7 Best Antiviruses for Windows in 2023 – Fully Protect Your PC

Osama Zahid
Last Updated by Osama Zahid on September 05, 2023

Windows’ popularity makes it the most common target for malware and cyber threats. Also, Microsoft’s built-in antivirus isn’t good enough for comprehensive security, so you’re at risk when surfing the web, downloading files, or opening emails on Windows devices.

To protect your devices, I tested various antiviruses and picked the best ones for securing Windows systems. They offer excellent malware detection scores and various advanced features for added protection.

Every antivirus on this list is effective, but Norton stands out as the best antivirus for Windows. It has industry-leading 100% malware detection, advanced security features like a built-in VPN and dark web monitoring, and responsive customer support. Best of all, you can try Norton risk-free for 60 days with its generous money-back guarantee.

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Quick Guide: 7 Best Antivirus Software for Windows

  1. Norton — #1 Windows antivirus with a perfect 100% malware detection score and reliable security features. Try Norton risk-free for 60 days.
  2. TotalAV — provides multiple optimization tools to improve system performance but has slow customer support.
  3. McAfee — has a robust firewall to secure Windows systems but isn’t as feature-rich.
  4. Intego — offers a beginner-friendly interface but the Windows app isn’t as feature-rich.
  5. Bitdefender — is a feature-rich security app with many useful tools, but it costs more than other options.
  6. Panda — is well-rounded antivirus that provides reliable security, but its apps aren’t as intuitive.
  7. Avira — lightweight and low-impact Windows antivirus but doesn’t have perfect malware detection scores.

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Do I Need an Antivirus for Windows?

Indeed, having a reliable antivirus program is necessary for Windows users. Although Microsoft Defender, the built-in security feature of Windows, offers decent fundamental protection, it may not be sufficient to ensure complete and robust security measures.

Windows is the primary target for malware attacks because it has fewer built-in security measures than platforms like macOS. Also, it’s the most widely used operating system across the globe, thus making it an even bigger target.

Whether browsing websites, downloading files, opening emails, or doing anything else online, you’re at risk if you’re using a Windows device. So, it’s critical to safeguard your system with a top antivirus. Besides blocking malware infections, the top antiviruses have features to guarantee the safety of your personal information and your home network.

The Best Antiviruses for Windows — Fully Tested in 2023

1. Norton — #1 Windows Antivirus With Flawless 100% Malware Detection

Key Features:

  • Detects 100% of malware without highlighting false positives.
  • Has parental controls and encrypted cloud storage for extra protection.
  • Secures online activity with its built-in VPN and web protection.
  • Protects Windows 11, 10, 8.1, 8, and 7 (SP1).
  • Offers a 60-day money-back guarantee.

Norton is the best antivirus for Windows because of its excellent malware detection, powerful security features, and responsive customer support. Also, its innovative SONAR protection provides effective real-time security by using machine learning to analyze behavior and check if a file is malicious.

In my tests, Norton had a perfect 100% malware detection score. I tested its quick and full scans, which took 2 and 20 minutes, respectively, and found all threats. Also, the innovative Norton Insight feature makes subsequent scans even shorter by skipping files marked safe in previous scans.

Besides its virus scans, Norton includes the following features for added security:

  • Encrypted Cloud Storage — offers up to 500GB (in the US) of secure cloud storage to safeguard sensitive files.
  • PC SafeCam — blocks unauthorized attempts to access your system’s webcam.
  • Password Manager — provides safe storage for passwords and other sensitive information.
  • Built-in VPN — uses AES 256-bit encryption to keep you safe online.
  • Dark Web Monitoring — lets you know if your logins were compromised in data breaches.
  • Parental Controls — provide various tools to monitor, manage, and protect your kids’ online activity.

Norton also offers excellent web protection for security against malicious websites, unsafe downloads, and phishing scams. I tried opening unsafe websites and downloading malware samples with it enabled, and Norton blocked every malicious download and website.

Norton blocked malicious site screenshot
Norton didn’t let me access any dangerous websites or download malicious files

I was also pleased with Norton’s impressive customer support, which includes 24/7 live chat, phone support, and an online knowledge base. Norton’s live chat connected me to an agent within a minute whenever I needed help, and the agents provided helpful answers to my questions.

