Antivirus Software – Meta-Study

Today, the world of digitization offers us an infinite number of advantages, but above all the possibility to connect digitally in no time at all. But what many people do not know is that there are many, especially hidden dangers lurking on the Internet. A survey on cyber-attacks in 2017 in companies worldwide shows that 98% of respondents have been affected by malware before. In this comprehensive study, we would like to show how to protect yourself privately and professionally against cyber-attacks. The right choice of well-functioning antivirus software is essential.

Process description

Due to the wide range of antivirus programs on offer, it is particularly important to understand which software best suits your needs and which offers you complete protection. The programs differ greatly in terms of security, sometimes with serious gaps. The aim of this comprehensive meta-study on antivirus programs is to include as many representative comparative studies as possible in order to provide a broad and objective product and service range. We analysed and evaluated 10 US studies on antivirus software in detail. From this research we identified the 10 most popular programs which will be introduced below. In the next step, we compared the test results of the 10 comparative studies with each other and levelled them based on scores in order to achieve an even weighting. We would now like to present the results of the meta study as well as the placement.

Placement Name Points
1 Bitdefender 93.8 8.8 3 18 20 35 5 4 5 4 4.5
2 Vipre 86.4 8.8 3 17.5 17.5 32 4.25 4 4.5 3.5 3.75
3 McAfee 84.9 8.8 3 17.5 17.5 32 4.5 4 4.5 2.5 3.75
4 Kaspersky 84.4 9.6 3 18 18 29 4.5 4 4.5 2.5 4
5 eset 84.2 8.6 2 17.5 17.5 34 5 4 4.5 4 3
6 BullGuard 83.3 8 2.5 18 18 34 4.5 3.5 4.75 2.75 3.75
7 AVIRA 83.3 8.8 3 18 18 34 3.5 4 4.5 2 4
8 AVG internet security 82.8 9 3 17 17 32 4.25 4 4.75 1.5 3.75
9 Norton 82.3 8 2 18 18 32 5 4.5 4.5 1.5 4
10 AVAST 81.8 9 3 17 17 30 4 3.5 4.75 2 3.75

Review of Antivirus Tests

In our meta study, we looked at research spanning years of testing and customer reviews. To find the most accurate results, we looked at studies that included multiple antivirus software programs. Overall, each of these studies had similar points, but they approached each antivirus from a variety of perspectives. In all studies, firewall protection was considered a huge factor in how well the antivirus software program performed, and consequently, how it was rated overall by the study.

Here is a brief look at the verified studies we researched to include in our meta study findings:


Description quickly sums up what most consumers are looking for in an antivirus on its homepage but goes into a full, detailed analysis that sums up highlights, features, and important specifications for each antivirus.

Here are their top 10 antivirus programs:

  1. Kaspersky
  2. TotalAv
  3. Scanguard
  4. AVG
  5. Avast
  6. Avira
  7. Vipre
  8. eset
  9. Nortion
  10. Bullguard

We were surprised to find that the top five didn’t include Norton Antivirus, but in reading reviews, we saw that the top three chosen by had more features for a better price.

Comparative to Meta Study

While Kaspersky is on our list and rated highly, it receives the highest rating out of any other study on our list. The top three here also don’t include any of the top three on our comprehensive study. Whereas we list Kaspersky as fourth, we also don’t list TotalAv or Scanguard among our top 10. While these were looked at in the study, no other website provided such a high rating. This leads us to believe that the ratings may be skewed on this site. However, the reviews still have solid advice on how to pick antivirus programs as well as detailed features list for each product.

What Criteria was Used used a combination of features to figure out which antivirus was best. On the site, the reviewers state that the following features are best:

  • Built-in firewall
  • Email spam blocking
  • Parental controls
  • Webcam protection
  • Gaming mode
  • Simple user interface
  • Computer performance
  • Fast detection
  • Safe storage
  • Cleanup or computer tune-up tools
  • File shredder
  • Free trial / better pricing

Overall the strength of the antivirus is in the number of features and how well they work, but the emphasis is always on firewall and virus scan protection. If an antivirus can’t update itself and prevent the latest threats from attacking your computer, then it’s not effective.

