goal of this thread is to serve as a basic guide for choosing the best AntiVirus (AV) package for your needs. Everyone should have at least a basic AV these days. Even the most careful surfer will occasionally encounter a virus- it may appear as an ActiveX control on a rogue website/popup, from a spam email that slips through your filter, or from a poorly-checked CD that was passed from a friend. The focus here will be on the home user, however many of these products perform equally well in a corporate environment. I have personally deployed NOD32 on several corporate networks with great success.
When looking for the best AV to fit your needs, there are a handful of key elements to consider. These are not listed in any particular order, so while some people might place more importance on Resource Usage (like myself!) others will consider the Price to be the most important factor. So it's up to the individual to decide which is most important:
- Detection Rate (how well does my AV catch known and unknown threats?)
- Resource Usage (does it slow down my system noticably?)
- Ease of use (is the interface cluttered? is it intuitive to navigate?)
- Stability/Compatibility (does this program cause crashes or conflict with my other programs?)
- Frequency of Updates (how quickly does the vendor respond to new threats?)
- Price (freeware/shareware/commercial)
I will start this off by grouping the AV's into 2 sections, Freeware and Shareware/Commercial. Within each section, I have sorted the programs from "Best
" to "Worst
" based on their current rating from BetaNews' FileForum
section (Hence the BN Rating
). However it should be noted that ALL
of these programs are fairly good AVs and there are a few that were left off the list entirely because they were just too weak to make the cut. So calling any of these "The Worst" is perhaps unfair. Also, please note that of the following programs, I have only personally tested avast!, NOD32, Norton, and AVG. So I would appreciate some comments on the other apps if you have used them and love/hate them.Freeware
avast! Home v4.6BN rating
[4.6/5.0]Pros: very low resource usage, very stable. one of the only free AVs with x64 support.
Cons: slightly cluttered GUI.AntiVir Personal Edition 7.0 (mouser's favorite freeware AV!)BN rating
[4.3/5.0]Pros: high detection rates. low resource usage.
Cons: shows nag screen during update. download of updates is sometimes problematic.
Cons: no POP3 scanner (however, infected attachments will be detected as soon as they are opened or saved to your disk).
Cons: it has been suggested that the nag screen can be disabled using Group Policy however the details of this are still unknown.AVG Free 7.1BN rating
[4.0/5.0]Pros: low resource usage. easy to navigate interface.
Cons: only average detection rate. somewhat prone to getting corrupted and requiring re-installation.
I am still undecided as to which freeware AV I prefer. Of the 2 that I've tested personally, I prefer AVG's simple user interface over Avast's. I found Avast's GUI somewhat scattered (why do we need 2 separate tray icons?) and the meaning of the various options were not as obvious to me (exactly what does the "P2P shield" do?). I admit that I did not delve too deeply into the manual however. But, in Avast's favor, it has a loyal following and resource usage is also quite low, perhaps even lower than AVG's. I did not experience any perceivable slowdown when using either AVG or Avast. I have not tested any of the other freeware AVs mentioned. I will leave them open for others to comment on.Shareware/Commercial
NOD32 v2.5 (my personal favorite at the moment!)BN rating
[4.5/5.0]Pros: low resource usage (when not using advanced heuristics). clean GUI. also detects (some) spyware. very frequent updates.
Cons: complicated exclusion feature.
Base Price: US $39 / Renewal Price: $27.30BitDefender 9 StandardBN rating
[4.5/5.0]Pros: updates often. simple interface. high detection rates. cheap!
Base Price: US $29.95 / Renewal Price: $14.98Kaspersky AntiVirus (KAV) 2006 (beta)BN rating
[4.2/5.0]Pros: excellent detection rates. lower resource usage than v5.0 (although still not as low as some of the competition).
Cons: seems to have some conflicts with the popular ZoneAlarm firewall.
Base Price: US $39.95 / Renewal Price: $27.97Panda Titanium 2006BN rating
[3.3/5.0]Pros: very high detection rates. nice interface. talking guy with spanish accent on the web page :-)
Cons: expensive. reportedly a "resource hog" using 35-40MB of RAM.
Base Price: US $49.95 / Renewal Price: unknownMcAfee VirusScan 10.0/2006BN rating
[3.2/5.0]Pros: fast. resource usage is low, on par with NOD32.
Cons: requires installation of the "McAfee Resource Center" which is used to promote other McAfee products.
Base Price: US $39.99 / Renewal Price: $39.99Norton AntiVirus 2006 (beta)BN rating
[3.0/5.0]Pros: probably the most well-known AV. esay-to-use GUI. very good detection rates.
Cons: resource hog. expensive.
Base Price: US $39.99 / Renewal Price: $29.99AntiVir PersonalEdition Premium 7.0
[unknown]Pros: high detection rates. low resource usage.
Base Price: 20.00 € / Renewal Price: unknown
Having personally tested only NOD32 and Norton in this category, I can say that between the two, NOD32 wins hands-down. I have been a NOD32 user for several years now and have not had a single infection despite what most would consider "heavy" downloading! I am somewhat obsessed with system optimization and efficiency so therefore my priorities were skewed towards low resource usage and speed, both areas in which NOD32 excels. I like the fact that individual modules within the program can be turned off depending on your needs. NOD32's "IMON" module detects viruses mid-stream as they are being downloaded (yes-before they have even touched your hard drive) which is a nice feature (can be disabled if you want). I have always found Norton Antivirus to be a resource hog and I have seen it conflict with/slow down many a system in my time. This is especially true of older, less powerful systems (<512MB RAM, <2ghz CPUs) In Symantec's defense, NAV does have decent detection rates and an easy-to-use GUI.As
this thread fills up (hopefully) with comments from other users, I will keep this post updated and add/remove AV programs as needed. Eventually I hope to narrow the list to only 1 or 2 "best" programs in each category (Free/Commercial). And hopefully I would like to DROP the poorly ranked Commercial suites from the list (Panda/McAfee/Norton), unless I get a lot of users posting that they disagree with those ratings. So come on and post your opinions!
Here are some additional related posts on DC's forum concerning AntiVirus apps:Perhaps also worth noting are some online/web-based scanners (all free):