Lab Tests Reveal Top AntiVirus Programs

Category: Security

Have you been using the wrong antivirus program for the past year? Now is your chance to kick yourself and mend the error. The authorities on antivirus testing and rating have released their lists of the best-performing antivirus programs. Here's the scoop:

Which AntiVirus is Best: Protection, Repair and Usability

Every year, the folks at AV-Test, “the independent IT Security Institute,” issue six awards: three each for home and corporate products. The three categories are Protection (defense against infection), Repair (detection and repair of infections), and Usability (user-friendliness, system resource consumption). Annual ratings are the averages of each product’s bimonthly test scores.

This year’s winners in the Home category are as follows. Protection: F-Secure Internet Security; Repair: BitDefender Internet Security; Usability: Symantec Norton Internet Security. The scores for several of the categories were so close that they are actually virtual ties. For the criteria that was used to rate all 20+ security products, and the details on how they scored in each category, see the complete AV-TEST AWARD results.

On the Corporate side, the winners were as follows. Protection: Kaspersky Endpoint Security; Repair: Kaspersky Endpoint Security ; Usability: Symantec Endpoint Security. And again, some of the races had razor-thin margins. Check out the full report in the link above.
Best Anti-Virus 2013

That’s simple enough. So of course, AV-Test’s competitor had to be more “comprehensive” in its annual ratings. AV-Comparatives issued a 180-page PDF “summary” report ranking products in a slew of categories. If you like picking nits with online dating profiles, you’ll like AV-Comparative’s approach.

BitDefender and Kasperky tied for Product of the Year in terms of average test scores. But BitDefender got the prize because it scored slightly higher in Real Time Protection and had never won before.

The award for Whole-Product “Real World” Dynamic Protection goes to any number of products whose average test scores exceed 99 per cent while producing few false positives. This year’s honorees include BitDefender, Kaspersky, and G-Data.

Using similar criteria, the award for detection of malware files already infecting one’s computer was given to Kaspersky, BitDefender, F-Secure, and AVIRA. For some reason, a separate award is deemed necessary for actual removal/repair of infections. That honor went to BitDefender, Kaspersky, and Panda Security.

Awards are not given for usability. Instead, AV-Comparatives’ report drones on about what constitutes “usability” and compliments G-Data, Kasperky, AVG, Avast, McAfee and many others on various aspects of their user interfaces. This is unquestionably the longest and least helpful section of the report when it comes to comparing products. Its excruciating details of product user interfaces may of be use if you are down to the wire with one or two products and need a tie-breaker.

Don’t feel like a failure if your current antivirus didn’t get a “best” award from either testing organization. Many products come within one or two per cent of the winners in average test performance. Refer to AV-Test’s awards page and AV-Comparative’s PDF report to see these “close and good enough” products.

When all is said and done, you are probably using a perfectly adequate antivirus program. Utter failures don’t last long in the marketplace. After just one infection, most people switch to a new antivirus program, fostering rapid evolution of this software species. I've got a list of Free Anti-Virus Programs, which includes several of the top rated products listed here.

Awards such as these are of limited practical use to most home users, but if you're a little bit geeky you may find them fascinating. Your thoughts on these test results, or anti-virus protection in general are welcome! Post your comment or question below...

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This article was posted by on 14 Feb 2013

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Most recent comments on "Lab Tests Reveal Top AntiVirus Programs"

Posted by:

14 Feb 2013

I use mirosoft security essentials. It's non-intrusive and keeps itself updated. It may not be the best, but for the careful user it's pretty good. I use malwarebytes to supplement it

Is it worth it to go with one of these higher rated programs?

I used to use avast which I liked but it was more trouble than mse, not alot but more.

Posted by:

Bob Stromberg
14 Feb 2013

i take issue with the statement, "When all is said and done, you are probably using a perfectly adequate antivirus program."

None of the antivirus programs can be perfect. New infections are being released in the wild every day. How much risk are you, the computer owner, willing to accept?

In April 2012, a McAfee update clobbered home and business systems:

Posted by:

Lee McIntyre
14 Feb 2013

Yep, I agree with you completely: "When all is said and done, you are probably using a perfectly adequate antivirus program."

When Microsoft Security Essentials was released, I was cautious. After all, it is Microsoft's own operating system that has so many of the security leaks. But then, MSE started getting great reviews. I installed it and am pleased with it. It occasionally finds a problem my Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Pro software doesn't find, and vice versa. (And the two programs play nicely together.)

MSE is free, it's a breeze to install, it updates automatically, and it runs unattended in the background, if desired. Its user interface is straightforward and intuitive. (Tiny gripe: The control to DISABLE live protection--required by some software installations--is buried three clicks deep on the "Settings" tab.)