AV Comparatives


This study is quite comprehensive and doesn’t provide a 1 to 10 list. You can research and dig down into different antivirus programs based on categories, platforms, test methods, and vendors. It’s easy to check off each test and see how well every antivirus performs.

There are 51 pages of results to go through on the site, so it’s best to narrow down first to read which ones will meet your categories and platforms, as well as what tests were passed. This is also a beneficial site to use if you are looking for Enterprise software, because you can see results specifically for businesses and look at tests that help with compliance.

You can choose options like “Latest Tests” to see results from a recent date. This is important if you are looking for the latest antivirus software updates. You want protection that is constantly updated for the latest threats.

Comparative to Meta Study

This list is much more comprehensive than ours, but it’s also difficult to see which antivirus would be best based on the sorting and presentation. AV Comparatives removes the idea of sponsored content problems completely, however. You can read any review, and each test follows the same format. It analyzes the antivirus based on the criteria of the test, whether it’s for malware removal or anti-phishing.

All of the antivirus programs that we found to be top-rated are on AV Comparatives, and most of them receive top marks. However, the top-rated ones are marked as three-star instead of 1 to 10 basis. They are ranked based on real-world protection tests, performance tests, malware removal tests, false alarm test, and malware protection. You can see when each test was performed by clicking on the relative product.

Other information provided includes history of the program and any issues that the company has had since marketing its software. For example, Avast’s profile and test page shows that it was started in 1988 and has a variety of products for users and businesses, as well as free products. In addition, the software has a website, support, blog, tools, and won awards.

What Criteria was Used

AV Comparatives uses real data from performance tests to see how well the antivirus stacks up. These tests date back multiple years, so you can see a graph of the performance. This helps to show consistency in the performance, and you can note when there were dips, or low performance markers.

When the test is completed, the software will receive a rating. If there are no ratings available, the software either failed or has not participated in that test as of yet.

AV Test – The Independent IT Security Institute


AV Test performs tests on its own over time to see what antivirus programs offer the most features, protection, and updated virus information to protect consumers. There are multiple tests, but we mainly looked at the Windows tests. Whereas some of the other studies were more current, some of these tests were performed only in October 2018.

AV Test provides a variety of information as well as certification of top products on their website. Their reviews show a detailed understanding of the product by IT professionals, as they conduct malware attacks and block email threats. The tests focus mostly on protection and the successful block of threats to the operating system.

Comparative to Meta Study

Our meta study picked out 10 of the top antivirus programs based on our collective data that showed which products met and exceeded our criteria. With AV Test, you’ll see many other products on the list with ratings that follow for protection, performance, and usability, as well as a certified badge if they are top-rated by AV Test.

In comparison to our findings, AV Test shows that most of the ones on our list are top products with high ratings in all categories. However, their ratings only go up to 6 points, whereas we accessed 100 points. Our top antivirus Bitdefender is also highly rated by AV Test. However, the other two in our top three, Vipre and McAfee, were ranked lower in this test.

You can sort test results by their rankings in protection, performance, or usability as well. This is an easy feature to use if you want to see which products had the best features in the right category for what you need.

What Criteria was Used

AV Test bases its point system on performance, protection, and usability. These products are tested several times throughout the year, dating back to February 2018.

Protection criteria includes firewall and scan performance. Performance includes its impact on your computer and how fast it responds to threads. Usability refers to the interface and ease of access for users. These tests do not consider price as a factor in why they receive a top badge, whereas our meta test looks at the costs and assessed value as well as features.

Techradar’s Best Antivirus


Most tech-savvy individuals know Techradar because of its top lists and reviews of the latest gadgets. The great thing about Techradar is that their lists and reviews are always updated. The site is so large that there are a ton of products to look at, so it’s important to see what antivirus programs they selected to review first.

For this study, Techradar only chose five antivirus programs to be in their top list:

  1. Bitdefender Antivirus Plus
  2. Norton Antivirus
  3. Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus
  4. ESET NOD32 Antivirus
  5. F-Secure Antivirus SAFE

The reviewer goes into greater detail about each of the antivirus programs in its top five, including what features are more prominent, pricing, and what problems were there if any in their initial test.

Comparative to Meta Study

In comparison to our findings, Techradar was on point with the top antivirus selection. Just like our study, the reviewer found that Bitdefender was the best antivirus overall due to its accuracy, password manager, and affordable price.

