The best antivirus software 2022

Updated on 2023-07-01
All Windows machines need one of the best antivirus programs to remain protected against malware and other cyber threats.

To be protected from malware and other threats, all Windows computers need the most effective antivirus software. Although the Microsoft Defender antivirus is sufficient to protect your computer from malware, it cannot match paid antivirus software.

Premium and mid-range security suites often include a VPN, password manager, parental controls, or identity theft protection. This is a far better deal than buying each individual feature separately.

Although each Windows antivirus program in this listing has its own anti-malware engine, it is the different features that make them worth their price.

A company might offer several options: a paid program that is free, one with limited features, another with more advanced features, and finally, the ultimate product with all the bells and whistles. You can also purchase Mac antivirus software and Android security apps.

Best antivirus software

Which antivirus program is best?

Norton 360 with LifeLock Select is our top pick for antivirus software. It offers great malware protection, as well as tons of additional features like an unlimited VPN or LifeLock identity security. All this comes with a price - $99/year the first year and $150 each subsequent years.

The entry-level Bitdefender Antivirus Plus plan costs only $20/year ($40 for renewal), making it the most affordable antivirus program. This plan offers many features, including password management, ransomware protection and a WiFi network scanner.

Windows Defender, the most cost-effective free antivirus program available, is a great choice if you're looking to save more. Although it isn't as efficient as Norton in malware detection, it beat many paid antivirus programs. Although it doesn't offer many extras, you get parental controls and a gaming mode as well protections for Microsoft Edge.

1. Norton 360 Deluxe

Norton antivirus products provide excellent protection against malware, but the system performance load that used to be heavy is now much lower. Norton 360 Deluxe is the best program in the line. There are many additional features that each program offers, but there's a sweet spot.

This includes password management that is compatible with all platforms, unlimited VPN service and dark-web personal data monitoring. Parental controls are also included. You can store up to 50GB online. Norton 360 Platinum and Norton 360 Premium offer more online storage, and extend the VPN and antivirus coverage to up to 20 devices.

Norton has three packages that provide full identity protection. They offer varying levels of LifeLock and more online storage. Although their subscription costs are high, they still offer a lower cost than buying the antivirus, identity protection, password manager and cloud backup storage separately.

Norton, unlike other antivirus companies, doesn't include a file shredder or file encryption with its products. Every other type of digital protection service that you can imagine is available with Norton's products, however, at least some are included in its bundles.

2. Bitdefender Antivirus Plus

Bitdefender Antivirus Plus ranks high among the entry-level antivirus products. The malware detection scores are excellent, but not flawless. Although its active scanning doesn't significantly impact the background system, it does add a little bit of load.

It also offers the most value, with an unlimited (but Windows-only) password manager, a secure browser with a virtual keyboard, a Wi-Fi network scanner, a file shredder, protection against encrypting ransomware and Bitdefender's new web-privacy software — features often found only with pricier antivirus packages.

Bitdefender Internet Security, the mid-range product, adds parental controls and webcam protection. Bitdefender Total Security, on the other hand, tops it off with anti-theft features for laptops and system optimization. Bitdefender Antivirus For Mac is also available. Bitdefender Mobile Security Android for Android can be purchased separately.

Bitdefender Premium Security is a fourth product. It provides Total Security and unlimited VPN use, as well as a cross-platform password manger, priority tech support, and a multi-platform password manager. The other programs restrict you to using Bitdefender VPN for 200MB per day.

The Bitdefender Family Pack is the best offer, as it includes Total Security for up to 15 devices at a discounted $120 annually.

3. McAfee Internet Security

McAfee has seen its malware detection improve over the last few years but is still far from being top-of-the line.

The entry-level McAfee AntiVirus Plus software is an excellent deal at $60 per year. It can be used on up to 10 devices (or more, in practice) regardless of whether the device runs Windows, macOS or Android.

McAfee Total Protection and McAfee LiveSafe are the only options to get parental controls.

Multi-device licensing of these two security suites comes with identity protection. McAfee's products do not offer webcam or secure browser protection like you get with premium antivirus software.

McAfee Total Protection Ultimate is the best, offering unlimited VPN services with no strings attached. McAfee Gamer Security is a good choice for PC gamers who are serious about their gaming. It costs $60 per annum and provides low-overhead protection on a single computer.

4. Trend Micro Maximum Security

Trend Micro provides very high protection. However, its malware-detection engines create a large system load and return a lot of false positive results.

Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security is the brand's entry level program. It has basic features but does include a secure browser. Trend Micro Internet Security, which is mid-range in price, includes parental controls and file shredders.

Trend Micro Maximum Security includes a password manager and secure file encryption. Trend Micro Premium Security offers a VPN, dark-web monitoring, and a password manager.

Trend Micro programs do not include webcam protection or a 2-way firewall, which is standard in mid-range brands. The premium product does not include the backup or cloud storage that many of the top antivirus brands offer as an enticement to their flagship products.

5. ESET Smart Security Premium

ESET, one of Europe's most popular antivirus companies, has a low system load and runs fast scans. ESET's malware detection rate was once quite low, but it has seen significant improvement in lab testing.

Although the ESET NOD32 antivirus entry level is simple to use, it lacks many useful tools. ESET Internet Security offers webcam protection, parental controls, and a browser hardening extension. ESET security software licenses are also available for Mac, Android, and Linux.

ESET Smart Security Premium, which is the most expensive option, includes file encryption and password management. There is no VPN client or backup software, nor file shredder.

ESET charges per device. This is a great option for those who have multiple devices. ESET can be expensive if you have more than one device.

6. Sophos Home Premium

Sophos Home Premium is an economical solution that offers reasonable protection against malware for a fair price.

Sophos Home Premium is a spin-off of Sophos enterprise software designed for businesses clients. It lacks many of other security suites' bells and whistles, like a password manager or identity theft protection service.

Sophos Home Premium only has the basics: ransomware rollsbacks, webcam protections and protection against keyloggers. It also protects you from malicious websites, boot-sector, fileless malware, and keyloggers. You can also access an online management console and a web filter system that parents can use to monitor the setting.

While some people may want more out of an antivirus suite they are not required to, those who prefer just the basics will love Sophos Home Premium.