Norton’s plans start at just $19.99/year and include the following:

  • Antivirus Plus — has Norton’s core antivirus, firewall, password manager, 2GB of cloud storage (in the US), and protects 1 device.
  • 360 Standard — has all the above features, Norton’s VPN, Dark Web Monitoring, PC SafeCam, and protection for 3 devices.
  • 360 Deluxe — provides Norton’s parental controls, Privacy Monitor, 50GB of cloud storage (in the US), protection for 5 devices, and everything in Standard.
  • 360 Select — secures up to 10 devices with all the above features, 250GB of cloud storage, and Norton’s ID monitoring.
  • 360 Advantage — has everything in 360 Select and includes Norton’s Identity Lock.
  • 360 Ultimate Plus — offers all the above features, 500GB of cloud storage (in the US), Norton’s Home Title Monitoring, and protection for unlimited devices.

You’ll get the best value with Norton’s $49.99/year 360 Deluxe plan because it protects multiple devices, has a VPN, and provides lots of cloud storage. Also, you can try Norton risk-free on any plan thanks to its 60-day money-back guarantee. Claiming a refund via live chat is easy, and I had my money back in 5 days when I requested a refund.

Secure your PC with Norton

2. TotalAV — Improves Performance While Protecting Your Windows System Against Malware

Key Features:

  • Finds 100% of malware via its various virus scans.
  • Includes a Smart Scan to find ways to optimize system performance.
  • Has a Data Breach Checker that checks for leaked passwords.
  • Protects Windows 11, 10, 8.1, 8, and 7 (SP1).
  • Provides a 30-day money-back guarantee.

TotalAV is an excellent Windows antivirus because it helps optimize your system while securing it against malware. I was especially impressed with its Smart Scan, which removes junk files, disables startup programs, and deletes cookies to speed up your system.

TotalAV features smart scan tune up recommendation screenshot
TotalAV’s Smart Scan finds various ways to enhance system performance

During my tests, TotalAV’s virus scans successfully found and removed 100% of the malware I hid on my system. Its scans are also reasonably fast, but its real-time security only blocks 99% of zero-day malware. In contrast, Norton’s protection is more effective as it detects all real-time threats.

I also like TotalAV’s excellent built-in VPN, which uses industry-standard AES 256-bit encryption to safeguard your online activity. Also, it provides fast connection speeds and unblocks various streaming platforms. My team and I successfully accessed Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu with TotalAV’s VPN in our tests.

You’ll also get other security features with this app, like the following:

  • WebShield — provides safety online by blocking malicious websites.
  • Password Manager — secures your passwords and credentials (but doesn’t have features like vault auditing and automatic sync).
  • Data Breach Test — checks if your passwords were leaked in past data breaches.

TotalAV’s plans are affordable, starting at just $19.00/year. It currently offers the following plans:

  • Antivirus Pro — has TotalAV’s antivirus, WebShield, optimization tools, and protection for 3 devices.
  • Internet Security — includes TotalAV’s VPN, everything in Antivirus Pro, and protection for up to 5 devices.
  • Total Security — offers TotalAV’s ad blocker, password manager, everything in Internet Security, and protection for up to 6 devices.

TotalAV also has a free plan with on-demand malware scans and basic web protection. However, it’s unreliable for comprehensive protection because it lacks real-time security and other useful features.

I consider TotalAV’s $39.00/year Internet Security plan the best value because it offers the necessary security features and protects up to 5 devices. Also, thanks to its money-back guarantee, you can try TotalAV risk-free for 30 days regardless of your plan. I had my money back in just 2 days when I asked for a refund via phone support.

Secure your PC with TotalAV

3. McAfee — Reliable Antivirus With an Effective Firewall for Added Protection

Key Features:

  • Achieves a 100% malware detection score via scans.
  • Includes a secure and highly customizable firewall for added security.
  • Provides a built-in VPN and WebAdvisor for online safety.
  • Works on Windows 11 and 10.
  • Offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.

