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Best antivirus 2020: Top 5 picks to protect your computer

What’s the best antivirus software you can pay for?

If you want more reassurance against malicious software infections than free and integrated tools can provide, there are powerful commercial antivirus suites to help guard against everything from drive-by downloads and ransomware to webcam hijacking.

Windows Defender covers more than just the basics when it comes to malware protection, but it’s not always the most effective option, particularly if you need extra features or cross-platform protection.

Trusted Reviews presents a run-down of the world’s best paid-for antivirus suites, based on data from three of the world’s leading anti-malware testing houses, as well as an assessment of the usability, features and pricing of each.

  • Best antivirus overall: Kaspersky Internet Security
  • Best for single-year household subscriptions: NortonLifeLock Norton 360 Deluxe
  • Best for useful features: Avast Premium Security
  • Best for simplicity: Avira Antivirus Pro
  • Another great value offering: Trend Micro Internet Security

Related: Best Password Manager

Kaspersky Internet Security

1. Kaspersky Internet Security

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A cost-effective, feature-packed security suite

Pros:

  • Excellent performance in anti-malware tests
  • A useful set of features
  • No unexpected renewal costs

Cons:

  • Some rivals have cheaper multi-device deals

Kaspersky Internet Security is the most effective antivirus software you can buy right now. It’s consistently one of the best-performing antivirus suites around and is the only one to have achieved perfect scores in the latest malware protection trials by the AV-Test, AV-Comparatives and SELabs testing houses.

As well as providing on-demand scanning and real-time production, Kaspersky Internet Security includes an encrypted browser for your online banking needed and modules to help protect against phishing attacks and webcam hijacking. Optional free applications available from Kaspersky include a password manager, 300MB-per-day VPN and parental control tools.

You can usually get KIS for £27.99 a year for a single PC or £35.99 per year for three, with other pricing tiers covering more systems and longer periods. Renewals are available at the same price as a new subscription.

I was pleased to see that, if you buy directly from Kaspersky’s website, you can opt-out of auto-renewal at the time of purchase, avoiding unexpected future card payments. It’s also easy to find retail editions of the software for less.

Kaspersky also has a free tier, now the entry-level option in its recently introduced Security Cloud range. This uses the same detection engine as the rest of the company’s products but has a slightly different feature set.

We continually check thousands of prices to show you the best deals. If you buy a product through our site we will earn a small commission from the retailer – a sort of automated referral fee – but our reviewers are always kept separate from this process. You can read more about how we make money in our Ethics Policy.

Buy Now from EBay for $6.65
Also available at Walmart ($20.7), Adorama ($29), and Newegg ($29.99)

Symantec Norton 360

2. NortonLifeLock Norton 360

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Superb malware blocking with a subscription to cover your entire household

Pros:

  • Excellent performance in anti-malware tests
  • Very cheap first year’s subscription
  • Wide range of features

Cons:

  • Subscription renewals are very expensive
  • Disabling renewals negates Virus Protection Promise

NortonLifeLock – originally called Symantec before the company split and sold off its enterprise security division – is a regular on our recommended antivirus lists. The reason for that can be found in the performance of its detection engine, which detected and either blocked or neutralised 100% of malware in the latest tests by AV-Test, AV-Comparatives and SELabs. It threw up a few false positives during AV-Comparatives’ tests, but not to a major degree.

It comes packed with features: a full subscription to Norton Secure VPN, 50GB of cloud backup storage for your most important files, a password manager, protection against webcam hijacking, parental controls and a dedicated firewall.

Norton 360 has a fantastic first-year subscription fee of £29.99 for five devices – if you only have one device, there’s a standard edition priced at £24.99 for the first year, while Premium covers up to 10 computers, phones or tablets. Unfortunately, renewal (automatic by default if you buy via NortonLifeLock’s website) is priced at a rather painful £79.99 for Norton 360 Deluxe.

You can disable this through the website, but note that doing so will negate the company’s Virus Protection Promise of a refund if your system is damaged beyond repair by malware. If you plan on extending your subscription beyond its first year, I recommend looking for retail copies, which are usually cheaper.

Despite these annoying caveats to its subscription, Norton 360 Deluxe provides a genuinely effective defence against malware and a wealth of features that are particularly well suited to families.

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3. Avast Premium Security

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The leader in free antivirus also has a feature-packed paid subscription

Pros:

  • Effective malware detection
  • A useful set of features
  • No unexpected renewal costs
  • Good value multi-device subscription

Cons

  • Expensive for single devices
  • Some impact on website and software load times

Famous for its free antivirus software, Avast (which also owns AVG) provides a significantly more feature-rich, ad-free alternative if you want to hand over some money, in the form of Avast Premium Security.

As is typical in the antivirus world, Avast’s products all use the same award-winning malware detection engine with real-time and on-demand scanning. It got high – but not always perfect – scores in the latest tests from three major anti-malware testing labs. It detected all the malware AV-Test threw at it and got real-world protection scores of 99.7% from AV-Comparatives and 98% from SELabs. The latter is by no means bad, but puts it on a par with Microsoft’s integrated Windows Defender.

