Let’s face it…we’re no closer to vanquishing the cyber-criminals and hackers that plague the internet than we were a decade ago. In fact, cyber crime actually grows significantly year after year. So it’s clearly as important as ever to ensure that your computer and mobile devices are afforded the protection of the best antivirus out there. You may be most familiar with names such as Norton, McAfee and AVG – but are they really the best?
We’ve tested and reviewed the latest packages – both premium and free antivirus – from the biggest names in cyber security, so you can be confident that our recommendations can be trusted. More than 80 antivirus and security suites have been reviewed and re-reviewed by our experts, as of July 2019, to give you the very best solution to protect and secure your devices.
1. Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2020
2. Norton AntiVirus Basic
3. Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus
4. ESET NOD32 Antivirus
5. F-Secure Antivirus SAFE
Read on for detailed analysis of each best antivirus service pick
Creators of malware and viruses are always coming up with new ways to gain access to your PC and other internet enabled devices (with your mobile phone and tablet included). Luckily online software security companies are constantly updating their security software packages to protect against phishing scams, ransomware and all other types of viruses and malware.
Right now, we think that Bitdefender Antivirus Plusis the best antivirus available. It combines watertight security tools with an array of other excellent security features and is super easy to use, too – best of all, it also offers extremely good value for money. You can read more about what it offers below, together with Norton AntiVirus and Webroot SecureAnywhere that complete our top three.
If you’re looking for all-round protection against the latest cyber threats, then investing in the strongest programme is the best solution you can hope for – and we also have the best business antivirus plans if you’re looking to take care of your company computers. That doesn’t mean you have to start spending big money either, as our guide also gives you the best available prices for the best software. And if it’s the best free antivirus that you’re after, we have some top recommendations for you, too.
Or jump straight to:
- Best free antivirus downloads
- Best business antivirus
The best antivirus 2019
1. Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2020
Rock-solid and reliable protection
Operating system:Windows only |Maximum devices covered:1 |Stand out features:Ransomware protection and remediation, privacy tools, VPN, Safepay
Get a 50-60% discount on Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2020
TechRadar’s #1 rated antivirus in a world packed with loads of virus protection providers, and doesn’t even cost that much more than free antivirus downloads.
Note:For ourBitdefender Antivirus Plus review, we tested the 2019 version. This was updated and renamed to 2020 in July this year.
Take a look at any rankings of big independent antivirus and Bitdefender’s premium security products always rise to the top.
It tends to be reliable and accurate in its virus detecting, featuring web filtering to blocks access to malicious sites, a secure browser that keeps your online banking ans shopping transactions safe, and there’s a password manager which auto-completes credit card details in web forms. It also scores high for its excellent anti-phishing module, which alerts you to malicious links in your search engine results and blocks access to dangerous sites.
There’s also multi-layer ransomeware protection that heuristically learns the behaviour of such threats to keep you safe as well as the ability to scan all your linked devices via the Bitdefender Central mobile app.
There are one or two issues – it grabs more resources than average, and might conflict with some programs – but Bitdefender Antivirus Plus is still a likeable package which offers excellent detection rates, great performance, and more than enough bonus features to justify the price.
Bitdefender Internet Security builds on AVP and triples the number of devices covered plus offers anti-spam, firewall, parental advisor and file encryption features.
For a little bit more you can purchase the Bitdefender Total Security edition. It adds all of the above and covers up to five PCs, Macs, Android and iOS devices.
Get Bitdefender Antivirus Plus up to 60% off
Great news! You can currently score up to 60% off our #1 rated antivirus. It’s a special software treat for TechRadar readers. It means that fantastic virus protection for your PC is now even more affordable – check out the exact pricing in your locale below, or head to Bitdefender’s US site if your country isn’t listed:
- US and RoW: Get Bitdefender for
$59.99$23.99 a year
- UK deal: Get Bitdefender for
£39.99£19.99 a year
- Australia: Get Bitdefender for
AU$69.99AU$28 a year
2. Norton AntiVirus Plus
Protection that won’t slow you down
Operating system:Windows only |Maximum devices covered:1 |Stand out features:Advanced privacy security, financial security, global civilian intelligence network
Norton AntiVirus Plus is a top quality malware hunter which can automatically protect your PC all on its own.
The newly named product was introduced in the US in late April 2019 as a direct replacement for the old Norton AntiVirus Basic. Unfortunately, the company hasn’t made things easy…the same product is still called Basic in the UK. Although the Plus package has added on a couple of extra functions – more on which further down this article.
Norton offers plenty of tweaks, options and settings for those who need them, as well as features like a handy URL blocker that keeps you away from malicious websites. If that misses something, an excellent file reputation service heuristically recognises suspect downloads immediately. And if malware still finds a way through, intelligent behaviour monitoring uses its up to date virus definitions to quarantine threats at the first sign of trouble.
If you’re a more hands-on type, you can easily run scans on demand. Maybe set up and save custom scans to check just the areas you need. Even schedule them to run at a particular time, but only if your system is idle, and it’s not running on battery power.
