Best Antivirus Software Shortlist
Here are the platforms that made it onto my list of top antivirus software, based on features, pricing and more:
- Norton Antivirus Plus – Best for comprehensive, all-round protection
- Avira Prime – Best cross-platform protection for small businesses
- Bitdefender Antivirus Plus – Best for ransomware protection
- Sophos MDR – Best cybersecurity solution for small and medium businesses
- F-Secure Total Security – Best to secure online banking transactions
- ESET NOD32 – Best for machine learning-powered protection
- Trend Micro – Best for cloud-based security
- Malwarebytes – Best for malware removal and protection
- G Data – Best advanced protection powered by artificial intelligence
- Webroot – Best for fast scans
- QuickHeal Antivirus Pro – Best affordable antivirus for individuals and solopreneurs
- Panda Dome – Best all-in-one security solution for power users
The ever-increasing frequency and sophistication of cyberattacks means you need ongoing protection for your devices and sensitive data. A robust antivirus solution shields your digital information and protects you from malicious attacks including malware, viruses, ransomware, phishing, and other common online threats.
I have analyzed the top antivirus software in the market and summarized their pros and cons to help you make the right choice and safeguard your digital life.
What Is Antivirus Software?
Antivirus software is a type of application designed to detect, prevent, and remove malicious software from your digital devices. This software continuously monitors and analyzes your systems and checks it against virus definitions and other known system risks. Antivirus apps can scan personal files, emails, web pages, and other content for signs of malicious code. Many platforms may also in include other security-related features such as firewalls, password managers and advanced vulnerability scanning to provide a wider range of enhanced security protections.
Overviews of the 12 Best Antivirus Software
Below are my assessments of the top antivirus programs, include the key features that I think are most essential for effective protection against common cyber threats.
1. Norton Antivirus Plus - Best for comprehensive, all-round protection
Norton antivirus is a powerful and reliable security software to fight phishing attacks, ransomware, and other malware. It comes with advanced layers of security and a smart firewall to provide a shield against online and offline threats.
Why I picked Norton: I picked Norton because of its comprehensive threat protection against all types of attacks, along with its out-of-the-box support for cloud backups and password manager. It protects your sensitive data from ransomware and enables a safe browsing experience with a password generator and smart firewall.
Norton Standout Features and Integrations:
In my opinion, the standout feature of the Norton Antivirus Plus is that it comes with advanced firewall protection. Most other solutions give firewall support only in higher plans.
Norton antivirus works with all major browsers, such as Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Safari, to provide web security and anti-phishing protection. It is compatible with Windows, macOS, and Linux systems. It also integrates with Microsoft Outlook for email security and spam filtering.
Pricing: From $19.99 for first year
Trial: 7-day free trial
- Firewall protection included in antivirus product
- Full refund guarantee on failure to remove an infection (on automatic renewal plans)
- Out-of-the-box online backup of sensitive files
- Can be expensive after one year
- Only a single license for one device supported in the starting plan
2. Avira Prime - Best cross-platform protection for small businesses
Avira Prime is a cross-platform, antivirus solution that shields your devices from malware and other online threats. It supports multiple devices and comes with useful add-on features for businesses.
Why I picked Avira Prime: I picked Avira Prime because it is an effective cross-platform antivirus solution for small businesses. It supports 25 devices with a single license, which can include devices running on Windows, macOS, Android, or iOS. If you have a small team, I think Avira Prime is an ideal choice to secure their systems and protect your critical business data.
Avira Prime Standout Features and Integrations:
The standout features of Avira Prime are password management for business accounts and system optimization functionality. I found these features helpful to ensure well-functioning systems and good password security for the online tools that small teams need for their jobs.
Avira Prime can run on PCs, Macs, web browsers, and mobile devices.
Pricing: From $53.33/year
Trial: No free trial
- Comprehensive system cleaner to boost performance
- Free VPN and password generator included
- Supports optimization of 200+ privacy settings with a few clicks
- Lack of firewall
- Monthly 1GB limit on VPN might not be enough for business users
3. Bitdefender Antivirus Plus - Best for ransomware protection
Bitdefender Antivirus Plus is a powerful antivirus program for Windows devices. It comes with exceptional ransomware defense capabilities with add-on features to optimize performance.
Why I picked Bitdefender AntiVirus Plus: I chose Bitdefender because of its multi-layered ransomware protection. It combines advanced behavioral detection technology with a data-protection layer to encrypt and safeguard your important files. I also appreciated the ability to automatically tweak your device settings for performance optimization.
