Best Antivirus Software of 2019

Nicole Johnston ·
Internet Security & Appliance Editor
Updated
We maintain strict editorial integrity when we evaluate products and services; however, Top Ten Reviews may earn money when you click on links.

We spent over 800 hours testing 14 antivirus software using 352 live malware samples, including viruses, ransomware, rootkits, Trojans, spyware and phishing schemes. We picked Bitdefender Antivirus Plus as the best overall antivirus program for Windows computers and laptops because of how well it recognizes and stops threats from infecting computers. It is also easy to use, plus it comes with extra security tools that other basic antivirus programs don’t include. If you need antivirus software for Mac computers, we suggest using Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac.     

Best Antivirus for Windows
Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2019
Bitdefender Antivirus Plus blocks malware on Windows computers without causing any lag. It also includes extra security tools like a file shredder and password manager.
View on Bitdefender
$23.99@Bitdefender
Best Antivirus for Windows
Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2019
Best Free Antivirus
Avira Free Security Suite
Avira offers a free antivirus solution that effectively blocks internet threats. It includes more security tools than other free security services, including a password manager, parental controls and a VPN.
View on Amazon
Best Antivirus for Microsoft Edge
Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security
Trend Micro stops you from accessing malicious websites through Microsoft Edge by displaying an in-browser warning and without the need for a browser extension. Trend Micro also blocks automatic virus downloads from even starting.
View on Trend Micro
Product
Price
OVERALL RATING
Value
Test Results
Malware Protections
Privacy Tools
In-House Malware Protection Score
Overall Malware Protection Score
Effect on System
Ease of Use
Ransomware Protection
Antiphishing
Spam Filters
Personal Firewall
Secure Browsing
Vulnerability Scans
USB Scanning
Gamer Mode Enabled
Social Network Protection
Password Manager
Parental Controls
Secure Delete
Safe Banking Tools
VPN
Weekday Phone Support Hours
Weekend Phone Support Available
Live Chat
$23.99 Bitdefender
5 4.9 5 5
99
100
100
80
$
$
X
Manual
X
X
$
X
X
X
24/7
X
$59.99 Amazon
4.3 5 4.7 4.7
97
98
100
90
N/A
$
X
Manual
$
X
$
X
X
$
24/7*
X
$59.99 Vipre
4.3 5 5 3.7
99
99
90
90
X
X
N/A
Manual
X
N/A
N/A
X
N/A
N/A
24/7
X
4.7 4.7 5 3.9
96
98
85
70
N/A
X
X
Automatic
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
X
X
24/7
X
$29.99 Kaspersky
5 4.9 4.2 3.4
98
99
85
90
$
$
N/A
Manual
N/A
$
$
N/A
N/A
N/A
24/7*
X
$49.95 Trendmicro
4.4 4.9 4.7 3.4
100
100
80
85
X
N/A
$
Manual
$
$
$
N/A
N/A
N/A
5am - 8pm*
X
$29.99 Mcafee
4.2 9.5 5 3.7
100
100
75
80
X
X
N/A
Manual
N/A
X
X
N/A
N/A
N/A
24/7
X
4.7 4.5 4.7 3.8
97
97
85
75
$
$
X
Automatic
N/A
$
N/A
$
$
$
24/7
X
$17.56 Amazon
4.5 4.9 3.8 3.5
99
98
100
80
N/A
X
$
N/A
N/A
X
N/A
N/A
$
X
24/7*
X*
$39.99 Eset
4.4 4.7 4.2 3.5
99
98
100
90
$
$
N/A
Automatic
N/A
$
$
N/A
$
N/A
6am - 5pm
N/A
Best Antivirus for Windows
Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2019 offers excellent protection for your home computer from a variety of malware types, including destructive ransomware, Trojans, rootkits and phishing schemes. In our tests of antivirus software, Bitdefender consistently blocked us from visiting malicious websites and stopped viruses from downloading. All threats are securely and completely deleted so no trace of them are left on your computer.
A gaming, or silent, mode is included in case you need more of your system’s resources for online gaming or watching videos, though we didn’t find Bitdefender to cause enough lag to be a problem while working and playing online. This software also includes a password manager and safe banking tools. Both functions help to protect your personal information, account numbers, user names and passwords as you enter them and work online. It is also one of only three antivirus programs we reviewed that include a VPN, so you can work online and not have your browser history traced, captured or logged. Bitdefender Antivirus Plus scans links and files shared on social media pages and lets you know if they are safe before you click or share them. It also scans your whole computer for any outdated software then gives you a legitimate link where you can safely download the latest patch or version.
Pros
  • Lets you delete threats safely
  • Includes a personal firewall
  • Masks bank account information
Cons
  • Requires extra steps to download and install
  • Parental control features cost extra
  • Doesn’t include a firewall
$23.99Bitdefender
Read the full review
Best Free Antivirus
Avira Free Security Suite displays a large warning in your Chrome or Firefox web browser if you try to visit a site known to have malware on it. If a virus tries to automatically download to your computer, Avira stops it then moves the threat to the quarantine file.
