6 Best Anti-malware Software for Removal + Protection (2023)
With so much malware on the internet, installing effective anti-malware software is crucial to secure your devices. However, many anti-malware programs can’t detect the latest threats or lack the advanced features needed to stay secure.
I tested over 30 anti-malware programs, and while many failed my tests, I found multiple anti-malware solutions that reliably detect malware via scans. Plus, they offer other features that not only provide additional security but also improve device performance.
Of my top choices, Norton is easily the best anti-malware program you can get. Its industry-leading 100% malware detection rate and various features like the built-in VPN and secure cloud backup make it the best choice. Plus, you can try Norton completely risk-free, as it’s backed by a 60-day money-back guarantee.
Quick Guide: Best Anti-malware Software in 2023
- Norton — Secures your system by detecting 100% of malware in real-time and via scans. Get Norton to remove all the malware on your system.
- McAfee — Provides airtight security without slowing device performance, but is expensive after the first year.
- TotalAV — Offers helpful optimization tools, but doesn’t have many extra features
- Iolo — Provides intuitive and easy-to-use apps, but only protects Windows devices
- Bitdefender — Feature-rich antivirus, but has limited VPN data on most plans
- Panda — Has excellent anti-theft tools, but the customer support is very slow
The Best Malware Removal and Protection Software (Tested April 2023)
- Industry-leading 100% malware detection via scans and in real-time
- Encrypted cloud storage to safeguard any sensitive files
- Works on Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android
- 24/7 live chat support
- 60-day money-back guarantee
Norton is the #1 anti-malware software you can get. It offers flawless malware detection that spots 100% of malware in real-time and through scans, securing you against viruses, spyware, and other threats. Also, it has encrypted cloud storage, a built-in VPN, a secure password manager, and helpful customer support that’s available 24/7.
During my tests, Norton successfully found and eliminated all the malware on my system. It has Quick, Custom, and Full System Scans, all of which detect every single piece of malware without highlighting any false positives. I also like that Norton’s scans are incredibly fast, with the Quick Scan taking only 2 minutes and the Full System Scan taking under 20 minutes to scan over 900,000 files.
I was also impressed with Norton’s firewall throughout my testing. It effectively secures your devices and network and offers various customization options that let you set rules for each app. Plus, a Smart Firewall toggle lets Norton automatically detect suspicious network activity and block intrusion attempts. Overall, Norton’s firewall is an excellent first line of defense against malware.
Norton is also among the most feature-rich anti-malware programs you can get, with many useful tools like:
- PC SafeCam — Prevents unauthorized access to your webcam.
- Parental Controls — Useful controls to help you track, monitor, and manage your kids’ online activity.
- Built-in VPN — Secures your connection with AES 256-bit encryption to safeguard your browsing activity.
- Encrypted Cloud Backup — Up to 100GB (in the US) of secure storage hosted by Norton, where you can safely store sensitive files.
- Password Manager — Provides secure storage for all your credentials.
- Power Eraser — Removes unwanted and malicious programs that the virus scanner can’t eliminate (Windows only).
- Web Protection — Protects you from malicious sites and phishing attacks as you surf the web.
- Privacy Monitor — Lets you know if your information is on data broker sites and helps you remove it.
You’ll also be pleased to learn that Norton offers excellent customer support via 24/7 live chat and phone support. I always connected to an agent in under a minute anytime I needed help, and they provided useful information that fixed my issues. Plus, its website has a detailed knowledge base that’s quite useful.
Norton offers many different plans, with the cheapest option costing only $19.99/year. You can choose from the following options if you decide to get Norton:
- Antivirus Plus — Norton’s basic plan, which includes its firewall, password manager, 2GB of secure cloud storage, and protection for 1 device.
- 360 Standard — Includes all of Antivirus Plus’ features but protects 3 devices and offers Norton’s built-in VPN, PC SafeCam, and Dark Web Monitoring.
- 360 Deluxe — Has everything in 360 Standard and increases the cloud storage to 50GB. Also, it includes Norton’s parental controls, Privacy Monitor, and protection for up to 5 devices.
- 360 Select — Includes all the above features and also offers Norton’s ID Theft Protection while increasing the cloud storage to 250GB.