Bitdefender Antivirus Plus Standout Features and Integrations:
I think the standout feature of the Bitdefender Antivirus Plus is the Advanced Threat Defense that can take instant action in the event of any suspicious activity. It closely monitors your device and works against threats like trojans, worms, zero-day exploits, rootkits, and viruses.
Bitdefender Antivirus Plus works only with Windows devices.
Pricing: From $14.99/year for 1 device (first year)
Trial: 30-day free trial
- Separate modes for games, movies, and work
- Intelligent battery-saving feature
- Anti-tracker extension to keep your browsing data private
- Limited to Windows devices
- 200 MB/day limit for VPN
4. Sophos MDR - Best cybersecurity solution for small and medium businesses
Sophos MDR (Managed Detection and Response) is a managed enterprise security service that provides 24/7 threat hunting, detection, and response by a team of cybersecurity experts. It can also integrate with your existing security stack for comprehensive protection.
Why I picked Sophos MDR: I chose Sophos MDR because of its robust security features and personalized expert support for small and medium businesses. I think it is a perfect choice to manage digital security for your business when you do not have a dedicated IT team.
Sophos MDR Standout Features and Integrations:
I think the standout feature of Sophos MDR is the full-scale incident response, where their team of experts can execute an extensive set of responsive security actions on your behalf. I also like their expert hunting capability that involves proactive threat hunts by highly-trained analysts to detect and eliminate more threats than security products alone.
Sophos offers integrations with other third-party security solutions like Fortinet, Check Point, Microsoft, CrowdStrike, Palo Alto Networks, Rapid7, Okta, and Darktrace. You can install it on Windows, macOS, and Linux devices.
Pricing: Pricing on request
Trial: No free trial
- 24/7 threat monitoring and response by human experts
- Compatible with third-party technologies for endpoint, firewall, and identity protection
- Weekly and monthly reports for detailed security insights
- Can give false positive alerts
- Lack of transparent pricing
5. F-Secure Total Security - Best for securing online banking transactions
F-Secure Total Security is a cross-platform antivirus service. It protects your systems against malware and phishing attacks while ensuring a safe online web browsing experience.
Why I picked F-Secure: I chose F-Secure because of its excellent real-time malware protection along with its additional web protection features. It can isolate your browser from other processes to secure your online and banking transactions.
F-Secure Standout Features and Integrations:
Some of the standout features of F-Secure include breach alerts and Wi-Fi protection. Its expert assistance in the event of a breach is an essential feature to me as it ensures proactive action in case of sensitive data leaks. The Wi-Fi protection feature secures your connection, so even if you are using your system remotely on public Wi-Fi, you don’t have to worry about security.
F-Secure is available for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS devices.
Pricing: From $49.99 for the first year for 1 PC or Mac
Trial: 30-day free trial
- Password manager for enhanced online security
- Dark web monitoring to monitor personal information
- Supports behavior-based malware detection
- No firewall
- Lack of cloud backup functionality
6. ESET NOD32 - Best for machine learning-powered protection
ESET NOD32 is an effective antivirus program powered by machine learning. It doesn't interfere with system performance, so it’s an ideal choice for users who need powerful malware protection without compromising on speed.
Why I picked ESET NOD32: I chose ESET NOD32 because of its advanced machine-learning capabilities to detect malware without a significant impact on system performance. I think what makes it so effective is that it has a machine learning layer that runs locally in addition to the ESET Machine Learning in the cloud.
ESET NOD32 Standout Features and Integrations:
The standout features of ESET NOD32 include Intel Threat Detection Technology for solid ransomware protection, UEFI Scanner, and Host Intrusion Prevention System (HIPS). I believe its Intel TDT feature gives it a competitive edge as it enables access to Intel machine-learning models for advanced threat detection.
ESET NOD32 supports Windows, macOS, and Android devices.
Pricing: From $39.99/year for one device
Trial: 30-day free trial
- Supports detailed backend scanning like system registry, WMI Repository, operating memory, and UEFI
- Supports advanced custom antivirus scans
- External device control for USBs, printers, DVDs, and scanners to prevent data leakage
- Lack of VPN
- No quick scan functionality
7. Trend Micro - Best for cloud-based security
Trend Micro is a cloud-based antivirus software without the extra bells and whistles. Its global threat intelligence network provides real-time protection against major online threats like ransomware and spamware with minimal impact on performance.
