Best Antivirus Protection for Business
If you’re deciding what antivirus is best for protecting your business, we’ve got you.
We all know that cybersecurity is important, especially when it comes to your business. The problem is, there’s so much information out there and not nearly enough time to look through it all, especially when you’ve got a company to run and grow. Well, we’ve got some great news: we did the heavy lifting, and by that, we mean actually tested dozens of antivirus software for businesses, so that you don’t have to. Let’s, if you’ll excuse the pun, get down to business.
While Norton and Kaspersky were the crème de la crème in our batch, that’s not to say we weren’t impressed with the other contenders. Bitdefender, Avast, and McAfee also performed well when put to our very rigorous test. We know there are lots of variables when making decisions like these for your business, like customer service, data privacy, and the number of devices that can be connected, so we’ve laid out the basic information of each software below.
The Best Antivirus Software At A Glance
|Business subscription details||Starts at $99.99 for five devices for one year||Starts at $335.00 for 10 devices for one year||Starts at $100.00 for five devices for one year||Starts at $56.99 for one device for one year||Starts at $110.99 for three devices for one year|
|Free trial option||Yes, for seven days||Has a free version with limited features, and a 30-day free trial||Yes, for one device||Has a free version, but with limitations||Yes, 14-day free trial for Windows app, 30 day trial for iOS app|
|Money-Back Policy||60 days||30 days||30 days||30 days||30 days|
|Malware scans||On-demand and on-access scans||On-demand and on-access scans||On-demand and on-access scans||On-demand and on-access scans||On-demand and on-access scans|
|Operating Systems||Windows, Mac, iOS, Android||Windows, Mac, iOS, Android||Windows, Mac, iOS, Android||Windows, Mac, iOS, Android||Windows, Mac, iOS, Android|
|Maximum Number of Devices that can be Connected||20||100||20||100||100|
|Ways to Reach Customer Service||Phone, live chat, FAQ database, social media channels||Email, phone, live chat, ticket system, FAQ database||Email, phone, live chat, FAQ database||Ticket system, FAQ database||Email, live chat, FAQ database|
|Read Review||Norton Antivirus Review||Kaspersky Antivirus Review||Bitdefender Antivirus Review||Avast Antivirus Review||McAfee Antivirus Review|
Summary: The Best Free Antivirus Software in a Nutshell
- Norton - The Best Antivirus Software Overall for Business
- Kaspersky - The Best Free Antivirus Software for Business
- Bitdefender - The Best Antivirus Software for Business’ Mobile Devices
- Avast - The Best Antivirus Software for Businesses that Use Mac
- McAfee - The Most Affordable Antivirus Software for Business
A Closer Look At Our Favorite Free Antivirus Software
1. Norton - The Best Antivirus Software Overall for Business
- History of data breaches
- Costs only remain low for the first year
- Subpar desktop experience
- Parent company embroiled in legal disputes
Superior Mobile Experience
Norton goes above and beyond in two areas we care a lot about: customer service and the mobile experience. When we’re on the go, we’re pretty much glued to our phones, and we know that business owners often control their whole operation from their devices. The mobile app has a 4.7-star rating on both iOS and Android and passed a third-party audit with flying colors.
Top-Notch Customer Service
Norton also set itself apart by having a customer service phone line. The representative we spoke to was knowledgeable and patient when answering our many questions about malware scans, and we appreciated it. Though it might be a bit old-fashioned, sometimes we just want to talk about our technical problems over the phone, with another real-life human being. When issues spring up, the last thing we want to do is spend time sifting through FAQs or talking to a bot. And when we’re feeling anti-social or aren’t dealing with something super time-sensitive, we can always default back to Norton’s live chat or their database of resolved support tickets.
Pro Tip: We recommend conducting a full scan of your computer each month to ensure nothing has gone awry. We’d also employ quick scans each time you log on; these can run in the background and won’t disrupt your device’s performance.
2. Kaspersky - The Best Free Antivirus Software for Business
- Aced our virus detection test
- Additional features password manager and Kaspersky VPN available
- Affordable pricing options
- Can cover up to three devices
- Accusations of ties to the Russian government
- History of data breaches1
- Poor customer service options for free version
- Only long-term contracts available
Streamlined User Experience
Kaspersky delivered on its promise of successfully detecting viruses. However, we really enjoyed the user-friendly interface. Kaspersky would be great to rollout across a group of employees because it’s quite simple to navigate. The interface is divided into four quadrants for scanning, accessing the database for updates, viewing reports, and accessing the on-screen keyboard. As people who tend to have dozens of tabs open at once, we appreciate when software design doesn’t overcomplicate things further.
