Shopping for the best anti-malware software suite can seem like something of a minefield. The importance of reliable malware removal cannot be overstated, given the growing threat posed to every connected device worldwide that do not have internet security software tools with anti malware or separate anti malware solutions.
You’re effectively putting your safety in the hands of an intelligent piece of coding, so you need to be confident it’s the best anti-malware package for the job. If you have an antivirus with VPN, all the better.
We have dedicated antivirus for Mac reviews in case you aren't a Windows user.
3 Top Best Anti Malware
McAfee Total Protection is intended to protect your business against impending attacks, viruses, malware, and other online threats that continue to bring companies down.
It is a light software that will not lag your device once it installs. This also improves the boot time of your device system.
Norton 360 Deluxe is one of the only packages of its kind available that has consistently detected and blocked 100% of malicious files when launched. It’s the ideal choice for families, shared households and businesses, with a variety of options available to cover multiple devices.
Kaspersky continues to be a name that raises eyebrows across the cybersecurity community. With its somewhat checkered and questionable past, Kaspersky often goes entirely overlooked by everyday household and business users alike.
Finding a decent malware scanner to both detect and remove malware isn’t particularly difficult. By contrast, narrowing things down to the very best malware protection package is something else entirely.
In this fully independent overview, I’ll be taking a look at a selection of the best malware removal tools on the market, while covering the basics on why reliable malware detection and removal is essential.
Anti-Malware Software - Why You Need It
As for why you need anti-malware software, it’s a case of giving yourself the best possible chance of protecting yourself from as many threats as possible. What’s important to remember is that while anti-malware and anti-virus packages are equally important, they’re by no means the same thing.
Malware is an umbrella term that encompasses all types of rogue software and anything ‘implanted’ on a system with malicious intent in mind. The two most common examples of which being spyware – used to monitor actions and steel personal information and ransomware – used to hijack systems and lock out the user until they pay a ransom.
The simple fact of the matter being that if you don’t put up a robust fight against these kinds of attacks, you leave yourself wide open. This is also why you need the best malware remover software to safeguard your system.
What Is Anti-Malware?
As the name suggests, malware removal tools are designed to both detect and eliminate all types of malware from traditional computers, laptops and mobile devices alike. Common and rare forms of spyware, adware, and worms are automatically detected and dealt with accordingly, before they have a chance to pose a threat to your system or you personally. We recommend checking out our best anti spyware lineup to date.
The best malware software is the type that automatically detects malware the moment it attempts to gain access to your system. This way, it is wiped out long before it can do any damage. Some malware software offers real-time coverage, while other software suites perform periodic scans to find and deal with potential issues on your computer.
In order for malware software to be truly effective, it needs to protect you from threats in the first place – not simply deal with them once they have already compromised your safety and security.
What’s the Difference Between Viruses and Malware?
The primary difference between malware and virus software is the way in which they focus on two different types of threats. A computer virus works similarly to an organic virus, infecting a system through the insertion of malicious code before spreading and multiplying. Viruses are one of many types of malware, which can be quickly and effectively detected and eradicated with a high-quality software suite.
The term ‘malware’ refers to any type of malicious software that’s been designed specifically to compromise or damage a computer, a network or a device of any kind. While a virus may corrupt data and/or render a system entirely inoperable, malware is typically used as a basis to conduct criminal activities.
A few common examples of malware include the following:
Viruses and malware therefore technically fall within the same category of computer threats, though are quite different in nature.
What’s the Difference Between Antivirus Software and Anti-Malware Software?
Given the above, it stands to reason that anti-malware software and anti-virus software will also be quite different in nature. There are some packages that provide robust protection against both, though many are designed exclusively with viruses or malware in mind.
In any case, it is important to ensure your system is protected from malware and viruses with equal effectiveness. All connected devices face a constant risk of being infected by viruses and malware, so you cannot afford to drop your guard for even a moment.
Unless your antivirus suite specifically states that it provides total malware protection (or vice-versa), you have to assume it doesn’t.
