The Best Antivirus for 2015?

Category: Anti-Virus

All year long, white-coated geeks at the AV-Comparatives laboratory work in obscurity, torture-testing antivirus software. But once a year they make headlines with their annual report on nearly two dozen antivirus and Internet security suites. Here's their take on the top antivirus programs for this year...

Which AntiVirus Protects You Best?

Okay, I made up the part about the geeks in white lab coats. But the AV-Comparatives report is definitely real. The full report for 2015 runs over 150 pages this year but I have the highlights for you right here:

AV-Comparatives subjects antimalware programs to six tests. Two of them are repeated in the spring and fall, for a total of eight test sessions. Different weights are assigned to the tests’ results and a total score is calculated. A Product of the Year is then named, and several “Top Rated” products receive recognition as well. Gold, silver, and bronze “medals” are also awarded in each of the six test categories.

It should be noted that there is less than one percent’s difference between the scores of all the Top Rated programs and the Product of the Year. This should come as no surprise because participation in the AV-Comparatives tests is entirely voluntary, just like the Olympics. Unless you’re very, very good, you’re not going to enter the game.
Best AntiVirus 2015

This year, there was a tie for Product of the Year. Both Kaspersky Internet Security 2015 and Bitdefender Internet Security 2015 scored an Advanced+ award in all tests. But AV-Comparatives decided the tie in favor of Bitdefender, because Kaspersky won their Product of the Year award last year. Makes perfect sense, right? Personally, I go with the one that has the coolest logo.

“Top Rated” runners-up include AVG, Avira, ESET, Emsisoft, F-Secure, and Fortinet. Only three of these vendors offer always-free antivirus-only packages, like Bitdefender. They are AVG Free Antivirus, Avira Free Antivirus, and Fortinet FortiClient. The others offer trial versions that stop working after a period of time until you pay for them.

What About Microsoft and Norton?

AV-Comparatives says, “Microsoft asked to be included in the tests, but to be regarded as a baseline and not as competition to the other products.” Huh? You can draw whatever conclusion you wish from that, but my takeaway is that Microsoft intends their security products (Microsoft Security Essentials for Windows 7 and Windows Defender for Windows 8) to be good enough for most users, but not necessarily best of breed.

And that stats seem to bear that out. In the detailed "Real World Protection Test" results, Microsoft scored dead last with a protection rate of only 83.5%. Eight products scored 98% or higher. That's why I recommend replacing the Microsoft security tools with a free alternative that DOES go for the gold. (See my list of Free Anti-Virus Programs)

Symantec/Norton products have not appeared in the AV-Comparatives report since the 2011 summary. Here's why: "Symantec only wanted to take part in our public tests if they could choose which of the tests from our yearly public test-series to participate in. As an independent testing organization, we require all vendors to take part in all the basic tests in the series. We do not allow vendors to pick and choose among the core tests. Consequently, Symantec has decided not to submit its products for our public main test-series in 2014."

The Other 134 Pages

I noted that the full AV-Comparatives report is over 150 pages long. Most of what you need to know is in the first 16 pages. The rest is (sometimes tedious) reviews of every program’s user interface. You may find this information helpful if you're trying to decide between two or three options, but there's no need to slog through all of it.

The authors of the report admit that "there is no such thing as the perfect security program, or the best one for all needs and every user." They encourage users to choose not only based on test results, but also on other factors, including price and support. Personally, I find the summary report a bit fluffy, and prefer to dig in to the Real World Protection, File Detection, and Malware Removal test results.

I continue to believe that most users are best served by a free anti-virus program. I switched from AVG to Avast (free version) about a year ago, and will stick with it for now. (See my review of Avast 2015) What's your preferred internet security tool, and why?

Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

 
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Most recent comments on "The Best Antivirus for 2015?"

(See all 37 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

ceezee
03 Mar 2015

"The others offer trial versions that stop working after a period of time until you pay for them. "

You didn't include Avast FREE, and it does exist. Just download the free trial. When it expires, it reverts to the Free version.

