Antivirus software is used to detect, prevent and remove viruses and spyware, stop hacking and phishing attacks and protect consumers from identity theft. This software is essential to prevent loss of data and personal information and to keep computers and mobile devices running effectively.

Most antivirus software now runs on PC, Mac and Android and iOS mobile devices and may include a firewall to prevent access to computers and networks. Parental monitoring options keep minors protected by limiting access to selected websites.

Top 10 Best Rated Antivirus Software

Avast is a company that is dedicated to making people around the world safe. The company offers three levels of protection - Free Antivirus, Internet Security and Premier.
Webroot's SecureAnywhere is a cloud-based anti-virus product that protects PC users from viruses, malware, identity theft and more. The company was founded in 1997, and it is headquartered in Colorado.
Norton AntiVirus is a virus-protection program developed by Symantec. It offers an array of security services for computer protection and also provides consumers with educational resources on how to stay safe online.
Kaspersky's anti-virus software provides real-time protection from known and emerging security threats and helps improve the performance of PCs. The company first released this product in 2006.
AVG is a company that focuses on the digital protection and privacy for its customers. It offers cloud-based security solutions as well as security software to meet the distinct needs of consumers and businesses.
Trend Micro offers a wide range of security solutions for protecting consumers and businesses on multiple devices. The company was founded in 1988 and is headquartered in the Las Colinas area of Irving, Texas.
McAfee specializes in comprehensive anti-virus solutions and technology-security services for both consumers and businesses worldwide. The company, based in Santa Clara, California, is a subsidiary of Intel.
ESET is a company dedicated to providing virus-protection solutions for both home and corporate users. It creates different types of anti-virus security products that work across a range of platforms.
BullGuard Antivirus offers comprehensive protection against different types of viruses, spyware, and malware. The company was founded in 2002, and it offers live customer support 24 hours a day.
Avira Antivirus is a product that is dedicated to keeping your technology devices safe and data private. The company that created the product, Avira, has been in existence for more than 25 years.

Shelley Elmblad is a freelance writer with years of experience covering small business, personal finance and tax software and mobile apps. Shelley’s goal is to help others choose the best software to run a small business, track personal finances and save money.

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What features matter most?

Security service

Security service

Consumers should decide what type of antivirus service they are interested in. There are three basic types of antivirus software.

  • Installed software: Many companies offer software via download or DVD that’s installed on the computer and device. The software detects existing viruses and stops new infections.
  • Cloud-based: Other companies provide cloud-based services that monitor devices and scan suspicious files in the cloud in order to speed up response times.
  • Parental monitoring: Some companies also offer parental monitoring that can track the websites that are visited and limit access to certain sites.

Warranty

Warranties are good to have no matter what type of service a consumer is paying for. They help to cover different aspects of the service in the event something goes wrong.

  • Unhappy with service: If a consumer is unhappy with antivirus software, some warranties offer a refund within a certain period of time.
  • Data protection: Some antivirus companies offer money back if a virus or malware is found and the software can’t remove it.
  • Software glitch: A warranty may also cover issues with the software or offer free upgrades if a known issue occurs.

Pricing

Pricing

Antivirus companies can have vastly different pricing structures. Depending on the needs of the consumer, certain plans might be more appealing than others.

  • One-time purchase: Many antivirus software companies offer a one time download or a software DVD for a flat fee with upgrades being required annually or later. Antivirus signatures that define what the software blocks are updated as they become available.
  • Subscription services: Customers who opt for a subscription service get software updates as they happen along with antivirus signature updates. Subscriptions are annual and can renew automatically, and some companies offer a discount for multiple-year subscriptions.
  • Tiered pricing: Many companies have different tiers of pricing, usually with a basic but effective antivirus software version and one or more higher-priced versions with more features.

History

A company's history can be very informative when it comes to choosing which antivirus software company to work with.

  • Former clients: Check out the company's list of former clients to see if they have worked with any clients in your industry before.
  • 
Reputation: Working with established companies will sometimes result in fewer issues than brand new ones that are still working out issues.
  • Rate of progress: Consumers should pay attention to how often a company comes out with new products and updates its existing products and try to work only with companies that are constantly progressing.

