I tested all of the anti-spyware programs out there, and I was surprised to learn that only a few of them were actually effective.
In fact, I found some “anti-spyware tools” which are just spyware in disguise — designed to steal sensitive data while pretending to offer protection!
So, you must follow this one golden rule:
- Only download anti-spyware protection from trusted cybersecurity brands.
Downloading an untrusted “anti-spyware” product could be devastating. You could have all of your information stolen and even become a victim of identity theft.
But don’t worry, I’m here to help! I installed and tested all the anti-spyware software on the market, running each through a series of security tests to find the best anti-spyware products of 2020.
Here’s what I found out.
Here’s a summary of the best anti-spyware products of 2020:
- 1. Norton— #1 anti-spyware pick for 2020 . Fast spyware detection and removal, guaranteed virus protection, password manager, VPN, secure storage, parental controls.
- 2. TotalAV — High-performance spyware and malware scanner, VPN, safe browsing, device optimization tools.
- 3. McAfee — Reliable spyware and malware protection, safe banking portal, VPN.
- 4. BullGuard — Removes spyware and malware, improves system performance.
- 5. Bitdefender — Fastest scanning engine, additional layers of privacy protection.
There’s a big difference between “anti-spyware” and “antivirus” software.
“Anti-spyware” software only protects against spyware.
“Antivirus” software protects against a huge range of threats — viruses, spyware, ransomware, trojans, and any other malware designed to damage your devices and steal your data.
When most cybersecurity companies use the term “antivirus”, they’re referring to protection against all viruses and malware, including spyware.
Most cybersecurity companies also offer a huge range of additional features for extra protection — including virtual private networks (VPNs), password managers, and device cleaning tools. These features are great, as they enhance your level of internet security and optimize your system’s performance. But if you don’t need them, then there’s no reason to pay extra money to get them.
There are 5 things you need to look for when finding the best anti-spyware software:
- Level of protection
- Included security features
- Ease of use
- Technical support
- Overall value
And here’s what I did to help you:
- I tested each anti-spyware engine for detection rates, types of spyware covered, and overall strength of the protection offered by each antivirus software.
- I used all features offered by each antivirus and anti-spyware program to see if they functioned properly and added to the overall security of the program.
- I made sure that each product was simple, easy to understand, and intuitive for a wide range of users, both technical and non-technical.
- I contacted each product’s customer/technical support teams to see if they were able to resolve both common and uncommon problems.
- And I assessed whether or not each product provided good value, or if it was way overpriced and unreliable.
Ready to protect your system from spyware? Let’s go!
Norton 360 is by far the best anti-spyware product on this list.
It removed 100% of the spyware on my test computer with only one scan. Aside from perfect detection rates, Norton’s 360 security suite is lightweight, easy to use, and comes with some of the best additional features on the market.
Norton 360 includes:
- Advanced malware scanning.
- Parental controls.
- Secure cloud storage.
- Dark web monitoring.
- Password manager.
- Unlimited VPN (virtual private network).
Overall, Norton’s antivirus protection is very advanced. It uses multiple layers of artificial intelligence and cloud-based scanning technology to detect and remove all spyware and malware before they can harm your device.
Norton has three different 360 packages:
USA users have three additional plans (all with up to $1 million in identity theft insurance): Bottom Line:
Norton 360 is my favorite software for anti-spyware and malware protection. It’s fast, reliable, and easy to use, and it quickly detected and removed all of the spyware on my system. Norton 360 also has a huge range of additional tools which add on lots of extra layers of security. Every Norton plan comes with a 60-day money-back guarantee, so there’s plenty of time to try it and see if it’s the best anti-spyware software for you.
TotalAV provides an extremely high level of anti-spyware protection — it detected, quarantined, and removed all of the spyware samples on my system.
It’s also great for overall antivirus protection, scoring a 100% malware detection rate in my tests.
TotalAV also offers a lot of excellent additional features, including:
- Device optimization.
- Adware cleaner.
- Phishing protection.
- VPN (with unlimited browsing data).
The device optimization tools are particularly useful for cleaning junk files from your device and boosting your system’s performance.
And I like the phishing protection, too — it stopped me from accessing known malicious websites that were trying to steal my personal data.
TotalAV’s premium packages can get a little expensive. However, TotalAV offers really big first-year discounts, including a discount of up to $90 off for its most advanced package, which makes it one of cheapest anti-spyware packages for the first year of coverage. Bottom Line:
TotalAV offers extremely strong spyware and malware protection. It also has a useful range of additional features, like performance optimization tools, phishing protection, and a VPN. TotalAV offers big first-year discounts, making it one of the cheapest options for one full year of protection. If you need something that’s quick, easy to use, and provides tons of value, TotalAV is a good option. All TotalAV plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
McAfee’s antivirus is well-known for being strong, reliable, and one of the best in the industry — it detected and removed all of the spyware on my system.
I found McAfee’s malware scanner to be a bit slow when compared to some other brands like Norton and TotalAV. But even though the scans are longer, McAfee still scored a 100% detection rate.
