Anti-Malware

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Best Overall 2024
Bitdefender Antivirus
Bitdefender Antivirus
(253,731 )
Our 'best in test' antivirus program Bitdefender boasts strong security, confirmed by independent test laboratories, along with a flawless user interface and a comprehensive set of features.
flawless user interface
excellent lab results
configurable quick actions
good support with 24/7 live chat
many features
9.6
excellent
Plan
Antivirus Plus
Devices
up to 3
Protection Features
0
Premium Features
0
Bitdefender Antivirus Plus
$23.99
yearly price
Visit Website*
Kaspersky Antivirus
Kaspersky Antivirus
(4,174,165 )
Kaspersky Internet Security is a user-friendly antivirus tool with a ton of features. However, some Western governments are currently warning against its use.
great test lab scores
a lot of features
intuitive interface
keylogging & webcam protection
some governments warn against use
9.1
excellent
Plan
Antivirus
Devices
up to 5
Protection Features
0
Premium Features
0
Kaspersky Antivirus
$29.99
yearly price
Visit Website*
Free Trial Version
Avast Antivirus
Avast Antivirus
(7,291,633 )
Avast impresses with a great free version covering all the essentials, and a huge set of features that offer well-rounded antivirus protection and some nice extras. Scans can slightly impact performance, however.
many features
Sandbox and WiFi-Inspector
solid free version
intuitive app
scans can impact performance
8.6
good
Plan
Free
Devices
unlimited
Protection Features
0
Premium Features
0
Avast Free
$0.00
Visit Website*
Download for Free
Norton Antivirus
Norton Antivirus
(1,853,439 )
With its robust set of features, lean applications, and a 100 % antivirus guarantee, Norton Antivirus is definitely worth a look. Sadly, the testing labs aren't unanimously impressed, and one or two features are missing.
learn, user-friendly apps
customizable child protection
100 % antivirus guarantee
no anti-theft features
mixed test lab results
8.4
good
Plan
Antivirus Plus
Devices
1
Protection Features
0
Premium Features
0
Norton Antivirus Plus
$19.99
yearly price
Visit Website*

Is your computer slower than usual? Have your disks become full without downloading any new files? Do pop-ups appear on your desktop even when you're not browsing the web? Any of these can be a symptom of a malware infection on your system. Making matters worse: Not all types of malware advertise their presence so clearly.

With malware removal software, you can rest easy knowing that everything on your computer is functioning as it should be. The selection of programs offering these capabilities is large, but we've looked at 15 of the best for you, evaluating them from head to toe. Below, we'll introduce you to our Top 5 picks.

Top Antivirus 2024
Sponsored
from $2.00
per month
Bitdefender
from $2.50
per month
Kaspersky
from $0.00
per month
Avast
from $1.67
per month
Norton
show all

Malware, or "malicious software" includes dangerous programs like viruses, Trojans, or ransomware that operate on your computer without your best interests in mind. Antivirus and anti-malware are similar, whereby all viruses are malware, but not all malware are viruses. Depending on the subscription package you choose, each program in our evaluation protects against every type of malware. Below, we'll introduce you to which of these do best.

1.

Bitdefender Anti-Malware

Best Overall 2024
Bitdefender Antivirus
Bitdefender Antivirus
(253,731 )
Our 'best in test' antivirus program Bitdefender boasts strong security, confirmed by independent test laboratories, along with a flawless user interface and a comprehensive set of features.
flawless user interface
excellent lab results
configurable quick actions
good support with 24/7 live chat
many features
9.6
excellent
Plan
Antivirus Plus
Devices
up to 3
Protection Features
0
Premium Features
0
Bitdefender Antivirus Plus
$23.99
yearly price
Visit Website*

Bitdefender* is the gold standard when it comes to anti-malware software. From its sleek user interface, which allows users to add or remove quick actions based on their needs, to its impressive provision of security, and its excellent 24/7 live support chat, we loved pretty much everything about the program.

