Best Antivirus Software 2021

Cyberattacks are increasing, with data breaches that compromise personal information being one of them. An antivirus program is one of the best ways you can protect yourself. It will keep your data safe both locally and online. I spent many months testing and reviewing the best antivirus programs available for 2021. These recommendations will ensure that your computer, mobile device, and network are as secure as possible, even though there have been no major changes in the past year. Bitdefender Antivirus Plus, the best antivirus program that provides real-time protection and stops threats from downloading to your computer. There are many other great programs available, some of which can be used on mobile devices. To see a full list, check out my top picks for Android antivirus apps.Best Antivirus Overall: Bitdefender Antivirus PlusSource: Nicole Johnston/ Android CentralIn my tests, Bitdefender has consistently received perfect or high scores in malware protection from several third party labs. This antivirus software deserves to be ranked as the top. It prevents Trojans, rootkits and ransomware from infecting your computer. With the safe browser extension, you can also block these threats from getting into your computer via the internet. Bitdefender can also detect phishing schemes and warn you. Safe browsing is enabled so it can tag search results as safe or unsafe to click through. Bitdefender recognized sites that contained malicious files and linked to malware and blocked access to the entire site when I tested it.Antivirus Plus is Bitdefender’s most basic solution. However, it still includes a password manager as well as secure file shredder. You can also use it to monitor activity on social networks pages and alert you if there's been a malicious link shared. Antivirus Plus has a vulnerability scanner which scans your system for weaknesses and helps you protect it against hackers and ransomware. These vulnerabilities can include corrupted drives or outdated software programs. Bitdefender provides safe links to download updates and patches. This makes it easy for you not to have to guess if the links you find online are genuine.Bitdefender Antivirus Plus does not include a personal firewall. Although your operating system may already have one, it is important to have a second layer of protection. Standard firewalls are not sufficient to protect against all threats. Antivirus software does a better job. Bitdefender Total Security is Bitdefender's top-tiered program. It includes parental controls and a device optimizer.Bitdefender's other drawback is the time it takes to scan for vulnerabilities and viruses. Bitdefender takes 40 minutes to complete some scans. This is compared to other antivirus programs that take only a few minutes.Pros: Real-time protectionAutomated removal of threatsProtection of social mediaSafety browsing extension Cons: Long scansNo firewallBest overall - Bitdefender Antivirus Plus Standard Prevents malware from downloading and then immediately removes it from your computer. Bitdefender - $30/yearKaspersky Total Security is another good optionSource: Nicole Johnston/ Android CentralKaspersky Total Security has been the program that I have installed on my computer. It's so light that I don't even notice it is running in the background. The protection I receive is almost perfect. Kaspersky protects me from danger when I browse the internet and download files. Kaspersky will remove any malware that has made it through my computer's firewall and delete it before it can infect it. If you're looking for an easy solution, Kaspersky is a great choice.Kaspersky offers a virtual keyboard that other antivirus programs do not offer. This allows you to type any information and protects it against keyloggers and trackers. You can type anything into the search bar. If you use this virtual keyboard to enter login information or credit card numbers they will also be protected.Kaspersky's parental controls are also impressive for mobile and computer devices. I can remotely lock down my devices, block apps and websites, and set limits on the time my children can be online. Kaspersky blocks all internet access after that time limit. Kaspersky Total Protection includes an encrypted vault that protects files from ransomware, a firewall that monitors your internet connection and safe browsing that alerts you to suspicious websites and phishing scams.Kaspersky is being accused of using its antivirus programs to collect classified information from U.S. government agency workers and then funneling this information to Russia. This has made many people hesitant about trusting Kaspersky. The Kaspersky security software is no longer used by the U.S. government on its computers. However, it can still be used by consumers. Kaspersky made good faith efforts to move all operations from Russia to other countries including the U.K. and U.S. where they are subjected to privacy laws and third party inspections.ProsParental controlHigh scores for malware protectionCons: Not recommended by government employeesKaspersky Total Security 2021 is another good option. It quietly guards against malware. Kaspersky works fast to stop it and doesn't require many resources. This means you won't feel any slowdown. Kaspersky Total Security 2021 - Starting at $50/yearVIPRE Advanced Security is the Best AntivirusSource: Nicole Johnston/ Android CentralVIPRE is a simple antivirus program that does not consume too much resources and doesn't overwhelm users with too many features. VIPRE does an excellent job of stopping malicious files from being downloaded and quarantining them before they can infect your computer. VIPRE will also monitor your email and quarantine any messages that contain