Understanding the Difference Between Antivirus and Antimalware Software

Nov 30, 2023

With the increasing number of cyber threats and malicious software, it has become essential to protect our devices from potential attacks. Two common terms that are often used interchangeably are antivirus and antimalware software. While both serve the purpose of protecting our systems, it is important to understand the difference between the two.

What is Antivirus Software?

Antivirus software is designed to detect, prevent, and remove viruses from your computer. Viruses are malicious programs that can replicate themselves and infect other files and systems. Antivirus software scans your device and compares files to a database of known viruses. If a virus is detected, it is quarantined or removed from your system.

antivirus software

What is Antimalware Software?

Antimalware software, on the other hand, is a broader term that encompasses various types of malicious software, including viruses, spyware, adware, ransomware, and more. While antivirus software focuses specifically on viruses, antimalware software is designed to detect and remove a wider range of threats.

antimalware software

Key Differences

Scope of Protection

Antivirus software primarily focuses on protecting against viruses, while antimalware software provides a broader range of protection against various types of malware.

Methods of Detection

Antivirus software relies on virus definitions and signatures to detect known viruses. It compares files on your device to a database of known threats. Antimalware software uses more advanced techniques such as behavior monitoring, heuristics, and machine learning algorithms to detect and block both known and unknown threats.

Real-Time Protection

Antivirus software typically provides real-time protection by scanning files and monitoring system activity for any malicious behavior. Antimalware software also offers real-time protection but may provide additional features such as web protection, email scanning, and network firewall.

real-time protection

System Impact

Antivirus software is known to have a lighter system impact compared to antimalware software. Antivirus programs are designed to be lightweight and perform scans quickly without slowing down your system. Antimalware software, due to its broader scope of protection, may have a slightly higher system impact.

Complementary Software

While antivirus and antimalware software can be used individually, they are often used together for comprehensive protection. Antivirus software focuses on known threats, while antimalware software provides additional layers of protection against new and emerging threats.

complementary software


Understanding the difference between antivirus and antimalware software is crucial for choosing the right protection for your device. Antivirus software is effective against known viruses, while antimalware software provides a broader range of protection against various types of malware. Using both antivirus and antimalware software together can provide comprehensive security for your system.