The Best Antivirus Software 2023

There are countless antivirus software options on the market, both free and that require a subscription fee. We tested several of them and compiled our picks for the top five options to explore in 2023 for better device security.

Best Overall Protection

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On AVG's website

  • Innovative antivirus solutions help remove new threats
  • Free version comes with browser and anti-malware protection
  • Potential for false positives

Best Budget-Friendly Antivirus

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On TotalAV's website

  • Highly-rated protection from multiple threats
  • User-friendly interface and overall app
  • Prone to glitchy crashes during use of some features

Best Protection for Multiple Devices

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On McAfee's website

  • Excellent protection
  • Additional features like a file shredder and parental controls
  • Multiple pop-ups for text notifications can be annoying

Best for Premium PC Protection

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On Bitdefender's website

  • Simple yet powerful interface tools
  • Near-perfect protection score in third-party tests
  • Premium features incur additional subscription fees

Best Free Antivirus

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On Avast's website

  • Alerts you to unsafe sites and blocks web trackers
  • Scans Wi-Fi networks for vulnerabilities
  • Doesn’t include phishing or ransomware protection

As online threats to your data increase, so has the need for antivirus software programs to better protect your information. The goal of many of the antivirus software options on the market is to ensure they detect and remove these threats quickly and efficiently. The best antivirus software program can protect you before you are likely aware of the danger that may have occurred.

We put five antivirus software programs to the test to help you decide which is the best for your online safety needs. We found the best overall protection and security against today’s advanced threats was covered by AVG antivirus. And for the best budget-friendly protection antivirus software, TotalAV stood out from the rest. Continue reading to learn which of these five best antivirus programs is best for you.

In this article
The best antivirus software
AVG: Best overall protection
TotalAV: Best budget-friendly antivirus
McAfee: Best protection for multiple devices
Bitdefender: Best for premium PC protection
Avast: Best free antivirus
FAQs
Bottom line: Which antivirus is best?
How we tested the best antivirus software
How to choose the best antivirus

The best antivirus software 2023

  • AVG: Best overall protection
  • TotalAV: Best budget-friendly antivirus
  • McAfee: Best protection for multiple devices
  • Bitdefender: Best for premium PC protection
  • Avast: Best free antivirus

Top 5 antivirus products compared

Antivirus
AVG
Best Overall

TotalAV

McAfee

Bitdefender

Avast
Starting price Free $29.00/first yr Starts at $29.99/first yr $14.99/first yr Free
Max number of devices 10 6 Unlimited 15 1
Features Anti-phishing, real-time threat scans, ransomware protection Zero-day scans,

anti-phishing,

ransomware protection, password manager, ad blocker

Identity and credit monitoring, VPN, file shredder Identity and credit monitoring, VPN, ransomware protection, password manager, parental controls Real-time threat scans, unsafe site alerts, web tracker blocker
Learn more See AVG Pricing See Total AV Pricing See McAfee Pricing See Bitdefender Pricing Get Avast Free Antivirus
Prices as of 1/24/2023.

AVG: Best overall protection

Best Overall Protection
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On AVG's website

  • Free version comes with malware, spyware, and ransomware protection
  • Includes unsafe email attachment blocking
  • May detect .exe files as malware, causing software issues

Who it’s best for

AVG antivirus software is ideal for anyone looking for optimal online and device security. The program provides a lot of important security features beyond antivirus protection.

For example, AVG increases your level of security by providing tools for commonly missed risks, such as Wi-Fi verification, a phishing site blocker, and anti-ad tracking. AVG is an ideal choice for those looking for the best security options to protect both your privacy and data effectively.

What we liked

There are numerous features of AVG that make it stand out as one of the best antivirus options:

  • The free version allows you to scan and protect against browser threats, computer viruses, and malware issues, and protects data on your devices.
  • Paid versions of AVG prioritize information and cybersecurity issues, which is important in today’s constantly evolving threat landscape.

Additionally, AVG covers up to 10 devices across Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android, which helps keep your whole family protected.

What we didn’t like

AVG has some of the most important and innovative solutions for antivirus and security protection. However, in testing, we found the product may not be as user-friendly to everyone, especially those who are not as technically adept as others.