This software comes with several security tools, like a system vulnerability scanner, a personal firewall and a VPN. Each tool is a separate module that you must set up individually, and you can’t access other tools without first returning to the beginning of the dashboard. Overall Avira does a decent job blocking malware, both malicious sites and virus downloads. Threats that make it to your computer are caught and quarantined by Avira Free Antivirus. The secure browsing feature marks search results so you can easily see which sites are safe to visit. Because Avira is a free program, it frequently displays pop-up ads. These caused some slowdown to our test computers. However, if you’re a gamer, Avira automatically enables its gaming mode that keeps the pop-ups at bay so you have more of your system’s resources and less interruption while you play.
Pros
  • No-cost virus protection
  • Software vulnerability scans
  • Includes parental controls
Cons
  • Frequent in-program ads
  • Causes your computer to slow down a bit
  • Password manager not included
FreeAmazon
Read the full review
Best Antivirus for Microsoft Edge
Despite not allowing third-party browser extensions, Trend Micro still blocks malicious websites and warns you about them in the Microsoft Edge browser, because even with Edge’s great security settings, some threats still sneak by. And Trend Micro stops infected files from downloading so there is no chance for the threat to sneak onto your computer.
Trend Micro scored a perfect 100 percent in our lab tests, one of the few programs that correctly recognized and blocked over 300 live malware samples. It also earned perfect detection scores in other independent laboratory tests. Trend Micro Antivirus + Security includes spam filters and USB scanning to keep threats from entering through email messages or removable drives. Other security tools, like safe banking or social media scanning, aren’t available with this version of Trend Micro, but are included, along with parental controls and a personal firewall, with Trend Micro’s Maximum Security software. Installing the program requires the same basic steps as most antivirus programs. You do need to enable the browser extensions in Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome if you plan to access the internet with either of these browsers.
Pros
  • Earned a perfect score for malware detection
  • Blocks malicious sites and virus downloads in Edge browsers
  • Blocks spam email messages
Cons
  • Causes noticeable drag on your computer during scans
  • Doesn’t include a firewall
  • 24/7 telephone and expedited email support available only if you pay for it
$39.95Trend Micro
Read the full review
Antivirus for Gamers
For online gamers who access sites and programs that tend to harbor malware, Avast is a good choice.
It is effective at blocking viruses and other threats, plus its gaming mode places the game sites you access on its white list the first time you visit the site. Each time you start a game, Avast suspends non-critical functions and doesn’t show pop-up messages so you’re not interrupted. This also lets you have more of your computer resources so you don’t experience any slowdown during your gameplay. Avast Free Antivirus has a handful of extra tools, like a vulnerability scan. But its paid version, Avast Pro Antivirus, includes a lot more and doesn’t have pop-up ads asking you to upgrade your malware program.
Pros
  • Automatic gaming mode
Cons
  • Has a lot of pop-up messages
FreeAvast
Read the full review
Least Invasive Antivirus
VIPRE Advanced Security is the easiest program to install and use among the antivirus programs we tested.
It’s easy to find the tools, functions and folders you need because they are clearly marked with large icons and big text. Subfolders and tools, like the quarantine folder and custom scan settings, are in the main folders where you would expect them to be, so it’s not hard to navigate this program. Also, setting up VIPRE doesn’t take a lot of guesswork, and it doesn’t cause much slowdown of your computer while its running, even during deep virus scans. While third-party test laboratories don’t test VIPRE very often, we checked out how well it protects against malware and were happy to see it blocked 99 percent of the over-300 live malware samples we used for testing.
Pros
  • Doesn’t drag on your system
Cons
  • Doesn’t have a password manager
$43.99VIPRE
Read the full review
Also Consider
Webroot stopped 98 percent of the over 350 malware samples we used during our in-house tests, including Trojans, rootkits, viruses and phishing schemes, making it a top pick for malware protection.
We tested Webroot AntiVirus because other third-party testing labs don’t consistently test this program, and we really wanted to learn how well it detects and protects against internet threats. When a malicious file tried to download to our computers, Webroot stopped it before it had a chance to start downloading. And websites that have phishing schemes or malicious links are blocked by Webroot before you have a chance to click all the way through. Webroot AntiVirus is a little tricky to figure out how to use. Instead of clear icons, each tool and setting link is text, so the dashboard looks cluttered and difficult to navigate. Webroot does include a personal firewall and a password manager for extra protection.
Pros
  • Includes a personal firewall and password manager
Cons
  • Program is difficult to navigate
$29.99Webroot
Read the full review