The top five also included some others on our list including Norton and ESET. However, the rest of our top three were not on Techradar’s list.

What Criteria was Used

Techradar’s tests really focus on features and pricing. Each review lists out the number of features that are most important. In this way, there are likely a number of factors for the reviewer, but in each one, we saw that ransomware protection and firewall protection were highly necessary. This could be a trend that Techradar has spotted and chosen to isolate, as there are many ransomware viruses attacking users and businesses.

AV Lab


AV Lab reviews antivirus programs based on data from tests. You can see all of their test results at the bottom of the homepage, after a brief explanation of their criteria and test types. Most important to AV Lab is testing for ransomware, which seems to be a growing trend.

AV Lab is an independent tester, so you’ll see that they have different charts in addition to the overall list. The charts reflect different types of attacks and how well each software is combating these attacks.

Each product is rated separately and listed based on the type of threat. For example, Bitdefender is rated in the top five for ransomware, but it receives higher marks for blocking cryptomining and bash threats.

The reviews do an okay job of showing you the results from each test, but it’s hard to see any real differences between each software besides how well they rank for different types of threats. If you wanted to look at an overall review, you wouldn’t use AV Lab.

Instead, this helped our tests by providing more criteria points for different protection against certain threats. Now we know that Bitdefender, Kaspersky, Norton, and Eset offer greater protection against specific threats.

Comparative to Meta Study

All of our top 10 are represented in the lists provided on AV Lab. Bitdefender is ranked as a top product based on its performance for blocking each type of threat. However, we don’t see Vipre or McAfee on this list, which is disappointing since they are popular products.

Mainly AV Lab is only conducting the test each year against the most pervasive threats. We factored this into our meta study by looking at each antivirus for specific protections against these critical threats.

While most of the antivirus products that made our top 10 do protect against ransomware, cryptomining, and bash threats, there were a few antiviruses that weren’t on our list that AV Lab suggested were high-quality.

These antiviruses include:

  • Comodo
  • F-Secure
  • Emsisoft
  • Panda Security
  • Quick Heal
  • SecureAge Technology
  • G Data

In addition to including more antiviruses in their final results, they also fully explain their methodology with a data tree that shows how they test and what they test for, as well as how they used a virtual environment to set up each experiment and collect results.

What Criteria was Used

Each test is run through a virtual environment that is designed to accept malware and other viruses in order to test each system protected by a certain antivirus program. They judge the fastidious of the program as a top criteria for whether it’s a good program.

The speediness is judged in three levels, including early, middle, and low level.

  • Early level: This means that the virus was blocked in a browser or right after the download occurred. It never infected any other programs and was caught early. This is a good indicator that the antivirus product is working and doing its job correctly. Programs with early level detection and blocking are scored highest.
  • Middle level: This means that the virus has also been quarantined and can’t infect any other programs. Typically, this means that the virus was allowed to be downloaded and attempted to run, but it was stopped by the program. This is average performance for most antiviruses and still receives points for blocking the virus.
  • Low level: The virus was blocked, but it was allowed to run. It typically hasn’t infected the system, but it may still be running. This is considered below average performance.

Some antiviruses perform better depending on the type of virus due to their definitions databases. If an antivirus isn’t updated regularly, it could lead to a threat getting through simply because it’s not recognized. You see this frequently with low level detection in rare virus attempts, such as through bash attacks and cryptomining.

Tech Advisor


Tech Advisor is another top website for reading detailed reviews on the latest tech products, gadgets, software, and devices. Tech Advisor ranked antivirus software in August 2018, looking at a variety of different products used in the UK and US. Their reviews show an incredible knowledge of the antivirus industry as well as how to protect devices from ransomware and other trending viruses.

Each antivirus tested received a rating up to five stars. Pricing and important features are listed at the top of each test, indicating what was found that each reviewer liked about the product. Most of the reviews look at the number of tools, showing that while firewall protect is important, there are also other tools for banking and payment protection that matter to consumers.

Comparative to Meta Study

Most of the antiviruses reviewed by Tech Advisor are in our top 10. In addition, our top pick Bitdefender is listed as number one for antiviruses as well. They agreed with our assessment that it has the most features, prevented the most attacks, and updates regularly to include new tools and virus definitions.

