The best antivirus software of 2024 (2024)

We rely upon our computers and mobile devices to help manage and control our professional and personal lives. No matter what you use your device for, your smartphones, tablets, and PCs contain a lot of personal, sensitive information that must be protected.

That is why antivirus software and programs are essential to protecting the details of your personal and professional lives. Device manufacturers' built-in and default antivirus protections are much improved compared to a decade ago, but when you consider the modern-day threats we face -- ranging from phishing to ransomware -- you can never have enough protection.

With the right protection, you will be alerted when you visit suspicious websites or when you download and try to execute potentially malicious software, and you can perform scans to remove malware from your system without too much fuss.

Also:The best VPNs of 2024: Expert tested

What is the best antivirus solution right now?

ZDNET has searched for the best antivirus you can find and trust to protect multiple devices and operating systems. Our pick for the best antivirus software overall is Bitdefender Total Security, which can handle advanced security threats with ease and without draining your CPU's capacity.

Based on personal experiences, real user reviews, and expert options, these are the best antivirus software and apps to protect your most personal information in 2024.

Best antivirus software and apps of 2024

Pros & Cons


  • Robust malware scans
  • Phishing protection
  • Various subscriptions available


  • Can be slow to get started
  • Limited VPN

More Details

Our overall pick for the best antivirus is Bitdefender Total Security. This software is designed to protect your personal data, such as passwords or financial details. It will handle even advanced security threats and stop them from wreaking havoc on your device.

Bitdefender is a well-known and trusted brand in the antivirus space. The antivirus solution isn't too top-heavy and won't hog your CPU, and it is available for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. Beyond detecting and blocking malware, rootkits, and ransomware, the software also prevents invasive third-party data tracking and unauthorized access to your microphone or webcam.

As a bonus, subscribers can use an inbuilt VPN to secure their online traffic, although this is limited to 200MB a day per device. Customers like its ease of use and strong protection, but it is best for standard users who don't want to exert too much control over the software.

Bitdefender's plans are currently on sale, including the Total Security plan for $70 for a year of protection (saving you $30). A free, limited antivirus solution is also available.

Bitdefender Total Security features: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS compatibility |Free and premium antivirus software available | Business offerings |Mobile apps | VPN | Free trial | Product of the year award

Pros & Cons


  • Real-time protection
  • Malware protection
  • Affordable


  • Advanced features limited to premium plans

More Details

Norton Antivirus Plus is a very affordable option if you only need to protect one device. Antivirus Plus is Norton's basic antivirus solution and includes threat protection and monitoring, a firewall, and a free password manager -- alongside 2GB of cloud backup storage.

However, if you want more devices added to your plan, Dark Web monitoring, a VPN, or parental controls, you will need to opt for Norton 360 Standard, Norton 360 Standard Deluxe, or Norton 360 with LifeLock Select. Customers note its strong security scores, although some are less than impressed with price jumps after promotional periods.

At the time of writing, the company is offering 50% off its Plus plan -- which means you will only pay $30 for your first year of protection (protection for one device). You can also take advantage of a 57% discount on Standard plans ($40/year) that will protect up to three devices.

Norton Antivirus Plus features: Real-time threat protection | Firewall | Password manager | Cloud backup | Free personal scam protection tool | PC and mobile compatibility |60-day money-back guarantee

Pros & Cons


  • Great compatibility
  • Dark Web monitoring
  • VPN included


  • Typical price is expensive

More Details

McAfee Total Protection fits the bill when you want to purchase antivirus protection for multiple devices.

It offers protection for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and Chromebooks. There is also a free password manager, VPN, and Dark Web monitoring service included so you can keep your credentials safe -- and be made aware of any information leaks online that could compromise your identity or accounts.

Should there be a threat, there are special alerts so that you can act immediately. Customers find its protection to be decent although removal and pop-ups prove to be a nuisance.

When you sign up, you will receive 12 months of protection. At the time of writing, the software has been discounted by 80% on Amazon, bringing the cost down to just under $20 for three devices. If you want a plan for between one and five devices for longer terms, you can purchase the software directly from McAfee.

