The 5 Best Lightweight Antivirus Solutions
When it comes to keeping your device and data safe, a good antivirus is a must-have. If you’re on the lookout for a security solution that doesn’t take up a lot of your device’s memory yet performs efficiently in the background, check out this list of the best lightweight antivirus solutions in 2020.
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Lightweight antivirus software provides you with enough protection from online threats without taking up much space. These programs require minimum megabytes of the hard drive and take very little time to install. Additionally, they don’t need much RAM to run real-time scans. Since most malware signatures are stored in the cloud, these programs don’t burden your computer.
That said, here are our picks for the five best lightweight products for 2020 based on the AV-Certification Performance Test (April 2020):
- Kaspersky: With an amazing impact score of 2.1, this is one of the oldest security suites with the best core antivirus engines
- McAfee: Easy to set up and offers full protection from all threats. It scored an overall 2.2
- ESET: Quick scans and real-time threat detection while being extremely light on the system. This software walked away with a total impact rating of 3.5
- Bitdefender: This product has everything you need and is awarded the “2019 Product of the Year”. It scored a solid 4.9
- Panda: Complete solution with lots of advanced security features. It was awarded an impact score of 8.0
What Is A Lightweight Antivirus And Why To Use It?
It’s important to have a quality solution to protect your computer from online attacks. Light software consumes lesser resources on the system and also protects the data from any external threats. The best lightweight antivirus keeps itself updated with all the latest threats, is cloud-based, and provides real-time malware detection.
Compared to other heavier versions, it’s also easier to install and takes up much less hard disk space. Since the program is cloud-based, you won’t be bombarded with recurring signature database downloads. In short, it provides complete protection without interrupting the device’s performance. These programs usually have low impact scores on third-party tests. AV-Comparatives use a PC Mark 10 Professional Edition testing set-up to rate the products accordingly.
The 5 Best Lightweight Antivirus Software
Based on third-party test results and our analytics, we were able to segregate the best low-impact programs for your device. Let’s take a closer look at what each has to offer:
Kaspersky is one of the oldest security programs and features the best core antivirus engines. It can offer complete protection from the latest viruses, ransomware, spyware, and other malware types. This suite is easy to use, lightweight, and doesn’t hog the system’s memory. Considering the price tag and compatibility across different OS and features, Kaspersky makes it to the top of our list.
Primary features include:
- Minimal RAM consumption
- Minimalist interface
- Allows recovery of files damaged by malware
- Fast and detailed scans
- An array of add-ons and features like parental controls, password management, data backups, file encryption, and more
Other than the 30-day free trial, it provides three premium plans ranging between $29.99/year to $49.99/year.
Check out our detailed review of the Kaspersky antivirus.
McAfee allows you to protect all your devices (PCs, Macs, and mobile phones) with a single subscription. It features a strong antivirus engine that protects your data from rootkits, malware, viruses, phishing attempts, and more. Although you don’t get a VPN, additional features like TrueKey and Anti-Spam add to its overall appeal.
Primary features include:
- Top-notch malware protection
- Multiple scanning options
- An Excellent threat detection rate
- Competitive pricing
- Offers many security features and add-ons, such as parental controls, game mode, and USB virus scans
The basic version is free to use. Premium package for a single device costs $34.99/year, five devices for $39.99/year, and up to 10 devices for $44.99/year.
Read our full review of McAfee’s antivirus.
ESET has been protecting devices since 1987. It offers decent malware protection and can quickly detect known threats. It’s the best fit for individual users and does an excellent job of providing robust security without impacting the device's performance. One of the best things about ESET is that it rolls out extremely small updates that help save a lot of bandwidth.
Premium features include:
- Real-time protection from online attacks and hackers
- Compatible with Windows, macOS, and Android
- Offers four scanning options
- Provides UEFI firmware protection
- Additional security features like webcam, chat and email protection, a hardened browser, game mode, and more
You can use the limited features of the NOD32 package at no cost. However, premium packages for ESET range from $39.99/year to $59.99/year.
