Best Choice: Bitdefender $39.95+/Mac/year
Also Great: Kaspersky $79 (one-time fee)
Honorable Mention: Norton Antivirus $19.99/year (subscription)
With hundreds of antivirus solutions coming up in the market nowadays, it is difficult to choose the best. However, the basic features of an antivirus program remain the same. It should detect and neutralize the latest threats you may encounter online or from removable devices quickly and effectively without affecting your device’s performance. The best antivirus software puts a wall around all actions you perform on your phone or computer and most importantly, keeps your privacy safe.
In this review, we are comparing Kaspersky, Bitdefender and Norton 2020, all of which were given a perfect score in July 2019 by both AV-TEST and AV-Compare against over 3000 latest zero-time threats and 100% against 3400 widespread threats. Bitdefender has a great offer this year with a coupon code for first-time buyers to buy Total Security for just $44.99 instead of 89.99 making it quite crazy considering the license covers five devices, an additional $10 will get you a license for ten devices. Kaspersky Total Security and the New Norton Deluxe 360 also come with a bunch of upgrades that we will look at in the review.
There is no single antivirus that can be called perfect because threats and bad guys change tactics every day. This is why an antivirus that changes with the times is the best security provider to invest in. For those looking to invest in a free plan with standard protection, Kaspersky and Bitdefender are the best options as they both offer a free version although it may not do much beyond cleaning your files for identified threats. If you need the best protection for your PC, tablet, or phone, you will have to purchase a paid service.
Naturally, each company will try to convince you to buy their most expensive plan, but it may not be worth it. Bitdefender, Kaspersky and Norton have all made powerful upgrades in their 2020 packages and all of them are good for useful for single device owners and families. There is, however, something for everyone in these three anti-malware plans. Here is a detailed review of each antivirus and how its 2020 packages will work for you.
Bitdefender Antivirus 2020
Bitdefender has been known for long as the antivirus for the modern family with ease of use and high speed. It is an easy to use package for anyone, including non-tech-savvy users with little disturbance on your device once activated. You can view scan results, activate scans, lock devices or simply examine threats on each device from your Bitdefender central portal once you buy a license.
Bitdefender Total Security 2020 is probably the most upgraded antivirus package in 2020 featuring a new AI-supported parental control, an enhanced VPN and an anti-tracker browser extension and a super firewall. This combination not only makes Bitdefender one of the most privacy-conscious antiviruses in the market but also make it one of the safest antiviruses for browsing.
Bitdefender total security package remains in the top 3 of the most purchased packages in America and Europe, which is why it received the greatest boost in 2020. Bitdefender antivirus still offers cheaper packages for Windows devices, namely internet security and Antivirus plus. They also have the most boosted free antivirus in the mid-range category. The lower tier packages don’t have excellent device optimization and antivirus plus also doesn’t include parental control just like their 2019 packages.
New Features in Bitdefender Antivirus 2020
The New Bitdefender parental control is more than just a track and watch assistant. It comes with a premium subscription option that can be used for regular tracking, screen time setting, mouse and webcam tracking as well as malicious action alerts. It doesn’t give the parent access to the child’s images and videos like other parental control tools but always notifies you if there is suspicious activity.
It is supported by an AI package and a cloud computing service that screens your child’s messages, microphone and browsing as well as tracking images. It has more red alerts than other parental control packages, including anti-bullying tracking. It will tell you if your child could be a victim of bullying, the source of the activity and give you an option to block some links remotely.
Bitdefender includes a VPN for all their paid packages supported by Anchor Free Hotspot Elite. The VPN is fast and useful in bypassing geofenced websites such as Netflix and Hulu. It is relatively faster than most VPN packages in the market, although the traffic is capped at 200mb per day, you have to invest in a higher package for unlimited traffic. The VPN is sufficient for safe, regular browsing by home computers and telephones. You have to install the VPN extension separately.
This is one addition that has boosted Bitdefender ratings tremendously, especially for cookie sensitive users. It is a browser extension that prevents websites from tracking and storing your browsing data. It is stealth; hence many websites won’t lock you out when it is activated although you may have to turn it off to access some websites.
