Antivirus software is the most commonly used cybersecurity tool worldwide. Given that it is possible to get viruses or malware infections on all types of operating systems, including Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android, it is no surprise that almost every internet user has an antivirus suite installed on their electronic device.
Subscription lengths for antivirus software differ, and in some cases, users can even enjoy lifetime subscriptions if they choose the right plan. This means continuous antivirus protection on your device(s) without remembering to buy another subscription plan.
Keep reading to find out which is the best long-term antivirus software, why you need antivirus protection on your electronic devices, and whether or not lifetime plans are the real deal.
Is There a Lifetime Subscription for Antivirus?
Several lifetime antivirus subscriptions are directly marketed as lifetime solutions. However, these are hard to come by, and the most reputable antivirus companies don’t tend to offer lifetime antivirus software subscriptions. Generally speaking, there are three types of lifetime virus protection solutions:
A lifetime subscription for an antivirus product usually entails users making a one-off purchase and then having access to the antivirus software for the rest of their life. These deals may seem too good to be true, but they do exist.
Unfortunately, internet users need to be cautious when considering lifetime subscriptions. These can often be run by malicious companies that take customers’ money and then shut down the company, leaving subscribers without an antivirus subscription.
If the lifetime subscription continues, the Terms and Conditions may mean that customers don’t get access to any updates, meaning that the antivirus could remain outdated and become ineffective against new malware that appears.
We recommend against traditional lifetime plans and suggest users consider one of the following options listed below for the reasons above.
Renewable antivirus subscription
The best antivirus subscription is generally a renewable one. While this is not technically called a lifetime plan, it offers the same support as a lifetime subscription since you can opt for auto-renewal, meaning you are constantly protected.
You can ensure that you have the best antivirus software and enjoy the latest updated protection features and software with renewable antivirus products. The only downside to this type of lifetime plan is that it costs you more money in the long run; however, this is worth it, especially if you can purchase 3-year plans that come with state-of-the-art technology to keep your devices safe from viruses online.
Free antivirus software can offer basic protection and is an excellent lifetime alternative since these programs will more likely than not always be free. However, the one issue with free antivirus is that features are limited, meaning you may not have access to a fully-fledged security suite that protects you from all online threats.
Best Renewable Antivirus Programs
Below are the best antivirus software solutions of 2021. All of the products on our best antivirus list offer long-term subscription plans and the best protection on the market.
McAfee Total Protection
McAfee Total Protection tops our list since this antivirus program has excellent security features such as real-time protection from viruses and additional tools to keep your data secure.
- Password manager
- Home network firewall protection
- Web browsing protection
- Protection for up to 10 devices
As the name suggests, McAfee Total Protection offers first-rate protection features for various devices, including Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. Depending on the subscription you purchase, you’ll be able to protect 10 devices at any time.
As well as real-time scanning, you can also schedule scans or activate on-demand scans. McAfee can run full scans or shorter scans that only inspect the most commonly at-risk files. Regardless of the type of scan you carry out, you shouldn’t notice too much impact on your system’s performance since McAfee’s PC optimization is specially designed to ensure your device runs faster. There is also a battery and app boost to make sure apps perform better.
As well as a virus scanner, there is a vulnerability scanner, which checks your system for any vulnerabilities that could expose you to more risks. This tool also ensures that all software is up-to-date so that you don’t miss out on updating your software with any essential updates. Machine learning is also present, meaning your antivirus should always be aware of the newest malware developments.
You can stay safe when surfing the web with McAfee. You can activate the in-browser web advisor, which alerts you to any phishing websites before you visit them, so you don’t fall victim to scams or accidentally access any fraudulent sites.
If you want to protect your entire home network, you can do so with McAfee. Many people mistakenly believe that only public wi-fi networks pose security risks; however, hackers will also attempt to get past home network firewalls. With McAfee activated, the software will protect your network from hacking attempts.
The extra features don’t stop there with McAfee. There are parental controls for minors to ensure that children don’t spend too long online and prevent them from accessing harmful websites with adult content.
