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10 Best Antivirus Software in 2021 (Tested Free & Paid)

Lucca RF
Last Updated by Lucca RF on March 18, 2021

You’ll find hundreds of antiviruses all claiming to offer powerful protection for the best price, which makes choosing the right antivirus feel like guesswork. Unfortunately, not every antivirus can live up to its claims either. Many lure you in with promises of being “the best”, only to slow down your device, bombard you with ads, or install useless features without your permission.

To make it easier for you, my team and I tested over 30 brands to shortlist the top 10 antivirus programs. Each antivirus provides strong protection against all kinds of malware (like ransomware, trojans, rookits, and spyware) and has minimal impact on system performance. I prioritized antivirus brands offering extra cybersecurity tools, such as a VPN, password manager, parental controls, and cloud backup. This ensures maximum protection from online threats and hackers.

I was surprised by how few antiviruses actually made the cut. Some aren’t even safe to install onto your device! In contrast, I was very impressed by Norton 360’s antivirus package. Despite its affordable price, Norton scored perfect results in malware tests, offers many high-performance features, and has user-friendly apps for beginner and advanced users alike. In short, I found Norton 360 easily outranked the competition as the #1 antivirus for 2021.

Try Norton 360 for free for 60 days!

Quick Guide: Best Antivirus Software in 2021

  1. Norton 360 — #1 antivirus with perfect detection rates and well-rounded features.
  2. TotalAV — Uses advanced existing tech providers for a high-performance advantage, but has slow customer support.
  3. Bitdefender — Best range of features but has limited VPN data on all but 1 plan.
  4. McAfee — A lightning-fast integrated VPN for speedy and secure connections, but only has phone customer support.
  5. BullGuard — Game Booster tool adds noticeable performance improvements for gamers, but has limited additional features.

How I Ranked and Compared the Top Antiviruses for 2021

I tested over 30 antivirus suites and I’ve come across many great (and terrible) products in the process. Here’s the criteria I use to judge whether an antivirus is worth installing:

  • Powerful antivirus engine — I looked for high malware detection rates in tests. With ever-evolving digital threats, you need an antivirus that can keep up with the latest malware. This includes viruses, ransomware, rootkits, phishing attacks, and more.
  • Quality extra features — I’ve grown tired of being marketed additional features that offer nothing of value, or that are worse than free versions you can find elsewhere. If an antivirus includes additional features, they need to be useful — not just added bloat.
  • Fast speeds — I shortlisted antivirus suites that offer a mix of security and high performance, so even older hardware can benefit. Strong security is excellent, but not at the expense of your device’s performance.
  • User-friendly apps — I paid attention to how detailed explanations are, if menus are simple to navigate, and how easily accessible frequently-used options are. Whether you’re a cybersecurity expert or a complete beginner, navigating antivirus software should be intuitive and easy.
  • Value for money — I evaluated the performance of each brand’s features, device licenses, and whether there’s a free trial or money-back guarantee. I personally feel that every antivirus on this list is worth the investment.

10 Best Antivirus Programs for Any Device (Tested June 2021)

1. Norton 360 — #1 Malware and Virus Protection for All Devices

Quick Look: Norton Results

Security Advanced — 100% protection rate, 3 scan types, advanced firewall, ransomware protection, phishing protection, and Safe Web browser extension
Features Excellent — Cloud backup, parental controls, VPN, password manager, and SafeCam webcam blocker
Native apps All main devices — Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS
Device connections Up to 10 (depends on plan)
Customer support Live chat, phone, and community forum
Money-back guarantee 60 days
Minor cons No torrenting support on VPN
Best Price $29.99/Year

Try Norton for free for 60 days!

Norton stands out as the best antivirus in 2021 with its powerful security and high-performing features. This includes the best scanning and real-time protection rates that I’ve tested, generous cloud storage, and an unlimited data VPN. You get all of this at an affordable price for such a well-rounded suite.