Learn more about this product in our detailed review of ESET antivirus.
With more than 500 million users worldwide, Bitdefender is available with all the required features to protect your device and data. It received the “2019 Product of the Year” award from AV-Test; hence, you can understand how good this security solution is. It’s lightweight and can perform scans and threat removal simultaneously.
Premium features include:
- Economic pricing tiers
- Multi-layered malware protection
- Low system resource usage
- Advanced firewall
- Modern and minimalist interface
- Additional features like VPN, USB scans, a hardened browser, passive and game mode, and more
Bitdefender has a free version with limited features. Alternatively, you can choose from three premium plans ranging between $24.99/year to $39.99/year, depending on the number of devices.
Check out our full review of Bitdefender antivirus for more insights.
Panda Security is one of the best free, lightweight antiviruses since most of its work is done via the cloud. Hence, it doesn't take up much of the system’s resources. It’s a perfect software that has an automatic update system, which runs silently in the background.
This cloud-based antivirus works wonders for individual and home users. It’s specifically designed for low-end devices. Main features include:
- Advanced threat protection
- Includes a VPN at no extra cost
- Quick three scan modes that run silently in the background
- No commitment subscription plans
- Advanced features like regular backups, device locator, USB scans, device optimizer, and more
The free version offers limited features. However, you can select from four different premium plans ranging between $44.24/year to $125.21/year.
Make sure to read our review of Panda antivirus for more details.
Lightweight Antivirus For Windows 10
As we know, cyber attackers have moved away from regular viruses and are focusing on advanced ransomware or zero-day attacks. Typically, a traditional security suite won’t be able to handle these types of attacks. Windows devices come with an inbuilt protective system called Windows Defender that does a good job of detecting and removing malware.
However, recent test results showed that it eats up a lot of the computer’s resources. For instance, in the 2020 AV-Comparative Performance Test, it had an impact score of 22.8 and ranked 14 out of 16 antivirus products.
To keep your digital asset from lagging while ensuring complete protection, you need a defensive solution that’s small in size and works perfectly in the background. Windows Defender is a free program, and it doesn’t offer advanced features compared to other products.
In addition, Windows OS is the most widely used globally, leaving it prone to many new threats. Make sure that your Windows 10 system is adequately protected using a top of line lightweight software solution.
Compare the 5 Best Lightweight Antivirus Software
Free version available
Available for multiple devices
Compatible with Windows 10
Yes (Security Cloud)
Up to five devices
$29.99 - $49.99
Yes (Basic Version)
Up to 10 devices
$34.99 - $44.99
Yes (NOD32 Antivirus)
Up to three devices
$39.99 - $59.99
Yes (Basic Version)
Up to five devices
Yes (includes Free VPN)
Lightweight Vs. Free Antivirus
There’s yet to be a free, lightweight antivirus that offers all the top features. Thus, it’s recommended that you pay for a premium version since free options won’t supply enough protection. Most free versions will also show ads that can hamper your device’s performance.
The aforementioned programs are excellent choices for users who are in search of low-impact applications. Each offers a basic free version with limited features, free premium trials, and multiple paid plans. You can even use them on low-end devices without worrying about lags and performance hiccups.
Tips For Lightweight Antivirus Users
In today’s world, security is essential. This includes keeping data and systems safe from cyber attackers and evolving threats. Here are a few tips to protect yourself from these attacks:
- Keep your device OS and security solutions updated
- Don’t click on unverified emails and attachments or download content from random websites
- Schedule scans when you’re not using the device
- Clean out the cache and junk files periodically
- Choose a defense solution that’s cloud-based as it doesn’t impact your system’s memory
- Scan and remove unwanted files and programs to free up space
Selecting the right lightweight antivirus solution depends on your needs and budget. Consider the features that you need the most and make sure to review the system requirements of the program before downloading it.
If you’re looking for a lightweight security solution with an array of security features, one of the above options will work for you. We recommend trying out the free trials of this software so you can better weigh the pros and cons.