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Author Topic: Anti-Virus Package  (Read 84022 times)
LuckMan212
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« on: February 27, 2006, 02:13:42 AM »

The 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 v4.6
BN 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 7.1
BN 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: $27.30


BitDefender 9 Standard
BN rating: [4.5/5.0]
Pros: updates often.  simple interface.  high detection rates.  cheap!
Cons: unknown
Base Price: US $29.95 / Renewal Price: $14.98


Kaspersky 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: $27.97


Panda Titanium 2006
BN 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: unknown


McAfee VirusScan 10.0/2006
BN 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: $39.99


Norton 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: $29.99


AntiVir PersonalEdition Premium 7.0
BN rating: [unknown]
Pros: high detection rates. low resource usage.
Cons: unknown
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):
« Last Edit: February 27, 2006, 04:17:12 PM by LuckMan212 » Logged
Carol Haynes
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« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2006, 02:34:47 AM »

Don't forget the Symantec also do a free online scan.

Thanks for that list it is really useful. Out of curiosity what does "BN rating" mean and where do the values come from and the other details for products you haven't used?

Re. you last para - I think ranking programs is a good idea (so long as it is objective) but I think it is worth building a list of as many as possible - not reducing to a minimal 'best of' list.

Personally I was a long time user of Norton and got really sick of the bloat. I now use NOD32 (and have for a couple of years) and am generally very pleased. There have been a few false positives during that time and I can't find any way to exclude items from manual scans. I also found having advanced heuristics enabled had a big impact on my system - and opening zipped files became ridiculously slow. All in all I am pleased with NOD32 but my main criticism is that if it has the best heuristic detection methods it needs to be useable. I have also recently found a conflict with "Spyware Doctor" and NODs MS Outlook email scanner plugin - the plugin doesn't load properly when Syware Doctor is running in the background.
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LuckMan212
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« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2006, 02:45:31 AM »

Thanks for the post Carol.  The "BN" rating refers the the rating from BetaNews FileForum.  The details as far as pros/cons for apps I have not personally tested come from the user reviews on that site.  As more people (hopefully) post here with their comments, I will keep the top post updated.

As far as the "list as many as possible" idea well that wouldn't really be a "whats the best" then now would it!  tellme  This section is not meant to be a comprehensive list of all programs available in a category, but rather a clear, concise and organized view at only the "cream of the crop".  Think "if I were stranded on a deserted island, what would I bring" -- only of course this time we are talking software and not pocket knives and twine.

Glad to see you are a fellow NOD32 user and yes, I have found many of the same shortcomings.  I have disabled its "advanced heuristics" feature for the time being because all it ever did was generate false positives for me, and it does have a noticable impact (slowdown) on the system.
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mouser
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« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2006, 03:34:50 AM »

great post, and beautiful looking too.
i think LuckMan212 is going to have to give a course soon on how to make a nice looking post on dc forum - i know i'd sign up.
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mouser
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« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2006, 03:35:39 AM »

i use nod32 these days as well and am quite happy with it.
50% discount for students last time i checked - email them for info.
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brotherS
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« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2006, 04:53:46 AM »

Thanks for the post Carol.  The "BN" rating refers the the rating from BetaNews FileForum.
Great post! I immediately knew where those ratings are coming from, but "BN" doesn't say much to most of the DC members I suppose. What about linking the BN rating: text directly, like I'm doing now?
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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2006, 05:15:11 AM »

As far as the "list as many as possible" idea well that wouldn't really be a "whats the best" then now would it!  tellme  This section is not meant to be a comprehensive list of all programs available in a category, but rather a clear, concise and organized view at only the "cream of the crop".  Think "if I were stranded on a deserted island, what would I bring" -- only of course this time we are talking software and not pocket knives and twine.

Sorry - didn't spot the section it was in Wink Mea Culpa ...

