Alternatives to Avast Antivirus (Free and Paid)

Updated: 2022-04-14 / Article by: Timothy Shim

While we reap the many benefits that technology advancement brings us, we cannot deny the price we have to pay for this increase in cybersecurity attacks. Fret not, there are many ways we can implement to counter such attacks, but one must-have solution is the antivirus program.

Since hackers continuously “upgrade” themselves, malware naturally follows suit. They become more sophisticated to avoid being detected by antivirus software. The good news is that top dogs like Avast try to keep up.

The bad news is that since the cybersecurity field is evolving, the protection rate that each brand brings to the table changes frequently. If you find that Avast isn’t ideal for you, there are many alternatives to Avast around.

1. Norton Antivirus Plus

Norton AntiVirus Plus

In August 1990, Symantec acquired Peter Norton Computing and then included Norton Antivirus in their suite in early 1991. Norton’s security products come in several different flavors: Norton Antivirus Plus, Norton 360 Deluxe, Norton 360 with LifeLock, and Norton 360 with LifeLock Ultimate Plus.

Why Norton Antivirus Plus an Alternative to Avast?

Norton Antivirus Plus, despite the name, still combines antivirus, anti-spyware, anti-malware, and ransomware protection. It secures your device and its information via Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning methods. It also provides you with online protection with 2GB of Cloud storage. 

It comes equipped with an intelligent firewall that scans the network traffic in and out of your device. Should it come across something suspicious, Norton Antivirus Plus will kick into action and block it, thus preventing your device from being attacked. The package includes Norton’s Password Manager, a life-saver in managing all your passwords.

Norton Antivirus Plus Pricing

At $59.99 a year, you’ll be getting protection for only a device (Windows or Mac) which is pretty steep.

Norton prides itself in its 100% virus protection promise. If your device is infected and you cannot remove it, Norton’s professionals will remotely access your device to resolve the issue. If they are unsuccessful, they will return your money.

Pros of Norton Antivirus Plus

  • Lots of scanning options
  • Top-notch scores in independent lab tests
  • Strong malware protection capability
  • It includes a smart firewall, password manager, and other features

Cons of Norton Antivirus Plus

  • Pricey

2. Kaspersky Antivirus

In 1997, Kaspersky Lab was established by Eugene Kaspersky, Natalya Kaspersky, and Alexey De-Monderik. It is a Russian cybersecurity provider based in Moscow that develops antivirus and security products. Kaspersky is one of the front runners when it comes to security products. They have more than 400 million users, a whopping figure indeed.

What Makes Kaspersky Antivirus the Better Alternative?

Kaspersky Antivirus has anti-hacking, antivirus, and anti-malware functions. Protection comes triple-layered, working proactively to scan for any vulnerabilities. Taking the prevention is better than cure mindset; the antivirus software immediately removes anything suspicious to prevent any danger to your data. 

Armed with anti-hacking capability, it blocks even at the network level, thus stopping hackers from gaining access to your home network. 

A point to highlight, in 2017, the US Federal government banned the official use of Kaspersky products. This ban was because there were allegations that Kaspersky was working with the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) to steal private data. While Kaspersky has vehemently denied such allegations, the ban affected the company. 

Hence, Kaspersky implemented the Global Transparency initiative to win back their customers' trust while building back their image. 

Kaspersky Antivirus Pricing

At $59.99 a year, you get a multi-license deal, protecting up to a total of three devices which is a pretty good deal. If you need to increase the number of devices, you’ll need to pay more. Note that this supports only Windows. 

Pros of Kaspersky Antivirus

  • Lots of scan options
  • Easy to use dashboard
  • Near perfect scores in independent lab tests
  • Effective malware protection
  • Has anti-hacking function at the network level

Cons of Kaspersky Antivirus

  • Questionable brand integrity

3. ESET NOD32 Antivirus

In 1987, ESET was established by Miroslav Trnka, Peter Paško, and Rudolf Hrubý. Based in Bratislava, Slovakia, it has been the most successful company in Slovakia for three consecutive years. The company focuses on anti-virus and firewall products. 

What Makes ESET NOD32 an Avast Alternative?

ESET NOD32 Antivirus is known to be lightweight and fast. Hence, it is best suited for avid gamers who require no interruptions in their gaming sessions. A multi-layered antivirus solution, NOD32 comes with the usual antivirus and anti-spyware capability. Reports indicate that their ransomware shield has improved compared to the previous versions.

There are also additional goodies that you may be delighted to find. One of them is the improved Host-Based Intrusion Prevention System (HIPS) that helps scan your device’s firmware and functions; this works as an early detection system. There’s also a memory, system registry, and webcam scanner. Additionally, it is known to excel in anti-phishing features.

