(Last updated on January 6th, 2021)
Kaspersky or Norton, which antivirus software is a better option in 2021?
Read this comprehensive, data-driven comparison to make a smart decision.
In this ultimate guide, you’ll see the features both Kaspersky and Norton offer in their antivirus suites, and how they stack up against each other in terms of malware protection, system impact, user interface, cost, and more.
In the modern, technology-driven world, a reliable antivirus suite is no longer an option but a requirement. A study conducted by CNN found out that the average American spends over 10 hours a day staring at a screen, with computers and mobile phones topping the list of most-used devices.
The digital freedom we enjoy comes at a cost.
Do you know AV-Test institute registers over 350,000 new malware samples every single day? Hackers are constantly releasing new malware that can do a lot of horrible things, such as take over your important files, breach your privacy, steal your sensitive credentials, corrupt your system, etc.
So it’s clear that if you don’t have a reliable antivirus software installed on your computer, it’s only a matter of time before you’ll become yet another victim of rampant malware attacks.
Best Antivirus Suite for 2020
Overall Score: 9.9/10
60-day money-back guarantee
Right now, we think that Norton is the best antivirus software your money can buy. It regularly earns perfect or near-perfect scores from independent labs and has the least impact on system performance compared to rival products. Its products combine top-notch security with an array of excellent security features and, best of all, offer exceptional value for money.
Overall, Norton 360 Deluxe (currently at 70% off) is our pick for the best antivirus suite in 2020. 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 detailed comparison, we are going to pit two renowned antivirus brands – Kaspersky and Norton – against each other to help you choose the right software.
In a rush? Below is a quick summary of the comparison, and the winners in each category.
A Quick Rundown of the Winners in Each Category
Winner: Norton. Norton’s products are packed with many advanced features you won’t find in any other antivirus suite.
2. Malware Protection
Winner: Tie. Both antivirus brands show excellent performance in recent independent malware protection evaluations.
3. System Performance
Winner: Tie. Once again, both Norton and Kaspersky bagged perfect scores in tests conducted by an independent lab.
Winner: Norton. Norton has a far more appealing interface than its competitor, though both companies offer straightforward and intuitive UI.
Winner: Tie. Both antivirus brands have a similar pricing structure and have something to offer to all sorts of users.
Winner: Norton. Norton is currently the most popular antivirus brand, according to the most recent data released by independent stat portals.
Norton is a clear winner as it offers more security-related features and extra utilities in its security products than Kaspersky. Independent tests prove that Norton is better than Kaspersky in terms of malware protection and the impact on system performance.
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
Let’s start off the detailed comparison…
Features are the first thing people examine when they are looking to buy a product or subscribe to a service. You can have a good idea about a product by just looking at its feature set.
Let’s start by going through Kaspersky’s features.
Kaspersky Free is the company’s free antivirus product. It offers basic-level malware protection, scans downloaded files for malware and also protects against online attacks.
If your computer is so riddled with malware that it won’t start, you can make use of Kaspersky’s Rescue Disk.
The downside of using a free product is that it usually offers limited protection and very few — if at all — advanced features/utilities. If security is your top priority, you should go with the premium suite that best meets your needs.
Kaspersky’s entry-level premium offering is Kaspersky Anti-Virus. Along with everything that is included in the freeware, it offers ransomware protection, a Silent Mode utility (for interruption-free experience), and a vulnerability scanner (checks for outdated software and other system vulnerabilities).
Next level up is Kaspersky Internet Security – the company’s most popular suite. It adds a two-way Firewall (monitors network traffic and thwarts hacking attempts via network), a hardened browser for safe shopping/banking, and webcam & microphone protection.
A limited parental control module is also included in the suite. It helps you control what sites your children visit and how much time they can spend online.
Kaspersky Total Security is the company’s full-blown suite. Along with everything that is part of the “Internet Security” suite, it adds a Data Shredder (lets you safely delete your sensitive files so they can’t be recovered), an unlimited password manager (securely stores all your passwords at one place for logins hassle-free), and a file backup utility with 2GB of online space.
A fully-fledged parental control filter and a file encryption utility (makes your sensitive documents/information inaccessible to hackers) are also included in the “Total Security” suite.
Also, a single subscription of Kaspersky Total Security protects all your PCs, Macs, and mobile devices.
A limited free VPN (with the data cap of 20MB) is also included in all Kaspersky suites.
Note: Both Kaspersky Internet Security and Kaspersky Total Security are compatible with both Windows and Mac.
Now, let’s see what Norton brings to the table.
Unlike other antivirus companies, Norton doesn’t offer a freeware.
The bare-bones Norton AntiVirus Basic is the company’s entry-level premium product. It offers limited malware protection and no extra features/utilities other than a useful password manager, which is available as a browser extension.
Note: Norton AntiVirus Basic is only compatible with Windows.
Next level up is Norton Security Standard. Along with everything that is part of the entry-level suite, it offers a two-way Firewall and premium customer support. This suite (and other higher plans) also comes with the virus protection guarantee; in case of malware infection, a Norton expert will either remove it or give you a refund.
You can protect 1 PC and 1 Mac or 1 mobile device with Norton Security Standard.
Another level up is Norton Security Deluxe. It adds a web portal (helps manage all your devices easily) and several PC optimization tools, such as File Clean-up and Disk Optimizer.
You can protect up to 5 PCs, Mac, mobile devices, or tablets under this suite.
Norton Security Premium is the company’s top-level suite. Along with everything that’s jammed into the ‘Deluxe’ suite, it offers family safety features, automatic back-up of your important files (and other documents of your choice), and a secure cloud space of 25GB.
