Is BitDefender the Best Antivirus?
I saw an advertisment in a popular PC magazine claiming that BitDefender was the #1 ranked antivirus protection. It made me wonder how antivirus programs are tested, and if the results are truly objective. Who does these tests, and is BitDefender really the best antivirus program on the market?
How to Find The Best Antivirus Software
Most computer users don't understand the technical details of antivirus software, and don't want to. All they really want to know is, "Which is the best antivirus software?" Every month it seems, there are plenty of websites and magazines offering pseudo-scientific answers to this burning question. But the answers are seldom of real value.
Here's why... Most tests include only a limited number of antivirus programs. The tests themselves are not scientifically designed. The ratings are often subjective; what makes one program more "user-friendly" than another, for example. Even worse, some are just thinly veiled affiliate plays that promote whichever solution offers the highest commission. But there is at least one source of objective, scientific antivirus test results.
The non-profit AV-TEST Institute has been in the IT security research field for over 15 years. Nearly two dozen professional researchers spend all of their time collecting data on malware and testing dozens of antimalware programs. In the most recent AV-TEST report, 25 security products were evaluated in July and August 2011. To best simulate real-world conditions, the current version of each product was tested, using all the default settings.
BitDefender Internet Security Suite 2011 took top honors in the second and third quarters of 2011, a very strong showing. Here's the scoop on how these tests are performed, and how the other top contenders fared in comparison.
How Are Anti-Virus Programs Tested?
AV-TEST publishes new test reports quarterly, and it's quite an honor to be among its top-ranked antivirus programs. AV-TEST rates antivirus programs in three areas. A "6" is a perfect score in each area, so a total of 18 points can be earned. Here is a look at AV-TEST's rating system and how the top contenders fared in Q3.
"Protection" against infection by malware is the first area in which programs are tested. Using each program's default settings, AV-TEST exposes it to known malware threats that are currently "in the wild," and to a wide array of malware that the firm has "captured" for research. The test measures how well a program identifies and blocks the many threats thrown at it.
BitDefender scored a perfect 6.0 in this test. AVG Internet Security 2011 scored 5.5, as did G Data, Kaspersky, Panda, and F-Secure. Symantec Norton and Avast Free Antvirus both scored 5.0. Trend Micro and PC Tools scored 4.5 and 4.0, respectively.
"Repair" of infections is another critical test area. Test systems are infected with sets of malware that are representative of what's in the wild. Antivirus programs are set to scan and repair the infected systems using their default settings. The test measures how well the programs detect infections and how thoroughly infections are removed.
BitDefender tied with Kaspersky in the repair test, with both scoring 5.5 out of 6.0 possible points. Symantec, Panda, Webroot, and F-Secure all scored 5.0. AVG, Microsoft Security Essentials, Avira, Sophos, and PC Tools tied at 4.5 points. GFI Vipre, Norman, G Data, and Avast all scored 4.0.
"Usability" is the third AV-TEST area. The term does not refer to how easy it is to use an antivirus program, but to the usability of the total computer system with the antivirus program running. In other words, this test measures the impact of antivirus protection on system performance, and the number of false positives generated.
BitDefender was again among the top-rated programs with a score of 5.5, tied with ESET. Five programs scored a 5.0 in usability, including Microsoft Security Essentials, Kaspersky, Panda, Sophos, and F-Secure. Avast, BullGuard, and Trend Micro all tied at 4.5 usability points.
Just to be clear, AV-TEST did not analyze the free version of BitDefender, which is quite different from the BitDefender Internet Security suite that was tested. BitDefender Free Edition uses the same malware scanning engine as other BitDefender products, but the free version is only an on-demand virus scanner. That means it does NOT provide real-time security while you are surfing the Web or downloading files.
BitDefender Internet Security scored 17 out of a possible 18 points, better than any of the other tested programs. For reference, the best performing free antivirus programs were AVG's Anti-Virus Free Edition 10.0, and Panda Cloud Antivirus Free Edition 1.5.1 (both scoring 14 points). But overall, BitDefender's high scores in all three areas make it arguably "the best" antivirus program available at this time.
I'm sure many readers will want to leap to the defense of their personal favorite antivirus solution. So please post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 8 Nov 2011
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Is BitDefender the Best Antivirus? (Posted: 8 Nov 2011)
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