malicious attachments or links. This allows you open the messages in confidence and decide whether to keep them or toss them.VIPRE also includes a firewall, which is another reason why I love it. This firewall is second only to malware protection and should be part of your overall security system. VIPRE's firewall monitors your internet connection as well as all communications going in and out. This firewall is a great way to prevent hackers and other snoopers from getting in on public Wi-Fi networks that are less secure than at home or at work.VIPRE is very simple and doesn't require a lot of resources. VIPRE was so simple that I could surf the internet, download files, play games, and send emails with no noticeable slowdown while testing it.VIPRE requires some practice to navigate its dashboard. The dashboard is not designed like other solutions and some tools can be difficult to find. The dashboard allows you to do everything, even enabling browser extensions.Pros: Dependable malware protectionIncluded is a firewallIt doesn't cause slowdownLearn slowlyVIPRE Advanced Security - Best Basic Antivirus: VIPRE Premium Security. VIPRE is a powerful security product that offers protection against all threats. It doesn't have a lot but it does provide protection almost flawlessly and includes a vital firewall. VIPRE: Starting at $20/yearBest Free Antivirus: Avast Free AntivirusSource: Nicole Johnston/ Android CentralAvast offers free antivirus software. Avast Free Antivirus comes with many extra features such as a password manager, home network security, and more. Avast Free Antivirus even comes with a VPN that hides your online identity from trackers and adware. The dashboard of Avast is simple to use. It doesn't take too long to find the tools you need and how to adjust them to your preferences.Avast's automatic gamer mode is my favorite feature and why it's installed on several of my childrens' devices. This tool automatically detects when you visit an online game site and redirects resources away from critical functions to ensure you play without being interrupted or experiencing slowdowns. Avast will continue to monitor your computer for threats and alert you if you try to download any game or visit a hazardous website.Avast is a program that waits for malicious files to be downloaded before it grabs the threat and quarantines it. This was something I noticed while testing the program. Although this is different to Bitdefender and Kaspersky, which don't allow downloads to begin, it still blocks threats from attacking. Avast scores above-average in malware protection, both from me and third-party labs.Avast is a free program. However, there are many pop-up advertisements that can get in your way when you open the dashboard, start your computer, or any other time. These ads can be avoided by enabling Avast's gamer mode, or buying a paid program. Avast Premium Security not only stops malware infecting computers, but it also protects other devices connected to your home network such as smart TVs and game consoles. Premium Security includes webcam monitoring.ProsGaming mode that is automaticVPN built-inExtra features like a password manager Cons: Popup adsAvast Antivirus Free Antivirus Best Protection: Avast Antivirus Top Protection for Free Avast's antivirus program is free and protects you from malware threats. It also offers network security and a VPN. Avast offers free antivirus protectionMcAfee Total Security is the best VPNSource: Nicole Johnston/ Android CentralMcAfee has persevered over the years to overcome many setbacks. It wasn't a well-known program for many years. It was a waste of time and caused a slowdown. McAfee is now so efficient that it frequently ranks at the top of the list for the most effective and reliable antivirus solutions. McAfee has always received perfect or very close to perfect scores in malware protection over the years that I have been testing it. Although it causes some slowdown, it doesn't cause any major problems. It causes a noticeable slowdown on mobile devices than it does on PCs or Mac computers.This program includes everything you need to protect your family's devices, including encrypted online storage as well as protections for cryptocurrency accounts. The antivirus program includes a secure VPN, which blocks access to your online identity. This makes it harder for hackers and others to track your online activities. It includes a firewall as well as a system scanner to scan your system for potential vulnerabilities and optimize it so it runs faster.McAfee Total Protection offers many useful tools for families. You can be sure that no one or program will tap into your computer through the webcam monitoring. The webcam also features excellent parental controls and content filters that make it easy for parents to block inappropriate content. You can set time limits that will prevent your child from accessing the internet during their screen time, or at other critical times like dinner or bedtime.Pros of the VPNParental controlMonitoring a webcamCryptocurrency accounts protectedCon-of-the-Firewall: Some devices may experience slowdownsMcAfee Total security is the best VPN. It provides increased online security and protects you from malware threats. McAfee starts at $25/yearBest for ID Protection: Norton 360 and LifeLockSource: Nicole Johnston/ Android CentralNorton is a well-known name in the antivirus industry. It is ranked among the top antivirus solutions. Norton 360's partnership with LifeLock is what makes it so valuable. This helps protect your identity. LifeLock monitors black markets and will alert you if your email address or birthdate, social security number, online login credentials, or email address are being illegally sold. It also monitors