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Best antivirus software and apps in 2021

A roundup of the best software and apps for Windows and Mac computers, as well as iOS and Android devices, to keep yourself safe from malware and viruses.

Modern operating systems do an outstanding job of protecting against malware and viruses. But the world of malicious software is a rapidly evolving one, and now random acts of destruction that were once the goal of viruses have been replaced with identity theft, phishing, ransomware, and intercepting internet traffic.

This fast-changing landscape is hard for OS makers to keep up with, as pushing patches for every malware attack -- especially those that aren't related to an underlying bug in the platform -- is not really feasible. This is where antivirus software -- which, these days, encompass much more than real-time protection against viruses and adds features such as password management, VPN, firewall, parental controls, internet security, and protection against identity theft -- comes into play.

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Kaspersky Total Security

Kaspersky Total Security

There's a lot to like about Kaspersky Total Security. Right at the top of the list is its near-perfect malware detection score along with a negligible effect on system performance. Kaspersky Total Security sits in the background discreetly until you need its help.

Then there's the five-device license that you get with a yearly subscription that covers Windows, Mac, iPhone and iPad, and Android devices. This is a great benefit in that you don't need to spend extra money or go through a different learning curve on each platform.

Kaspersky Total Security is also fully-featured and comes with a huge range of features:

  • Blocks viruses, cryptolockers, and other threats
  • Protects payments
  • Secures passwords and images of personal documents
  • Encrypts data you send & receive online with a built-in VPN (200MB/day/device)
  • Stops webcam spies watching you in your home
  • Advanced parental controls
$49 at Kaspersky

Bitdefender Total Security 2020


Bitdefender Total Security 2020 is a great package for people with a lot of devices to protect because a single license covers five devices, ranging from PCs and Macs, to iOS and Android devices. This offers great value for money and means less messing about with different solutions.

Bitdefender Total Security 2020 is also packed with features:

  • Unbeatable threat detection to stop sophisticated malware
  • Multi-layer ransomware protection to keep your files safe
  • Secure VPN for complete online privacy, 200MB/day/device
  • Advanced parental controls to keep your kids safe online
  • Minimal impact on your system performance
$44 at BitDefender

Norton 360 Deluxe

Norton 360 Deluxe

Norton 360 Deluxe is a one-size-fits-all package for those looking to protect up to five PCs, Macs, or iOS and Android devices for a year's subscription. 

Norton 360 Deluxe includes:

  • Multi-layered, advanced security helps protect against existing and emerging malware threats to your devices
  • Browse anonymously and securely with a no-log VPN
  • Dark Web monitoring that will notify users if personal information is discovered
  • Password manager
  • Parental controls
  • SafeCam webcam security

Norton 360 Deluxe also comes with 50GB of cloud storage for users, which is a great way to backup precious and irreplaceable files.

Oddly, Norton doesn't offer a file shredder, file encryption, or a secure web browser as part of Norton 360 Deluxe (or any of its offerings).

$49 at Norton

Kaspersky Free Antivirus

Kaspersky Free Antivirus

The perfect solution for someone looking for a lightweight and basic anti-malware package. Kaspersky Free Antivirus goes beyond just being a free antivirus package and now includes more advanced features, including:

  • Secure VPN
  • Password management
  • Personalized security alerts
  • Account check

Kaspersky Free Antivirus is compatible with Windows, iOS, and Android.

View Now at Kaspersky

Microsoft Windows Defender


Built into Windows so there's nothing to download, Microsoft Windows Defender is free and offers real-time protection with no fuss, hassles, or subscriptions to renew.

Microsoft Windows Defender offers:

  • Realtime protection, as well as the ability to scan files and folders
  • Updates delivered via the cloud
  • Ransomware protection
  • Parental controls
View Now at Microsoft

Intego Mac Internet Security X9

Intego Mac Internet Security X9

This is a software build for Macs by a company that understands the platform.

The package includes VirusBarrier X9. It comes with real-time protection from malware, as well as a scanner, and the NetBarrier X9 firewall, which protects against network and internet intrusion. 

A license covers a single Mac.

For an extra $10, you can add Windows protection (either for a separate PC or a BootCamp installation). 

$39 at Intego

Avira Mobile Security for iOS

Avira Mobile Security for iOS

Protection for your iPhone that goes much further than malware.

Avira Mobile Security protects your phone:

  • VPN: Secure your connection with a simple push of a button for complete privacy as you surf
  • Web Protection: Blocks phishing, malware, spam, and fraud so you can browse freely and safely
  • Identity Safeguard: Find out if your email addresses have been hacked and schedule the frequency (once a day/week/month) to check whether they were leaked online in a security breach
  • Anti-Theft: Find, track, and recover your iPhone or iPad if it's lost or stolen, and lock apps to prevent unauthorized access, and remotely wipe your device
  • Call Blocker: Create your own blacklist and block spam and other unwanted calls and texts
  • Contacts Backup: Easily backup and restore contacts straight from your phone and send them to your email, Dropbox, or Google Drive
  • Network Scanner: Discover all devices connected to your Wi-Fi

Avira Mobile Security for iOS is free with in-app purchases.

View Now at Apple Store

Avast Antivirus for Android


With more than 100 million installs, Avast Mobile Security and Antivirus provides much more than just antivirus protection. Other features include:

  • Antivirus Engine
  • App Lock
  • Anti-Theft
  • Photo Vault
  • VPN (virtual private network)
  • Power Save
  • Privacy Permissions
  • RAM Boost
  • Junk Cleaner
  • Web Shield
  • Wi-Fi Security
  • App Insights
  • Virus Cleaner
  • Wi-Fi Speed Test

Avast Antivirus for Android is free with in-app purchases.

View Now at Avast

Which should you choose?

Choosing the right antivirus software package for you means knowing your needs. For many, a simple free package that handles the basics is fine, while others benefit from more in-depth protection.  

Packages such as Kaspersky Total Security, Bitdefender Total Security 2020, or Norton 360 Deluxe are great for those with multiple devices running different platforms, and who want a one-stop-shop that covers everything with a single license. These packages do much more than offer protection against malware, and add essential security features such as password managers, file shredders, ransomware protection, VPNs, parental controls, and much more.

Most of these security suite makers offer a free trial, and it might be a good idea to make use of this, so you can see whether the software fits in with your workflow. Some people can find the way that certain packages deliver security information annoying, while others want it to be noisy and informing them of everything that happens.

This also allows you to find out for yourself what the performance hit of running the software is like.

For Windows users who don't want to mess about with subscriptions or risk their protection running out at some point, I believe that Microsoft Windows Defender is the perfect solution.

Whatever you choose, I recommend that you download from a reputable source -- either the official website or an official download source such as Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. Shady third-party sites are a place to pick up malware from!