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The Best 5 Antivirus Software Programs of 2021

How GeeksByTheHour Rated the Best 5 Antivirus Software Programs of 2021:

  • Strong malware protection. We only recommend products that have proven to protect against the most advanced malware threats — not only viruses, but also spyware, rootkits, ransomware, and anything else that could cause me or my devices harm. We personally conducted dozens of malware tests, stress-tests, and CPU performance tests to make sure that these products can provide rock-solid protection against all viruses, malware, and other dangerous internet security threats with no bias, and just the results.
  • High-quality features. Most antivirus brands offer additional internet security features in their paid antivirus packages. But the majority of times, these extras are just flashy additions that will weigh your computer down and affect your device’s performance (not to mention increase the price). I personally tested each of the features for each of the products on this list to guarantee that each antivirus’s features are genuinely useful and effective, not just expensive, flashy extras.
  • Speed and efficiency. The best antivirus programs are lightweight and run smoothly — even on older or slower computers — across all of the software’s intended operating systems. I personally tested and measured how quick and efficient each antivirus on this list performed against all the other antivirus programs on the market.
  • Easy-to-use. Whether you’re an amateur or an expert, you need virus protection for your computers, your phones, and your tablets. We personally tested each antivirus software here to make sure that pretty much anyone will be able to set it up easily and use it properly.
  • Good value. Antivirus software can be a big investment. We considered all relevant factors such as web and browsing protection features, how many devices are covered, and whether or not there’s a free trial or money-back guarantee. We personally feel that all of these top antivirus programs provide great value!
  • For MAC Users Only: 🥉 Intego — Best antivirus for Mac as determined by Dr. Sky Houston after comparing it to all of the other Mac results (only for macOS systems).
  • For WINDOWS Users Only: WINDOWS DEFENDER is the best Antivirus as long as you maintain its Updates, use WinPatrol, and use MALWAREBYTES as a 1-2-3 Best of Breed PC Security Defense!
  1. Kaspersky Total Security

The best antivirus protection overall outside of the above-mentioned Intego (only if you are a Mac user).

Features:

Anti-theft: Yes

Backup software: Yes

Firewall: Yes

Game mode: Yes

Hardened browser: Yes

Parental controls: Yes

Password manager: Yes

Ransomware rollback: Yes

Webcam protection: Yes

Virtual keyboard: Yes

VPN: Limited upsell

Wi-Fi scanner: Yes

 Reasons to buy

+Excellent malware protection   +New stalkerware protection   +Password manager, parental controls

Reasons to avoid

-Limited VPN usage-Microphone protection hard to enable (we here at GeeksByTheHour are unbiased and only report testing results. With this being said, NONE of the Antivirus Software listed should be purchased based only on its VPN offerings. Instead, we advise strongly NordVPN if privacy and security in a VPN are important to you!

Kaspersky’s Windows products have excellent malware-detection scores and a light-to-moderate system-performance impact, the two most important criteria in our rankings.

The best antivirus software you can buy
Kaspersky offers excellent malware protection, lots of useful extra features and a light system impact with an easy-to-use interface.

 

  1. Bitdefender Antivirus Plus

The best value in antivirus software currently available.

Features:

Anti-theft: No

Backup software: No

Firewall: No

Game mode: Yes

Hardened browser: Yes

Parental controls: No

Password manager: Yes

Ransomware rollback: Yes

Webcam protection: No

Virtual keyboard: Yes

VPN: Limited upsell

Wi-Fi scanner: Yes

Reasons to buy

+Very good malware protection     +Lots of useful extra features       +GeeksByTheHour ranks it #2 overall in terms of virus protection, just 6 points lower than Kaspersky listed above!

Reasons to avoid

-Heavy background system impact

Bitdefender Antivirus Plus is our top choice among entry-level antivirus products. It has very good, if not perfect, malware-detection scores. Its active scans don’t add much to the background system impact, but that background load is a bit heavy.

It also offers the most value, with an unlimited password manager, a secure browser with a virtual keyboard, a Wi-Fi network scanner, a file shredder, protection against encrypting ransomware and Bitdefender’s new web-privacy software — features often found only with pricier antivirus packages.

The midrange Bitdefender Internet Security adds parental controls, webcam protection and a two-way firewall, while Bitdefender Total Security tops off the lineup with an anti-theft feature for laptops, a system optimizer and licenses for Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac and Bitdefender Mobile Security for Android.