Decent Free Option
They say that in business, there’s no such thing as free lunch, but with Kaspersky, there’s free antivirus protection. Typically, free versions of antivirus services are very watered down, usually to the point where it’s just worth it for us to spring for the paid version. However, we were pleasantly surprised with Kaspersky Security Cloud Free, which aced our virus detection test. One user can protect all their devices, a particularly useful benefit in the age of remote working when employees increasingly use their personal devices for work. We also learned that the free version had on-demand and on-access malware detection and behavioral detection, and even some bonus features, like a password manager for up to 15 passwords and a VPN for up to 200 MB of usage each day.
3. Bitdefender - The Best Antivirus Software for Business’ Mobile Devices
- Scored 100 percent on our virus detection test
- 30-day free trial
- Offered a wide range of options for pricing and subscription lengths
- Can cover up to 20 devices
- Must connect devices within the same household, which may be challenging for a business with multiple offices or remote workers
- Logs an excess of data
- Free version is extremely limited
- Has a history of data breaches
Bitdefender got top marks on our antivirus software test, which is no cakewalk. In fact, it successfully detected all five virus-infected files, and we have to say, we’re impressed.
Flexible Subscription Options
While protecting your business from viruses is the name of the game, we were also big fans of other features of the service, namely its affordability and menu of options so that we could find what fits our needs best. Bitdefender offered us contracts ranging from one to three years, and we could also select if we wanted to connect just one device, or up to 20. The cheaper end of the spectrum with a three-year contract costs $19.99, while a three-year contract across 20 devices was the most expensive at $499.99. We go through the entire menu of pricing options on our Bitdefender costs page.
Connect Up To 20 Devices
The ability to connect up to 20 devices at the same time was a total gamechanger. These days, our team is spread far and wide; some of us are going into the office and others are working remotely. We felt doubly safe knowing that no matter where we wanted to work from, we knew Bitdefender’s antivirus reached us, and on our multiple devices, too!
Watchout: Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac also comes with a Bitdefender VPN to encrypt your web traffic and IP address. Getting a VPN is another crucial step to protecting your business, so this bundle makes a lot of sense to us.
4. Avast - The Best Antivirus Software for Businesses that Use Mac
- Straightforward user interface
- Can connect an unlimited number of devices
- Successfully identifies malware and ransomware
- Free version available
- Cost will increase after first year
- Limited customer service options
- Has a history of selling user data to third parties
- Logs an excessive amount of information
A Wide Range of Protection
Avast did a great job of scanning our Macbook Pro for all types of viruses, including malware and ransomware. We conducted tests on both the free and paid versions of the service, and found that they both performed well. The service’s performance gave us the confidence to deploy the software across our team. And, did we mention we were able to connect an unlimited number of devices? That’s quality and quantity.
Stay alert: Breaches involving web applications and unsecured cloud storage nearly doubled in 2019 compared to 2018.2
Flexible Money-Back Guarantee
While we didn’t take issue with our Avast experience, we understand that there’s never a one-size-fits-all solution, especially for businesses. We also felt that it was a less high-stakes decision, since Avast offered a 30-day money-back guarantee on its antivirus software (and all of its products). All we would have had to do is request a refund within 30 days of purchase.
5. McAfee - The Most Affordable Antivirus Software for Business
- Affordable starting price
- Can customize firewall protection
- Detects threats in real-time
- Extra protection for internet browsing
- Takes a long time to scan
- Slowed down our devices
- Collects a significant amount of data
- Too many notifications
Antivirus Protection on a Budget
When you’re running a business, every cost matters. McAfee, with its $110.99 per year fee for three devices, offers quality protection for small businesses without breaking the bank. Considering the fact that this even includes access to the McAfee VPN, identity theft protection, and web protection features, we aren’t sure how the deal could get much sweeter.
The last thing we would want is to have to add “schedule virus scan” to the heap of tasks to get done. McAfee came in handy with real-time scanning, constantly checking our devices for anything suspicious. When we downloaded our test files containing malware, a notification sprung up notifying us that McAfee had identified and halted the virus from reaching our computer. We liked that we didn’t have to do anything to stay protected, and we appreciated the ping to let us know that the service was doing its job.
When making big decisions regarding cybersecurity for your business, the devil is usually in the details. Given that investing in software is a high-stakes choice when it’s done on behalf of your company, we wanted to take you step by step through our thought process, and how exactly we evaluated each service. We don’t rush our tests, in fact, our team evaluated each antivirus software for six months at minimum. This is going to be a long-term investment for your company, after all. We paid attention to how each product impacted our devices, and the process of making updates, such as, if they are automatic, or we have to follow a long and complicated process to get the most up to date firmware.