I’m very impressed with Norton’s scanning capabilities. While testing, the quick scan took 2 minutes to analyze about 11,400 files, while the full scan took 12 minutes for 778,000. I was impressed by these times — I didn’t even notice any slowdown on my device while the scans were running.

Even better, both scans and real-time protection detected 100% of threats! This puts Norton firmly at the top of the antivirus leaderboard and makes it my #1 choice for all-round threat protection. When Norton detects a threat it displays a notification, and then you can choose whether to delete, quarantine, or ignore the danger.

Screenshot of Norton's quick scan results screen.
You can schedule Norton’s Quick Scan to check your device on every system boot

I believe an antivirus should protect as passively as possible — you don’t want to spend time on manually setting everything up. Fortunately, Norton’s firewall is well-configured by default, so you’re protected right away. It has an integrated whitelist of programs it deems safe and learns over time to monitor and automatically block programs if it notices suspicious behavior.

Many antivirus brands also have extra features that are either useless or not well-developed, but Norton’s features all add plenty of value. I especially like the VPN, which is available on every Norton plan. The VPN uses L2TP/IPsec encryption to hide your data from your ISP, hackers, and even government agencies. It also replaces your IP address so you can unblock streaming platforms like Netflix US and HBO Max from anywhere. Speeds are mixed though — I had highs of 98Mbps on local European servers but only 11Mbps on Los Angeles servers.

Screenshot of Norton 360's VPN unblocking Netflix US.
I enjoyed the unlimited access to Netflix US and HBO that Norton Secure VPN offered

Another one of my favorite tools is encrypted Cloud Backup, which gives you up to 50GB of space to store your most valuable files. Even if ransomware infects your device, your files stored in the cloud will remain safe. In addition, you get access to Parental Control features if you choose the Deluxe plan or above. It allows you to block specific websites and apps, track how much screen time your child uses, or completely lock the device.

You can try Norton for free for 60 days with its money-back guarantee, and see how it runs on your own devices. Getting a refund is as easy as contacting Norton’s support through their 24/7 live chat. I’ve even tested this myself to ensure the whole refund process is legitimate. It took less than 5 minutes to get the refund approved, and I had the money back in my account 5 days later.

Try Norton for free for 60 days!

Read the detailed Norton review to find more extensive information on security tests, additional features, pricing, and more.

2. TotalAV — Best for Beginners With Easy-to-Use Apps

Quick Look: TotalAV Results

Security Advanced — 100% detection while scanning and 99% during real-time protection, ransomware, spyware, adware protection, and firewall
Features Excellent — VPN, password manager, Web Shield browser extension, ad blocker, and data breach notifier
Native apps All main devices — Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS
Device connections Up to 10 (depends on plan)
Customer support Live chat, email, phone, and online knowledge base
Money-back guarantee 30 days
Minor cons Unhelpful and extremely slow customer support
Price increases after first subscription year
Best price $29/Year

Try TotalAV for free for 30 days!

TotalAV is a top antivirus offering protection from all forms of malware, including ransomware, spyware, adware, and network-based attacks. It offers a decent range of additional security features too, like a VPN and password manager. Above all, I found TotalAV’s apps are incredibly easy to use, making it a great option if you’re new to antivirus software or prefer simple software.

In tests, TotalAV achieves 100% detection rates while scanning and 99% during real-time protection. This makes it one of the most secure antiviruses on the market and left me feeling safe while surfing the web. You can choose between 3 scan types depending on your needs — full system scan, quick scan, or custom scan. You can also use the Smart Scan to delete tracking cookies from your browser, duplicate files to free up disk space, and see which programs slow down your device at startup.

TotalAV also uses another existing cybersecurity provider, Windscribe, to run its VPN. This gives it a performance advantage over other antivirus VPNs that build their own infrastructure. I reached an average download speed of 107Mbps between the US, UK, Germany, and Australia servers. This is plenty for browsing, streaming, and even heavy downloading — which you can take full advantage of with the unlimited data servers. I even got access to multiple Netflix libraries (US, UK, Canada, Germany), Disney+, Hulu, and HBO Max with TotalAV.