In addition, Tech Advisor listed Norton, Kaspersky, McAfee, ESET, and Bullguard in their top 10 reviewed. Each received 4 to 5 stars. However, there were a few that were not included in our top selections. This mainly included Sophos, which we found to have a higher price tag without enough features.

What Criteria was Used

Tech Advisor bases its reviews mostly on features and pricing. If the antivirus has a great price and a ton of features, it’s likely in their top 10. These features typically include firewall protection, identity theft prevention, multiple devices and operating system capabilities, ransomware protection, and lots of user controls.

Pricing is also a major factor in how Tech Advisor judges a product. They look at yearly pricing, which trends around $40 for their top antivirus products.



PCWorld does a thorough assessment of antivirus programs in their test, also looking at some of the statistics driving the antivirus market today. For example, their article looks at how $1.1 million is lost to cyber crimes every minute in 2018. There’s also ransomware that has the face of President Obama called the “Barack Obama’s Everlasting Blue Blackmail Virus.” These details gave us insight into the expertise of PCWorld as they tested several antiviruses, coming up with a top three. However, they do show all of their reviews in a comparison table with pricing and separate reviews.

It’s clear to see that some antiviruses cost a lot more than others while not having the same features. The top three listed for PCWorld are filed into separate categories including:

  • Best overall antivirus suite
  • Best budget antivirus suite
  • Best antivirus for newcomers

Each review contains more information and highlights on each of the products. PCWorld recommends the most expensive antivirus program, however, based on their test.

Comparative to Meta Study

Overall, we found that PCWorld did test a number of different antiviruses and constructed credible, detailed reviews about each product. While they did name Norton Security as the top antivirus, they also named several others as four-star that were on our list, including the following:

  • Bitdefender
  • Kaspersky
  • ESET Internet Security
  • McAfee
  • Avast
  • AVG Internet Security
  • Bullguard

Their lowest-rated antivirus products included the following:

  • PCMatic
  • Quick Heal
  • Windows Defender Security Center
  • Comodo Internet Security Pro

PCWorld used several tests to rank these antiviruses finding that Norton was able to protect against all threats, and the program did so the fastest.

What Criteria was Used

PCWorld first reviewed every product by its usability and suite of features, as well as price. On the surface, you can see in their comparison table that they don’t consider price so much as the effectiveness of each tool and firewall protection.

PCWorld ran stress tests on each antivirus looking for issues and threats that were not blocked or quarantined. Some threats were not even detected by the lower quality products on this list.

In addition, they use criteria from tests on AV Comparatives and AV Test. These tests show how successful each antivirus was at quickly blocking and preventing the viruses from infecting other programs.

Pricing was the last criteria that really had an effect, but it’s not based on the highest price. PCWorld takes pricing into account for the features that you get. If you get a lot of tools and higher protection features, then a higher price can be justified.



TopTenReviews took a lot of time to review 14 different antiviruses on the market. In fact, they spent over 800 hours testing each one for its ability to prevent viruses, ransomware, rootkits, Trojans, and spyware and other problems from infecting their computers. Their thorough study looked at antiviruses with firewall protection and extra security tools, finding that many of the antiviruses today are mainly built to protect Windows. Only a few are able to protect Mac and Linux systems as effectively.

TopTenReviews based their results off of different categories including:

  • Best Overall Antivirus
  • Best Free Antivirus
  • Best Antivirus for Microsoft Edge
  • Best Antivirus for Gamers
  • Least Invasive Antivirus
  • Best Antivirus for Mac

These categories basically look at the top antivirus products by system. This is a smart approach as not all antiviruses work for Mac and Windows, and other antiviruses have more features with additional cost, which could be good for separate audiences such as businesses or gamers.

Comparative to Meta Study

TopTenReviews found that the best overall antivirus was Bitdefender. This coincides with what we found from looking at several different tests. They listed all of the same highlights that we found in other reviews and tests. While it’s lower priced than other antiviruses, it has more protection and offers a full suite of tools.

However, it was difficult to find the exact list of all the different antiviruses tested to understand their methodology. It was clear that firewall protection and price were two main factors in why Bitdefender was chosen.

