Updated on: March 1, 2023
Short on time? Here’s the best antivirus for Windows 10 & 11:
- 🥇 Norton 360: Powerful malware protection against viruses, spyware, ransomware, adware, and more. Comes with web and phishing protection, a VPN, parental controls, secure storage, and a password manager.
I tested dozens of antiviruses on my Windows PC, hoping to find which ones had the best malware detection rates, web protection, and extra security features — at an affordable price.
Unfortunately, there’s a lot of really bad software out there. Even some well-known brands didn’t offer the level of protection I expected, letting ransomware and spyware run on my systems. Other programs were buggy and caused my system to slow down, while some provided good protection but were overpriced.
However, the 10 antiviruses on this list all performed really well. Each detected a wide range of malware samples, included a comprehensive range of additional features, and did enough to keep my device fully protected. Overall, Norton gave me the most consistent results in my malware tests, making it my favorite Windows antivirus of 2023.
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Quick Summary of the best Windows 10 & 11 antiviruses for 2023:
- 1.🥇 Norton — #1 antivirus and malware protection for all Windows machines.
- 2.🥈 Bitdefender — Advanced cloud-based malware detection and a ton of extras.
- 3.🥉 McAfee — Unlimited device coverage and good web protection.
- 4. TotalAV — Easy-to-use antivirus with a great VPN and good optimization tools.
- 5. Kaspersky — Super intuitive with good additional features.
- Numbers 6-10 of 2023‘s Top Windows Antiviruses.
- Comparison of the Best Antiviruses for Windows in 2023
🥇1. Norton 360 — Best PC Security Suite in 2023
Norton 360 is the gold standard of antivirus software in 2023, providing excellent malware protection as well as the best additional features of any product on the market. Plus, even though it includes a ton of features, Norton is still really easy to use, with an intuitive desktop app and an even better online dashboard that makes it simple to access all of Norton’s functions.
Norton scored a 100% detection rate on Windows 8, 10, and 11 devices in my tests. Its SONAR system uses machine learning to detect malware based on its behavior, so it can even detect zero-day threats that aren’t saved in any malware database. And Norton’s real-time protection scans all incoming downloads and running processes, blocking malware files before they can infect Windows devices.
Norton’s 360 packages also include:
- Anti-phishing protection.
- Integrated firewall.
- Secure VPN.
- Password manager.
- Parental controls.
- Dark web monitoring.
- PC SafeCam (Windows only).
- Identity theft protection (US only).
- Cloud backup (up to 500 GB).
- And much more…
Norton’s additional features are very good. In my testing, its anti-phishing protections blocked phishing sites and other unsafe sites more accurately than browser-based protections from Chrome, Edge, or Firefox, and its firewall detected unsafe network activity that my Windows PC’s built-in firewall missed.
I’m also a big fan of Norton’s Safe Family parental controls. With content filtering, mobile device tracking, scheduled usage, and more, they’re the best antivirus-bundled parental controls on the market. In my tests, Safe Family successfully blocked dozens of inappropriate sites across a range of categories, and it could accurately determine my test device’s location.
Norton also provides one of the best antivirus-bundled password managers of any antivirus. While it might not be as full-featured as standalone password managers, it’s far better than the very basic offerings of most antiviruses. With Norton’s password manager, you can store unlimited passwords, sync across unlimited devices, generate passwords, and audit your password vault. I found it super simple to set up and use, and I like how it has 256-bit AES encryption so you know your data is completely secure.
Starting at just $54.99 / year, all of Norton’s 360 packages are an excellent value. I think Norton 360 Deluxe is the best choice, providing all of Norton’s additional features on up to 5 devices for only $24.99 / year. If you’re in the US, you can also take a look at Norton’s LifeLock plans, which offer exceptional identity theft protections, including live credit report monitoring, one-on-one support in the event of fraud, and up to $1 million in insurance for victims of identity theft. There’s a 60-day money-back guarantee on all of Norton’s plans.
Norton’s range of cybersecurity features performs far better than most other antiviruses. The software is fast and easy to use, and Norton’s advanced anti-malware protection scored a 100% detection rating in our testing. If you need a high-powered Windows antivirus, Norton is the best there is. There’s a 60-day money-back guarantee offered with every Norton package.
Read the full Norton 360 review >
🥈2. Bitdefender Total Security — Best for Advanced Malware Protection
Bitdefender uses a powerful cloud-based anti-malware engine that doesn’t slow down Windows PCs — I was extremely impressed with how smoothly Bitdefender ran on my PC, not affecting my CPU or RAM even during full scans.
Bitdefender’s anti-malware engine uses machine learning, advanced heuristics, and a massive malware database to detect unsafe files — in my testing, Bitdefender scored a 100% detection rating, blocking trojans, rootkits, ransomware, spyware, and more. Bitdefender also offers a ransomware remediation tool, which backs up important data if any suspicious activity is detected and restores the data after the threat is removed.