Screenshot of TotalAV's VPN unlocking Netflix and other streaming sites
I enjoyed the wide range of streaming platforms accessible with TotalAV’s VPN

You’ll also find several useful additional security features in TotalAV. With the password vault, you only need to remember one master password; it will auto-fill your credentials on all sites you visit. The ad block removes annoying and often dangerous ads for a more pleasant browsing experience. Finally, the Web Shield browser extension warns you when you’re about to visit a website flagged as a threat, keeping you safer online.

If you’re looking for an antivirus that offers advanced protection and useful features wrapped in a simple-to-use package, TotalAV is a great choice. I recommend you try TotalAV for free for 30 days with the money-back guarantee. I’ve done so myself by signing up for an annual subscription and testing it for a few weeks before contacting support via email. It took 2 days to get a reply but once I did, I got a refund confirmation just 3 hours later.

Try TotalAV for free for 30 days!

Check out the in-depth TotalAV review for more information on security results, bonus features, performance, and more.

3. Bitdefender — Powerful Antivirus Packed With Top-Notch Features

Quick Look: Bitdefender Results

Security Advanced — 100% malware detection and 99.7% real-time protection, 3 scan types, ransomware protection, advanced firewall, phishing protection, and Vulnerability Scanner
Features Excellent — Password manager, Safe Pay browser extension, parental controls, VPN, file shredder, and webcam and audio blocker
Native apps All main devices — Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and select IoT devices
Device connections Up to 10 (depends on plan)
Customer support Live chat, email, phone, and community forum
Money-back guarantee 30 days
Minor cons Parental controls affect entire PC (not individual accounts)
VPN has 200MB daily data cap on all plans except 1
Best price $29.99/Year — Free plan also available

Try Bitdefender for free for 30 days!

Bitdefender offers a well-rounded antivirus suite for beginners and advanced users alike. It has a combination of near-perfect detection rates and actually useful features to complement your device’s security in multiple ways.

Bitdefender’s antivirus engine achieved a 100% detection rate against known types of malware and 99.7% in real-time tests. I’m especially impressed with its Ransomware Remediation tool, which analyzes which files are at risk in real-time and securely backs them up. Once it has shut down the ransomware threat it can recover your data — without losing a single file in the process. You can also use the decryptor tool to attempt to rescue your data in the event that you don’t have a backup. Together, these tools vastly reduce the danger that ransomware poses.

Bitdefender desktop threat notifications.
Bitdefender prevented me from accidentally visiting any dangerous websites

Bitdefender has a range of useful features, like the File Shredder to completely erase sensitive files, the webcam and audio blocker to prevent digital eavesdropping, a Safe Pay browser extension for secure online transactions. I particularly like Bitdefender’s password manager. I usually use LastPass, which can take several seconds to load up and auto-fill a website. In my tests, Bitdefender filled my login details on all tested sites in just a second! It’s easy to set up and can store not only logins, but banking information, emails, Wi-Fi passwords, and more.

If you have a family, you’ll like the parental control tools too — you can track how much time your child spends on specific websites and apps, or block them altogether. Unfortunately, the parental controls apply to the entire device (not specific users), so this could be an issue if you share a computer with your kids.

Bitdefender also comes with a VPN, which shares infrastructure with well-known Hotspot Shield. Only the most expensive tier offers unlimited data on the VPN — every other package only provides 200MB of data each day. This is good enough for casual web browsing and checking emails, but not much else.

Unlike many antiviruses that have unintuitive or needlessly complex menus, Bitdefender’s apps are a pleasure to use. It has handy descriptions that explain exactly what each menu function does, so even beginners won’t have a problem finding what they need.

You can try Bitdefender for free for 30 days with its money-back guarantee. To confirm if this works, I sent Bitdefender an email requesting a refund. It took 5 days to get a reply, so I suggest you send your request a week before the 30-day period finishes. Fortunately, the representative didn’t waste my time with any follow-up questions and I had the money back in my account just 5 days later.