I consider all of Norton’s plans affordable, considering their features, but I found Norton 360 Deluxe to be the best value. It has all the key anti-malware features and lets you protect multiple devices simultaneously. No matter what plan you choose, you can try Norton completely risk-free. A 60-day money-back guarantee backs it, and I easily had my refund approved via live chat when I was done testing it. I had my money back in 5 working days.
- 3 different scans which detect 100% of malware
- Intuitive and highly customizable firewall
- Offers a password manager to safely store your credentials
- Works on Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android
- 30-day money-back guarantee
McAfee is an excellent anti-malware solution that detects 100% of threats. It’s also effective against “fileless” malware, which are advanced threats that only appear in your computer’s RAM to remain hidden from virus scanners. Plus, it’s an incredibly lightweight antivirus that never affects device performance as it barely uses any system resources.
I put this security app through extensive testing, and McAfee’s malware detection performance was impressive in all my tests. Its scans aren’t as fast as Norton’s, considering the Quick Scan took over 5 minutes, and the Full Scan took over an hour. However, McAfee’s scans detected 100% of the malware they came across. I was also impressed with McAfee’s real-time protection, which kept me from downloading any malicious files and detected real-time threats before they could affect my system.
Besides its excellent malware detection, other great features you get with McAfee include the following:
- Built-in VPN — Encrypts your browsing data and keeps you anonymous as you surf the web.
- WiFi Protection — Lets you monitor your home WiFi network and kick out any intruders.
- Web Protection — Protects you from phishing attempts and safeguards you from any malicious websites.
- File Shredder — Securely deletes files, so they’re no longer accessible.
- Optimization Tools — App Boost and Web Boost tools help apps load faster and minimize data usage while browsing.
- ID Theft Protection — Informs you if your logins or any other credentials are ever breached and leaked online.
- Personal Data Cleanup — Checks if your information is on data broker sites and helps you remove it.
McAfee has one of the most intuitive firewalls I’ve seen. It has a sleek interface with neatly presented settings, meaning you can easily adjust them to your liking. However, even the default settings provide excellent security, so beginners will still be protected from all threats.
McAfee offers a variety of plans you can subscribe to, including the following:
- Antivirus Plus — McAfee’s basic plan, which includes its malware detection and web protection features for 1 device.
- McAfee Total Protection Basic — Includes the core antivirus and web protection available in Antivirus Plus. Also, it offers McAfee’s ID Monitoring, Password Manager, File Shredder, and VPN.
- McAfee Total Protection Plus — Offers all of Total Protection Basic’s features and simultaneously protects up to 5 devices.
- McAfee+ Premium — Protects unlimited devices, has everything in Total Protection Plus, and includes McAfee’s Personal Data Cleanup scans.
- McAfee+ Advanced — Includes everything in McAfee+ Premium, McAfee’s credit monitoring, and ID theft protection and restoration. Also, this plan has McAfee’s full-service Personal Data Cleanup instead of just the scans.
- McAfee+ Ultimate — Comes with everything in McAfee+ Advanced and includes daily credit reports. Ultimate also offers McAfee’s credit lock and $25K ransomware coverage.
McAfee’s plans provide great value for money, but I want to highlight that the price jumps significantly after the first year. The cheapest plan costs $39.99/year, but I suggest you get Total Protection Plus as it offers excellent value and protects multiple devices simultaneously.
Of course, you can try McAfee completely risk-free as it’s backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee. I found it easy to get my refund since I simply submitted a refund request via the form on the website and got a confirmation call shortly after. I had my money back within 7 days of confirming my refund.
- Reliably detects malware in real-time and via scans
- System Tune-up helps enhance your device’s performance
- WebShield protects you from malicious websites
- Protects Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android devices
- 30-day money-back guarantee
TotalAV is an excellent anti-malware app that also offers useful optimization features. Besides having reliable virus scans, TotalAV provides optimization tools that remove junk to free up space on your system and make other optimizations for better performance.
I was quite pleased with TotalAV’s anti-malware performance during tests. The Quick Scan took roughly 5 minutes to complete, and the Full System Scan was fast and scanned over 900,000 files in just over 20 minutes. TotalAV’s scans detected 100% of the malware on my test system and easily eliminated it. Of course, TotalAV also offers excellent real-time protection by stopping over 99% of 0-day threats, which is impressive compared to the industry average of 97%.