ESET NOD32 Pricing

At $39.99, you’ll be getting all these pretty good goodies; this is the price for one device only. If you need to have more devices onboard, you’ll have to pay more.

With the price, ESET included device control features, which is excellent since this is considered an entry-level product. And as if this wasn’t enough, they have also put together several advanced features that more tech-savvy users would find helpful. 

Pros of ESET NOD32

  • Lightweight and fast
  • Custom scan options
  • Mostly good scores in independent lab tests
  • Effective malware protection
  • Great anti-phishing protection
  • Improved Host-Based Intrusion Prevention System
  • Comprehensive device control

Cons of ESET NOD32

  • No quick scan option
  • Advanced features can be complex for normal users

4. F-Secure SAFE

F-Secure

Initially known as Data Fellows, F-Secure was founded in 1988 by Petri Allas and Risto Siilasmaa. It was only until 1999 that F-Secure replaced Data Fellows. Their base is in Helsinki, Finland, and their focus has always been on cybersecurity products and services.

Why T-Secure SAFE a Better Alternative to Avast?

F-Secure initially launched a standalone antivirus product, after which they dropped this for the more powerful F-Secure SAFE, an AV-TEST best protection award winner, in 2020. Its antivirus capability now extends to more popular browsers. Hence, you won’t need to worry about phishing and fraud as F-Secure SAFE effectively blocks them by displaying different color-coded search results.

Banking protection is activated each time you go online to make any form of payment or transaction. This feature works to help you ensure you complete all your banking-related matters before starting any other new connections to other sites. Most competitor products isolate the whole browser process rather than warning you against connecting elsewhere. 

F-Secure SAFE Pricing

F-Secure SAFE comes with a local parental control system. You’d be glad to know that this feature is cross-platform, and you can configure it remotely. However, other antivirus providers like Norton and Kaspersky have better parental control features.

Their pricing starts from $67.59 (€59.9) a year for up to three devices and comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. 

Pros of F-Secure SAFE

  • Easy to use interface
  • Banking protection feature
  • Good malware protection
  • Effectively blocks phishing and fraudulent sites 

Cons of F-Secure SAFE

  • Limited parent control features
  • Good enough but not great scores in independent lab tests

5. AVG Antivirus

AVG Antivirus

Based in Prague, Czech Republic, AVG Technologies was founded by Jan Gritzbach and Tomáš Hofer in 1991. However, in 2016, AVG was acquired by Avast. Short for Anti-Virus Guard, AVG grew in popularity from their AVG Free Edition. They have won many accolades, including best malware protection and performance for 2020, and garnered top ratings for their AVG Antivirus FREE.

AVG Antivirus – The Free Alternative to Avast?

For freeware, AVG Antivirus is as good as it gets. It gives you adequate protection from malware, including spyware, trojans, and even adware, through their 6-layer security technology. Also, it is light and won’t eat up too much of your device resources. 

You get an email shield protection feature that scans and stops any suspicious email attachment along with dubious phishing links. As malware literally ‘mutates’ real fast, your antivirus needs to be updated regularly – and AVG provides this in real-time.

You can opt for the Smart Scan, which will look for any malware in the system, but you can go for the Deep Scan, which will take much longer as this does a complete sweep of your whole device in full. 

AVG Antivirus Pricing

If you’re only all about wanting malware protection alone, AVG Antivirus FREE is your guy.

However, suppose you need more, like cleaning up and resolving all the issues reported along with other security features such as webcam protection, ransomware protection, firewall, AVG Secure Browser, and more. In that case, you’ll need to subscribe to AVG Internet Security.

Pros of AVG Antivirus

  • Lightweight and fast
  • It’s free!
  • Excellent scores in independent lab tests
  • Effective malware protection

Cons of AVG Antivirus

  • Limited features

6. Avira Antivirus / Avira Antivirus Pro

Avira

Established in 2006, Avira is a German security company owned by Investcorp, after which, in 2021, it came under the Norton umbrella. Known mainly for their Avira Free Security product, they have won many awards, attesting to their quality. Avira has garnered around 500 million users and is trusted even by Fortune 500 entities.

What Makes Avira Ticks?

Avira’s antivirus products come in two shapes: Avira Antivirus, which is free, and Avira Antivirus Pro, which is not. The former is as good as it gets and is a powerful real-time anti-malware against viruses, spyware, adware, ransomware, trojans, worms, and others. It is lightweight and does not require much of your device’s resources. Hence, your device's performance will not suffer.

If you’re in a rush, just use the Quick Scan, but note that this checks only your device’s critical areas of attack. If you want something more in-depth scanning, you’ll have to choose the Full Scan. 