So what does Plus do that Basic didn’t? Only a couple of things really: a bonus 2GB cloud backup and a password manager. The big negative is that the price has flown up since the package change came into effect.
There can be problems with some of the browser extensions. For example, we’ve found the Chrome version sometimes stops working for no apparent reason. We’ve seen plenty of reviewers reporting similar problems, so there does seem to be a real issue here.
That said, Norton AntiVirus Plus’s main functions deliver on all fronts: it’s easy to use, has the configuration options experts need, comes highly rated by the testing labs, and is carefully designed to have the least possible impact on your system performance.
- 1 year and 1 device – $39.99
- 1 year and 1 device – £24.99
3. Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus
The most lightweight programme around
Operating system:Windows and Mac |Maximum devices covered:1 |Stand out features:Always-on security, identity protection, real-time anti-phishing, firewall monitor
Just about every antivirus tool claims to be ‘lightweight’, but Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus is the only one to really deliver on this front. Installation takes seconds, the program files barely grab 2MB of your hard drive, RAM footprint is tiny, and there are no bulky signature updates to tie up your bandwidth.
There’s no compromise on features, though. Along with the core protection, there’s smart behaviour monitoring, accurate real-time antiphishing, a firewall and network connection monitor, enhanced anti-ransomware, and other interesting extras.
It’s not easy to compare Webroot’s accuracy with the competition, as the big testing labs rarely evaluate the company’s products. But when they are reviewed, they generally score well, and our own tests show solid and reliable protection.
There’s a lot to like about SecureAnywhere AntiVirus, and Webroot’s 70-day 100% money-back guarantee suggests it’s confident in the product, too. If you’re tired of overly complicated and bloated engines, Webroot must be on your shortlist.
- 1 year and 1 device – $19.99
- 1 year up to 3 devices – $29.99
- 1 year and 1 device – £22.49
- 1 year up to 3 devices – £37.49
4. ESET NOD32 Antivirus
Expert-level antivirus for the more experienced user
Operating system:Windows only |Maximum devices covered:5 |Stand out features:Ransomware Shield, UEFI Scanner, Exploit Blocker, cloud powered scanning
If you judge antivirus software on the length of its feature list, ESET NOD32 Antivirus might be a disappointment. There’s no firewall, password manager, file shredder, vulnerability scanner or any of the bundled extras you’ll often find elsewhere.
This doesn’t mean the package is short on power, it’s just more focused on the fundamentals. ESET NOD32 Antivirus comes with real-time malware protection, some of the best heuristic detection around, an anti-ransomware layer, exploit protection, URL filtering to block malicious websites, and modules to prevent attacks using PowerShell and malicious scripts.
A Device Control module limits the risk of infection from other devices by controlling access to USB sticks, external hard drives, optical storage media, even devices connecting by Bluetooth and FireWire. It’s an unusual extra, but could make a difference if others are regularly plugging devices into your PC.
ESET NOD32 Antivirus isn’t aimed at beginners. The interface is clumsy sometimes, some features are very advanced, and even the Help isn’t always exactly helpful.
Experienced users will appreciate ESET’s power and configurability, though. Above-average protection does a good job of keeping you safe, and a lightweight design ensures the package won’t slow you down.
One of the new features in the latest update is the UEFI Scanner which protects you from threats that attack your PC before Windows has even started.
ESET Internet Security builds on NOD 32 and triples the number of devices covered plus offers firewall, botnet protection, webcam protection, antispam and more.
Alternatively, you can purchase the ESET Smart Security Premium edition for not much more. It adds all of the above as well as password management and secure data.
- Best dealESET Smart Security Premium (1 year, 1 device for $59.99)
- ESET Internet Security (1 year, 1 device for $39.99)
- ESET NOD32 (1 year, 1 device for $39.99)
- Best dealESET Smart Security Premium (1 year, 1 device for £49.99)
- ESET Internet Security (1 year, 1 device for £28)
- ESET NOD32 (1 year, 1 device for £29.99)
- Best dealESET Smart Security Premium (1 year, 1 device for AU$79.95)
- ESET Internet Security (1 year, 1 device for AU$59.95)
- ESET NOD32 Antivirus (1 year, 1 device for AU$49.95)
5. F-Secure Antivirus SAFE
The most easy to use antivirus option
Operating system:Windows, Mac, Android, iOS |Maximum devices covered:3 |Stand out features:Browsing and banking protection, Family Rules, ransomware protection
F-Secure Antivirus SAFE is a great collection of antivirus tools, and while it’s a bit more expensive than some of the other programmes on this best of list, the amount of features you get makes the cost worthwhile.
With F-Secure Antivirus SAFE, you get the brilliant antivirus software from F-Secure, along with banking protection for safe online shopping, family safety tools and a device finder that lets you track your lost Android or iOS device, and if needs be remotely lock or delete it as well.