Why Trust Us?

We’ve been evaluating antivirus software for over 15 years. We test each program several times each year, both in our onsite testing facility, using a controlled network and live malware samples, and on our home computers, so we get a good idea of how antivirus programs work in a real-world scenario. We do quick evaluations when new security breaches are reported to ensure the programs we recommend will protect you from these new threats.

As part of our research, we talk to security experts that oversee the network protections at their place of employment, and we speak with professional hackers to understand both the hardware and software side of internet security. The Anti-Malware Testing Standard Organization (AMTSO) is a non-profit organization that sets standards for antimalware testing, and while we don’t subscribe as members, we do incorporate some of its standards in our testing methodology. For example, we either purchase or download the trial versions of each program for testing, and we never speak to antivirus companies during the testing period. This ensures we have a neutral testing environment.


We subscribe to IT and security news outlets and blogs, plus attend trade shows and conventions specific to internet security to stay aware of security breaches and changes in the industry. We follow local and congressional hearings on cybersecurity, so we have a good understanding of the international stage, its workings and issues that affect both government and personal computer security.

How We Tested Antivirus Software

We spent over five months testing each antivirus program with 352 live malware samples gathered from several malware databases and included ransomware, Trojans, rootkits, viruses, worms and phishing schemes. After talking with several computer security experts, we decided to try to access each threat through our internet browsers to simulate how your computer would most likely become infected. We tried to download infected files, visit websites we knew harbored threats and attempted to access phishing schemes while watching each antivirus program attempt to warn, block, scrub and protect our test computers. We learned that the popular web browsers, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge, interact with these programs differently, which affects how effective they are. And for the record, we did test the security settings of these browsers, too, and can tell you having an antivirus program gives you greater protection, especially if it uses a browser extension. 

If the antivirus program prevented the malware from infecting our computer, meaning it interrupted the download process or captured the threat once the file was done downloading but before it could save itself on our system, it was tagged as a successful protection from that threat. And if the antivirus program displayed a warning message when we attempted to access phishing schemes or other dangerous websites, that, too, was marked as a successful outcome. We repeated these tests 12 times on several different test computers and multiple times with each web browser to make sure samples weren’t missed or outcomes wrongfully categorized. We didn’t opt into any data sharing programs and ensured learning features were disabled during these tests so that the programs didn’t learn the threats and start recognizing and blocking them the more we tested with them.

