The Best Antivirus Programs of 2019

Protect your most valuable information from virus, ransomware, spyware, rootkits, malware, trojans, adware, phishing scams, and other malicious infections by hackers with these tried and tested top antivirus programs.

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Evan Porter
Evan Porter | Tech blogger, loves gadgets, fixes tech problems at home
Updated: March 11, 2019

With sophisticated and malicious computer viruses being identified by cyber security experts every day, more and more people are searching for a reliable antivirus program to defend themselves against the ever-growing threat of infection. But with so many different antivirus products on the market, finding an effective and trustworthy solution is no easy task.

That's why our research team has spent countless hours trying and testing just about every antivirus program, in order to help you make an informed decision when choosing AV software to protect the most important information on your PC and devices from falling into the wrong hands.

Our top 10 antivirus picks are ranked on:

  • Security
  • Features
  • Ease of use
  • Support
  • Pricing
  • Overall impression

When we test an antivirus, we aren't afraid to deep-dive into the features and get our hands dirty. Our reviewers don’t just rely on third party lab results; they load up their own computers with malware to see first-hand just how well each antivirus can detect, contain, and remove the threats. We even go as far as surfing infected websites that have been flagged to see just how well an antivirus can protect against the threat of infection.

In addition to our own in-house testing, we also encourage readers to contribute their own reviews and impressions of any antivirus program, regardless of how we rank it, in order to provide a truly impartial picture of what's on offer.

Browse our top 10 antivirus reviews for a full breakdown of features, what we like and don't like about the software, unbiased results from our own performance testing, and screenshots of the software in action.

And to find the best AV match for your specific PC, device, or OS, browse the category menu listed under Best Antivirus Programs.

Selecting the Best Antivirus Program - Features to Look Out For

Trying to choose an antivirus can be overwhelming. With dozens of brands on the market, each offering seemingly-similar protection at different price points, how do you know which one is right for you?

The only way to know for sure is to try each AV and see which features you really like and which you don't. Since most people don't have the resources to do this, we've gone ahead and done the work for you – saving you time and money.

Here's a detailed breakdown of what we're looking for when we hand-test an antivirus software.

Security

Having a reputable antivirus, no matter how basic, is better than remaining unprotected and exposed to hackers and other bad actors. At the bare minimum, even the most simple features can help protect your data from malware attacks.

But not all antivirus protection is created equal. The best antivirus solutions are backed by rapidly updated virus definitions, and are constantly updated to address all the latest threats as they are happening. Other less reputable brands, may not be.

At the same time, you don't want an antivirus that overly-strict in it's screening for malware, that you can't use your favorite programs or access your favorite websites without alarms going off and the software sending your computer into lockdown mode!

That's why it's important to have some level of control and customization over how the software identifies and handles potential threats.

We take all of this, and more, into account when we test-drive each antivirus and present our findings.

Some important security features we always look for:

  • On-demand malware scans
  • Real-time malware protection
  • Suspicious behavior detection & quarantining
  • Whitelisting
  • Sandboxing
  • Spyware protection
  • Phishing prevention

Features

The core function of effective antivirus software is its ability to block, detect, and remove malware from your machine.

However, most of the best offerings bring a lot more to the table.

Some of our favorites come with all kinds of extra features that help you do everything from browse the web safely to speed up your PC.

For example, some antiviruses with also give you access to a VPN (Virtual Private Network) that lets you browse the web in complete privacy without compromising your personal identity or data.

Others will prevent any unauthorized manipulation of your sensitive files (even if it seems legitimate) to prevent ransomware encryption, or when criminals force you to pay money in exchange for a passkey that unlocks your own files.

First things first, an antivirus needs to be tough on malware. But extra security features like these can really bring a ton of value.

Some additional security features we really like to see in an antivirus are:

  • Included VPNs (Virtual Private Networks)
  • PC cleanup & speed optimization
  • Ransomware protection
  • Firewalls
  • Public Wi-Fi inspection
  • Anti-keylogger protection

Ease of Use

Viruses, worms, malware, and other malicious forms of cyber-attack are extremely complex at the code-level.

But protecting your machine, finding infections, and removing them should be extremely easy.

We don't like an antivirus that requires a lot of technical knowledge or needs a complicated setup. In short, it should be simple to use!

We also evaluate questions like: how many devices is the antivirus compatible with, and how easy is it to get started out of the box?