Additionally, we also noted that AVG may detect .exe files as malware, which could cause software issues while running the antivirus. The cost to own this software also dramatically increases after the first year of your subscription service, and support is only available to paid subscribers.

AVG antivirus specs

Starting price Free
Free version Yes
Firewall Yes
Phishing protection Yes
Ransomware protection Yes
Webcam protection Yes
Network protection Yes
Parental controls No
Extras VPN, Wi-Fi security, and website security
Learn more Read Our AVG Review
Prices as of 1/24/2023.

TotalAV: Best budget-friendly antivirus

TotalAV Comes With the Best Price for the Value
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On TotalAV's website

  • Highly-rated protection from multiple threats
  • User-friendly interface and overall app
  • Prone to glitchy crashes during use of some features

Who it’s best for

TotalAV is an excellent option for individuals who want good antivirus protection along with other security benefits for a budget-friendly price.

Along with being affordable with great features, TotalAV can be a great computer security software for those needing a simple user interface. This product is great for providing antivirus and other online security tools for both non-technical and tech-savvy users.

What we liked

For a cost-effective option, TotalAV provides a lot of security solutions. Whether you opt to cover three or six devices, the antivirus includes important features to ensure your activity and devices are always safe.

These features include auto antivirus and malware scanning, real-time protection, ransomware protection, phishing protection, plus browser and disk cleanup to help your devices run more smoothly.

What we didn’t like

TotalAV provides a lot of value for antivirus and online security. However, there are a few items we didn’t like about this software.

Along with not offering firewall protection, you can only use it on up to six devices, which could be challenging for larger households. Additionally, our testing found that TotalAV was prone to glitchy crashes when we used some of its features such as the password manager.

TotalAV antivirus specs

Starting price $29.00/first yr
Free version Yes
Firewall No
Phishing protection Yes
Ransomware protection Yes
Webcam protection No
Network protection No
Parental controls No
Extras Password manager, VPN, ad blocker, browser cleaner, and disk cleaner
Learn more Read Our Total AV Review
Prices as of 01/24/2023.

McAfee: Best protection for multiple devices

McAfee Secures Unlimited Devices to Keep Your Family Safe
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On McAfee's website

  • Excellent protection
  • Additional features like a file shredder and parental controls
  • Multiple pop-ups for text notifications can be annoying

Who it’s best for

McAfee antivirus has been around since the late 1980s. It pioneered antivirus protection for the everyday person. Since then, the company has evolved to provide more than just device security protection and has included identity theft protection and coverage for consumers.

We found that McAfee’s option to install it on unlimited devices makes it ideal for someone needing multiple device security protection and identity theft protection.

What we liked

McAfee provides more than just antivirus protection. If you opt for its total protection, you get additional security items such as firewall protection, a virtual private network (VPN), web protection, a password manager, and comprehensive identity theft protection.

Additionally, McAfee's user interfaces are easy to navigate even if you’re not technically inclined. It goes without saying this antivirus provides a lot of security — both seen and unseen.

What we didn’t like

To receive the best security options, there’s a high upfront cost for the McAfee+ Ultimate product — right now it costs $199.99 for your first year and unlimited devices. And the cost nearly doubles after the first year.

From our testing of the McAfee software, we found that the VPN option is available only on the top-tier subscription package. Additionally, the program had inconsistent malware detection rates and also had not-so-great offline malware detection capabilities.

McAfee antivirus specs

Starting price Starts at $29.99/first yr
Free version Yes
Firewall Yes
Phishing protection Yes
Ransomware protection Yes
Webcam protection No
Network protection No
Parental controls No
Extras Password manager, VPN, and identity theft protection
Learn more Read Our McAfee Review
Prices as of 1/24/2023.

Bitdefender: Best for premium PC protection

Bitdefender Comes With Multi-Layer PC Protection
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On Bitdefender's website

  • Simple yet powerful interface tools
  • Near-perfect protection score in third-party tests
  • Premium features incur additional subscription fees

Who it’s best for

Bitdefender is a reliable choice for anyone who wants a full suite of security features at an affordable price. For instance, Bitdefender protects you on up to 10 devices and suggests how to stay safe online with regular tips and tricks.

