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antivirus software reviewsAs a writer sometimes responsible for reviews, I have sympathy for folks who try to honestly and fairly review products. It isn’t an easy task – at least not if you want to peel away the surface of the product you’re reviewing and take a closer look at how it functions.

Anti-virus software is particularly troublesome. It’s easy to have a look at the features and make comments about the interface, but the actual business of testing the protective capabilities of anti-virus software is tough because there are millions of viruses in existence and thousands of new ones hitting the web every month. Therefore, antivirus software reviews require that the software be tested against a wide range of viruses – and that’s something only a handful of websites do.

AV-Comparatives

antivirus software reviews

Although most PC users don’t realize it, the field of anti-virus protection has an academic side populated by researchers and ex-hackers who rigorously analyze computer hardware and software on the search for security flaws that need to be addressed. This research often results in some useful information for the average computer user, and the AV-Comparatives website is perhaps the best example.

An Austrian non-profit organization, AV-Comparatives exists solely to provide unbiased and comprehensive information about the effectiveness of anti-virus software. They subject the software to a variety of attacks including traditional viruses A History Of Computer Viruses & The Worst Ones of Today A History Of Computer Viruses & The Worst Ones of Today Read More , trojans, scripting attacks and more. They also pay attention to details such as the rate of false positives and the number of viruses a program manages to quarantine but fails to remove.

While the site’s most unique content are the in-depth comparatives, the site also offers a number of single-product reviews. The reviews are a bit technical, but they’ll guide you through the anti-virus software being reviewed step-by-step, giving you a grasp of how the program functions.

PC Mag.com

antivirus reviews

The website of the long-running PC Magazine has always been a nice site for anti-virus reviews. Indeed, it is perhaps better at reviewing anti-virus software than anyone else – I’ve always felt the hardware reviews were a bit soft, but the anti-virus reviews don’t pull any punches. The editors aren’t shy about giving a poor anti-virus program a two-star rating (out of five). Even AV-Comparatives is much kinder about this, as the lowest rating they’re willing to dish out is “Tested”.

The reviews take a look at anti-virus protection based on how well the software defends against a number of viruses, rootkits and other threats. The number of threats introduced and the exact threats used are not known, but the data is still useful for identifying strengths and weaknesses of different anti-virus software.

Performance analysis of software is my favorite reason to read these reviews, however. PC Magazine reviews routinely comment on how long different programs took to complete scans. The reviews are also great sources for general information about the interface and installation of different anti-virus software.

CNET

antivirus software reviews

I don’t think there is any other review website on the web that is as consistently excellent as CNET. This site reviews everything from HDTVs to digital cameras How Does A Digital Camera Work? [Technology Explained] How Does A Digital Camera Work? [Technology Explained] Read More to anti-virus software, and the reviews are always of high quality, informative and rigorous.

CNET’s reviews throw a lot of information at the reader, including very useful information about performance. For example, most CNET reviews provide information about the impact an anti-virus program has on the test computer’s boot time. This sort of information is fairly unique, and it is a helpful measure of “real-world” anti-virus performance.

When it comes to anti-virus protection, CNET actually leans heavily on the already mentioned AV-Comparatives tests. That’s fine – it’s doubtful that any individual review site could ever be as detailed as AV-Comparatives. CNET also makes mention of testing data from other sources, some of which are not available to the public (at least not without money exchanging hands). CNET’s video reviews remain a highlight – they compact most of the information you need to know about a product into a tight three to four minute long video.

Conclusion

These three websites with antivirus software reviews should provide you with everything you need to know about anti-virus software before you buy. Although each site may disagree somewhat about certain programs, there does seem to be some overall consistency between their recommendations, which indicates they’re on the right track. If you have a favorite anti-virus review site that isn’t mentioned here, let us know.

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  1. Peter
    March 15, 2017 at 9:56 am

    PC Mag is not very reliable based on their rankings of AV software.

    It's nice that you include AV-Comparatives, but what about other certified labs?

    Antivirus testing is performed by multiple of AMTSO members. You can see an aggregation of tests performed since 2009 on dozens of antivirus companies on one graph for easy comparison: https://fatsecurity.com/tools/test-results-calculator

  2. IT Guru
    August 13, 2016 at 3:31 am

    I agree with IT Expert. I originaly got kasperskyanz.com.au and NEVER changed

  3. Anonymous
    November 6, 2015 at 5:57 pm

    I am very surprised that Malwarebytes is not included. Used it for years on PC's and there is now an Android version. Would like to see it reviewed.

  4. Anonymous
    December 2, 2010 at 6:48 am

    BitDefender has been a long time player in the field and is worthy of your attention. If there are any issues, I'm available to help out. BitDefender is very cost effective and is full of features that sets us apart.-Jason

  5. Jason Harris
    December 2, 2010 at 7:48 am

    BitDefender has been a long time player in the field and is worthy of your attention. If there are any issues, I'm available to help out.

    BitDefender is very cost effective and is full of features that sets us apart.

    -Jason

  6. Susendeep dutta
    December 1, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    I like CNET reviews and they are most popular in software reviews.They have such a video streaming facility (CNET TV) that whenever I used to play the videos it never buffers! and plays smoothly which is helpful to see review in short.

  7. IT Expert
    December 1, 2010 at 8:05 am

    Kaspersky AntiVirus is simply the best! I've been using it for three years now and have never been infected with any sort of malware to date. I've also tested other major antiviruses and none of them performed better than Kaspersky.

  8. Gouthaman Karunakaran
    December 1, 2010 at 7:51 am

    CNET would be my choice. Seth does a great job reviewing software and there's nothing to beat him.

  9. IT Expert
    December 1, 2010 at 9:07 am

    Visit TopTen Reviews: http://www.toptenreviews.com and search for firewall, anti-spyware etc. They give very good comparison between products of the same type/category.

  10. ??? ?????
    December 1, 2010 at 5:30 am

    PC mag is better than others

  11. Vineeth Reddy
    December 1, 2010 at 2:37 am

    you should look at techsupportalert.com.... amazingly accurate reviews.

  12. Vineeth Reddy
    December 1, 2010 at 3:37 am

    you should look at techsupportalert.com.... amazingly accurate reviews.

  13. AMAZING WEBSITES AND PROJECTS
    November 30, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    what are the most reliable sites for firewalls and anti-spyware reviews and comparison?

    • IT Expert
      December 1, 2010 at 8:07 am

      Visit TopTen Reviews: http://www.toptenreviews.com and search for firewall, anti-spyware etc. They give very good comparison between products of the same type/category.

  14. AMAppZON.com or AMAppSTORE.com
    November 30, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    what are the most reliable sites for firewalls and anti-spyware reviews and comparison?

  15. SpoTHT
    November 30, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    I have been using Norton Internet Security for over a year and no problem so far.

    • Didier
      December 1, 2010 at 12:23 am

      Norton have realy good products for at least 2 years now. Before that I was always using Kaspersky but it seems that Norton is much lighter for the system now