(Last updated on January 12th, 2021)
Avast or ESET, which antivirus software is a better choice in 2021?
Read this ultimate Avast versus ESET comparison to make a smart decision.
In today’s digital landscape, internet security is more important than ever.
Do you know the AV-Test institute registers over 350,000 new malicious programs (also called malware) every day? In the U.S. alone, over 8 million computers were infected in 2018. These numbers are alarming, and the worry is that they’re only going up each year.
But how do you ensure your data and privacy are in safe hands?
Free antivirus software isn’t going to cut it these days; you need a comprehensive antivirus package with all the advanced features and utilities, not a flimsy shield that will fall apart in the face of sophisticated malware attacks.
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Overall, Norton 360 Deluxe (currently at 70% off) is our pick for the best antivirus suite in 2021. It is competitively priced and comes with almost everything you could possibly ask for, such as a firewall, a fully integrated VPN, dark web monitoring, cloud backup storage (50GB), a password manager, and parental controls. You can cover up to 5 PCs, Macs, smartphones or tablets with this suite.
If you want full-on identity protection and don’t mind paying more, Norton 360 with LifeLock Select (currently at 35% off) gives those in the US a full range of identity protection features, more backup space (100GB), as well as all the above.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of two big antivirus software companies: Avast and ESET. We’ll see what features both companies offers in their products, as well as how both software fared in the recent independent lab evaluations by reputable labs.
In a rush? Take a look at the summary below for a quick view of the battle.
A Quick Rundown of Winners in Each Category
Winner: Avast. Compared to ESET, Avast offers more security-enhancing features and utilities with its premium security products.
2. Malware Protection
Winner: Avast. Avast offers top-of-the-line anti-malware security. It outperformed ESET in both independent examinations we considered.
3. System Performance
Winner: Tie. Neither Avast nor ESET will slow down your system.
Winner: Tie. Avast’s user interface is simpler and more intuitive, but people who like to have more control over antivirus’ operations may prefer ESET’s interface.
Winner: ESET. Compared to Avast, ESET’s antivirus suites are slightly cheaper, providing more bang for your buck.
6. Customer Service
Winner: ESET. According to independent sources, ESET scores higher than Avast in terms of customer satisfaction.
The bottom line is that both Avast and ESET are well-known antivirus software, but when you consider price, performance, and protection, Avast is clearly ahead of ESET. The latter doesn’t rate well with the independent testing labs, whereas Avast routinely gets perfect or near-perfect scores on all independent assessments.
Best Antivirus for 2021
- Robust feature-set
- Excellent anti-malware security
- Minimal system impact
- Easy-to-use interface
- Automatic updates
- Trusted by 50 million users
- 100% virus protection promise
- 60-day money-back guarantee
#2 (Very Good)
- Exceptional malware protection
- Little impact on performance
- Trusted by millions of users
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- User-friendly interface
#3 (Very Good)
- Good malware protection
- Trusted by big corporations
- Minimal impact on performance
- Good value for money
- 30-day risk-free guarantee
Now, let’s dig into the details.
One of the most important things you should consider is the number of advanced features and utilities both software companies offer in their security products.
First, let’s see what Avast brings to the table.
Avast offers separate products for Windows and macOS. First, we’ll cover the Windows-only products.
Avast Free Antivirus is the company’s limited free solution. The freeware offers basic-level protection against a range of digital threats, but there aren’t many features or utilities incorporated into the product, other than the Wi-Fi Inspector tool that helps find vulnerabilities in your network and a useful password manager that can store all your passwords.
Avast Internet Security is the company’s first premium offering. This product offers everything included in the free version, along with an advanced two-way firewall that blocks attacks in real-time and an email filter that keeps junk and malicious emails away from your inbox.
There’s also an interesting feature called Sandbox Mode; it lets you run any programs from your computer in a “sandbox” mode that prevents malware from sneaking into your computer. It’s handy for investigating suspicious files or software that you might download from the internet. The Real Site feature that prevents fake DNS routing is also part of the suite. It protects your network, too.
Avast Premier is the next tier of coverage offered by Avast. This package offers everything found in the previous suites, plus a webcam anti-spying tool that can stop hackers from watching you through your webcam. The Data Shredder tool that overwrites files with meaningless data before deleting to ensure no one can recover them is also part of the package, along with the Software Updater tool that can automatically update apps to reduce security risks.