It also offers an extra layer of protection against ransomware by detecting it as soon as it enters your system. If a virus does manage to slip through Bitdefender’s defenses, the company has an award-winning tech support team that can help remedy it as quickly as possible.

What we liked

While testing Bitdefender Total Security, we found it comes with a lot of protection features for the price. In addition, we liked that it offered identity theft protection on top of robust malware, ransomware, and spyware protection.

The dashboard is easy to use when you want to scan, detect, and eliminate security issues. Bitdefender also protects your devices as you browse the web, especially from phishing attempts, and offers a VPN plus parental controls for families.

What we didn’t like

During our testing, we discovered that the VPN is a bit underwhelming with a bandwidth limit of 200 megabytes per day. That limit makes it almost impossible to use the VPN to stream movies or TV shows from other regions but could do the trick if you need to secure your data while on a short trip.

Additionally, it can take nearly 30 seconds for Bitdefender to load fully. It also uses a lot of memory and central processing unit (CPU) power, which could slow down your computer or cell phone while it’s running — even if it’s running in the background.

Bitdefender specs

Starting price $14.99/first yr
Free version Yes
Firewall Yes
Phishing protection Yes
Ransomware protection Yes
Webcam protection Yes
Network protection Yes
Parental controls Yes
Extras Password manager, VPN, and identity theft protection
Learn more Read Our Bitdefender Review
Prices as of 1/24/2023.

Avast: Best free antivirus software

Avast Provides the Best Protection for Free
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On Avast's website

  • Alerts you to unsafe sites and blocks web trackers
  • Scans Wi-Fi networks for vulnerabilities
  • Doesn't include phishing or ransomware protection

Who it’s best for

Avast’s free antivirus is best for people who want protection across Apple, Android, and Windows operating systems but don’t have the budget to pay a subscription fee. It’s also a viable option if you need simple protection but don’t have much experience with antivirus software.

Despite not costing a dime, Avast Free provides a lot of security features. It also has a simple, intuitive interface that lets you easily access all features without having to dig through menus or search through tons of settings.

What we liked

We like Avast because it provides a great deal of protection — even with the free version.

For example, Avast offers free antivirus scanning and protection as well as Avast Online Security & Privacy, a free browser extension that protects you against malicious sites and phishing scams. You also get a strong firewall to help block attacks on both a device and network level.

What we didn’t like

Although Avast does offer quality protection, it’s run into a few issues with user data privacy in the past.

In previous years, Avast faced a public scandal when the public found out the company was selling user data to subsidiaries. While Avast’s stance and practices have changed to focus on data privacy for users, this history could pose a concern, especially if you choose to use its free antivirus and privacy is a priority.

Avast Free Antivirus specs

Starting price Free
Firewall No — paid only
Phishing protection No — paid only
Ransomware protection Yes
Webcam protection No — paid only
Network protection No — paid only
Parental controls No — paid only
Extras Malicious site and web tracker alerts
Learn more Read Our Avast Review
Prices as of 1/24/2023.

FAQs


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What’s the best antivirus software available in 2023?

After testing dozens of antivirus products, we found AVG antivirus to be the best of the bunch thanks to its spyware, ransomware, and phishing protection, email scanner, and Wi-Fi security feature.


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What antivirus software does the U.S. government use?

Most U.S. government agencies often sign long-standing vendor contracts with a multitude of security providers. As recently as 2020, it was released that both the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) signed a contract with McAfee to provide antivirus for their teleworking and on-site employees.


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Should I use McAfee or Norton?

McAfee and Norton are two popular antivirus security options. However, with our testing results of antivirus software, we found that McAfee performed better on most devices and provided better overall multi-device protection than Norton.


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Do I need antivirus if I have Windows Defender?

Windows Defender has become more sophisticated and advanced over the years. However, for the most optimal Microsoft Windows and device security, an antivirus and anti-malware software such as Bitdefender is the best option for enhanced security.


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Can Macs get viruses?

Yes, macOS and iOS can become infected with malware and viruses. Most devices can be infected with malicious software programs. We recommend using security software on all of your devices to ensure the best protection possible.