EDITOR'S NOTE: True, but Avast didn't get a "Top Rated" score in this report. That's why I didn't include it in that paragraph.


Posted by:

Aleen
03 Mar 2015

We pay for only 2 maintenance and protection applications: Sophos Anti-Virus, and Advanced System Care housekeeping/maintenance.

Though no a/v stops all from entering, after invasive trojan/identity hack we switched from inscrutable unhelpful Kaspersky to user-friendly Staples-installed Sophos A/V with American total support renewed annually each pc $100USD.

Like Microsoft support does, Sophos runs free Malwarebytes for additional problem; so unsurprising that reviewers here echo MB praises. I've donated to Spybot for longtime help. Pre-Sophos we had a problem which took either Spybot, AVG, or Ad-Aware to remove--I wish I could remember which finally got it.

Never again Norton Symantec, consuming McAfee or Avast, unfriendly Kaspersky, or inadequate MS (only protects Microsoft files!). If ASC Ultimate anti-virus became top-rated, I'd love to pay for just one all-in-one housekeeping + a/v, since for daily housekeeping/maintenance I would not be without the indispensable and comprehensive Advanced System Care.

ASC offers free but Pro inexpensive well worth it, with cheap loyalty renewal or website competitive with online promos. ASC says Registry Defrag need be run only every few weeks. Sophos a/v agrees disable ASC Security Scan so not conflict with Sophos. Sophos also disables conflicting MS Windows Defender. Thank you, Bob, for year-round timely expertise especially XP obsolescence.


Posted by:

Mike
03 Mar 2015

I am sticky to AVG internet security and avg free cause has proven secure real time protection and web protection.. use no charge from system ...and ...
no need registration forced as avast does !


Posted by:

mur_phy
03 Mar 2015

Over the years I have used a number of AV scanners including Avira, AVG, Avast, MSE, Comodo and now my current one Bit Defender Free (for the past couple years). It is a set it and forget it type of AV scanner.

A year ago Malwarebytes offered users an opportunity to become part of a BETA test group and then offered a lifetime key for the Premium edition which I was happy to make use of on currently 3 different machines.

Additionally, MBAM also offers the free Malware Anti-Exploit which runs resident also.

In addition to those items, the toolbox contains:

CryptoPrevent, Emsisoft Emergency Toolkit, Hitman Pro, JRT, Norton Power Eraser, stinger, SuperAntiSpyware, TDSSKiller and Virus Total.

Do all get used -- no. However like having a toolbox at home with a screwdriver, wrench, hammer etc. one has them just for when and if necessary.

Keep in mind that the test was for AV scanners so MBAM which is not an AV scanner would not be included but is something that will detect malware that is not detected by the AV scanner.


Posted by:

Tom
03 Mar 2015

I look forward to this report to keep up with what is working the best both for the company I work for and on a personal level. At work we use the corporate version of Eset which has done a great job for us. If something ever happens or is questioned, I always run a follow up with MalwareBytes to check for traces. In the past I have used McAfee and Norton but abandoned them due to their large footprint and tendency to slow down the system.
I am a little surprised by all of the recommendations of the free AV software. We used that in the past but got nailed big time by a virus. Personally and corporate, I will never use a free one again.


Posted by:

Daniel
03 Mar 2015

I too switched to Avast! a while back. Disappointed they didn't score as well as usual.

My question: A company like Kaspersky usually does well in these tests. But, is it a good risk since they are in Russia, and that country's political landscape is very tenuous? Call me paranoid, but I'm just hesitant to trust them.


Posted by:

Judy Semler
03 Mar 2015

I use Kaspersky because you can find a good price for 3 computers (which I have). I will never again own a computer that doesn't have Malwarebytes. I think it is worth buying the paid addition. My adult son recently had a problem with his computer and as both my sons and my 4 adult grandchildren do, he called for help. I reminded him about malwarebytes which I had installed on his computer when it was new. He ran the scan, found the problem and fixed it. A wonderful result....always. Thank you Bob. You make me sound like an expert because I learn so much from you.