McAfee is an effective Windows antivirus because of its secure firewall and impressive malware detection scores. Its firewall also provides an intuitive interface and extensive customization options, thus letting you adjust its settings to your liking.

McAfee antivirus firewall customization screenshot
Configuring McAfee’s firewall takes only a few minutes

After multiple tests, I learned that McAfee’s scans successfully find and removes 100% of malware. However, its scans are much slower than Norton’s, as the quick scan takes 5 minutes, and the full scan takes over an hour.

You’ll also find various other features in McAfee that improve overall security. These include:

  • Web Protection — protects you from malicious websites and phishing attempts.
  • Built-in VPN — uses AES 256-bit encryption to protect your online activity.
  • Tracker Remover — removes trackers and other files that can monitor your activity to serve targeted ads.
  • Network Scanner — monitors your network and informs you about any intruders.
  • ID Theft Protection — secures you against ID theft by monitoring your credentials (available in 32 countries, including the US, Canada, Mexico, UK, and various others).
  • Parental Controls — manage and monitor your kids’ activity and location to keep them safe.

McAfee also provides ransomware protection and prevents ransomware attacks from encrypting your files. Plus, it offers a ransomware rollback feature that restores encrypted files if they become infected with ransomware.

You can get McAfee for as low as $44.99/year, and its various plans include the following:

  • Total Protection Plus — includes McAfee’s antivirus features, web protection, password manager, firewall, ID monitoring, VPN, file shredder, and protection for up to 5 devices.
  • McAfee+ Premium — has McAfee’s Personal Data Cleanup scans, everything in Total Protection Plus, and protection for up to 10 devices.
  • McAfee+ Advanced — offers McAfee’s full-service Personal Data Cleanup, lost wallet protection, monthly credit reports, and $1M ID theft coverage, besides everything in McAfee+ Premium.
  • McAfee+ Ultimate — provides McAfee’s credit lock, 25K ransomware coverage, daily credit reports, and everything in McAfee+ Advanced.

I advise getting McAfee’s $39.99/year Total Protection Plus plan because it offers the best value for money. Of course, you can try McAfee risk-free regardless of your plan, thanks to its 30-day money-back guarantee. Claiming a refund requires a quick call to McAfee’s phone support, and I had my money back in 7 days when I requested mine.

Secure your PC with McAfee

4. Intego — Beginner-Friendly Antivirus That Provides Effective Security

Key Features:

  • Has quick and full scans that effectively find and remove 99.4% of malware.
  • Provides a Deepclean feature to clean your registry, fix memory issues, and more.
  • Offers a highly intuitive and beginner-friendly app.
  • Works on Windows 11, 10, 8.1, 8, and 7.
  • Comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Often considered the #1 macOS antivirus, Intego also provides excellent safety on Windows systems. It has effective virus scans to find and remove malware, reliable real-time security, and a highly intuitive app that even beginners can easily use to secure their systems.

Screenshot of Intego's beginner-friendly Windows app interface

Intego has a highly intuitive and beginner-friendly interface

Throughout my tests, Intego’s virus scans protected my Windows system from 99.4% of malware. Unfortunately, Intego’s Windows app doesn’t have the 2-way NetBarrier firewall, which is among the best features in its macOS app. Also, its full scan took over an hour to complete, while Norton finished the same scan in 20 minutes.

You’ll also get the following tools with Intego to improve Windows performance and security:

  • Prevention Engine — monitors process behavior to detect suspicious activity and block zero-day malware.
  • Complete Checkup — finds and removes unnecessary files to free up space on your system.

Intego offers Personal, Family, and Extended plans for Windows safety. The plans protect 1, 3, and 5 Windows PCs respectively, and you’ll get the best value with its Extended plan that protects 5 PCs for 1 year at a reasonable price. The only difference in its plans is the number of devices protected, so you’ll get all its features regardless of your choice.

You can try Intego risk-free for 30 days thanks to its money-back guarantee. If unsatisfied, getting a refund during this 30-day window is easy. I had my money back within 10 days of submitting a refund request after my tests. Also, there’s a 7-day free trial for Windows, thus giving you lots of time to try Intego’s premium features.

