5 Best Anti-Malware Software [{{current_year}}]: Protection That Actually Works

5 Best Anti-Malware Software [{{current_year}}]: Protection That Actually Works

Short on time? Here’s the best anti-malware program for 2020:

  • 🥇 Norton 360: Excellent protection against all malware — viruses, spyware, ransomware, adware, and all other malware. Comes with a VPN, parental controls, secure storage, and a password manager.

I tested all of the top anti-malware products on the market — only a few of them were actually effective.

But a lot were really dangerous.

It’s true — many “anti-malware programs” are actually malware in disguise, stealing people’s credit card info, social media logins, and other sensitive information.

So this is very important:

  • Only buy legitimate software which has proven to be trustworthy and reliable.

If you install the wrong program onto your computer, you could lose everything to a devastating malware attack.

But I can help! In under 5 minutes, you can be guaranteed to be free of malware.

I downloaded, installed, and ran each piece of anti-malware software through a series of security tests to find the best anti-malware products of 2020.

Here’s what I found out.

Here’s a summary of the best anti-malware products of 2020:

  • 1.🥇 Norton — #1 pick for 2020. Perfect detection rates, fast malware removal, guaranteed virus protection, password manager, VPN, secure storage, parental controls.
  • 2.🥈 TotalAV — High-performance malware scanner, VPN, safe browsing, optimization tools, password manager.
  • 3.🥉 BullGuard — Dedicated anti-malware engine, fast scanning, real-time protection, great for PC gamers.
  • 4. Bitdefender — Fastest scanning engine, device optimization, privacy protections.
  • 5. McAfee — Well-known antivirus brand, customization options, VPN.

Get the #1 anti-malware pick for 2020 (Norton)

How to Find the Perfect Anti-Malware Software for Your Device

Firstly, “anti-malware” software is not the same thing as “antivirus” software.

An antivirus only protects against viruses, but an anti-malware protects against ALL malware — viruses, spyware, ransomware, and any other software designed to damage your system.

That said, most internet security companies use the terms “antivirus” and “anti-malware” interchangeably, so when they talk about the strength of their antivirus, they’re usually talking about the strength of their anti-malware engine.

These companies also offer tons of extra features designed to heighten and optimize your overall cybersecurity — things like a virtual private network (VPN) and a password manager. While these features are nice to have, they’re only good if you need them.

Otherwise, they will weigh down your system and cause more problems than they solve.

There are 5 things you need to look for when finding the best anti-malware software:

  1. Level of protection
  2. Included security features
  3. Ease of use
  4. Technical support
  5. Overall value

And here’s what I did to help you:

  1. I tested each anti-malware engine for detection rates, types of malware covered, and overall strength of the protection in all the anti-malware products I could find.
  2. I used every single feature offered by each product to see if it functioned properly and added to the overall security of the program.
  3. I made sure that each product was simple, easy to understand, and intuitive for a wide range of users, both technical and non-technical.
  4. I contacted each product’s customer/technical support teams to see if they were able to resolve both common and uncommon problems.
  5. And I assessed whether or not each product provided a good value, or if it was way overpriced and unreliable.

Ready? Let’s go!

🥇1. Norton 360 — Best Anti-Malware Software of 2020

Norton 360 is by far the best anti-malware program I’ve tested.

It detected all of the malware samples on my PC and instantly blocked all of the malware files when I tried to launch them. Overall, Norton is fast, lightweight, and secure.

Apart from guaranteed malware protection, Norton 360 also comes with:

  • Parental controls.
  • Unlimited VPN.
  • 50 GB cloud storage.
  • Password manager.
  • And a lot more…

The parental controls are particularly amazing — making Norton 360 not only great for individual users, but for parents and families, too.

I also really like the VPN, which has pretty good speeds, a pretty good range of server locations, and unlimited bandwidth usage.

There are three tiers of pricing in Norton’s international 360 range — Standard, Deluxe, and Premium. The Standard plan only covers 1 device. The Deluxe plan is where you get parental controls, and it comes with 5 licenses. And the Premium plan gives you parental controls and 10 licenses.