Turning to features, there's no disappointment either: Along with basic scans and real-time protection, the Romanian malware removal program also includes a firewall that allows you to set exceptions for each program installed on your system and a password manager. Most subscriptions to Bitdefender also provide access to a VPN as well. And, last, but certainly not least, Bitdefender has a mobile app too.

The user interface's quick actions can be customized to your exact preferences.

More security features are accessible in the web dashboard and include an anti-theft command center which doubles as a hub for parental controls. These allow you to GPS locate registered devices, remotely delete data, view an IP address, or monitor and limit your children's Internet activity.

The testing labs that we rely on for our evaluations unanimously confirmed Bitdefender's security and performance, awarding the software maximum points in both areas.

With its variety of features, high degree of security, and nearly perfect user interface, Bitdefender impresses across the board.

  • Excellent testing lab results

  • Configurable quick actions

  • Perfect user interface

  • Solid 24/7 live support chat

Review
9.6
excellent
Visit Website*
Check Review
Support
10 / 10
Configuration & Usage
10 / 10
Security & Performance
9.4 / 10
Features
9.4 / 10
2.

Kaspersky Anti-Malware

Kaspersky Antivirus
Kaspersky Antivirus
(4,174,165 )
Kaspersky Internet Security is a user-friendly antivirus tool with a ton of features. However, some Western governments are currently warning against its use.
great test lab scores
a lot of features
intuitive interface
keylogging & webcam protection
some governments warn against use
9.1
excellent
Plan
Antivirus
Devices
up to 5
Protection Features
0
Premium Features
0
Kaspersky Antivirus
$29.99
yearly price
Visit Website*
Free Trial Version

Kaspersky* also expertly navigates the tricky balance between features and user-friendliness. The Russian program gives users a freer hand in configuring scans than most of its competitors do, with its scheduling options particularly convenient and practical.

Real-time protection ticks all of the boxes, making it possible for users to complete secure payments and transactions, and enjoy webcam protection in addition to the more standard features. Depending on your subscription, you'll have access to extras like a password manager, cloud backups, parental controls, or an in-house VPN.

Kaspersky is one of the biggest names in anti-malware software.

Kaspersky performed well with the testing labs, however, it couldn't match Bitdefender's scores. AV-Test awarded it perfect scores in security and performance, but AV-Comparatives wasn't as impressed with its security.

Owing to this discrepancy, Kaspersky falls slightly behind Bitdefender in our ranking but is still one of the best anti-malware options available.

  • Quick setup and intuitive

  • Includes plenty of neatly arranged features

  • Security verified by testing labs

Review
9.1
excellent
Visit Website*
Check Review
Features
9.4 / 10
Support
9.4 / 10
Configuration & Usage
9.4 / 10
Security & Performance
8.6 / 10
3.

Avast Anti-Malware

Avast Antivirus
Avast Antivirus
(7,291,633 )
Avast impresses with a great free version covering all the essentials, and a huge set of features that offer well-rounded antivirus protection and some nice extras. Scans can slightly impact performance, however.
many features
Sandbox and WiFi-Inspector
solid free version
intuitive app
scans can impact performance
8.6
good
Plan
Free
Devices
unlimited
Protection Features
0
Premium Features
0
Avast Free
$0.00
Visit Website*
Download for Free

Avast Antivirus only suffers from a few shortcomings: Its support isn't as forthcoming as that of its competitors and the full system scan we performed negatively impacted our computer's performance. We should note, however, that the testing labs found its performance to be excellent.

Apart from those minor issues, our experience with Avast was a positive one: A nice selection of features is included, one of the most interesting of which is the practical "Sandbox", in which you can open suspicious programs or files without exposing your system. "Wi-Fi Inspector" also stood out as another nifty tool. The best part? Everything was packaged in a sleek user interface.

Your computer is protected when everything is green on Avast's status screen.

But the cherry on top is Avast's free version, which includes basic antivirus protection. Whether free or premium: Avast offers one of the best antivirus programs on the market.

  • Plenty of features and easy to use

  • Highly-functional free version

  • Extensive help center

Review
8.6
good
Visit Website*
Check Review
Features
9.4 / 10
Configuration & Usage
9.4 / 10
Security & Performance
8.0 / 10
Support
8.0 / 10
4.