Maybe this thread could generate an AV comparative review which could then be copied to the main review area and then edited down to the best of in here ? That way people will know which have been considered and what their relative strengths and shortcomings are.

Personally if I see a bald - 'this is the best' and it is something I am not using it doesn't really make me consider if I should change - if I can see where it scores over my current package I will look twice and start thinking about it.
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« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2006, 06:39:37 AM »

>Antivir 7
>shows nag/splash screen during update process.

There's a little trick to disable the splash screen in Windows XP Pro (not Home) and Windows 2000.

Problem: I can't explain, because my system is in German. The attached screenshot explains pretty much what to do. Perhaps someone can post English instructions.


* notifier.zip (49.85 KB - downloaded 438 times.)
« Last Edit: February 27, 2006, 09:33:53 AM by brotherS » Logged
brotherS
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« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2006, 09:35:24 AM »

Hi wr975, you could just add images, or use http://imageshack.us/ (I edited your post) - zipping them only means more work for the rest of us smiley
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Edvard
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« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2006, 11:01:25 AM »

As far as nag screens go in Antivir, well, that's the "price" of many a freeware. Antivir is the only one I know of that runs reliably on NT4 (my sob story) and it has performed excellently since day one. Version 7 is a mighty step upwards in looks and ease of use. As far as updates, I remember it was about a year-and-a-half ago, AntiVir put out their "user's wish list" and tops was more update mirrors, and we got it. Updates are 10 times more reliable since then, although I wouldn't recommend trying to update early to mid morning (US time) on a weekday. Other times are fast and reliable.
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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #10 on: February 27, 2006, 12:26:58 PM »

Reading the BitDefender website it seems the free version doesn't have active protection?? It is a passive system where you can scan your system. They don't recommend the free version for systems connected to the internet via broadband. This seems a serious limitiation to its use.

The free version of AntiVir doesn't scan POP3 emails - again a bit of a limitation since a lot of viruses etc. arrive via email. They do a shareware version (cheap) that does scan POP3 and some of the cash (25%) is donated to charity. Maybe this should be added to the commercial list too.
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« Reply #11 on: February 27, 2006, 12:52:49 PM »

Regarding the 2 icons for avast! you can merge them by right clicking on the VRDB icon and clicking "Merge with main avast! icon".
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« Reply #12 on: February 27, 2006, 01:30:38 PM »

@Carol-
You're right, Antivir doesn't scan emails as they come in. BUT... as soon as I get around to opening one of those (assuming I'm dumb enough to open anything suspicious) it has so far caught anything that comes across. And one nice thing that it does that I'm not sure any others do, is to wipe out the virus while leaving the email intact.
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LuckMan212
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« Reply #13 on: February 27, 2006, 03:21:57 PM »

thanks for the comments guys!  Grin
Personally if I see a bald - 'this is the best' and it is something I am not using it doesn't really make me consider if I should change - if I can see where it scores over my current package I will look twice and start thinking about it
agreed, I would like some suggestions for how to overcome this-  Polls?  Mini-reviews by other members?  I was thinking maybe rather than use the built-in forum Polls (which I have been told are vulnerable to abuse) we could get people to cast their vote by posting a message to the thread. I will from time to time tally the votes and create a new "DC rating" for each app so we can get an idea of what the "best" apps really are.  (sort them to the top) It can be as simple as:  "I vote for avast!" or more detailed with reasons, etc. (that is always helpful!)  smiley

Don't forget the Symantec also do a free online scan.
Carol do you have a direct link to that scan so I can add it to the rest?

Regarding the 2 icons for avast! you can merge them by right clicking on the VRDB icon and clicking "Merge with main avast! icon".
Thank you for the info hamradio!  That is good to know.