TotalAV’s WebShield is also an excellent feature. It prevents trackers from building a profile on you and safeguards you from websites that could infect your system with malware. Also, it protects you from phishing attacks by highlighting spoofed websites that could steal your information.
It’s worth noting that TotalAV isn’t as feature-rich as industry-leading antiviruses like Norton, but it offers many useful tools that improve device security and performance. Some of TotalAV’s noteworthy features include:
- Optimization Tools — Helpful tools that free up space and make your system run better.
- Built-in VPN — Secures your browsing activity by encrypting your connection and keeping you anonymous.
- Identity Protection — Lets you know if your credentials or other sensitive information is compromised and helps you resolve the leak.
- Password Manager — Provides safe storage for your logins and other sensitive details.
TotalAV currently offers 3 different plans, with the cheapest priced at $19.00/year. Its plans include the following:
- Antivirus Pro — Includes TotalAV’s core malware detection and removal, web protection, ransomware protection, optimization tools, and protection for up to 3 devices.
- Internet Security — Offers TotalAV’s VPN alongside all the above features and protects up to 5 devices.
- Total Security — Has everything in Internet Security but also adds TotalAV’s AdBlock and password manager while protecting up to 6 devices.
Of all TotalAV’s plans, I advise getting Internet Security as it offers the best value for money and protects up to 5 devices. Regardless of your plan, you can try TotalAV completely risk-free thanks to its 30-day money-back guarantee. I called support over the phone to test their refund policy and had my refund approved after a 5-minute phone call. I had the money back in my account in 2 working days, even though the agent told me it could take up to 7.
- Detects and eliminates all malware on Windows devices
- Useful PC Cleanup tool helps optimize system performance
- The highly intuitive and easy-to-use app
- 24/7 live chat support
- 30-day money-back guarantee
Iolo is a top-tier anti-malware software for Windows devices. It offers industry-standard malware detection and many features that make your system perform better. I also consider its interface among the most intuitive ones I’ve seen in any antivirus, so it’s an excellent choice for Windows-only protection.
I found iolo’s malware detection rates quite impressive during my tests. Its Quick Scan took just a few minutes to complete. However, its Deep Scan took over an hour to scan 850,000+ items while also causing noticeable lag by using over 40% of my CPU. Thankfully, iolo’s Deep Scan detected all hidden malware on my test system. I also like that iolo rarely, if ever, flags any false positives, meaning you can fully trust its scan results.
While it isn’t as feature-rich as Norton, iolo offers the following tools to enhance device security and improve overall performance:
- PC Cleanup — Removes junk files and fixes registry issues to free up space and improve performance.
- Drive Scrubber — Completely wipes a selected drive so its data is fully removed and can’t be accessed again.
- Password Manager — Safely stores and encrypts your logins and other sensitive information.
- Privacy Guardian — Stops online trackers from collecting your information and building a profile that advertisers can use to you send targeted ads.
Alongside its other great features, iolo’s Startup Optimizer is another excellent tool that stops unnecessary apps and services from running at startup. This helps your system boot much faster and makes it feel more responsive from the get-go.
Iolo has various plans you can choose from, including the following:
- Malware Killer — The most basic plan with on-demand malware detection and cleanup.
- System Mechanic — Includes iolo’s network protection, security updates, and optimization tools.
- System Mechanic Pro — Has all of System Mechanic’s features but also adds iolo’s Search and Recover, Drive Scrubber, and System Shield.
- System Mechanic Ultimate Defense — Has iolo’s Malware Killer, Password Manager, and Privacy Guardian alongside all of System Mechanic Pro’s features.
The cheapest iolo subscription costs $49.95/year, but you should get System Mechanic Ultimate Defense if you want the best value. Also, you can try iolo completely risk-free with its 30-day money-back guarantee. I even tested this guarantee by requesting my refund via email, which was processed and approved the same day. Afterward, I had my money back in 3 days.
- 100% malware detection through scans and in real-time
- SafePay environment lets you bank online without compromising your information
- Has a built-in password manager and VPN
- Offers a customizable firewall with an intuitive design
- 30-day money-back guarantee
Bitdefender’s industry-standard malware detection and feature variety make it a solid choice. It offers several kinds of scans, a built-in VPN, ransomware protection, and several other features to remove malware and secure your system from future infections.