We did allow some threats through to infect our computers then ran each antivirus software’s virus scan to see if it could detect the threat. Then we noted what the software did with the threats it found. Some programs quarantined these threats, some completely scrubbed them from our computer and others notified us about the threat but required us to take several extra steps to neutralize and remove the threat on our own. While these outcomes didn’t affect the malware protection scores we assigned to each program, they did, in some cases, factor into the overall ease of use, especially if we had to do a lot of technical steps to ensure threats were properly deleted.

Because our testing methodology is different from other security testing labs, we factored findings from AV-Test, AV-Comparatives and other laboratories into our overall antivirus ratings. These facilities test for zero-day threats, false positives and other security protections that we’re not fully equipped to test, so their findings are important to consider.

On top of testing how well each program protects your computer, we also evaluated how easy each program is to download, install, set up and use. The Congressional Internet Caucus, a 100-member group of bipartisan U.S. senators and representatives, teamed up with the Senate Cybersecurity Caucus to hold a Congressional Cybersecurity Hearing in May 2018. Cybersecurity experts from L0pht addressed the group about the current internet safety precautions and how to improve them. One L0pht member, Joe Grand, told the Caucus that people don’t use internet security solutions that are too complicated. We agree! This is why our ease of use score is so important.

Most antivirus programs require some setup to work properly, and the majority of them need you to turn on the safety tools inside your browsers before they can detect and block malware coming in through the internet. We gave an average score of 85 percent to these programs then added or took away points depending on consolidated processes, added steps, ease of navigation, etc. For example, VIPRE has you enable its browser extensions function from the user dashboard. With one click VIPRE monitors every browser, cutting down on the steps you need to take (and the complex navigation of browser settings) to stay protected. We felt this was a great tool that makes VIPRE easier to use than other programs, so we bumped up its usability score.


While we only ranked the top 10 antivirus programs, we still reviewed the other four programs we tested. You can read the results of our testing and our overall thoughts for Panda Dome Essential, eScan Anti-Virus, F-Secure Anti-Virus and AVG Antivirus FREE.

FAQs

Here are a few commonly asked questions and what you need to know before buying an antivirus program for your Windows computer.

What is the best antivirus for computers?
The biggest factor we considered while testing antivirus programs is how well it stops your computer from becoming infected. And using over 300 live malware samples, we found that most antivirus programs do a really good job of stopping all kinds of threats. Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2019 is the best antivirus for computers because it stops and removes threats before they download – and it’s a good value.

Basic antivirus software tends to be pretty sparse on features. Beyond malware protection, most programs also include phishing scheme detection and safe browsing tools. But more advanced security features, like firewalls, password managers and safe banking tools, are left for the pricier internet security suites. Bitdefender includes many of these with its basic antivirus program so you get optimum security at a decent price.

How much does good antivirus software cost?
Basic antivirus software generally costs between $30 and $50 each year to protect a single computer. These programs don’t have a lot of extra security features but will offer discounts if you need to purchase multiple user licenses.

More inclusive security suites are available for around $80. These typically come with three or more user licenses and include additional protection features like password managers, safe banking features, VPNs and mobile security

What is the cheapest antivirus software?
This depends on the current sales promotion. However, both Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2019 and Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2019 retail their lowest package for $59.99, which comes out to just under $20 for each of the three user licenses included with these packages. If you only need a single license, Webroot is the cheapest at $29.99 compared to most other programs that start at $50 to protect one computer. There are some companies, such as AVG and Avira, that offer free antivirus programs with fewer features.

What is the best free antivirus?
Avira is the best free antivirus program we tested because it comes with so many tools that other programs, even paid antivirus programs, don’t typically come with. These include parental controls, vulnerability detection, automatic gaming mode and a VPN. And don’t discount Avast and AVG, which also come with password managers and vulnerability scanners. Other companies that offer a free antivirus solution include Norton, Bitdefender and Panda, but they are pretty bare-boned compared to Avira, Avast and AVG.

The biggest drawback of free antivirus programs, besides the lack of security tools, is the number of pop-up ads asking you to upgrade to the paid version. The protection is the same for free antivirus as it is for the pricier internet security programs offered by the same company, but the paid programs do come with more tools, like a personal firewall, vulnerability detection and password managers.