Posted by:

Dave
03 Mar 2015

I wish they would include information on how intrusive the various programs are and what their impact on system operation is. Symantec's products have been notoriously bad in both respects, and difficult to remove as well. In choosing the right security product, system impact is part of the equation.


Posted by:

Gary
03 Mar 2015

Way back in the late 90s I used Norton but it was an outrageous system hog! Switched to the free Microsoft Security Essentials and never looked back. I also use PC Matic with SuperShield and have had no issues at all with this combination. I have three machines with WinXP and two with Win7. No issues with WinXP despite all the doomsayers out there!


Posted by:

RandiO
04 Mar 2015

If you are worried that your current protection name-brand antiVirus proggy is not at the top of this pecking order, may I suggest a few things:
#1. Continue using your current one until next year and you may just find out that the pecking order has pushed your name-brand proggy up the ladder.
#2. No need to lose sleep over "spyware" (as opposed to antiVirus) since NSA has us all "covered" >> From our printers, to our USB sticks to our HardDrives to our Lenovo laptops to even our D-Link routers and DVD players.
#3. If you are paying for an aV program, or you are about to pitch your current AV for the top rated one on this list, or you are running multiple aVs; it may be time to look at yourself in the mirror and ask "Am I obsessing over aV, when I could be engaging in my favorite hobby instead?" Unless computers are your hobby! But remember, no fibbing to the mirror is allowed!
#4. For a less time consuming alternative to installing and worrying about the performance of your current aV, may I suggest that you take the route of "imaging" your drive(s) (also backing up your personal data) every few months and just continue using the baseline approach that Mr. Rankin discussed above (i.e. built-in Microsoft aV/spyware proggy, that is allowed to automatically update itself).
#?. Junkware Removal Tool (http://thisisudax.org/downloads/JRT.exe) is a free security utility that searches for and removes common adware, toolbars, and potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) from your computer. A common tactic among freeware publishers is to offer their products for free, but bundle them with PUPs in order to earn revenue. This tool will help you remove these types of programs. Junkware Removal Tool has the ability to remove the following types of programs:
Ask Toolbar >> Babylon >> Blekko >> Claro / iSearch >> Conduit >> Crossrider >> DealPly >> Delta >> Facemoods / Funmoods >> Findgala >> Globasearch >> Hao123 >> iLivid >> Iminent >> IncrediBar >> MocaFlix >> MyPC Backup >> MyWebSearch >> PerformerSoft >> Privitize >> Qvo6 >> Searchqu >> Snap Do >> Swag Bucks >> Wajam >> Web Assistant >> WhiteSmoke >> Zugo >> And many more…
NO installation is required for JRT but all other running programs must/should be terminated prior to the start of the JRT scan.


Posted by:

Jud
04 Mar 2015

Mr Rankin, I want to thank you for your articles: You have educated me concerning the in and out of the internet and how the world of internet works.
I am over 70 and have enjoyed learning about computers.
Because of your articles I have Avast free and very happy with the results.
Thank you again.


Posted by:

