Antivirus Software Shield

This article covers what to look for when choosing the best antivirus software for you, and why picking the right security package for your computer is more important than ever.

The idea that a PC is a haven for viruses has changed over the past ten years. People are more aware of dangerous links, websites, and downloads that may contain viruses. However, malicious programs that are intended to steal something or create havoc on your computer are still being created. And while you may feel confident that you’re safely using the internet, antivirus protection is still a must.

These days, Windows 10 is an extremely secure operating system. Years of development and patching has allowed Microsoft to construct a system that is incredibly secure. However, every system has loopholes and flaws that can and are being exploited.

Why do you need antivirus protection on a PC?

There is a lot of antivirus software out there, and deciding which one is right for you can be confusing. From a pure “what’s the best antivirus software?” and malware-protection perspective, there are only minor differences that separate the market. Nearly all of the antivirus providers below have perfect scores when it comes to finding, and removing, known malicious files.

Having good antivirus software is only part of the puzzle, though. Staying secure online in today’s environment is an ever-changing problem. For example, you can have the best antivirus software on the market (see below), and still be vulnerable to attacks by things that happen off (not on) your device.

Using a free Wi-Fi network in a coffee shop or hotel, for example, leaves you exposed to malicious software, or users, lurking on the same network. For that reason, some of the best antivirus packages come with a free VPN bundled, allowing you to stay safe on public networks by encrypting all your uploaded/downloaded data.

Password Managers that monitor for data breaches are another must-have for those looking to stay safe online. Why? Because data breaches happen all the time. At big-named companies too. Adobe, eBay, Sony, Yahoo to name just a few. Take a look at this list of data branches to see how big the problem is. Data breaches pose a problem for anyone who uses the same email and password for multiple accounts (which is pretty much everyone) as the data stolen from these attacks is often sold to malicious users on the Dark Web. That’s why services like Norton and McAfee bundle Password Managers with their antivirus packages that allow users to quickly see where they have repeated the same login information.

How do we test PC Antivirus software?

All our test results come from the excellent AV-tests website. Antivirus software is tested on a number of different criteria, in identical and reproducible conditions. We’ve broken down the results into three different criteria:

Protection: This is a test of how well the software detects and protects your PC from real threats. These test results are not theoretical. They have not simulated test conditions. During testing, the products are required to defend the PC from the latest malicious software attacks. These include malware, drive-by attacks that are downloaded from websites, email infection attacks and much more. The more malicious content the antivirus software detects and destroys, the higher the protection percentage.

Impact on resources: This is a test that finds out how much the antivirus software affects the speed of the protected PC. Special attention is placed on how much the antivirus slows down the PC when launching websites, downloading programs, launching standard software, program installation and copying files.

Value: Microsoft’s free integrated antivirus software, Microsoft Defender, has consistently been improved and is now just as good at protecting your PC as other more expensive antivirus software. To combat this, third-party antivirus providers have started including useful add-ons with their subscriptions. Here are some key add-ons to look for when choosing antivirus software

Add-ons to consider

VPN: A VPN will allow you to browse the internet anonymously, meaning you will be safe to go online anywhere in the world. If you take your laptop to a coffee shop, for example, your connection will not be secure unless you use a VPN that encrypts your data.

Password Manager: A good password manager will not only stop you from having to remember all of your passwords; it will also keep your passwords secure by encrypting them, storing them and alerting you if a site (that you have a login for) has been hacked and your data is at risk.

Cloud Backups: Even the best antivirus software can only protect your device from known viruses and malicious files. If/when a new threat comes along it’s a good idea to have your most important files backed up in the cloud. Cloud backups offer a great additional layer of security for your most important files as they’re kept secure (in the cloud) in a location that’s not your hard drive.

These add-ons, er, add value as they allow your PC to be even safer when surfing the internet. It is important to consider if there is anything extra on offer when deciding what antivirus software you want to make sure you are getting the best value for your purchase.

The 10 BEST antivirus software programs 2021

Here are you will find a list of the top 10 best antivirus software in New Zealand. Note that all ten AV products below posted perfect malware-protection scores, however, they differ in terms of performance, compatibility, price and add-on value.

  1. Avira Prime

    Top 10 best antivirus software 2021 8

    Price: $130.00 NZD/Year for up to 5 devices

    Malware detection: 100%

    Impact on browser: 8%

    Impact on apps: 7%

    Avira isn’t as well known as Norton and McAfee in New Zealand, however, the German-made antivirus software is brilliant, managing to identify 100% of the malware thrown at it during testing, while having almost no impact on speed.

    AV isn’t all Avira does, the Prime tier bundles its industry-leading antivirus software with an unlimited VPN for secure, private internet browsing. It also includes a password manager and PC tune-up tools that help keep your PC running smoothly.

