Most Effective Antivirus Products 2020

Antivirus products are, in my opinion, a lot like insurance– a necessary evil. These days, I tend to rely mostly on the built-in Microsoft Defender which does a good enough job for me and, as the latest results from AV-Test illustrate, will also do a very good job for most users. Some people don’t put much store in lab test results but, regardless, I always find them an interesting read.

And, if you read on, I think you might get at least one surprise.

According to the latest lab test results from the well respected AV-Test, the following products are the top-rated antivirus products, scoring a perfect 6 out of 6 across all three areas:

  • Protection: Combined protection against zero-day attacks and prevalent malware
  • Performance: Impact on system responsiveness and overall performance
  • Usability: Numbers of false positives


Very close seconds, still rating 6 out of 6 for protection and just dropping a mere .5 of a point behind the top rating products are:


The following products are rated 5.5 out of 6 for protection and scored a perfect 6 out of 6 for both Performance and Usability:


As you can see, there is very little to pick between these top-ranked products, and it’s interesting to note that Microsoft Defender is the only free antivirus among this group. So, what about those antivirus products that didn’t quite manage the top ranking? The products in the following group were a tad unlucky to just miss out on the top ranking by the barest of margins, all rating 6 out of 6 for protection (with the exception of McAfee which rated 5.5 out of 6) and just dropping .5 of a point here and there in other areas:


Avast, the only other free antivirus tested, sits in the above group with a perfect score for protection. Now for the also-rans– these products still managed to gain certification but with the lowest scores:


Note Malwarebytes Premium’s 4.5 out of 6 for Protection, not a good result. Surprisingly, it was Malwarebytes’ comparatively poor performance against zero-day attacks that dragged this score down. Malwarebytes’ rating of 4 out of 6 for Performance is also comparatively poor and is the lowest score in this area out of all the products tested. Meaning that running Malwarebytes Premium will have a more negative impact on system performance than the average.


  • As mentioned earlier, with the possible exception of the bottom group, there is very little to pick between these antivirus products and any will do a good job
  • These latest test results tend to confirm that Microsoft’s built-in antivirus has improved out of sight and is now right up there, competing with even the premium antivirus products
  • Products that were submitted for testing but apparently failed to meet the certification standard include: Baidu, Comodo, Emsisoft, ESET, Fortinet, Panda, Sophos, and Webroot.

*Credit to AV-Test. If you want to view more information about a particular product, visit AV-Test and click on the entry for any antivirus product in the list to open a fully detailed report.

15 thoughts on “Most Effective Antivirus Products 2020”

  1. there is another free antivirus that I have been using for years it is called Comodo Internet Security it does a pretty good job in finding things also I find it to be very reliable in protecting your comp I don’t know if you tried that one or not but I like it and it has found alot of things on my comp for me

    1. Hey Anne,

      Comodo was included in the list of antivirus products that failed to qualify for certification. However, AV-TEST does not make it clear if this was the free edition or the premium edition. Regardless, if Comodo is doing a good job for you, then that’s all that matters.

  2. yes it does a good job for me Jim yes that is true as long as it is working me I did try Avira at one time many yrs ago I don’t remember why I got rid of it then I had gone to comodo and had that ever since yes it does work for me and I guess every one has their own opinion on which one is good for them but I enjoy reading the Daves computer tips as you give good tips on alot of things and I like that alot ! you do a good job on your tips !

    1. I also tried Avira some time ago. Avira has very good detection rates but, for some reason, its real time protection service kept disabling itself and I was forced to be continually re-installing. Soon got tired of that. 🙂

      And yes, you are 100% correct, everyone does have their own opinion on which one is best.

      Thanks for your kind words Anne, appreciated.

  3. Yes Jim I have heard other people saying the same thing about Avira real protection stopped working they to got rid of it yes it is a pain in reinstalling it all the time I don’t blame you for getting rid of it either I am surprised if any one is using it still You have a good Memorial day weekend You are welcome !

  4. I’m using Panda Dome as it is a cloud app. Was that tested? If so then it perhaps performed badly- I’d like to know!

    1. Hey Otto,

      Panda was tested but failed to make certification. I like Panda myself, have it installed on a laptop I take with me on my travels and recommend it to my clients. It’s an excellent AV in my view.

  5. Jim, I will apologize in advance for the long comment, Like you, I tend to rely on Microsoft Defender at this time. I have watched Defender grow from an initial anemic release to a very robust solid AV platform.

    I believe the ratings by AV test to be trustworthy based on the criteria they used to test the products. However what they failed to consider is:

    The tighter integration and compatibility by using a Microsoft AV on a Microsoft computer, The new Isolated browsing feature which opens Microsoft Edge in an isolated environment, the much higher security rating when running windows in S mode. (MS defender is actually the only AV compatible program when in S mode) Also they have added WDEG, Windows Defender Exploit Guard in the Fall release which gives the user an unprecedented level of security settings.

    As a past IT administrator, I have always considered the need of a third-party security for Windows a must. Now I believe Microsoft has managed to eliminate that need.

    1. Hey Michael,

      ESET was also tested but failed to make certification. Personally, I believe ESET to be as solid as a rock and comparatively light on resources. David (of Daves Computer Tips) was always an ESET user, not sure if he still is, and there is no greater recommendation than that.

      There is somewhat of a trade off with all these antivirus products, if they work to maximum efficacy they tend to consume far too many resources and, of course, if they are light on resources but the protection is underdone, they are not of much use. So, it’s always a fine balancing act. In my opinion, ESET has got the balance right.

  6. Hi Jim,

    Thank you, it is always interesting see the results of the AV tests and the top products continuing to give the best available Internet security and safety.

    I have been using Emsisoft Pro for many years on 3 computers with a renewal fee of USD $25.00 for the 3, under Aussie $40.00

    It is very surprising not the see the Emsisoft name in the current AV test list when usually it makes the top of the list, or close to it.
    However, Emsisoft has all the protection which the other ‘top markers’ have, plus Emsisoft has the Emergency Rescue Kit in the package.
    I have never had security problems, and as you say, “Whatever works for you.”



    1. Hey Jonno,

      Yes, I was also surprised not to see Emsisoft in the list. Apparently it was submitted for testing but didn’t make the grade. As you know, I am a huge Emsisoft Emergency Kit fan.

      Cheers mate… Jim

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