Antivirus vs. Internet Security: The 5 Best Software Solutions
Online security is more critical than ever. While antivirus solutions protect you from viruses, internet security protects you from many other forms of attack. Which solution and what brand is right for you? Antivirus or internet security? Here’s a rundown of 5 leading antivirus and security solutions, as well as a features and pricing breakdown to help you choose the one to fit your needs.
*Updated December 2019
One of the most popular software choices out there, Norton’s solution is comprehensive and includes both an antivirus element, as well as an internet security component.
Norton, which has been around since 1995, offers several security options with its main services, and all offer differing benefits and levels of security—both internet security and antivirus capabilities. Standard, the most basic, costs $32.99 and offers protection for 1 PC, Mac, or mobile device. It protects against viruses, malware, and other online threats, as well as your identity and online transactions. The deluxe package, which costs $44.99, protects up to 5 PCs, Macs, smartphones or tablets, and offers a bit more than the standard package by giving you an easy-to-use web portal to manage protection for all your devices. The premium service, which is the best value for money, costs $59.99 and offers users a lot. It protects up to 10 PCs, Macs, smartphones or tablets, offers everything that the standard and deluxe services offer, plus 25 GB of secure cloud storage, a service that automatically backs up your photos, financial files and other important documents, as well as premium family safety features. These family features offer parental control options and cost $49.99 on their own, so if you have kids you want to protect online, this deal is worth it.
Included in all these plans is Norton’s #1-ranked consumer security software, its 100% virus protection promise—which says that from the moment you subscribe, a Norton expert is available to help keep your devices virus-free, or give you a refund. You’ll also get access to a customer support team of 1,700 representatives around the world.
Prices above are for the first year of your service, and then your subscription will automatically renew and be billed each following year. In its offers and pricing disclosures, Norton says that its pricing is subject to change but that it will always notify you. Deluxe and premium plans offer a 30-day free trial.
*Updated September 2017
Though it was founded a few years after Norton, and it doesn't have as big a name, BullGuard has a lot to offer.
Its 3 main security services include antivirus, internet security, and premium protection. Antivirus costs $23.96 per year and offers protection for 1 PC with a spam filter, safe browsing, and as its name suggests, antivirus protection. Internet security, which costs $29.97 per year, offers protection for up to 3 devices, with the option to pay extra for either 5 or 10 devices. It protects with a firewall, offers a PC tuneup and parental controls, and encrypted cloud backup. The premium protection service, at $39.98 per year, protects up to 10 devices, and, like the internet security service, can have more devices added on for extra money. It also offers users social media and identity protection. When purchasing a service, you can choose a subscription length of 6 month to 3 years for the antivirus, or 1 to 3 years for the internet security and premium protection. BullGuard also offers an install and setup add-on for $14.97, which can be added onto any service chosen.
Its website displays reviews by trusted voices in the online security space and its services are simple to use. When the software is installed it can be set up and maintained from a simple dashboard that displays everything at a glance. BullGuard also has thorough product guides, which review services, setup, and answer frequently asked questions. If support is needed, you can email them your inquiry and receive a response within 24 hours or chat with an online representative 24/7. All services have a 30-day money back guarantee.
|Total Security Suite||$110.03|
*Updated September 2017
Avira has experience and knowledge in many aspects of online security, having been in the industry since 1986.
Unlike most security software providers, it offers free security services such as antivirus for Windows, Mac, and Android, to device optimization, which can significantly clean and speed up your computer or mobile. As far as paid services, Avira offers plans for home, business, and mobile.
The home plan offers 3 levels – internet security, optimization, and total security. Internet security, at $51.74 per year for protection for 1 device, offers both antivirus protections and a firewall manager. These 2 features will allows you to have more control over your online security while shopping, surfing the web, or making payments. Optimization, at $58.21 per year for 1 device, offers antivirus protections as well as various PC tuneup tools, while total security offers all of the features of the internet security and optimizations plans for full protection. Total security also offers a VPN for secure browsing without geo-restrictions.
Avira’s prices are on the higher end, but with its trusted name and around 500 million downloads, it may be the reliable software you’re looking for. As far as support, FAQ’s and tutorials are free, but email and phone support is only offered to paying customers.
*Updated September 2017
Like Avira, Panda offers a free service, though it only offers one option—antivirus software.
For purchase, it has options for both business and home. For business, it offers protection, management and control, and cyber security solutions. For home, it offers solutions for Mac, Android, and Windows. The Windows plan is its most popular service. Basic, which costs $27.99 per year, offers protection from viruses and other threats as well as helping ensure you’re browsing safely. Advanced, at $34.99, includes the same features as basic, plus safe downloading and file sharing, while the complete package, at $48.99 offers 3 additional features—device optimization, safe transactions while making payments, and parental controls. If you want even more, you can go with its premium service, also called Panda Gold Protection, which costs $66.49 and offers premium anti-spyware protection. You get 20GB of space plus premium technical support.
To contact Panda for support, you fill out an online form, though this option is available to paying customers only. Customers using the free service will need to find answers using the FAQ forum on its website.
|Total protection / 1 device||$59.99|
|Total protection / 5 devices||$89.99|
|Total protection / 10 devices||$99.99|
*Updated September 2017
Rounding out our review is the well-known and proudly US-based McAfee.
McAfee also offers a comprehensive solution that includes both antivirus and internet security capabilities. It has many different products, but the top one is called total protection, which offers premium antivirus, identity and privacy protection for PC, Mac, smartphones, and tablets and is offered for 1, 5 or 10 devices. It has noteworthy benefits, including safe browsing that warns you about shady websites and helps prevents dangerous downloads and phishing attacks and password manager that protects and stores all your passwords in one manager app. Protection for 1 device costs $59.99 per year, while protection for 5 devices costs $89.99 per year, and 10 devices $99.99 per year. There’s a special offer on the 10 device plan – $44.99 for the first year.
There’s a 30-day free trial (no credit card required) on all plans, a 30-day money back guarantee if you’re not satisfied after purchase, and McAfee’s 100% guarantee to remove viruses on your devices or give you your money back. This promise, though, is only included when you choose to renew your plan automatically. McAfee has won awards from PC Mag and AV Test and offers excellent customer support. Paying customers receive free 24/7 phone support, while anyone can use its FAQ, community forums and chat or email with a customer service or technical support representative.
Finding the best antivirus software for your needs comes down to weighing up the options and working out what’s most important for you—for example overall protection, value for money or customer support. Read our in-depth reviews for more information about the top players on the market.