    Avira Prime is compatible with Android, Mac and Windows and has an installation maximum of 5 devices.

    Quick Verdict: Avira Prime is an affordable antivirus package that has a low impact on PC speeds and is compatible with almost all devices.

    Click here to get Avira Prime

  2. Norton 360 Premium

    Top 10 best antivirus software 2021 4

    Price: $204.99 NZD/year for up to 5 devices

    Malware detection: 100%

    Impact on browser: 8%

    Impact on apps: 7%

    Norton has been at the top (or very near the top) of the antivirus market for over a decade. This is an important consideration when it comes to choosing your next trusted AV as it means its a company that has demonstrated its ability to quickly react and protect its users against new threats. And new threats are developed all the time.

    The subscription is more expensive than other software on this list. But it justifies that with access to a VPN, a password manager and the ability to backup your most valuable files in the cloud.

    Importantly, Norton 360 Premium has a minimal effect on your computer’s speed and posted perfect scores during sophisticated malicious file tests.

    Quick Verdict: Norton 360 Premium has a minimal effect on your computer’s speed but it is more expensive than its competitors.

    Click here to get Norton 360

  3. McAfee Total Protection Plus

    Top 10 best antivirus software 2021 9

    Price: $137.00 NZD/year for up to 5 devices

    Malware detection: 100%

    Impact on browser: 11%

    Impact on apps: 8%

    McAfee Total Protection is a great antivirus for protecting your PC, achieving a perfect 100% malware detection score. However, it does have a slightly larger impact on computer speed when compared to Norton and Microsoft Defender. The 11% impact on browser speed is slightly higher than Norton’s 8% however it is still below the industry average of 16%.

    The McAfee Total Protection Plus package comes with a VPN, a password manager, cloud backups and it is compatible with PC, Android and macOS.

    McAfee is one of the most popular names in antivirus software and it still sits high on the list as one of the best antivirus software on the market.

    Quick Verdict: McAfee Total Protection Plus has a slightly larger impact on computer speed but is very affordable and offers a cheap 10 device subscription.

    Click here to get McAfee Total Protection Plus

  4. F-Secure Total

    Top 10 best antivirus software 2021 6

    Price: $166 NZD/Year for up to 5 devices

    Malware detection: 100%

    Impact on browser: 6%

    Impact on apps: 3%

    F-Secure Total has the best scores for performance on this list. It has the lowest impact on computer speed when launching standard software at 3% and it also has an impressively low effect on websites at 6%. Both of these scores make F-Secure Total the antivirus software that runs the best with your PC.

    These impressive scores are probably why it is quite a bit more expensive than its competitors at $166 NZD/year for up to 5 devices.

    Made in Finland, the F-Secure Total package comes with a VPN, password manager and also has online identity monitoring which provides 24/7 Dark Web surveillance to find your personal information from security breaches.

    F-Secure Total is ideal for someone who needs an antivirus that isn’t going to slow down what may be an already slow PC. It is also compatible with Android, PC and macOS.

    Quick Verdict: F-Secure Total has the best performance scores on this list but is slightly more expensive than comparable antivirus software.

    Click here to get F-Secure Total

  5. Microsoft Defender

    Top 10 best antivirus software 2021 1

    Price: Free with Windows

    Malware detection: 100%

    Impact on browser: 6%

    Impact on apps: 6%

    Microsoft Defender posted perfect protection scores during testing. It also had the lightest effect on performance when launching popular websites and similarly when launching popular apps.

    If you’re just looking for antivirus software to protect your Windows-based machine, Windows Defender is a great option. However, as explained above, antivirus is only part of the online security problem these days. And because Microsoft Defender is only compatible with Microsoft devices, and only protects against traditional malicious files, it’s not a great option for all-round protection.

    Quick Verdict: Microsoft Defender has a very low impact on your PCs performance, it’s a great option for those who are more confident with their device’s security and don’t require extra features such as VPNs, Password Managers and secure cloud backup.

    Click here to get Microsoft Defender

  6. VIPRE Ultimate Security Bundle

    Top 10 best antivirus software 2021 2

    Price: $246.00 NZD/Year for up to 5 devices

    Malware detection: 100%

    Impact on browser: 7%

    Impact on apps: 5%

    VIPRE Advanced Security has some of the lowest impact scores on the speed of a PC. It is very expensive however it comes with a VPN, and VIPRE’s Privacy Shield which protects your microphone and webcam by blocking outside connections. It also comes with a password manager.