Norton Anti-Malware

Norton Antivirus
Norton Antivirus
(1,853,439 )
With its robust set of features, lean applications, and a 100 % antivirus guarantee, Norton Antivirus is definitely worth a look. Sadly, the testing labs aren't unanimously impressed, and one or two features are missing.
learn, user-friendly apps
customizable child protection
100 % antivirus guarantee
no anti-theft features
mixed test lab results
8.4
good
Plan
Antivirus Plus
Devices
1
Protection Features
0
Premium Features
0
Norton Antivirus Plus
$19.99
yearly price
Visit Website*

Norton* has long been one of the biggest names in anti-malware, and its good reputation is not undeserved: The comprehensive security solution offers excellent performance, packaged in an elegant and intuitive application.

In terms of features, Norton does lose out to Bitdefender though: Some features, like extra protection for online banking or a dedicated secure browser, aren't included, while a file shredder needs to be purchased separately, even for the most expensive subscriptions. Apart from these missteps, Norton offers a number of features that cover pretty much all of the bases.

Norton's highly-intuitive user interface is divided between five modules.

Mac users should keep Norton's limitations in mind though, since things like webcam protection, cloud backups, or parental controls are only included in its Windows versions. The provider's VPN and password manager are part of both its macOS and Windows versions, however.

In terms of what protection Norton provides, the testing labs we consulted couldn't agree: For AV-Comparatives, the American software registered too many false positives, leading to a disappointing protection rate. AV-Test, on the other hand, awarded the program maximum points.

  • Elegant and intuitive application

  • Great support

  • Includes a full-fledged password manager and VPN

Review
8.4
good
Visit Website*
Check Review
Support
10 / 10
Configuration & Usage
8.6 / 10
Security & Performance
8.0 / 10
Features
7.4 / 10
5.

Trend Micro Anti-Malware

Trend Micro Antivirus
Trend Micro Antivirus
(142,454 )
Trend Micro delivers a solid overall antivirus package with lots of features and some nice extras, such as social media protection. However, the testing labs are a bit divided on the reliability of its protection.
some good lab results
plenty of features
social media protection
no firewall, webcam protection
uneven lab scores
8.4
good
Plan
Antivirus+
Devices
1
Protection Features
0
Premium Features
0
Trend Micro Antivirus+
$19.95
yearly price
Visit Website*

Trend Micro packages all of the antivirus basics in a user-friendly dashboard, from which it's possible to do nearly anything with just a few clicks. Alongside the usual suspects (ransomware protection, a file shredder, and an email watchdog), you'll also find practical features like social network security and PC tuning. Rounding things out are the service's multiple support channels.

Trend Micro isn't as famous as some of the other services in our Top 5, however, this has no correlation to its capabilities.

Trend Micro also did well with the testing labs, even though AV-Comparatives noted an above-average number of false positives. Likewise in the negatives column is the absence of a few typical anti-malware features, like a VPN, a firewall, or webcam protection. If you can live without these, Trend Micro is a solid choice.

  • Intuitive user interface

  • Provides good protection and performance according to the testing labs

  • Plenty of features

Review
8.4
good
Visit Website*
Check Review
Configuration & Usage
9.4 / 10
Security & Performance
8.6 / 10
Support
8.0 / 10
Features
7.4 / 10

Alternatives

Most of the programs from our sample scored well, despite the odd shortcoming here and there. Only a few, like Malwarebytes, BullGuard, and 360 Total Security received noticeably poorer scores from the testing labs than the rest, but even then, we rated these as performing satisfactorily.

Some of the anti-malware programs that barely missed this list were F-Secure and Panda Security, both of which got excellent testing lab security scores. Others, with aesthetically pleasing user interfaces, like ESET Antivirus, lost out owing to their mediocre testing lab results.