The commendable feature is that upon detection of anything suspicious, it offers repair solutions, unlike some that require you to pay to enjoy this. Avira uses AI cloud technology to complement its scanning and protection features. All scans are in real-time, so you get on-the-spot protection at all times.

Avira Pricing

As mentioned, Avira Antivirus has a free version if you just want malware protection.

However, you can explore their Antivirus Pro at $28.22 a year, which comes with web protection features if you need more. As such, you’ll be able to shop and perform your banking transactions with peace of mind. Avira claims to have successfully blocked 25 million malicious sites a month and thwarted 8 million phishing attacks a month. 

Pros of Avira Antivirus

  • Lightweight and fast
  • Easy to use GUI
  • Outstanding scores in independent lab tests
  • Free version available
  • Free and paid versions use the same antivirus engine
  • Custom scans available

Cons of Avira Antivirus

  • Free version limited features
  • No parental controls

7. Bitdefender Free Antivirus

Hailing from Romania, Bitdefender was founded by Florin Talpes in 2001. Having earned many industry accolades for the past 20 years, Bitdefender is known as one of the frontrunners in cybersecurity. They take pride in their global presence with customers residing in 170 countries in total.

Why Bitdefender?

Like Avira, Bitdefender comes in a free and a paid (Plus) version. Bitdefender Free Antivirus is based on a more minimalistic approach. Hence, it is fast even though it’s packed with capable features to protect your device. It is not resource-intensive; ergo, it is safe to say that it is akin to a small chocolate chip cookie with lots of chocolate chips.

The free edition scans and works on monitoring for any suspicious behavior. It works effectively against viruses, trojans, worms, ransomware, spyware, even rootkits. Also, you get free protection against phishing and malicious websites so you can perform all your sensitive data transactions, such as financial and shopping, with no worries at all. 

Based on the same malware database, both free and paid versions are equally powerful in their anti-malware capabilities. However, their Bitdefender Antivirus Plus has lots more goodies such as VPN, Password Manager, network-level scanning and protection, and others. 

Bitdefender Pricing

The Bitdefender free edition works only on Windows. If you require cross-platform support, you’ll need to upgrade to their Bitdefender Total Security solution. The Plus version starts from $24.54 a year for three devices.

Pros of Bitdefender Free Antivirus

  • Lightweight and easy on system resources
  • Impressive scores in independent lab tests
  • Effective malware protection
  • Free and paid versions use the same antivirus engine
  • The free version comes with lots of features, unlike several other products

Cons of Bitdefender Free

  • No parental controls for Free and Plus versions

8. Microsoft Defender

Microsoft Defender

GIANT Company Software initially developed Microsoft Defender. Microsoft took over the company in 2004, gaining the operating system giant a valuable addition to its core product. Microsoft Defender is also known as Windows Defender and also Windows Security.

Why Microsoft Defender?

The good thing about this antivirus is that it comes built-in together with your Windows platform. As such, there’s no need for any extra installation effort on your part. Unlike most other antivirus software, Microsoft Defender’s interface is not intuitive. You’ll have to spend some time looking for the scan options, which are way at the bottom of the panel.

Several options are available, namely Quick, Full, Custom, and Offline Scan. The exciting part about this is the Offline scan option, which reboots the system and runs even before the Windows operating system loads completely. This feature renders malware defenseless, making it easier to resolve the more stubborn malware problems. 

Unfortunately, scores obtained by Microsoft Defender from independent labs were so mixed, it was hard to secure a solid conclusion on its protection capabilities. If you compare with the others on this list, Microsoft Defender performed not as well in terms of its consistent malware protection capability.

Also, its phishing detection function was dubious as some claimed it performed below par. However, it does come with excellent parental controls. 

Microsoft Defender Pricing

Free. Built-in together with your Windows platform.

Pros of Microsoft Defender

  • Built-in to Windows, no need for installation
  • Decent protection at no extra costs
  • Offline scan option for more stubborn malware
  • Parental controls

Cons of Microsoft Defender

  • Poor phishing detection
  • Support Windows only

Conclusion

Almost everything is online in the digital age, and cybersecurity has become the top priority. Your first line of defense is the straightforward and most essential thing everyone MUST have – antivirus software. Cybercriminals are becoming more relentless when it comes to stealing sensitive information.  

As such, you cannot afford to rest on your laurels and do nothing. Malware can come in any form and via various channels. Hence, you must have a reliable and trusted antivirus that is regularly updated to ensure your data stays protected at all times.

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About Timothy Shim

Timothy Shim is a writer, editor, and tech geek. Starting his career in the field of Information Technology, he rapidly found his way into print and has since worked with International, regional and domestic media titles including ComputerWorld, PC.com, Business Today, and The Asian Banker. His expertise lies in the field of technology from both consumer as well as enterprise points of view.