Best Anti Malware Reviews
With the basics of malware and its prevention taken care of, we’ll now be taking a look at 9 of the highest-rated anti-malware software suites available on the market right now.
A consistent front runner at the top of the table, McAfee has been leading the charge for robust and reliable security for some time. Enhanced and improved enormously over the years, the latest McAfee combines top-shelf security with an intuitive user interface and endless scope for customization.
What sets McAfee Total Protection apart from most of its rivals is its exceptional real-time protection, which is considered by many to be the best of any security software available.
It consistently scores the highest marks in independent laboratory tests and also features a wide variety of performance optimization tools, ensuring your system runs smoothly while it protects it.
From identity theft protection to encrypted storage to password management to exceptional ad-blocking, McAfee Total Protection ticks all the right boxes from top to bottom. There’s a cheaper version available than the Total Protection package, but doesn’t represent nearly as good overall value for money.
I’d personally like to see the dashboard and interface simplified a little further for non-power-users, but it’s by no means difficult to get to grips with.
McAfee Total Protection is a premium anti-malware and anti-virus suite that provides all the protection you will ever need and is continuously updated for the latest threats. When considering the comprehensiveness of the coverage it provides, it also represents unbeatable value for money and is well worth checking out.
Equally rated and recommended by cyber security experts worldwide, Norton 360 Deluxe is an exceptional anti-virus suite that outperforms most comparable packages.
It has a sophisticated malware detection system that utilizes artificial intelligence, in order to protect devices from all types of known and new viruses, spyware, ransomware and so on.
Put to the test, Norton 360 Deluxe is one of the only packages of its kind available that has consistently detected and blocked 100% of malicious files when launched. Norton 360 Deluxe takes things a step further than most, bringing additional features into the mix like cloud backups, a privacy manager, parental control and even a secure VPN to keep you safe when using public networks.
It’s also the ideal choice for families, shared households and businesses, with a variety of options available to cover multiple devices. In the United States, there are currently three plans available, covering one, five or 10 devices simultaneously. There’s also the LifeLock feature that’s worth considering as an optional extra, which provides robust protection against identity theft and keeps an eye on your credit.
From top to bottom, Norton 360 Deluxe goes beyond the basics to offer the kind of all-round protection few comparable packages come close to. It may not be the cheapest anti-malware solution you can buy, but in terms of value for money is no less than extraordinary. Something that counts double if you go for a multi-device package on a longer-term subscription.
Kaspersky continues to be a name that raises eyebrows across the cybersecurity community. With its somewhat checkered and questionable past, Kaspersky often goes entirely overlooked by everyday household and business users alike.
What’s the big deal? For the most part, it comes down to the fact that there’s still a Federal block in place that prohibits US government agencies from using Kaspersky products.
All of which stems from allegations of connections between Kaspersky and the government of Russia, which it’s worth pointing out at this juncture were never substantiated.
Kaspersky has since relocated to a new HQ outside Russia and is working hard to distance itself from government ties of any kind. A statement from Kaspersky was recently published on CNET stating:
"Kaspersky Lab has no ties to any government, and the company has never, nor will ever, engage in cyber offensive activities. Kaspersky Lab maintains that no public evidence of any wrongdoing has been presented by the US government, and that the US government's actions against Kaspersky Lab were unconstitutional."
On the performance front, Kaspersky consistently scores the highest-possible marks in all aspects of malware and virus detection. It’s also comparatively affordable and brings several useful features and functionalities into the mix.
In terms of hard evidence, there’s nothing to directly indicate that Kaspersky has ever been involved in anything untoward. Allegations are one thing, but facts and evidence are something else entirely. Still, the fact that the Federal ban on Kaspersky’s products across the entire US government is still in place inevitably leaves a sour taste in the mouths of many. It’s therefore a judgment call with this one – I’ll leave you to make your own mind up about Kaspersky!
A household name you don’t have to be a computer software guru to be familiar with, Malwarebytes has been strutting its stuff with pride for decades.
It was one of the first dedicated anti-malware software solutions of its kind at the time of its release, and remains one of the best money can buy right now. The free version of Malwarebytes continues to impress, but doesn’t offer comprehensive enough coverage to gain the recommendation of experts.