A list of all alternatives to our Top 5 can be found here:

Kaspersky Antivirus
Kaspersky Antivirus
(4,174,165 )
Kaspersky Internet Security is a user-friendly antivirus tool with a ton of features. However, some Western governments are currently warning against its use.
great test lab scores
a lot of features
intuitive interface
keylogging & webcam protection
some governments warn against use
9.1
excellent
Plan
Antivirus
Devices
up to 5
Protection Features
0
Premium Features
0
Kaspersky Antivirus
$29.99
yearly price
Visit Website*
Free Trial Version
Avast Antivirus
Avast Antivirus
(7,291,633 )
Avast impresses with a great free version covering all the essentials, and a huge set of features that offer well-rounded antivirus protection and some nice extras. Scans can slightly impact performance, however.
many features
Sandbox and WiFi-Inspector
solid free version
intuitive app
scans can impact performance
8.6
good
Plan
Free
Devices
unlimited
Protection Features
0
Premium Features
0
Avast Free
$0.00
Visit Website*
Download for Free
Norton Antivirus
Norton Antivirus
(1,853,439 )
With its robust set of features, lean applications, and a 100 % antivirus guarantee, Norton Antivirus is definitely worth a look. Sadly, the testing labs aren't unanimously impressed, and one or two features are missing.
learn, user-friendly apps
customizable child protection
100 % antivirus guarantee
no anti-theft features
mixed test lab results
8.4
good
Plan
Antivirus Plus
Devices
1
Protection Features
0
Premium Features
0
Norton Antivirus Plus
$19.99
yearly price
Visit Website*
G Data Antivirus
G Data Antivirus
(11,249 )
G Data offers virus protection "made in Germany" with solid test lab scores, lots of customization, and great support. The user interface, however, could use a facelift.
many configuration options
great support
handy status bar
interface somewhat outdated
test lab scores "only" solid
8.4
good
Plan
Antivirus
Devices
up to 5
Protection Features
0
Premium Features
0
G Data Antivirus
from $29.95
yearly price
Visit Website*
Trend Micro Antivirus
Trend Micro Antivirus
(142,454 )
Trend Micro delivers a solid overall antivirus package with lots of features and some nice extras, such as social media protection. However, the testing labs are a bit divided on the reliability of its protection.
some good lab results
plenty of features
social media protection
no firewall, webcam protection
uneven lab scores
8.4
good
Plan
Antivirus+
Devices
1
Protection Features
0
Premium Features
0
Trend Micro Antivirus+
$19.95
yearly price
Visit Website*
F-Secure Antivirus
F-Secure Antivirus
(15,790 )
F-Secure focuses on the essentials and delivers reliable protection from most malware, as demonstrated by its results in the testing labs. But some features, such as webcam protection, are missing.
good lab grades
DeepGuard detects new Malware
VPN and password manager
no firewall
no webcam protection
8.1
good
Plan
Internet Security
Devices
up to 25
Protection Features
0
Premium Features
0
F-Secure Internet Security
$49.99
yearly price
Visit Website*
Panda Antivirus
Panda Antivirus
(45,164 )
Panda Security isn't as feature-rich as the competition, but it offers good protection, backed by solid results in the testing labs. Its free tier is worth a look.
good test lab results
free basic protection
many features
half-baked interface
fewer features on iOS
8.1
good
Plan
Free
Devices
unlimited
Protection Features
0
Premium Features
0
Panda Security Free
$0.00
Visit Website*
show all

How We Tested

As is the case with all EXPERTE.com software reviews, we award each program a single score which is comprised of four partial scores in the following areas:

Installation & Usage

How much time does it take to download and install the program? Is it easy to find everything in the software's interface? We go step-by-step through the entire installation process, letting you know what to expect.

We look favorably upon programs for which freemium or free trial versions exist. For the latter, these should be available without inputting a payment method. Generally speaking, software downloads should be easy to find, take as little time as possible, and not install bloatware or unwanted programs on a system.

We particularly liked Bitdefender's user interface owing to the ability to customize the program's quick actions.

The best user interfaces are intuitive and help users to easily find any features, requiring no more than a few clicks to access them. Important components, like scans, should be accessible directly from the start or home screen. Users lacking in technical knowledge must be able to effectively use the software out of the box, however, we also like to see enough configuration options for enthusiasts to sink their teeth into.