Business vs. individual

Individual

Some companies focus on home computer security while others deal with businesses. Most antivirus companies serve both markets but prioritize one.

  • Parental monitoring: Home computers and other devices used by households with small children should look for companies that offer parental monitoring of computers.
  • 24/7 emergency assistance: Businesses should look for companies that can respond to security breaches immediately in order to minimize their effect.
  • Fast scans: Businesses should look for companies that perform fast scans daily or hourly to catch any security issues before they infect users.

Support

Customer support is a very important part of choosing an antivirus software company. Consumers should be confident that they are working with a company that has their best interests in mind and is available to assist them.

  • On-call assistance: If something goes wrong with the software or security service, the best companies will not only have technical experts on call to help but will have dedicated support personnel for each account in order to ensure that these issues are handled in a timely and efficient manner.
  • Sales: The sales process should go smoothly, but if you run into any problems support personnel should be available to help you find the product you need.
  • Warranties/refunds: The company should be able to quickly process warranty issues and refunds.

What are different types of antivirus software?

PC

PC antivirus software works by scanning your system for viruses. It runs in the background of your computer at all times, scanning Internet downloads, zip files, even Word documents, for suspicious activity including viruses, worms and malware. In addition to scanning every download, antivirus software will perform full-system scans on a set schedule, usually once a week. During these full-system scans, your software will make sure there aren’t any viruses hanging around dormant in unused files on your computer. You can buy PC antivirus software on a disc or have it downloaded and installed on your hard drive. Some PC software is available as a free download, while other systems come at a price. Typically, the free PC antivirus software will do the major tasks you need including checking for viruses and malware and performing routine system scans. The benefits of paying for PC antivirus software include access to a 24/7 help desk, parental controls and more elaborate firewalls to block intrusions.

Mac

Many antivirus companies develop software for Mac computers. They provide antivirus services that works on Mac desktops, MacBooks, iPhones and iPads.

Cloud-based

Many companies provide cloud-based services. These are real-time services that detect something happening on a device and copy a fingerprint of it into the cloud in order to scan it immediately for viruses. This helps reduce the time it takes to detect suspicious activity or malware. The cloud works incredibly fast, making it a good choice if you have high-speed Internet. Another benefit of using cloud antivirus software is that cloud updates are done automatically by the cloud system, which means updates won’t interfere with your downloads or otherwise slow down your personal computer’s processing.

Mobile Devices

Most antivirus companies now offer apps for keeping smartphones and tablets free of malicious code with apps for Android, iOS and Windows Mobile devices. You can use one antivirus brand on your computer and another on your mobile devices if you like.

Who's it for?

Businesses

Many businesses, both large and small, run the risk of having their entire systems infected with viruses. This can cause the company to be unable to operate, sometimes for days at a time. It's important for businesses to make sure their computers are protected with antivirus software.

Individuals

Individuals who use computers or mobile devices to connect to the Internet at home or away from home should make sure their devices are protected from viruses. Antivirus software will help ensure that they don't have to make costly replacements to products that have been compromised.

Highly sensitive information

Some people or groups have to deal with highly sensitive information such as medical records, police files, financial information, etc. These groups need to have antivirus software that is even more secure than average users need along with the infrastructure to support the software across a large network.

Families

In addition to the needs of individuals working on home computers or mobile devices, families or households with children will need extra protection that monitors and filters Internet usage. This helps keep children safer while they are using the Internet and is a feature that many antivirus companies offer.

Company reviews

  • McAfee

    Founded in 1987, McAfee is a longstanding and trusted name in antivirus software for consumers and business because of how the company has continued to advance products to keep up with a changing industry over the years. Now a part of Intel Security Group, the brand will be eventually be renamed.

