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Safety & security

Antivirus comparison: Which option is best for your PC or Mac?

If you browse the internet regularly, you can’t get around the fact that you need antivirus software. Viruses can pop up in unexpected places, and you want your device to be able to fight one off if it appears.

A recent example of a nasty security threat is the most sophisticated version of a keylogger we’ve ever seen. Tap or click to find out what to look for and how to remove the threat.

Dangerous malware like that making the rounds is what makes having antivirus software protecting you so critical. But what’s the best antivirus software for a Mac or Windows computer? Keep reading to see the best options.

Bitdefender Antivirus

Bitdefender Antivirus can be used on both Mac and Windows computers, and mobile versions for your smartphone exist as well. A $30 subscription can cover three different devices you own, but there’s a free version that’s also great.

Let’s go over the highlights of the software:

The Good:

  • Long-lasting, and can improve your computer’s speed.
  • Anti-phishing and anti-fraud functions.
  • High ratings from customers and tech magazines.
  • Great savings on your first-year subscription are widely available.

The Bad:

  • No firewall, even in the premium version.
  • The free version doesn’t have as many features as the premium.

Microsoft Defender

Maybe you’re pretty careful when you use your computer already, or you keep your browsing to a minimum. In that case, if you have a PC, you might be good with just Microsoft Defender.

Defender comes built into Windows 10 and helps you manage your privacy, as well as keep your files safe, and gives you tons of parental control options. Since it’s built-in, Microsoft Defender is free but you can get a premium version for an office too.

The Good:

  • You can set a timer for screen time in Defender, as well as limit the content your computer can access. This keeps your kids or older family members off the computer for excessive periods of time and away from the riskier parts of the web.
  • Creates automatic backups in OneDrive, and shares files across your devices.
  • Gives you Find My Device in case you lose your laptop or Windows phone.
  • Safest Windows free anti-software ever, and already set up for you when you turn on your computer!

The Bad:

  • Pushes updates, which keeps things secure but can take away computing power and result in laggy periods.
  • No password manager or anti-phishing help — you’ll have to get other programs for that, which can disable Defender.

Avast Free Mac Security

Don’t worry Mac users, there’s great free antivirus software for your computer too. It’s not built-in like Defender, but Avast Free Mac Security is easy to download and comes with many great features we’ll detail below.

The Good:

  • Real-time protection, including Wi-Fi security scans to detect network vulnerabilities.
  • Anti-malware firewalls, along with web and email shields to protect you from scam sites and spam.
  • Blocks unsafe downloads, and stops ransomware from getting on your Mac.
  • Avast Premium Security lets you protect 10 devices, whether they be Mac, Windows, Android, or iOS, for $90 a year. That’s the most devices out of any of the software we mentioned.

The Bad:

  • The ransomware shield is only a premium feature, as are the Wi-Fi intruder alerts.
  • Avast Premium Security for just one device costs $70 a year.

PC Matic

If you like American-made products, you might like PC Matic for your antivirus software. It advertises itself as the only software like this 100% developed in America, and it comes with some great features.

The Good

  • Award-winning software and company.
  • Doesn’t assume unknown files and applications are safe, letting less malware into your computer.
  • Blocks scripting attacks, aka fileless infections.
  • Despite PC being in the name, works on Windows, Apple, and Android devices, and the annual $50 price gets you security on five devices.
  • Paying $150 flat gets you PC Matic for life, including all future updates. That’s one of the best-paid antivirus deals on the market.

The Bad

  • No free version to test out or use.

McAfee

McAfee has a great deal on right now for its home antivirus software, McAfee Total protection. You can cover 10 devices for just $39.99 for the first year, and save on covering five devices, or just one as well. With that low price, you get the following:

The Good

  • There’s a free trial, so you can make sure you like McAfee before committing to it.
  • Works on PC, Mac, Android, and iOS devices.
  • Protects you on your home network, and on public Wi-Fi.
  • Get Identity Theft Protection, along with device performance optimization.

The Bad

  • Some features are only available with auto-renewal of your McAfee subscription, and the price goes up after your first year.
  • Identity Theft Protection helps you stay safe, but it can’t ever be 100% effective. You still need to be vigilant, and careful in your web usage.

Trend Micro

If you use cloud services to connect your devices or to access files from different places, you should use Trend Micro. Its Hybrid Cloud Security can protect your physical devices and your virtual files with ease.

The Good

  • Gives you application, email, file, and network security.
  • Free tools and apps include anti-ransomware applications, HouseCall, a free security scanner, and a fraud buster tool.
  • Helps you safely migrate to a cloud system, if you’re interested in that.
  • Can protect up to 10 devices by paying $39.95 for one year. Two-year contracts exist as well.

The Bad

  • Services aren’t all bundled together — you have to pay $14.95 on top of your subscription to get the Trend Micro password manager to manage more than five passwords on your devices.
  • Free offers in general are so much less robust than the premium versions, you basically have to pay to get anything decent out of them.

Sophos Home Premium

For antivirus software as powerful as the one big businesses use, get Sophos Home Premium. You can get protection for up to 10 devices for one year for just $45.

The Good

  • Protects Macs along with Windows PCs, plus Android and iOS devices.
  • Blocks ransomware attacks, and protects your webcam and microphone from being hacked.
  • You can manage security settings and features for your devices from anywhere, including on another device far away from the one you’re protecting.
  • Highly accessible support if you’re having trouble with the platform.
  • A free version is available, and it includes parental controls, web protection, remote management, and usage for up to three devices on top of a 30-day free trial of the Premium version.

The Bad

  • Parental controls and webcam protections are fairly limited, compared to other software on this list.
  • Not easy to use if you aren’t very tech-savvy.

Bonus: Malwarebytes

Formerly known as Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, Malwarebytes Free isn’t your traditional antivirus software. Rather than waiting for a threat to arrive on your computer, Malwarebytes blocks it before it even reaches your computer.

It primarily does this by going after malware before it infects your devices. There’s a premium version of Malwarebytes, but primarily, it’s free and pretty effective.

The Good

  • It scans for malware consistently, so you can greatly reduce your chance of getting a virus at all.
  • Removes adware, and unwanted programs that slow your device down.
  • Doesn’t take up much room on your devices, so even with the scanning, your devices don’t slow down.

The Bad

  • The free version has full capabilities for only 14 days. After that, Malwarebytes can clean your infected device, but it won’t prevent viruses and malware from getting on your computer unless you pay.
  • The premium version is pricier than most of the other options on this list while covering fewer devices. It costs $89.99 for five devices for one year, instead of 10, while the price of $39.99 only covers one device for you.

Whatever antivirus software you get, you can have great protection for free or coverage on a ton of devices for not much money. Decide on your computer security needs, and get antivirus software today to ensure your computer’s safety.

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