To perform well, your antivirus software needs to maintain constant vigilance against a wide range of known and unknown (emerging) malware, detecting and repairing or removing (disinfecting) them before they can cause damage. This on-access (also called real-time, or dynamic) protection is essential, as most threats these days are spread over the internet via web browsing, email and instant messaging.
To work effectively security software needs to be straightforward to install and configure, while helping you optimise your settings for best protection, and easy to use. Ideally, the software should work unobtrusively in the background and have a minimal negative impact on the general performance and operation of your computer, provide easy access to help and support, and require minimum user intervention.
Continuous monitoring of your system can affect performance, so a good suite needs to minimise its impact on your PC’s day-to-day use, adding as little extra processing overhead as possible.
- Avast! Free Antivirus
Avast! Free Antivirus (+ Win 7 firewall)
- Avast! Internet Security 7
- AVG AntiVirus Free 2013
- AVG AntiVirus Free 2013 + Win 7 Firewall
- AVG Internet Security 2013
- Avira Free Antivirus
- Avira Free Antivirus (+ Win 7 firewall)
- Avira Internet Security 2013
- Bitdefender Internet Security 2013
- BullGuard Internet Security 2013
- Eset Smart Security 5
- F-Secure Internet Security 2013
- G Data InternetSecurity 2013
- Kaspersky Internet Security 2013
- McAfee Internet Security 2013
- Microsoft Security Essentials
- Microsoft Security Essentials (+ Win 7 firewall)
- Norton Internet Security
- Panda Security Internet Security 2013
- Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security 2013 (+ Win 7 firewall)
- Zone Alarm Free Antivirus + Firewall
Performance, ease of use and system impact are the three most important areas to consider in choosing a security software.
Performance testing includes on-demand scanning, both connected to and disconnected from the internet; real-world protection, using known malicious websites, including so-called drive-by websites, plus malware infections from connected media such as a USB flash drive; current malware detection, which includes the speed at which software is updated to address emerging threats; URL protection, which includes blocking online malware including phishing websites, especially highly sensitive websites such as false banking and social media sites; and false positive efficiency, which examines the rate of benign files being identified as malware.
Firewall assessment takes into account both incoming and outgoing protection. Incoming tests the firewall's ability to detect and prevent external scans; outgoing tests its ability to detect and prevent unauthorised data being sent outward to the internet, including sensitive data such as credit card details.
System impact assesses the software’s usage of disk space and memory, plus its effect on boot time and common tasks such as program launch and use, file copying and file compression/decompression.
Ease of use assessment takes into account the installation, configuration and normal day-to-day use of the product; the clarity/simplicity of the user interface; user help such as guidance, help menu and options; and updating the software.
For more information about the internet, see Networking and internet.