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The best antivirus software for Windows and Mac in 2024

For anyone checking out the best antivirus deals, you also want to make sure that you’re acquiring one of the best antivirus software tools out there. There are many different options available but not all work as well as you might expect. Besides different levels of effectiveness, some inefficient software can slow down your PC or Mac usage while it works in the background.

That’s why we’ve picked out the best antivirus software currently available, and considered price, features, and how smoothly it runs on your system. Below, we’ve picked them all out and highlighted why they’re worth your time and money. Each of these antivirus tools will help keep your PC more secure, with some also providing you with enhanced privacy protection too.

The best antivirus software in 2024

  • Buy for a great simple antivirus experience.
  • Buy for comprehensive security.
  • Buy if you regularly play online.
  • Buy to protect multiple devices at once.
  • Buy for advanced virus detection.

McAfee Essential

Best for a straightforward antivirus

The McAfee Antivirus logo against a white background.
Pros Cons
Often well priced Could protect more devices
Clearly laid out security report No identity monitoring

One of the most famous names in the antivirus business, McAfee has been around since 1987, constantly evolving to deal with new threats. There are many different plans but McAfee Essential covers, well, the essentials. It protects up to five devices from viruses easily enough. Alongside that, you also gain scam protection with a real-time personalized score providing you a quick guide to how well protected you are. If you want to protect your personal info while browsing online, you also benefit from a VPN included with the bundle so that you can disguise where you are online including when using public Wi-Fi.

Another cool bonus is McAfee’s password manager which generates complex passwords for you before auto-filling them so that you don’t have to rely on your memory or coming up with potentially easy-to-guess passwords. It’s a great way of protecting you at the first step. For antivirus protection, AI technology helps detect and remove the latest threats with real-time, on-demand, and scheduled scanning all possible.

Devices covered: Up to 5
Compatibility: PC, Mac
Additional features: VPN, Password Manager

Norton 360 Deluxe

Best for comprehensive security

The box of the Norton 360 Deluxe antivirus software with LifeLock.
Pros Cons
Comprehensive security options Only 5 devices protected
Cloud backup included Excessive for some users

Norton 360 Deluxe is more than just antivirus protection, although it’s brilliant at that. Alongside its ability to detect viruses, malware, and ransomware all backed up by a 100% virus protection promise, Norton 360 Deluxe also offers a privacy monitor and Dark Web monitoring so it’s aware of any possible data leaks.

Capable of blocking fake sites before they steal your passwords, Norton 360 Deluxe tackles things at the source. It also provides parental controls so you can keep your kids safe online, as well as set screen-time limits. A VPN keeps all your browsing activities private while the Dark Web monitoring will notify you if it finds your personal information where it shouldn’t be. 50GB of cloud storage gives you the ideal chance to keep your data backed up safely too.

Devices covered Up to 5
Compatibility PC, Mac, tablets, phones
Additional features VPN, Password Manager, cloud backup, Dark Web monitoring

Norton 360 for Gamers

Best for protecting your gaming experience

The Norton Antivirus logo against a white background.
Pros Cons
Game Optimizer mode Only really worth the extra if you’re a gamer
Protects everything you need as well as your webcam

Historically, gamers have been wary of using an antivirus tool as it can affect your gaming time and cause stuttering. Norton 360 for Gamers has been designed to allay those fears. It has all the benefits of Norton 360 Deluxe but it also adds on a Game Optimizer mode which automatically detects your game before cutting down on lag or slowdown, through freeing up system resources.

Adding to such functionality, Norton 360 for Gamers is also designed with streamers in mind because it has a full-screen detection mode that detects when you’re using full-screen before silencing all but the most vital of security alerts. There’s also PC SafeCam which protects you from any threats trying to access your webcam. Other useful features like Dark Web monitoring, a firewall, password manager, and VPN all add to the great set of features. Just bear in mind that you can only use it on up to three devices unlike Norton 360 Deluxe.

Devices covered Up to 3
Compatibility PC, Mac
Additional features VPN, Password Manager, Dark Web protection, Game Optimizer

Kaspersky Premium

Best for protecting multiple devices

Kaspersky logo.
Pros Cons
Unlimited VPN included Relatively expensive
Extra protection for kids

With extensive support for up to 10 devices, Kaspersky Premium looks in what feels like hundreds of different directions to keep you safe. Its antivirus continuously protects your devices against any potential threats but it also has anti-hacking functionality with the ability to block malicious sites along with phishing emails or infected ads. Adding to that, there’s a fast and unlimited VPN along with a password manager and vault tool.

More original still is Kaspersky Premium’s Safe Kids feature. It allows you to view your kids’ YouTube search history, as well as set up filters, and monitor screen time and app usage. Also, Kaspersky Premium offers up performance features like a hard disk cleaner and monitor, as well as other optimization features.

Devices covered Up to 10
Compatibility PC, Mac. Android, iOS
Additional features VPN, Password Manager, data leak checker, identity protection

Bitdefender Antivirus Plus

Best for advanced virus detection

The BitDefender logo with glowing lights behind it to reflect its many features.
Pros Cons
High levels of protection detection Little barebones
Great performance

For a simple yet highly effective solution, check out Bitdefender Antivirus Plus. It consistently rates very highly in terms of spotting e-threats and generally outranks bigger names. Adding to that, it also offers great performance with a relatively low level of impact making it a great bet for older PCs who need less strain.

Elsewhere, it’s a little basic lacking extras other than a relatively limited VPN that’s only really suitable for browsing briefly, but that’s because Bitdefender Antivirus Plus focuses on the essentials. It still handles things like keeping an eye on any link you click on as well as protecting your online banking details. Demonstrating how flexible it is, it has low system requirements, being capable of running on Windows 7.

Devices covered Up to 3
Compatibility PC
Additional features VPN

How we chose this antivirus software

When buying antivirus software, there are a few key factors you need to consider before taking the plunge. Sure, you can just buy whatever is available but it makes sense to own the best, right? The best differs depending on your budget and what you need it to do. To help you narrow things down, we’ve summed up how we came to our conclusion with these key considerations.

Think about the features

These days, antivirus protection is rarely about solely protecting you from viruses. Many focus on tackling things at the source by stopping you from clicking on malicious links or simply protecting you via a VPN. However, not everyone needs this so think about what you need. An older system would fare better with basic antivirus protection over too many complex features but a high-end PC could always do with more protection.

How many devices do you need to protect?

All the entries above cover at least three devices but some of you may need more than that. Support for up to 10 devices is certainly possible and may be essential depending on how many devices you have at home, especially if you want protection for tablets and phones.

Consider your budget

It’s possible to spend a little or a lot on antivirus protection. Cheap solutions tend to offer fewer features but still cover the essentials while pricier subscriptions can protect you from so much more, while also saving you the need for a separate VPN or password manager subscription. Plan ahead with your spending if you can invest in a long term solution, but also stick to your budget where possible.

This article is managed and created separately from the Digital Trends Editorial team.

Jennifer Allen

Jennifer Allen is a technology writer with over 10 years of experience. She primarily writes about the best deals coverage for Digital Trends but also has a keen interest in Bluetooth speakers, smart home technology, wearables, and all things gaming.

As well as writing for Digital Trends, she regularly contributes at TechRadar, Lifewire, Mashable, and numerous others. She's also featured on the BBC. In her spare time, she watches many movies, plays many games, and enjoys the outdoors.

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