Bitdefender had consistently impressive results in all of my tests. Not only did its scans detect 100% of malware, but I also found that Bitdefender blocks 100% of real-time threats from infecting your system. It offers Quick, Full System, Vulnerability, Rescue Environment, and Custom Scans, which are relatively fast and effective.
Of course, Bitdefender offers many other useful tools to improve your overall security, including the following:
- Anti-Tracking — Stops web trackers from collecting your information.
- Built-in VPN — Safeguards your online activity by encrypting your connection.
- Password Manager — Provides secure storage for logins and other sensitive credentials.
- USB Scanning — Scans removable drives to check for malware.
- SafePay — Secure browsing environment for your online banking.
- Web Protection — Protects you from malicious websites as you surf the web.
Among this anti-malware program’s best features is its firewall. Bitdefender’s firewall has an intuitive interface, and the default configuration makes it an excellent first line of defense. Plus, it’s easy to customize the firewall and set up custom app rules.
There are several Bitdefender plans you can subscribe to, with the lowest price starting at $19.99/year. Its plans include the following:
- Antivirus Plus — The basic plan with core malware removal features, 200MB/day VPN, and protection for 3 Windows devices.
- Internet Security — Offers Bitdefender’s Privacy Firewall and parental controls alongside the features of Antivirus Plus.
- Total Security — Protects Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android devices. It also offers everything in Internet Security and includes Bitdefender’s optimization tools.
- Premium Security — Has all the above features but removes the data limit from the VPN and has Bitdefender’s password manager.
- Ultimate Security — Comes with all of Premium Security’s features while also adding ID theft protection.
I suggest you get Bitdefender Total Security, which provides the best value and supports all platforms. Best of all, you can try Bitdefender completely risk-free with its 30-day money-back guarantee. After testing it, I requested my refund via email, which was approved after a few days. After the approval, I had my money back in 5 days.
- Detects 100% of real-time malware
- Web protection safeguards you from phishing attacks and malicious downloads
- Anti-theft tools to lock and help find your device if it’s stolen
- USB protection detects and removes malware in removable media
- 30-day money-back guarantee
Panda is a well-rounded anti-malware app that offers reliable protection. Its various malware scans deliver excellent results, and it offers a built-in VPN, a customizable firewall, ransomware protection, and other useful features for added security. Also, its variety of anti-theft tools is excellent at securing against device theft or loss.
While running my tests, I found that Panda offers solid malware detection. Its Quick, Full, and Critical scans detect 99.7% of malware, which isn’t as impressive as Norton’s 100% detection rate but is solid nonetheless. However, Panda blocks 100% of 0-day, real-time threats, so it keeps you safe while you use your system.
Panda also offers the following features to help secure your devices:
- Rescue Kit — Lets you create a bootable USB to disinfect malware-infested systems that won’t boot.
- Anti-Theft — Various tools to help you locate your devices if they get stolen.
- USB Protection — Scans and cleans any removable media you plug into your system.
- WiFi Protection — Monitors your WiFi and helps you improve its overall security.
- Web Protection — Protects you from visiting malicious websites.
I also like that Panda offers multiple plans you can pick from, starting at just $23.99/year. The plans you can get include the following:
- Essential — Offers Panda’s anti-malware features, firewall, 150MB/day VPN, WiFi Protection, USB protection, and web protection.
- Advanced — Includes all the above features and offers Panda’s parental controls and ID protection.
- Complete — Has everything in Advanced but also offers Panda’s password manager, Data Shield, and password manager.
- Premium — Comes with all of Complete’s features while removing the data limit on Panda’s VPN and also offers 24/7 customer support and Panda’s Update Manager.
Panda Dome Complete is the best value plan as it offers all the necessary features to safeguard your devices. No matter what plan you choose, though, you can try Panda completely risk-free as it’s backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee. Getting my refund was easy as I had to fill out a web form, after which I got a response in a few hours confirming my refund. I received my refund just 8 days after the request.
None of These Anti-Malware Brands Are Good Enough
1. Avast and AVG
Avast and AVG (owned by Avast) are popular antiviruses but aren’t trustworthy anymore. Avast was caught storing and selling private user data without user consent, so I can’t trust or recommend either of these choices.
2. Microsoft Defender
Microsoft Defender is a free security app built into every Windows device. However, while it offers reliable basic security, Microsoft Defender is not as good as the best premium antiviruses currently available. It’s missing a built-in VPN, password manager, firewall customization, and many other things you’d find in a high-end security app. So, it’s not the best anti-malware software you can get.