Bitdefender offers some excellent additional features as well, including:
- Anti-phishing protection.
- Password manager.
- Parental controls.
- Secure browser.
- System tune-up.
- And more…
I really like Bitdefender’s web shield, which detected all of the phishing sites and unsafe sites in my testing. It performed far better than the built-in protections from Chrome and Firefox, and it also identified more risky sites than almost all other antiviruses. I’m also a big fan of Safepay, the secure encrypted browser window that provides a secure way to access your finances online.
Bitdefender’s VPN is pretty great — it uses Hotspot Shield’s super-fast VPN protocol, so I was able to stream HD video, download files, and surf the web with hardly any slowdown on my Windows PC. However, the VPN is capped at 200 MB per day on all but the most expensive Premium Security plan. Still, if you’re in the market for an antivirus-bundled VPN, it’s worth the additional price.
Bitdefender also provides a comprehensive set of parental controls, including content filtering, usage monitoring, and geofencing, so you can get notifications if your kids leave a safe area. The parental controls are easy to set up and use, and all of the tools worked well in our testing.
Finally, I found the Profiles feature very convenient, as it automatically optimizes your device’s performance for various tasks including working, streaming, gaming, and more. I tested the gaming profile mode while gaming on my Windows PC, and it reduced notifications and improved my system’s overall performance. I love the range of profiles available too — while other antiviruses like Norton offer specialized gaming modes, it’s great how Bitdefender includes a whole variety of online activities that it can optimize for you.
Bitdefender offers several plans to choose from, but my favorite is Bitdefender Premium Security, which includes all of Bitdefender’s features, plus unlimited VPN data and a full-featured password manager for only $59.99 / year. Other options include Bitdefender Internet Security, which comes with real-time antivirus scanning, anti-phishing protection, and parental controls (but only for 3 Windows devices) for $32.99 / year, and Bitdefender Total Security, which adds device tune-up and coverage for up to 5 Windows, Android, Mac, or iOS devices for $35.99 / year. While both of these plans are great, they put a limit on daily VPN usage (only 200 MB per day). All of Bitdefender’s plans have a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Bitdefender delivers complete internet security for Windows with a cloud-based antivirus backed by machine learning. It offers cutting-edge privacy and security features, including powerful anti-phishing protection, a fast VPN, a decent password manager, and good parental controls. You can try out Bitdefender risk-free with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read the full Bitdefender review >
🥉3. McAfee Total Protection — Best for Unlimited Device Coverage
McAfee has an excellent malware scanner, a wide range of features, and offers coverage on an unlimited number of devices. It detected over 99.7% of the malware in my testing, and its scanner uses the latest heuristic and machine-based learning technology to detect malware files. Unfortunately, McAfee’s full disk scan slowed down my device a bit during testing (Bitdefender and TotalAV didn’t slow my system at all, even during full disk scans).
McAfee’s additional features include:
- Web protection tools. Comes with Wi-Fi scanning, a smart firewall, and anti-phishing protection.
- Battery optimization. Offers an option to reduce battery drain on laptops.
- System tune-up. Improves a computer’s performance by erasing unnecessary files that may slow down PC operations.
- File shredder. Securely deletes files in a matter of moments.
- Vulnerability scanner. Scans and installs important Windows and application updates.
- Secure VPN. Encrypts internet traffic with decent bandwidth speeds and unlimited browsing data.
- Parental controls (family plans only). A comprehensive set of tools to keep your kids safe online.
- Identity theft protection (available in the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, NZ, Japan, and many European countries). Monitors credit reports for unusual activity and includes a sizable insurance payout.
- Unlimited device coverage. Protect your entire household with one McAfee subscription.
I love that McAfee’s Premium and Advanced plans come with unlimited device coverage. It allows you to protect everyone in your household without paying additional fees — making McAfee an excellent choice for families. Competitor antiviruses like Panda Dome provide unlimited device coverage, but you have to pay extra for it.
I also really like McAfee’s web protection. The WebAdvisor tool does a great job protecting you from dangerous phishing sites. It performed perfectly in my tests, blocking every dodgy site I tried to visit, including plenty that Chrome and Edge missed. McAfee’s Wi-Fi network scanner notified me whenever any changes happened on my network. Plus, the firewall provides active protection against network-based hacking threats.
Finally, I like McAfee’s parental controls, which let you easily set rules and limits for your children based on their ages. The location tracking also works really well — you can see where your kid’s device is with pinpoint accuracy, and they can send you instant updates to let you know when they reach a safe destination.
McAfee is one of the best-value internet security suites for Windows in 2023, starting at just $39.99 / year. It offers several pricing options that cover from 5 to an unlimited number of devices (which is really cool), and all of its plans are covered by a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.