places that are not often associated with identity theft such as criminal and medical records. LifeLock can help you recover your identity if it is stolen. It will also assist you in contacting the IRS and credit reporting agencies.Norton 360 offers safe browsing tools that can tag malicious websites that may have links or phishing schemes. Sometimes, even after a website is removed, visiting the URL can still trigger a malicious file download. Norton was one of the few antivirus softwares I tested that caught these threats.The antivirus software includes a VPN that hides your online identity. This VPN also protects your IP address and your location. It protects you against adware, tracers and helps reduce targeted ads. Norton has additional banking tools that will protect your financial and personal information as well as your bank account and online shopping. Keyloggers cannot access login credentials or credit card information.Norton caused a noticeable slowdown on all my personal devices that I downloaded it to. This is the main reason why I don't use it. It didn't happen in lab tests, where there were fewer apps or programs installed. But on my home computer, it was a painfully slow drag.Pros of LifeLock ID ProtectionGreat protection against malwareBanking tools that are safeConvenient VPN Cons: Notable slowdown across all devicesExpensiveNorton 360 with LifeLock ID Protection Keeps an Eye on the Dark Web In partnership with LifeLock Norton helps protect your digital and personal identity from the black market. Norton starting at $100/yearTrend Micro Security + Antivirus is the best for bankingSource: Nicole Johnston/ Android CentralTrend Micro is a large program that feels heavy from the beginning. It was the most difficult program to learn how to use. Trend Micro was a great antivirus solution once it was installed and all the necessary tools were found. In all of my years of testing antivirus software this is the only program that scored 100% every time. It does slow down, but it's not enough to make it my top choice for antivirus software.The web reputation technology of this antivirus software allows it to instantly detect if a website is legitimate or fraudulent. Trend Micro will warn you if you click on a link that redirects you to a fake website. Trend Micro is very adept at identifying phishing schemes as well as dangerous websites.Its Pay Guard is one of the most useful tools. Pay Guard is a tool that protects your financial and personal information online. Pay Guard keeps your bank account and credit card numbers in a secure vault so that you don't need to enter them during checkout. Pay Guard also protects your browser so that this information cannot be stolen or captured.The best protection possiblePay GuardWeb reputation technology cons: It's difficult to set upCreates noticeable dragTrend Micro Antivirus + Security Additional precautions for shopping and banking Trend micro has the highest level of security when it comes online transactions protection with Pay Guard. Trend Micro: Starting at $30/yearBest Network Protections - ESET Internet SecuritySource: Nicole Johnston/ Android CentralESET offers many computer protection programs. However, its Internet Security program is the best. It provides both basic antivirus protection and more advanced security tools. It blocked threats from entering my computer through internet downloads and network communication. Additionally, it stopped potentially infected websites loading.The antivirus system employs a Host Intrusion Protection System to detect new threats that aren't yet listed in the malware database. ESET can recognize the typical behavior and code patterns of threats in order to prevent any suspicious activity from infecting your system. This tool can also be used to monitor your network connections and all devices that are connected to them, including cell phones and gaming systems. Connected Home by ESET will notify you if there is any suspicious communication, files or attempt to hack your network and install malware via your internet connection. ESET Internet Security also includes safe banking, webcam monitoring and a gamer mode.ESET is simple to install and use. The virus scans thoroughly checked each file for any problems. It took a while, sometimes over 10 hours, to complete. Thankfully, the scans were not too slow and I was able to still use my computer and surf the internet while they were being done. Although I noticed that it took some time for websites to load and an app to be deployed, I didn't feel any interruption. ESET blocked several legitimate websites and tagged them as potential threats. I was not given the option to remove the block. This is my only complaint. Some of these websites were used as online tools for work, so it was necessary to remove the program.Network of Pros and MonitorsBlocks both known and unknown malwareOther security tools, such as safe banking Cons: Scans can take a while to completeBlocks legitimate webpagesESET Internet Security 2021 Edition - The best network protection ESET Internet Security monitors your network to make sure it is secure. ESET: Starting at $50/yearMalwarebytes is the best for current infectionsSource: Nicole Johnston/ Android CentralSometimes, it can feel like installing antivirus software is too difficult or expensive. Although your iOS may have some antivirus protections, they aren’t foolproof. Viruses and other threats could sneak into your system. Your computer may be slowing down, closing browsers and programs suddenly, redirecting you to pages you don't want to visit, or if it isn't responding to your requests. Malware is intelligent enough to detect antivirus programs and prevent you from downloading a large number of them. Malwarebytes, however, is