Secure your PC with Intego

5. Bitdefender — Feature-Rich Antivirus With Various Tools to Protect Your Windows Systems

Key Features:

  • Provides multiple virus scans that find 100% of malware.
  • Has ransomware protection to safeguard critical files.
  • Includes a secure and customizable firewall for added protection.
  • Secures Windows 11, 10, 8.1, 8, and 7 (SP1).
  • Offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Bitdefender offers multiple virus scans and security features to protect Windows devices. During my tests, Bitdefender’s scans detected 100% of the malware on my system. Also, it has the following tools to improve your overall security:

  • Built-in VPN — provides online safety and fast connection speeds with AES 256-bit encryption and Hotspot Shield’s proprietary Catapult Hydra protocol.
  • Password Manager — provides safe storage for passwords and other sensitive information.
  • Customizable Firewall — acts as your system’s first line of defense and has many customization options.
  • Ransomware Remediation — backs up important files and restores them in case of a ransomware attack.
  • Parental Controls — protect your kids by monitoring their activity, filtering content, and using geofencing to track their location.

I also found that Bitdefender has effective real-time security that blocks 100% of zero-day threats, which is impressive. However, it isn’t as reliable as Norton’s flawless real-time protection, which blocks every zero-day malware.

While Bitdefender’s pricing is initially reasonable and starts at just $19.99/year, renewing it after the first year is significantly more expensive. Its price plans currently include the following:

  • Antivirus Plus — includes Bitdefender’s core antivirus features, 200MB/day VPN, and protection for 1 device (Windows only).
  • Internet Security — has Bitdefender’s Privacy Firewall, parental controls, everything in Antivirus Plus, and protection for 3 devices (Windows only).
  • Total Security — provides Bitdefender’s optimization tools, protection for up to 5 devices, and everything in Internet Security (all platforms).
  • Premium Security — has Bitdefender’s password manager, unlimited VPN, all of Total Security’s features, and protection for up to 10 devices.
  • Ultimate Security — offers Bitdefender’s ID monitoring and all of Premium Security’s features.

You’ll get the best value with Bitdefender’s $35.99/year Total Security plan because it protects 5 devices, and works on all platforms, thus letting you protect mobile devices alongside your Windows systems.

Whichever plan you choose, you can try Bitdefender risk-free because it has a 30-day money-back guarantee. You can easily claim a refund by sending a request via email, and I got my money back within 5 days of my refund request.

Secure your PC with Bitdefender

6. Panda — Well-Rounded Antivirus With a Unique Rescue Kit Feature

Key Features:

  • Finds and removes 98% of malware via its virus scans.
  • Includes an anti-theft feature to help find stolen devices.
  • Protects against phishing scams and malicious downloads.
  • Secures Windows 11, 10, 8.1, 8, 7, Vista, and XP (SP3).
  • Has a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Panda offers a well-rounded security suite to safeguard Windows systems. It offers reliable virus scans, effective real-time security, and various security features to protect your Windows devices from cyber threats.

After tests, I learned that Panda reliably finds and removes 98% of malware via its scans. Of course, it’s not as effective as Norton, which eliminates 100%, but it still has an impressive detection score and is way above the industry average.

Besides its malware scans and real-time security, Panda provides the following to protect your Windows system:

  • Web Protection — keeps you from opening unsafe websites that could infect your system.
  • Built-in VPN — protects your online activity with industry-standard AES 256-bit encryption.
  • File Shredder — securely deletes sensitive files you don’t want anyone else to access.
  • File Encryption — encrypts and password-protects important files so no one but you can access them.
  • Anti-theft — helps locate your device if it’s ever stolen.
  • WiFi Protection — monitors your WiFi network so you know if any intruders connect to it.

Panda also provides parental controls, but these are quite simple and only encompass website filtering functions. In contrast to Norton’s parental controls, you’re unable to limit screen time or effectively track your children’s application usage.

You can get Panda for as low as $19.20/year and choose from the following plans:

  • Essential — provides Panda’s antivirus features, 150MB/day VPN, and WiFi protection.
  • Advanced — has Panda’s parental controls, ID protection, and the features in Essential.
  • Complete — includes Panda’s optimization tools, password, manager, and all of Advanced’s features.
  • Premium — offers Panda’s unlimited VPN, priority customer support, and all the features in Complete.