McAfee Total Protection features:Antivirus protection| Dark Web monitoring | VPN |Password manager | Firewall | File shredder | Suspicious website alerts | Protection scores

Pros & Cons


  • Trustworthy performance
  • Affordable
  • Special pricing, MBG for business accounts


  • Stiff device number limits
  • Some low scoring

More Details

Malwarebytes is a popular ad-free program that helps prevent you from scams and security threats. It offers malware and ad blocking, along with filtering and web security. It will even monitor for fake texts, as well.

The service is effective enough that millions of threats are detected or blocked by the service every day. It is flexible, too, working with both your smartphone and tablet for greater versatility, and it is very easy to use with a single-click interface. The antivirus program is compatible with Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Safari. Customers like its real-time protection and malware blocking and note that it is best as a part of a layered approach to personal protection.

Malwarebytes offers a range of plans to suit your needs and budget. Subscriptions start at $3.75 per month for one device. The company also offers plans to protect up to five devices.

Malwarebytes features: Home and business plans |Malware scans | Phishing protection | Ad blocking |Browser Guard | 60-day money-back guarantee for business plans | Free customer support

Pros & Cons


  • Full malware detection
  • XDR
  • cloud-based defenses


  • Can get pricey

More Details

ESET SMB is one of our top choices of antivirus programs for small to medium-sized businesses.

Depending on the program you opt for, the company provides customizable plans for organizations of all sizes. These plans include multiple device protection, endpoint defense, encryption, file protection, cloud-based monitoring for new threats, app protection, mail security, full disk encryption, multi-factor authentication, and more.

Organizations can add extended detection and response support and more security services from ESET. On-premise or cloud options are available. If you sign up for at least one year, you can take advantage of discounted rates on Protect Advanced and Protect Complete plans. Many customers are very happy with the service, although reporting processes appear to need refining.

Consumers, too, can sign up for Home plans starting at $35/year.

ESET SMB features: Custom plans | Discounts for longer subscriptions |Endpoint defense |File security |Cloud app protection |Management interface | MDR

What is the best antivirus software?

The best antivirus protection comes from Bitdefender Total Security, which will handle even advanced security threats with ease and without draining your CPU's capacity.

Best Antivirus


Free plan

Malware protection

Phishing protection

Bitdefender Total Security

Plans start at $40 per year




McAfee Total Protection

Plans start at $25 per year




Norton Antivirus Plus

Plans start at $20 per year





Plans start at $3.75 per month





Plans start at $288 per year




*Lowest price at the time of writing. Please note that prices may vary based on retailer and available promotions, sales, or discounts.

Which is the right antivirus software for you?

The right antivirus solution for you will depend on your circ*mstances, the devices you own, and what your budget is -- as well as whether or not you are happy to sign up for a subscription.

Choose this antivirus...

If you want...

Bitdefender Total Security

Overall impressive performance at an affordable price. Bitdefender can be a bit slow to set up, but once it's ready, the antivirus is unobtrusive and will only alert you as necessary.

McAfee Total Protection

Protection for multiple devices with additional features. The bolt-on password manager, VPN, and dark web monitoring are valuable security features to own.

Norton Antivirus Plus

A budget-friendly antivirus solution. If you only need to protect one device and you want to spend as little as possible, Norton's basic plan is all you need.


Excellent value and performance for your dollar. If you're interested in custom business plans, Malwarebytes has you covered -- and its browser support is an advantage, too.


A business-friendly SMB option for antivirus. You can choose between entry, advanced, and complete plans, as well as enterprise solutions.

Factors to consider when choosing antivirus software

While you are selecting a product from the different types of antivirus protection software and apps available, you should consider:

  • Device support: Many antivirus solutions today support a variety of devices. Consider whether you want to protect your PC or mobile device, for example -- and check that plans will cover more than one machine.
  • Protection: Research the protection on offer, such as whether the software can protect you against threats such as ransomware, Trojans, and spyware.
  • Cost: Free, lightweight options are available that can handle day-to-day protection, but they are unlikely to offer additional support. If you opt for a paid plan, choose one suitable for your budget and be aware of any price hikes following promotional first years.
  • Additional features: You may want to opt for a solution that provides additional advanced features such as a bundled VPN, a Dark Web scanner, a data breach notification service, or insurance.
  • Resource use: Resource use varies across antivirus products, so you should check whether your machine will struggle with the extra workload. Apps tend to be optimized for modern mobile devices, but some older PCs may not work well with every antivirus option.

