Antivirus software comparison: how to protect your computer

Compare antivirus software to find the best program to protect your device.

Antivirus software scans your device for threats and removes any viruses and malware it finds.

The number of internet-connected devices per household is growing, and without sufficient protection, our devices and private data are more vulnerable than ever.

The price of antivirus software ranges from free to hundreds of dollars per year. Subscriptions are typically for one year and may automatically renew at the end of the subscription period. Look for vendors offering free trials so you can make sure you’re getting everything you need before you sign up.

What is antivirus software?

Antivirus software is a program created to prevent, find, block and remove viruses, malware and malicious software. While antivirus software was originally developed to protect against computer viruses, the technology has grown to guard against other threats including malware, identity theft, online banking theft, spam and phishing attacks.

Most antivirus software programs perform the following three functions:

  • Scan for threats
    Antivirus software scans for malicious patterns and infectious material. You can choose to have the software scan specific files and directories or the whole computer. You can also choose to schedule the scans, allow them to run automatically or have a combination of both.
  • Remove malicious programs and infections
    After scanning for threats, your antivirus software will remove anything malicious that it detects. You can adjust your software settings so that the program will notify you anytime it detects an infection. This will let you decide if you want to give the program permission to remove it. Otherwise, your antivirus software will remove threats automatically. Antivirus software can also show you the overall “wellness” of your computer based on how many threats it regularly detects.
  • Update regularly
    A key feature of top-notch antivirus software is staying up-to-date. New threats are constantly developing and evolving. It’s crucial that your software keeps on top of new advancements to best protect your device. Without up-to-date software, your computer could easily become infected.

Popular antivirus software compared

Data obtained at time of publication. Prices are subject to change and should be used only as a general guide.
Name Product Price (AUD) How many computers are supported? Supports mobile devices? Free trial? Money-back guarantee 24/7 support
$59.99
1
Yes
No
30-day money back guarantee
Yes
Norton Security Premium protects one device against malware and provides 2 GB of secure cloud backup.
Trend Micro Internet Security
Trend Micro Internet Security
$49.95
2
Yes
No
No
No
Trend Micro Internet Security helps protect your personal data and keep your computer running efficiently.
McAfee Total Protection
McAfee Total Protection
$53.95
1
Yes
No
30-day money back guarantee
No
McAfee Total Protection offers award winning antivirus, identity and privacy protection for your computer, smartphone or tablet.
AVG Internet Security
AVG Internet Security
$99.99
Unlimited
Yes
30 days
30-day money back guarantee
Yes
In addition to standard malware protection, AVG Internet Security now includes webcam and ransomware protection.
$39.95
1
No
30 days
No
No
Kaspersky Anti-Virus software prevents viruses, spyware, Trojans, and worms from affecting your PC.
F-Secure Anti-Virus
F-Secure Anti-Virus
$64.41
1
No
30 days
No
No
F-Secure Anti-Virus protects your computer against cyber threats including viruses, spyware, infected email attachments and other malware.
STOPzilla AntiVirus
STOPzilla AntiVirus
$39.95
1
No
No
30-day money back guarantee
No
STOPzilla AntiVirus uses real-time scanning to remove malware and prevent infections without impacting computer performance.
Avast Premier
Avast Premier
$89.99
1
Yes
30 days
30-day money back guarantee
No
Avast Premier blocks webcam-hacking and makes sure deleted files are permanently gone to protect sensitive data.
Panda Dome Essential
Panda Dome Essential
$44.24
1
Yes
30 days
No
Yes
Panda Security offers secure online shopping and USB device protection to help users get the most out of Windows devices.
ESET NOD32 Antivirus
ESET NOD32 Antivirus
$49.95
1
Yes
30 days
No
No
ESET protects the devices of over 110 million users worldwide.
Bitdefender Total Security 2019
Bitdefender Total Security 2019
$69.98
5
Yes
30 days
30-day money back guarantee
Yes
Bitdefender's newest suite adds multilayer protection and network threat prevention to its existing lineup of security features.

Compare up to 4 providers

What is the difference between antivirus and anti-malware?

Traditionally, antivirus software protects computers against viruses, which are a type of malware designed to replicate itself.

Anti-malware software was designed to protect against malware, including viruses, spyware, Trojans and worms.

However, the terms have become blurred over time and most modern antivirus software protects against many kinds of malware. Some vendors use the terms interchangeably so make sure to find out exactly what your software is protecting you against before you sign up.

Why should I consider antivirus software?

Antivirus software can provide the following services:

  • Malware protection. The main function of antivirus software is to protect your devices against viruses, spyware, malware, phishing attacks and cyber threats. Without antivirus software, your data is vulnerable to numerous threats.
  • Password protection. Some software will help prevent hackers or identity thieves from stealing your passwords.
  • Parental controls. You can use antivirus software to monitor your children’s computer activity.
  • Ad blocking. Most antivirus software can block ads, pop-ups and spam websites that are trying to steal information.
  • Two-way firewall. Modern antivirus software will provide two-way firewall security. This means your software is checking for both incoming and outgoing suspicious activity.