Why I picked Trend Micro: I chose Trend Micro because of its efficient and lightweight cloud-based protection. It has an intuitive user interface that makes it easy to set up and use with. Since it’s cloud-based, it's low on system resources and it’s always updated to the latest standards for protection against evolving malicious threats.
Trend Micro Standout Features and Integrations:
Two features that caught my attention most are its Folder Shield and Pay Guard features. Folder Shield gives you the ability to protect specific folders from unwanted modifications due to ransomware or malware attacks. The Pay Guard feature secures your online financial transactions to ensure a safe shopping and banking experience.
Trend Micro Antivirus only supports Windows devices in its starting plans called Antivirus Plus and Internet Security. You need to upgrade to the advanced Maximum Security plan to use it on Mac, Android, iOS, or Chromebook.
Pricing: From $19.95/month (billed annually) for the first year
Trial: 30-day free trial
- Provides active browser protection against online scams
- Advanced protection against phishing emails
- Simplified reports and intuitive settings
- No multi-device licensing for antivirus
- No firewall
8. Malwarebytes - Best for malware removal and protection
Malwarebytes is an advanced antivirus and antimalware solution for Windows, macOS, Chromebook, iOS, and Android devices. It offers 24/7 real-time protection against malicious phishing websites and harmful software like trojans and spyware.
Why I picked Malwarebytes: I picked Malwarebytes as it offers powerful malware protection at an affordable cost for small businesses. You can get its business plan for endpoint protection at almost the same rate as the personal plans of other antivirus services. I think Malwarebytes is an excellent value-for-money antivirus and antimalware solution that's effective and reliable.
Malwarebytes Standout Features and Integrations:
In my view, the standout features of Malwarebytes are Ransomware Rollback and Browser Guard. The rollback feature creates local backups of your files and enables you to restore them in case of a ransomware attack. With the Browser Guard extension, Malwarebytes blocks third-party trackers and protects you against online scams and malicious programs during internet browsing.
Malwarebytes supports Windows, macOS, Chromebook, iOS, and Android devices.
Pricing: From $3.75 per month for 1 device (billed annually)
Trial: Free version available
- Can clean up existing infections
- Offers brute force protection against hackers
- High-speed VPN to protect your privacy
- Lack of parental controls
- No firewall and webcam protection
9. G Data Antivirus- Best advanced protection powered by artificial intelligence
G Data Antivirus is an advanced antivirus program to secure your devices and prevent viruses, rootkits, spyware, malware, and other suspicious attacks.
Why I picked G Data Antivirus: I chose G Data Antivirus due to its powerful dual malware engine and AI-enhanced technology to reveal hidden malware. It can also scan removable media like USB devices or hard disks for suspicious files and quarantine infected files.
G Data Standout Features and Integrations:
To me, G Data’s standout features are its DeepRay and BEAST technologies. These in-house technologies are based on AI and behavioral analysis to detect advanced malware and suspicious network activities that lesser scanners might miss.
G Data Antivirus works with Windows and macOS devices, but you have to purchase a separate license for both. Its pricier plans also support Android devices.
Pricing: From $29.95/year for one Windows device
Trial: Free 30-day trial
- Supports spam filtering
- Blocks malicious links during browsing
- Low system impact
- No multi-device licensing in starting plan
- No firewall in starting plan
10. Webroot - Best for fast scans
Webroot is a lightweight and fast antivirus platform that protects Windows and Mac devices. It's completely cloud-based, so offers real-time protection against the latest malicious threats without taking up space on your system.
Why I picked Webroot: I picked Webroot because of its ease of use, quick setup, and blazing-fast scans. I think Webroot is ideal if you need versatile and efficient antivirus software that is lightweight on your devices.
Webroot Standout Features and Integrations:
Some of the standout features of Webroot are built-in firewall and network protection, real-time anti-phishing, and identity theft protection. Its firewall and network monitor can block unauthorized traffic while your usernames, account numbers, and other personal information are secured with its identity protection. On top of Webroot's faster setup and scans, I think these features further enhance the credibility of Webroot as an effective antivirus software.
Webroot supports PCs and Macs.
Pricing: From $23.99 for 1st year (1 device)
Trial: 14-day free trial
- Fast deployment
- Small size and minimum usage of system resources
- Built-in firewall protection
- Confusing UI for advanced features
- Limited features in the basic plan
11. QuickHeal Antivirus Pro - Best affordable antivirus for individuals and solopreneurs
QuickHeal Antivirus Pro is a user-friendly and affordable antivirus platform. It’s comprehensive security features protect you against malware, dynamic modern threats, and Wi-Fi vulnerabilities.