Judy
04 Mar 2015

I wanted to comment on why I went back to using free Antivirus products (currently using BitDefender). I thought that maybe others would be interested.
After lots of recommendations, I signed up with Kasperski Pure. The first thing I’ve come across was that “Safe Money” wasn’t working. Got in touch with them (no easy task, they don’t answer their emails nor their phones) and they informed me that they have trouble keeping up with Firefox’s updates so are always a version behind, hence FF disables it until they catch up, by which time FF has probably gone onto the next version. Very useful!
I honestly don’t remember the various other problems I’ve had, but the last straw came when I had a problem and knowing that it is pointless writing to them, I phoned them (not a free call!) only to get a recording that informed me that they were busy, I should try later and promptly hung up on me. No opportunity to even leave a voicemail!
I then sent them an email, detailing my problem and also telling them that I was not happy with their customer service. Got no reply (except the automated one) A friend helped me sort out my problem and TBH I forgot about my email to Kaspersky.
6 months later (no, I am not exaggerating) I got an email and I quote:
“Apologies for the late reply, we have a large backlog of emails. I've been recently been employed to address the backlog. If you are still experiencing issues read on, otherwise ignore this email.
I have been unable to find you on our system using your email or name. This suggests you did not get your software from http://www.buykaspersky.com.au/”
Yes, I did purchase the software from them (and would have quoted more than just my name in the email, anyway) and the few occasions I did manage to get in touch with them, they never had trouble finding my account... I replied, expressing my unhappiness with their “customer service” (and I was polite) never got a reply.
So, when it came time to renew, I decided that if I had to go to friends to solve a problem, I may as well get a free Antivirus software and, at the time, BitDefender seemed to have the best reviews. As Kasperski seemed to have enough staff to write to me several times to remind me to renew, I wrote to them to explain why I wasn’t going to. Never got a reply to that either, but at least the reminders stopped.


Posted by:

Rob
04 Mar 2015

Several years ago i was on the AVG free wagon for some time but then things started to slip through so i switched to avast free after awhile it too failed me i recently went back to zonealarm free virus +firewall and i love it,best thing i have done and plan on staying with them, i have been on the Malwarebytes program for a long time and do not plan to change. At some point it seemed that AVG free got too big to much bloat.


Posted by:

Janet Larocque
04 Mar 2015

I switched to Vipre AV about a year ago on your recommendation (AVG ruined my laptop!! after several years with them (NOT THE FREE VERSION)). Now I don't find it being recommended by you. Is there some reason for this, Bob

EDITOR'S NOTE: I don't recall ever recommending Vipre...


Posted by:

nitemagic
09 Mar 2015

I had used Avast free, but switched to Bitdefender free last year. In my 1st week running BD it caught at least 6 viruses that Avast did not. I've been using it ever since and recommend it to everyone I know


Posted by:

Master Moccasin
11 Mar 2015

I’ve got an XP computer that has never been updated and has never had or will it ever have a problem with viruses. It doesn’t know the Internet exist as it’s never been connected. It runs my Plasma table and never gets any programs installed!


Posted by:

Charles Snyder
15 Mar 2015

I have been using Avast for over a year and I did so based on your comments on it and am happy with it except lately I get messages from them that I have been using it free for over a year and strongly hint that I should give something back by upgrading to paid version. That irritated me; if something is free it is free.
I used AVG before Avast but it really slowed my laptop down.
Thank you for the informative articles.
Charles


Posted by:

SharonH
20 Mar 2015

I had been using AVAST for years. I was having horrendous problems with my PC two days ago. It seemed AVAST may have been involved somehow (i.e., software conflict) but upon running Trojan Hunter (yes, I know, it is not an anti-virus utility) it caught 4, yes 4, backdoor malware items that apparently hid from AVAST and also Malwarebytes in a total of 18 files).

I was shocked to say the least. It was a first, actually. I really expected more protection from AVAST in particular. I am now going to do further research based on this article and make a decision as to whether or not I will keep it or go with something else, paid or not.


Posted by:

Ray A
25 Mar 2015

I tried bitdefender. BIG MisTAKE! After paid in full, I download the bitdefender anti-virus software. It rendered my PC un-useable. Then a pop-up window appears on my screen. Call this # for help. THe tech support says bitdefender cant fix the problem, but problem this will require 3rd level help for $120. I disputed the charge with my credit card company and did not pay. BitDefender antivirus is a Scam and a rip-off.!!


Posted by:

Akash Rajgure
10 Apr 2015

I am using avira antivirus pro, fast scanning and no slow down of pc.
get list of best antivirus here
http://www.techming.com/top-5-best-antivirus-for-2014/


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