9 Best Antivirus Software to Protect Your Devices in 2021 (Free and Paid)

Best Antivirus Software

As long as computers will be in existence, whether connected to the internet or not, there will always be a need for antivirus software. There will never be a time when people, whether mischievous teenagers seeking a thrill or cyber criminals looking to exploit organizations and businesses, will stop looking to find ways to cause widespread damage, commit fraud, or just experience the rush of breaking into a computer.

Antivirus software is an important tool to help prevent such attacks. Not every type of cyberattack can be prevented with antivirus software, unfortunately, but it can be a great first defense when trying to prevent intrusion into a computer or network.

When looking to purchase the best antivirus software, make sure to purchase a trusted and well known, subscription-based software. This is important, as the makers of this type of software will be able to keep their subscribers’ computers protected with real-time updates that scout out the latest threats.

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links where we may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you choose to purchase a plan from a link on this page. These are merely the products, tools, and services we recommend when it comes to running your business. You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

What is Antivirus Software?

Antivirus software is a program or set of programs installed on your devices that are designed to prevent, search for, detect, and remove software viruses, and other malicious software like worms, trojans, adware, spyware, and more. Once installed, most antivirus software runs automatically in the background to provide real-time protection against virus attacks.

What is the Best Free Antivirus Software?

The best free antivirus software includes powerful protection and performance for your computer without the price tag. Most free antivirus softwares include protection against viruses, spyware, ransomware, and other malware. Additionally, they scan your computer for performance issues and some others block unsafe links, downloads, and email attachments.

Our top picks for the best free antivirus software:

1. Avast

Avast is an award-winning, free, lightweight, and powerful antivirus that is used and trusted by more than 435 million people to keep them safe. Features include:

  • Detect viruses, ransomware, and other threats in real-time.
  • Find intruders and security weaknesses in your network.
  • Protect personal photos and files from being encrypted by hackers.
Avast

Here’s how to get started:

  1. Go to avast.com and click Download Free Protection, the software should download in your browser automatically.
  2. Navigate to your Downloads folder on your machine and double-click on the downloaded file to begin the installation.

For an advanced level of protection, we recommend upgrading to Avast Premium Security (starting at $34.99/year for 1 device).

Avast Premium Security

Avast Premium Security features include everything in free plus:

  • Stop criminals from stealing your passwords and banking info.
  • Sandbox any app to test if it’s safe before running it on your computer.
  • Keep hackers from sneaking onto your PC and stealing your data.
  • Prevent strangers from watching you via your webcam.
  • Securely delete files to ensure that no one recovers them.
  • Reduce security risks by keeping your other apps up-to-date.
  • *Advanced protection for up to 10 devices (PC, Mac, Android, and iOS) – Requires Multi-Device

To upgrade, go to avast.com and click Premium Security under the Security tab in the main navigation.

2. Malwarebytes

Malwarebytes is a titan in the cybersecurity industry that often finds threats that other antivirus software misses. In fact their cybersecurity technology finds malware on 39 percent of devices that already have antivirus installed. Malwarebytes free detects and removes malware and other advanced threats.

Malwarebytes

Here’s how to get started:

  1. Go to malwarebytes.com and click Free download, the software should download in your browser automatically.
  2. Navigate to your Downloads folder on your machine and double-click on the downloaded file to begin the installation.

For an advanced level of protection, we recommend upgrading to Malwarebytes Premium (starting at $3.33/month for 1 device) which removes malware, viruses, and other threats from your device in seconds, and stops future infections with Real-Time Protection that works 24/7.

Malwarebytes Premium

Additional Malwarebytes Premium features include:

  • Stops malware in real-time, before it can be a danger to your device.
  • Shields vulnerable systems and softwares from exploit attacks.
  • Stops ransomware attacks before your data is held hostage.
  • Prevents access to and from known malicious websites.

To upgrade, go to malwarebytes.com and click Personal in the navigation, or upgrade on the Thank You page once you have downloaded the free version.

3. AVG

AVG is a great antivirus to give you essential free protection that won’t let you down. This version offers the following features:

  • Stop viruses, spyware, ransomware & other malware
  • Secure personal folders with an extra layer of ransomware protection
  • Block unsafe links, downloads, & email attachments
  • Scan for PC performance problems
AVG Free

Here’s how to get started:

  1. Go to avg.com and click FREE Download, the software should download in your browser automatically.
  2. Navigate to your Downloads folder on your machine and double-click on the downloaded file to begin the installation.