How did we choose these antivirus software and apps?

There are several factors we considered when looking for the best antivirus, including:

  • Features: From malware to viruses, there are a lot of threats out there, so we look for the best antivirus protection and features available to protect your online activity, whether you are using your PC or smartphone. Features may include real-time scans, email attachment checks, Dark Web data breach alert services, VPNs, and identity data monitoring.
  • Performance: Features mean nothing if the antivirus app or software does not have the power or performance to back it up. It is important to look for antivirus software and apps that not only attack existing threats but prevent you from facing new ones, too.
  • Accessibility: Antivirus software has been available for quite some time, but there are now plenty of mobile antivirus apps, too. Consider how you would best like to access your antivirus program and what mobile requirements there may be.
  • Cost: The best antivirus programs do not charge the highest fees, with several programs offering free versions but with limited features. Consider your budget when you are trying to find the best antivirus protection.

What types of security threats are there?

Viruses are not the only thing that antivirus programs protect against. There are also worms, which attack your device and attempt to propagate across networks, and trojans that appear to be safe programs but are anything but -- as they will lurk on your device and attempt to steal your account and financial information.

You often find viruses, worms, and trojans hidden within seemingly legitimate software, or if you are downloading pirated content, you are also putting yourself at risk of accidentally executing malware on your machine.

Ransomware, too, is a serious threat to consumers and businesses today. Modern antivirus programs are often able to stop it in its tracks before it encrypts your machine and demands a ransom payment in return for a decryption key.

Spyware, coming in forms including software executables and mobile apps, can severely impact your privacy. Spyware will monitor your activities and collect your data, and in cases of stalkerware, may also log your phone calls, text messages, social media activity, and GPS location.

Antivirus apps and programs also protect against adware that can tap into your web history and flood you with pesky and potentially dangerous ads or notifications. Also known as nuisanceware, while not usually dangerous, nuisanceware can slow down your device, drain power, and make it close to impossible to browse the internet normally.

You should keep in mind that many variants of malware today are not limited to attacks against PCs -- malicious software can also be found in seemingly benign mobile applications.

What is better, Norton or McAfee?

Norton and McAfee are both reputable, well-established antivirus vendors that offer great product lines. However, generally speaking, McAfee is a better all-rounder for beginners, whereas Norton often earns better protection scores and ratings.

What is the main drawback of antivirus software?

One of the main drawbacks of antivirus software and apps is the computing resources they require. You may find that some antivirus software could become a drain on your resources and may slow down your system -- and this is especially apparent when real-time threat scanners (an important aspect of protection) are in use. However, vendors have vastly improved resource requirements and this is less of an issue compared to a decade ago.

What about Kaspersky for the best antivirus?

Kaspersky Anti-Virus has long been considered an excellent antivirus program for its features and protection. However, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has officially named Kaspersky a national security risk. In turn, Kaspersky is "disappointed" in the decision,sayingin a statement:

"This decision is not based on any technical assessment of Kaspersky products -- that the company continuously advocates for -- but instead is being made on political grounds."

How much is the best antivirus?

Many of the best antivirus programs and apps offer a free version that you can choose to protect your devices. While they may be limited in their features, you often have the option to upgrade to a paid plan for more benefits. Paid plans may cover more devices, for example, or include additional features such as email scanning, password managers, and more.

Are there any alternative antivirus software and apps worth considering?

When you are looking for a free antivirus program, you have a huge market to consider -- and not every solution can make it on ourtop recommendations list. If none of the options above appeal to you, in our search for the best antivirus apps and software, we've also found these options:

View at Trend MicroView at SophosView at WebrootView at AuraView at Avira

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