Viruses and malware take many forms today and cybercrime is on the rise. This is why security should be the top priority when choosing a virus and malware scanner for your computer and mobile devices.
Ease of use, price and number of supported devices are also critical, but they will all be wasted if the virus and malware scanner protection is not working.
In this guide, we are going to list some free and paid virus and malware scanners that, among other things, have unconditional protection, features, usability, and price.
The most powerful virus and malware scanners
Bitdefender Antivirus Plus
Bitdefender is a virus and malware scanner that consistently delivers outstanding antivirus lab test results, as well as a powerful feature set, user-friendly, intuitive interface and excellent performance against zero-day malware and widespread malware.
It also offers safeguards such as Safepay’s secure browser for online transactions, ransomware protection, real-time scanning and protection against malware known in its database, and behavior monitoring based on detected threats.
Other forms of protection include ransomware protection against file encryption and protection of specific folders from unknown applications.
Additional features include a password manager, and a free version of Bitdefender Antivirus is available with excellent protection, anti-phishing and fraud, and a user-friendly interface. It lacks special features for various threats like its paid counterpart, and it lacks multi-layered protection against ransomware.
The downside of the paid version is that while it offers unlimited VPN access, a separate subscription is required to use this service. Plus, it’s more expensive than other antivirus software, and its cheaper plans only support Windows and lack basic protection features like firewall.
Support is available via email, chat and phone, as well as a community forum in five languages, an extensive knowledge base with articles for each Bitdefender product and video tutorials.
Norton Security is another virus and malware scanner that helps a lot. It delivers excellent protection performance and excellent laboratory results that have been shown to be 100% effective against widespread malware and zero-day malware.
Among the preventive protection measures you can find in Norton Security is a firewall that adapts to your frequently used programs that connect to internet phishing and ransomware protection.
Additional features include a password manager called Identity Safe, which stores passwords, credit card information, addresses and notes, as well as parental controls, but no file shredder. Norton also offers a 100 percent guarantee, so if malware gets on your computer or device, they’ll clean it up for free or give you full refund.
Overall, Norton Security offers a good user experience and level of protection, and you can use it across multiple devices. It’s not cheap, though, it lacks a few computers, and some users dislike its annoying web monitoring toolbar and browser extension.
Support is available 24/7 by phone and live chat, or via Twitter if you prefer to ask questions on social media. For independent work, you have a knowledge base known as a Norton FAQ, a blog, a community forum, and a video tutorial series.
Kaspersky Lab has been in the security software business for just over two decades and continues to achieve outstanding results in antivirus testing labs. Despite claims that this software spies on its clients and is accountable to the Russian government, it remains the best antivirus with undeniable protection.
The software has received Level 1 certifications from independent laboratory tests and has undergone rigorous MRG Effitas banking simulations, proving how powerful its security is.
The protection features you get with this virus and malware scanner include real-time monitoring, safe browser, firewall, anti-ransomware, webcam and anti-phishing protection, and more.
Its plans are inexpensive and you get a lot for your money, including an additional VPN, password manager, privacy cleaner, and SafeMoney browser.
If you want to test the software before using it, it comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, and you can also try its free antivirus, which offers real-time protection and blocks suspicious websites and common viruses.
The downside to using Kaspersky is that it is limited to five devices, but the paid version gives you more options, including an emergency disk that cleans up your device when it is critically infected, and Network Monitor.
F-Secure also performs well in independent lab tests with 100% effectiveness against zero-day malware and widespread malware. It offers real-time monitoring, firewall, ransomware protection, and Freedome VPN with no logs policy in its Total package.
Unlike three other virus and malware scanners, F-Secure does not include a password manager. It is easy to install and uses few resources (1 MB), and its interface is simple and easy to use with many settings in the settings.
You can manage all your devices with an online manager and view their statuses regardless of the type of device you are using. You can also customize parental settings from the manager.
The main disadvantage of this software is the number of false positives that it returns during practical and laboratory tests, its high price and the lack of an anti-phishing component. It also has a behavior-based DeepGuard tool that detects new malware and ransomware, and advanced network protection, making it a powerful malware fighter.
A 30-day money-back guarantee is available, so you can test the program and see if you like it or not before signing up for it.
Support is available by phone (Monday through Friday) in 12 languages, live chat, self-help forums for security news and product discussions, and a knowledge base divided by product. An FAQ section is also available along with a long list of guides and how-tos.
How to choose a virus and malware scanner
There are many utilities to help you choose the best scanner that will kill any viruses and keep your device safe, but in this simple guide, we’ll go over some of them to point you in the right direction. Please check the following before choosing the right antivirus software for your device:
Free and Paid
Free for Paid
Free virus and malware scanners are good to use as a basic form of protection for your devices, especially when you can’t afford it. However, they are not as effective as their paid counterparts and often have limited capabilities.
If you can use them on a trial basis, it is better than using a completely free one due to attacks like zero-day malware that occurs on the same day the exploit is detected. There is no such malware in the free antivirus database, so it does not know if it is a threat or not.
With a paid virus and malware scanner, you get more features and protection against major forms of malware, including ransomware and phishing. Some even offer better webcam protection beyond monitoring hard drive contents.
In terms of security and protection, look for a scanner that offers proactive defenses like strong firewall, safe browser, targeted scan modes that weed out deep-rooted rootkits, and webcam protection, among others.
Some offer password managers, but they may not be as good as a dedicated password manager. If you are looking for a password manager, our guide to the best password managers offers a complete list from which you can choose.
You can also find a virus and malware scanner that provides a VPN that protects you when you connect to a wild and unreliable Internet so that your data is not compromised during transmission.
We’ve already mentioned some of the security features a good virus and malware scanner should at least provide, but what about other features?
In addition to protecting your devices, antivirus has evolved from being a utility tool to a premium security suite offering features such as parental controls, a file shredder, and a secure browser that lets you block ads, protect your online payments, and clear cookies.
The software requires customer support, so you need to rate the virus / malware scanner you are considering for its many direct support options and available response times. It’s good to have email support, but with the advancement of digital technology, live chat has become a more reliable method, especially if it is offered 24/7 and also by phone.
If the software you like offers all three options, plus do-it-yourself support through the knowledge base, help center, FAQs, video tutorials, community forum, webinars, and more, you’re in good hands.
Keep your devices safe
There are many great options for virus and malware scanners. Some are better than others in certain areas like security, features, and general usability, but in general it comes down to personal preference.
Any of the other options listed here will serve you well, but overall Bitdefender is the clear winner of this round thanks to its excellent results, many features, and ease of use. Share your favorite virus and malware scanner with us in the comments.