If you are looking for more advanced security, AVG does offer AVG Internet Security – the best all-around protection for all of your devices (starting at $20.99 for the first year – a $49 savings!). Features for this version include:

  • Stop viruses, spyware, ransomware & other malware
  • Block unsafe links, downloads & email attachments
  • Secure personal folders with an extra layer of ransomware protection
  • Scan for PC performance problems
  • Get real-time security updates
  • Prevent peeping Toms from watching you via your webcam
  • Keep hackers away with Enhanced Firewall
  • Avoid fake websites for safer shopping

To upgrade, go to avg.com and click AVG Internet Security under PC or Mac. Select the number of devices you need and click Buy now.

4. Bitdefender

Bitdefender is a great antivirus that boasts its quick install and blazing fast speeds keeping it light against computer resources. Features include:

  • Downloads and installs in seconds, runs at max speed without slowing down your PC
  • Good for gaming, image and video editing, and resource-intensive applications
  • Powerful antivirus protection packed into a light solution

Additionally, they are powered by award-winning technology including:

  • Real-time threat detection – Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition uses behavioral detection to closely monitor your active apps. When it detects anything suspicious, it takes instant action.
  • Virus Scanning and Malware Removal – Powerful scan engines ensure real-time detection and removal of all malware, from viruses, worms and Trojans, to ransomware, zero-day exploits, rootkits and spyware.
Bitdefender Antivirus

Here’s how to get started:

  1. Go to bitdefender.com and click FREE DOWNLOAD, the software should download in your browser automatically.
  2. Navigate to your Downloads folder on your machine and double-click on the downloaded file to begin the installation.

If you are looking for more advanced security, Bitdefender does offer Bitdefender Total Security (starting at $29.99 for the first year – a $60 savings!) which includes additional benefits including:

  • Basic Antivirus protection for Windows PCs
  • Complete protection for Windows, macOS, Android and iOS devices
  • Multi-layer ransomware protection to defend your files from encryption by ransomware
  • Webcam Protection to prevent unauthorized access
  • Privacy Firewall to keep your info safe from hackers
  • Microphone Monitor to prevent eavesdropping
  • Parental control to keep your kids safe online
  • System optimization tools

To upgrade, go to bitdefender.com and click Bitdefender Total Security under the For Home navigation item, or upgrade on the Thank You page once you have downloaded the free version.

What is the Best Antivirus Software?

While free antivirus software is great for starting out, ideally you want to upgrade to a more robust antivirus software that offers additional features and benefits. Premium antivirus software can include features such as VPN, password management, multiple device support, ad blockers, and more.

Our top picks for the best premium antivirus software include:

5. Kaspersky

Kaspersky is a global leader in cybersecurity with more than 975 million cyber-attacks prevented, 273 million malicious URL’s blocked, and 24 million unique viruses neutralized.

Founded in 1997, Kaspersky was based on a collection of anti-virus modules built by Eugene Kaspersky, a cybersecurity expert and the company CEO since 2007. They are now the world’s largest privately-owned cybersecurity company, and are committed to fighting cybercrime while maintaining the highest standards of professional integrity and transparency.

Kaspersky

Kaspersky offers award-winning, lightweight, and powerful antivirus and cybersecurity products for home and businesses that are used and trusted by hundreds of thousands of users and organizations. Features include:

For those just starting out, we recommend purchasing Kaspersky Internet Security (starting at $39.99/year for 3 devices). Kaspersky Internet Security includes the following features:

  • Real-time anti-virus – Blocks common threats like malware, ransomware & spyware plus complex ones like fileless attacks.
  • Anti-phishing – Guards you from fake sites & emails created by cybercriminals to steal your identity & money.
  • Performance optimization – Helps your devices running fast & smooth – exactly as they were designed to.
  • Payment protection – Secures your online transactions & credit card details with bank-grade encryption – on PC & Mac.
  • Smart and fast VPN – Secures up to 300MB of online data per day. Plus unlocks global content & hides your online actions.
  • Ad blocker – Stops website banners & other annoying or malicious ads showing on your Windows PC.
  • Private browsing – Blocks websites & social network platforms from tracking your activities & data – on PC & Mac.
  • Webcam protection – Prevents hackers spying on you by taking over your webcams & mics – on PC & Mac.
  • Adult content blocker – Stops your kids seeing harmful website content like porn, gambling & violence, including on YouTube.
  • Screen-time management – Allows you to set screen time limits by device & blocks device use if limits are exceeded.
Kaspersky Home Security
Kaspersky Home Security Options

Here’s how to get started:

  1. Go to kaspersky.com and click Products under the Home tab in the navigation. Feel free to review the Business applications under the Business tab in the navigation.
  2. Find Kaspersky Internet Security in the product listings and click Learn More.
  3. Select the number of devices and years needed and click Buy Now.
  4. Proceed through checkout and select any add-ons you desire.
  5. Once purchased you will receive an email with instructions on how to download and install.