McAfee offers excellent malware protection and a huge variety of additional security features. I was really impressed with McAfee’s web protection, and its parental controls are also really good. McAfee also includes useful extras like system tune-up tools, a file shredder, and identity theft protection. Plus, it has some of the most affordable plans of any antivirus on my list, offers unlimited device coverage so you can protect your entire household with one subscription, and provides a no-risk 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read the full McAfee Total Protection review >
4. TotalAV — Best Antivirus + VPN Combo for Windows
TotalAV is a powerful, easy-to-use option for protecting Windows devices in 2023 — with good antivirus scanning, an excellent VPN, comprehensive identity protection tools, and some of the best PC performance optimization tools I’ve tested. In my testing, TotalAV’s scanner detected and blocked 99% of the malware files on my Windows PC with its advanced antivirus scanner.
Windows users that want additional online privacy will love TotalAV’s VPN. It’s one of our top antivirus+VPN combos for 2023, offering:
- Secure 256-bit AES encryption. Military-grade encryption that makes your data indecipherable by third parties.
- Kill switch. Automatically cuts your internet connection if your VPN connection drops, so you’re never unprotected.
- No-logs policy. No personal information is stored by TotalAV, including the sites you visit and the files you download.
- Servers in 30+ countries. With a great spread that ensures you can always find a nearby server location to connect to (to get the best speeds).
- IKEv2 and OpenVPN protocols. Two of the fastest and most secure VPN protocols today.
I was able to torrent and stream HD content without slowdowns thanks to TotalAV’s fast and secure protocols, TotalAV’s VPN was able to access streaming sites like Netflix, Disney+, and Hulu).
TotalAV’s performance optimization tools are excellent as well — I was able to remove junk files, uninstall old applications, and erase browser cookies that were slowing down my Windows PC. TotalAV successfully found and removed over 1 GB of junk from my PC — 97% more than Windows Disk Cleanup was able to find! The Startup Manager is also really good, as it lets you control which apps you want to start automatically when you boot your computer. Windows has an almost identical feature, but it’s really tricky to find and use, so I appreciate how TotalAV makes this process easy and intuitive.
I like TotalAV’s Webshield too; in my tests, it was able to block more dangerous websites than Chrome or Firefox’s built-in protections. While Norton’s anti-phishing tools are a bit more advanced, I found TotalAV’s Webshield both easy to use and effective. I also love how it’s available as a free download.
However, TotalAV’s password manager isn’t very good — it doesn’t sync across devices, and it doesn’t include any vault auditing tools like the best password managers on the market do.
TotalAV’s best-value plan is Internet Security ($39.00 / year) — it includes TotalAV’s excellent VPN and covers 5 devices. Other plans include Antivirus Pro ($19.00 / year), which comes with the anti-malware engine, optimization tools, and coverage for 3 devices, and Total Security ($49.00 / year), which adds an ad blocker, a password manager, and coverage for 6 devices. And all TotalAV purchases come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
TotalAV is my favorite antivirus with a bundled VPN for Windows 10 and 11 in 2023. The antivirus scanner is powerful and lightweight, and the VPN provides super-fast encrypted browsing. Plus TotalAV’s system tune-up makes cleaning and speeding up your PC really simple. Even though I’m not a big fan of TotalAV’s password manager, it provides enough additional features overall that it’s well worth checking out. There’s a 30-day money-back guarantee on all TotalAV plans.
Read the full TotalAV review >
5. Kaspersky Premium — Best for Ease of Use
Kaspersky provides a secure malware scanner for Windows along with a very intuitive dashboard and some excellent additional features. Its real-time malware scanning engine detected 100% of viruses, spyware, ransomware, and other malware in my testing, putting it right up there with Norton and Bitdefender. Its anti-phishing protection is really good too, and it blocked the vast majority of malicious websites when I tested it, including many that Chrome and Firefox had missed.
Kaspersky also has:
- Safe Money. Secures shopping and banking in a special secure browser.
- Privacy protection. Ensures outside programs aren’t accessing webcams or microphones without permission.
- Parental controls. Blocks unsafe content and tracks device location.
- Rescue Disk. Disinfects your PC on startup.
- Password manager. Stores and auto-fills passwords for extra security and speed.
- VPN. Allows unlimited data, works with many streaming services including Netflix, supports P2P traffic, and offers servers in 30+ countries.
- System optimizer. Removes duplicate files and unused apps, monitors the health of your PC hard disk, alerts you if app updates are required, and provides an option to disable data-heavy apps to boost device speeds.