A couple of key indicators we like to look for when we judge ease of use are:

  • Simple and easily navigable interface
  • Mobile apps for Android and iOS
  • Protection for other smart-home devices
  • High-grades in speed tests

Support

In an ideal world, your antivirus would run quietly in the background on your PC or Mac, and you'd never have to think twice about any incoming threats.

In reality, there may be times when your computer's security becomes compromised.

Maybe your antivirus isn't working properly; in that case, you'll want someone to fix the issue.

Even if the antivirus catches the threat (which it should), it can be scary to learn you've been targeted by a cyber-criminal, and you may want the steady-hand of a professional to guide you through the next steps.

For this reason, we place an extremely high value on the level of support you get with your subscription.

When evaluating the level of support of each antivirus, we're judging whether or not the companies offer:

  • Phone support
  • Email support
  • Live chat
  • 24/7 availability
  • Online knowledge-base

Pricing

Reliable protection is priceless, but everyone has a budget.

Large-scale businesses may need to pay a premium for enterprise-level protection, while individual users who know how to browse the web safely might be fine with a free option.

Our list includes antivirus software that offers completely free plans, and others that cost well over $100 per month.

The bottom-line price only tells part of the story, so when we're grading an antivirus on pricing we look for:

  • Variety of flexible pricing models
  • Number of included licenses
  • Impressive overall value

The Best Antivirus Programs - Updated for 2019

We’ve researched over 40 of the antivirus market’s most popular programs, looking specifically at each of the categories outlined above.

Below, you'll find our complete top-10 list of hand-tested antivirus programs, along with our honest feedback, pricing, and overall pros and cons.

We've also given out "superlatives" for each antivirus pick, including the best free offering, best ransomware protection, and more.

Here are our top 10 picks:

1st Place: Norton - Best Higher-Budget, Powerhouse Antivirus

$49.99 - $109.99 / year

We like: 

  • 60 days no questions refund.
  • The best knowledge-base around for troubleshooting and malware questions
  • Automatic cloud backup keeps your files safe and encrypted where attackers can't get them
  • Quick, comprehensive virus scanning and removal

We don’t like:

  • Pricey if you need more than the basic subscription
  • Some extra features (like VPN) come at an additional cost

Norton is one of the most recognizable names in antivirus, and for good reasons. They've been around forever, slowly improving their technology and building out their database of cybersecurity threats (which rivals McAfee's).

If you're looking for a super powerful antivirus backed by lots of resources and experience, you should definitely consider Norton. One of our favorite features, in fact, is Norton's full money-back guarantee if your computer ever becomes infected by malware while protected with Norton.

Now that's confidence!

Norton also comes with some other great features like its two-way firewall, which prevents unauthorized outbound traffic from your network along with blocking malicious incoming traffic, and the automatic cloud backup for keeping files safe from deletion or ransomware.

Best of all, Norton is super easy to install and set up with just a few clicks, and the customer service is top notch.

The only downside is that the basic subscription doesn't include many of Norton's best features, and it gets pricey as you delve into higher packages.

2nd Place: McAfee - Best for Up-to-Date Virus Definitions

$49.99 - $89.99 / year

We like:

  • One of the most comprehensive malware libraries around
  • Checks for suspicious behavior or file manipulation, not just malware
  • Social media guard protects your (and your kids') social profiles

We don’t like:

  • Basic subscription covers only one device
  • Light on extra security features
  • Has had a reputation for poor service until recently

McAfee hit a bit of a lull following its hey-day in the 90s, but has since rebounded in a big way.

This antivirus was one of the fast and most thorough we tested. And it's no wonder — with its massive user base and team of researchers backing it up, McAfee boasts one of the biggest libraries of malware you can find. If there's a new threat out there, you can count on McAfee to be one of the first to know and come up with a defense for it.

We're also happy to report that all McAfee users get access to 24/7 live support from helpful, knowledgable operators. That's a huge relief when something goes wrong, and it's solid peace-of-mind when nothing does.

You won't find a ton of extra features here like a VPN or extra keylogger protection, and the price point starts on the high side, but McAfee is one of the most powerful pure-antiviruses around.

McAfee is available on Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android devices.

3rd Place: Avast - Best Feature-Rich Antivirus

$47.99 - $119.99 / year

We like:

  • The phishing, firewall protection and WiFi connection scanner in-one
  • Excellent ransomware protection
  • Even the free version is really good

 We don’t like:

  • Only one version for Macs that doesn't include most of the top features

Avast is truly one of the most complete suites of Internet security tools on the market. As a pure antivirus, it shines in its ability to quickly scan and remove threats, while keeping you safe in real-time.