6. McAfee

McAfee was founded in 1987 and has been a global leader for internet security and antivirus software for decades. McAfee currently protects more than 600 million devices, stops more than 67.2 billion real-time threats every day, and discovers more than 375 threats every minute.

McAfee Hero

Their signature software, McAfee Total Protection (starting at 34.99/year for a single device) not only protects your devices, but also covers your identity and financial information, Wi-Fi connections, and even your browsing. McAfee Total Protection offers a wide assortment of other features including:

  • Award-winning antivirus software – Protect your computer and personal information from hackers and criminals
  • Secure VPN** – Available when you’re enrolled in auto-renewal, keep your personal information and online habits private with bank-grade encryption
  • Home network security – Secure your firewall and block hackers from accessing your home network
  • Security experts and online support – Get technical assistance and peace of mind from their dedicated team and support knowledge-base
  • Password manager – Securely store and manage all your online passwords in a single location
  • Safe web browsing – Browse confidently knowing risky sites will be blocked
  • McAfee Shredder – Delete sensitive files completely to ensure no traces are left behind
  • Encrypted storage – Keep sensitive files private by storing them on your PC with 256-bit AES encryption
McAfee
McAfee Total Protection Plans

Several plans offered to fit your needs:

  • Single Device (starting at 34.99/year) protects a single device with the McAfee total protection features listed above.
  • Individual/Couples (starting at 39.99/year) protects up to 5 devices and get 1 year of McAfee Gamer Security Free and Identity Theft Protection Essentials when you purchase and are enrolled in auto-renew. You’ll get powerful protection, game boost, and system monitoring for one additional PC​ and stay ahead of would-be identity thieves with our identity monitoring and recovery tools.
  • Family (starting at 44.99/year) includes everything in the Individual/Couples plan but protects up to 10 devices. Protect the entire household using a single subscription and get peace of mind knowing your kids are protected online.
  • Ultimate (starting at 69.99/year) includes everything in the Family plan but protects an unlimited number of devices. Additionally, stay ahead of identity thieves with identity & credit monitoring, 24/7 dedicated agents and $1M insurance.

Here’s how to get started:

  1. Go to mcafee.com and click Buy Now on the home page hero.
  2. Review the number of devices and select the plan you need; click Buy Now.
  3. Proceed through checkout and select any add-ons you desire.
  4. Once purchased you will receive an email with instructions on how to download and install.

7. Norton

Norton is another large player in the cyber security and antivirus software industry and has been around for decades. Trusted by more than 50 million customers worldwide, Norton antivirus software and technology blocks thousands of threats every minute.

Norton

Norton 360 (starting at 25.99/year) is their signature antivirus software. Norton 360 offers an array of features including:

  • Anti-Spyware, Antivirus, Malware, and Ransomware Protection
  • Online Threat Protection
  • Smart Firewall
  • Password Manager
  • Virus Protection Promise
  • Secure VPN
  • SafeCam
  • Dark Web Monitoring Powered by LifeLock

There are several plans with varying features, these include:

  • Norton 360 Standard (starting at $25.99/year; a $59 savings) protects a single device and includes the features listed above plus 10GB of cloud backup
  • Norton 360 Deluxe (starting at $29.99/year; a $75 savings) protects up to 5 devices and includes the features listed above plus 50GB of cloud backup and parental controls.
  • Norton 360 with LifeLock Select (starting at $99.48/year; a $50.51 savings) protects up to 5 devices and includes the features listed above plus 100GB of cloud backup, parental controls, credit monitoring and a million-dollar protection package.
  • Norton 360 with LifeLock Ultimate Plus (starting at $251.88/year; a $98.11 savings) protects unlimited devices and includes the features listed above plus 500GB of cloud backup, parental controls, credit monitoring, LiveLock Identity Alert System, a million-dollar protection package and more!

Here’s how to get started:

  1. Go to norton.com and click Get Started on the home page hero.
  2. Review the number of devices and select the plan you need; click Subscribe Now.
  3. Proceed through checkout and select any add-ons you desire.
  4. Once purchased you will receive an email with instructions on how to download and install.

8. Trend Micro

Trend Micro is a great provider for home cyber security and antivirus needs. They offer a variety of software and even have free tools that can detect and fix viruses, worms, spyware, and other malicious threats for free. Additionally, they have an all-in-one tool to detect misinformation and scams as well as a computer cleaner that can visualize, manage and free up your storage space in just one click.