In the USA, instead of Premium, you can choose one of three advanced plans — LifeLock Select/Advantage/Ultimate Plus — all with Norton’s LifeLock identity protection and credit monitoring, hundreds of GBs of cloud storage, and up to a million dollars in identity theft insurance.

The Verdict:

Norton 360’s malware protection is by far the best anti-malware software available in 2020. Each product in Norton’s 360 package has been designed to perfection — there’s a strong malware engine, amazing parental controls, and tons of cloud storage. Norton’s world-class protection is a great choice for anyone needing a powerful, all-around anti-malware program. And best of all, there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it out risk-free.

Download Norton Now

🥈2. TotalAV — Best Anti-Malware with System Optimization

TotalAV might be a young company, but its powerful malware fighting capabilities have helped it earn its high reputation in the cybersecurity world. TotalAV’s scanning engine runs extremely fast, with perfect accuracy and detection rates.

Apart from full malware and virus protection, TotalAV also comes with many extra features like:

  • Device optimization tools.
  • Safe browsing extension.
  • Password manager.
  • VPN (with unlimited data).

I was amazed at how capable TotalAV was in protecting my computer against my test viruses. It scored top marks — on par with other top brands like Norton — and TotalAV’s real-time protection engine was one of the fastest and most secure anti-malware defenses I’d tested.

TotalAV is a little bit expensive for the full package, but with a $90 off discount for the first year, it’s one of the cheapest first-year anti-malware products on the market.

Bottom Line:

TotalAV is a simple, strong, and easy-to-use antivirus. It provides some of the most comprehensive anti-malware protection available, and it comes with some top-notch extra features. It consistently scores well in anti-malware testing, and it comes with one of the strongest malware scanning engines on the market. If you need a secure and easy-to-use anti-malware program with great extra features, TotalAV is a good option.

Download TotalAV Now

🥉3. BullGuard — Best Anti-Malware with Powerful Firewall (and Game Booster)

BullGuard has been fighting malware for decades, and it’s still one of the best in 2020.

BullGuard has:

  • Perfect detection rates.
  • Powerful firewall.
  • Advanced customization settings.
  • Optimization settings for gamers.

I was particularly impressed by BullGuard’s firewall — not only blocking all of my test malware intrusions, but also showing me a searchable list of all the connections being made to my network. I also love BullGuard’s Game Booster feature which significantly increased my computer’s performance every time I started to play a game.

There are a few different BullGuard packages to choose from. The cheapest is BullGuard Antivirus, which is basically just the anti-malware scanner and the Game Booster (and no firewall). This plan is only good if you’re a gamer on a budget.

The best-value plan is BullGuard Internet Security — it comes with the firewall, parental controls, cloud backup, and PC optimization tools.

BullGuard’s Premium Protection plan adds on a Wi-Fi network scanner and identity protection.

Bottom Line:

BullGuard has one of the best anti-malware engines out there. Aside from the excellent anti-malware protection, BullGuard’s Game Booster is great — it significantly speeds up PC performance while gaming. While the cheapest version of BullGuard might be appealing if you only need basic anti-malware protection, the Internet Security plan is significantly better due to the addition of the firewall (and all the other stuff). All BullGuard plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Download BullGuard Now

Bitdefender — Fastest Anti-Malware Engine

Bitdefender‘s artificial intelligence and machine learning-based anti-malware engine detected 100% of the malware files on my test computer.

It managed to detect, block, and remove all malware faster than any other scanner I tested — almost instantly placing files in quarantine and deleting them from my PC.

Bitdefender also includes:

  • One-click device optimization.
  • Internet protection tools.
  • Gaming and movie modes.
  • Microphone and webcam breach protection.

Bitdefender is also by far one of the easiest anti-malware tools that I tested. I love the one-click device optimizer — it makes speeding up your PC super easy, even for beginner users.

While I really like the included VPN, the price of the Premium Security package (which includes Bitdefender’s unlimited VPN) is pretty expensive in comparison to Norton’s 360 Premium package — which includes a VPN for cheaper.

However, Bitdefender’s Total Security package is a really great value for the money, and it provides some of the best malware protection around.

