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Which antivirus software should you choose for your PC ?

The Internet is flooded with web pages containing all sorts of malware. Hackers and cyber thieves dedicate their time to break into your PC and gain access to information without your knowledge or consent. Their techniques are so advanced and numerous that it is almost impossible for an inexperienced Internet user not to fall prey to these attacks.

When it comes to choosing an antivirus software you are lucky. There are independent organizations who perform various tests, making sure that security companies live up to their promises.

I have comprised a list containing 3 vendors, relevant in the industry. My decision is based on personal experience and the results presented by av-test.org. I have chosen Windows 7 rankings, provided that this operating system is very popular, covering a huge market share.

Here are the top 5 antivirus software providers in August 2016, as shown in a report issued by av-test.org, The Independent IT-Security Institute. As you can see, I focused mainly on protection against malware infections (such as viruses, worms or Trojan horses), aside from performance and usability. Bear in mind that these test rankings are dynamic, they vary from month to month. The best antivirus in August, might not maintain its position in September.

AV-TEST on Windows 7

Now let’s take each product individually and present its main features, along with the differences between different subscriptions.

1.Trend Micro Maximum Security

trend-micro-maximum-security

Pros

  1. Very good score on malware blocking and antiphising
  2. PC Health Checkup (optimizes the performance of your PC)
  3. Performs security checks in links to websites received via instant messaging programs (Yahoo Messenger, AOL)
  4. Social Networking Protection feature which keeps the users safe from security risks when visiting the most popular social network sites
  5. Keeps children from sending out personal information online, parental control
  6. Reliant against ransomware (a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid). Through a feature called Folder Shield, Trend Micro Internet Security adds an extra layer of security,  notifying you when suspected ransomware tries to access your protected files.
  7. Email protection and spam prevention

Cons

Does not have a built-in firewall. I could only find a Firewall Booster feature, which enhances the protection given by Windows Firewall, preventing botnet programs from hijacking your computer by remote control.

Recommended System Requirements

Operating System CPU Memory Disk Space
Windows® 10 Family 1Ghz 1GB (32-bit)
2GB (64-bit)
1.3GB
(1.5GB recommended)
Windows® 8 Family (32 or 64-bit) 1Ghz 1GB (32-bit)
2GB (64-bit)
Windows® 7 Family (32 or 64-bit) Service Pack 1 800MHz
(1Ghz recommended)
1GB (32-bit)
2GB (64-bit)
Windows® Vista Family (32 or 64-bit) and Service Pack 2 800MHz
(1Ghz recommended)
512MB
(1GB recommended)

Subscriptions and Pricing

The security products are organized in 3 different categories: basic (Antivirus+Security), better (Internet Security), best (Maximum Security). A 1 month free trial is offered on all products, giving you the opportunity to test all features.

For the Basic plan, you will pay $39.95 for 1 year protection, 1 PC included. Here is what you get:

  • Protection against ransomware
  • Blocks of 250,000,000+ daily threats
  • Safeguarding against email scams

All the other plans that are about to be presented, include the basic plans’ features.

The Better plan costs $49.95 and it can be used on 3 PCs. Here are the bonus features:

  • Children Online Safety,  parental control
  • PC Health Optimization
  • Secures privacy on social media

Last but not least, the best plan offered by Trend Micro, is now on sale for the same price as his predecessor. For $49.95, you get access to the whole antivirus suite on 5 devices. These are the extra features:

  • Secures both PCs & Macs
  • Includes mobile security (for both Android and iOS)
  • Includes password protector

For an extra $9.95 you can benefit from their virus removal service. Trend Micro specialists will remotely access your PC to remove all viruses and spyware.

Payment Methods: Credit Card and PayPal

Installation Guide

NOTE: Make sure you remember the password you set for Trend Micro otherwise it will be a pain if you want to remove it and test another security product. One thing I noticed, because obviously I forgot my own password, is that when trying to retrieve it, I received an error saying “an e-mail to … could not be sent”. The Internet was working properly so I had no connectivity issues.

