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Antivirus software review

We test and rank the top antivirus programs to see which provide the best PC protection.
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Which antivirus program works best on your computer?

We review antivirus software packages priced up to $133.

We've rated each package for anti-malware, firewall, system impact and ease of use.

Are you protecting your PC?

The battle to keep your PC protected from the ever-evolving plague of threats from viruses and other malware is a constant cat-and-mouse game for security software. These days even antivirus software does far more than just stop viruses. But does it do enough? Threats come from multiple fronts, including websites, email, instant messaging, and social media. A full security suite brings together tools to tackle all these threats.

And it’s not just your PC that needs protection. The Android OS running on tablets and smartphones is the fastest growing target for malware makers.

This time around we look at 22 PC packages from antivirus programs to full security suites that promise protection from all sorts of cyber attacks. Included are the big name commercial programs along with free programs and Microsoft’s own home-grown solutions. We also examine 30 mobile malware solutions designed to keep your Android devices secure.

Desktop programs on test

  • Avast! Free Antivirus
  • Avast! Free Antivirus + Windows 7 Firewall
  • Avast! Internet Security 2014
  • AVG AntiVirus Free 2014
  • AVG AntiVirus Free 2014 + Windows 7 Firewall
  • AVG Internet Security 2014
  • Avira Free Antivirus
  • Avira Free Antivirus + Windows 7 Firewall
  • Avira Internet Security 2014
  • Bitdefender Internet Security - New Edition
  • BullGuard Internet Security 2014
  • Eset Smart Security 7
  • F-Secure Internet Security 2014
  • G Data InternetSecurity 2014
  • Kaspersky Internet Security 2014
  • McAfee Internet Security 2014
  • Microsoft Security Essentials
  • Microsoft Security Essentials + Win 7 Firewall
  • Microsoft Windows 8
  • Norton by Symantec Internet Security
  • Panda Security Internet Security 2014
  • Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security 2014

How we test

Anti-malware effectiveness, ease of use, system impact and firewall performance all contribute to the overall effectiveness of security software for your PC. Our testing places particular emphasis on the security software’s ability to protect against the constantly emerging real-world threats that you’re likely to encounter.

Anti-malware effectiveness
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.

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 and decompression.

Firewall assessment takes into account both incoming and outgoing protection. Incoming protection tests the firewall's ability to detect and prevent scans from outside your PC; outgoing protection tests the firewall’s ability to detect and prevent unauthorised data being sent outward to the internet, such as sensitive personal and financial information.

Ease of use assessment takes into account the installation, configuration and normal day-to-day use of the product; the clarity and simplicity of the user interface; built-in and online user help such as guidance, help menu and options; and ease of keeping the software up to date.

Mobile programs on test

The rapid uptake of tablets and smartphones has seen the rapid growth of mobile malware, especially over the past two years. Though the overall number of mobile threats is still far fewer than for PC, there’s been an explosion in malware threats. As people increasingly turn to tablets and smartphones to replace the desktop PC and laptop, so too are malware makers turning to exploit the mobile platforms which increasingly hold a lot of the sensitive personal information that used to be found only on mainstream computers.

In this latest assessment of Android antivirus and security software, independent security test lab AV-Test  compared 30 mobile protection programs to see if they provide protection and do so using limited mobile resources economically, to help preserve vital battery life.  All the programs on test are available for download from the Google Play Store. Note however, that some may appear to be free or low-cost but can have an additional cost attached via in-app purchases.

  • Aegislab Antivirus Premium
  • Ahnlab V3 Mobile
  • Anguanjia Security Manager
  • Antiy AVL
  • Avast! Mobile Security
  • Avira Free Android Security
  • Bitdefender Mobile Security
  • Bornaria Mobile Security
  • Comodo Mobile Security
  • ESET Mobile Security & Antivirus
  • F-Secure Mobile Security
  • G Data Internet Security
  • Ikarus Mobile Security
  • Kaspersky Internet Security
  • Kingsoft Mobile Security
  • KSMobile Clean Master
  • KSMobile CM Security
  • McAfee Mobile Security
  • NQ Mobile Security
  • Panda Security Mobile Security
  • Qihoo 360 MobileSecurity
  • Quick Heal Total Security
  • Sophos Mobile Security
  • SPAMFighter VIRUSfighter Android
  • Symantec Norton Mobile Security
  • Tencent Mobile Security Manager
  • Trend Micro Mobile Security
  • TrustGo Mobile Security
  • Webroot SecureAnywhere Mobile
  • Zoner Mobile Security

For more information about the internet, see Networking and internet.

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