More Paid Antivirus Programs

Category: Security

A number of readers commented on last week's Best Paid Antivirus Programs article. Most of them were saying, in effect, You forgot mine! Any short list of a half-dozen programs is going to leave out some worthy contenders. Here are some readers' favorite paid antivirus programs, and my comments on each...

Readers Recommend Their Favorite PAID Anti-Virus Solutions

Last week, I gave you my thoughts on the Best Paid Anti-Virus Programs, and plenty of you had something to say in response. Every time I write about computer security, whether it's the free or paid variety, I get an earful from people who want to tell me why their solution is truly the best. I do respect the real-world experience of my readers, so I've selected the contenders that were mentioned most often in the comments, and I've highlighted each of them below.

Some readers were surprised that AVG Antivirus Pro and AVG Internet Security Suite were omitted. I reviewed both of these paid versions of AVG in an earlier article. Briefly, AVG Free provides excellent protection against email-borne malware, drive-by downloads, and potentially malicious Web sites.
More Paid Anti-Virus Programs

The Pro version ($35) adds protection to instant messaging, blocks rootkits, screens all downloads, and comes with tech support. AVG Internet Security ($55) adds a firewall and anti-phishing features. Although it is very popular, the latest AV-Comparatives test results show that the free version detects just 91% of all malware samples, one of the lowest scores of the 20 programs tested. But you can't rely on these numbers alone, because neither the paid version nor the protection offered by the AVG suite were tested. With over 100 million users, AVG seems to be getting the job done in real-world situations.

Vipre ($29.95) by GFI Software (formerly Sunbelt Software) has quite a few fans, apparently. Most of them cite Vipre's low impact on system performance, and in PC World lab tests it does scan hard drives speedily. It detected over 97 per cent of known malware samples and removed their active components 70 per cent of the time. That's about average for antivirus programs. But Vipre fully blocked only 60 per cent of brand new malware attacks, below the average of 83 per cent. Vipre comes with a firewall that blocks questionable outbound traffic as well as inbound. Currently, Vipre's $29.95 cost buys you lifetime updates; no annual subscription renewal required. Another plus is that they offer to clean your machine free of charge if anything does slip past its defenses.

ESET NOD32 Antivirus 4 ($72 for up to 3 PCs per year) is almost a mirror image of Vipre. In tests, it blocks brand new malware quite well. But it detected only 89 per cent of known malware samples, and removed all active components only 60 per cent of the time. Its speedy scans and low impact on system resources are good, but hardly make up for the poor performance of core antivirus duties. So I have to disagree with the reader who claimed that failure to use ESET NOD32 would "jeopardize your machine". But I do give them extra points for the cool robot theme in their packaging. :-)

Trend Micro was also nominated by several readers. Its PC-Cillin antivirus program is now called Trend Micro Titanium Antivirus 2011 ($60 per year for up to 3 PCs). Titanium's user interface is very simple, which is a plus for non-technical users but may be a bit too simple for power users. Titanium detected over 98 per cent of known malware samples in tests, a very good score. It also fully blocked 88 per cent of brand new malware, about average. It removed all active component of detected malware 80 per cent of the time. Its impact on system performance is about average.

Panda Antivirus Pro 2011 ($50 per year for up to 3 PCs) is another reader favorite. It detected 99.8 per cent of known malware samples, and fully blocked 84 per cent of brand new malware attacks. It was able to remove active malware components 80 per cent of the time. It scan speeds are relatively slow.

Drawing a Conclusion on Paid Anti-Virus

The PC World "Top Anti-Virus for 2011" study gave five products (Symantec/Norton, BitDefender, G-Data, Kaspersky, Trend Micro Titanium) a 4.5 stars rating, but they selected Norton as their #1 pick. I mention that for fairness, since I've often spoken ill of Norton security products. But on the flipside, PC World is a magazine, and they do have to keep their advertisers happy. I'm not saying the review is worthless, just that they could have selected any of those five to receive top honors. The AV-Comparatives report I mentioned above rates G-DATA (99.8), Avast (98.4), Panda (98.1), BitDefender (97.6), and Kaspersky (97.0) all above 97 percent at detection, while Norton ranked #12 at 95.5 percent.

