(Last updated on December 31st, 2019)
Windows Defender or Avast, which antivirus software is a better pick in 2020?
Read this data-driven Windows Defender versus Avast comparison to make a smart decision.
Today’s internet is far from the safe playground you might expect it to be. These days, we are putting more sensitive data out there than ever before, which means you need a sturdy antivirus program to protect your devices and data.
New research from a well-known security firm has revealed that over 10.52 billion malware attacks happened last year. Ransomware, which is the most dreaded form of malware, saw a 117% year-by-year increase, and mobile malware attacks also rose by almost 100% during the same period.
The threats don’t always come in the form you expect. For instance, Microsoft Office extensions are the most common method that hackers use to hack into emails. Talk about wolves in sheep’s clothing!
The statistics convey a clear message: you need premium antivirus protection for yourself and your family. But the question is, which security software should you get?
In this day and age, free or low-end security products aren’t going to cut it. Their defenses aren’t strong enough to resist sophisticated malware attacks, and their definitions (or signatures) aren’t updated frequently enough. In fact, most free solutions out there don’t even offer real-time malware monitoring, which means they are only useful if you want to get rid of malware that has already done the damage.
So, it’s clear that you should invest in a premium security software for robust anti-malware protection and complete peace of mind. Also, premium suites come with a slew of advanced features and utilities that bolster your security and safeguard your privacy.
Best Antivirus Suite for 2020
(All the best security products examined)
Editors' Choice Award Winner
Overall Score: 9.9/10
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Overall, Bitdefender is our #1 antivirus software for 2020, because of its excellent, flawless performance in all the recent independent lab evaluations we considered, particularly those conducted by AV-Test and AV-Comparatives.
Right now, we think that Bitdefender Total Security 2020 (currently at 60% off) is the best antivirus package available in the market. Apart from providing excellent anti-malware protection, it offers all the advanced premium features and utilities that must be there in a high-end package -- and best of all, it offers excellent value for money. You can protect up to five devices (PCs, Macs, or smartphones) with just one subscription.
If you need protection for more than five devices, we highly recommend Bitdefender Family Pack 2020. It will cover all the internet-capable devices in your household with the Total Security suite, so your family will be protected no matter what goes wrong.
In this guide, we’ll compare Windows Defender and Avast in a head-to-head battle. We’ll examine the strengths and weaknesses of both software and show you which software is a better option.
In a rush? Check out the rundown below to find out which software wins in each category.
A Quick Rundown of Winners in Each Category
Winner: Avast. Windows Defender comes with all the essential features, but Avast’s security products – especially the high-end ones – have all the advanced features and utilities you can expect to find in modern antivirus suites.
2. Malware Protection
Winner: Tie. Both software are neck and neck in terms of malware protection, as evidenced by two different independent evaluations.
3. System Performance
Winner: Avast. Independent tests show that Avast is exceptional in terms of impact on system performance, whereas Windows Defender failed one key performance test.
Winner: Avast. Avast’s interface is intuitive and straightforward; everything can be accomplished with just a few clicks. Windows Defender’s interface could be improved.
Winner: N/A. Since Windows Defender doesn’t have a paid upgrade, so there’s no comparison between both software in this category.
Avast is the winner as it offers more security-enhancing features and extra utilities in its security suites than Windows Defender. Also, independent tests prove that Avast is better than Windows Defender in terms of both malware detection and the impact on system performance.
We have reviewed, ranked, and rated all the best antivirus software products out there, and we think that Bitdefender Total Security 2020 (currently at 50% off) is the best antivirus package you can buy right now. You can protect up to five devices (PCs, Macs, or smartphones) with just a single subscription of this suite.
If you need protection for more than five devices, Bitdefender Family Pack 2020 is the best option for you.
Looking for Mac-specific protection? Check out Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac for complete peace of mind.
Now, let’s go into the details.
One of the best ways that we can distinguish antivirus software from each other is by looking at the features and utilities included with each package on offer.
First, let’s see what’s included in Windows Defender.
Windows Defender comes built-in on almost all PCs that run on Windows operating system. You can’t uninstall or remove the software, unfortunately, but it automatically turns off when you install a third-party antivirus program.
The best feature included in Windows Defender is the firewall that keeps your computer secure against malicious traffic. It maintains a watchful eye on all the incoming and outgoing network connections and denies unauthorized access.
Like most antivirus software, the software has a signature-based scanner that regularly checks for all sorts of digital threats. The software’s definitions (or signatures) are routinely updated to provide immediate protection against new and emerging threats — thanks to Microsoft’s cloud-based malware database.
Also, there’s the Find My Device function that lets you track down your computer if it’s been lost or stolen; this is particularly useful for laptops. You can also erase your data or lock your computer if you think that your sensitive data is in danger of being stolen.
Further included with Windows Defender is a suite of parental controls. You can use it to monitor the web activity of your children, restrict screen time with automatic timers, and block your kids from visiting certain sites or apps that are not appropriate for their age.
Now, let’s take a look at what Avast offers.
Avast offers different products for Windows and macOS. We’ll cover the Windows-only products first.
Avast Free Antivirus is the first product offered by the company. This suite protects against different types of digital threats, but you will not find any advanced security-enhancing features or utilities jammed into the suite. The freeware is better than having no protection at all, but Avast’s premium options are far more superior.
Next up is Avast Internet Security, the company’s first premium offering. This suite offers comprehensive anti-malware protection, plus an excellent firewall that is capable of protecting you from all sorts of threats and a junk email filter; this will keep your inbox neat and tidy and help you avoid having to wade through annoying spam and phishing emails.