What Criteria was Used

The main criteria used for TopTenReviews was how many threats were prevented in their tests. This means that they tested for a number of different viruses, including ransomware, spyware, Trojans, rootkits, and other threats. How fast these threats were blocked and if they were quarantined factored into the overall score for the antivirus.

Price also affected the reviewer’s opinion on the antivirus. If a program cost more than the average, which is about $40, then it should have more features and protections, such as identity theft alerts and banking protection. There are also a few that come with cloud features, but if these were difficult to use, TopTenReviews marked the product down a point.

Overall, we agreed with the results, which showed that Bitdefender was the best antivirus for both Windows and Mac users.

Consumer Affairs / Financial Software Department


Consumer Affairs updated its report on antiviruses early in 2018, and it hasn’t been updated since. We wanted to look at this study to see what were the popular antiviruses at the beginning of 2018. However, we felt that this test was mainly on user experience and may not have been as thoroughly tested as with other tests. The indicators for this are some of the missing details, as well as the selections of what antivirus products to test.

Some of the same antivirus products on our list are included in Consumer Affairs top 10 reviewed, but some of these were reviewed lower than in other tests. In addition, it’s hard to see which products were selected to be sponsored and which ones are actually still going to work for your computer.

There are a few antiviruses that seem outdated including Webroot and Malwarebytes. These haven’t been popular for many years.

Comparative to Meta Study

Many of the top ten antiviruses from the meta study are included in the top-rated selections on However, there are a few that are different. In addition, ConsumerAffairs doesn’t have a top 10 list, but rather, they rate each product up to five stars and include a detailed review.

In addition, these reviews are largely based on customer satisfaction and user reviews. We factored in user experience, customer satisfaction ratings, and customer reviews into our scoring system as well. On ConsumerAffairs, the highest-rated product was Total Defense. This product didn’t rank in our top 10.

Our top-rated Bitdefender was not as highly ranked as by users, receiving nearly 4 stars on ConsumerAffairs. The top-rated on Consumer Affairs included many that were not included in our tests because they had outdated virus definitions or were too expensive for the features provided.

What Criteria was Used

User experience and firewall protection accuracy, as well as speedy virus detection, were among the most common criteria cited in each user review. There were 825 reviews for Total Defense, most of which appreciated the free trial and free phone support that came with the program.

In addition, compatibility with a multitude of devices was also important. Many users complained that Bitdefender didn’t work with Android, whereas Total Defense and Webroot Antivirus were compatible with PC, Mac, and Android.



Finally, we wanted to look at antiviruses specific to the Mac operating system because they are incredibly harmful if you don’t know how to protect against them. While 10 years ago, there weren’t many viruses on the web that attacked OS X, the times have changed.

Macworld did a complete write-up on all of the popular Mac antivirus programs, which included the following:

  • Intego Mac Internet Security
  • Bitdefender
  • Norton for Mac
  • Sophos for Mac
  • Avira
  • Antivirus Zap for Mac
  • ESET
  • Kaspersky
  • Trend Micro
  • Total AV

Macworld provides a full guide to why Macs need their own specific antivirus protection and can’t just rely on the security of their own operating system. There are a number of viruses out there that have found vulnerabilities and breached users’ accounts recently, including iCloud.

One report showed that Mac malware had grown to over 270 percent in 2018, indicating that threats are no longer just a Windows problem. This information is helpful in conjunction with their tests because it shows that Macs are not immune to viruses.

Comparative to Meta Study

Since Macworld is only concerned with antiviruses for OS X, there were some significant differences in their findings and the meta study. Their number one result was Intego Mac Internet Security X9. It was able to protect and defend against all threats, and it didn’t cost as much as Bitdefender or other antivirus protection.

Bitdefender came in second place, as it able to detect only 9 out of 10 threats. This is still an incredibly good amount of detection and protection, but Intego had better virus definitions for Mac computers. This was really the only mark against Bitdefender, as the rest of the review was complimentary and noted that it had many more features, including the scanner Autopilot.

Some of the other antivirus products shared with our meta test results include Norton, Avira, Kaspersky, and ESET.

