The Best Antivirus Software (2019) for Windows, Mac, Android, and iPhone

The internet is full of viruses - malware, spyware, ransomware, and trojans - that allow cybercriminals to take over devices and even to download secondary exploits from Command and Control servers. 

Once upon a time, people used to feel safer using Apple. However, nowadays even Mac users need to be careful. That means they must also protect their devices with robust antivirus software. 

Whether you own a laptop, a desktop, or even a mobile device, it is essential to make sure you have antivirus software. Failing to do so could mean you end up with a horrific infection that allows hackers to access your sensitive data, log in to your social media accounts, and steal your bank details, emails, or other confidential information.

Choosing an antivirus can be confusing because there are many different antivirus programs on the market.So, which are the three best antivirus programs?

What are the best antivirus programs to use?

  1. F-Secure - Excellent protection, performance, and usability.
  2. McAfee Total Protection - Offers a lot of features at a low price point.
  3. Malwarebytes - Extremely efficient, and does not negatively affect system performance

The best Antivirus Software 2019: In-depth analysis

1. F-Secure

  • Pricing

    From $0 / month

This popular antivirus is known to provide excellent protection, performance, and usability. The software is available for both Mac and Windows. In tests, F-Secure Antivirus performs excellently; consistently blocking 100% of malware. In fact, F-Secure won the AV-TEST best protection award in 2018.

The software might not be as feature-rich as some other antivirus programs on the market. However, it is worth noting that a lot of those extra functions aren’t always strictly necessary from an anti-virus point of view (though they are sometimes useful extras).

At a cost of $35.99 to protect one device or $39.99 to protect three devices, this software is pretty expensive if you opt for the stand-alone antivirus plan. Purchasing that plan will literally let you scan your machines for viruses, and that is all. 

However, at the moment F-Secure is selling its better F-Secure SAFE plan for just $34.99 (which is actually cheaper than the standalone antivirus). For this reason, F-Secure SAFE can be considered a superb deal that comes with the following features: 

While some antivirus programs may slow your computer down a little - this antivirus software is not hungry on processing power. It is also extremely easy to use, keeping the layout of the functions down to the bare minimum. This makes it a good option for non-techy users.

The quick scan function comes set as a default, and it is extremely fast - completing a scan in just a few minutes. Delving into the settings gives users the option to perform a full system scan. However, if you are used to having the ability to scan removable drives, or to perform custom scans, this software might disappoint you.

Perhaps the only real drawback with F-Secure is that it is so sensitive that it does tend to flag up some false positives. However, this is better than an antivirus that misses actual exploits.

On the other hand, we would have to stick recommending F-Secure only on its SAFE plan - which is much better value for money and has a much better range of features than the standalone antivirus plan. 

Overall, this is a robust antivirus that gets the job done. Perfectly suited to non-techy users who want something that protects against 100% of viruses. 

2. McAfee Total Protection

  • Pricing

    From $0 / month

McAffee is another antivirus that is rated highly across the board by the independent auditor AV-TEST. In 2018, it was awarded the highest possible score for protection, usability, and performance. This means it can be trusted, and while it is true that a few years ago it suffered some bad reviews, the firm has completely (and successfully) overhauled its malware scanning engine since then.

One of the best things about McAffee Total Protection, is that users get access to a large number of features at a relatively low price point. Users can protect 10 devices for $44.99 (for the first year - $109.99 on renewal). This gives users active real-time protection for all their devices and some useful extras. The software is not hungry on CPU either, and will not adversely affect system performance when it is running. 

Features include:

Using McAffee’s antivirus will take a little getting used to because the User Interface UI has all of its features within the one client. At the top of the UI, various tabs allow users to access the password manager and other security features. 

However, with just a little practice we found that things become straightforward, and users can easily begin to perform quick scans to look for viruses in common exploit areas. A full system scan is also available to search for malware on all hard drives and some customizability is available for those who enjoy it or have special requirements.