Microphone and webcam monitor
This is a great security feature to keep snooping apps and malicious links from listening and watching in on you. It tells you when any apps or links with access to your microphone or webcam are behaving suspiciously. It sometimes prevents apps from accessing them unless you authorize manually.
This feature has been around for some time now, but it has received a great improvement in 2020. Bitdefender Total Security Safe Files now allows you to select the most important folders and files on your device to be secured by Safe Files. The feature blocks any unauthorized access by other users or apps, preventing loss to hackers, ransomware or unauthorized access. The 2020 Safe Files is easier to customize than previous versions.
Bitdefender full scans take 5 minutes or less on the phone and less than 30 minutes on a laptop or desktop computer, and you can still use your device throughout the process. Smooth running operation across all devices is the reason why Bitdefender remains a bestseller antivirus. The high speed is achieved through a feature called Bitdefender Photon that allows Bitdefender to map and adapt itself to the software and hardware configuration of your device allowing it to optimize speeds by sticking to available system resources without interfering with your activities.
Bitdefender Total Security 2020 is a simplified application that takes up little space when installed putting less load on the RAM and the processor. It runs a full scan on the device when installed then stays in the background coming alive only when you install new software, insert an external device or download something online. The only features that remain active are the essential policing extensions and the ones you choose to keep active.
It also ensures that your device is working at its optimum through the Bitdefender Device Optimization that scans hardware and software to ensure they are up to date and working perfectly. It includes a One-click optimizer; disk clean-up and Startup Optimizer. The startup optimizer is especially great as it spans out the programs that come alive when you start your device in such a way that nothing slows your device at startup
This is the most attractive aspect of all Bitdefender anti-malware packages. Bitdefender doesn’t wait for threats to hit your device hard before acting on them; it scans loopholes on your device and the behaviour of apps and links for any suspicious activity. The Bitdefender threat database is updated in real-time, meaning the updated protection is reflected on your app every time your device is online.
After installing Bitdefender on your device, it scans all preexisting threats and neutralizes them. The antivirus then does a threat assessment on your system and gives you recommendations on risks discovered in your apps and files and the actions you can take to stay safe. Bitdefender then turns into a shield against the bad guys by assessing every network you connect to, every WIFI hotspot, Removable device, site URLs and even secures online banking through safe pay by giving you a secure tab to shop safely.
Behavioural threat assessment allows Bitdefender to neutralize some threats which are yet to be logged into the system. It blocks out botnets and phishing attempts before they occur. Bitdefender is also a powerful shield against Ransomware as safe files blocks any app from accessing and making changes such as encryption of files on your device.
Bitdefender 2020 has retained its simple interface that is easy to navigate on both phones and computers. Once installed, all the key protection components are activated in the background reducing the number of times you are prompted for actions. The dashboard features five key actions including Scan, VPN, Safepay and any other actions you may intend to carry out with a simple click.
Bitdefender also allows you to install on all devices by simply sharing a link from Bitdefender central to all the devices you intend to install the anti-malware programs on. Once activated, there is hardly any action required from the users as the antivirus operates in pilot mode. Minimal notifications and upgrade requests make it the best antivirus for a busy user.
Browsing and privacy safety are the main upgrades Bitdefender has done in 2020. Bitdefender Total Security 2020 has a layer of protection for every interaction your device has with apps, websites and networks protecting you before you access any of them. When you get online, the first step Bitdefender takes is to scan the network security for any suspicious behaviour by apps, links and or other devices on your network. Bitdefender firewall has one of the market’s highest standards because it uses a behavioural scan to identify and combat threats.
When you log in to your browser, Bitdefender Web security sets in scanning all the links that show up in your search results to ensure you land on safe websites. Bitdefender is well customized to protect Chrome and Firefox as well as Safari. You can also configure it easily to any other browser. It also neutralizes known harmful websites and advises you when a website is behaving suspiciously. Bitdefender is also equipped with a powerful anti-phishing scanner and a spam filter that further help keep the bad guys at bay. These web security features are fitted right into your app, so you don’t have to install extensions to access them.
Bitdefender 2020 paid packages also come with VPN and an anti tracker which secure your privacy when online. The other feature that makes browsing safe with Bitdefender is Safe pay which gives you a secure window to shop and perform transactions online. Bitdefender password manager also helps you generate strong passwords and store your credit card information safely online.