There is also a password manager that comes with McAfee; this is a tool that is proving to be completely necessary, given the increased frequency of data leaks that expose users’ credentials for their online accounts.
McAfee makes our list of the best antivirus despite not offering an explicit lifetime plan. However, you can purchase long-term subscriptions that last for up to 2-years. Better yet, you can activate auto-renewal, which means the subscription will automatically continue, meaning you are continuously protected.
If you opt for renewed antivirus protection, you’ll also enjoy two other key features only available in renewal plans; these include the VPN, which does an excellent job at hiding your online data and IP address by changing your virtual location. Identity theft protection also alerts you if any of your account login credentials appear in a data breach.
Overall, McAfee is a great antivirus option and comes with excellent desktop and mobile clients that offer an easy-to-use interface. Each first-time user can also enjoy a reduced price when they sign up for the first time.
Bitdefender Total Security
Bitdefender Total Security allows users to sign up for a long-term plan that automatically renews, ensuring that your devices constantly receive good protection from this first-rate antivirus software.
- Advanced malware detection
- Ransomware protection
- Limited VPN service
- Parental controls
Bitdefender Total Security offers real-time protection to ensure that your device is entirely safe from threats such as viruses, malware, bots, and worms that could infect your system. As well as this, Bitdefender can alert you of any unusual behavior on apps to prevent malware from infecting your device through malicious applications.
Bitdefender is an excellent option for Windows users. It can look for vulnerabilities in Windows PCs and carry out necessary updates in only a few minutes to ensure that your system is up-to-date and better able to defend itself from attacks.
There is ransomware protection to ensure that important files don’t become encrypted by this type of malware. As well as this, there is advanced web protection. Not only will Bitdefender seek out fraudulent websites and alert users of these, but it will also block access to phishing sites that could scam users out of money and put sensitive data like credit card details at risk.
There is a good range of premium features that Bitdefender offers. These include a VPN service, which allows users to encrypt their internet data; unfortunately, the VPN is limited and has a daily data limit of 200MB per day.
Fortunately, there are other excellent security and privacy features; there is anti-theft protection that allows you to wipe your device if it gets lost or stolen. There is also the ability to block trackers while you surf the web, securely and permanently delete files, and protect your microphone and webcam to stop third parties from spying on you.
There is also social network protection, which checks any links sent to you via social media sites. This ensures that you don’t unwittingly download something that could be harmful to your system. Wi-fi protection will scan new wi-fi networks before you connect to them, providing that you don’t connect to a dangerous network that could infect your device with a trojan.
A password manager rounds off the long list of excellent features that Bitdefender’s antivirus software offers. This allows you to create strong passwords and store them in a safe place. Parental control tools also enable adults to protect minors when they surf the web and keep an eye on their online activities.
You can purchase Bitdefender for a reasonable price and choose from a range of subscription lengths, including up to 3-years. Depending on how much you’re willing to spend, you can protect 5 or 10 devices simultaneously.
Norton makes our list of the best antivirus software even though it doesn’t have a lifetime plan; instead, you can automatically renew the annual plan to keep your devices safe from potential threats.
- Password manager
- Dark Web Monitoring
- Secure VPN
- Parental control tools
Norton 360 is a well-known name in the internet security world, thanks to its impenetrable antivirus software. There is solid protection in one package, with real-time scanning and the option to run scans on your computer or mobile whenever you need to.
The Norton antivirus software is easy to install and set up, and the client is very user-friendly, enabling easy access to the most necessary tools. You can use the software on multiple devices and get up to unlimited device support.
There are plenty of cool features with Norton; Norton has one of the best password managers on the market, enabling you to create and store safe passwords in an encrypted place. As well as this, you can enjoy Norton’s VPN and change your geo-location while protecting your data from third parties.
Dark Web Monitoring allows you to sign up your email address and receive alerts if any of your accounts are involved in a data breach. This is a handy feature, especially given the rate of data leaks that happen online nowadays.