Another level up is Avast Ultimate, which is the company’s top-of-the-line security suite. This package offers everything that comes with the Premier suite, plus a VPN utility that lets you anonymously browse the internet without being monitored and a comprehensive clean-up tool that can significantly speed up the performance of your computer.
For Mac-specific protection, the company offers Avast Security for Mac. It comes in two different versions: Free and Pro. The freeware is pretty barebones and doesn’t offer much value, though it does protect against various types of malware threats, while the Pro version adds a few extra perks. These include the Vulnerability Scanner, the Wi-Fi intruder alert feature, and protection against ransomware attacks.
Interested in Avast’s business-specific products? Click here for more information.
Now, let’s see what ESET offers in terms of features.
Unlike Avast, ESET doesn’t offer a limited freeware.
ESET NOD32 Antivirus, which is only compatible with PCs, is the most basic coverage offered by this company. This package provides complete defense against viruses, worms, ransomware, and other related threats. Plus, you also get a few useful features such as a website shield that protects your sensitive information while your surf or shop online and the Game Mode feature that lets you turn off notifications for a seamless experience.
Next up is ESET Internet Security. This suite includes everything that you get with the previous suite, along with an advanced firewall, the Anti-Spam shield, and a secure browser for banking and payment activities.
You also get a full suite of parental controls. These features allow you to monitor your kids’ browsing habits and block certain websites from being accessed. Protection against webcam spying is also jammed into the suite, along with the useful Anti-Theft module that helps track missing or stolen computers.
ESET Smart Security Premium is the highest antivirus coverage offered by the company. This package includes all the features and tools jammed into the previous suites, along with a full-blown a password manager to securely store all of your passwords and the Secure Data tool that creates encrypted directories on your computer.
ESET also offers customer support in several different languages.
Note: If you have ESET Internet Security or ESET Smart Security Premium, you can also download ESET’s Mac- or Android-specific antivirus products. But there’s no multi-device license package, so you’ll have to pay much more if you want to protect many devices. (We’ll cover the pricing later in this guide.)
If you’re interested in ESET’s business products, follow this link for more information.
Winner: Avast. Overall, Avast’s premium products offer more security-related features and utilities than ESET’s.
2. Malware Protection
The ability to defend your computer against different types of malware threats is the most critical aspect of antivirus software.
How can we find out which of these two antivirus programs boasts better malware defense? We can turn to independent testing organizations who regularly publish results pertaining to each software’s defensive capabilities. This will allow us to get the truth instead of relying on potentially-biased reports and advertisements.
AV-Test rates all antivirus software on a scale of 1 to 6 (with 6 being the highest score possible) in three different categories: Protection, Performance, and Usability. Their most recent evaluations were conducted during January and February 2019. Avast scored a perfect 6 out of 6 in the Protection category of these evaluations, because of perfect malware detection scores during both months.
ESET, on the other hand, didn’t take part in the recent AV-Test examinations. The last time AV-Test experts evaluated ESET was back in December 2017.
AV-Comparatives is another unbiased organization we can look to in order to find unbiased information about each software’s protective capabilities. In their recent Real-World Protection Test report, Avast received the highest award offered by AV-Comparatives, which is the ADVANCED+ Award, due to its excellent malware detection rate and low false positives’ count.
ESET earned the second-best ADVANCED award, which is good but not as good as Avast’s.
Winner: Avast. Overall, Avast has better anti-malware capabilities than ESET, as seen in two different unbiased lab tests.
3. System Performance
While anti-malware capabilities are important, it’s also helpful to consider the impact a security software puts on system performance.
The experts at AV-Test use the same 1 to 6 grading scale to measure the impact of antivirus products on system performance. In their recent evaluations, Avast impressed the testers with a decent 5.5 out of 6 in the Performance category.
ESET, as mentioned before, didn’t participate in the recent AV-Test evaluations.
AV-Comparatives also conducts a similar test, called Performance Test, to see how much strain each antivirus software put on computers. In their recent test, Avast — once again — got the highest ADVANCED+ award, due to its minimal impact on test systems. ESET also got the ADVANCED+ award in the test, matching Avast.
Winner: Both. Both Avast and ESET put a minimal impact on system performance.
Antivirus software that has a clunky interface or confusing controls is almost as useless as one that can’t protect you from malware.
Let’s see which of these two companies is better in this category.
Avast uses a relatively simple interface centered around an intuitive control panel. There’s a sidebar with all of the options and operations that allow you to switch between tasks relatively quickly. All of its buttons are large and well-labeled so anyone new to computer security or those who are not very computer literate will appreciate the simplicity and interface.
