Best Mac Antivirus Software

You need an antivirus program on your Mac. That statement may cause some Apple users to shake their heads in disbelief, but with the amount of Mac malware on the Internet today, this fact is no longer up for debate.

In 2012, there was the Flashback Trojan that infected 600,000 Macs. In 2013, a targeted attack hit OS X developers at Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter and Apple itself. In 2015, the XCodeGhost attack poisoned hundreds of OS X and iOS apps. And in early 2016, the first known piece of encrypting ransomware for Macs appeared.

After evaluating six free and paid Mac antivirus products, Avira Free Mac Security is our top pick, thanks to its perfect malware-detection scores and intuitive interface. If you're willing to pay for Mac protection, Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac had the least impact on system performance of any solution we reviewed.

How We Tested

For all six Mac antivirus products we reviewed in this round, our testing was conducted on a mid-2012 15-inch MacBook Pro running OS X Yosemite 10.10.3. It was powered by a 2.3-GHz Intel Core i7 processor and had 4GB RAM.

Each antivirus software package was evaluated according to three criteria: efficacy against malware, performance impact and user experience. The latter included ease of use and of installation, as well as the usefulness of any extra features.

To gauge how effective each package was at stopping malware, we used the results of evaluations conducted by AV-TEST, a well-regarded independent product-testing lab in Germany. AV-TEST tested the Mac anti-malware engines of each brand to see how well each detected malware during both active scans (which AV-TEST calls "on-demand" scanning) and when files are opened, executed or downloaded (which AV-TEST refers to as "on-access").

Before we installed any AV software, we established performance baselines by running our custom OpenOffice spreadsheet test, which measures how quickly the computer's CPU can match 20,000 names with 20,000 corresponding addresses. The tests were run separately for accuracy. Each AV product was uninstalled before another was installed.

After installation of each package, we ran the OpenOffice test three times more — first without any active scan, then during quick scans and full-system scans. We then measured the performance impact by timing how much longer our spreadsheet test took to finish.

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83 comments
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  • bought the bitdefender one for 25ish pounds.

    Got a non working activation key in return. And i had to delete my free 1 years trail of Kaspersky which worked just fine!
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  • Comodo Internet Security seems to work well with little system slowdown compared to most products. Offers FREE antivirus and firewall which beat the Microsoft and most paid programs. Has caught virii & blocked malware that other products would have allowed. I do supplement the anti-malware scans for peace of mind sake, but then I haven't found products with the others that weren't already identified by Comodo.
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  • Here is a critical test that I think should be included in every antivirus program test: Impact on TimeMachine. I had Avira installed on my computer - and as a result, a backup of 20GB of data with TimeMachine would take more than three days. I had to uninstall Avira - and now my backup is back to normal.
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  • What is "normal"?
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  • I think you may want to check out ESET AV.
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  • Originally Avira Free didn't bug you to upgrade as I have used it for years. Now it does.
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  • No mention of QuickHeal ? or it wasn't tested ? I heard it;s pretty good with excellent Customer Support.
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  • Sandboxie was an excellent addition to your internet security but it seems to crash my PC now, have not found a good alternative yet.

    I also use Malwarebytes anti exploit (protection against zero day attacks) and Zemana anti logger to minimise effectiveness of key loggers in case they get through the defence. All of these programs are free.

    I would not pay for AV and find there is no need to pay as long as you have a good backup strategy in place just incase you get something nasty on your PC. Another couple of things that will reduce your chance of infection are:

    1. Install adblock plus on your browser.

    2. Disable javascript on your browser (you can switch it on briefly if there is something on a site you really need to see)

    3. Uninstall Java from your computer, this is known to be the biggest vulnerability that hackers use.

    4. Uninstall adobe reader and flashplayer as they also contain vulnerabilities that hackers use.

    5. Make sure your windows and all other programs are upto date with patches and that you are running the latest version.
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  • I still use Norton Internet Security and it works like a charm
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  • I will suggest you to go with norton security. this is the best security to use.
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  • We uses AVIRA from all our software house outlets its very very good, our employee's are also satisfied ! Thumb(s) Up !!
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  • Kaspersky Total Security provides best protection for your Computer. It's good, but the competition is better and cheaper.
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  • The only problem I found with Avira is that is made Time Machine an my iMac terribly slow.After removing Avira the backup speed was back to normal again. I hope Avira will tackle this problem soon.
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  • I am using Avira Free version. It apparently is regarded as the best, free or paid. HOWEVER, it is almost impossible to set up unless you are an MIT PhD in IT. And maybe not even then. The "scan" takes almost 3 days and slows and almost stops you from working on your PC. There is apparently no choice of scan option although it hints to a "quick" scan but good luck in finding how to set it up for running on a schedule. I allow the scan to run for a day then stop it so I can have the use of my computer back. There is no support for the free version and attempting to use the "forum" or "community" help it very close to useless. I had purchased the paid version a year ago, found it even more complicated than the free version and as a result cancelled it. Now how's this for being ironic: I had Microsoft Windows Defender (free, along with Malwarebytes free) for over a year and experienced NO problems whatsoever. And it was so very easy to use. Go figure. If you go to Avira be ready to deal with the frustrations and aggravation.
    PS: The upshot is I Googled "Top Rated Antivirus Programs" and found this article expounding on Avira. What's a body to do? I think that I will keep my Malwarebytes and go back to Windows Defender as Avira is just so difficult.
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  • I am using Comodo Free Antivirus for my Windows PC. It's provides complete virus protection & working perfectly. But here this product is missing. why?
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  • 2155242 said:
    I am using Comodo Free Antivirus for my Windows PC. It's provides complete virus protection & working perfectly. But here this product is missing. why?
    Thanks for your reply JohnRose. I have replaced Avira as what good is the best if you can't understand how to use it? AND it takes 3 days to complete a scan stopping the use of your computer during that time? Malwarebytes, Ccleaner and Microsoft Window Defender work easily and just fine. As they say: "KISS". (Keep It Simple, Stupid).
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  • I started with Norton in 2006, back when it was a resource hog. Later in 2009 I switched to McAfee for a year, and then back to Norton. I dropped off Norton and used free AVs like Avira and Comodo Internet Security for a while, before switching to Kaspersky in 2013.

    Have been using Kaspersky ever since, and it has never let me down. Plus it is very cheap where I live, I got an Internet Security license 3 years, 3 PCs for $25.
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  • 1764766 said:
    I started with Norton in 2006, back when it was a resource hog. Later in 2009 I switched to McAfee for a year, and then back to Norton. I dropped off Norton and used free AVs like Avira and Comodo Internet Security for a while, before switching to Kaspersky in 2013. Have been using Kaspersky ever since, and it has never let me down. Plus it is very cheap where I live, I got an Internet Security license 3 years, 3 PCs for $25.
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  • Tks for ur reply Rishabh, as I noted I have given up and dropped Avira in favor of MS Windows Defender with Malwarebytes and Ccleaner. Worked before so why not now? AND it's EZ.
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