While bells and whistles are always nice, we start with the basics of what these services are supposed to do, which is, of course, detect viruses in files coming onto our devices. We perform a test where we download five files, each with a different type of virus or malware. Some examples are spyware and malware. Then, we scanned the files with the antivirus software and saw which most successfully detected the viruses. While most of the time, the programs detected at least three out of the five, every now and then, something slipped through the cracks. It’s important that we know which services missed what types of threats, because in reality, it only takes one security breach to lead to a really big problem. We don’t recommend trying these tests yourselves. While we’re experts on properly testing virus detection without negatively affecting our devices, it’s a delicate process, and the last thing we would want is for you to unleash malware on your devices.
The next thing we looked for is services’ scanning capabilities. Services that scanned on-access search for threats whenever the software was running, even if only in the background. Otherwise, those with on-demand scanning perform scans only when we requested it or scheduled a scan. We personally prefer on-access scanning because it stops viruses and malware immediately, and we don’t need to remember to scan our computers. However, it’s also satisfying to be able to double-check that everything is running as it should with on-demand capabilities. In an ideal world, a software would offer both. It’s our preference to do a full scan each month, and then perform quicker checks each time we log in to our device.
Traditional antivirus software programs detect threats by comparing programs and files to a database of all known malware, a process called signature-based detection. The files get flagged as a threat if they share similar characteristics or code base. While that works great for detecting threats that we already know about, it’s not so effective on malware that might not be included in the database. Given that tens of thousands of pieces of malware are created each day, it’s crucial that antivirus software is able to detect newly-created threats on the fly.
Behavior-based detection, as opposed to signature-based detection, monitors suspicious behaviors of files. For example, one of the companies we tested used behavior-based detection to isolate a Trojan virus masquerading as a Word file, because the .doc file tried to get into our system’s files. That’s not typical for a Microsoft Word file, and it was flagged immediately. The behavior-based detection was perfect for detecting this possible threat because it wasn’t in the databases of malware yet, so signature-based detection would have missed it completely.
A tool can have everything your heart desires, but if it breaks the bank, it’s just going to lead to the deprioritization of cybersecurity. For us, we want to make sure that there are options for everyone, and we are very well aware that you’ve probably got a long list of other business investments to make that are more fun than antivirus software.
Typically, an antivirus software subscription starts at $100 a month for three to five users, and increases in price as more users are added. Some services like Avast offer the option to purchase 100 memberships on the same plan for a $7,778 three-year contract.
We tend to provide cost for the year subscription option to make it easier to compare software prices apples-to-apples, but if there’s a variety of pricing options, we’ll be sure to point that out, too. We checked the maximum number of devices that can log on to one subscription, in the event that your team has grown and you don’t feel like having to keep track of multiple logins.
We also checked if they have a free trial or even a free antivirus version. Free trials are the best way to take the softwares for a test run, in our opinion, because we get the full range of capabilities. The downside is that most only last 30 days, and protecting our devices from viruses is something we need to happen on an ongoing basis. A few of the companies also promote a free version of their service. In our opinion, they are not suitable for a business to deploy across employees, but they can still come in handy during the decision-making process, especially if you’re more of a hands-on learner.
While the free options are enticing, we do find that they lack extra features like password managers or VPNs. While antivirus protection is the most important, many companies offer bundles that include antivirus protection along with a VPN service or identity theft protection.
And now, the grand finale. When we download any type of software onto our devices, we grant access to a lot of our information. While some of the information is necessary for the tool to function and do its job, a lot of it isn’t, and when we click “I accept,” on terms and conditions, we are essentially giving companies the right to our information. We take the time to actually read through antivirus companies’ privacy policies to comb through what they’re really gathering from their users. Some examples of acceptable data collected is payment information, contact details, and usage statistics, but when we find out that companies are tracking their users’ browser activity or geolocation, that’s a different story. We also see if companies are selling your information to third parties, a common practice. We give brownie points to companies that resist the urge to profit from their customers’ information.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it worth paying for antivirus software?
We recommend that you pay for antivirus software, especially for your business. Some companies offer a free version of their services, but we find that more often than not, they have data limitations that we run through pretty quickly. If you’d like to test out a service before committing, many companies offer free-trial periods or money-back guarantees so that you can see the full range of features before swiping your card.
How often should I scan my computer for viruses?
We recommend conducting a full scan monthly, and also conducting scans when files are downloaded from the internet or connect to a public Wi-Fi network. Lots of the services we feature offer on-access scanning, where scans are happening in the background without having to be prompted by the user.
What antivirus software is best for businesses?
By our methodology, Norton and Kaspersky are the best antivirus softwares on the market. However, each service is different, and there are many other great options, like Bitdefender, McAfee, and Avast to choose from as well.
Is antivirus software for business expensive?
Antivirus software varies depending on the company, but overall, antivirus software is affordable. A standard cost is around $100 per year to cover 5-10 users.
Kaspersky. (2019). Advisory issued on 16th August, 2019.
Verizon. (2021). 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report.