And, of course, Bob, MSE is right there on your list of recommended Free Anti-Virus Programs.

Posted by:

14 Feb 2013

They never bother to test Iolo's System Mechanic Pro in these tests, and I use it and recommend it.

Posted by:

14 Feb 2013

I have used Norton 360 and so much spyware would go unchecked. I had to use Super Anti-Virus/Spyware. On the average 100 Viruses, Trojans and spyware!! I now use Kaspersky 2.0 and my independent Super anti-spyware AND Malware bytes, are so bored that I uninstalled them!!! Kasperskys' preemptive Attacks are eliminated BEFORE the attacks reach my computer!! I will NEVER look for any all-in-one suite! Kaspersky all the way!!!

Posted by:

14 Feb 2013

You need to revisit your "Free Anti-Virus Programs" from 2011. The 2013 edition of Free AVG is vastly improved over the old. I switched to it after encountering update problems with Avast! late last year.

Posted by:

14 Feb 2013

For the past couple of years I have been running Microsoft Essentials and all was well until a week ago. I usually run several programs every few weeks to make sure my system is clean. It appears that my Microsoft Internet Explorer is being attached by Malware. Examples of this are: Double Click, Fast Click, and Media Plex. Have been running cleanup programs such as Spybot Search & Destroy and Malware Bits. Removal has been successful until I shut down my PC and then reboot. Any suggestions as to how I can get a permanent fix for the problem? I have thought about deleting IE and, hopefully, download a clean version.

Posted by:

14 Feb 2013

Where were the free anti-virus solutions? Many are as good as the ones mentioned. I've used Avira, Avast, AVG, Microsoft Security Essentials, and Microsoft Defender (Win 8) over the years, and all have done the job. You don't need to pay for security software to be safe.

EDITOR'S NOTE: I did mention the freebies, and even gave a link to a bunch of them...

Posted by:

14 Feb 2013

I think all this is for paid s.w..

According to pcmag. The best combo would be

Firewall - zone alarm free

A.V. -AVG free 2013

virus scanner & remover - Comodo cleaning essentials

You'll also want Mbam.

If your nurotic or suspect that you have somthing that hasn't been picked up, try:
Spybot S&D
Super antispyware free edition
Kaspersky security scan free
(Bitdefender quickscan)

You can also get alot of paid stuff for a trial piriod.

Posted by:

Risden Hill
14 Feb 2013

I have been using Microsoft Security Essentials. However, a couple of days ago, less than 24 hours after a security scan was run (routine), MSE informed me that it had been "quite some time since" a test had been run. I had this issue occur when I was using my old computer with Windows XP. So I am not going to "sing the praises" of MSE very loudly. I'm going to look a bit closer at your recommendations in the article above!

EDITOR'S NOTE: Hope you didn't think I was recommending MSE in this article. It actually didn't fare so well in the AV-TEST results.

Posted by:

15 Feb 2013

Thank you for informative article. I got a question. Other than Norton Internet Security am I suppose to install security/malware software too? Is it safe to install virus+security+malware software on one computer or it will create problem?

EDITOR'S NOTE: In general, I advise against more than one anti-virus program. But most will do fine with the addition of an anti-spyware or on-demand scanner, such as MBAM.

Posted by:

15 Feb 2013

I used to use Microsoft Security Essentials sevral years ago - until it let a trojan in that proved impossible to destroy by Spybot Search and Destroy as well as a couple of other programs I tried. In the end I had to reformat my hard drive by doing a clean install!

Since then I have used Symantec's Norton Internet Security and since then (touch wood) I have never had a problem. But for some inexplicable reason, I could not see Norton in the list at all? Why was it left out?

Posted by:

15 Feb 2013

I disagree with the results of the AV-Comparatives and find it to be quite inaccurate. Kaspersky has been mentioned and honored in almost every category, yet my story proves the opposite.

I had Kaspersky for a few years and it was always freezing and messing up my computer until I got tired of it and decided to cancel. Then the worst came up when my hard disk died on me immediately after uninstalling this AV. I had to buy a new HD.

Kaspersky is the most inefficient AV I have ever used, and I don't recommend it to anyone. Since then I have been using Symantec Endpoint on a couple of computers and Avast and Malwarebytes to supplement on another, and I am very pleased with the results.

Posted by:

Risden Hill
18 Feb 2013

Thanks for your comment about my possibly thinking you were recommending Microsoft's Security Essentials. I didn't. I used it because it was a Microsoft product since I'm using Win7 and it's free. However, today, the same "error" message appeared after the scan was done this AM! MS not recognizing its own software deficiences? I have uninstalled MSE and am now going for another which you do recommend! Many thanks for always being "there" for us!

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