Try Bitdefender for free for 30 days!

Take a look at the Bitdefender review for a deep-dive on security benefits, features, and plan options.

4. McAfee Total Protection — Best Antivirus for Comprehensive Internet Security

Quick Look: McAfee Results

Security Advanced — 100% protection results, 3 scan types, ransomware blocking, cryptojacking defence, advanced firewall, phishing protection, vulnerability scanner
Features Excellent — High-speed VPN, file shredder, password manager, parental controls, QuickClean file cleanup tool, identity theft protection (US only)
Native apps All main devices — Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS
Device connections Unlimited (depends on plan)
Customer support Live chat, phone, and community forum
Money-back guarantee 30 days
Minor cons Slow live chat support
Price increases after first subscription year
Best price $29.99/Year

Try McAfee for free for 30 days!

McAfee is an excellent antivirus with powerful real-time protection against malware. While it has less features than Bitdefender, McAfee’s features all perform exceptionally well and make this antivirus genuine value for money.

During tests, McAfee’s scans detected 100% of malware threats (an impressive feat that few antiviruses achieve). You can choose between quick scan, full scan, and custom scan, depending on whether you want to scan the most vulnerable parts of your device or the entire hard drive. McAfee’s real-time protection also detected 100% of the most recent cyberattack. It uses its Global Threat Intelligence system to analyze existing malware and viruses to predict future threats. In addition, McAfee’s Ransom Guard tool monitors your device for potentially malicious changes to your files or folders. If anything is detected, you’ll be notified by the app to take action. I found this to be a great feature, although it lacks the cloud backup feature that makes Norton’s ransomware protection stand out.

In terms of extra features, I’m particularly impressed with McAfee’s VPN. It even unblocks Netflix US, UK, and Germany. Unfortunately, I couldn’t access any other streaming services like Disney+ or Amazon Prime Video. Along with the VPN, you’ll have access to a password manager (it also stores credit card information and notes) and parental controls. I also found “My Home Network” to be a valuable add-on. This feature maps all of the devices on your home Wi-Fi network, providing an easy-to-understand overview of your online security with the ability to lock out potential intruders.

One of McAfee’s more unique features is its secure file shredder. If you keep any sensitive data on your computer, you should never delete it in the usual way or it can be easily recovered if someone gets access to your device or drive. McAfee’s Shredder tool overwrites your data up to 10 times to ensure your sensitive files are securely deleted. Some other antiviruses include this tool, but it isn’t as common as many other features.

Screenshot of McAfee's Shredder feature
You can ensure your most sensitive files are securely deleted with McAfee’s File Shredder

If you’re looking for a solid antivirus that’s coupled with a blazing-fast VPN, I highly recommend McAfee. You can try it for free for 30 days with its money-back guarantee. While I didn’t like that I had to request a phone call from support to ask for a refund, it was surprisingly fast! It only took 15 minutes in total from my initial request to getting the phone call and refund approval.

Try McAfee for free for 30 days!

Find extended test results in the McAfee review for detailed information on security tests, user experience, pricing, and more.

5. BullGuard — Best Antivirus for High-Performance PC Gaming

Quick Look: BullGuard Results

Security Advanced — 100% protection results, 3 scan types, ransomware protection, advanced firewall, phishing protection, and Vulnerability Scanner
Features Excellent — Game Booster, ID Protection, parental controls, and cloud backup
Native apps Most main devices — Windows, Mac, and Android
Device connections Up to 15 (depends on plan)
Customer support Live chat and email
Money-back guarantee 30 days
Minor cons Mac app has less features than Windows
No support for iOS devices
Best price $20.99/Year

Try BullGuard for free for 30 days!

BullGuard has a reputation as the best antivirus for PC gamers — and I can confirm this to be true. While many other antiviruses simply stop scan activity and notifications while you’re gaming, BullGuard does the opposite. Its Game Booster tool actively moves background processes off of your CPUs cores that are being used for gaming, optimizing your game in the process.

