The rise of internet-capable devices in everyday use changed our lives for good, but has given cybersecurity experts a major headache. That's where getting the best antivirus comes in.
It is made worse by a higher number of existing avenues the malicious software and hackers can exploit for their activities, as well as a growing mountain of data that is being generated.
Thankfully, in this arms race of sorts, you can keep your desktop and laptop safe with our list of the best antivirus services you can get your hands on in 2018.
Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2019 is in first place of a crowded market at the moment. It's easy to use, priced brilliantly (no more than around $2/£2 per month) and, crucially, is a fantastic first line of defence against cyber threats.
But if you want to cover more than just Windows PCs, or if Bitdefender doesn't have a specific feature you were hoping for, then be sure to check out the rest of our guide to the best antivirus software in 2018. Put simply, you don't have to look anywhere else to make sure you get the strongest internet security protection for your computer.
Best antivirus: the top 10 you can get today
Plenty of features
Reliable virus detection
Can be taxing on resources
Bitdefender is a stalwart among the antivirus software and its Antivirus Plus 2019 is a product which goes beyond being merely “competent”.
For the stated price, you get more than you ask for in terms of features. First of all, Bitdefender is well-known for its reliability in terms of zeroing in on any potential threat to your PC.
It is armed with robust web filters that prevent access to suspicious websites, while its secure browser will make any web shopper sigh with relief knowing that transactions can now be completed without malicious interference.
In this year’s edition, Bitdefender fortified its antivirus package with ransomware protection that identifies malicious behavior on time and prevents you from falling victim to this increasingly dangerous threat. Its already powerful antivirus detection engine is assisted by anti-phishing module and robust password manager which will make leaving your credit card number a stress-free affair.
For all of its advanced features, Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2019 can be a bit of a resource hog which will sporadically chip away at your PC’s performance. If you have a powerful rig or you are not bothered by this, you are well advised to put your system behind the Bitdefender’s shields right now.
Bitdefender's big Black Friday antivirus deal
Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2019 |
$59.99 Now $23.99 (or £39.99£19.99) a year
60%. That's the saving that Bitdefender is throwing at you for Black Friday this year (or 50% if you're in the UK). So that means that the awesome Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2019 is down to around $20/£20 for an entire year of PC protection. A real bargain, this.
Light on resources
Chrome extension can stutter
Norton AntiVirus Basic 2018 has surely done its homework when it comes to being light on your PC’s resources with an added twist: it is light on your wallet as well.
In addition to hunting down malware as competently as you would expect from this type of software in 2018, Norton Antivirus gives you a bang for your buck, with a price-value ratio that is among the most favorable ones in the market.
Your PC will be defended behind threefold protection layers in form of URL blocker which keeps you at safe distance from dangerous websites and a file reputation service which cleans whatever the blocker fails to filter out.
Finally, its behavior monitoring algorithm will remove any intruder that exhibits suspicious behavior. Manual scans are available for the users who do not want to hand over all of the responsibility to the software.
Norton comes packed with various browser extensions such as Norton Identity Safe which can stutter on Chrome but you can hardly take this against a generally stable piece of antivirus software.
Norton Antivirus 2018 will work quietly and efficiently in the background at the price which will put many of its competitors to shame.
Excellent detection and protection
Advanced features not for beginners
Interface takes getting used to
ESET NOD32 Antivirus 2018 Edition has the courage to ask you for a slightly higher price while offering no bells and whistles in terms of features in return.
Instead, you get a major focus on perfecting the performance of its primary duty of combating digital threats to your system. ESET's real-time anti-malware and anti-ransomware barriers will give you a peace of mind while you surf the web, paired with modules preventing script-based attacks and URL filtering features.
Recognising the need to extend antivirus protection beyond the use of the web, ESET NOD32 Antivirus offers a dedicated device control module which prevents the spreading of infection from USB and external hard drives as well as from FireWire and Bluetooth-enabled devices.
All of this points to the fact that this antivirus software takes itself seriously enough and it will not give a beginner user an easy time in learning the intricacies of its seemingly clumsy interface and advanced features with plenty of configurable options. Yet, it will give you the best results if all you want from an antivirus service is, well, to tackle viruses (and other malware) and you’ll be able to have it without straining your hardware resources.
Light on your resources
Intelligent behavior monitoring
Requires internet connection
Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus is a representative of a completely different school of thought when it comes to the resource usage. It wears its lightweight status as a badge of honor, be it the seconds-long installation, mere few megabytes of space it demands or its slightest impact on your RAM performance.
The reason for this is the fact that it is a cloud-based service, meaning that SecureAnywhere Antivirus requires you to stay online for the best results.
Yet, being lightweight does not mean achieving it at the expense of core and additional antivirus features. These include an anti-phishing engine doing its job in real time, intelligent behavior monitoring and anti-ransomware modules. All of this comes alongside highly reliable lab test results in terms of detection and removal of unwanted malware. It is soft on your resources, averse to showoff antivirus features you will never need, and it gets the job done.
Simple to use
Relatively basic feature-wise
Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2018 is like a comeback album from a band discovering its roots with superb results. Back to basics for this antivirus service means excelling at the essential security tasks. Now, you can say that web and URL filtering, ever-watchful and reliable antivirus engine and intelligent behavior monitoring of malicious codes are typical today, but Kaspersky Anti-Virusshows its mettle by giving you the best performance in these segments.
While you may say that it does not offer the most in terms of available features, those on the offer are the ones it handles with stellar results. It will block and clean any malware you throw at it, insulate your system against threats and constantly occupy the first few places on comparative performance lists.
Efficiency is paired with accessibility here, as its interface strikes just the right balance between being rich enough in options without unnecessary clutter. Delivering sophistication in simplicity is a mission statement Kaspersky manages to put into practice with panache.