The package typically receives maximum marks for protection from AV-Test, and generally scores highly with AV-Comparatives, too. They also say it can generate significantly more false positives than most of the competition, but how that affects you will vary depending on how you use your computer.
The interface is a major plus. It’s extremely easy to use, lightweight, and for the most part you can just leave the app alone to look after your PC. The program has minimal effect on your system performance, and if you do need to intervene then you can generally solve any issues in a couple of clicks.
In 2018, F-Secure Anti-Virus SAFE remains an appealing package: fast, lightweight, and able to run alongside many other security tools without conflict – you can read more about the company’s offering with our F-Secure Anti-Virus review of its slightly lighter product.
- 1 year up to 3 devices – $69.99
- 1 year up to 5 devices – $89.99
- 1 year and 3 device – £59.99
- 1 year up to 5 devices – £79.99
6. Kaspersky Anti-Virus
Solid security for beginners and experts alike
Operating system:Windows only |Maximum devices covered:5 |Stand out features:Automatic scans, drive-by cryptomining infection prevention, simplified security management
Kaspersky Anti-Virus is a stripped-back security package which focuses on the core security essentials: web filtering blocks dangerous URLs, an accurate engine detects and removes threats, smart monitoring technologies track and reverse malicious actions, and that’s about it.
Fortunately, what you do get works well. Very, very well. We’ve consistently found Kaspersky to be amongst the best at blocking malware, and removing it from an infected system, plus it’s regularly top-rated at sites like AV-Comparatives.
The program is easy to use, too. A well-designed interface has just the right number of buttons and options – not too basic, but not complicated or intimidating, either – and there are plenty of on-screen instructions to explain how everything works. Even a beginner will be at home right away.
If you just need accurate, reliable and consistent malware protection, Kaspersky Anti-Virus will serve you well.
- 1 year and 3 devices – $29.99
- 2 years up to 3 devices – $59.99
- 1 year and 1 device – £24.99
- 2 years up to 3 devices – £69.99
7. Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security
A strong contender
Operating system:Windows only |Maximum devices covered:1 |Stand out features:Ransomware protection, advanced AI learning, email scam safeguarding, Pay Guard
Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security is a very capable package that’s simple to use with above average antispam and an effective ‘Folder Shield’ module to block ransomware. And it seems to get better and better as time goes on.
How good is it exactly? The top testing labs all rate it highly for protection, although there’s some disagreement on the details. In particular, AV-Comparatives says it gives a high number of false positives, which could be a real nuisance. But AV-Test reports high levels of accuracy and no issues with false positives at all.
If there’s a problem here, it’s likely to be performance impact. PassMark’s March 2019 Performance report assessed 14 security products on various performance-related benchmarks, and Trend Micro came towards the bottom part of the list.
Our experiences with the product are a little more favourable: protection levels appear similar to Bitdefender, false positives are only marginally higher, and it doesn’t slow down our system noticeably more than anything else.
We’d recommend running the trial for its full 30 days before you buy, then, to see if you notice any problems. But if you’re unaffected, its high levels of detection and excellent bonus features make Trend Micro a good choice.
- 1 year and 1 device – $29.95
- 2 years and 1 device – $59.90
- 1 year and 1 device – £19.95
- 2 years and 1 device – £29.95
8. Panda Dome Essential
A user-friendly and very well-featured solution
Operating system:Windows only |Maximum devices covered:Unlimited |Stand out features:Process monitor, URL filtering, bootable USB rescue drive
Panda Dome Essential antivirus has all the goodies you’d expect from the best antivirus software.
That’s just the start. Panda Dome is jam-packed with added extras that some of the other plans on this list don’t match. From port scanning and ping handling to in-depth process monitoring and an integrated VPN.
When it comes to the main event – virus protection – there’s not a lot of Panda test results from the independent labs around right now, but the figures we’ve seen don’t exactly fill us with confidence as Panda came towards the bottom of the pile according to AV-Comparatives. This doesn’t mean that Panda Dome will put your devices in harm’s way, but you can understand why we’d recommend other providers over it on this basis.
The interface will be a little bit decisive, too. With so many weird and wonderful features included, Panda Dome does a very capable job of making sure that they can all be accessed and you can go as in-depth as you need. But on the other side of the same coin, this might put off users who just want a quiet, simple antivirus package.
One undoubted bonus is the price – Panda Dome Essential is one of the best value programs out there. And you even have the option of paying a little more and upgrading to cover an unlimited number of laptops, phones, tablets and desktops with a single subscription.
- 1 year for 1 device – $35.39
- 1 year for unlimited devices – $71.39
- 1 year for 1 device – £20.99
- 1 year from unlimited device – £49.79
- Apple user? Then you can head to our bespoke best Mac antivirus guide
- We’ve also looked at the best secure messaging apps
- Check out the best Android antivirus apps for your phone
Best free antivirus downloads
Paying for a premium service means you get more features, such as spam filters, parental controls, system scans and advanced firewalls. This makes them more suitable for power users, those who want a bit of extra security and anyone who wants their system to run as smoothly as possible. It also means you avoid a
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