I put this to the test by playing games both online and offline, and I was impressed to find a noticeable improvement in frame rate compared to not having Game Booster activated. BullGuard actually improves gaming performance even compared to a system with no antivirus installed! This is a huge draw for serious gamers who want the best possible performance on their PC.

Screenshot of Bullguard's Game Booster tool.
I was impressed by the gaming performance increases while using BullGuard’s Game Booster

Fortunately, it also delivers when it comes to threat protection. BullGuard detected 100% in all tests, successfully blocking all existing and unknown malware. This includes malware and phishing scams, ensuring you’re protected against data loss, fake websites, and scam emails alike.

Similarly to other antiviruses on this list, you can use 3 different scan types with BullGuard: quick scan, full scan, and custom scan. Its scans took longer than Norton and TotalAV, but the time was still respectable, taking just 10 minutes to scan 900,000 files.

Whether you’re a beginner or advanced user, you’ll also find plenty to like in BullGuard’s firewall. You can set rules for which programs can access the internet, log all incoming or outgoing traffic, see all the activity on your local network, and configure overall settings. I haven’t seen a network activity monitor in many antivirus suites, which is extremely useful to see if any devices on your local network are making suspicious connections to the outside. At the same time, the default configurations are plenty to get started and will keep users who don’t want to configure anything well protected.

If you want to check out how well BullGuard helps improve your PC’s gaming performance, you can check it out for free for 30 days with its money-back guarantee. I signed up to test this out myself, and then contacted BullGuard live chat support after a few weeks. It took 9 hours to get the refund approved, and I had the money back in my account 5 days later.

Try BullGuard for free for 30 days!

Read the full BullGuard review for a detailed look at test results and features.

6. Panda — Solid Malware Protection With Unique Features Available

Quick Look: Panda Results

Security Great — 99.7% malware detection and 100% real-time protection rates, ransomware protection, spyware protection, and adware protection
Features Average — Rescue kit, process monitor, app control, password manager, parental controls, VPN, gaming mode, anti-theft, data security, and web protection
Native apps All main devices — Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS
Device connections Unlimited (depends on plan)
Customer support Live chat, email, phone, and community forum
Money-back guarantee 30 days
Minor cons VPN has 150MB daily data cap on all plans except 1
Slow and unhelp customer support via live chat and email
Best price $44.24/Year — Free plan also available

Try Panda for free for 30 days!

Panda is a powerful antivirus for core malware protection, with the addition of a few unique and expected features fleshing it out. With 99.7% detection during malware scans and 100% protection in a real-time environment, Panda proved that it’s good enough to be ranked alongside the best antiviruses on the market.

To the best of my knowledge, Panda’s application control feature can’t be found in any other antiviruses. You can select which programs installed on your PC can be run, turning your PC into an increasingly secure closed system. If any apps attempt to install themselves or change your settings, Panda will notify you.

Screenshot of Panda's Application Control configuration menu.
For added security you can configure Panda to only allow specific programs to run

Rescue Kit is another unique feature — it allows you to create a rescue USB drive to recover a computer that’s so badly infected that it can’t be booted, as well as detect advanced viruses with its deep-scan Cloud Cleaner. I also like the anti-theft tools, which you can use to track or remotely wipe all of your devices, take photos of people trying to log in, and more. I was less impressed with Panda’s password manager (which was more tedious than others I’ve used), VPN (which had good speeds but extremely limited data on all but 1 plan), and gaming mode (which worked decently but not as well as BullGuard).

You can try Panda’s unique features with a free trial for 30 days. You can even use the 30-day money-back guarantee afterwards, giving you a total of 60 days risk-free. I verified the refund policy by signing up for a month, testing its features, and then submitting a refund request through the online form. My refund was approved in under 3 hours and I had the money back in 8 days.

Try Panda for free for 30 days!

Explore the detailed Panda review for more research and testing results.