One of the key selling points of Malwarebytes has always been its versatility.
Along with being comprehensively easy to use and remarkably intuitive, it’s also powerful and customizable enough to win over power-users. From intelligent behavior-analysis to rock-solid real-time protection from almost every threat imaginable, Malwarebytes gets the job done with no drama whatsoever.
Seriously – this is the kind of anti-malware software you can get to grips within a matter of minutes, with no prior knowledge or experience required. It’s also a comparatively lightweight solution, putting the bare minimum drain on resources and running near-silently in the background. A top performer across the board in laboratory tests and recommended by experts worldwide, Malwarebytes also comes with the reassurance of a 14-day free trial.
Simple, effective, affordable and easy to use, Malwarebytes continues to rule the roost as one of the best lightweight solutions of its kind on the market.
Malwarebytes has been around for longer than most, building the kind of pedigree and reputation that speaks for itself. User-friendly in the extreme and comprehensively affordable, it’s a no-nonsense approach to malware detection and prevention that comes highly recommended.
A relatively new addition to the mix, Webroot SecureAnywhere hasn’t yet been put through a great many independent laboratory tests.
Nevertheless, early indications suggest that Webroot SecureAnywhere has all the makings of a seriously competitive piece of software, which like its counterparts above represents outstanding value for money.
Webroot SecureAnywhere simplifies the process of conducting both basic and detailed system scans, going as deep as to examine for viruses that have corrupted the computer’s boot sequence.
There’s an excellent Web Shield browser protection feature included in the package, which keeps the user safe from potentially malicious online content and phishing websites.
All subscription packages come complete with a useful backup and sync utility, offering up to 25GB of remote storage space to safeguard important folders and files. All of which are transmitted in an encrypted form to keep them safe. Additional features and functionalities include a robust firewall and a USB shield, ensuring connected USB devices are scanned and analyzed for threats automatically.
Easy to install and impossibly lightweight in nature (the installation file weighs in at just over 3MB), Webroot SecureAnywhere also boasts an intuitive and user-friendly interface. It runs with next to no drain on system resources and comes with the reassurance of a 14-day free trial to see how it works.
My only slight gripe being that there’s no customer support in the traditional sense, just the ‘Webroot Community’ online forum and a decent enough online knowledge base. Still, it’s not a bad overall offering for such a low annual subscription fee.
Webroot SecureAnywhere does a great job of demonstrating how you don’t need a huge and heavy piece of software to provide you with the robust and reliable protection you need. The lack of customer support means it may not be suitable for power users or for business use, but is nonetheless a great choice for the vast majority of everyday households.
Total AV hit the ground running a comparatively short time ago, quickly chalking up independent testing scores to rival any malware specialist in this list.
It’s already considered every bit as capable as Norton and Bitdefender in both the level of protection it provides and its ability to keep up with the latest threats.
Total AV is a total virus and malware protection suite, which justifies its somewhat elevated price (if opting for the top-tier package).
Again, Total AV impresses by taking things that are beyond comprehensive malware and virus protection. Additional features and functionalities that make Total AV worth checking out include a Password Vault, Safe Browsing feature with secure VPN, Safe Site browser extension and a long list of performance optimization tools.
Whether or not you’ve heard of Total AV before now, it’s worth noting that these guys use an intelligent scanning engine that was developed by Avira. Which goes some way to explain why it performs just as solidly as any household name in the business.
I mentioned that Total AV comes across as comparatively expensive, but it’s actually one of the cheapest suites of its kind available during the first year. There’s an $80 introductory discount available for new customers for the first 12 months of coverage, adding up to an absolute bargain for what’s on offer. After which, you’re free to cancel your subscription if you’re not totally convinced, or continue at the standard annual fee.
Anything but an underdog, Total AV is an ambitious newcomer that’s already giving the biggest names in the business a run for their money. It combines one of the best scanning engines out there with a long list of additional features and a fantastically user-friendly dashboard. Not to mention, an introductory offer that makes it almost irresistible – for the first 12 months at least.