Bottom Line:

Bitdefender is the fastest and one of the strongest anti-malware engines I tested. I love the additional features like the one-click device optimization tool. While some of Bitdefender’s premium packages can get a little expensive, its Total Security package is a really great value, and there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee on all plans.

Download Bitdefender Now

McAfee — Best Anti-Malware Customization Options

McAfee is a well-known cybersecurity brand — easy to use, highly secure, and extremely customizable.

McAfee’s real-time protection anti-malware engine is one of the best in the industry, though I personally feel like their scanning engine is a bit slow, taking several hours to scan all of my files. Still, when I tested it, it scored in the top-tier — along with all the others on this list.

The highest-priced McAfee plan — Total Protection — comes with performance optimization tools, a password manager, encrypted storage, and an ad-blocking web extension. USA users get the added benefit of identity theft protection.

That said, I’m not a huge fan of the interface, and I don’t think that some of the extra features offer enough value.

Other brands on this list — like Norton — offer more value, but McAfee is a good choice if you want a versatile antivirus which couples great protection with high levels of customization.

Bottom Line:

McAfee is an industry-leading antivirus provider, and it has been securing devices for decades. McAfee’s Total Protection package offers a full-suite anti-malware engine, capable of detecting and removing all kinds of cyber threats. If you’re in need of a versatile antivirus, McAfee offers a great balance between protection and customization.

Download McAfee Now

Comparison of the Best Anti-Malware Software

Product Malware Scanner with Machine Learning Free Version Cloud-Based Scanning Option Identity Theft Protection Parental Controls
1.🥇Norton Yes No No Yes (USA only) Yes
2.🥈TotalAV No No Yes Yes Yes
3.🥉BullGuard Yes No No Yes (Worldwide) Yes
4. Bitdefender Yes Yes (after trial) Yes Yes Yes
5. McAfee Yes No Yes Yes (USA only) Yes

Anti-Malware Software — Frequently Asked Questions

😈 What’s the difference between viruses and malware?

Malware means any malicious software designed to damage or compromise a computer, device, or network. It sometimes goes by other names and can take on a lot of different forms, but if it’s software designed for some kind of malicious attack on a computer system or network, it’s malware.

Examples include:

  • Trojan Horse. Malware that tricks you into installing it.
  • Ransomware. Locks your device or turns your files into random strings of code until you pay a ransom.
  • Spyware. Logs your keystrokes and device activity, and it steals your personal information and passwords.

Viruses are one type of malware. Computer viruses act like organic viruses — they infect a system and then multiply. They do this by inserting malicious code into the various pieces of software installed on that system.

Both viruses and malware can be removed and protected against with a high-quality antivirus/anti-malware engine like Norton or TotalAV.

👩🏼‍💻 What’s the difference between antivirus software and anti-malware software?

Antivirus software specializes in fighting viruses. Viruses still represent a significant risk in today’s computing world, especially on Windows, and that’s why an antivirus is still a necessary part of a person’s cybersecurity toolkit.

But viruses are no longer the only threat. The best anti-malware software detects and destroys a much broader range of malicious applications. Full protection requires antivirus and anti-malware software working together to fight off attacks.

It’s also worth noting that because the term “antivirus” is well-known among consumers, many brands associate this term with their product despite actually offering much broader protection. You need to look into the details of which features each program provides.

The best antivirus/anti-malware software of 2020 is Norton 360.

😀 What’s the best anti-malware software for Windows?

All of the programs on this list offer great protection for Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10.

I particularly like Norton’s Windows program, and Bitdefender’s lightweight scanning engine is great for slower Windows computers which are low on hard drive space.

📋 How do I know if my computer is infected with malware?

Signs that malware is present on a device can include:

  • Pop-up ads.
  • Error messages.
  • Performance issues.

Malware can have many effects, including:

  • Logging your keystrokes and taking screenshots of what you’re doing online.
  • Stealing your credit card information and account login details.
  • Physically damaging your device or making your private documents inaccessible.

If you notice any of these signs, download a program like Norton or Malwarebytes immediately and do a full system scan.

🤔 Does anti-malware software replace an antivirus?

Not necessarily. Many antiviruses only protect against viruses, and they don’t offer protection against other kinds of malware. But an antivirus like Norton or TotalAV offers full anti-malware protection.

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