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Which anti-virus software What Is The Best Free Antivirus Software? [MakeUseOf Poll] What Is The Best Free Antivirus Software? [MakeUseOf Poll] Because no matter how careful you are when using the Internet, it's always advisable to have antivirus software installed on your computer. Yes, even Macs. Read More should you be using? It’s a question that’s frequently asked, yet is almost impossible question to answer – how do you judge which is the “best”?

The problem is that there are so many variables; what should you be basing your decision off? Scan speed? System resource usage? Malware detection rates? Update frequency? There’s no right answer… At least if you have access to some up-to-date independent tests and reviews you’ll be able to make a more informed decision.

Here we take a look at five of the best online resources for checking anti-virus performance.

Virus Bulletin

At its core, Virus Bulletin is a magazine that covers the prevention, detection, and removal of malware The Complete Malware Removal Guide The Complete Malware Removal Guide This malware removal guide outlines not only how to remove malware from your computer but also how to clean up the mess that viruses and malware leave behind. Read More and spam. Aside from its extensive and in-depth blog, the publication also regularly tests anti-virus and anti-spam products.

virus-bulletin

For their anti-virus testing, they measure detection rates using their “RAP” (Reactive and Proactive) methodology. It uses the newest samples from the time the products were submitted for testing, and then adds samples that were discovered after the submission date. The theory is that using this approach allows them to measure both a product’s ability to handle emerging malware and its ability to measure previously unknown malware.

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Any product which can a) detect 100 percent of “in the wild” malware samples listed, and b) generate no false positives when scanning a set of clean samples, will be given the coveted VB100 certification. The logo for the award will be displayed alongside the product on their results page.

AV-TEST

AV-TEST has been a leading name in the field of anti-virus testing 4 Free Virus Scanners' Accuracy Compared 4 Free Virus Scanners' Accuracy Compared Read More for more than 15 years. The organization is based out of Magdeburg in Germany and is entirely independent.

They run tests across four key application areas; Android, Windows, Mac, and business users. The tests are run every four months on average and the results all displayed for free on their website.

av-test

Unlike Virus Bulletin, which uses a quadrant graph to display their RAP Test findings, AV-TEST use a simple rank-able list. The three testing measures they use are “Protection, “Performance”, and “Usability”, and each section is given 0-5 stars.

You can also enter the results of each individual anti-virus suite to discover how the score was achieved; the three sections are broken down into specific areas such as zero-day malware attacks What Is a Zero Day Vulnerability? [MakeUseOf Explains] What Is a Zero Day Vulnerability? [MakeUseOf Explains] Read More , false positives, and real-world performance.

In addition to their regular testing, they also have annual awards. They issue ten awards per-year, with a consumer winner and a corporate winner for each category. The current holder of the protection award is Trend Micro, while the current holder of the performance award is Kaspersky Lab.

AV-Comparatives

Like AV-Test, AV-Comparatives is an entirely independent organization that’s dedicated to testing anti-virus products on Windows machines, Macs, and mobile devices. On their website they claim that

“[our] Real-World Protection Test is the most comprehensive and complex test available when it comes to evaluating the real-life protection capabilities of anti-virus software”.

The site offers far more tests than its competitors; there are nine available to choose from, and they include “File Detection Tests”, “Heuristic / Behavior Tests”, and “Anti-Phishing Tests”.

av-comparitives

For each section they run one test every quarter, and the results are available via a PDF download. If you don’t want to go trawling through PDFs just to find the information you need, they also offer an interactive chart directly on their website. You can organize the data by test-type, date, and vendor – thus giving you a direct snapshot of the anti-virus market at any given moment.

Finally, they also offer comprehensive reviews that are also available for download on PDF. These reviews cover subjects such as firewalls, parental controls, and Linux protection.

ISCA Labs

ISCA stands for “International Computer Security Association”. It’s a US government-authorized institution that has grown to become America’s main anti-virus product testing public body since its launch in 1989.

They conduct tests in the fields of anti-virus, anti-spyware, mobile apps, networking, and web apps.

isca-labs

Their anti-virus testing Free Anti-Virus Comparison: 5 Popular Choices Go Toe-To-Toe Free Anti-Virus Comparison: 5 Popular Choices Go Toe-To-Toe What is the best free antivirus? This is among the most common questions we receive at MakeUseOf. People want to be protected, but they don’t want to have to pay a yearly fee or use... Read More is scored against a matrix. It takes into consideration on-demand and on-access testing, which both include testing for wild infections, common infections, and wild non-infections. Tests are conducted across desktops/servers, gateways, groupware, and managed services.

The main results page is less user-friendly than the previous three options. There is no grading/ranking and no sortable results. Instead, the results just display the signature number of the product tested, the operating system it was tested on, the date it was tested, and a simple pass or fail outcome.

Dennis Technology Labs

Dennis Technology Labs is probably the least well-known site on this list, but it’s well-worth a look. They are an independent testing facility that evaluate all aspects of personal and business technology – but their specialty is security software.

dennis-lab

They conduct their tests using their own methodology. The site doesn’t go into detail about what the testing involves, but it does say that their “purpose-built lab is capable of exposing multiple security products to a wide range of threats The 6 Most Dangerous Security Threats of 2015 The 6 Most Dangerous Security Threats of 2015 Cyber-attacks continue to grow in 2015, with 425,000,000 malware attacks in circulation. Of this vast amount, some is more important than others. Here's our rundown of the five most significant so far this year…. Read More that exist in the real world at the time of testing“, adding “results are truly representative of how different products respond to adversaries“.