Is Bitdefender safe?
In 2017, the U.S. government accused Kaspersky of partnering with the Russian government to gather information and spy on departments and officials. The U.S. government banned the use of Kaspersky’s security programs for both agencies and workers’ personal computers that would be used for work. Accusers believe that Kaspersky used its data sharing tools to gather sensitive information virtually undetected. Kaspersky has adamantly denied these accusations and recently has begun moving several of its primary operations out of Russia as a way to prove its innocence and build good faith with its users. Because of the uneasiness surrounding this company, consumers have become wary of using other antivirus programs and their data sharing tools.


Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2019 also has a data sharing program that allows the software to send information about viruses, Trojans, rootkits and other malware found on your computer back to its databases. This is a way to keep tabs on new threats and pass along protection to other Bitdefender users before the malware becomes a cyber outbreak. There hasn’t been any evidence of Bitdefender gathering inappropriate or unauthorized information, so we’re confident Bitdefender is safe to use. However, you can turn off this feature altogether from the Bitdefender dashboard if it worries you.


What is the best antivirus software for Mac?
We tested 14 Mac antivirus programs with 165 live malware samples. After several months of repeating our malware protection tests, we learned that Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac is a good program that blocks 99 percent of malware threats, warns you of dangerous websites before you visit them and comes with a minimum of three user licenses, which makes it a good overall value. We also highly recommend Norton Security Standard that did slightly better in our detection and protection tests and is a bit easier to use than Bitdefender, but it does cost more. Also, Intego Mac Security X9 is a good antivirus program specifically designed for Mac computers.

What is the best mobile security antivirus software?
Your smartphone should come with a standard antivirus program preinstalled, such as Lookout on Android devices. These programs, if you keep them updated, are usually sufficient to keep viruses off your phone. Basic antivirus programs typically aren’t compatible with mobile devices, but you can get more comprehensive mobile protection for your Android or iOS cellphone when you purchase a premium internet security program or computer protection software.


Programs such as Kaspersky Internet Security, Norton Security Premium and Trend Micro Maximum Security include Android and iPhone compatible protections and additional security tools that that make mobile devices a little more secure. These include password managers, antiphishing functions and spam filters.

Which Is Better: Norton or McAfee?
Norton and McAfee are two of the top antivirus programs based in the United States, and both are very secure programs with great security tools. We can confidently recommend both McAfee and Norton as good antivirus solutions.

There are some differences between them, however. McAfee scores higher in overall protection with a perfect 100 percent, and Norton comes close with 98 percent. Both programs come with extra security tools like spam filters, secure delete, secure browsing and vulnerability scanners. McAfee does include a few additional tools, most importantly a personal firewall and parental controls. Norton includes these with its premium security program.

The other big difference is how easy each program is to install and the amount of resources each takes from your computer to run. Overall, we felt that Norton was a little easier to figure out than McAfee. And while both don’t create too much drag on your system, McAfee does take a lot longer to complete its virus scans than Norton.

How Can I Spot a Fake Email Address?

Recently millions of customers’ sensitive information was compromised after Marriott hotels experienced a security breach. Credit card numbers and expiration dates, passport information, full names and birthdates were among the information compromised during the breach – all that can be used to quickly and easily steal someone’s identity. In an effort to help the affected customers, Marriott has begun sending out emails with instructions on how to sign up for an identity monitoring service.

However, as with past security breaches, scammers take advantage of vulnerable people after data breaches by registering fake email accounts and creating phishing schemes to trick unsuspecting people into providing sensitive information, further heightening the risk of identity theft.

A security consultant with Emagined Security, Mitchell Stephens, shared with us that “email attacks are probably THE most common method of attack. An attacker can send a link that looks similar to another link you are familiar with that you will then go and enter your information in. The best way to protect yourself from phishing attacks is by only opening email from trusted or known sources.”

So, how do you spot a fake email?

The biggest sign is looking closely at the spelling of the company name in the email. Especially with a company like Marriott, it’s easy for a scammer to misspell the company name without customers noticing. In email addresses like “mariott” and “marriot” it could be hard for people to recognize the wrong spelling.