I really like Kaspersky’s parental controls. They’re intuitive to use and come with a heap of useful features to keep your kids safe online. The content filtering and usage limitation worked well when I tested them on Android (the usage limitation feature didn’t work on iOS), and the location tracking and geofencing were able to pinpoint my test device’s location pretty accurately. Kaspersky also offers social network monitoring for VK, which is something very few antivirus-bundled parental controls offer, but I’d also like to see that monitoring extended to other platforms like Facebook or Twitter.
However, many of Kaspersky’s extra features are less impressive than those of its competitors. Its password manager, for example, lacks two-factor authentication (2FA), which is offered by Norton. Its application vulnerability scanner, which looks for outdated and compromised apps, didn’t always flag my test apps. Also, its dark web monitoring is very basic — I prefer Norton, which scans the dark web for more personal information.
Starting at $22.99 / year, Kaspersky’s Premium plan offers the best value. It includes all of Kaspersky features, gives free access to the parental controls for 1 year, and provides coverage for up to 20 devices across all operating systems. Kaspersky backs all of its plans with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Kaspersky Premium is a top-level security program that is super easy to use and navigate. If you’re looking for an easy, set-and-forget antivirus for your Windows PC, Kaspersky is a decent option — and it comes with a commitment-free 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read the full Kaspersky review >
6. Panda Dome — Best for File Encryption & Rescuing Infected PCs
Panda Dome has a good antivirus scanner and a few unique security features that are really useful. It caught 95% of my malware samples, which is really good, but not as impressive as Norton’s 100% score. However, Panda only scored a 50% phishing link detection rate in my testing, which is pretty bad.
These were the protections that made Panda stand out in my testing:
- File encryption.
- File shredder.
- PC Rescue Kit.
Panda Dome makes it easy to encrypt important work documents behind a secure password — letting you safeguard them from malware and ransomware. It uses a third-party password manager, Password Depot, to secure your files, and the process is super simple. The file shredding works really well too, and it gives you peace of mind by ensuring that sensitive files are completely and permanently deleted from your system.
Panda’s file encryption and shredding tools are super handy, whether you’re sharing your Windows device with other users or you just want to ensure your sensitive information is fully protected from hackers. Not many other antiviruses offer this service — Avira has file encryption and shredding too, but I found Panda’s to be especially easy and intuitive.
The Rescue Kit that Panda offers is really excellent too. It disinfects Windows PCs that are already blocked by malware — this is useful for those emergency situations where a device is completely inaccessible. Simply load the Rescue Kit onto a USB drive, plug in the USB drive into the infected device, boot it, and Panda will automatically erase malware and make the device usable again. This tool is a great perk for Windows users — it’s pretty unique, and it worked really well when I tested it on a colleague’s computer that had been infected.
Panda’s packages also include web protection, a VPN, a password manager, and a secure browser, but these extras aren’t as good as what top competitors like Norton and Bitdefender provide. For example, all Panda plans except the most expensive one limit your VPN data usage to 150 MB/day, and you don’t get the ability to select your own server location. In addition, its parental controls lack some of the useful features offered by Norton, such as a toggle for school time restrictions and the ability to easily check what videos your kids have watched recently on YouTube.
Panda’s premium plans are quite expensive compared to other brands that offer a similar range of features (and cover more devices) for less money. But the reasonably priced Panda Dome Essential package is a good option — it includes real-time malware scanning, a Wi-Fi scanner, and even a VPN (with 150 MB per day) for $23.99 / year.
Panda’s antivirus scanner performed well in my tests, and I really liked some of the additional features — especially the Rescue Kit for Windows PCs. I wasn’t impressed with some of the other features, though, and I also think that Panda’s packages are a little overpriced. That said, they do offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, so it’s 100% worth trying Panda to see if it’s the best antivirus for your PC.
Read the full Panda Dome review >
7. Avira Prime — Best for Fast Scans & Automated Software Updates
Avira’s Prime package combines a powerful anti-malware scanner with tons of useful features, including a really good Windows software update tool. Like Bitdefender, Avira utilizes cloud-based technology to scan devices with minimal system slowdown — and it scored a 100% detection rate against both old and new malware samples. Avira’s scanner was also the fastest in my testing, performing full scans in 20 minutes on my 500 GB gaming PC.
In addition to the state-of-the-art virus scanner, Avira offers:
- PUA shield. Protects against potentially unwanted applications (PUAs) that can be hidden within legitimate software.
- Firewall manager. Optimizes firewall settings based on desired levels of security.
- Web protection. Protects against all kinds of malicious web content and phishing sites.
- VPN. Hides your IP address behind an encrypted server for online privacy.
- Password manager. Generates, stores, and auto-fills logins for greater password security and convenience.
- Software updater. Automatically updates many popular programs.
- Advanced system tune-up. Records comprehensive performance data, eliminates junk files, boosts startup time, and optimizes PC performance while gaming.