Predictably, the antivirus programs that are best at detecting and removing infections are also the slowest at doing their jobs. Haste makes waste. It's also interesting to note that both the AV-Comparatives and PC World studies shows that NONE of the paid antivirus programs are able to block all malware samples, and 60% was considered an "above-average" score when measuring the ability to completely remove infections.

What does all this tell me? On a practical level, I believe that any of the top dozen or so commercial anti-virus suites will do a good job of protecting you, but none of them will protect all users in every circumstance. However, I'd say the same about the free anti-virus options that I've covered as well. The edge that the paid products have are ease of use, an all-in-one solution, and tech support when you need it.

Each user should make the call, depending on their comfort level with tech issues. But in many cases, it boils down to how much time and effort you're willing to put into choosing or customizing a solution. The old saying in the IT world, "Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM" seems to apply here as well.

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Most recent comments on "More Paid Antivirus Programs"

Posted by:

13 Jun 2011

Hey Bob, would you be forthright enough to tell us which one YOU use? I loved Kaspersky but it bogged my system down soooo much I had to get rid of it.

EDITOR'S NOTE: On the three computers in my home, one has AVG, one has Avira, and the other runs Microsoft Security Essentials. To be honest, I can't say that any one of them is "better" than another, since I've had no malware infections that were not detected.

Posted by:

Tom S.
13 Jun 2011

A anti-virus program is only as good as the user. In my opinion far to many people think that just because they're running an anti-virus program they can 'surf the net' with no fear. Sorry people, That just isn't the case at all! So stop visiting those 'adult' web sites, and opening e-mails from Mr. Jones of Nigeria who has $10M to hide in the U.S. It will get you in trouble sooner or later.

Posted by:

13 Jun 2011

Testing results are all over the chart depending on who does the test and what phase the moon is in. Trying to decide which AV program is the best is like asking which pickup is the best. Ford owners will never listen to Dodge owners and neither one will listen to Chevy owners. So just use whatever AV program you want. Using something is better than using nothing at all.

Besides, common sense it usually the best defense against malware. Don't open email attachments you're not expecting; don't download illegal software you haven't paid for; don't click on pop-ups that say you're the 1 millionth visitor and you've won; don't fall for the ad saying your computer is infected but we can fix it; and don't give out your personal info to that Nigerian prince who wants to share his money with you but he needs your social security number, bank account number, and blood type.


Posted by:

Dale Bailey
13 Jun 2011

I believe it also has to do with where you go on the World Wide Web !!!!! Have used ESET for 8 yrs now and never been infected it has caught everything. I do alot of surfing to while building systems on the side. Looking for good deals , tips, etc.

Posted by:

Paul White
13 Jun 2011

For what it is worth, I've been using Avast for the past year and happy with it. Going to the paid version, after AVG let me down in several areas. I do coach for Senior Net and and counsel my students to go for the paid or pro version of Avast or Avira, depending on what they can afford. When I help a senior install a new PC/Laptop, off goes the Norton or McAfee.

Posted by:

Bill C
13 Jun 2011

Have to agree with Tom S. Have been using computers for 30+ years and the Internet for 20. Do use an AV program, but am very careful about what emails I open, stay away from websites that are suspicious, use the tools in IE & Firefox to control what can access my browser, use a strong firewall, disable the LAN when I don't need it and power down the PC when it's not being used. The router is set up so drive bys and neighbors can't use my wifi. In 20 years, have never had a virus, or a hacker so guess it's working fairly well.

Posted by:

13 Jun 2011

My daughter was using the computer and got the XP Security 2011 virus. I was using MS Essentials and it shut it off and hid the MSE icon and files. It also hid all but 10 programs on my all program list including system tools and the restore function. It blocked the MS update site from working and hijacked all 3 of my browsers. I finally got rid of it with the help of MS and others, but the damage remains and I'm not sure I will ever get everything working again.