But Avast really shines when it comes to its extra features. We loved the WiFi scanner that lets you know if public hotspots are safe before you join. And the Digital File Shredder is an awesome add-on that makes sure your sensitive files are gone — really gone — when you delete them.

Another feature we absolutely love is the Ransomware Shield. Ransomware is a growing form of attack that encrypts your files and holds them hostage until you pay a large fee to unlock them. Avast will give you a special encrypted folder to keep your sensitive and important files in so ransomware can't access them.

The big downside to Avast is its Windows-centric packages. Mac users will only have one subscription level to choose from, and that membership level, unfortunately, doesn't include many of Avast's top features.

4th Place: Intrusta - Best Pure Malware Remover

We like:

  • Strong, quick malware removal
  • 3 different scanning modes
  • Superbly easy to use

We don’t like:

  • Extremely light on features
  • Only available on Windows
  • Not as cost effective as some alternatives

If it's an antivirus you want, and that's it, you'd be smart to check out Intrusta.

Intrusta is incredibly light on features. You won't find any VPNs, ransomware protection, or social media guards here.

But what it does, it does extremely well.

Choose from three different scans; either a smart scan of locations on your computer likely to be infected, a full scan of everything, or an individual scan of selected locations.

Intrusta is very effective and efficient with its scans, and performs well in most tests.

But for users who want a little bit more, the lack of extra features, real-time protection, firewalls, and more, could be a serious drawback.

Intrusta is currently only available on Windows computers, though Mac and mobile versions are under development.

5th Place: AVG - Best for Phishing Protection

$69.99 - $99.99 / year

We like:

  • Lots of affordable subscription options
  • Unrivaled performance in attack-prevention
  • Extra features help your computer run faster

We don’t like:

  • The dashboard is a bit hard to navigate at first
  • 24/7 phone support only for Premium users
  • Mac-compatible versions are light on features

AVG is a highly-respected name in the antivirus world that's been honing its technology for a long time.

That's why, in performance tests, AVG sets the bar when it comes to preventing attacks in real-time — even unknown or zero-day attacks. It's that good.

It also has some great add-ons, including a firewall to protect you from ransomware and a secure payment protection feature, which monitors your emails for both spam, scams, and payment fraud. The best of the bunch, though, has to be the Email Shield Tool, which keeps you safe from phishing attacks by scanning all incoming mail and messages.

We also love the suite of tools included with AVG that help your PC run faster, like "smart sleep" mode which reduces resource use, and PC Tuneup for cleaning up old files.

The only problem with AVG is that only some of the subscription levels are compatible with Macs, and unfortunately, Mac users won't have access to many of these great features.

6th Place: BullGuard - Best for Speedy Malware Removal

$59.65 - $99.65 / year

We like:

  • Lightning-quick malware scans
  • Performs amazingly well in lab tests
  • Comprehensive parental controls

We don’t like:

  • Ransomware protection is subpar
  • No phone support

BullGuard may not have the name recognition of a Norton or a McAfee, but trust us, people in the antivirus world know all about BullGuard.

In independent laboratory tests for speed and performance, BullGuard racks up impressive scores and has won awards for its efficiency in scanning for and removing viruses.

But that's not all! BullGuard throws in some other fantastic security features that customers love.

Our favorite has to be the unrivaled suite of parental controls, that lets you whitelist and blacklist content depending on the age of your children, configure usage periods, and flag chat programs. Parents with multi-device households will love this.

We're also big fans of the home network scanner, which sends a notification to you anytime a new device joins your home network. This is great for identifying if someone is leaching off of your WiFi, or worse, doing something more malicious.

The one major area where BullGuard falls behind is in its ransomware protection, as it doesn't offer you a safe place to keep files away from potential encryption.

Still, affordable and available on Windows, Mac, iOS and Android OS, BullGuard is undoubtedly one of the best antivirus programs of 2019.

7th Place: Panda - Best Antivirus with a Free VPN

$46.99 - $154.99 / year

We like: 

  • Amazing results in lab tests
  • Powerful built-in firewall
  • Free VPN included

We don’t like:

  • Basic packages start at $46.99, though you get a lot for the money
  • Produces a few too many false positives

Don't let the cute name fool you; Panda is absolutely ferocious when it comes to sniffing out malware.

In independent lab tests, which track both speed and performance, Panda is consistently one of the top performers on the market. Over the course of years, these results have earned the company a sterling reputation.

