Cyber attacks are on the rise, including data breaches that leave personal information compromised. One of the best ways to protect yourself is an antivirus program designed to keep your locally stored information and your internet data secure. I spent several months testing and reevaluating the top antivirus programs currently available in 2021. While there haven’t been many changes since last year, these recommendations will keep your computers, mobile devices, and networks as secure as possible. Bitdefender Antivirus Plus is still the best antivirus program with real-time protection that stops and scrubs threats from your system before they have a chance to start downloading. Still, there are several other excellent programs on this list to choose from, including a handful of these solutions that work with mobile devices. Check out my picks for the best antivirus apps for Android to see a more comprehensive list.
Best Antivirus Overall: Bitdefender Antivirus Plus
Bitdefender consistently earns high or perfect scores for malware protection from several third-party test labs and in my own tests. It deserves our top spot for the best antivirus software. It stops Trojans, rootkits, ransomware, and worms, and with the safe browser extension enabled, it’ll prevent these threats from entering your computer through the internet. Bitdefender also recognizes phishing schemes and will warn you of them. With safe browsing enabled, it’ll also tag search results as safe to click through or not. When I tested Bitdefender, it recognized websites known to harbor malicious files and links and blocked the entire website from being accessed.
Even though Antivirus Plus is Bitdefender’s basic solution, it still comes with a password manager and a secure file shredder. It also has social network protections that keep an eye on activity on social media pages, letting you know if there is a malicious link that’s been shared. Antivirus Plus also has a vulnerability scanner that looks for weak points in your entire system and helps you secure these against hackers and ransomware. Some of these vulnerabilities include corrupted drives and outdated software programs. Bitdefender gives you safe links where you can download patches and new versions of software, so you don’t need to guess if links found online are legitimate or not.
The biggest tool not included with Bitdefender Antivirus Plus is a personal firewall. While your operating system likely comes with one, I’ve seen that having a second layer of protection is vital during testing. Too many threats make their way through standard firewalls, and those included with antivirus software just do an overall better job. Bitdefender’s higher-tiered program, Bitdefender Total Security, consists of a firewall, parental controls, and a device optimizer.