I really like Avira’s system tune-up features, which were able to improve performance on one of my old test PCs (which is still running Windows 8). The junk file cleaner identified over 1 GB of junk, and it also flagged some other old files that I might have wanted to keep, giving me the choice of whether to delete them or not. I really appreciate this approach, as it ensures nothing important is accidentally purged from your PC. I’m also happy that Software Updater identifies outdated programs and automatically updates them.
Avira’s password manager is one of the most intuitive options out there, and most of its features are available for free, including unlimited password storage, multi-device sync, auto-save and auto-fill, and two-factor authentication. It definitely one of the best antivirus-bundled password managers on the market.
My only issue with Avira is that its VPN isn’t as fast as Bitdefender‘s, and it doesn’t work with popular streaming sites like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney+. That said, it does have a kill switch for Windows users, and it does support torrenting, so it’s not a bad choice as far as antivirus-bundled VPNs go.
Avira also lacks dark web monitoring and parental controls, so Norton is a better choice if you’re looking for these tools as part of your internet security package.
Avira has several plans to choose from, but my favorite is Avira Prime ($59.99 / year), which includes Avira’s Phantom VPN (with unlimited browsing data) and protects up to 5 Windows, macOS, Android, or iOS devices. Avira also offers the best free antivirus on the market, but it lacks a lot of Avira Prime’s most important extra features. All the paid plans come with a 60-day money-back guarantee.
Avira provides 100% malware detection, a lightweight scanner, and an excellent set of tools to protect Windows PCs. The software updater keeps all applications and drivers updated automatically, which is really important for device security. Plus, Avira’s password manager and system tune-up features are some of the best on the market. Avira Prime is a little pricey, but it comes with a 60-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full Avira Prime review >
8. Malwarebytes — Best for Basic Cybersecurity Protections
Malwarebytes is a simple virus scanner with good malware detection rates — in my tests, Malwarebytes’s on-demand scanner detected around 95% of the test malware, which is decent but not flawless like Norton and Bitdefender. However, its real-time protection is more impressive. It blocked almost 99% of the same files — on par with some of the biggest names in the industry like TotalAV.
Malwarebytes also has a good web security browser extension, Browser Guard, which blocks trackers, pop-up ads, exploit attacks, and phishing sites. It performed really well in my tests, blocking over 90% of the malicious sites I tried to access. I also like how you can easily adjust your settings, for example if Malwarebytes is blocking a site you know to be safe.
However, I was much less impressed with Malwarebytes’s ad blocker. It performed poorly compared to Avira’s, allowing ads through on many of the sites I visited during my tests.
Malwarebytes includes a VPN, but it’s not as feature-rich as standalone VPN competitors. It’s also not a great choice for accessing popular streaming sites like Netflix. But if all you’re looking for is an easy-to-use VPN with fast speeds, it’s an ok choice.
Unfortunately, Malwarebytes doesn’t have any other features that most premium antiviruses offer, like a firewall, a password manager, and a system tune-up tool. That said, its minimalistic design and lack of extra features may appeal to users who are looking for a basic antivirus program.
Starting at $37.49 / year, Malwarebytes is similarly priced to Norton and Bitdefender, both of which provide significantly more cybersecurity protections. But if you’re interested, Malwarebytes has a 60-day money-back guarantee, so there’s no risk in trying it out.
Malwarebytes is a good malware scanner with phishing protection — you can upgrade to Malwarebytes’s most expensive plan to get a VPN, but that’s it. If you’re looking for more functionality, take a look at the other brands on this list. But if you’re ok with a minimalistic antivirus, Malwarebytes is a decent option. All of Malwarebytes’s plans come with a generous 60-day money-back guarantee.
Read the full Malwarebytes review >
9. Trend Micro — Best for Safe Browsing & Online Banking
Trend Micro has a good malware scanner and decent internet security tools for Windows users. Its malware scanner was able to detect 97% of the test malware on my Windows PC, which is not quite up there with Norton and Bitdefender, but it’s still pretty impressive.
I think it’s really cool how Trend Micro shows users which sites are safe — it offers a simple color-coding system to rank Google search results from green (safe) to yellow (unsafe) to red (dangerous). It also did a great job at preventing me from accessing malicious sites when I tried to visit them, blocking every single site I tried, including many that Chrome and Firefox had let through.
Trend Micro also includes:
- Data breach monitoring.
- Password manager.
- Secure browser.
- System optimization tools.
- Dark web monitoring.
- Parental controls.
I really like Trend Micro’s data breach monitoring, which searches online databases for passwords, logins, and even credit card information that could be susceptible to hackers. And Trend Micro’s social media privacy tool made it easy for me to access and change all of the privacy settings on my social media accounts.
Trend Micro’s recently updated VPN is reasonably good (it used to be very bad). It comes with unlimited data, a range of server locations, and decent speeds. But if you’re looking for something with very fast speeds and advanced security features, it’s best to consider a standalone VPN.
