With cybercrime rising every year, it’s never been more important to have one of the best antivirus software programs protecting your devices. This guide covers the top five antivirus programs you can buy in 2024, including some free options.
Top 5 Best Antivirus Software Options in 2024
How do you choose the right antivirus software for you or your small business? Ideally, you want to balance features and price. Depending on your needs, you might prefer a plan that includes coverage for multiple devices or a VPN or parental controls. This list of the year’s best antivirus software contenders includes options with all of these features.
1. Bitdefender Antivirus Plus
Bitdefender Antivirus Plus is affordable and lightweight, making it one of the best antivirus software options of 2024. This program includes a plethora of features and allows you to cover up to three devices for one annual price ($59.99 per year for three devices or $39.99 per year for one device).
It’s important to distinguish Bitdefender Antivirus Plus from the similarly named Norton Antivirus Plus discussed below. Bitdefender’s program includes many more features, such as a VPN, tracking protection, banking protection, anti-phishing tools, anti-fraud tools, risk detection, Wi-Fi protection and even a digital file shredder.
You get a ton of great features for a very affordable price with Bitdefender Antivirus Plus. The ability to cover up to three devices for that low price really makes it stand out compared to similar services.
However, if you are on a very tight budget, there is also a free version of Bitdefender that can give you some basic protections. On the other end of the spectrum, if you have more than three devices you want to cover, you can upgrade to Bitdefender Total Security which includes coverage for up to five devices.
Bitdefender Antivirus Plus works on both Windows and Mac.
2. Norton 360 Standard or AntiVirus Plus
Norton security programs are some of the best on the market today, but they can be a bit confusing to navigate. There are several different versions of Norton 360, all at different prices. Then there’s also Norton AntiVirus Plus, which is a bit more budget-friendly than the Norton 360 plans.
If you are on a tight budget or simply looking for a basic, entry-level antivirus program, go for Norton AntiVirus Plus. This program uses the same virus detection program as Norton’s more premium offerings, it just leaves out some additional features. So, the basic AntiVirus Plus program will definitely get the job done for many users. It includes firewall protection, a password manager, web protection and, of course, virus scanning.
If you want more control or additional features, go for Norton 360 Standard or Deluxe. The big difference between these two plans is how many devices you get coverage for. The Standard plan only protects one device. If you have multiple devices you want covered, upgrade to the Deluxe Plan.
Norton 360 has several advantages over the more basic AntiVirus Plus, including webcam security, microphone security, parental controls, a VPN and storage for secure backups. In the event that a cyberattack does damage the files on your computer, you can use Norton’s backups to restore your device.
3. McAfee Total Protection
McAfee has long been one of the most trusted names in antivirus protection and it continues to top our rankings. While it’s not the best option available today, it does have some great features that make it worth considering.
First, the quality of McAfee Total Protection’s virus detection is on par with other top contenders like Bitdefender and Norton. It also comes with a VPN that has no usage limit, a convenient password manager, phishing protection and firewall protection.
McAfee Total Protection is quite pricey, though, at $89.99 per year. There is a slightly less expensive version called McAfee AntiVirus which costs $49.99 per year. Both only cover one device, though, and don’t include helpful features like parental controls or free data backups. However, if you don’t need these features, McAfee is still worth considering.
4. Trend Micro Maximum Security
Trend Micro Maximum Security is one of the best antivirus software options of 2024 thanks to its wide range of device coverage, although the price is a bit high. For $89.95 per year, you get protection for up to five devices with support for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and ChromeOS (for Chromebooks).
Trend Micro Maximum Security includes all of the standard malware detection and phishing detection features of modern antivirus programs. It also gives you access to parental controls and an especially strong array of features for Mac and iOS, which are often an afterthought in personal cybersecurity.
The main reason Trend Micro does not rank higher on this list is the lack of a couple of preferred features including a built-in VPN and data backups. Of course, you can buy both of these services separately from other vendors, but it is nice to have them under one roof if possible. Nonetheless, Trend Micro does offer great multi-device support at a low price, which makes it a good option for families or small businesses.
5. Malwarebytes Free
If you’re looking for a quick and free antivirus tool, take a look at the free version of Malwarebytes. This antivirus program is pretty bare bones, but it can still be very helpful. It allows you to perform quick scans and clean out suspicious files on your device.
The paid Premium version of Malwarebytes is also a top performer. Malwarebytes programs tend to excel at fast scans so you won’t find yourself waiting an hour or more for a security scan to finish up.
Malwarebytes Premium also includes some helpful everyday features like ad blocking and tracker blocking for web browsers. It’s a fairly lightweight security program, as well, meaning it won’t slow down your computer while running in the background.
The pricing for Malwarebytes Premium is very flexible, so it can be an affordable option depending on how many devices you want to cover. The Standard single-device plan is $44.99 per year or $59.99 per year for three devices. The upgraded Plus plan is $79.99 per year for three devices or $99.99 per year for five devices. Overall, the Standard three device plan has the best value for most users.
Antivirus Software FAQs
While exploring the best antivirus software options of 2024, you may have some questions. The two most common include whether or not you actually need antivirus software and how often you should purchase it.
Do You Need to Buy Antivirus Software?
Unfortunately, many people don’t consider getting antivirus software until after they’ve already run into a phishing or hacking situation. Sometimes this is because users don’t realize they need antivirus software or they may assume that built-in security features are adequate protection.
The latter is particularly common among Mac users since Apple devices are often considered much more secure than Windows or Android devices. On some level, it is true that Macs are a bit more secure by default than Windows PCs simply due to their design.
For instance, since Macs are all built by Apple, they all benefit from centralized, frequent and dependable security updates. Additionally, Macs quarantine suspicious files automatically, making it harder for malware to take root. Features like this also make Macs a less appealing target for hackers, so there is less malware designed specifically for MacOS.
Regardless of which operating system you are on, everyone should have antivirus software on their devices, especially their laptop or desktop computers. Remember, no device is completely immune to viruses and phishing.
If money is a concern, there are plenty of trustworthy free antivirus programs available today. In 2024, the best option is the free version of Bitdefender Antivirus, alongside a browser extension like uBlock Origin.
Additionally, be careful about putting too much trust in built-in security programs like Windows Defender. These built-in tools are helpful, but they only provide a bare minimum amount of security features.
How Often Should You Get New Antivirus Software?
One common question people have surrounding security software is how often you are supposed to buy it. Some types of software, such as tax software, are only good for one year or a limited period of time. This isn’t usually the case with antivirus software.
You usually only need to buy new antivirus software when you get a new device, such as a new laptop. Alternatively, if you don’t like your current antivirus software, it’s perfectly fine to replace it. However, you should not need to pay for new antivirus software every year unless you are using a subscription-based program. Many antivirus programs today are subscription-based, so you may need to pay each month or year to retain access to your security coverage.
With that said, you do need to make sure you are regularly updating your antivirus software. Every reliable antivirus software needs regular updates to stay ahead of new security threats. Updates should not cost extra to install. To make things more convenient, you can set your antivirus software to automatically install updates and patches.
Protecting Your Devices From Cybercrime
Staying safe online is vital in today’s digital world, so it’s important to have a reliable antivirus program installed on your devices. Our team selected the best antivirus software options on the market today to get your search off to a good start. These programs all offer good features and value, although some are a better fit for some types of users than others.