    • Global threat intelligence: McAfee uses this process, which collects data from millions of sources from around the globe, to offer real-time protection against viruses and other malicious threats.
    • Protection for all devices: One McAfee subscription with a 30-day money back guarantee includes antivirus protection for all PCs, Macs, iOS and Android phones and tablets and Android watches. Anti-theft features for mobile devices lock down the device and can locate it when lost or stolen.
    • Parental controls: This feature offers filtering and monitoring of what children can access and see when they are online. You’ll have to upgrade to McAfee Total Protection at $89.99 to get parental controls. Two other options cost $79.99 and $59.99, and discounts may be offered for the first year.
    • True Key Identity Manager: This is a secure software password vault that is used to log into mobile apps, websites and devices using a combination of facial recognition, fingerprint or devices.
    • Home network scanning: McAfee can scan a home Wi-Fi network to detect unprotected devices.
    • Best for Families, businesses and people handling highly sensitive information.
  • AVG Antivirus

    AVG Technologies specializes in software for consumer and business internet security, personal privacy and identity protection. Founded in 1991, AVG now serves over 200 million monthly active users.

    • Works across devices: AVG has developed antivirus software that works on PC, Mac, Windows Phone and Android and iOS phones and tablets.
    • Free: AVG’s basic antivirus software is enough to support most basic needs and is free to download. Upgrade to AVG Pro for $59.99 to add a firewall, password protection and more with a 30-day money back guarantee.
    • Remote protection: Scan PCs for viruses and remove viruses remotely with your mobile phone.
    • Link Scanner: This feature works while you are on a website, Twitter or Facebook. AVG analyzes links in all three places to keep you from clicking on a link that will install malicious software or take you to a criminal website.
    • Community and real time protection: When an AVG user encounters a new threat, the software automatically sends updates to protect all users. Outbreak Detection technology finds the newest malware outbreaks in real-time.
    • Best for Individuals and families.
  • Norton Security (formerly Norton Antivirus)

    Norton Antivirus has been protecting computers since 1982 and was purchased by the software development company Symantec in 1991. The Norton Security division offers antivirus and other security solutions for home and business.

    • Works across devices: Norton Security works across all PCs, Macs, smartphones and tablets, but you will have to upgrade to the deluxe or premium version to protect multiple devices. Annual subscriptions range from $59.99 to $89.99 across three versions, and discounts are offered for the first year of protection.
    • Norton Power Eraser: If you suspect that traces of malware remain after scanning your computer, you can use the Power Eraser to restart your computer and then dig even deeper to detect the most aggressive malware.
    • Strong anti-phishing: Norton uses several layers of security to detect fraudulent websites that try to steal your personal information. This stops identity theft.
    • Award winning software: Over the years, Norton has been awarded by PC Magazine as a top choice in antivirus software. Awards were granted after thorough testing.
    • 100% guarantee: If Norton Security can’t clean a virus from your computer or device at any time during your subscription, you will get your money back.
    • Best for Individuals and businesses.
  • Trend Micro

    Trend Micro is a global security software company that was founded in Los Angeles, CA, in 1988. They develop security software for the home, business and cloud computing environments.

    • Free trial: The company offers a 30-day free trial. Trend Micro is available for PC, Mac, Android, iOS and Kindle devices. There’s a 30-day money back guarantee on paid products.
    • Security options: A number of different price points are available depending on which level of security is needed for one or multiple PCs priced from $34.95 to $49.95. Mac software is $29.95 per computer.
    • Web monitoring: Trend Micro can monitor and control which websites are visited to prevent kids or employees from visiting certain sites.
    • Ransomware protection: Ransomware encrypts files to make them inaccessible, then the computer user is charged a fee to get a key to decrypt files so they can be used again. If Trend Micro detects an attempt to encrypt files, it quickly backs up those files up then fights the encryption.

    • Social network privacy: Trend Micro checks privacy settings on Facebook, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn and lets you know if you’re open to identity theft.
    • Best for Individuals, families and businesses.
  • Kaspersky Anti-Virus

    Kaspersky Anti-Virus was developed in 2006 by Kaspersky Lab, an international security company that operates worldwide with 300 million users. Kaspersky Lab is based in the U.K. with U.S. headquarters in Massachusetts.