I think Trend Micro’s password manager does the basics really well. It offers unlimited password storage, a password generator, a form filler, and secure notes. It’s easy to use, but Norton’s password manager is much better — for example, with Norton you can audit your passwords, whereas Trend Micro doesn’t offer this feature.
Trend Micro also comes with a set of system tune-up tools that can help you fix security vulnerabilities, reduce startup time, create more disk space by removing unused and duplicate files, and clean privacy data. However, this feature doesn’t do anything that the Windows system couldn’t do already, so it’s mostly a convenience thing that puts all of the optimization tools in one place.
Trend Micro is a decent choice for intuitive web protections and a good malware scanner, with prices starting from $19.95 / year — but I think it needs to provide a few more premium features to compare with similarly priced competitors.
Trend Micro has a good cloud-based malware scanner as well as decent extras like data breach monitoring and phishing protection. I think it’s a little bit overpriced, but it’s a lightweight program that has some good internet security protections. Trend Micro offers a 30-day free trial and a 30-day money-back guarantee on all plans.
Read the full Trend Micro review >
10. ESET Smart Security Premium — Good Malware Scanning & Advanced Diagnostics
ESET provides an advanced anti-malware engine and diagnostics tools for Windows security experts — while ESET is a good choice for highly tech-minded users, most users should look elsewhere. That said, ESET’s malware scanner uses advanced heuristics to catch zero-day malware threats — and it scored near-perfect detection rates on all of my tests.
ESET also has:
- Advanced diagnostics.
- Data and device encryption.
- Network monitor.
- System cleanup tools.
- Parental controls.
- Password manager.
- Gamer Mode.
ESET’s advanced diagnostics tools are some of the best on my list — they provided a comprehensive list of all of my device’s files, drivers, and registry entries so any expert could easily analyze any changes to my system in an emergency. Advanced Windows PC users will really benefit from these tools and enjoy getting a more in-depth view of their PC’s inner workings. However, the tools are way too complex for the average user.
I found ESET’s Network Inspector tool really handy as well. It identifies all the devices connected to your home network and scans them for vulnerabilities. It also alerts you whenever a new device joins your network, so you can see if someone is trying to use your Wi-Fi without your permission. While these are useful features, it’s disappointing that, unlike Norton, Bitdefender, and my other top choices, ESET doesn’t offer a VPN to help protect you online.
I wouldn’t get ESET for its extra features. Its parental controls are pretty lacking, being basically just a content filter — and one that failed to block all flagged content during my tests. Its password manager lacks advanced security features like data breach and dark web monitoring, and its Gamer Mode feature is inferior to Norton in terms of actually improving your device’s performance while gaming.
ESET is a good anti-malware tool with some unique security features — but the best-value ESET Advanced Security ($36.12 / year) only covers 1 device, and you have to pay extra for each additional device, which can get pretty expensive, pretty fast. ESET also comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
ESET provides secure antivirus protection and some unique features for advanced users. If comprehensive system usage reports and device encryption tools sound like an appealing extra, then ESET is a great choice. If you have no idea what those features are, then check out one of the other programs on my list.
Comparison of the Best Antiviruses for Windows in 2023
|Antivirus||Starting Price||Malware Detection Rate||Firewall||Anti-phishing||VPN||Password Manager||Money-Back Guarantee|
|1.🥇Norton||$54.99 / year||100%||✅||✅||Unlimited data||✅||60 days|
|2.🥈Bitdefender||$23.99 / year||100%||✅||✅||Unlimited (with Bitdefender Premium Security)||✅||30 days|
|3.🥉McAfee||$39.99 / year||100%||✅||✅||Unlimited data (with automatic subscription renewals)||✅||30 days|
|4. TotalAV||$19.00 / year||99%||✅||✅||Unlimited (with TotalAV Internet Security and Total Security)||✅||30 days|
|5. Kaspersky||$16.99 / year||100%||✅||✅||Unlimited (with Plus and Premium)||✅||30 days|
|6. Panda Dome||$23.99 / year||95%||✅||✅||Unlimited (with Panda Dome Premium)||✅||30 days|
|7. Avira||$45.99 / year||100%||❌||✅||Unlimited data (with Avira Prime)||✅||60 days|
|8. Malwarebytes||$37.49 / year||95%||❌||✅||Unlimited (with Malwarebytes Premium + Privacy)||❌||60 days|
|9. Trend Micro||$19.95 / year||97%||❌||✅||Unlimited (with Premium Security Suite)||✅||30 days|
|10. ESET||$12.02 / year||98%||✅||✅||❌||✅||30 days|
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How to Choose the Best Antiviruses for Windows 10 & 11
- Look for antiviruses with a good malware detection rate. Look for scores close to 100%, as well as antiviruses that use advanced tools like machine learning and advanced heuristics (like Norton). These tools can detect malware that traditional signature-based scanning methods fail to catch.