    If this price scares you, VIPRE also has some great sales to look out for. If you can purchase this antivirus on sale, VIPRE can potentially become the best value antivirus on the market. At the time of writing, there is a 68% discount on VIPRE’s website which is a massively significant saving. Be wary that this will only last one year and the price will be back to normal for any subsequent years.

    Quick Verdict: VIPRE Ultimate Security is expensive but has some of the best sales on the market. It has everything you need from antivirus software and is compatible on Android, PC and macOS.

    Click here to get VIPRE Ultimate Security Bundle

  7. G DATA Total Security

    Top 10 best antivirus software 2021 5

    Price: $112.00 NZD/year for up to 5 devices

    Malware detection: 100%

    Impact on browser: 12%

    Impact on apps: 13%

    G DATA Total Security is another German-made antivirus software. It has more of an impact on PC performance than the entries above it, but it is quite a bit cheaper than these other entries.

    That low price point is definitely enticing however G DATA Total Security does not come with a VPN like some other antivirus packages we have seen here. This may be why it is a cheaper option. With that said it does come with cloud backup features, a password manager and access controls that restrict unauthorised devices from accessing the antivirus software.

    For someone who isn’t looking for a VPN with their antivirus, G DATA Total Security is of great value and is compatible with Android, PC and macOS.

    Quick Verdict: G DATA Total Security has one of the lowest prices for a 5 device/year subscription but will have a larger impact on your computer speed than others like Norton or McAfee.

    Click here to get G Data Total Security

  8. BullGuard Premium Protection

    Top 10 best antivirus software 2021 7

    Price: $159.99 NZD/year for up to 10 devices

    Malware detection: 100%

    Impact on browser: 16%

    Impact on apps: 9%

    BullGuard Premium Protection has one of the largest impacts on the speed of a PC when opening popular websites on this list, however, it only has a 9% impact on apps which is equal to the industry average.

    The Premium Protection package also provides protection for up to 10 devices. Making BullGuard Premium Protection a compelling choice for anyone with a lot of devices in their household.

    BullGuard Premium Protection doesn’t come with some very important add-ons, though. There’s no password manager or VPN on offer here. The software does have Identity protection but this is not to be confused with a VPN or password manager, this is a 24/7 service that monitors for information breaches. While still useful, it isn’t as reliable or helpful as an included VPN.

    Quick Verdict: BullGuard Premium Protection will protect your PC, and is ideal for someone with a lot of devices however it doesn’t come with a password manager or a VPN.

    Click here to get BullGuard Premium Protection

  9. Trend Micro Premium Security

    Top 10 best antivirus software 2021 3

    Price: $179.99 NZD/year for up to 6 devices

    Malware detection: 100%

    Impact on browser: 29%

    Impact on apps: 13%

    Trend Micro Internet Security will protect your PC from malware but it has the largest effect on PC performance out of all the antivirus software on this list.

    It has a massive effect on computer speed when launching popular websites, and it also has a significant impact on computer speed when launching standard software.

    It is compatible with macOS and Android, and it comes with a password manager and a VPN that is targeted at Apple device users, however, the impact on the speed of the PC is a lot higher than its competitors.

    Quick Verdict: Trend Micro Internet Security offers great protection for your PC, but it will have the largest impact on your computers speed.

    Click here to get Trend Micro Premium Security

  10. ESET Ultimate Protection

    Top 10 best antivirus software 2021 10

    Price: $284.93 NZD/year for up to 5 devices

    Malware detection: 100%

    Impact on browser: 13%

    Impact on apps: 4%

    Although the Slovakian made ESET Ultimate Protection has better performance scores than many competitors on this list, it is the most expensive antivirus software by a long way.

    It comes with many features but is critically missing an included VPN. It has a password manager and allows for cloud backups but with a price this high, a VPN is to be expected.

    It has one of the lowest impact scores on computer speed when launching software, and it is compatible with macOS and Android; however, it is hard to justify the high price.

    Quick Verdict: ESET Ultimate Protection will do a great job protecting your PC from malware and have a low effect on your PC speed, but it is the most expensive antivirus on this list and is hard to recommend.

    Click here to get ESET Ultimate Protection

Patch Bowen
Patch Bowen is an accomplished technology journalist with a solid academic foundation, holding a degree from Auckland University. His expertise spans across a range of tech topics, with a notable focus on product reviews, industry trends, and the impact of technology on society. With his work featured on major New Zealand websites like,, and The Press, Patch has established himself as a credible voice in technology media. His articles are known for their detailed analysis and practical insights, particularly in making complex technological concepts understandable for a broad audience. At ReviewsFire, Patch is renowned for his thorough evaluations and clear, informative writing style. He has a knack for identifying and explaining the nuances of the latest gadgets and digital trends, earning him a reputation as a trusted source for tech advice and information.


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