7. Sophos — Web Browser Dashboard for Easy Remote Management

Quick Look: Sophos Results

Security Good — 100% detection in malware scans and 99.4% real-time malware protection, blocks dangerous sites and phishing attempts, and ransomware protection
Features Great — Remote management dashboard, banking protection, parental controls, and webcam protection
Native apps All main devices — Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS
Device connections Up to 10 (depends on plan)
Customer support Live chat, email, social media, and FAQs
Money-back guarantee 30 days
Minor cons Requires internet connection to access full features
Noticeably slows down device
Best price $50.99/Year — Free plan also available

Try Sophos for free for 30 days!

Sophos has a strong antivirus engine alongside a few select additional features. One of its most unique features is its remote management dashboard. You can simply log in on a browser and manage all of your devices from there. You can even remotely start scans from here, as well as check security alerts or change per-device settings. If you’re a parent or the most tech-savvy in the family, this gives you a great way to keep an easy overview on the health of all connected devices.

Screenshot of Sophos antivirus dashboard with remote scan highlighted
You can manage and scan all your connected devices remotely with Sophos’ web dashboard

Sophos also focuses on banking protection, with several features that give extra peace of mind while performing sensitive financial operations. It does this by detecting and blocking keyloggers (that can record your keystrokes) and by proactively screening and blocking websites that may be hosting malware. The downside is that these bonus features are only available in Sophos’ paid plan, not the basic free software.

If you’re a parent you’ll likely find the parental controls very helpful in keeping your kids safe on the web. From the web dashboard you can set up content filters, block specific websites, and prevent them from falling prey to phishing scams. As some of the most vulnerable users on the web, it’s crucial for children to have this extra layer of protection.

You can try Sophos with the 30-day free trial. You can even combine it with the 30-day money-back guarantee in order to test out Sophos for 60 days in total without risk. When I tested the refund process, I was surprised to see how simple it is. I just had to submit a request to customer support and my request was approved in under an hour. It took 9 days for the money to return to my account.

Try Sophos for free for 30 days!

Check the in-depth Sophos review for more details on its security, additional features, and more testing results.

8. Malwarebytes — Solid Antivirus Protection That Won’t Slow You Down

Quick Look: Malwarebytes Results

Security Advanced — 100% malware and real-time protection, 3 scan types, ransomware protection, advanced firewall, and phishing protection
Features Average — VPN, Play Mode, and Browser Guard extension
Native apps All main devices — Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS
Device connections Up to 5 (depends on plan)
Customer support Live chat and email
Money-back guarantee 60 days
Minor cons Not many features compared to other top antiviruses
No ransomware, web, and exploit protection for macOS
Best price $42.33/Year — Free plan also available

Try Malwarebytes for free for 60 days!

Malwarebytes has evolved from useful antivirus support software to being a powerful security suite in its own right. It has 100% detection rates in both system scans and real-time protection, a metric that the company has vastly improved on in recent years. While this is a fantastic improvement, I find the company’s rebuilt scan engine most impressive of all.

In tests, it took a mere 90 seconds to scan over 300,000 files with Malwarebytes’ Threat Scan. This is significantly faster than every other antivirus, making it a great choice for users who like running daily scans without hogging their system resources for too long.

Screenshot of Malwarebytes Threat Scan results.
You can quickly scan a huge amount of files on your system with Malwarebytes’ Threat Scan

While its malware protection is strong, Malwarebytes also excels at ransomware detection and prevention. It uses AI to analyze how programs interact with your files and can shut them down if they’re readying to encrypt your data. This means it can stop even zero-day attacks that are not already in the threat database.

Where Malwarebytes falls short in comparison to other antivirus suites is its lack of features. Its only real feature is the VPN included with the Premium + Privacy plan, although you have to download it separately from the main app. Fortunately, the VPN has a decent amount of servers — 300+ servers in 30+ countries. I could unblock both Netflix US and Hulu content from Europe with it and stream in high quality.

You can try Malwarebytes’ security-centric suite for free for 30 days with its money-back guarantee. I was surprised by the process’s simplicity — I sent an email request and had my refund approved just 3 hours later! I had the money back in my account 8 days later.