Another useful addition in the Internet Security package is the Sandbox Mode. This feature allows you to run suspicious files or apps in a secure environment, without putting the health of your computer in jeopardy. The Real Site feature that prevents fake DNS routing from taking place is there as well.
Another level up is Avast Premier. This package includes everything that’s jammed into the Internet Security suite, plus you get a file shredder utility; this allows you to permanently delete any sensitive files that you don’t want to risk being taken by a hacker. Webcam protection software that stops people from spying on you through your webcam is also part of this suite.
Finally, there’s Avast Ultimate – the all-inclusive premium offering from the company. This comes with everything found in the previous suites, plus a full-blown password manager that allows you to store all your passwords in a digital vault, a VPN utility that lets you anonymously access content that is restricted in your geographic area.
The Ultimate suite also comes with the useful Cleanup Premium utility that cleans junk files, optimizes the performance of your PC, and fix annoying problems.
For macOS, the company offers Avast Security for Mac. It comes in two versions: Free and Premium. The freeware provides anti-malware protection, along with web and email protection and WiFi network protection, while the Premium version takes things to another level by adding several advanced features and tools, such as multi-layered ransomware protection and the WiFi intruder alert feature.
If you’re interested in Avast’s business-specific products, click here for more information.
Winner: Avast. Avast offers more security-enhancing features and utilities than Windows Defender.
2. Malware Protection
Malware defense is critical when it comes to antivirus software. After all, it’s the reason why antivirus software exists!
Let’s examine the recent lab evaluations conducted by AV-Test and AV-Comparatives to see which software has better anti-malware capabilities.
AV-Test’s recent evaluations were held in April 2019. During the evaluations, all antivirus software were tested in three different categories: Protection, Performance, and Usability.
In the Protection test, Windows Defender scored a perfect 6 out of 6, showing excellent anti-malware capabilities.
Avast scored a 5.5 out of 6 in the test, which is still a good score.
AV-Comparatives is another independent organization that regularly run several excellent tests to evaluate the performance of different antivirus software. In their recent Real-World tests, both Windows Defender and Avast earned the second-best ADVANCED award, which represents good overall performance against all sorts of malware. Bitdefender and Kaspersky were among the products that got the highest ADVANCED+ award in the test.
Winner: Tie. It’s a tie in this category as both software have comparable results from two independent sources.
3. System Performance
Any antivirus software that slows your computer down isn’t worth your money. Good antivirus software provide excellent malware protection without putting a significant impact on system performance.
Again, we’ll examine the recent lab tests conducted by independent labs to see how much impact both Windows Defender and Avast put on system performance.
In the AV-Test’s April 2019 evaluations, Windows Defender scored a 5.5 out of 6 in the Performance category.
Avast scored a perfect 6 out of 6 score in the same evaluation.
In the recent performance evaluation conducted by AV-Comparatives, Avast earned the highest ADVANCED+ award, due to its exceptional impact score. On the other hand, Windows Defender’s performance was extremely disappointing; it came last among the 16 products that participated in the test and received the STANDARD award, which is the lowest possible award offered by the company.
Winner: Avast. Independent evaluations confirm that Avast is better than Windows Defender in terms of the impact on system performance.
Another important aspect that we can look at is user-friendliness. Let’s directly compare both software’s user interfaces and see which one is better.
Windows Defender has a simple, minimalistic visual aesthetic. Opening the software requires several clicks; you have to jump through several hoops before you can reach the Windows Security Center, which is the primary dashboard for controlling the software’s features and operations.
The interface is neat and clean, and everything is laid out well. The left-hand grouping allows you to reach various modules and operations.
There’s no option to schedule scans, which may be frustrating for some people, but you can run different types of scans.
Avast’s interface is simple and intuitive, dominated by dark colors. Even those who aren’t computer literate will be able to effectively utilize everything that Avast has to offer.
When you open the software, you’ll probably see a large green checkmark in the center, which indicates that everything is okay. The checkmark will change to a red exclamation point if there’s something wrong. Beneath the indicator icon is a quick scan button that allows you to immediately begin a smart scan of your computer.
The left-hand rail organizes all the major features and into four self-explanatory categories: Status, Privacy, Protection, and Performance. All the major features of the software are just a few clicks away from the main screen.
In addition, there are customization options available if you like to fine-tune your experience. For instance, you can schedule scans to work around your schedule or lower the number of automatic scans to free up processing speed for other tasks.
Winner: Avast. Overall, Avast’s interface provides a better user experience than Windows Defender’s.
Avast offers a full suite of antivirus products, including a limited freemium option, while Windows Defender is a free program with no paid-for upgrades. So, there’s no real comparison between both software in this category.
Avast Free antivirus is just like Windows Defender in that it doesn’t cost you a penny. However, this freemium software offers minimal value. Avast Internet Security, the company’s first premium offering, costs $59.99 per year for one PC. Avast Premium, the next step up, costs $69.99 per year for one PC license. Avast Ultimate, the highest tier of protection from Avast, also gives you one PC license for $119.99 per year.
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Winner: N/A. There’s no comparison between both Avast and Windows Defender in this category.
Get Bitdefender at 60% off today
Overall Score: 9.9/10
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Editors Choice Award Winner
Got more than five internet-capable devices? We found that Bitdefender Family Pack 2020 is the best option out there in terms of value for money.
If you are still unsure, Bitdefender offers a 30-day money-back guarantee and exceptional customer support, so you there is nothing to lose.
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