3. Trend Micro
I don’t advise using Trend Micro because it fails to detect trojan malware. Also, its scans highlight more false positives than other premium antiviruses, so it’s not an effective anti-malware software.
Quick Comparison Table: The Best Anti-Malware Software in 2023
|Malware Detection via Scans
|Types of Scans
|Quick Scan, Full System Scan, and Custom Scan
|Quick Scan, Full Scan, and Custom Scan
|Quick Scan, Full System Scan, Smart Scan, and Custom Scan
|Quick Scan and Full Scan
|Quick Scan, System Scan, Vulnerability Scan, Rescue Environment Scan, and Custom Scan
|Critical Area Scan, Full scan, and Custom Scan
4 Easy Steps: How to Use Anti-Malware Software
- Install a reliable anti-malware program — Download and install an effective anti-malware program. I suggest you get Norton to remove malware because of its flawless detection rate.
- Navigate to the scans menu — Open your security app’s scans menu to see a list of available scans.
- Run a full scan — Do a complete scan of your system to detect every threat.
- Eliminate detected threats — Remove/quarantine any threats the scan finds.
That’s it! Following these steps lets you use any anti-malware program to find and remove any threats from your system.
How I Tested and Ranked the Best Anti-Malware in 2023
I looked at multiple factors when picking out the best anti-malware programs. The main things I considered include the following:
- Malware detection rate — I only chose anti-malware apps that effectively find and eliminate over 99% of malware.
- Scan types — I picked anti-malware programs that offer multiple types of scans to detect malware.
- Extra features — I looked for antiviruses with useful extra features like VPNs, password managers, and customizable firewalls.
- Customer support — I only recommended anti-malware software with reliable customer support that you can quickly contact if you have problems.
- Value for money — I suggested antiviruses that offer various price plans and deliver excellent value for money.
- Money-back guarantee — I chose anti-malware programs with reliable money-back guarantees.
FAQ: Malware Protection and Removal
What’s the best free anti-malware program?
I suggest you pick a premium anti-malware program to secure your devices because free anti-malware apps often miss key security features. For instance, many free security apps don’t have password managers, built-in VPNs, or customizable firewalls. However, you can choose from a few reliable free anti-malware programs if you only need basic protection.
Which anti-malware app is the best in 2023?
While there are many excellent anti-malware apps this year, I learned in my tests that Norton stands out above the rest. Its industry-leading malware detection, excellent feature variety, and responsive customer support make it the best anti-malware app. Plus, you can try Norton completely risk-free as it’s backed by a 60-day money-back guarantee.
What’s the difference between a virus and malware?
An effective anti-malware software removes all viruses and malware, but it’s worth remembering that these two things are different.
Viruses are a type of malware triggered by the host and infect your system by replicating themselves. Malware, however, is an umbrella term that covers all malicious software designed to harm a system or a network.
There are various kinds of malware, such as:
- Ransomware — Encrypts your files until you pay the attackers a ransom.
- Spyware — Lets third parties spy on you by monitoring your screen, keystrokes, camera, and microphone.
- Adware — Usually infects browsers, collects your browsing data, and spams you with ads.
- Trojan — Seemingly safe files are often packaged with legitimate software that lay dormant until they’re activated and begin harming your system or giving attackers remote access.
- Keylogger — Lets hackers log all your keystrokes to learn sensitive details like login credentials and banking information.
- Worm — Keeps duplicating itself to spread across a system or a network quickly.
Protect Your Device With a Quality Anti-malware Program
Many people don’t realize the importance of having a quality anti-malware program before it’s too late. New malware is constantly being developed that can infect your system in various ways, so it’s essential to have a top-tier anti-malware solution securing your devices.
Thankfully, you can use any of the anti-malware software on this list to stay safe. I’ve picked out the best choices that offer industry-standard malware detection rates and many other features that add extra layers of security. However, even amongst the top choices, Norton stands out as the best anti-malware app.
Norton has 100% malware detection through scans and detects 100% of real-time threats. Plus, it offers a built-in VPN, secure cloud storage, web protection, a password manager, and several other features that improve overall device security. Best of all, you can try Norton risk-free for 60 days thanks to its money-back guarantee, which makes it easy to get a refund if you’re unsatisfied.