You’ll rarely come across a Bitdefender review that has even a single bad word to say about it.
Particularly impressive in its detection of new and old malware, Bitdefender combines machine learning with artificial intelligence to take its security coverage to an entirely new level.
Threats of all types are detected and dealt with practically instantaneously, as the software does its thing silently and discreetly in the background.
Alongside its primary malware prevention, detection and elimination functions, Bitdefender brings a wide variety of useful features and functionalities to the table. Just a few examples of which include microphone and webcam breach protection, movie and gaming modes, one-click device optimization and a long list of internet security tools.
Being able to optimize the performance of your device with a single click is pretty sweet – particularly for those who wouldn’t know how to tweak their systems manually. Speaking of which, Bitdefender is just about as straightforward and uncomplicated as it gets for newcomers to computer security software.
I wouldn’t necessarily call it a downside, but there’s no denying how some of the higher-tier Bitdefender options available are comparatively expensive. Though it’s also true to say that you get what you pay for – Bitdefender is an all-encompassing computer software security suite that does it all. And if you’re not totally convinced within the first 30 days, you can request a full refund – no questions asked.
Bitdefender is just about as good as it gets in terms of efficient and reliable malware detection and prevention. It’s also one of the speediest security suites of its kind on the market, boasts a long list of additional features and ships complete with a reassuring 30-day money-back guarantee. The Bitdefender team is also renowned for taking customer support standards to the highest possible level, which is always a bonus.
Another household name that’s been around practically forever, Avast Premium Security continues to impress with its top-level coverage at a rock-bottom price.
As it stands, you can cover five devices simultaneously for just $99.99, or up to 25 devices for an astonishing $129.99.
Precisely why Avast Premium Security is considered the choice for small to medium sized businesses looking to combine quality security with the lowest possible costs.
In terms of performance, Avast Premium Security gives everything else out there a run for its money. AV-Test recently awarded Avast Premium Security an impressive 17.5 points out of a possible 18, while the folks at SE Labs gave it their highest AAA rating. AV-Comparatives also gave it their highest Advanced+ rating, which really says all that needs to be said about its coverage.
As an added bonus, Avast Premium Security is also available as a package that includes a superb VPN. One that’s every bit as versatile and impressive as most standalone VPNs, enabling the user to connect to the web via servers in 34 countries and in 16 major cities across the U.S. There are no bandwidth limitations and the VPN can be used across multiple devices simultaneously, with no throttling to worry about.
Though there’s a decent free antivirus suite available from Avast, it doesn’t provide anywhere near the level of protection as its paid counterparts. It’s ok for the basics, but it really isn’t in the same league as Avast Premium Security.
It’s impossible not to be impressed with what Avast Premium Security brings to the table for such a low price. I mentioned previously that value for money should be prioritized when shopping for malware protection software - Avast Premium Security being just about the best value option around right now. All with the added bonus of stellar customer support on a 24/7 basis.
One of the best-known names in the business, Avira is also considered as capable and reliable as it gets where malware prevention, detection and elimination are concerned.
They’ve scarcely received a score lower than 100% in independent laboratory tests over the years, pairing premium performance with an affordable price.
Avira’s free antivirus package is considered by many to be the best free security solution available.
Though as is the case with all free security software suites, it doesn’t provide the comprehensive coverage needed to safeguard yourself from all types of threats.
The exceptional anti-malware engine of Avira is complemented by a long list of additional features, including an automatic software updater, a useful password manager and an online privacy-booster they call ‘Privacy Pal’. Your activities online are watched over by the intelligent software, ensuring your personal information and browsing habits in general aren’t monitored, stored and subsequently used by marketers.
While the primary Avira dashboard may take a while to get used to, it’s extremely intuitive interface that provides quick and easy access to all primary functions. Simple enough for newcomers with all the advanced options a powers user could ever wish for, with a ton of tutorials and helpful resources available. Not to mention, the added bonus of 24/7 customer support and the option of stepping up to the Avira Phantom VPN for even greater protection.