The parental controls and anti-spam features are also useful and mean that users really do get a lot of value for money with this moderately priced security suite. The only potential drawback with McAffee is that ransomware protection is not included in the Total Protection plan (yes the irony of this isn’t lost on us).

Overall, however, we think that this antivirus offers a lot of features at a low price point. McAffee is, therefore, a good antivirus for families or people who have a large number of devices which they need to protect against viruses. We also like that McAffee lets people try out its Total Protection plan for 30 days - without asking for your credit card details. 

3. Malwarebytes

  • Pricing

    From $0 / month

Malwarebytes is an excellent antivirus program that we have decided to include because it is available free of charge on Windows machines. Free users get complete access to the antivirus - which scans for viruses against an up-to-date database of known malware. That scanning is extremely efficient, and, like other top-of-the-range antivirus programs, Malwarebytes does not negatively affect system performance

The antivirus can be set up to scan for viruses as often as you like, with the minimum recommended scan being once a week. The nice thing about Malwarebytes is that despite being free it is known to stay up to date and reliably protect against malicious infections.

Admittedly, the free version of  Malwarebytes is limited; only permitting users to do a virus scan function. Anybody who wants real-time protection - with active scanning of emails, websites, and downloads - will need to upgrade to the premium plan which will set them back $39.99 per year. The same is true if you need virus protection for a Mac, iOS, or Android device - as these do not get access to the free antivirus, either.

Paying for the software also increases your protection, by giving you access to the following features: 

Overall, this free antivirus is extremely useful, and, while it isn’t for everyone, we understand that the vast majority of people worldwide still own and run Windows computers. For this reason, Malwarebytes is considered a steal for anybody that has been running the gauntlet by connecting to the internet with no protection at all. 

Malwarebytes can also be considered an outstanding option for beginners, thanks to its intuitive dashboard and easy-to-understand controls. However, if you do decide to pay for an antivirus, it may be better to stick to one of the options higher in this list, as they do have a tendency to catch more malware in their dragnets than Malwarebytes.

Written by: Ray Walsh

Digital privacy expert with 5 years experience testing and reviewing VPNs. He's been quoted in The Express, The Times, The Washington Post, The Register, CNET & many more. Ray is currently rated #4 VPN and #3 internet privacy authority by Agilience.com.

5 Comments

  1. Captain

    on October 21, 2019
    Reply

    Malwarebytes as Editor's Choice when AV-Test.org shows that it's worse compared to Windows Defender AV when it comes to detection? https://www.av-test.org/en/antivirus/home-windows/windows-10/august-2019/microsoft-windows-defender-4.18-193116/ https://www.av-test.org/en/antivirus/home-windows/windows-10/august-2019/malwarebytes-premium-3.8.3-193114/

    1. Douglas Crawford replied to Captain

      on November 4, 2019
      Reply

      Hi Captain. If you have Windows then you get Windows Defender AV for "free." And Malwarebytes is great antivirus software for the price (free for the basic version). In our view, running both Windows Defender and also performing regular manual scans with Malwarebytes is a free option that provides a level of protection equivalent or better to most paid-for solutions.

  2. Dave

    on June 25, 2019
    Reply

    I've been a long-time WebRoot user because their cloud-based approach uses almost no system resources and is extremely effective. Whenever a threat is discovered on any computer running WebRoot, all other computers are updated to protect against that threat. And I can run a full system scan in about 2 minutes while running other processes and tasks. They're the best in my book.

    1. MJ replied to Dave

      on July 3, 2019
      Reply

      Except you are sending your data to an unknown cloud for the scanning where unknown people have potential access to it. Zero data safety right there.

      1. Douglas Crawford replied to MJ

        on July 4, 2019
        Reply

        Hi MJ, The problem with anti-malware programs is that only commercial companies have the resources to keep on top of the ever-evolving threat that malware represents. ClamAV is an open source alternative, but it's not very good at actually detecting malware when compared to commercial products such as those listed above. We too are not very happy at the notion of trusting closed source apps and third-party commercial entities, but we consider the threat posed malware to be greater and more urgent than such concerns. YMMV.

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