2. Norton Security Deluxe 2016

norton-internet-security-2016

Pros

  1. 6/6 points received from av-tests.org for protection against malware
  2. The Scanning methods include quick scan, full system scan, custom scan. In the same panel you will find 3 other scanning tools: Norton Power Eraser, Norton Insight and Diagnostic Report.
    • Norton Power Eraser is an aggressive repair tool used for virus removal. It is a small portable executable which uses  Norton Insight in-the-cloud application ratings to scan a computer system. Given its’ aggressive methods, there is a small risk that legitimate programs can be marked for removal. However, most of the changes can be reversed by running the program again to undo past repair sessions.
    • Norton Insight let’s you see the reputation of files on your computer. It shows the files that are excluded from scans based on Trust Level, Community Usage, and Norton Network data.
    • Diagnostic Report is an useful tool designed to find and fix performance, security and hardware issues. It gathers data about your operating system, programs and hardware. Reports can be printed or emailed easily.
  3. The Identity Safe feature, allows you to create your personal password protected Vault in which you can store sensitive data: logins, addresses, credit card information, notes. To make this work, you should install and enable the Norton Security Extensions in your browser.
  4. To create highly secure passwords, Norton offers you a password generator.
  5. The Performance panel caught our attention and we found it useful. Clicking on it reveals 4 buttons: Disk Optimization, File Cleanup, Startup Manager and Graphs.  It’s pretty obvious what Disk Optimization and File Cleanup do. Startup Manager allows you to see and enable/disable the programs running on startup. Graphs shows CPU and memory usage reports. Of course you can do all these tasks with the tools Windows provides you, but it is good that they thought about putting them together.
  6. Norton’s Smart Firewall is very efficient and easy to configure. After installation, the firewall automatically detects all trusted programs, blocking malicious applications. You can set traffic rules, intrusion and browser protection and if you don’t want to see the firewall’s notifications, they can be disabled. Choose which Networks to trust, add trusted devices based on IP or Physical Address and control the bandwidth Norton uses. If you want to restore the settings to default state, a Firewall Reset button comes to your aid.

Cons

  1. Installation takes quite a bit of time.
  2. Connection to Norton Servers doesn’t seem to work sometimes.
  3. We encountered an error while trying to activate the product in the trial version:Try again by clicking Activate Now in the main window of your product. (-1009). This occurred after successfully performing a quick scan.  The workaround was to restart the computer, as the other solution to make some registry changes in Windows did not seem appealing. The program also crashed during a sign-in to test the Identity Safe feature.

Recommended System Requirements

Windows Operating Systems

Microsoft Windows XP (all 32-bit versions) with Service Pack 3 (SP 3) or later
Microsoft Windows Vista (all versions) with Service Pack 1 (SP 1) or later
Microsoft Windows 7 (all versions) with Service Pack 1 (SP 1) or later
Microsoft Windows 8/8.1 (all versions). Some protection features are not available in Windows 8 Start screen browsers.
Microsoft Windows 10 (all versions). Edge browser not supported.

Mac Operating Systems

Current and previous two versions of Mac OS X. Password Management feature not supported.
Norton Family and Norton Family Premier features not supported

Android Operating Systems

Android 4.0.3 or later. Must have Google Play app installed.
Android 4 or later required for Norton Family Premier
Android app

iOS Operating Systems
iOS 8 or later

Subscriptions and Pricing

Subscriptions are divided in 3 categories: Standard, Deluxe, Premium.

The Standard 1 year subscription is available for $39.99, ensuring protection against viruses, malware, spyware and other online threats. Your online transactions and identity are kept safe through the Identity Safe feature . This product is available for 1 PC or 1 Mac.

On top of the above features, Norton’s Deluxe plan safeguards 5 devices, including PCs, Macs, smartphones and tablets. What’s neat is that protection for all your devices can be managed from an easy-to-use web portal. You can get it for $49.95, this offer is a bargain if you consider adding another 10$ for mobile security.

Norton Security Premium completes the security suite, adding children protection against online threats and 25 GB of secure cloud storage. For $59.99, this subscription covers 10 licenses.

All subscriptions come with a 100% guarantee from Norton, that if your’re devices are not kept virus-free, you will receive a refund.

Payment method: Credit Card and PayPal

Installation Guide

Download and installation information, along with adding the antivirus on other devices or license transferring are explained here.

3. Kaspersky Total Security

karspersky-total-security

Pros

  1. This antivirus aces all tests performed by av-test.org, getting a 6/6 score on protection, performance and usability. The product was challenged against real-world threats, achieving a 100% protection rate in July and August 2016.
  2. The scanning panel includes: full scan, quick scan, selective scan (add or drag objects that you wish to scan), external device scan. You can also schedule scans and see detailed reports.
  3. Kaspersky has developed its own Protected Browser for sensitive data. You can add websites of banks, online stores and payment processors. I have added PayPal to test this feature, when accessing the website, it opens in a new window with green borders. What is also interesting is that when I tried using Lightshot (a print-screen software), the whole screen went black. It became functional again upon closing the PayPal browser. How cool is that ? (NOTE: this didn’t work for the usual print screen tool)