Avira provides the kind of total protection needed to safeguard the everyday web user and the proactive business alike. It continues to boast one of the most sophisticated anti-malware engines of any software package currently available by a clear margin. Though Avira may be slightly more expensive than some of its rivals, what it delivers in terms of overall value for money is undeniable.
Why or When Should You Use Anti-Malware?
The benefits of using anti-malware software should be relatively obvious by this point. It’s something of a fundamental security essential, if you’re to protect yourself from hackers, malware, viruses, system hijacking and so on. A single ‘hole’ in your security coverage will usually be more than enough for cybercriminals to find their way in and do their bidding.
As for when you should use malware detection and removal software, the short answer is – all the time. It’s possible for malware and viruses to find their way onto your computer anytime it is switched on and connected to a network. This means that even if you conducted a detailed scan an hour ago, you could have been infected in the meantime.
Technically speaking, therefore, there’s no such thing as running malware scans too often. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, when it’s your safety and security on the line.
Malware Prevention Measures
Of course, the best way of dealing with the threat posed by malware is to protect yourself and your system from all possible threats in the first place. This can be achieved in a variety of ways, though the following malware/virus safety tips typically prove the most effective of all:
Install the highest quality malware software available for your system, selected in accordance with independent reviews and laboratory tests.
Ensure that the malware software you use is kept up to date at all times, enabling it to detect and deal with all the latest threats.
Make sure scans are run on a regular basis by setting up a scanning schedule, while enabling real-time protection if it is an option with your software suite.
Keep your operating system and all other software/apps on your computer up to date with the latest security patches.
Focus on the prevention of internal and external attacks by securing your network and software with robust firewalls and password protection.
Think twice before clicking on any email attachments, downloads, websites or anything else that appears suspicious.
Avoid using public or shared Wi-Fi networks when carrying out any tasks that involve sharing your private information.
Backup your files on a regular basis and ensure they are easily accessible, just in case you are locked out of your system or your files are corrupted.
Cybercriminals are opportunists, typically wasting no time to take advantage of lapses in system security. Hence, the importance of taking a proactive approach to malware prevention cannot be overstated.
What’s the Best Anti-Malware Software for Windows?
Identifying the best anti-malware software suite for Windows (or any other operating system) means taking into account a few key characteristics. How much you can afford to spend will always be a factor, but by no means should be the only factor used to select malware software.
Here are the four most important things to consider when shopping for an anti-malware suite:
- Protection Level. A malware protection package that doesn’t provide robust and reliable protection isn’t worth having. This is where expert reviews and independent test results can prove invaluable.
- Value for Money. Far more important than costs alone, you need to consider the extent to which the software package represents good overall value for money.
- Ease of Use. While some malware prevention suites are easy to get to grips with, others are more suited to those with plenty of experience and technical expertise.
- Customer Support. Sooner or later, you have to assume that you will need to contact the software’s customer support team with a question or two.
Just as long as the software you’re considering fulfils these key quality tests, you’re probably looking at a safe bet.
How Do I Know If My Computer Is Infected with Malware?
The only fool-proof way of knowing whether your computer has been infected with malware is to conduct a detailed scan, courtesy of a reliable anti-malware suite. However, there are several tell-tale signs and symptoms of malware infection.
A few examples of which include the following:
What’s important to remember is that in any instance where your computer begins behaving strangely, it could be an indication of infection. In which case, it is essential to conduct a detailed scan immediately and deal with any problems detected.
Does Anti-Malware Software Replace an Antivirus?
There’s no straight answer to this question, as it depends entirely on the software suite you choose. Some of the best and highest-rated antivirus suites on the market provide impressive malware detection and prevention, just as some specialist malware software offers protection from viruses.
Again, it’s a case of checking the extent to which your chosen software covers one or both of these requirements. Unless it clearly states that it covers you against both, you have to assume it doesn’t.
In any case, some experts recommend running a standalone virus package against an equally competent standalone malware suite. If looking to benefit from the best of both worlds, it’s sometimes necessary to sign up for two subscriptions – particularly if high-level, near-impenetrable security is a priority.