Avast misidentified a handful of legitimate software as potentially malicious in the former two tests and AV-Test found that its impact on website loading times and software launch and install times was a little higher than many of its rivals’.

Premium Security builds on the free version of Avast with modules including a sandbox in which you can test any application your suspicious of, a dedicated firewall, email filtering, webcam protection, file shredding, and extra defences against ransomware and DNS hijacking.

Unlike some rivals, there’s no included VPN, password manager, cloud storage or system optimisation tools, but these are generally the kind of things you should shop for separately.

Priced at £59.99 a year for one device or £74.99 for ten devices, it’s at the more expensive end of the antivirus market, but it’s worth noting that there are no hidden costs or unexpectedly high renewal prices here, and that 10-device subscription works our to be relatively cost-effective if you’ve got a whole household to cover.

In early 2020, Avast shut down its Jumpshot marketing analytics subsidiary after it was discovered to have been selling data gathered from users of the company’s security products. This has somewhat dented the firm’s reputation when it comes to transparency, but its antivirus products remain undeniably effective.

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Buy Now from EBay for $12.75
Also available at Amazon ($39.99), and Dell ($39.99)

4. Avira Antivirus Pro

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Low-cost, effective and simple malware protection without ads or interruptions

Pros:

  • Effective malware detection
  • Inexpensive
  • No unexpected renewal costs

Cons:

  • Limited feature set

Avira Antivirus Pro is the paid-for version of one of the best free antivirus solutions around. Like Avast’s paid-for offering, it retains the same malware detection engine used across the entire Avira range, but adds a few extra features, as well as removing the ads for its products.

Those extras include email scanning, USB device scanning and some additional web protection features against malware and phishing attacks. That’s not a lot, but Antivirus Pro isn’t particularly expensive, and its more costly siblings’ features such as password management and system optimisation, are mostly the kind of thing you’d want to look for as a dedicated solution rather than part of your antivirus suite.

I’d welcome a couple of extra security features though, such as dedicated webcam protection. I’m also sorry to see that Avira has discontinued its excellent stand-alone downloadable recovery disc image.

It’s only in the oldest set of test results, from SELabs, that Avira’s engine stumbles, with a 97% total protection score, including both blocked and neutralised malware, putting it slightly below Windows Defender’s performance.

However, results from AV-Test and AV-Comparatives indicate that Avira has been back on its game through the early months of 2020, with neutralisation scores of 99.5% in AV-Tests’s real-world test suites over two months and a clear 100% defence score from AV-Comparatives.

An Antivirus Pro subscription doesn’t cost very much at £29.99 per year for a single device, £38.99 for three or £47.99 for five PCs running Windows or macOS. Better yet, there are no hidden renewal fee bumps after the first year, which is a pleasant departure from one of the wider security industry’s most obnoxious habits.

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Buy Now from EBay for $9.89
Also available at Amazon ($19.95)

5. Trend Micro Internet Security

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Capable malware defence from an established industry leader

Pros:

  • Effective malware detection
  • A useful set of features

Cons:

  • Price increases upon renewal
  • Some impact on website and software load times

Trend Micro’s Internet Security suite has a long and excellent reputation in the world of malware defence. It packs in more features than its simple antivirus product, which is cheaper and covers real-time and on-demand scanning as well as phishing protection for inbox, a firewall booster and a secure browser for online payments.

Internet Security adds parental controls, social media protection to scan the most popular social networks you use for dubious links and some system optimisation tools. It’s only available for Windows.

In SELabs’s late-2019 real-world tests, Trend Micro Internet Security detected and either blocked or – in one case – neutralised all the malware samples it was exposed to. Although it misidentified a couple of legitimate programs as potentially malicious, it achieved a respectable total protection score of 98%.

Its 2020 test results from AV-Test and AV-Comparatives are also positive. It achieved a 100% malware detection score in AV-Comparatives’ tests, marred by 16 false-positive identifications of legitimate software. It only got one false positive in AV-Test’s latest trials, with real-world protection scores of 100% and 99.5% across two months. It got a bit of a ding for performance, due to its impact on website and application loading times, as well as application installation times.

Trend Micro Internet Security is available from £24.95 for a one-year subscription for a single device, but note that that renews at £49.95. Similarly, its conspicuously good value £29.95 subscription for three devices renews at £59.95. Cheaper boxed editions aren’t very widely available right now, either: you’ll find some on eBay and key reselling sites, but these aren’t always entirely reliable sources.

We continually check thousands of prices to show you the best deals. If you buy a product through our site we will earn a small commission from the retailer – a sort of automated referral fee – but our reviewers are always kept separate from this process. You can read more about how we make money in our Ethics Policy.

Buy Now from EBay for $1.99
Also available at Walmart ($10.31), Best Buy ($29.99), and B&H ($39.99)

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