I will be buying Anti-Virus protection, and will never use Microsoft Security Essentials again.

Posted by:

Richard Oliver
14 Jun 2011

What is the reason that Zone Alarm is never mentioned in the many internet security suite reviews that I read? I have been using ZA for several years and am quite happy with it.

Posted by:

14 Jun 2011

USE Sandboxie (as an Added layer of security protection) with your favorite anti-virus software.

You won't be sorry!


Posted by:

14 Jun 2011

I am from India,using Quickheal internet security (also from India) for last 3 years and am happy with it.Particularly this year has been very good.
Has it ever been rated by you?If so what is the report.
It is also cheap in dollar terms.

Posted by:

14 Jun 2011

Detection rate shouldn't be the criteria than ranks a product above others.

Some products have extremely high detection rates like G-Data or Trend Micro Titanium but then fall down from the top because they have a high number of false positives. That's the AV-Comparatives study uses three criteria - detection rate, false positives and on-demand scan speed. Together, these are used to give each product tested a rating of either Tested, Standard, Advanced or Advanced++.

If you're an advanced user who isn't worried about false alarms, by all means just go with the products with the highest raw detection rate. For everyone, else, use the rankings so that you can get high detection rates without the false alarms.

Posted by:

14 Jun 2011

Paid anti-virus programs : I use Frisk ( , from Iceland . Thank you .

Posted by:

14 Jun 2011

OK, so this is all well and good if I just have a couple of computers to protect. But what if I am trying to protect a small business network of a dozen or two dozen computers? Do any of these companies offer a good distributed solution that won't drive me crazy trying to keep the subscriptions up to date on each machine? We are using McAfee based SonicWall right now, but I have been hearing less than stellar reviews about McAfee, and we have had a couple of the fake malware detecting viruses slip through. Anyone have a suggestion? Thanks!

Posted by:

Tim Parsons
15 Jun 2011

There's another issue here: it's all very well to fire all known malware at a specific solution and mark it on its performance, but what actually matters is how a given product functions in the real world.

For instance, Eset claims that "ESET NOD32 Antivirus has never missed an In-The-Wild virus." If that's true, why do the statistics you quote make any difference? In practice, I want something that secures my system, doesn't slow things down too badly, and doesn't intrude too much. NOD32 does that. Kaspersky doesn't. McAfee doesn't. Norton doesn't.

Posted by:

16 Jun 2011

I would like comments? I used free versions as I don't need a security suite. Avast was on 3 machines and a year or so ago blasted me with a ton of false positives. Needless to say, I panicked and deleted some needed files. So far Microsoft Security Essentials fits well. Thanks for all the time and info Bob. Bob O.

Posted by:

19 Oct 2011

As I said in a previous article, Norton and McAfee do not work. Eset doesn't do so well either. I attended a community college in my area and they used
Eset for a time. Then they started have a lot of problems with it and they switched to Kaspersky, which is probably the only anti-virus that I might pay for. But I have always used AVG Free for years, and have not had any problems. Save your money.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Long-time readers will know I've been critical of Norton and McAfee, but to say "they don't work" just borders on the ridiculous. Of course they work, and for millions of people they do a very good job. The footprint and performance issues (which I have also pointed out on many occasions) have improved a lot over the years.

Posted by:

20 Oct 2011

Sorry Bob, but I disagree. Let me rephrase. Norton and McAfee, for all intense purposes, do not protect your system as they advertise. They may give some limited protection, but for the most part they are ineffective. They may work somewhat for people that don't do much on the internet, such as the older crowd (like my dad, for example), that just read e-mails from their friends and don't have a Facebook page and don't surf the web much. But for the rest of us, those two programs are useless. I have fix many computers where the major problem was Norton or McAfee being corrupted and very adversely affecting the system. I honestly feel that the only reason that they are still around is that they have commercial contracts with the major computer makers so that when you buy a new computer, one of those programs are already on there. I recommend deleting them immediately and go with AVG, Kaspersky, or Avast. By the way, I love your articles, very informative and easy for everyone to understand, even if we disagree. Keep up the good work.

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