Why I picked QuickHeal Antivirus Pro: I chose QuickHeal Antivirus Pro because it provides robust protection features at an affordable cost, which makes it an ideal solution for individuals and solopreneurs. It’s an all-in-one security suite with a built-in firewall and network monitoring tool.
QuickHeal Antivirus Pro Standout Features and Integrations:
In my opinion, the standout features of QuickHeal Antivirus Pro are its anti-keylogger and real-time ransomware protection. The anti-keylogger protects your data from hackers, whereas the ransomware protection blocks unauthorized access to your systems and secures your data.
QuickHeal Antivirus Pro supports Windows devices only.
Pricing: From $12.00 for a one-year, one-device license (first year)
Trial: 30-day free trial
- Has firewall protection with a Wi-Fi network monitoring tool
- Can prevent zero-day attacks with AI-powered predictive malware technology
- Browser sandbox functionality for extra safe online browsing
- No phishing protection and safe banking feature in the antivirus product
- Can impact system performance
12. Panda Dome - Best all-in-one security solution for power users
Panda Dome is a security software that uses cloud-based, AI-powered technology to detect and block unknown malware software and advanced cyberattacks.
Why I picked Panda Dome: I chose Panda Dome because of its all-around digital protection and advanced features for power users who need something more than usual malware protection. This includes dark web scanning, which is a rarity in free and basic plans of other antivirus solutions. It also has a free forever plan with essential functionalities that you can upgrade anytime.
Panda Dome Standout Features and Integrations:
The standout features of Panda Dome for me are the Rescue Kit and Dark Web Monitor. The Rescue Kit allows you to boot infected systems through a rescue USB drive; this is an excellent feature for recovering your PC that might not start due to infection. I also like its dark web scanning feature that alerts you in case your data becomes part of an accidental leak.
Panda Dome supports Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android devices,
Pricing: $26.24 for a one-year, one-device license
Trial: Free version available
- Intuitive and stylish user interface
- Firewall available in the essential plan
- Supports dark web monitoring in all plans
- Limited VPN on paid plans
- Can be expensive for multiple devices
Here are a few other antivirus solutions that are worth mentioning, even though they didn’t make it to the top list:
- Vipre - Best user-friendly security suite with privacy features
- TotalAV - Best affordable security solution with extra features
- Comodo - Best free security suite with advanced features like sandboxing
- Emsisoft - Best for small and mid-sized businesses
- Heimdal Thor Premium - Best for multi-layered scanning protection
- ZoneAlarm - Best for advanced firewall with anti-phishing and anti-ransomware features
- Windows Defender - Best for Windows 10 systems
- Kaspersky - Best for all-round security and privacy protection
Selection Criteria For Antivirus Software
Here's a short summary of the main selection and evaluation criteria I used to develop my antivirus software list for this article:
Good antivirus software must have some standard functionalities like:
- Detects and protects against a wide range of unknown malware software, including viruses, ransomware, Trojans, spyware, and other malicious threats
- Runs with minimal impact on system speed and performance
- Allows for easy configuration options and gives clear security status
- Enables you to browse safely online by protecting against malicious URLs
Based on the above functionalities, here are some key features that I evaluated to prepare this shortlist of best antivirus applications of 2023:
- Full, quick, and custom scans: Good antivirus solutions should give you the flexibility to conduct both comprehensive and personalized scans.
- Spyware and ransomware detection: Antivirus tools must have updated and effective malware definitions to safeguard against the latest spyware threats and ransomware attacks.
- Firewall, VPN, and web protection: The software should be able to secure your online browsing through firewall, VPN service, and web filtering.
- Email security: The app should protect your email communications by scaning links and files to mitigate risks such as dangerous attachments and phishing attempts.
A good user experience enhances the usability and effectiveness of the software. Antivirus applications should have a user-friendly interface that makes it easy to navigate, customize settings, and understand the overall security status of your systems.
What are viruses, malware, and ransomware?
What's the difference between a full scan and a quick scan?
Is it necessary to have antivirus software if I have a Mac or Linux operating system?
Other Security Software Reviews
An antivirus software is just one component of your online security. Need a recommendation for another cybersecurity product? Consider these recommendations from our expert reviewers here at the CTO:
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I hope this analysis of top antivirus software in 2023 will help you make the right choice to protect your online activities and devices from evolving cyber threats.
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