I suggest you get Panda’s $40.20/year Premium plan if you want the best overall value. Also, all Panda plans can protect up to unlimited devices, but the price increases based on how many devices you want to protect.

Thanks to its money-back guarantee, you can try Panda risk-free for 30 days. If unsatisfied, you can easily request a refund via web form. It took only 8 days to get my money back when I submitted a refund request after my tests.

Secure your PC with Panda

7. Avira — Lightweight Antivirus That Protects Your PC Without Impacting Performance

Key Features:

  • Detects and eliminates 100% of malware through virus scans.
  • Has optimization tools to improve system performance.
  • Offers features like a built-in VPN and password manager for added security.
  • Works on Windows 11, 10, 8.1, 8, and 7 (SP1).
  • Includes a 60-day money-back guarantee.

Avira provides excellent security on Windows devices without slowing down performance. It’s a lightweight cloud-based antivirus with various virus scans, and it offers helpful features to optimize system performance and improve security, including:

  • Built-in VPN — protects you online by encrypting your connection with AES 256-bit encryption.
  • Password Manager — provides a way to store and use your passwords safely.
  • Power Cleaner — removes junk files to free up space on your system.
  • Software Updater — fixes vulnerabilities by ensuring you have up-to-date software.
  • Hyper Boost — improves Windows startup time by making various optimizations.

You’ll also get effective virus scans with this security app. Avira’s virus scans detected 100% of malware in my tests, which is an impressive score. However, top choices like Norton outperform it with faster scans and a flawless detection rate. Also, Avira offers excellent real-time security with a 100% detection rate.

Among Avira’s biggest highlights is its excellent free plan, which includes its virus scans, real-time security, and 500MB/day VPN for 1 device. However, it also offers well-priced paid plans starting at just $26.99/year, which include the following:

  • Antivirus Pro — has Avira’s firewall, core antivirus features, 150MB/day VPN, and protection for 1 device.
  • Internet Security — includes Avira’s password manager, software updater, and all the features in Antivirus Pro (Windows only).
  • Prime — protects up to 5 devices and includes Avira’s unlimited VPN, optimization tools, and everything in Internet Security (all platforms).

Avira’s $59.99/year Prime plan delivers the best overall value, and you can try Avira risk-free for 60 days thanks to its money-back guarantee. Also, it’s easy to get a refund via email, and I had my money back in 24 hours when I requested a refund after my tests.

Secure your PC with Avira

Warning! Avoid These 2 Antivirus Brands

1. Microsoft Defender

While it’s good for basic security, Microsoft Defender doesn’t have a customizable firewall, built-in VPN, and other advanced security features. So, it can’t provide the comprehensive protection you’d get with a top premium antivirus.

2. Avast

There are concerns surrounding Avast (and its subsidiary AVG) since its data-selling scandal, so it isn’t the best choice to guarantee your security and privacy. However, Avast has since dropped its data-selling subsidiary and was acquired by another company, meaning it’s much more trustworthy now.

Quick Comparison Table: 2023’s Best Antiviruses for Windows

Norton TotalAV McAfee Intego Bitdefender Panda Avira
Malware Detection via Scans 100% 100% 100% 99.4% 100% 98% 100%
Real-Time Malware Detection 100% 97% 100% 99.4% 100% 98% 100%
Built-in VPN
Customizable Firewall
Parental Controls
Number of Devices 10 6 10 5 10 unlimited 5
Lowest Price $19.99 $19.00 $44.99 $19.99 $19.99 $19.20 $26.99
Money-Back Guarantee 60 days 30 days 30 days 30 days 30 days 30 days 60 days

6 Easy Steps: How to Install & Use an Antivirus for Windows

The following steps explain how to install and use an antivirus to secure your Windows system. I suggest you use Norton to protect your PC because of its flawless malware detection.