Bottom line: Which antivirus is best?

If you're looking for an antivirus solution for your devices, some protection is always better than no protection. All the antivirus software options we covered here can make a huge difference when it comes to protecting your devices from the latest threats.

After the testing and research we conducted on these five antivirus software choices, we recommend using AVG as the overall best for device protection. For those looking for protection plus a price that won’t ruin your budget, we recommend exploring TotalAV — or Avast if you’re looking for a free option.

Whether you want budget-friendly or specific security features, it's ultimately up to you to decide which antivirus would work best for you. Regardless of your final choice, ensure that you keep your antivirus updated and current with any new security patches. Keeping your devices and security software regularly updated is one crucial part of keeping all your devices secure when browsing online nowadays.

5 best antivirus products 2023

Antivirus Price range Best for Learn more
AVG $46.68–$79.99/first yr Best overall protection See AVG Pricing
Read AVG Review
TotalAV $29.00–$49.00/first yr Best budget-friendly antivirus See TotalAV Pricing
Read TotalAV Review
McAfee $29.99–$89.99/first yr Best protection for multiple devices See McAfee Pricing
Read McAfee Review
Bitdefender $14.99–$99.98/first yr Best for premium PC protection See Bitdefender Pricing
Read Bitdefender Review
Avast Free Best free antivirus Get Avast Free Antivirus
Read Avast Review
Prices as of 1/24/2023.

How we tested the best antivirus software

In testing each of these antivirus options, we considered a multitude of factors. Although price and cost of ownership beyond the first year had a large influence on our choices, we also focused our attention on the security features, efficacy, and benefits of these products.

The following are some of the features we took into consideration during our research and testing process.

  • Additional features beyond just antivirus protection: We looked at which antivirus programs provided additional security protection measures alongside antivirus and anti-malware scanning and removal tools.
  • Multi-device capabilities: Computers, laptops, cell phones, and tablets all need protection, and we looked at whether each antivirus worked on different operating systems as well as how many devices each one covers.
  • User interface: Not everyone is technically savvy, so we focus on whether the user interface was simple for both technical and non-technical users.

Other top antivirus programs to consider

If you're still on the fence about which antivirus package to choose, these other internet security suites almost made the cut and are worth considering.

  • Malwarebytes: A great, no-frills antivirus with high scores in virus protection.
  • Norton 360 Antivirus: A well-known name in cybersecurity, Norton provides exceptional antivirus and identity theft protection.
  • Avira: Though pricey, the Avira antivirus app includes an advanced registry cleaner and VPN.
  • ESET: Known for its Android smartphone protection features, ESET also comes with anti-theft software for your tablets and laptops.

What about Kaspersky antivirus?

You may wonder why the large antivirus company Kaspersky isn’t on the list. The company has faced harsh criticism recently due to poor data privacy practices and intelligence spying on users in other countries. Additionally, the FCC blacklisted Kaspersky due to ties to Russia and potential threats to U.S. national security.

With those concerns considered, we can’t confidently recommend Kaspersky as one of the best antivirus products at this time.

How to choose the best antivirus

Choosing the best antivirus software can be confusing. Along with the best price, you’ll want to consider performance, features, and user experience.

Here are a few questions to consider that can help you choose the best antivirus software for you:

  • How much does it cost?
  • What type of security solutions are included in the price?
  • Is the user interface simple to navigate?
  • Did it score well for protection in third-party tests such as AV-TEST and AV-Comparatives?
  • How does it perform across multiple operating systems?
  • How long do the scans take?
  • Does it slow down devices while it scans?
  • Does it keep your data private?
  • Does it provide coverage on mobile devices as well as PC and Mac?
  • How quickly does the program launch when you go to open it?

Answering these questions can help you narrow down your search for the ideal antivirus software, and you should also consider diving into reviews where the programs were actually used to get an idea of how they’ll work for you.

Author Details
Amanda is a technical content writer based in Illinois, USA. She has a Master of Science in Cybersecurity. After years of working in the tech and cybersec field, she pivoted her career to content marketing and writing within these industries.