Trend Micro

Their latest offering, Premium Security Suite starts at 69.95 (a 46% savings!) for 1 year of protection for up to 10 devices. Premium Security Suite offers complete device and identity protection across PC, Mac, mobile phones, and tablets; their most comprehensive security solution, Premium Security Suite – includes the following products:

  • Maximum Security: Protection for PC and Mac with 24×7 support.
  • WiFi Protection: Provides a secure VPN for public WiFi.
  • Password Manager: Simple and secure password management.
  • Mobile Security: Protection for Android and iOS devices.
  • ID Security: Provides dark web monitoring.
  • Premium Service: Your personal helpdesk for all things technical.

Here’s how to get started:

  1. Go to trendmicro.com and click More Details on the software solution that fits your needs.
  2. Review the number of devices and select the plan you need; click Buy Now.
  3. Proceed through checkout and select any add-ons you desire.
  4. Once purchased you will receive an email with instructions on how to download and install.

9. Webroot

Webroot offers award-winning security through their antivirus software that protects against ransomware, phishing, viruses, identity theft, and other digital dangers. Currently, Webroot protects more than 206 million devices across home users, businesses, and technology partners.

Webroot

Lots of antivirus security providers talk about how they use AI and machine learning but Webroot helped pioneer that kind of technology in security way before it was cool. In fact, they have been:

  • Protecting the connected world since 1997
  • Innovating, refining, and applying machine learning since 2007
  • Cloud-based since 2011

Webroot offers several plan options; these include:

  • Antivirus (starting at $29.99/year for 1 device)
  • Internet Security Plus with Antivirus (starting at $44.99/year for 3 devices)
  • Internet Security Complete with Antivirus (starting at $59.99/year for 5 devices)
Webroot Antivirus Plans
Webroot Antivirus Plans

Here’s how to get started:

  1. Go to webroot.com and click Protect Your Home on the home page.
  2. Review the number of devices and select the antivirus software plan you need; click Add to Cart.
  3. Proceed through checkout and select any add-ons you desire.
  4. Once purchased you will receive an email with instructions on how to download and install.

Antivirus Software FAQ

What is Antivirus software?

Antivirus software is a program or set of programs that are designed to prevent, search for, detect, and remove software viruses, and other malicious software like worms, trojans, adware, spyware, and more. Once installed, most antivirus software runs automatically in the background to provide real-time protection against virus attacks.

Can I still get viruses when I have Antivirus Software installed?

Unfortunately, it is possible to be infected by a virus even if you have an anti-virus solution in place. Viruses, and other malicious software is always changing and becoming more sophisticated and Antivirus software relies on “definitions” – known viruses, so It is extremely important to ensure that you keep your Antivirus software up to date. Likewise, it is recommended to scan your computer on a regular basis to help prevent any infection.

What is a trojan virus?

A trojan virus is a type of malware that is often disguised as legitimate software. Trojans can be employed by cyber-criminals and hackers trying to gain access to a computer system. Users are typically tricked by some form of social engineering, such as links in an email, into loading and executing Trojans on their systems.

Why should I pay for antivirus software?

As more people use the internet for shopping, banking, and financial planning, cybersecurity stakes continue to rise and the need for computer security software increases. You need features like these to keep you safe:
• Password management
• Mobile security
• Identity and privacy protection

These important features aren’t included in most free virus protection software. When it comes to keeping you and your family’s devices safe, you get what you pay for.

Antivirus Software Summary

There are many options available when choosing antivirus software. We recommend you focus on how many devices you need to secure, reliability, speed, and technical support.

If you’re looking for the best antivirus software, we recommend AVG and you can get started today for free, or upgrade to AVG Internet Security starting at $20.99 for the first year – a $49 savings!

Ultimately, whichever antivirus you choose you want to ensure that you can trust and rely on it to keep your devices fast and secure, allowing you to focus on growing your business.


Last updated on by Joshua Holdeman

Joshua Holdeman
About the author

Joshua Holdeman is a DevOps Engineer, Sr. Software Engineer, and Digital Marketing Consultant. With over 12 years in the industry and backed by hundreds of digital marketing projects and websites developed under his direction, he brings experience and knowledge allowing for the recommendation of high-impact business software, tools, and programs to help non-profit organizations, small businesses, and entrepreneurs to launch or grow their business. Before starting this blog, Josh was the Sr. Software Engineer for a world leader in a marketing and graphic communications franchise system.

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