The downside to Avast’s interface is that you might frequently see ads if you use the free version of the software. This can very quickly become frustrating or annoying, as the software will continue to pester you to upgrade until you give in.
ESET’s interface has a basic dashboard – in colors of blue and gray. You can resize the interface very easily and run it in windowed or full-screen modes. One interesting innovation is the ability to take a file right from your computer and drag and drop it straight into the interface for instant scanning.
Navigating through ESET’s menus and drop-down tabs, however, can be a little complicated, especially if you only want to do one basic task. It’s not quite as user-friendly or simplistic as the interface from Avast, although more seasoned computer users might not have much of a problem with the complexity.
There is an indicator bar located on the dashboard that will light up and flash if your computer has an imminent security problem.
Winner: Tie. Those who aren’t computer literate will prefer Avast, while more seasoned computer users may prefer ESET.
Another important consideration is pricing.
To find out which antivirus software gives you more bang for your buck, let’s look at how much each tier of coverage costs and how many licenses you get with each product.
Avast Internet Security, the company’s first paid option, costs $59.99 per year for one device. Then you have Avast Premier, which costs $69.99 per year for one device. Avast Ultimate, which is the company’s full-blown antivirus suite, costs $119.99 per year for one device, which is quite pricey for an upgrade that only adds a few extra features. Finally, Avast’s flagship macOS product, Avast Antivirus for Mac, protects one device for $59.99.
You can get slight discounts on all Avast packages if you subscribe for two or three years instead of just one.
|Avast Products||Regular Price||Discounted Price|
|Avast Internet Security||$47.99/year||Check here|
|Avast Premium Security (1 Device)||$69.99/year||Check here|
|Avast Premium Security (Multi-Device)||$89.99/year||Check here|
|Avast Ultimate||$99.99/year||Check here|
|Avast Business Antivirus||Varies||Check here|
Now, let’s see how much ESET’s suites cost.
ESET NOD32 Antivirus, the first offering from the company, protects one device for $39.99 per year. ESET Internet Security, the next package, costs $49.99 per year for one device, while ESET Smart Security Premium costs $59.99 per year for one license as well.
|ESET Products||Regular Price||Discounted Price|
|ESET NOD32 Antivirus||$39.99/year||Check here|
|ESET Internet Security||$49.99/year||Check here|
|ESET Smart Security Premium||$59.99/year||Check here|
|ESET Multi-device Security||$69.99/year||Check here|
|ESET Cyber Security for Mac||$49.99/year||Check here|
|ESET Business Products||Varies||Check here|
Winner: ESET. Overall, ESET’s products are slightly cheaper than Avast’s.
6. Customer Service
Finally, let’s see if the actual customers of Avast and ESET are happy with their purchases.
By checking this, we can determine the overall performance of each company’s customer service, which might come into play if there’s some technical problem or you need a refund for some reason.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is a popular rating company we can check to find the average of many different genuine customer reviews given to a particular company. The BBB uses a grading scale of A to F. Avast performed exceptionally well here, earning an excellent A+ rating. ESET also received an A+ from this website.
Another trusted website we can turn to is Consumeraffairs.org. They use a five-star grading scale, with five being the best. From this website, Avast only gets an average 2/5 rating, while ESET scored a much better 4/5 stars.
Winner: Both. Overall, ESET is slightly ahead of Avast in terms of customer service.
Avast is the overall winner as it offers more security-related features and extra utilities in its products than ESET. Also, independent tests prove that both software put a minimal impact on system performance, but Avast provides better anti-malware security than ESET.
Our recommendations: If you want to get the highest level of security and performance, there's no better choice than Norton, which protects over 50 million users worldwide.
After reviewing dozens of antivirus products from some of the biggest names in the cybersecurity realm, we believe that Norton 360 Deluxe is the best antivirus suite available on the market. It provides flawless anti-malware protection without slowing you down. Plus, you get almost all the advanced features you could ever want.
If you're willing to pay more for advanced identity protection features, we recommend Norton 360 with LifeLock select (only available in the US). It's a bit pricey but worth the price.
Anas Baig is a consumer privacy advocate and cybersecurity journalist by profession. Has has more than 7 years of professional experience under his belt. Anas has been featured on numerous media publications including The Guardian, Lifehacker, The Next Web, Infosecurity Magazine, Security Boulevard, Hacker Noon, CMS Wire, IAPP, SC Magazine, and many others. His interest includes Digital Privacy Rights, Information Security, Networking, Privacy, and Data Protection.