Norton Security Premium comes at different price points depending on the number of PCs, Macs, mobile phones and tablets you want to protect, ranging from 1 to 10.
Winner: Norton. Norton has a more robust feature set than its competitor and gives you more options to choose from.
2. Malware Protection
Malware protection should be another important consideration when buying an antivirus product.
Malware can be classified into two types: known malware (also called widespread malware) and unknown malware (or zero-day malware).
The former type of malware in the one for which digital signatures are already available, meaning an antivirus product can catch it using traditional signature-based scanning (i.e. comparing a suspected file against a huge database of known malware signature files). The latter form of malware is the one that is more prevalent and difficult to catch as no previous signatures are available for it.
Antivirus software relies on heuristic analysis (checking for behavioral attributes of suspected files) to catch zero-day malware.
To find out how Kaspersky and Norton stack up against each other in terms of malware protection, I’ll look at the most recent independent lab tests conducted by AV-Test – a well-known and respected security product testing institute that thoroughly examines top antivirus products.
AV-Test’s most recent evaluations for Windows 10 were held in May-June and July-August 2020. All participating products were tested against various samples of zero-day and known malware.
Both Kaspersky and Norton came up with perfect results, earning 6/6 star ratings from AV-Test experts in the Protection category.
Kaspersky (May-June 2020):
Kaspersky (July-August 2020):
Norton (May-June 2020):
Norton (July-August 2020):
Winner: Tie. It’s clear from the independent lab tests that both Kaspersky and Norton are equally well in terms of malware protection.
3. System Performance
It is important for a security product to not occupy a lot of system resources, or else you’ll have system performance issues – especially if your computer is behind the times.
Again, I’ll look at the most recent performance tests by the independent labs to see which of the two software puts less impact on system performance.
AV-Test’s Performance Test looks at the influence of each participating product on computer performance (speed) while executing a few common computer operations, such as browsing websites, downloading applications, launching applications, copying files.
The impact each product exerts on a system is measured in terms of system slowdown.
Both Kaspersky and Norton registered perfect 6/6 star ratings in this test.
Kaspersky (May-June 2020):
Kaspersky (July-August 2020):
Norton (May-June 2020):
Norton (July-August 2020):
Winner: Tie. Overall, it can be said that both Kaspersky and Norton are extremely light on system resources.
Another important consideration is the user experience.
Let’s delve into Kaspersky’s user interface.
Kaspersky’s interface is neat and simple – in colors of green, white and grey. The Home window, which is also the default screen, has links to six different modules: Scan, Database Update, SafeMoney, Privacy Protection, Parental Controls, and Multi-device Protection. Each module contains relevant features and their settings.
A green horizontal banner at the top shows a reassuring “Your Computer is protected” message next to a checkmark provided your computer is in good condition. It quickly turns to red if there is a problem that needs to be addressed.
At the bottom, there a menu which links to settings, news, support and more.
And it goes without saying that if you’re using the freeware, all of the advanced features and utilities will not be available to you.
Now, let’s see what Norton’s user interface has to offer…
Norton’s user interface is simple and minimalistic, in shades of green and white. You’ll see the same “You Are Protected” message on the main window if everything is in check. In addition, you’ll find four horizontally arranged modules (Security, Identity, Performance, and More Norton) on the main screen. Each module is self-explanatory and consists of relevant features (and their settings).
The option to run a Quick Scan is also available on the main window.
Links to Settings, Help, and Report Card (gives you an overview of different activities) are there in the top bar. At the bottom, you’ll find your subscription status.
Winner: Norton. Overall, it can be said that both Norton and Kaspersky offer a simple and easy-to-use interface. However, Norton’s interface is more modern in outlook than Kaspersky’s, which makes it the winner of this category.
|Kaspersky Products||Regular Price||Discounted Price|
|Kaspersky Anti-Virus||$59.99/year||Check here|
|Kaspersky Internet Security||$79.99/year||Check here|
|Kaspersky Total Security||$99.99/year||Check here|
|Kaspersky Security Cloud (Personal)||$89.99/year||Check here|
|Kaspersky Security Cloud (Family)||$149.99/year||Check here|
|Kaspersky Small Office Security||$149.99/year||Check here|
|Kaspersky End Point Security Cloud||$300.00/year||Check here|
|Norton Products||Regular Price||Discounted Price|
|Norton Antivirus Plus||$59.99/year||Check here|
|Norton 360 Standard||$79.99/year||Check here|
|Norton 360 Deluxe||$99.99/year||Check here|
|Norton 360 with Lifelock Select||$149.99/year||Check here|
|Norton 360 with Utimate Plus||$349.99/year||Check here|
|Norton Small Business Security||Varies||Check here|
Winner: Tie. Both antivirus brands offer various packages, ranging from basic protection to extremely high-end features. The pricing offered by both companies is also almost the same, which is why this category ends in a tie.
Now, let’s see which product is more popular.
To find out whether Kaspersky or Norton is more popular, I’ll look at the most recent independent antivirus market share report, along with the number of followers of both companies on social media.
According to the most recent report by OPSWAT, a company that releases monthly reports on the market share of leading antivirus companies, Norton (Symantec) is on top of the list with a market share of 13.16%. Kaspersky didn’t make it to the list of top 10 antivirus vendors.
Winner: Norton. The stats clearly reveal that Norton is far more popular not only compared to Kaspersky but to all other products.
Both Kaspersky and Norton offer a diverse range of antivirus suites to match your protection needs.
Norton is a better option than Kaspersky as its security suites not only offer more security-related features and utilities but also provide better malware protection.
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.