protected-browser

kaspersky-total-security-protected-browser

  1. A built-in Password Manager allows you to sync passwords from Windows, Mac, IOS and Android. It also offers to import any passwords stored insecurely in Chrome, Firefox or Internet Explorer.
  2. The Privacy Protection feature prevents spying on you by limiting applications’ access to your webcam. When Private Browsing is disabled, you are protected against all data collection attempts from Social networks, Ad agencies, Web beacons, Web analytics. All you have to do is selected whether you want data to be collected or not.
  3. Backup and Restore let’s you save copies of your personal data to your local and network drives, FTP servers or in the Cloud by using Dropbox. You have access to multiple versions of your files, subsequent backups only upload changed files.
  4. Advanced and highly configurable Parental Control tool. When enabled, you can:  restrict computer usage from Monday to Sunday, block applications by content, category, block browsers, restrict Internet access, monitor and restrict messaging in social networks, block personal data transfer to third parties, control the usage of key words in messages and web forms.
  5. Extended protection of your files with the Data Encryption and File Shredder functions. Create your own vault, drag and drop the files that you want to encrypt. With File Shredder you can safely delete sensitive data, preventing forensic recovery.

 Cons

I couldn’t find any relevant disadvantages. In a review written by PCmag, they underlined the lack of advanced features for Password Manager. It would have been nice to see built-in two-factor authentication and secure sharing. I’m confident this will be taken care of in future updates. If you have a doze of paranoia and want extra protection, a standalone password manager is the right choice.

Recommended System Requirements

Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition SP3
Microsoft Windows XP Professional x86 SP3
Microsoft Windows XP Professional x64 Edition SP2
CPU Intel Pentium 1 GHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) and faster (or a compatible equivalent)
512 MB of free RAM
Microsoft Windows Vista Home Basic (including SP1 and SP2), 32/64-bit
Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium (including SP1 and SP2), 32/64-bit
Microsoft Windows Vista Business (including SP1 and SP2), 32/64-bit
Microsoft Windows Vista Enterprise (including SP1 and SP2), 32/64-bit
Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate (including SP1 and SP2), 32/64-bit
Microsoft Windows 7 Starter (including SP1), 32/64-bit
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Basic (including SP1), 32/64-bit
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium (including SP1), 32/64-bit
Microsoft Windows 7 Professional (including SP1), 32/64-bit
Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate (including SP1), 32/64-bit
CPU Intel Pentium 1 GHz 32-bit (x86)/64-bit (x64) or faster (or a compatible equivalent).
1 GB of free RAM (for 32-bit systems)
2 GB of free RAM (for 64-bit systems)
Microsoft Windows 8 (32/64-bit)
Microsoft Windows 8 Pro (32/64-bit)
Microsoft Windows 8 Enterprise (32/64-bit)
Microsoft Windows 8.1 (32/64-bit)
Microsoft Windows 8.1 Pro (32/64-bit)
Microsoft Windows 8.1 Enterprise (32/64-bit)
Microsoft Windows 8.1 Update
CPU Intel Pentium 1 GHz 32-bit (x86)/64-bit (x64) or faster (or a compatible equivalent).
1 GB of free RAM (for 32-bit systems)
2 GB of free RAM (for 64-bit systems)

Subscriptions and Pricing

Kaspersky offers a choice between 3 products: Anti-Virus, Internet Security and Total Security.

The first plan is the most basic, covering the essential protection features. For 1 device, the price starts at $39.95/year. If you are interested in extra features such as Privacy Protection, Safe Money and Parental Control (on PC and Mac, not mobile), don’t hesitate to purchase an Internet Security license (1 device – $59.95 / year).

For a security enthusiast like me, Total Security is the best option because on top of Internet Security it offers file encryption, password manager and extended protection for kids on PC, Mac and mobile. It’s a little more pricey, a 1 year subscription costs $79.95.

Payment Methods: Credit Card and PayPal

Installation Guide

Conclusion:

Reflect on your protection needs and purchase a product that suits your interests. My advice is to install trial versions of these security suites and see which one works best for you. Take an informed decision before spending money. Stay safe !

NOTE: In future posts I will review Bitdefender, another trustworthy antivirus worth mentioning.

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About Stefan

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I've been working in the IT industry for over 5 years. This blog is a hobby of mine and I plan to dedicate part of my time to shed some light on different topics within this beautiful industry. Hope you find the information useful!

One comment

  1. Avatar

    Great post,
    Thank you for sharing, I really appreciate your work.

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