- Opt for an antivirus that includes effective web protections. You need to protect your online activity with features like anti-phishing protection, secure browsers, and anti-tracker tools that really work.
- Assess the software’s impact on system performance. A good antivirus program operates seamlessly in the background without slowing down your computer. While some processes like a full disk scan can slow down your system somewhat, you should look for an antivirus that won’t drain your resources or cause performance issues. Norton and Bitdefender have the best performance out of all antiviruses on my list.
- Choose an antivirus that offers a range of innovative features. Internet security tools like data breach monitoring, software updaters, file encryption, game boosters, and identity theft protection aren’t universal — if you need very specific protection, look closely at an antivirus’s features (and make sure that the features actually work).
- Ensure the package you choose offers a good value overall. Some antivirus programs are very cheap but only provide basic protections, whereas some premium suites charge more but provide a lot more functionality. Make sure to get a product with a money-back guarantee so you can get a refund in case you’re not satisfied with the program.
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Quick Guide: How to Use an Antivirus on Windows
- Go to your chosen antivirus’s website and navigate to its product page. For example, click on Products & Services on Norton’s website and then click All Products & Services.
- Click Buy Now on your desired plan and follow the website’s instructions to pay for your antivirus. Most antiviruses (including Norton and McAfee) come with a 60- or 30-day money-back guarantee, so don’t worry if you’re unsure which plan is right for you. Just pick the one you want to try.
- Download your new antivirus program, run the installer, and wait for it to finish. While your antivirus is installing, you’ll have to give the installer permissions and accept licensing agreements, so be sure to stay near your computer until the installation is done.
Note: Most antivirus programs (including Norton and Bitdefender) require an internet connection while they’re installing, so don’t disconnect your computer’s internet.
- Get to know your newly installed antivirus app. Navigate through the antivirus’s user interface, and learn where everything is. You can also check out the antivirus’s knowledge base online to learn about the different features. For example, Norton’s online knowledge base provides an in-depth help center with instructions and video guides on how to get started.
- Run a virus scan. The best antiviruses on the market let you run a virus scan with one click. Click on the Run Scan button (or a similar alternative), and your antivirus will scan for and remove all malware on your system.
- Test out the antivirus’s other features. If available, I recommend running the PC optimization tool, installing the mobile app, and following the antivirus’s instructions to set up the password manager, dark web monitoring, and more (Norton provides all these features).
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Top Brands That Didn’t Make the Cut
Some top Windows antivirus brands didn’t make it to my top 10 list despite being recommended by many other review sites:
- Heimdal. Offers advanced protection at the network layers — blocking malware before it can be delivered to your device. But this software is far too complex for most home users, and it lacks many additional features that other antiviruses provide for the same price.
- Webroot. Light, fast, and easy-to-use antivirus that has a decent range of features, but its detection rates just weren’t good enough when I was testing it, so I can’t put it with the others on this list.
- Intego for Windows. A lightweight, powerful, and easy-to-use antivirus with perfect malware detection. However, it’s not so effective at detecting phishing sites, and it lacks a lot of key features that the other antiviruses on this list provide.
Frequently Asked Questions
Doesn’t Windows already have an antivirus installed?
Yes, most Windows computers come pre-installed with Windows Defender, which is much more useful now than it was a few years ago. However, it does not provide the same malware protection that the other antiviruses on this list do.
For protection against ransomware, spyware, adware, and other dangers like phishing and identity theft, Windows Defender won’t help. While Windows Defender is OK for basic protection, it doesn’t protect against any kind of advanced malware.
If you’re extremely careful and don’t have anything important to protect on your PC, Windows Defender is fine. But if you keep any kind of sensitive info on your computer — logins, passwords, banking info, photos, etc. — you should get something guaranteed secure like Norton 360.
Are free antiviruses good enough?
No free antivirus will fully protect all of your data, but there are a few free Windows antiviruses that do a decent job of protecting your PC. They always lack necessary functions that are needed for 100% cybersecurity protection though, like:
- Web protection.
- Ransomware protection.
- Phishing protection.
- Theft protection.
- A VPN.
- Encrypted file storage.
- Automatic backups.
- And a lot more…
Antiviruses like Norton and McAfee have a huge range of internet security features and they both make sure your computer and all of your most important data are fully protected from the latest cyber threats.
Will an antivirus slow down my computer?
It depends on how you use your computer. The wrong antivirus will become a problem if:
- You’re a gamer.
- You need to use CPU-intensive apps.
- You own an older computer.
- You do a lot of online streaming.
All of the antiviruses on this list will run smoothly, quickly, and without performance issues. The top Windows 10 & 11 antivirus of 2023 — Norton 360 — will not slow down your PC system at all, regardless of how you use it.