What Criteria was Used

The main criteria in these tests was how well the antivirus defended against threats in a Mac platform. This meant that the antivirus had to have definitions for all types of threats specific to OS X. The reviews looked at ease of installation, price, and tools, such as auto scanning and computer performance, as well as firewall protection.

Review of Antivirus Programs 2019

The top antivirus programs today all share a few things in common, but each also has a high customer satisfaction rating. The features in each software below make them an incredibly ally to consumers who want to fight off ransomware, data hacks, cryptomining, Trojan viruses, and other threats.


Bitdefender is one of the top antivirus products due to its ease of use and low cost. With such an easy setup, you can clean your computer up quickly and prevent against further threats.

There is also a free edition of the software that can get you started in protecting your PC. The outstanding test scores that we found with this virus protection make it our top choice for any business or personal computer. It passes most lab tests and web protection tests, in addition to ransomware protection.

Some of the features that we liked best in this software included file encryption, ransomware detection, VPN, parental controls, webcam security, and Autopilot scanner.


Vipre is another top choice for antivirus, and it has some interesting tools to protect your identity and reputation in an increasingly social world. While Vipre has the typical virus scanner and firewall protection, it also has additional tools and found 99 percent of threats.

However, Vipre does seem to have an issue preventing threats from downloading and installing from Chrome. Test results revealed that Vipre does a good job preventing most threats from all other browsers.

The Social Watch scanner is a great tool for those who frequently browse social networks and forums. You can prevent nasty threats just by having this scanner turned on and ready to detect the latest threats to your system.


McAfee is one of the oldest names in antivirus protection. It’s also one of the software programs with the lowest price tag. McAfee provides protection for all Macs, Windows, and Androids, and it gets good scores on all tests. In fact, it received a perfect score in anti-phishing tests. However, it didn’t get the best score in ransomware detection.

PC Boost is a great feature, but we found that it doesn’t work in all browsers. It does the best in Chrome. You only need one subscription to protect all of your devices, so it’s still quite a deal for a robust antivirus program.


There are a few different versions of Kaspersky antivirus protection out there, including Kaspersky Free, Kaspersky Security Cloud, and Kaspersky Total Security. We tested Kaspersky Total Security as its the more popular platform and has the most tools for the best value.

Kaspersky receives the best scores in all four antivirus categories. It can prevent against ransomware, spyware, phishing, and cryptomining. While it’s a little bit more expensive, you’ll get file shredding, password management, backup system, and cross-platform protection.

You’ll get pretty much every feature you want in a cyber security tool with Kaspersky, and the firewall was one of the best we tested.


The ESET NOD32 has become a top choice for consumers looking to protect their computers and files because of the price and easy setup. While scores ranged in some categories, ESET has a great firewall and blocks most exploits from harming your computer. However, it didn’t get the best phishing score in our test.

In addition, some of the user controls are a bit complex and will be confusing to users who don’t know much about antivirus. While we like ESET for its tools and performance in ransomware lab tests, we believe that it’s a bit more robust than most people are looking for. Still, if you want the ultimate package for less, this is a great place to start.


Bullguard Premium Protection is a solid choice for an antivirus, and it’s one of our top-rated programs based on test scores alone. It includes a network security scanner, identity protection, anti-phishing protection, and Android security. There are a few bonus features that make it a step above many of the other antiviruses out there, and it’s still relatively low-priced in comparison to premium antiviruses like Norton.

There are some issues with BullGuard, mainly that it can’t really protect against ransomware, and it received a lesser-than-average score on hands-on malware protection tests. Still, the identity protection and network security scanning make it a top-notch software. We recommend checking in with this software after it goes through another round of updates.


AVIRA scored high in testing phase. The software was able to block all malware attempts and provided automatic virus definition updates so you constantly protected your computer from the latest threats.

However, the Browser Safety option did not prevent threats for Safari or Internet Explorer. It only worked with Chrome and Firefox. In addition, there were issues with some viruses that were able to whitelist users in unknown USB drives. This caused considerable issues in performance.

Overall, AVIRA has a rather high price tag for average protection. This is why it ranked a bit lower in our top 10.

AVG Internet Security

AVG is another historic name in antivirus protection software. There are three versions of the software, including one for Mac and one that’s completely free. However, the AVG Internet Security Unlimited version is the best if you want a full suite of tools and the most virus protection. It received great scores on most tests, but the scan was quite a bit slower than any other software on the list.

