores files that have been encrypted by a ransomware attack.

Do you need antivirus protection on Windows 11?

Yes, you need antivirus protection on Windows 11. Windows’ built-in security features, called Microsoft Defender Antivirus and Firewall, are competent. But they still can’t match the best third-party antivirus software, Norton and Bitdefender.

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?

There is no reason to replace Microsoft Defender with free antivirus software. It won’t improve your security. Instead, we recommend getting a paid antivirus software, like Norton or Bitdefender.

Is Kaspersky still safe in 2023?

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?

That depends on the antivirus software. The best antivirus in our test will not slow down your computer. These are Norton, Bitdefender, Panda, Kaspersky, and McAfee.

Will antivirus protect you 100% ?

Only Norton has a 100% malware protection score. It is followed closely by Bitdefender and Kaspersky, each with a protection score of 99%. All other brands score lower.

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.

Author: Tibor Moes

Author: Tibor Moes

Founder & Chief Editor at SoftwareLab

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

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

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

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

You can find him on LinkedIn or contact him here.