Getting an antivirus that can track your laptop computer or phone, especially when stolen is an essential addition. Bitdefender anti-theft comes in handy as it helps you locate the device via GPS, lock or wipe it. You can also activate an alarm in Android devices.
This feature is only available in the Bitdefender central button, so you have to get online somehow in case you lose your device. It is, however, helpful if you lose your phone around the house regularly or when your device is stolen. If you activate anti-theft on your Android, Bitdefender goes ahead to snap the face of the person attempting to unlock your phone, making it easy to locate.
. Zero lag time when performing a full scan
. Access to the most premium features even with lower packages
. Bitdefender central makes it easy to activate all actions on any device remotely
. It limits disturbance when the device is in use
. Access to premium parental control with cyberbullying security
. Real-time threat update for better protection
. Parental control retains a child’s privacy.
. Its macOS protection has limited features
. You have to pay extra for premium parental control.
Kaspersky Antivirus 2020
Kaspersky has been here for over 30 years and now serves a market of nearly 0.5 billion people making it by far one of the most widely used antivirus software in the whole world. Major upgrades by competitors in 2019 made it seem rather traditional as it retained features like back up and restore in the place of mobile security. Its 2020 packages are a major revolution as well with lots of updated features and a stronger suite of threat identification. It also scored 100% in detecting zero time threats and widespread threats in the July 2019 AV-Test making it the greatest competitor to Bitdefender.
Kaspersky also comes into the market with three main suites, namely Kaspersky total security, Internet security and antivirus all with a 30 day free trial that you can try out. With Kaspersky, you lose more features as you go for the lower tiers as all the features are concentrated in Kaspersky Total Security. However, unlike bit defender, the cheapest package which is antivirus only still retain system optimization labelled as performance. The middle tier package, Internet security doesn’t have parental control, file backup and a password manager but it is basically the best middle tier package for any device owner as it contains everything a PC may need.
Kaspersky is also priced competitively, just like Bitdefender, which is why it is a very powerful competitor. Each package`s license code allows you to install on three devices. Total security is the only package that can be installed on both Mac and iOS. Internet security, however, can be installed on your Mac and PC, which is better than Bitdefender. Antivirus is entry-level protection for PCs only.
New Features in Kaspersky Antivirus 2020
Kaspersky focused mostly on the interface, making their app easier on your device and also easier to operate. Here are the key changes;
This is basically Kaspersky’s parental control feature previously called protection for kids which now delivers all premium features at no extra charge making Kaspersky more admirable as a family antivirus software. It has lots of improved features including compatibility with almost all social media platforms, content blocker, device battery tracker and professional opinion guidance.
It still retains the traditional options of GPS tracking for your device and screen time settings. You can also fence off a region beyond which you don`t want your child to go. Many people consider it too strict, although some parents agree that it is the best parental control feature.
The Kaspersky VPN was always powerful although it had issues slowing down your browsing on chrome and Firefox. It has now been improved to integrate better with all mainstream web browsers without adversely reducing your speed. It is still slow, especially when connecting via the US server, but the speed is sufficient for regular browsing if you need to browse privately. The traffic cap on the VPN also increases from 200mb to 300mb if you register your device on My Kaspersky.
Previously, Kaspersky only told you which apps on your computer had access to the internet. The new antivirus in 2020 now monitors all the apps and devices on your network and tells you if a new device has joined your network. It is the best tool for managing your home network, especially for IOT connected homes.
Kaspersky for Windows and Android both scored 10/10 with Av-Compare 2020 for optimization. This is because Kaspersky made their app mostly light, allowing it to load in nearly half the time of their 2019 app. All packages of Kaspersky 2019 also come with the performance optimizer that ensures high-speed operation.
When installed, Kaspersky also performs a full scan of your device then works silently in the background reducing pressure on your system. Its VPN is a major concern for browsing speed, although you don’t really have to activate it all the time as its privacy features work perfectly in ensuring browsing safety.
