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Saturday, July 20, 2024

The Best Antivirus Software for 2024


The Best Antivirus Software for 2024

Without Norton AntiVirus Plus antirivirus, your personal information, your data, and even your bank account are at risk. We've tested more than 40 utilities to help you pick the top antivirus software for your needs.

Whichever winter holidays you celebrate, you’re likely to have some extra free time coming up. If the warmth of family and friends becomes a little too much, consider spending some quality time with your computer. Is it comfortably insulated against viruses and other malware? Have you checked that its antivirus protection is working and up to date? If you’ve somehow managed to get this far without installing protection, take a little time to do that now.

But which antivirus should you choose? We’ve reviewed more than 40 antivirus utilities, so you can easily select one that fits your needs. We've gathered the top 10 tested antivirus tools here, along with what to look for when selecting the right antivirus for you, which you can find after the listings below.

Bitdefender Antivirus Plus

Why We Picked It

You can buy an antivirus utility that does everything an antivirus should, or you can buy one that does more—way more. That would be Bitdefender Antivirus Plus. The Plus, in this case, represents a multitude of features. Ransomware protection, a hardened browser for your financial transactions, VPN protection for your connections, a feature that smacks down ad trackers, automatic detection of missing security patches…the list goes on. While its name says antivirus, this program's feature list beats many security suites.

Not only that, but it’s also a good antivirus. The independent testing labs routinely grant it perfect or near-perfect scores, and it aces many of our hands-on tests. Its ransomware-specific defense system proved itself in testing, too. And its Autopilot feature means that all this happens with minimal bother for you, the user.

Oh, there are a few minor nits. The first full scan after installation can be slow, for example. And if you want unlimited use of the VPN, you must pay a bit extra. But, overall, this is a marvelous choice for antivirus protection.

Who It’s For

If you want comprehensive protection with little interaction, just fire up Bitdefender Antivirus Plus and turn on its Autopilot. Now you can sit back and do, well, anything you want!

Norton AntiVirus Plus

Why We Picked It

Quick, name three antivirus companies. Was one of them Norton? Probably. Norton’s antivirus prowess has developed over decades, and Norton AntiVirus Plus is the pinnacle of that evolution. It gets excellent scores from the independent labs and aces many of our hands-on tests, including a test using a dozen real-world ransomware samples.

There’s more to this program than just antivirus, too. Its firewall protects against outside attacks and betrayal from within without bombarding the unsuspecting user with confusing popup queries. A separate module enhances firewall protection by detecting and blocking exploit attacks. Other bonus features include a backup system that can archive your files locally or in the provided online storage, a spam filter for those who still need such a thing, a software updater tool, and more.

At one time, Norton was one-device wonder, protecting just a single Windows system. You can now get a five-device subscription to protect Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS devices. That makes the app even more inviting.

Who It’s For

Norton's technology has been fighting viruses and other malware for ages, dating back to MS-DOS days. If you want protection from a known brand that has established its chops over decades, Norton AntiVirus Plus is just what you need.

McAfee AntiVirus

Why We Picked It

McAfee no longer offers the cross-platform antivirus protection of McAfee AntiVirus Plus, but the basic McAfee AntiVirus is a powerful choice for a single Windows PC. Single is an important word here, as you don't find the usual volume discounts for three, five, or 10 licenses. You must buy the software again for each new device you want to protect.

The independent labs adore McAfee's malware-fighting technology. Three of the four labs we follow include McAfee in their analysis, and all three award it their maximum possible score. It earned excellent scores in our hands-on tests, too. And it goes beyond basic antivirus features with a ransomware protection system, a simple firewall, a system to foil cryptojacking, and more.

Who It’s For

With the shift from unlimited protection on all platforms to securing a single Windows PC, McAfee AntiVirus appeals to a different audience than its predecessor. But there are people out there who just want to protect that one all-important PC. If you're one of them, you should give McAfee a look.

ESET NOD32 Antivirus

Why We Picked It

When you see ESET’s blue-eyed cyborg mascot gazing serenely from the screen of ESET NOD32 Antivirus, you just know you’ve got some high-tech protection. It hits top scores in some independent lab tests and some of our own tests—we always like to see both. ESET goes beyond many competitors with unusual high-tech features like its UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) scan, a cut above the more common boot sector scan. It even looks for intrusions in the WMI (Windows Management Instrumentation) database.