    • Free trial: Kaspersky offers free trial downloads for Windows PC, Mac and Android, and business antivirus with applications for servers as well as desktop computers. There is no version for iOS devices.
    • Many price points: Antivirus software options range from $19.99 to $99.99, often with deep discounts. The highest option, Total Security, protects up to five computers and mobile devices of your choice. There is a 30-day money back guarantee.

    • Home and business options: There are three levels of antivirus software for home use offering basic to ultimate protection. Business solutions are defined by business size with three levels from small business to enterprise environments.
    • Virus & Spyware Removal: If your computer is not running optimally or you suspect there’s malware before you install the antivirus software, Kaspersky can remotely connect to your computer to find problems, and remove malware hiding deep in your system. The service costs $99.99.
    • Virtual keyboard: This technology lets the user enter passwords and other data using mouse clicks instead of a keyboard so keyloggers can’t capture this information.
    • Best for Individuals, families, people handling highly sensitive information and businesses.
  • Webroot AntiVirus

    Webroot Inc. is the largest private company that provides Internet security for individuals and businesses. Founded in Boulder, CO, in 1997 with offices around the world, over 7 million consumers, 1.5 million business users and 1.3 million mobile users are protected by Webroot.

    • Home security: Home antivirus software is offered for PC, Mac, and Android and iOS tablets and smartphones. Prices range from $19.99 to 79.99, but those prices are frequently discounted. Webroot offers a 70-day money back guarantee, longer than most competitors.
    • Webroot Infrared: This multi-layered protection engine intelligently adapts to your changing security needs while identifying suspicious files and handling malware activity before it harms your system.
    • Enterprise level protection: Webroot's high-end, sophisticated security offers enterprise level systems and security vendors threat intelligence that is accurate and safe.
    • Business solutions: Endpoint Protection is antivirus and security software for Servers, VMs, PC, Mac, Android and iOS devices in small to medium business. Endpoint protects from infections and data theft without sacrificing network performance.
    • Identity Shield: This financial and identity theft prevention feature protects your passwords, credit card numbers and other personal data against theft by keyloggers and other malware attacks. Anti-ransomware is also included in the software.
    • Best for Individuals, families, people handling highly sensitive information and businesses.
  • ESET Antivirus

    ESET is an IT security company headquartered in Slovakia that  that was founded in 1992.  ESET produces a number of antivirus products for PC, Mac, Linux and Android, and iOS protection for businesses, all with a 30-day money back guarantee.

    • Multiple computer plans: ESET offers tiered pricing plans that run from $39.99 for one Mac or PC to $84.99 to cover up to 10 devices, including Android phones and tablets. Antivirus for business is higher-priced with more features for protecting sensitive data, such as in a medical office. iOS protection requires a file server, which is not an option for most home networks.
    • Parental control: ESET plans include parental control, which filters sites that one can visit by age group or content.
    • Customer service: ESET specifically notes that they provide US-based customer service. This prevents language barriers if you need help using the software.
    • Track lost devices: This feature lets you locate lost or stolen devices. You can also erase the devices remotely so no one can get at data on your phone, tablet or laptop.
    • Identity theft protection: ESET opens a special secure browser window whenever you make a purchase online or access an online banking site. ESET also helps keep your social media profiles safe.
    • Light footprint: ESET takes up 90 MB of space and keeps systems running without interruptions or slowing down computers.
    • Best for Individuals, businesses and families.
  • Avira Antivirus

    Avira Antivirus is a German multinational antivirus software company that offers Internet security for many different devices worldwide. In business since 1986, Avira launched one of the first antivirus programs.