McAfee has a wide range of additional features, including:
- Ransomware protection.
- Performance optimization.
- VPN (with unlimited browsing data).
- Password manager.
- Identity theft protection (US users only).
Most of the additional tools are great, but I feel that some of them could be better, especially the password manager.
McAfee’s Total Protection plan offers a decent set of features for a good price, and it covers up to 10 devices. McAfee is a little bit cheaper that most other antivirus software, but I think Norton 360 offers more value (with a better VPN, better scanning engine, and better interface). Bottom Line:
McAfee is a good antivirus with reliable spyware protection. It’s a bit slower than other antiviruses, but it still works well. McAfee offers a decent range of additional features including a VPN and performance optimization tools, and it’s a little bit cheaper than most other antiviruses. All McAfee purchases come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
BullGuard does a great job of detecting and removing spyware, along with all other types of malware — scoring a perfect 100% detection rate in my tests.
BullGuard also has a decent range of additional features, including:
- Game Booster (for PC gamers).
- Device optimization tools.
- VPN (with unlimited browsing data).
While I really like BullGuard’s antivirus protection capabilities, I personally love the Game Booster, which made my PC run faster during my gaming tests.
However, I don’t particularly like BullGuard’s user interface, which looks old and outdated. It also was difficult for me to find certain features and settings, so I’d like to see BullGuard improve their user interface in the future.
BullGuard’s most advanced package — Premium Protection — offers pretty good value. It’s slightly cheaper than competing brands, despite offering similar features. That said, I still think Norton and TotalAV offer a more polished product. Bottom Line:
BullGuard offers reliable spyware and malware protection. It also offers a decent range of additional tools, including a Game Booster and a VPN (additional at checkout). I don’t really like the user interface and some settings are tricky to locate. But I think BullGuard’s most advanced package is a good value for the money. All BullGuard plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Bitdefender has the fastest and most lightweight scanning engine of any other on this list. And it’s got perfect detection rates — scoring a 100% against all of my test malware.
Even if spyware somehow did manage to bypass Bitdefender’s defenses, Bitdefender includes extra permission blocks to make sure that spyware wouldn’t be able to access any sensitive files.
Bitdefender also includes:
- Microphone and webcam access monitor.
- Safe online banking portal.
- Password manager.
- Multi-layer ransomware protection.
I particularly like that Bitdefender blocks malicious software from accessing a device’s mic and camera, something hackers often do. I also think the multi-layer ransomware protection is one of the best in the industry.
Bitdefender’s premium package — Total Security — covers up to 10 devices, comes with parental controls, and includes a fast VPN (with upgrades available). All of Bitdefender’s premium plans come with 30-day free trials, so there’s no risk in trying them out. Bottom Line:
Bitdefender is fast, lightweight, and has a 100% spyware detection rate. It also includes additional tools to ensure spyware can’t access your files, even if there’s spyware hiding on your device. Bitdefender’s packages are cost-effective, value-packed, and come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Anti-Spyware — Frequently Asked Questions
What is spyware and what is anti-spyware software?
Spyware is a type of malware (malicious software) that spies on your device, monitoring your activity and collecting your personal information — often using it to access your online accounts or to perform identity theft.
Using spyware, hackers can steal your credit card details, passport number, web browsing history, or any other sensitive info you don’t want falling into the wrong hands.
Anti-spyware software is a type of software that detects, removes, and protects against spyware. But, you have to be careful when downloading anti-spyware software — some “anti-spyware programs” can actually be spyware in disguise.
There are a ton of great anti-spyware products out there, but my favorite anti-spyware program of 2020 is Norton 360 .
Are anti-spyware and antivirus software the same thing?
No, anti-spyware and antivirus software are not the same thing.
Dedicated anti-spyware software only detects and removes spyware. By that logic, antivirus software should only fight viruses. However, “antivirus software” is a broader term for software that fights lots of different types of malware, including spyware, ransomware, and other malicious software.
Many antivirus products don’t include spyware protection. But the best antivirus products, such as Norton 360 and TotalAV , include excellent anti-spyware protection.
How does anti-spyware software work?
Anti-spyware software protects your personal information by:
- Detecting and removing spyware already present on your device.
- Preventing you from downloading spyware.
- Encrypting your files to secure your private data.
- Encrypting your keystrokes to confuse “keylogger” spyware.
- Blocking access to your device’s camera or microphone.
- Scanning the dark web for signs that your personal information has been stolen.
Many antivirus programs include additional tools to protect against other types of malware and also optimize device performance. For example, Norton 360 and TotalAV both include a wide range of features that add extra layers of security and clean junk files.
How can I install anti-spyware software?
You can install anti-spyware software by purchasing it from a reputable cybersecurity company and downloading it from their website.
Always be careful when downloading free anti-spyware software. Some anti-spyware software, known as “rogue anti-spyware software”, is actually spyware in disguise. But don’t worry, you can trust all the antivirus and anti-spyware products on this list .
For most users, I recommend Norton 360 as a powerful, easy-to-use antivirus application that provides advanced spyware protection.