Try Malwarebytes for free for 60 days!

Discover more in the Malwarebyte review for information on security, speeds, and pricing.

9. Heimdal — Decent Malware Protection With Basic Security Features

Quick Look: Heimdal Results

Security Average — 99.9% malware scans and 82.2% during real-time protection, firewall, ransomware protection, and phishing protection
Features Average — X-Ploit Resilience (patches outdated software) and secure app installation
Native apps Most main devices — Windows, Mac, and Android
Device connections 3 devices (depends on plan)
Customer support Email and online knowledge base
Money-back guarantee 30 days
Minor cons No iOS support
Only 1 plan offers malware protection and removal
Best price $44.96/Year — Free plan also available

Try Heimdal for free for 30 days!

Heimdal is a decent antivirus with a powerful virus scanner. It uses its Vector Detection tool, which runs deep scans to ensure no threats are compromising your system firmware. However, its real-time protection rate could use improvement. In tests, Heimdal discovered 99.9% of malware in virus scans but only 82.2% of real-time cyberthreats.

Aside from malware protection, Heimdal keeps your device safe from third-party interference with a firewall. This ensures trusted apps and traffic can pass without being accidentally flagged as a threat. Another useful feature is the X-ploit Resilience feature, which automatically monitors selected apps and keeps them updated. This ensures that there aren’t any security vulnerabilities leaving your device exposed through outdated software versions.

Screenshot of Heimdal's Xploit Resilience feature.
You’ll never have to manually update your apps with Heimdal’s X-ploit Resilience tool

You can install Heimdal on 3 devices with all available plans, on either your desktop or Android device. The interface is customizable and easy to use, even offering different skins depending on your preference. It’s easy to navigate between sections for beginner users but it’s also packed with more in-depth options for more advanced users.

If you’re unsure whether to commit to a subscription or not, you can try out Heimdal for free for 30 days with its money-back guarantee. I found Heimdal’s support options underwhelming, providing only a ticketing system to contact support with no live chat or phone alternative. However, after I requested a refund via email, I received an approval within just 30 minutes with no questions asked.

Try Heimdal for free for 30 days!

Learn more about Heimdal in the full review for more information on security, speeds, user experience, and more.

10. Cylance — Simple and Lightweight Antivirus

Quick Look: Cylance Results

Security Average — Lightweight cloud-based AI protection with 85.1% malware detection rates and 99.6% real-time protection
Features Average — None
Native apps All main devices — Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS
Device connections Up to 10 (depends on plan)
Customer support Email and online knowledge base
Money-back guarantee 30 days
Minor cons Unreliable real-time malware scanner
Requires internet connection to use remote dashboard
No extra features (like VPN or password manager)
Best price $29/Year

Try Cylance for free for 30 days!

Owned by BlackBerry, Cylance provides a lightweight antivirus solution due to its advanced cloud-based technology. From my years of testing antivirus software, I’ve seen that most traditional antiviruses use signature-based models that are resource-heavy and often slow down your device. Cylance avoids this decrease in system performance by executing resource-intensive processes in the cloud. It also uses artificial intelligence to proactively detect new threats and prevent them from reaching your device.

Screenshot of Cylance's web-based dashboard displaying the current safety level of connected devices and which threats have been detected.
Cylance has a small performance impact thanks to its lightweight client and browser interface

I find Cylance’s feature set to be a little lackluster compared to the competition. The desktop application is extremely basic, providing you only with cloud-based protection for your device. The browser dashboard allows you to monitor all your connected devices on its sleek interface — even on mobile devices. However, if you’re specifically looking for a lightweight antivirus, Cylance is a great option.

I recommend that you try Cylance for free for 30 days with its money-back guarantee. Form requests are the only way to request a refund, with replies coming back in the form of email or through the Cylance dashboard. I found requests to be a positive experience and received a reply within 6 hours (my refund arrived 5 days later).

Try Cylance for free for 30 days!

Read the in-depth Cylance review for more information on security results, performance, pricing, and more.