For the price, you’re able to install AVG on as many devices as you want, and it has a powerful protection platform against webcam hackers, ransomware, and malware.

Symantec Norton Security Premium

When looking at Norton products, you want to make sure that you’re getting the right one. There are free products as well as a VPN, but only the Norton Security Premium includes the most tools for virus protection. You can protect up to 10 devices with one subscription, and it includes local and online backup with 256 GB of online storage included.

While it passes most tests, it scored poorly on anti-phishing and doesn’t provide any parental controls for the MacOS version. However, this is clearly a great package if you want to pay yearly for the service. You’ll get the most tools and additional storage to ensure that you’re always backing up your most important files.


Avast scores pretty high in testing for most viruses due to its comprehensive firewall, spam filter, and password protection. You’ll get a lot of features out of the premium version, but there’s also a free Avast antivirus as well. In addition to protection against typical malware, you’ll also get a great ransomware detection and protection service that helps prevent all attacks tested on multiple devices, including Windows and macOS.

This is a full-scale suite of features, but the password manager is really limited compared to some of the other antiviruses on this list. Even with the premium version, you’ll still need to upgrade to access some of the other premium tools, which is a bit problematic if you are already paying a pretty steep price.

Best Priced Antivirus Programs

Most of the antiviruses that we tested fall within $35 to $45, making the average cost about $40. However, many of the programs also have free trials or free versions that let you do basic scans and virus prevention.

We like Bitdefender for its full suite of tools at such a low price, but the lowest cost for a premium antivirus is ESET.

Kaspersky, Norton, and AVG had the highest prices for antiviruses. However, Norton is actually a subscription plan, which means that you’ll spend over $50 a year on antivirus protection. Bitdefender is a one-time fee.

Best Functionality in Antivirus Programs

Paid antivirus software should have a few key features that are quite strong and easy-to-use. However, this will vary depending on what you need to protect against or what worries you about browsing the Internet. For example, if you want more privacy, you may want to have access to a VPN and encryption services. If you value identity theft protection, you may want a service that can scan the Internet and detect any issues with your personal information.

Here are some the functionalities that the best antivirus programs will have:

  • Firewall protection: This is necessary for any antivirus, and it’s included with all of the programs on our top ten list as part of the meta study.
  • Spam prevention: This is an email feature that will prevent spyware, phishing attempts, and spam from getting through.
  • Parental controls: This is important if you want to protect your kids and other family members from predators on the web.
  • Webcam protection: There have been increasing reports of rootkits and webcam hacking that allow perpetrators to watch you and download your cam data. A good antivirus will protect against these attempts.
  • Safe browsing mode: This means that you can check websites before you visit them to ensure that they will be safe for your computer.
  • Cleanup and tuning tools: If you have large files, sketchy programs, and other issues that are causing your computer to lag, these scanners will find the problems and let you delete them one-by-one or automatically.

We found that the best antiviruses for functionality included:

  • Bitdefender
  • Norton
  • Vipre
  • Kaspersky

What Antivirus is Best For You ?

If you are looking at different antivirus software programs, then it probably all looks the same. However, the meta study shows that some antiviruses aren’t really doing what they say they’ll do, especially when tested.

The best way to learn about antivirus software is by trying out free versions first. Most of the top brands offer a free version or a free trial subscription that lets you test out the features and upgrade to premium if you think it will work for your computer.

You shouldn’t waste your money paying for any features that don’t make sense to you, unless you have someone who can help you figure it out. Some of the tools are very complex to use and may slow down your computer’s performance. If you only want software with a better firewall, there are plenty of free options just for a firewall, including Windows Defender.

While your Windows may come with McAfee and other pre-installed products, that doesn’t mean they are best the options. You should look at tools that are going to give you the most defense for what you want and have tools that excite you, such as registry cleaners, firewall protection, and scam prevention. You shouldn’t trust any product that also asks you to upgrade on your Windows system if pre-installed. Typically these are only 30-day trials that will pester you to renew once finished.

One of the best tests you can do is look up malware testing and ransomware scoring with the name of the antivirus. You can search these tests in Google or check out places like AV Test and AV Comparatives.