a program that can outsmart viruses. It allows you to easily download it.Malwarebytes is free and will start scanning your system for threats as soon as it is installed. Malwarebytes is not like other malware-locating programs that offer free tools. It doesn't just locate threats and then leaves the task of removing them up to you. Malwarebytes not only finds threats but also quarantines them and permanently deletes them.This program does not provide real-time protection and cannot protect against future threats. Bitdefender antivirus program is required to do this. Malwarebytes is unable to recognize and stop most ransomware infections. It is, however, the best way to get rid of ransomware infections that have been downloaded and are causing havoc on your computer.Pros already have threats on your deviceThis program is freeDoesn't stop ransomwareMalwarebytes is the best malware removal tool for current infections. It detects and removes all threats to your computer. Malwarebytes offers a free serviceBest Computer Backup: Acronis True Image 2021Source: Nicole Johnston/ Android CentralAcronis is a well-known cloud storage solution that has been used for many years. Ransomware can't lock your files or hold them hostage until you pay the ransom. This makes it harder for ransomware. You can instead reset your computer, scrub it, and then reinstall Acronis files and folders. Your computer will work as if nothing happened. This tool is great for restoring your data to a new computer in the event of a crash.Acronis True Image 2021 also includes additional cybersecurity features such as virus protection. True Image will quickly quarantine any threats and block malware from hiding on your computer. It will alert you about potential dangers lurking on dangerous websites. Third-party testing laboratories like AV Test and AV Comparatives don't test Acronis' ability to stop malware regularly, so it doesn't have a lot of data. My own tests showed that Acronis stopped most malware threats and found some hidden files on my computers. It was also able to block malicious websites that could harbor phishing scams or corrupt downloads.Acronis has its limitations. Acronis is cloud-based but will still make use of some resources on your computer to deploy local tools. Although I was able to continue working while Acronis was running, there was enough lag to be noticeable when browsing web pages or waiting for videos to load. Gamers who want to avoid drag during playtime wouldn't find this a good solution. A system scan can take several hours. I appreciate the thoroughness of Acronis, and there was no slowdown during my scan. It was just too slow.ProsCloud backup storageMalicious website and download blocking Cons: Not as frequently tested as other antivirus softwareAllow for a little slower paceIt takes hours to run system scansAcronis TrueImage 2021 - Best Computer Backup Keep your files safe from ransomware. Acronis can backup your files to protect them from ransomware. Acronis starting at $50/yearHere are the reasons Bitdefender is the bestBitdefender Antivirus Plus is overall the best antivirus program due to how fast and thoroughly it blocks malware. It prevents malicious files from ever starting the downloading process. It also blocks phishing and marks potentially dangerous websites. Additionally, it includes social media protections and a VPN that alerts you to malware links and downloads on social media pages.Bitdefender is also an excellent value. It gives you multiple user licenses for the price of one with other antivirus programs. You can also use it on multiple devices so that you can secure both your computer and mobile phones with one program. Bitdefender's basic antivirus doesn't include a firewall and takes a lot of time to run all virus scans. This program isn't slow and won't drain your resources. You can still use the antivirus program to scan your device without any problems.Antivirus and data sharingAvast acknowledged that it had shared user information with partners and other companies. Although it has discontinued the program, Avast continues to gather information. Every antivirus program, regardless of whether it is on a PC, Mac or mobile device, asks permission to gather your data and take part in data sharing programs. Most people don't like this, especially if it comes from a company that is supposed protect your data.Source: Nicole Johnston/ Android CentralData collection by antivirus programs is primarily used to gather information about new and emerging viruses. This information is used for preventing new viruses from infecting more computers. This information is essential to prevent ransomware and other malicious threats from spreading. It helps antivirus programs learn common behavior so they can prevent new threats (also known as zero-day threat), before they infect computers. It wouldn't take long before malware would be rampant if everyone turned off data sharing.Research is another reason data collection is necessary. There are many excellent options in the antivirus industry. Antivirus software can collect information about users to create better versions and better serve customers. There will always be companies who sell this information to make a profit. You have the option to opt out of antivirus programs.Credits to the team who worked on this guideNicole Johnston is a writer for several Future Publishing brands including Android Central. She focuses on privacy and internet security. Her experience includes over 14 years in research and writing, both in the private and public sectors. She has eight years of consumer product testing and review, six years evaluating parental controls, VPNs and antivirus software, as well as six years evaluating identity theft services.