Updates:
+added   AntiVir PE Premium to commercial section
+added   note about what "bn rating" means
~updated pros/cons for AntiVir free edition: no POP3 scanner, cannot manually scan a folder
-removed BitDefender free (no resident shield)
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brotherS
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« Reply #14 on: February 27, 2006, 04:07:55 PM »

Thanks for the post Carol.  The "BN" rating refers the the rating from BetaNews FileForum.
Great post! I immediately knew where those ratings are coming from, but "BN" doesn't say much to most of the DC members I suppose. What about linking the BN rating: text directly, like I'm doing now?

@LuckMan212: Linking the "BN rating:" like I suggested would also have the benefit that users would be able to read the comments on http://fileforum.betanews.com/ which I often find very helpful! With only one click!
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LuckMan212
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« Reply #15 on: February 27, 2006, 04:18:28 PM »

What about linking the BN rating: text directly, like I'm doing now?
Done! good idea BrotherS Thmbsup
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« Reply #16 on: February 27, 2006, 04:40:34 PM »

Nice Review!.....It might be worth mentioning the Computer Associates antivirus programs which are sold separately by CA and which are built into the Zone Alarm antivirus products.

jdd
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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #17 on: February 27, 2006, 06:10:36 PM »

Symantec Free virus check (and free firewall test) at

http://security.symantec....p;langid=ie&venid=sym

Unfortunately they don't seem to keep that URL consistently but you can usually find it from the Home and Home Business homepage:

http://www.symantec.com/home_homeoffice/index.html

Look at the panel "Top Things to do" on the right.

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« Reply #18 on: February 28, 2006, 06:33:37 PM »

I've been using CA ezAntivirus for more than a year. It's rock solid and low on resources.
If you follow the Computer Associates link from the Microsoft page, you can get a free full years trial from CA.
They also offer a 2 year license for $19-95,  which is pretty impressive.

http://www.microsoft.com/athome/security/protect/windows2000/antivirus.mspx
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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #19 on: March 01, 2006, 04:33:32 AM »

Interesting site here http://www.virusbtn.com/index

You have to register to read the reports but they have a huge number of AV products that have been tested.
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« Reply #20 on: March 01, 2006, 09:39:30 AM »

I've been using AntiVir for a good few years, since CA switched to a yearly pricing model -- but, and this was over 5 years ago, I really liked CA.

AntiVir seems to work well, I haven't had an infection slip by, anyway.  The nag screen doesn't bug me too much . . . at least I know my definitions are up to date Wink

The updates used to be really problematic -- had a terrible time getting an update downloaded.  However, with the latest version they must have done some serious work on their server.  It, by default, updates daily -- a feat impossible previously, when it would some times take a few days trying to fetch an update.  That was my only real complaint with them, too -- so I've got nothing left to whine about.
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brotherS
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« Reply #21 on: March 01, 2006, 11:18:03 AM »

I've been using CA ezAntivirus for more than a year. It's rock solid and low on resources.
I, too, had been using CA's eTrust EZ Antivirus for about a year - license did run out ~10 days ago and while I couldn't decide whether I should buy one or two more years of their service or change my Anti-Virus program LuckMan212 came along with this nice thread...

Freeware

avast! Home v4.6
BN 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.


...which made me uninstall CA's program and install avast! So far I'm very pleased, it updates itself daily and has quite a few nice option to set it up to your needs.

It's low on resources too.
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« Reply #22 on: March 01, 2006, 06:00:35 PM »

The updates used to be really problematic -- had a terrible time getting an update downloaded.  However, with the latest version they must have done some serious work on their server.

Make that servers. plural. Multiple update server mirrors. Nice trick, that. Happened about halfway through ver. 6's life.
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« Reply #23 on: March 01, 2006, 07:20:03 PM »

Our friend Cliff wrote a nice column in this weeks Infopackets newsletter where he discusses his recommendations for free antivirus programs:
http://www.infopackets.co..._how_do_they_stack_up.htm
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mouser
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« Reply #24 on: March 01, 2006, 07:22:05 PM »

when summarizing antivirus posts on the board, don't forget this thread: http://www.donationcoder....orum/index.php?topic=1444
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