(Last updated on January 7th, 2021)
Windows Defender or Kaspersky, which antivirus software is a better option in 2021?
Read this comprehensive Windows Defender versus Kaspersky comparison to make an informed decision.
In today’s era of internet freedom and commerce, it’s no secret that a reliable antivirus software is a necessity. The bad guys (a.k.a. hackers) are constantly coming up with new and sophisticated ways to steal your personal information and financial data.
In 2018 alone, over 10 billion malware attacks were recorded. In the same year, over 800 million new malware samples were created and surfaced on the internet. Ransomware attacks have also doubled in recent years. These numbers are only getting bigger and bigger with time.
Even big companies aren’t safe! Accenture reports that the average cost of a malware attack on a company is $2.4 million. According to another study, a new organization will be victimized by a ransomware virus every 14 seconds this year. This rate is probably only going to increase, likely reaching 11 seconds by 2021.
So, the numbers convey a clear message; you need excellent antivirus protection. Also, you should never rely on a free or low-end antivirus solution when your digital security is at stake. Instead, getting a premium security product that gives you a great bang for your buck is a much better investment and long-term strategy.
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.
But we know finding the right paid software can be a bit difficult.
In this ultimate guide, we’ll compare Windows Defender and Kaspersky against one another to see which software is better in terms of features, malware detection, impact on system performance, and more.
In a rush? Below is a quick summary of this detailed comparison.
A Quick Rundown of Winners in Each Category
Winner: Kaspersky. Overall, Kaspersky provides you with all kinds of advanced features and utilities that enhance your online security and improve your user experience. Windows Defender does offer the essential features, but many advanced security-related features are not part of the software.
2. Malware Protection
Winner: Kaspersky. It’s a close call, but Kaspersky fared slightly better than Windows Defender in recent independent evaluations.
3. System Performance
Winner: Kaspersky. Overall, Kaspersky is better than Windows Defender in terms of the impact on system performance.
Winner: Kaspersky. Kaspersky’s user interface is more intuitive and user-friendly than Windows Defender’s.
Winner: N/A. There’s no real comparison between both software in this category.
The main difference is that Kaspersky is a paid product while Windows Defender is free. Kaspersky guarantees a 100% detection rate against malware, while Windows Defender’s detection rate is much lower, at around 95% to 98%. Also, Kaspersky offers a slew of advanced features and utilities that you won’t get with Windows Defender.
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 dig into the details …
In addition to anti-malware protection, most security companies offer a slew of advanced security-enhancing features and utilities as part of their products.
First, let’s see what features are included in Windows Defender.
Windows Defender (also called Windows Security Center) comes pre-installed on PCs that have Windows as their operating system, meaning that you don’t have to download or install it yourself. On the flip side, you can’t totally uninstall it, but it automatically goes for a nap when you download a different security product.
The software comes with a comprehensive anti-malware scanner that detects all sorts of malware threats, such as viruses, worms, ransomware, spyware. The software is frequently updated with new malware definitions to ensure your computer is protected against threats that have recently emerged in the wild.
There’s also an advanced firewall that inspects all the traffic flowing in and out of your network, blocking malicious traffic and hacking attempts.
The useful Find my Device feature can assist you in tracking down your PC if it gets lost or stolen. It also lets you erase or lock the computer if your sensitive files or information are in danger of being stolen.
Windows Defender also comes with a good suite of parental control features. These features bar your kids from visiting websites or using apps that aren’t appropriate for their ages, restrict their screen time with automatic timers, and monitor their web activity.
Now, let’s see what Kaspersky offers in terms of features.
Kaspersky Free is the company’s first antivirus offering. This freemium security product does protect against different types of malware threats, but it is very barebones in terms of advanced security-related features and utilities. It’s better than nothing, but Kaspersky’s premium options are much better.
Next up is Kaspersky Anti-Virus – the company’s entry-level premium offering for PCs. Besides protecting against all kinds of digital threats, this suite offers a few other useful tools such as the Vulnerability Scanner that checks for patches and loopholes that can be exploited and the Silent Mode utility that enables you to enjoy games or movies without any distractions. Advanced, multi-layered ransomware protection is also incorporated into the suite.
Another level up is Kaspersky Internet Security, which is compatible with PCs, Macs, mobile phones. This suite offers everything that’s found in the previous suite, plus a two-way firewall, a hardened browser that secures your financial details when you engage in shopping or banking activities, and an email filter that keeps junk/spam away from your inbox.
Protection against webcam spying is also incorporated into the package, as well as a limited-use VPN that can help access content that may not be available in your region.
