The 5 best antivirus software and apps of 2023

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Whether it is personal or professional, we rely upon our computers and mobile devices to help manage and control our lives. We use these devices for many different reasons, whether it is to work, study, play games, or simply pay the bills. No matter what you use them for, your devices contain a lot of personal, sensitive information that must be protected. That is why antivirus software and programs are so essential — they protect the details of your personal and professional lives. 

You can’t just give access to anyone. That is why we searched for the best antivirus you can find and trust. Based on real user reviews and personal use, these are the best antivirus software and apps to protect your most personal information.   

Also: Read more about the best antivirus software and apps

Pros

  • Free to use
  • On-access malware scans
  • Phishing protection
Cons

  • Lacks firewall
  • Can be slow to get started

Specs: App store rating: 4.6 | Google Play rating: 4.7 | Starting cost: Free

Our overall pick for the best antivirus is the Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition. This free app is designed to protect your personal data, whether it is your passwords or your financial details. If there are any security issues, you will receive instant alerts, so you know when a problem has been fixed. Best of all, it is created to reduce battery while in use. Bitdefender has its own VPN that offers an extra layer of privacy to prevent data loss.

Pros

  • Trustworthy performance
  • Affordable
  • Special pricing for business accounts
Cons

  • No family plans
  • Some low scoring

Specs: App store rating: 4.6 | Google Play rating: 4.3 | Starting cost: $3.75/month

Malwarebytes is a popular ad-free program that helps prevent you from scams and security threats. It offers malware and ad blocking, along with filtering and web security. It will even monitor for fake texts, as well. The service is effective enough that four million threats are either detected or blocked by the service every day. It is flexible, too, working with both your smartphone and tablet for greater versatility, and it is very easy to use with a single-click interface.

Pros

  • Great compatibility
  • Personal data cleanup
  • VPN included
Cons

  • Must upgrade for best features
  • Slow to scan

Specs: App store rating: 4.7 | Google Play rating: 4.1 | Starting cost: $0

When you want to purchase antivirus protection for the family, McAfee AntiVirus Plus fits the bill. It offers mobile security with safe browsing and a secure VPN. There is also identity protection to keep your personal details safe while you surf the internet. Should there be a threat, there are special alerts, so you can act immediately. When you sign up, choose from two different options: a free version or a paid subscription, depending on the breadth of features you want.  

Pros

  • 24/7 protection
  • Malware protection
  • Easy Windows compatibility
Cons

  • Requires Microsoft account
  • Mediocre phishing

Specs: App store rating: 2.0 | Google Play rating: 4.4 | Starting cost: Free

Microsoft Defender was created not just for one person but for the entire family, too. Set up security for the household and enjoy expert recommendations and security tips to help protect your information online. Use your Microsoft 365 account to set up custom security measures and manage your family’s security status. It is the best free antivirus to manage both your professional and personal lives, especially when you use Microsoft Defender for Endpoint in the office.

Read the review: Microsoft Defender review

Pros

  • Full malware detection
  • Excellent virus protection
  • Fantastic apps
Cons

  • Somewhat turbulent company history
  • Can get pricey

Specs: App store rating: 4.7 | Google Play rating: 4.7 | Starting cost: Free

Norton Antivirus is one of the most well-known antivirus programs, and it is also one of the best. There are a number of different threats that it covers, including malware, spyware, and ransomware. The secure global VPN servers keep your private information private with bank-grade encryption that works for both your computer and phone. It means protection regardless of whether you are on a home or public Wi-Fi. Check out the Device Report Card to see the previous 30 days’ worth of activity, so you can stay abreast of any new or recurring threats.

The best antivirus protection comes in the form of Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition, which provides its own exclusive VPN and custom alerts for your surfing safety. 

Best antivirus

Free plan

Malware protection

Phishing protection

Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition

Malwarebytes

McAfee AntiVirus Plus

Microsoft Defender

Norton Antivirus

We can help you find the best antivirus software and app for your needs based on our expert recommendations.

Choose this antivirus…

If you want…

Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition

Overall impressive performance at an affordable price

Malwarebytes

Excellent value and performance for your dollar

McAfee AntiVirus Plus

Protection for multiple devices

Microsoft Defender

A free option to get started

Norton Antivirus

A business-friendly option for antivirus

There are several factors we consider when looking for the best antivirus, including these options. 

  • Features: From malware to viruses, there are a lot of threats out there, so we look for the best antivirus protection and features available to protect your online activity, whether you are using your PC or smartphone.
  • Performance: Features mean nothing if the antivirus app or software does not have the power or performance to back it up. We look for antivirus software and apps that not only attack existing threats but prevent you from new ones, too. 
  • Accessibility: Antivirus software has been available for quite some time now, but now there are plenty of antivirus apps, too. Consider how you would best like to access your antivirus program and what mobile requirements there may be.  
  • Cost: The best antivirus programs do not charge the highest fees, with several programs offering free versions but with limited features. Consider your budget before you find the best antivirus protection for your situation.

Viruses are not the only thing that antivirus programs protect against. There are also worms, which instantly attack your device, and trojans that appear to be a safe program but are anything but. Antivirus apps and programs also protect against spyware and adware that can tap into your history and flood you with pesky and potentially dangerous ads or notifications. 

Kaspersky Anti-Virus has long been considered one of the best antivirus programs for its fantastic features and protection. However, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has officially named Kaspersky a national security risk, so while it is still available, it is not one we actively recommend.

All of the best antivirus programs and apps offer a free version that you can choose to protect your devices. While they may be limited in their features, you often have the option to upgrade to a paid plan for more benefits.

In our search for the best antivirus apps and software, we also found these options. 

For other options, learn more about the best free PC antivirus software before you choose!