  1. Subscribe to your preferred plan — Navigate to Norton price plans and click Subscribe Now on whichever plan suits you.
    Screenshot of Norton's price plans
  2. Download Norton — Log into Norton’s web portal after subscribing and download its setup.
    Screenshot of Norton's price plans
  3. Install Norton — Run Norton’s setup to install it on your system.
    Screenshot showing Norton's installation in progress on Windows
  4. Open Scan Options — Access Norton’s available scans via the dropdown menu next to Device Security.
    Screenshot showing how to access Norton's Scan Options Menu
  5. Start the Full Scan — Click on Full Scan and then click Go to check your system for malware.
    Screenshot showing how to start Norton's Full Scan
  6. Remove threats — Wait for the scan to finish, remove/quarantine any detected threats, and click on Finish to end the scan.
    Screenshot showing how to finish Norton's Full Scan

How I Tested and Ranked the Best Antiviruses for Windows

I used the following criteria to rank the top antiviruses for Windows:

  • Malware detection — I chose antiviruses with perfect or near-perfect malware detection via scans and real-time security, especially on Windows.
  • Extra features — I picked security apps with additional features like built-in VPNs, parental controls, customizable firewalls, and more.
  • Ease of use — I selected antiviruses that are intuitive and easy to use.
  • Customer support — I found apps with reliable customer support available to help anytime.
  • Value for money — I picked antiviruses with various price plans that deliver excellent value for the price.
  • Money-back guarantee — I only suggested antiviruses with money-back guarantees so you can try them risk-free.

FAQs on Windows Antivirus Software

Do I really need an antivirus for Windows?

Yes, you need top antivirus software for Windows because it’s the most common target for malware. Windows PCs are at risk of infection whether you’re browsing websites, downloading files, or opening emails, meaning it’s crucial to keep your system safe and encrypt your connection with a top antivirus.

Will an antivirus slow down my computer?

Sometimes, but the top antiviruses I’ve suggested don’t cause slowdowns because they’re lightweight and don’t take up resources. There are, of course, many low-quality antiviruses that use a lot of system resources while idle and during scans, thus causing slowdowns.

Is Windows’ Microsoft Defender antivirus good?

Somewhat, but you should get a reliable premium antivirus for comprehensive security. Microsoft Defender doesn’t have perfect malware detection, a customizable firewall, a built-in VPN, and other things that guarantee airtight protection.

So, while Microsoft Defender is good for basic security, it won’t secure you against advanced zero-day malware, encrypt your browsing activity, or protect your online identity.

What’s the overall best antivirus for Windows?

There are various effective antiviruses you can get for Windows. However, Norton is the best overall antivirus, providing flawless malware detection, impressive security features, and reliable customer support.

Best of all, you can try Norton completely risk-free for 60 days with its money-back guarantee. Claiming a refund is easy, and we’ve discussed the refund process in our in-depth Norton review.

Can I use a free antivirus instead of a paid one?

You can, but I suggest choosing a reliable premium antivirus instead. Free antiviruses usually have poor malware detection scores and don’t have the advanced security features you’d get with premium antiviruses. Plus, their customer support is often unresponsive and won’t help if you face issues.

Try Norton risk-free for 60 days

Protect Your Windows PC With the Best Antivirus Software

Since most malware is designed to exploit Windows’ vulnerabilities, getting a reliable premium antivirus is crucial because the built-in Microsft Defender isn’t enough. After installing a top antivirus, you can stream your favorite shows, download files, and read emails on Windows devices without worrying about malware infections.

The antiviruses listed above can secure your Windows PC with their reliable malware detection. Also, they include features like built-in VPNs, customizable firewalls, and dark web monitoring for added protection.

Every app on this list is effective, but Norton is the best overall antivirus for Windows PCs, thanks to its comprehensive security. It has perfect 100% malware detection scores, effective security features, industry-leading customer support, and affordable pricing. Also, it provides a generous 60-day money-back guarantee, meaning you can try Norton completely risk-free.


Summary — Best Antiviruses for Windows in 2023

Top Choice
$19.99 / year Save 60%
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$44.99 / year Save 70%
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We rank vendors based on rigorous testing and research, but also take into account your feedback and our commercial agreements with providers. This page contains affiliate links.

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