Next up is Kaspersky Total Security – the company’s full-fledged antivirus package. This suite offers everything that’s jammed into that the previous suites, plus several other advanced features. These features include a full-blown password manager that manages and stores all your passwords, a file shredder that erases sensitive files in a way that they can’t be recovered by anyone, and a file encryption utility that helps secure your important data so no one can access them.
An excellent suite of parental control features is also jammed into the suite. These features let you monitor the activity of your kids and prevent them from seeing age-sensitive content.
Kaspersky Security Cloud is another high-end security package offered by the company. This suite offers all the features from the Total Security, plus it has so-called “patented adaptive technology” that applies necessary settings and options based on your internet habits and computer use.
Interested in Kaspersky’s business-specific security products? Click here to get more information about these products.
Winner: Kaspersky. Kaspersky offers a better and more advanced feature-set with its security suites. Windows Defender is very barebones in comparison.
2. Malware Protection
Malware defense is the foremost priority of antivirus software. Therefore, whichever software provides better anti-malware security may be a better choice for you. To figure out which software is better in this category, let’s look at the results of independent evaluations from two different unbiased companies.
One such company is AV-test.org. They use a scoring metric of 1 to 6 (with 6 bring the highest score) in three different categories: Protection, Performance, and Usability. Their most recent two-round evaluations were held in April 2019.
Austrian lab AV-Comparatives is another independent testing company we can turn to in order to get unbiased results. In their recent real-world protection test, Kaspersky received the ADVANCED+ award, which is the highest award on offer, because of its near-perfect malware detection rate and a low number of false detections.
Windows Defender didn’t fare as well as Kaspersky in the AV-Comparatives’ evaluations, earning the second-best ADVANCED award.
Winner: Kaspersky. While it’s close, Kaspersky is the overall winner as it provides superior anti-malware security.
3. System Performance
Good antivirus programs don’t slow the performance of your computer; in fact, they put a negligible impact on system resources.
To see which software is better in terms of the impact on system performance, let’s return to independent performance test results.
In the Performance category of AV-Test evaluations, Kaspersky scored a perfect 6 out of 6 score, meaning it puts a minimal impact on computers while running in the background.
Windows Defender, however, dipped just below the perfect score, earning 5.5 out of 6.
In the AV-Comparatives’ April 2019 performance test, Kaspersky – once again – fared exceptionally well and got the highest ADVANCED+ award. Windows Defender performed poorly in the test and could only get the STANDARD award, which is the lowest award offered by the company.
Winner: Kaspersky. Independent tests indicate that Kaspersky is far better than Windows Defender in terms of the impact on system performance.
The user interface of a security product should be intuitive and easy-to-use for everyone, including people who aren’t computer experts.
Let’s compare the interface of both software to see which one offers a better user experience.
Windows Defender’s interface takes a bit to get access to, right off the bat. You have to go through several different clicks just to get to the software’s settings and options.
You also can’t run any scheduled scans with Windows Defender, meaning that every task aside from quick scanning must be undertaken from the dashboard. You can find all of the major operations on the left-hand side of the screen in organized groups, making it simple to determine where to go depending on your needs.
Overall, the interface is intuitive and simplistic, with a sleek visual aesthetic.
Now let’s check out Kaspersky’s interface.
Kaspersky utilizes a very open-frame and light interface, with most of its operations, such as Parental Controls, being contained in blocks on the main dashboard. Right at the top, there’s a big banner that tells whether your computer is safe.
At the bottom of your screen, you’ll see your subscription status, keeping you in the loop for when you need to refresh your subscription.
Overall, Kaspersky’s interface simple and user-friendly and also offers a room of personalization and customization. All of its main functions and settings are easily accessible, with a couple of clicks at most.
Winner: Kaspersky. Kaspersky offers a better and more intuitive user interface than Windows Defender.
Windows Defender is free, with no paid-for upgrades, while Kaspersky offers a free version as well as a number of different premium suites that come at different price points.
Kaspersky Free is, of course, free. Kaspersky Anti-Virus, which is the company’s entry-level premium offering, costs $29.99 for 3 licenses that can be used between PCs. Kaspersky Internet Security also gives you 3 licenses for $39.99 per year.
Kaspersky Total Security protects up to 3 PCs, Macs, or smartphones for costs $49.99 per year. Kaspersky Security Cloud comes in two versions: Personal and Family. The Personal version costs the same as the Total Security and can protect up to 5 devices, while the Family version costs $149.99 per year for up to 20 devices.
|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|
Winner: N/A. Since Windows Defender doesn’t offer a paid version, there’s no comparison between both software in this category.
The main difference is that Kaspersky offers better malware protection than Windows Defender — without putting a burden on system performance. Kaspersky offers a free antivirus product as well as several premium products at different price points whereas Windows Defender is completely free.
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.