Jake Williams, founder of Rendition Infosec and certified instructor at the SANS, and Nick Carr, senior manager and advisor for FireEye, Inc and former chief of technical analysis for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, both registered several email addresses with misspellings of Marriott to help minimize the domains spammers could get ahold of. They did the same thing following the Equifax breach in 2017. However, there are still ways spammers can use legitimate spellings to deploy phishing schemes.

Another thing to look for in an email address is any additional words, punctuation marks or domains that may not be quite right. For example, email addresses such as “@info-marriott” or “@marriott_customer_service” or “info@marriottinc” may look legitimate, but most companies try to limit the number of dashes and underscores they use. And it is more likely a large company will simplify its address to just its common name instead of its formal, incorporated name. Also, be wary of email addresses whose top-level domain (TDL) is a .net, .biz or even a .org when it isn’t a non-profit organization. Com, which stands for company, is the most common email domain used by large corporations.

What if the email is legitimate? Can I trust the links?

The short answer is no. Because it has become difficult to recognize legitimate email, it’s best not to click on any links. Instead, go to the company’s website directly. The same information will be listed there with safe links to any additional resources.

Can anything protect me from spam and phishing schemes?

Most email accounts, including free email services such as Gmail and Outlook, come with spam filters that catch a lot of fake emails and phishing schemes. Antivirus programs, like eScan, also include spam filters and have Bayesian filters that recognize spam messages tailored specifically to you. You can also purchase a standalone program, such as SpamBully, if you don’t want to mess with a full internet security program.

If you do suspect your information has been swiped, consider using the services of a legitimate identity theft monitoring service, such as IdentityForce or LifeLock. These services watch the web for anyone using your information, including email addresses, illegally. Part of their services include helping you notify important agencies such as credit bureaus and the IRS that your identity has been stolen, and helping you reclaim your identity before it costs you a lot of money.

Protect Your Identity While Shopping Online

According to Statistia, Cyber Monday in 2016 brought in close to $2.67 billion of revenue from online shopping, and experts predict an even larger percent of purchases will be made online this holiday season. Most online retailers use security protections to help keep their customers safe, but there are a few things you can do to protect your personal information from identity thieves, hackers and other internet snoops.

Don’t follow email links
The biggest risk to online security comes through phishing schemes. These are generally sent through email and look like legitimate offers from your favorite retailers promising a percentage off your purchase or early bird specials with a direct link from the message to the retailer’s website. However, phishing schemes gather your full name, credit card number and address then turn around and sell it on the black market or charge your card over and over and over again.

One way to ensure an offer is real is to type the retailer’s webpage URL directly into your browser’s address bar. You can still enter promo codes or take advantage of deals from the site directly if the message was from the retailer.

Don’t autosave credit card information
Most retailers offer to save your credit card information on their website so you don’t have to reenter it the next time you shop through their online store. While this is a convenient way to avoid having to pull out your card for each purchase, it also puts you at risk of having your information swiped. Even retailers that use extra secure SSL encryption are not 100 percent safe from a data breach. It is best to not save your personal information online, but take the time to enter it for each transaction.

Don’t use the same password for all accounts
Just about every online retailer asks you to create an account before checking out, and with lots of great stores to shop from, it may be tempting to use the same username and password for all of them. Don’t! If a keylogger, hacker or internet snoop is able to capture your password, they can gain access to all of your online accounts, including bank accounts, email and social media.

Create complicated passwords
In an email to Top Ten Reviews, Mitch Stephens, a security consultant with Emagined Security, recommends creating unique passwords for each account that are hard to figure out and don’t use personal information like your last name, birthdate or a pet’s name. This is because using this information makes it easier for hackers to guess your passwords. Stephens suggests using passwords that are at least eight characters long and use “uppercase, lowercase, numbers [and] special characters.”

If you have difficulty creating or remembering passwords, especially long complicated ones, look for an antivirus program, like Bitdefender, that includes a password manager. These tools secure your password in a specially designed bank that signs into your online accounts using the correct credentials while hiding them from identity thieves.