Like other sites on this list, they conduct tests on quarterly basis. Each results package is available for download and is broken down into “Total Accuracy Ratings”, “Protection Ratings”, “Protection Scores”, “Protection Details”, and “Legitimate Software Ratings”. Each section has a range of charts, lists, scores, and data to accompany it, as well as revealing some of the methodology behind each test.

What Is Your Favorite Anti-Virus Site?

Which site do you turn to when you’re looking to find out information about the various anti-virus products on the market?

Have we missed a little-known laboratory that should have made the list? Perhaps that an aspect of the methodologies of the ones we mentioned that you don’t agree with?

We’d love to hear your thoughts. You can let us know what you think in the comments section below.

  1. Marshall
    July 31, 2016 at 9:05 pm

    Dennis Technology Labs is evidently out of business, per their site.

  2. suraj tiwari
    June 30, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    av comparatives is the best site and avira free antivirus is the best free antivirus

  3. Jake1702
    December 22, 2015 at 4:25 am

    Frankly, Avast! does the best job for me. Protects me a lot. I'm sure my PC would be dead by now if I didn't have it. The number of protected threats for the last month for me was 16,576.

  4. Charles Kennedy
    October 3, 2015 at 8:55 pm

    I am very pleased with Bitdefender which has stopped and prevented unwanted intrusions and more, and have both my window pc's protected by Bitdefender.

  5. Howard Blair
    September 29, 2015 at 2:41 pm

    "ISCA stands for 'International Computer Security Association'."

    Odd, since that's not what the words spell out.
    Odder still since the link goes to https://www.icsalabs.com
    Perhaps you meant "ICSA"???

  6. Nikolaj Knudsen
    September 22, 2015 at 2:37 pm

    I agree Dan, and I do have Malwarebytes too :-)

  7. mekatronik achmadi
    September 22, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    I'm Linux user and never get caught in any virus-related stuff

    • Dan Price
      September 22, 2015 at 2:01 pm

      Never say never mekatronik - protect yourself before it's too late!

  8. A41202813GMAIL ..
    September 20, 2015 at 6:43 pm

    MCAFEE VIRUSSCAN ENTERPRISE 8.8 - Any Version Above RP3 Is Fine.

    It Needs 2 Configuration Settings To Be Fine Tuned:

    A - Potential Unwanted Programs,

    B - Block And / Or Warn When Programs Are About To Be Run From The Temp Folders.

    Cheers.

    • Dan Price
      September 22, 2015 at 2:02 pm

      I'm instantly skeptical of anything called McAfee. Maybe I'm just too old fashioned! ;)

      • A41202813GMAIL ..
        September 23, 2015 at 2:11 am

        If You Run It In An Old Slow Machine, Get A Dual Core CPU And You Will Be Fine.

        I Have Worked For Several Companies ( Several Sizes And Several Number Of Employees ), And They All Had MCAFEE.

        In Terms Of Security, Companies Do Not Like To Joke On The Job.

        Cheers.

  9. Daniel Saki
    September 19, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    I'm using F-Secure and its good enough.

  10. Alastair Crombie
    September 19, 2015 at 12:40 pm

    Sadly, if AVG implements their new proposed privacy policy, which says they will sell your browsing history and metatags to third parties, and even "some" personally identifiable information (according to this article http://hexus.net/.../86579-avg-privacy-policy-update.../) then I will be ditching their products, even if they do score quite while in your reported lab tests.

    • Dan Price
      September 22, 2015 at 2:03 pm

      "then I will be ditching their products"

      -- I doubt you'll be the only one...

  11. Nikolaj Knudsen
    September 19, 2015 at 7:13 am

    Windows Defender + common sense works fine.

    • Dan Price
      September 22, 2015 at 2:05 pm

      I’m torn on Windows Defender. It’s stats are always poor, but I agree that a healthy dose of common sense can go a long way. That said, you still need to use something additional like malwarebytes, common sense cant protect you against everything.

      • Howard Blair
        September 29, 2015 at 2:51 pm

        Common sense only goes so far. I once managed a Windows 2000 Server installation that "didn't need antivirus" (business owner) because "paid antivirus for servers is expensive" and "no one uses that system" (it only served files, printers, and Exchange).
        MIRC bots, spam bots, and fake user accounts started popping up on the system. Hackers were using security exploits to access the computer even though nobody used it for Web surfing, and I only did backups from that keyboard. Just because you don't visit shady "warez" sites and always "safe surf" doesn't mean they won't find a way into your PC. You can be infected just sitting there connected to the Internet doing nothing.

    • Howard Blair
      September 29, 2015 at 2:48 pm

      Even Microsoft says that Windows Defender is "just barely better than nothing" and "should only be used until you can download and install a full antivirus."

      "Labs like AV Comparatives, Virus Bulletin, and AV-Test that rigorously test security software put the out-of-box virus protection capabilities of Windows well behind the vast majority of commercial antivirus products out there. Even Microsoft themselves admit they offer little more than strong baseline protection (i.e. better than nothing)." - WindowsCentral.com http://www.windowscentral.com/do-you-need-antivirus-program-your-windows-pc-2015

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