Saturday, October 15, 2011

Top 10 Virus Protection Software


Everyone is always looking for a good anti-virus program these days with all the malicious software floating around in our email, websites, etc. You’ve probably read hundreds of “Best Anti-Virus” posts in your life, but in this post I’ll try to give you a little more meat to why you should pick one anti-virus program over another.

When it comes to anti-virus software, you want to know several aspects of the program such as detection rates, scanning speed, number of false positives, etc. All of these in combination make a difference. For example, if one program has a very high detection rate (which is good), it could be offset by the fact that it also finds a lot of false positives. A false positive would basically mean finding a virus or malicious program that really is not malware at all.

False positives can sometimes lead to more problems than actually having a real infection on your computer. Files can be deleted or removed, which could cause the operating system to become unstable or unusable. Also, I would prefer to have a program than takes longer to scan, but has a higher detection rate and a lower false positive rate.

This article will be broken down into these three sections and then we’ll conclude with trying to determine which programs are the best based on the data set.

Highest Detection Rate

The anti-virus software with the best results in terms of detecting the latest virus and malware are as follows:
1. G Data
2. Trustport
3. AVIRA, Qihoo
4. Panda
5. F-Secure, eScan
6. Bitdefender
7. Kaspersky
8. ESET, Avast
9. McAfee
10. AVG

You can read the full detection rate report written by AV-Comparatives.org, a very cool site that performs all kinds of tests on anti-virus software. Basically, the top four have over a 99% detection rate, which is very good.

Scanning Speed

In terms of scanning speed, which includes opening archive files, reading large files, etc. Note that the tests performed by AV-Comparatives is assuming you would want to do a full scan with all options including advanced heuristics, scanning of all file types, etc. Here are the top 10 anti-virus programs in terms of scanning speed:

1. Avast
2. Trend Micro
3. K7
4. McAfee
5. AVIRA
6. AVG
7. Sophos
8. Bitdefender
9. F-Secure
10. Webroot

As we can already see, it’s probably better to choose the programs that show up in both lists, such as AVIRA, F-Secure, McAfee, AVG, etc. However, we should take a look the false positives before deciding.

Number of False Positives

One of the most important aspects to any anti-virus program is it’s ability to distinguish between clean files and infected ones. You have to use this data in conjunction with the detection rates because any program that has a large number of false alarms tends to get a higher score.

There were only eight anti-virus program that had a “low” score in terms of false alarms (listed in order from low to high):

1. McAfee
2. Kaspersky, Microsoft, Panda
3. ESET
4. F-Secure, Trend Micro
5. Bitdefender
6. Avast
7. AVIRA
8. G DATA

As you can see, there are only a few that are on all three lists, namely McAfee, F-Secure, BitDefender, Avast, and AVIRA. You can be pretty sure that installing any of those will be providing you with the best overall anti-virus program out there. Of course, if you favor detection rate over speed, you can adjust accordingly. Or if you wan the least false positives, then you can pick that program.

Either way, the best virus protection software is not as simple as which programs find the most problems on your computer. Like you’ve probably heard before, it’s better to be accurate and precise rather than just precise or just accurate.

What program are you using for protecting your computer from viruses and malware? Do you prefer one program over another? Tell us in the comments!