Rich in features
Look for a firewall elsewhere
Since firewalls act as complements to quality antivirus services, they are often bundled together as part of paid or pro versions of existing antivirus systems. This is sometimes done at the expense of firewall performance, which is evident when we compare it with that of its standalone counterparts. This is what happened to Panda AntiVirus Pro, whose firewall remains basic in terms of its performance and features.
That’s “bad” news for you, now, the good news is that this firewall is really dwarfed by what this antivirus service can offer in terms of the features that will actually keep your PC virus-free. For starters, you will have access to fast malware detection in real time, cloud-based scanning and URL filter. Even if some malware manages to get through, it will be subsequently detected and stopped before it does any damage by being run on your system.
Virtual keyboard feature will protect you from dangerous keylogger scripts, with an added option to create your own USB boot rescue drive which you will want to save for the removal of the most toxic infections. Finally, Panda AntiVirus’s interface design takes a cue from modern cellphone designs, with all options being available with a click or two. When all is said and done, this versatile antivirus service will likely satisfy both beginners and experienced users.
Robust antiransomware protection
Sporadic performance issues
Above average false positives
Just as indicated by its name, Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security is designed with an ambition to offer a “plus” level of security at the price which can easily beat its competitors. The list of main selling points of this antivirus service is topped by an antispam layer which offers excellent performance, followed by a quality anti-ransomware module.
Yet, the antivirus engine itself can be a bit too agile, with test results showing above-average rate of detected false positives. Yes, this can be bothersome for some, but it is still better than sleeping on the job when it comes to virus detection.
Skeptics will be quick to point to sporadic performance issues Trend Micro Antivirus may have after prolonged use, but our detailed analysis has shown that this does not go beyond what one can expect from Bitdefender’s solution, for example. At the same time, this product is highly competitive in terms of its detection performance, particularly when we compare it to its price.
Yet, just like in the case of other paying antivirus services, you are invited to run a trial before reaching for your wallet, but this one gets our thumbs-up as one of the stronger antivirus services in 2018.
It really is free
AVG AntiVirus Free heads our section of free but equally excellent antivirus products in 2018. Yes, AVG AntiVirus plays with your expectations by giving you perfectly capable antivirus features, yet with the missing info under the pricing section.
The package (expectedly) comes with antivirus engine, real-time email and download scanning, as well as a powerful web filter. Yes, you read it right, the same basic features offered by its commercial competitors. There is no catch here, no advertising scheme or restrictions that would force you to buy its paid version, it is a genuine no-strings-attached arrangement this time.
Those who want to go ahead with the commercial version for any reason will be given access to additional features related to online payments, privacy and anti-hacker protection. For many, the paying edition will hardly justify its relatively high price (£49.99 or $70 for a year) particularly when the free edition is this good.
It will give you six types of scan, including a deep system scan and USB/DVD scans which will all be performed at rather high speeds. As a bonus feature, AVG AntiVirus offers file shredder and a built-in browser add-on scanner. Speaking of scanning engine, AVG’s product offers not good but great detection rates which, in some test, leave even its pricey competitors in the dust.
Useful bells and whistles
Great detection rates
Pointless troubleshooting scans in free version
Avast Free Antivirus is yet another quality free antivirus service on our list and a contender which wants to cover all bases when it comes to containing malware threats. It wants to charm you from the outset: its setup will give you an unprecedented level of control over the features that you want to install, down to the smallest module. At the time of installations burdened with bloatware, Avast does not want to force you to pick any option, leaving the decision to you instead. A refreshing small step in the right direction.
Surely, all the components of a modern-day antivirus system can be found here as well. Real-time detection engine acts as a shield which identifies and neutralises malware before it manages to penetrate your defenses. It works in pair with web filtering engine which will rigorously prevent you from accessing malicious content hidden behind dangerous links, while suspicious files can be easily submitted for cloud scan. An additional superb feature is Avast’s Wi-Fi inspector which allows you to detect devices connected to your Wi-Fi network and check the status of your hardware.
In addition to this, Avast can scan your PC for obsolete software, performance and registry problems, missing patches etc. While this may sound useful, the free version will simply waste its time on this, as it can only point to a problem, not resolve it. The reason for this is the fact that these additional features are left for the paid version of Avast – make sure you disable these scans within the settings to avoid burdening your antivirus needlessly.
At the same time, Avast will happily coexist with any competing antivirus product you may have installed, giving you the option to run it in Passive Mode i.e. with real-time protection disabled. If you keep it on (why shouldn’t you?), you’ll be rewarded with a reasonably great level of performance which, considering the product’s price, safely places it among our favorites for 2018.
No-frills approach is not for everyone
New interface favors mobile devices
Avira Free Antivirus has been a popular choice for those who want excellent antivirus features without the need to break the bank. Yes, this means that Avira’s free version remains more popular compared to a commercial one, which is a testament both to its quality and longevity.
First of all, Avira will give you access to a “forever free” antivirus engine which identifies and blocks any malware in real time. Similarly to Avast, you can submit new threats to Avira’s labs for further analysis. Avira places a lot of effort in protecting your browsers as one of the main venues for viral infections, which is why it offers extensions for site filtering and tracker blocking. Added to this is a broad support for the most popular browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Internet Explorer.
This antivirus does a great job when it comes to its defender role. It will hardly hit the highest marks on tests when set against commercial solutions, but it performs reasonably well for a free product. Its interface has finally changed after many iterations over the years and the only thing we can say at this point is that it is certainly optimised for mobile devices, requiring the PC crowd to get used to it.
While its paying version will offer advanced features related to secure online shopping, transaction and email protection, Avira Free has its place on this list for a proper reason, as it will satisfy all users who just want to protect their systems with no additional fuss or price tags involved.