Disadvantages of antivirus software

  • False alarms. Antivirus software can sometimes wrongfully identify non-malicious files as infected. This can cause problems, especially if the software automatically removes the perceived threat. One way to help prevent this is to set your software to ask permission when deleting files. Occasionally, a false positive can render entire applications or systems unusable, and you will need to remove and reinstall them. Make sure to back up all important files.
  • Slowed computer performance. Running several antivirus programs at the same time will slow the performance of your computer. Modern antivirus software is getting better at running without impacting computer performance, but some software can interrupt and delay certain programs and system updates.
  • Ineffectiveness. Antivirus software isn’t perfect. No software can detect 100% of threats, as new viruses and malware are constantly being created. If you store a lot of sensitive information, you might want to consider buying antivirus software from more than one vendor to provide multiple layers of protection.
  • Attacks. Antivirus software can also be vulnerable to attacks. Your antivirus software usually has access to your entire computer, which can lead to devastating consequences if the software is hacked. Make sure to purchase software from a reputable vendor that updates security regularly. You should also read user reviews of any software you are considering.

What to look for when choosing antivirus software

There are a few important things to consider when buying antivirus software. First, look for software with great user reviews. Next, consider vendors who offer the following:

  • A malware-detection rate of 95% or more
  • A low rate of false positives
  • Email and web protection
  • A free trial period
  • Any additional features you need

You also want to choose something that is easy and relatively intuitive to use. To get the most out of your software, you need to be able to adjust the settings to meet your specific needs.

Always avoid pop-up antivirus software ads that promise free scans and 100% detection rates. These are almost always scams or viruses.

Can I get antivirus software for free?

3 key things to consider
  • Pay for what you need. While premium antivirus software with extra features might be enticing, it’s only worth purchasing if you really need the additional protection. On the other hand, if you need a high level of security, don’t settle for free software. Carefully consider what you need and adjust your budget accordingly.
  • Increased renewal costs. There is no guarantee that the price of your antivirus software won't increase the next time you need to renew it. Some vendors even require advance notice of 30 to 60 days if you plan to unsubscribe before your renewal date. Make sure to read all terms and conditions of your software when signing up and budget for future renewals.
  • File damage. If a computer file gets infected, you will not always be able to fully restore the data. Remember to back up all important information to prevent data loss.

Recommended products for antivirus software

AVG Antivirus

AVG Antivirus from AVG

AVG Antivirus blocks nasty viruses and aggressive malware, scans links on social media for scams, and protects you from harmful downloads on 1 PC for 12 months.

View details
AVG Internet Security

AVG Internet Security from AVG

AVG Internet Security offers everything AVG Antivirus does with a few added bells and whistles. Not only does include spam protection (to keep your inbox looking pretty) but it also has an enhanced firewall that allows you to shop and bank online without the fear of hackers and eavesdroppers

View details
STOPzilla AntiVirus

STOPzilla AntiVirus from STOPzilla

State of the art security protection that stops viruses & malware in their tracks.

View details

Bottom line

Whether you need more security for your personal computer or an entire computer network, antivirus software can help. While antivirus software can’t protect you against 100% of malware, it is a crucial part of any computer security system.

If your data requires high levels of safeguarding, consider layering multiple software systems for added insurance. If you’re interested in protecting your computer, start browsing antivirus software today.

Compare a range of software for your business

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4 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    AllenaFebruary 7, 2018

    U.S. President Donald Trump in December signed into law legislation that bans the use of Kaspersky Lab software within the U.S. government, capping a months-long effort to purge the firm from federal agencies amid concerns it was vulnerable to Kremlin influence. After this update, Is kaspersky still the safe option to select like before?

    • finder Customer Care
      JoelFebruary 17, 2018Staff

      Hi Allena,

      Thanks for leaving a question on finder.

      Unfortunately, I cannot comment on which security software is the best. You can however check out the table above to determine which one suits you best for your requirements. Most of them has trial options so you can see which one is for you. If you need anything else, please send us a message anytime.

      Cheers,
      Joel

  2. Default Gravatar
    kendrickMay 30, 2017

    Which security software offer the largest range of protection and is the most accurate, at any price, to assist windows 10 defender?

    • finder Customer Care
      HaroldMay 30, 2017Staff

      Hi Kendrick,

      Thank you for your inquiry.

      Unfortunately, we cannot provide you our personal opinion about which security software offers the best. Instead, you may need to navigate on this section (as shown on screenshot) to view the offers and compare review which offer will best fit your personal requirements.

      I hope this information has helped.

      Cheers,
      Harold

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