Other Antivirus Competitors That Didn’t Make the Cut

For various reasons, there were a few popular antivirus programs that weren’t good enough to make the list. Here’s why:

Avast and AVG

Avast and AVG (owned by Avast) are popular antivirus brands but unfortunately, I no longer trust either service. This is because Avast was caught secretly collecting and selling private user data, including people’s Google searches and visits to adult websites. The company’s lack of ethics is extremely disappointing, especially since I was previously quite a fan of Avast and AVG’s powerful antivirus capabilities. Even though the company has since claimed to have stopped its data-selling operations, my trust is still shaken enough to keep it off this list.

Microsoft Defender

Formerly known as Windows Defender, Microsoft Defender is free and built into every Windows 10 device (so it doesn’t work on Mac, Android or iOS). While Microsoft Defender does offer an additional layer of security, it falls short as a complete antivirus solution. In tests, Microsoft Defender failed to detect some of the latest malware threats that the best antivirus brands easily blocked. New malware is constantly being released, so it’s an issue when Microsoft doesn’t update Defender regularly enough to flag the latest threats.

Intego

Intego is the best antivirus for Mac but unfortunately, that’s also part of the reason why it falls short — Intego was exclusively developed for Mac. It doesn’t have apps for iOS or Android, and its Windows app is extremely basic. Perhaps with time, Intego will perfect its Windows version to be equally as powerful as its Mac software — Intego scored an impressive 100% malware detection rate in tests and offers a fantastic range of Mac-specific optimization tools.

Avira

Avira narrowly missed making it onto this list. During tests, I found Avira’s antivirus engine is near-perfect with excellent malware detection scores. Unfortunately, the company also has the worst customer service that I’ve ever experienced. I have mixed feelings about its feature set as well — not every feature is necessary or even works. These shortcomings make it poor value for money, especially considering its premium tier is more expensive than top brands like Norton.

Quick Comparison Table: Which Antivirus is Best in 2021?

99%+ Malware Detection Firewall VPN Free Plan Money-Back Guarantee
1. Norton 60 days
2. TotalAV
30 days
3. Bitdefender 30 days
4. McAfee 30 days
5. BullGuard 30 days
6. Panda 30 days
7. Sophos 30 days
8. Malwarebytes 60 days
9. Heimdal 30 days
10. Cylance 30 days

FAQ: Best Antivirus Software for 2021

🤔 What’s the best antivirus for my device?

Every antivirus software on this list runs on Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. However, Norton is the best all-round antivirus for all devices. It has 100% detection rates during scans and in real-time protection and additional security features, such as ransomware and phishing protection. You also get a speedy and unlimited data VPN to encrypt your online traffic and unblock streaming services, including Netflix US and HBO. Taken as a whole, Norton is fantastic value for money.

I recommend Intego if you’re looking for Mac-specific antivirus software. While Norton is on par with Intego in terms of malware protection, Intego offers a set of optimization features exclusively developed for macOS.

🤑 What’s the best free antivirus in 2021?

It’s crucial to find a trustworthy free antivirus as the majority on the internet are actually malware in disguise. Luckily, many of the best (paid) antiviruses for 2021 also have a free version, including Bitdefender, Panda, Sophos, and Malwarebytes. This means you can enjoy powerful malware protection at no cost. However, keep in mind that every free version does come with some limitations. This ranges from restrictions on bundled features (like a VPN or password manager) to zero protection against complex forms of malware.

🤓 Does antivirus software slow down my device?

Yes, every antivirus will inevitably delay your system performance. However, the best antivirus brands have developed its software with this slowdown in mind — and include performance-boosting features to offset any lag. Advanced protection shouldn’t come at the cost of your device’s speed, so I ensured that every top 10 antivirus has an unnoticeable or minor performance impact.

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Lucca RF
Written By Lucca RF
Lucca is a tech writer with a focus on cyber security, cryptocurrency, and logistics. He has been researching government overreach via digital surveillance for several years now, and his interest in VPNs and online safety goes hand-in-hand with this.