    • Cloud-based scanning: Avira has a very high detection rate for cloud-based scanning. When a suspicious file is detected, it is checked in real time in the cloud for faster service.
    • Free: Avira offers free antivirus software, with more comprehensive protection with paid software Antivirus Pro at $44.99 and Internet Security Suite for $57.99. Instead of offering a firewall, Avira works with Windows Firewall. Avira is available for PC, Mac, Android and iOS devices. 30-day money back guarantee.
    • System tune up: The highest Avira version includes tools for keeping your computer running faster and encrypting files to prevent anyone from hacking into them.
    • Unwanted software shield: This feature finds potentially unwanted software that can be running from within legitimate software on your computer.
    • Easy to use: Avira’s dashboard is easy to use, and antivirus settings are easy to find so you can tweak them to fit how often you want your computer scanned.
    • Best for Individuals and businesses.
  • BullGuard Antivirus

    BullGuard Antivirus is a newer player in the antivirus software arena. Established in 2002 and headquartered in London, the company’s guiding principle is to provide security tools that are easy to use for the average user while maintaining the most advanced security technologies for PC and Android devices.

    • Free trial: Bullguard offers a 60-day free trial on their home page, and all seven antivirus and mobile backup software have a 15- to 30-day trial when downloaded from other areas of the site. Prices range from basic protection for $39.95 to a full suite of security tool for $99.95. Android security app is $19.95. Its upgrades are free and there’s a 30-day money back guarantee.
    • Customizable: Bullguard’s dashboard is a series of seven square panels that immediately identify where to click to refine settings for the antivirus, spam filter and other aspects of the software. Lower versions show grayed out squares to represent features that aren’t available unless the user upgrades.
    • Parental controls: Parental controls block access to suspicious websites, sets up filters to stop children from searching for things that could be damaging, limits time online, shows you the children’s web activity, stops sharing of private information such as an address and alerts you when a child tries to bypass settings.
    • Unwanted adware: Some programs contain adware or install browser toolbars and modify your system settings without your consent. BullGuard flags these programs and stops them from changing your settings.
    • PC Tune Up: This feature removes unnecessary files and frees up memory so your computer runs faster. Boot Manager shows what applications are running when you start the computer so you can disable the ones you don’t need for faster start up.
    • Best for Individuals and families.
  • Malwarebytes

    Malwarebytes.org - Malwarebytes started in 2004, and since then it has detected and removed over 5 billion pieces of malware while running alongside antivirus software. Today, more than 200 team members across the globe contribute to keeping Malwarebytes effective and up to date.

    • Multiple platforms: Malwarebytes runs on PC, Mac, Android and iOS devices to find worms, spyware, rootkits and more. You will need to install antivirus software separately; Malwarebytes detects and removes deep malicious code that is often not found by antivirus solutions.
    • Free: The free version of Malwarebytes is very capable at finding and removing malware, but does not run constantly in the background for real time protection. Upgrade to the paid PC premium version for $24.95 for more scanning options and always-on screening. Malwarebytes only offers a free version for Mac right now.
    • Business versions: Malwarebytes offers four business options with annual subscriptions for $29.95 per seat up to $49.95 per seat. Businesses with over 100 seats can contact sales to discuss pricing.
    • Chameleon technology: If your computer is infected, you won’t need a separate bootable disk to repair it. Malwarebytes’ Chameleon driver stops malware from terminating or modifying processes so you can remove malware immediately without restarting your computer.
    • Antivirus compatibility: Malwarebytes will run without a conflict on computers that have installed any of the antivirus software listed in this guide and many others.
    • Best for Individuals, business, families and people handling highly sensitive information.

  • Avast Antivirus

    Czech-based Avast was the first company to offer home network security and is dedicated to providing free antivirus protection to homes, schools and businesses around the world. Founded in 1988 and headquartered in Prague, Czech Republic, Avast also has locations in the USA, Germany, China, South Korea and Tawain.

    • Keeps your online activity private: Avast won’t sell your private information to anyone, including the NSA, CIA or government.
    • Unbreakable password: One unbreakable password protects all of your system’s other passwords.
    • International: Find a business partner around the world who speaks your language and can provide local service.
    • Saves schools money: Schools can get protection from threats and viruses for free without limitations on seats or time.
    • Avast SecureLine: Avast’s SecureLine protects your iOS devices so you can maintain a secure connection on the go.
    • No tracking with SecureLine: Avast SecureLine doesn’t keep logs of your online activity so what you do online is completely secure and untraceable.
    • Best for Individuals, schools and businesses.

11 – 11 Best Rated Antivirus Software