AV-Test also hailed Kaspersky 2020 for detecting all zero-day threats. Its privacy features were also able to detect non-listed phishing sites. The main advantage with the Kaspersky threat identification is the fact that it is included in all packages, including the free package. It acts as privacy police identifying any suspicious activities by apps or URL protocols.
The 2020 antivirus key services such as network licenses have also been optimized to operate in the HTTPS protocol, which makes browsing safer. Online payment is also super safe with Kaspersky as it opens a whole new browser for you to transact online away from the threats that may be in your parent web browser. It also includes a free 2GB back up for your most sensitive information.
Kaspersky 2020 is much easier to operate both remotely and directly from the device compared to its 2019 application. On the app, all quick actions are readily displayed on eight tabs, including Scanning, Safe Money, database update and password manager. You can also customize the top features you need by simply clicking the settings tab.
My Kaspersky allows you to register all your devices. Kaspersky has also added a new app called Kaspersky Security Cloud that makes remote tracing and execution of tasks from your Kaspersky account easy. It is a near similar version to Bitdefender central but doesn’t allow you to scan or view the threat status of each device.
Web Security has always been a plus for Kaspersky thanks to its premium anti-phishing service and private browsing features. Kaspersky scored 10/10 in the detection of non-listed phishing sites, screen lock threats and botnet URLs. Its Safe Money application is also invaluable in internet banking as it takes you toa whole private browser when shopping, banking, or making online payments.
Kaspersky has also made major integration upgrades to make its features more compatible with HTTPS security protocols on websites across mainstream browsers, especially Firefox. It also includes a pre-installed anti tracker that prevents your data from being collected by sites. It doesn’t need you to install an extension either.
Unlike Bitdefender, whose anti-theft extends to laptops, Kaspersky only offers anti-theft services for Android devices. It also allows you to trace the device via GPS, lock, wipe or activate an alarm. Lack of Anti-Theft features for laptops may be a downside for some, but the android service works perfectly in case of device loss.
. Light apps run faster on the device
. Perfect score in threat detection
. Premium parental control at no extra charge
. Safe Money gives you a secure browser for online banking
. Easy to navigate
. No Anti-theft for laptops
. Its VPN slows browsing speed.
Norton 360 2020
Norton 360 introduced in 2020 has been received with mixed reactions by many Norton users and fans on reddit and other platforms, although everyone agrees that Norton has made the basics cheaper. It also comes with three main packages, namely Norton 360 standard, which can be installed on one PC and one MAC, iOS or Android. It basically carries all essential features of Norton protection except parental control which is very impressive for an entry-level package.
Norton also has an impressive cloud back up additions including 10GB for their standard option, 50GB for Deluxe 360 and 100GB for LifeLock Select. The most exciting feature of Norton 2020 is the standardized pricing for identity theft features. It also includes a refund option within 60 days and virus protection promise where they will pay you back if viruses attack your device and their experts are unable to clean it up.
In this review, we have focused on Norton Deluxe 360 because it is the best Mod-range package from Norton basically carrying everything included in Bitdefender Total Security and Kaspersky Total Security. Norton, however, includes more family finance protection features in their LifeLock select and family packages.
LifeLock select which is costlier includes credit monitoring. Norton 360 Ultimate can be installed on an unlimited number of devices and also includes court records scanning, Fictitious Identity monitoring and credit card and bank activity alerts making it the vastest family antivirus package.
Norton is an exceptionally light antivirus package although it’s Android app tends to affect device speed when all features are activated. Norton full scans also take longer than any of the software discussed here although the scans are more detailed, making them more effective at rooting out embedded viruses. PC and Mac apps are, however, faster because they adapt to the device hardware perfectly and run in the background.
Norton also uses a two-layer firewall which is as close to military-grade as you can get without affecting your browsing speed. Their VPN, which has unlimited traffic, unlike Kaspersky and Bitdefender, slows your browsing speed significantly by up to half.
Norton uses a behavioural scanner called Sonar to identify all kinds of threats, both online and offline. Norton 360 identified all widespread threats thrown at it by AV-TEST in December 2019 matching Bitdefender and Kaspersky in that aspect. It, however, scored 99.7 in detecting zero-day threats which is lower than the first two companies. The main concern for many users is that Norton doesn’t automatically scan external devices for malware once they are inserted. It, however, monitors all traffic to your device, including email attachments, downloads, URLs and app behaviour.