Which antivirus is best for both Windows and Android/iOS/Mac?
Many antiviruses cover multiple operating systems across Windows, Android, iOS, and Mac devices, including most on this list.
All of these antiviruses have been ranked and rated for Windows, but they all have other OS support which is equally impressive. For instance, my favorite Windows antivirus — Norton 360 Deluxe — includes 5 licenses across all Windows, Android, iOS, and Mac devices.
Why does Windows need antivirus?
To put it simply: Windows is the most popular desktop operating system in the world, which makes it the most popular target for cybercriminals. Malware and other cyber threats have become a fact of life, but the vast majority of them — and the most malicious — are aimed at Windows operating systems.
Windows comes with its own in-built antivirus, Windows Defender, which is a far better version of the software than it used to be. It’s capable of protecting you against a good range of malware threats. However, it’s nowhere near as comprehensive in terms of its security protections as the premium antivirus products on this list.
Our lives are so entangled with the internet nowadays — not fully protecting ourselves from online threats is a risk not worth taking. I’d recommend paying for a premium full-featured internet security suite like Norton 360, which not only protects against all the worst malware, phishing, and other online threats, but also comes with super handy internet security features like a password manager, VPN, and parental controls.
If you don’t want to have to pay any extra, I’d still recommend protecting yourself with more than just Windows Defender. There are a lot of free and cheap antivirus products around, but most of them aren’t very good, so make sure you choose a quality free antivirus that will actually keep you protected. Avira Free Security is my favorite free antivirus in 2023.
What’s the best antivirus for Windows 7?
My recommendation for the best antivirus for Windows 7 is Norton 360. It has perfect malware detection rates as well as a ton of other important and useful security features — plus, it currently has no “end-of-life” date planned for Windows 7 compatibility.
Most of the antiviruses on this list still work with Windows 7, and they are all great products. But make sure you check if Windows 7 is still fully compatible with the antivirus you choose, and for how long. For example, Bitdefender will stop supporting Windows 7 in July 2024, and McAfee has already discontinued its support for Windows 7.
Also bear in mind that Microsoft has already ended its support for Windows 7, so you’ll no longer receive any security updates, which means your PC is far more susceptible to malware than if you had a newer OS. If you’re not able to upgrade to a more recent version of Windows, it’s vital that you use a quality antivirus to keep your PC protected.
What’s the best antivirus for Windows 8?
Norton 360 is my top pick for the best Windows 8 antivirus. It has perfect malware-detection rates, plus a ton of other important security features such as a firewall, anti-phishing protection, Wi-Fi protection, parental controls, a VPN, and much more. But most of the antiviruses on this list work on Windows 8 PCs, and although Norton is my favorite, other products such as Avira and TotalAV are also great options.
Bear in mind that Windows 8 is now a relatively old OS and Microsoft is nearing its end of support for this version, which means an antivirus product will be more important than ever to keep you protected against new and emerging threats. Some antiviruses, such as McAfee and Bitdefender, already only support Windows 8.1 and higher, so it’s worth checking if your chosen antivirus has a planned end-of-support date for your version of Windows before you commit long-term.
What’s the best antivirus for Windows 10?
In my view, Norton 360 is the best antivirus software for Windows 10 users. It not only has perfect malware detection scores, but it also comes with a huge range of excellent extra features such as phishing protection, Wi-Fi protection, a firewall, a VPN, parental controls, a password manager, and heaps more.
However, all of the antiviruses on this list work with Windows 10, and they are all quality products. Depending on your needs, you may find one of the others suits you better. For example, Bitdefender is super lightweight so it causes next to no slowdown, TotalAV’s VPN is one of the best around, or if you’re after a free product, Avira Free Security for Windows is my top choice.
Can I use a Windows antivirus on Android, iOS, and Mac?
It depends — some antiviruses and security packages cover multiple operating systems and some don’t. So if you’re planning on using one of the antiviruses on this list for a different operating system, you should first check to make sure the relevant operating systems are supported.
My top Windows antivirus, Norton, is also my favorite Android and iOS antivirus, and it ranks among the best Mac antiviruses, so it’s a solid choice as an all-in-one security solution. Its 360 Deluxe plan covers up to 5 devices and is compatible with Windows, Android, iOS, and Mac, so you can use it across multiple devices with different operating systems.
Will a Windows 11 antivirus work on Windows 7 and 8?
Many of the antiviruses on this list will work on all Windows versions, including 7, 8, 10, and 11. However, to be on the safe side, you should always check the system requirements for an antivirus before you commit to a purchase. McAfee, for example, supports Windows 11 and Windows 8, but not Windows 7.
If you’re looking for a good antivirus that supports Windows 8.1, Norton would be my recommendation as the best Windows antivirus on the market.