Adequate parental controls are in place to ensure that your children are safe when they use the web and enjoy excellent internet security. Best of all, Norton offers a virus protection promise with unlimited validity. So, if your device gets infected with malware, you’ll get a full refund. This is definitely something that most users will find appealing.
Kaspersky Total Security
Another of the best antivirus software options is Kaspersky Total Security. While there is no lifetime subscription, long-term plans automatically renew, providing you with excellent security protection from malware.
- Anti-malware and antivirus features
- Phishing protection
- Protection with online payments
- Performance optimization
Kaspersky offers great antivirus software for computer and mobile systems and guards your systems against common malware and antivirus threats. Be it ransomware, trojans, bots, annoying adware pop-ups, or rootkits, Kaspersky will ensure none infect your system.
As well as the above, Kaspersky offers phishing protection. It does this by blocking users’ access to phishing websites that could be fraudulent and also checks emails to ensure that users don’t accidentally click on a phishing link in a spam message.
There is even online security when it comes to payments with Kaspersky. Whenever you make a purchase online on a Windows or Mac system, your payments will be protected with AES-128 bit encryption; this ensures that prying eyes can’t see your confidential payment details and steal them.
If you’re worried about installing an antivirus that slows down your computer or affects your device’s performance, you needn’t be with Kaspersky. The antivirus system optimization ensures that your device is running smoothly, that software is updated, and uses up fewer system resources than many other antivirus software solutions.
For extra security for files on your Windows or Mac computer, you can utilize the file protection feature. This backs up your files to ensure that they are not lost.
Furthermore, other extra features include a password manager, a VPN for advanced internet security, private browsing to prevent identity theft, and good protection features for minors. You can block access to adult sites and manage screen time, all in one package.
Best Free Antivirus Software
Another type of lifetime subscription for the best antivirus software can be found through free antivirus plans. Many of the best antivirus protection solutions offer a free version, meaning you can enjoy advanced internet security and some extra features for a long time without paying anything.
Avast Free Antivirus
First on our list of the best antivirus software for free is Avast Free Antivirus. Although there are fewer extra features available in this security suite than with the premium version, users can still get essential protection from the most common types of malware and viruses.
Avira offers a free version of its popular antivirus product, providing users with total internet security at no cost. You can use the free version of Avira on either your Windows or Mac computer as well as your Android and iOS mobile devices.
AVG Antivirus Free
AVG Antivirus provides users with good protection on its free version. There is malware and spyware protection, the option to run on-demand scans, and basic malware and virus detection and removal.
Is a Lifetime Antivirus Plan a Good Idea?
So, is a lifetime subscription to antivirus software a good idea? We recommend avoiding plans that are explicitly labeled as lifetime subscriptions. This is because many risks come with lifetime subscription options, such as the fact that the company may shut down and the technology may not be updated for the best internet security.
We recommend purchasing a renewable, long-term plan from one of the providers above or using a free antivirus that we have mentioned above. Of course, free versions lack a lot of the extra features that premium antivirus solutions have.
Why Are Lifetime Subscriptions Rare?
Lifetime subscriptions are rare because they are not cost-effective for antivirus companies. By offering an antivirus product at a set rate for a lifetime, antivirus companies risk making a loss when it comes to revenue.
For this reason, it is more common to see antivirus suites offered on long-term plans which are renewable. This ensures that customers needn’t worry about constantly re-purchasing an antivirus plan and also enables them to save some money since long-term plans are cheaper.
Do I Really Need Antivirus?
If you use any electronic device that has an internet connection, you need antivirus. Without antivirus, you run the risk of exposing your system to many viruses and malware. Given the increase in ransomware over the past year and reported cases of hacking and fraud, using antivirus has never been more essential.
I’m Madeleine and I’m a writer that specializes in cybersecurity, tech products, and all things related to the internet.
I have a keen interest in VPNs and believe that everyone deserves internet freedom and security. I wri…
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Last updated: October 18, 2021