What are my favorite Antivirus programs? (and why!)

I received this email from a listener, Scott:

Dan  –  I was wondering what is your favorite Antivirus for 2015, and what do think about programs like iolo System Mechanic Professional?       Thank you.      Scott

Unfortunately, when you ask most ‘computer geeks’ what their favorite Antivirus program is, you’ll usually get the name of some popular or free Antivirus application.  More interesting, to me at least, is if you ask them WHY (I LOVE to ask WHY!) – you get either a strange look or something like “Well, I’ve had it on my computer for a few years and I’ve never gotten a virus”.  My opinion – Bad answer!  Anecdotal evidence is never good to rely on.  Just because YOUR specific Yugo didn’t break down, it doesn’t mean that it’s a reliable car!

Here’s the way I decide what Antivirus program(s) to recommend:

1 – What is the EFFECTIVENESS of the program?  What percentage of viruses/malicious software does the program protect your computer from?  There are a few companies that do comparative tests for ‘Real World Protection’.  In a nutshell, they try to infect a computer with a bunch of viruses and find out how many of the viruses are stopped, while each of the different Antivirus programs are running.  Surprising to some, the ‘protection’ percentages can vary greatly.  Here’s a link to one of the recent comparative tests done by AV-Comparatives:

http://chart.av-comparatives.org/chart1.php?chart=chart2&year=2014&month=12&sort=0&zoom=2

You’ll see, for example, that Trend Micro Antivirus blocked 99.7% of the viruses in this test, while AhnLab Antivirus only blocked 86.3%.  Also interesting is the number of ‘false positives’ – the number of non-malicious files that the antivirus programs marked as infected.  F-Secure Antivirus had 113 false positives, McAfee had 81, while Kaspersky and Bitdefender (2 of my favorites) didn’t have any.

Keep in mind, that this is just one test, based on test results in late 2014.  The test results vary.  I look at these results often and I base my recommendations on these programs having CONSISTENTLY high scores across multiple years and different tests.

2 – Is the program itself a ‘troublemaker’?  Is the application difficult to install or remove?  Does the program cause errors or undesirable effects (i.e. – does it ‘block’ or not let you do certain functions that are not malicious, such as Internet access – yes, it happens)?  Does it pop up and bug you with false positives often?  Does it slow your computer down after install?  Does the security program add significant time to the Windows boot process?  Is the user interface difficult to use?…

Since we see so many computers with different antivirus programs at Discount Computer Service, we have a good amount of experience seeing what programs are good and which are the ‘troublemakers’.

So here are a few of my current ‘favorites’ (yes, they do change over the years, based on the above info – some companies don’t keep their technologies up to date and some step up their game):

Trend Micro (had the highest protection score in the above linked test results)

Norton Security (has historically had very good effectiveness and has recently improved their program)

Kaspersky (recent high protection scores and low false positives)

BitDefender  (high protection scores and low false positives)

Further note – I usually recommend getting only the ‘AntiVirus’ programs, not the ‘Internet Security’ versions.  The ‘Internet Security’ versions more often cause slowdown and other issues and these days, don’t offer much more real protection for most people.

As to Scott’s second question – what do I think about most of the ‘utility’ programs?  I generally stay away from them.  They come with lofty marketing claims, but almost always fail to live up to these claims.  Also, too often they tend to cause errors and problems that did not exist before those programs were installed.  I can’t count on my fingers and toes how many times I’ve been told – “I loaded such-and-such utility program on my computer, I ran it, and now my computer won’t boot!”  Not so good.

We do keep the above Antivirus programs in stock at Discount Computer Service.  Our prices for most of these are usually lower than the retail prices you will find if you bought them directly from their websites.  We also can help you with the installation and more importantly, the removal of your old or out-dated antivirus program.  You do NOT want to have more than one active antivirus program running on your computer.  We have many removal tools available if your old antivirus program will not remove properly (which happens frequently).

Give us a call if we can help.  410-358-7300

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