Panda is excellent at both scans and real-time protection, even in the face of zero-day attacks it doesn't recognize. It also gives you some powerful tools are your disposal like a personal firewall you can customize to your liking, and an easy way to scan all incoming files that may be hiding on external drives.

We also loved that Panda includes a free VPN with its antivirus, taking your web safety to the next level for no additional charge. It won't compete with the best standalone VPNs on the market, but it's an excellent addition to this software package.

Panda can sometimes be a little too strict, we found, and will produce a few false positives during virus scans.

But overall, this antivirus is one of the best money can buy and is compatible with Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android devices.

8th Place: Avira - Best Free Antivirus

We like:

  • Free version has powerful anti-malware capabilities
  • Easy to set up — just set it and forget it
  • Terrific ransomware protection
  • Protection during payment transactions

We don’t like:

  • Only available on Windows
  • No live chat support feature

A free antivirus program sounds too good to be true. But in Avira's case, the free version just might surprise you.

Avira is, simply put, a cleanly packaged, easy to use, and powerful antivirus.

In performance tests, it grades out well when it comes to efficiently scanning for and removing malware. Behind the technology, there's an impressive library of threats and viruses that are constantly being updated, so Avira users are usually the first to get a fix when a new threat pops up.

Even Avira's real-time protection performs well in the fact of malicious malware!

One really cool feature we loved inside Avira was its scan that automatically updates the software on your computer that needs patching. This is a hugely overlooked vulnerability — the majority of cyber attacks occur via known exploits that should have been patched long ago! Avira makes sure you're always safe and up to date.

We also love the new interface, which is totally redesigned and incredibly easy to navigate.

Unfortunately, Avira is only available for Windows users with no immediate plans for Mac or iOS support.

9th Place: Webroot - Best Lightweight Antivirus

$39.99 - $79.99 / year

We like:

  • Simple but powerful malware removal
  • Encrypted cloud hosting up to 25GB
  • Built-in firewall management tool
  • Backward-compatible for older machines

We don’t like:

  • No live support outside of a ticketing system
  • Light on extra security features

There's not a ton of information out there on Webroot, but it's extremely popular among a select group of users.

Why? Well, Webroot doesn't do much outside of basic malware scans and real-time protection, but it's efficient and hardly uses up any CPU resources at all.

We also love that it's backward-compatible with older devices. A lot of modern antiviruses need the latest hardware to run efficient, but not Webroot — it's ideal for installing on that old clunker in the basement you use to browse the Internet.

Webroot isn't totally devoid of features, though. It has a great firewall management tool to help you filter inbound network activity, and it comes with up to 25GB of encrypted cloud storage for important files — to keep you safe from ransomware.

Webroot doesn't offer as good overall value as the competitors above, but for a lightweight option, it's powerful and gets the job done for PCs, Macs, iOS, and Androids.

10th Place: Bitdefender - Best for Fast, Effective Scans

$79.99 - $119.99 / year

We like:

  • Blisteringly fast malware scans
  • SafePay feature protects your credit card information while shopping
  • Free version available

We don't like:

  • The basic version is bare bones and light on features
  • Mac users will have to upgrade to more expensive subscriptions

Fast and lightweight, Bitdefender has some of the quickest virus scans we've seen — and they're extremely effective, too.

Better yet, the company offers a free version of the software that gives users access to these basic but comprehensive scans. It's a great option if you just want to double check your computer after a download or take Bitdefender for a test drive before you buy.

That's not all Bitdefender has to offer, however. We love its suite of tools including SafePay, which gives you privacy and security while you shop online with your credit card or banking information, and SafeFiles, which stores away your most important documents and won't let any program or person edit them without your permission. In today's cyber landscape, this kind of identity theft and ransomware protection is easily just as important as anti-malware.

It doesn't have the cleanest interface we've seen, but Bitdefender is easy enough to use and packed full of great tools and features.

All versions of Bitdefender are available on Windows and Android devices. Mac and iOS users, however, will need to spring for more advanced subscriptions to get protection.

# Vendor Price Range Rating
1 $49.99 - $109.99 / year 4.4
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2 $49.99 - $89.99 / year 4.6
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3 $47.99 - $119.99 / year 4.2
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4 4.4
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5 $69.99 - $99.99 / year 4.1
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6 $59.65 - $99.65 / year 4.5
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7 $46.99 - $154.99 / year 4.4
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8 $30.95 / year 4.2
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9 $39.99 - $79.99 / year 4.3
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10 $79.99 - $119.99 / year 4.0
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