A fourth product, Bitdefender Premium Security, is basically Total Security with unlimited VPN usage and priority tech support. (The other programs limit you to 200MB of Bitdefender VPN usage per day.)

But the best deal is the Bitdefender Family Pack, which puts Total Security on up to 15 devices for (a frequently discounted) $120 per year.

 

  1. Norton 360 Deluxe

Lots of products, but no file shredder, file encryption or secure web browser options.

Features

Anti-theft: No

Backup software: Yes

Firewall: Yes

Game mode: Yes

Hardened browser: No

Parental controls: Yes

Password manager: Yes

Ransomware rollback: No

Webcam protection: Yes

VPN: Unlimited

Reasons to buy

+Excellent malware protection    +LifeLock identity protection with top tiers

+Parental controls, backup software, online storage, password manager, webcam protection, unlimited VPN.

 Reasons to avoid

-Heavy slowdown during full scans         -Pricey

All nine of Norton’s antivirus products offer excellent malware protection, and the once-heavy system-performance load is much lighter. The number of extra features each program has varies according to price, but the sweet spot in the lineup is Norton 360 Deluxe. 

It includes a password manager, unlimited VPN service, dark-web personal-data monitoring, parental controls and up to 50GB of online storage space. Two retail-only offerings, Norton 360 Premium and Norton 360 Platinum, give you more online storage and expand the antivirus and VPN coverage to 10 and 20 devices, respectively.

If you want full-on identity protection, Norton offers three bundles with varying degrees of LifeLock service and even more online storage space. Their annual subscription prices run well into the triple digits, but still cost less than if you were to buy the identity protection, password manager, cloud-backup storage and antivirus software separately.

Unlike some of the other best antivirus software makers, Norton doesn’t offer a file shredder, file encryption or secure web browser with any of its products. Yet every other digital-protection service you could possibly ask for is included with at least some of its bundles.

 

  1. McAfee Internet Security

A bargain for big families, but far from perfect protection

Features

Anti-theft: No

Backup software: No

Firewall: Yes

Game mode: Yes

Hardened browser: No

Parental controls: No

Password manager: Yes

Ransomware rollback: Yes

Webcam protection: No

Virtual keyboard: No

VPN: No

Reasons to buy

+Protects lots of machines for cheap    +Password manager       +Improving malware protection

 Reasons to avoid

-Very heavy performance hit       -No parental controls on mid-priced tier.

McAfee’s malware detection has improved greatly in the past couple of years, but it’s still not quite top-of-the-line. 

Despite that, the entry-level McAfee AntiVirus Plus is a bargain: $60 per year buys software for up to 10 (in practice, unlimited) devices, whether they run Windows, macOS, iOS or Android, and the software comes with a file shredder and a two-way firewall. 

McAfee Internet Security adds one of the best password managers in the business, but to get parental controls, you’ll have to spring for McAfee Total Protection or its sibling McAfee LiveSafe, which comes pre-installed on many (most) new PCs.

The multi-device licenses of those two security suites also come with an identity-protection service. But none of the McAfee products have a secure browser or webcam protection, which you often get with other premium antivirus programs.

At the top is McAfee Total Protection Ultimate, which adds unlimited VPN service with no strings attached (but remember, we do NOT recommend any VPN Services here). Hardcore PC gamers may consider McAfee Gamer Security, which for $60 per year offers low-overhead protection for a single rig.

 

  1. Trend Micro Maximum Security

Solid protection, but scan slowdowns

Features

Backup software: No

Firewall: No

Game mode: Yes

Hardened browser: Yes

Parental controls: Yes

Password manager: Yes

Webcam protection: No

Virtual keyboard: No

VPN: Yes

Reasons to buy

+Very good malware protection         +Secure browser, password manager                  +Dark Web scans

 Reasons to avoid

-Heavy performance hit during scans – Many false positives on 125+ GeeksByTheHour’s rigorous tests.

Trend Micro offers very good protection, but its malware-detection engine creates a heavy system load during scans and returns a fair number of false-positive results.

The brand’s entry-level program, Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security, has basic tools but does have a secure web browser. Parental controls, a system optimizer and a file shredder are bundled into the mid-range Trend Micro Internet Security.

Trend Micro Maximum Security adds a password manager, a secure browser and file encryption, while the new Trend Micro Premium Security adds a VPN and dark-web monitoring of personal data.

However, none of Trend Micro’s programs include a two-way firewall or webcam protection, standard with other brands’ midrange offerings. Nor does the premium product have the cloud storage or backup software that some of the best antivirus brands add as enticements to their flagship packages.

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