Features

Every anti-malware should come with a few standard features for protecting your computer or device. However, apart from these, there exist a number of extras that a provider can offer. Because the threats for PCs and mobile devices differ, apps for the latter should include a few additional tools.

We place particular emphasis on the following:

Security Features

  • Scans
    Scans check your computer for threats that are already on your system. Most anti-malware programs from our sample offer smart scans, which quickly assess the most important areas of your computer or device. Full scans or user-defined scans (of specific drives, folders, or files) are also common. The more that users can configure and customize scans (and their scheduling), the better.

With many programs, like AVG (pictured above), you can create different scan profiles and schedule them in advance.

  • Real-time protection
    Anti-malware programs should also proactively defend your system against threats before they've managed to install themselves. Here, it's important that adequate defenses exist against viruses, malware, keyloggers, and other types of malware.

With most programs, you can toggle specific real-time protection shields on or off.

The most important real-time protection shields often have their own areas of the dashboard, where additional configuration options are offered. These include:

  • Ransomware protection
    Alternatively known as extortion Trojans, ransomware is a particularly nasty kind of malware that encrypts your files and demands a pay-off for the decryption key (which you should never pay, under any circumstances). The more levels of ransomware protection a program has, the easier it can identify and neutralize these threats in a timely manner.

Trend Micro offers a "Folder Shield", with which you can protect specific folders against ransomware.

  • Internet security
    Your anti-malware software should also warn you against visiting suspicious websites or downloading dangerous files. To do this, some programs from our sample offer browser extensions or even browsers for online banking and shopping.

  • Email protection
    One of the popular routes for malware to find its way onto a system is via email attachments or links. Should your anti-malware software possess email protection, it will filter out this sort of content along with spam.

  • Webcam protection
    Tear off the duct tape: Webcam protection prevents unauthorized access to your webcam and microphone.

That covers the basic features we look for. Most anti-malware programs go beyond this though and offer users far more.

Premium features

  • Firewall
    More and more anti-malware software includes integrated firewalls with which users can set rules for all incoming and outgoing data traffic on their network. These help to identify and block unauthorized access.

  • VPN access
    VPNs make it possible to anonymously and safely surf the Web as well as bypass geoblocking by hiding your location, encrypting your data, and masking your IP address. Unlike dedicated programs, the VPNs that come with anti-malware software often have strict data limits or fewer server locations. There are some exceptions to this as several of the pricier subscription packages include full-fledged VPNs.

  • Password managers
    A password manager is like a digital safety deposit box in which you store your username/password combinations, credit card information, and other sensitive data. Several anti-malware developers have recognized that their customers want more data security and have integrated password managers into their subscriptions. Like VPNs, these password managers are often inferior to dedicated solutions.

  • Ad blocker
    Anti-malware programs often block ads and annoying pop-ups.

  • Data/file shredder
    Files that you delete can often be retrieved or restored with relative ease. Data shredders ensure that deleted files are gone forever.

  • Cloud backups
    On the flip side, some anti-malware software also protects against unintended data loss by allowing users to back up their entire system or specific folders to the cloud.

  • Performance tuning
    Optimization tools help improve your computer's performance by deleting unused files or speeding up your boot time by removing programs from the autostart list.

  • Parental controls
    Should you want to monitor your children's Internet consumption, you can with parental controls: All you'll have to do is make a profile for each child, with which you can then block types of content or even specific websites. Typically, these also make it possible to GPS locate your children via their devices.

Parental controls allow you to specify which content and websites users of the device in question have access to.

Mobile Features

As mentioned above, other features are designed for mobile devices, including:

  • App-lock
    With this, you can add a second layer of security, such as a PIN code or fingerprint scan, to specific apps.

  • Anti-theft tools
    Smartphones are much easier to steal than laptops or PCs. With anti-theft tools, anti-malware programs limit the damage resulting from the loss of your mobile device. You can set an alarm to activate whenever a new SIM card is input, GPS locate your device, remotely delete files, or lock it. Some programs even include a camera trap, with which you can (secretly) take a picture of the person holding your phone.