The most attractive feature of Norton Deluxe is identity protection that keeps your information safe. Identity monitoring tells you any time your details are used anywhere on the web. It has dark web monitoring and powerful online threat protection that prevents your information from landing into unsafe hands. Norton 360 LifeLock also includes credit monitoring which tells you if anyone uses your information to open a credit card account.
In our assessment, Norton came out as a rather tough app to navigate if you have not used Norton before. Performing a scan alone requires you to navigate past three different tabs which can be rather daunting. The app opens to eight main tabs for the quick primary actions which can also be customized, although each has lots of specific actions. It is still easy to understand in a short time.
Parental control is also simplified with all features accessible from one place once you have installed the app on other devices. There is, however, little you can do in terms of scanning or evaluating threats on other devices from the central account. Their online service, however, allows you to access all backup content from any device anywhere in the world. You can also monitor devices, scan and asses their threats from the online account.
Norton scored 100% for protecting against all known phishing threats. It’s Online Protection also comes alive for anti-tracking and link filtering to ensure that your search results are free of botnets and phishing sites. The online threat protection also blocks out fraudsters when banking online by creating a virtual window to shop through just like Safe Money offered by Kaspersky.
Norton also adds dark web monitoring to their suite for extra safety of your data online. They also offer one of the best passwords managing applications in the market that helps secure your important credentials, credit card information and passwords in a secure Volt. It also works in your browser filling in the data safely when you subscribe on websites or shop online. It even asses each password and singles out weak ones.
. Lots of back up space
. Perfect scores in online protection
. Powerful two-level firewall
. The cheapest package has all the essential packages
. Unlimited VPN traffic
. The VPN reduces your browsing speed
. It Doesn’t automatically scan removable devices for viruses
. It is harder to navigate for first-time users.
Bitdefender is simply the lightest antivirus software in the market. Its Photon adaptation feature is designed to use device resources economically allowing you to use your device while the app works in the background. It also has the fastest full scans on PCs and Macs. Kaspersky ties with Norton in terms of device speed but their scans take longer. Norton is the bulkiest antivirus package for any device with more lag time on PCs, Mac and Android than both Kaspersky and Bitdefender.
Kaspersky and Norton parental control are very typical, allowing you to monitor content, searches, location and apps as well as setting screen time. Kaspersky, however, goes further to give you professional advice on what to do, just in case you need that. They are, however, considered snoopy as they both give the parent access to the child’s photos and messages which may be rather private.
Bitdefender has the best Parental control features, but they come at an extra fee. It includes an AI support that monitors the child’s device for cyberbullying activities and also monitors the camera and microphone to see if anyone is watching your child and also if your child is using inappropriate language. It, however, limits the parent’s access to messages, websites and some searches and not photos and videos.
Features Per Package
Norton includes all the features you need in their entry-level package Norton 360 standard and also allows you to install one license key on a PC and another on a MAC, Android or iPhone. All their primary features are included in Norton 360 Deluxe which has the same price range as Bitdefender and Kaspersky Total Security.
Norton 360 Deluxe also gives you up to 5 devices across all platforms while Bitdefender and Kaspersky only give you three. As you go for the family package with Norton, you get more identity and credit monitoring features as well as more back up space and unlimited devices. Kaspersky and Bitdefender only increase the number of devices.
The most important feature of an antivirus package is its ability to detect and block threats to your personal information and device. While extra features that come with each package are important, you need to evaluate whether you need each feature before investing in any package.
In this review, we highly Recommend Bitdefender as the best antivirus for PCs and Android devices. Its Total security package is loaded with everything you need for both a personal computer and family devices.
Kaspersky also provides a powerful defense, but it is more focused on PCs which may not be perfect if you need a package for all devices in your home. You have to pay extra for Mac and iOS. Finally, Norton came in as our best package for a tech conscious family. If you need protection for your devices and to keep your information safe online, especially if multiple members of your family use it, the Norton will come in handy. Their prices, however, increase fast as you go up, which is why we recommended their most optimally priced package with most features. We also recommend getting a package that you are willing to keep paying for in future.