Yes, you need some technical expertise to understand and make use of these high-tech features. The same is true of the Host Intrusion Prevention System (HIPS), which aims to detect and block attacks that try to leverage vulnerabilities in the operating system or in popular programs. As for the Device Control system, it’s a techie’s dream. You can exert total control on all types of external devices and individual devices. For example, you could ban USB drives so the kids don’t bring home malware with their homework but specifically allow devices you’ve vetted yourself. At the device or type level, you can block all use, force read-only access, or just display a warning.

Who It’s For

Some antivirus tools do their best to work in the background with no technical involvement by the user. That’s not ESET NOD32 Antivirus. This antivirus is ideal for those who want to get their hands dirty and take an active role in internet security protection. If you have the knowledge and skills to use them, ESET has the features for you.

G Data Antivirus

Why We Picked It

The G Data website states that G Data released the first antivirus program in 1985. Whether or not it was the very first, G Data Antivirus has a long and storied history. Two of the four independent labs we follow typically include this venerable tool in their tests. AV-Test routinely gives it the top possible rating, while its scores in tests by AV-Comparatives range from passing to perfect. G Data scored close to the maximum in our hands-on malware protection and malicious download defense tests.

Throughout its evolution, this antivirus tool has picked up many bonus security tools. With the regular antivirus disabled, its behavior-based ransomware protection layers detected half the samples we threw at it. An exploit detection component scored better than most competitors in testing. Other bonus features include spam filtering, BankGuard protection for financial transactions, active defense against keyloggers, and fine-grained control over startup programs.

Who It’s For

Some folks lean toward the newest, shiniest antivirus protection, while others prefer a mature program that’s had plenty of time to shake out any weaknesses. G Data Antivirus is a full-grown utility with several security bonuses. It’s just the thing for those seeking a well-aged antivirus tool.

Malwarebytes Premium

Why We Picked It

For years, the cleanup-only Malwarebytes Free has been the go-to solution when your regular antivirus can’t do the job, but it was always a specialty tool, not for everyday use. On the other hand, Malwarebytes Premium offers all the features you expect in a full-scale antivirus, starting with scanning on demand and on schedule, as well as on file access. Its full scan is speedy and uses various real-time protection techniques, including behavior-based detection, ransomware activity detection, and protection against exploit attacks.

It’s true that lab results for Malwarebytes are mixed, some great, some so-so. The company contends that its advanced detection techniques aren’t a perfect fit for standardized tests. In our own hands-on tests, it proved highly effective, earning 9.8 of 10 points for malware protection (the best score among products tested with our current malware samples) and excellent scores for defending against malicious and fraudulent web pages.

Who It’s For

Anyone who’s used Malwarebytes Free to remedy another antivirus tool’s slip-up will appreciate the full-powered Malwarebytes Premium. Even if you never needed that kind of rescue, this app's speedy scan and excellent hands-on test results are a big draw.

Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security

Why We Picked It

Though it originated in Los Angeles, Trend Micro is now a global security corporation based in Japan, and it has acquired many other security businesses over the years. Its collective technology makes Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security more than just an antivirus. Among other components, Trend Micro features Pay Guard to protect your financial transactions; a Firewall Booster; spam filtering with a separate Fraud Buster component; multi-layered ransomware protection; a detector for unauthorized cryptocurrency mining, and markup of dangerous links in search results and social media.

But does it work? Results vary. AV-Test has honored Trend Micro with a perfect score in its latest report. Past evaluations by SE Labs certified it at the top AAA level. It failed one of three tests from AV-Comparatives, though. And it also failed two admittedly difficult tests by MRG-Effitas. On the plus side, it earned perfect scores in our tests of defense against malicious and fraudulent websites.

This is a single-device antivirus with no volume discounts. If you want a multi-device license from Trend Micro, you’ll have to opt for one of its suite programs.

Who It’s For

Don’t turn to Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security to protect a house full of computing devices. That’s not what it’s for. Instead, install it on that one essential computer on which you spend your work hours and playtime.

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