With Bitdefender's smartphone app you can remotely locate, lock, or even delete files from stolen or lost devices.

Security & Performance

Even the most user-friendly app with a huge list of features will mean little if the software's anti-malware engine isn't able to identify and neutralize complicated threats. Thankfully, there exist independent testing labs that regularly assess how reliable most of the programs featured in our sample are at protecting users against malware.

Specifically, we rely on the testing results from AV-Test and AV-Comparatives, each of which regularly awards scores in the areas of security and performance. Security is measured largely on the number of false positives and the general identification rate for threats that a program demonstrates.

For performance, we also add our own two cents by detailing how our computer performed while a full scan was running in the background. Should we have noticed lag or been otherwise hampered while performing routine tasks (such as opening a browser, copying and pasting text, etc.), we'll deduct points and let you know in this part of our assessment.

Generally speaking, the two testing labs awarded all of the anti-malware programs from our sample good-very good scores in terms of both security and performance. During our most recent evaluation, Bitdefender scored highest in both categories.

Support

If a user has questions or issues with their anti-malware software, they typically have two options: Find an answer on their own or contact the developer's support staff. To help with the first, developers should make sure that they offer comprehensive handbooks, guides, and FAQs in an easy-to-navigate help center. Forums are also a nice touch.

For the second option, the developer should offer a contact form, email, or support ticket system. Beyond that, we also like to see a live chat or hotline, ideally staffed as often as possible. In a perfect world, the developer offers everything, like Norton:

Norton scored high in terms of support thanks to its excellent help center and multiple live support channels.

Conclusion

Malware is faster, more clever, and sneakier than ever before, all of which make having effective protection against it essential for anyone using the Internet. If you opt for third-party software, you can't go wrong with any of the programs above: Each offers excellent protection, a wide variety of features, and reliable support.

Although not nearly as expensive as buying a car or a house, selecting an anti-malware program is also more than just a question of maximizing what you want: Find a practical solution that doesn't break the bank. Choosing the right program is easy with the help of our comparison calculator, which allows you to sort through providers on the basis of their price, features, and other conditions.

FAQs

What is anti-malware software?

Anti-malware or malware removal software protects your computer, laptop, and/or smartphone against malicious software of any kind, including viruses, Trojans, ransomware, spyware, and adware. With it, you can scan your device or computer for existing threats, while real-time protection monitors your system in the background, responding to any dangers which may arise.

Do I need malware protection?

Every system should have some sort of malware protection. Whether pre-installed software, like Windows Defender, is adequate, depends on your requirements and needs. Premium, third-party programs offer additional security features and often provide extras like a VPN, parental controls, or a password manager, making them a one-stop shop for constructing a digital defense.

What's the difference between antivirus and anti-malware?

All viruses are malware, but not all types of malware are viruses. Both terms have grown increasingly synonymous with one another as digital threats have diversified.

What is the best anti-malware program?

During EXPERTE.com's evaluation of 15 of the most popular anti-malware programs, Bitdefender secured first place owing to its impressive security, performance, intuitive interface, and huge selection of features. Kaspersky and Avast's anti-malware software took second and third place, respectively. Deciding which software is the best depends largely on your budget and which features you need.

Top Antivirus 2024
Sponsored
from $2.00
per month
Bitdefender
from $2.50
per month
Kaspersky
from $0.00
per month
Avast
from $1.67
per month
Norton
show all
Author (German Version): Martin Gschwentner
Martin Gschwentner majored in American Studies and Media Studies in Germany, the USA and France and works as a freelance editor in Paris. He is a doctoral student at the Institute for English and American Studies at the University of Paris Diderot, where he is researching the influence of money on US politics. On EXPERTE.com he writes about IT security, data protection and software for the self-employed and small businesses.
Translation: D Bare
* Ad disclaimer: For links marked with an asterisk, EXPERTE.com may earn a commission from the provider. The commission has no influence on our editorial rating.
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