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The Best Antivirus Software - Extended Use Experience
- Category: Computers and Stuff
Over the last several years we've been testing a variety of free and subscription based antivirus programs on multiple systems running Windows XP and Windows 7. This includes products from AVAST Software, AVG, ESET, Microsoft, McAfee, Panda Security, Symantec and others.
Over the years antivirus programs tend to leap frog each other in features and performance. But fundamentally they have a simple goal, to protect you from bad stuff on the web. Whether it's from malware on a website or Trojan horses in email, viruses are no fun and can make your life miserable so effective antivirus software is essential to keep your PC healthy.
Most of the products offered by the manufactures above are actually pretty good. A lot of it boils down to the end user and avoiding some obvious pitfalls of being connected in a virtual world that's not so friendly sometimes. Often, a user gets infected by simply opening the wrong email or visiting the wrong web site. Good antivirus and malware packages will protect you most of the time. Subpar products will let you down and the worst part is you often won't realize you've been compromised until it's too late.
Based on years of experience and empirical data with friends, family and lab mates we prefer AVAST and Norton Antivirus. AVAST is at the top of our list. The free version works great, it's lightweight, easy to use and has a huge user base which also helps it stay current on the most ubiquitous threats. Norton is a reasonably priced solution and is embraced by the Fortune 500 for protection. We've never had a serious infection using either of these products on multiple machines.
The other quality we really like about these two products is the seamless installation and transparent operation. The software gives clear information on what was found, what the risks are and recommended solutions. The "Sandbox" feature in AVAST is very handy in that it lets you run software in a virtual sandbox without affecting the rest of the PC. This is also useful for running beta versions of software. Overall, on full system scans AVAST and Norton consistently delivered good performance, sometimes even finding problems the other programs missed.
As far as the other products go, your mileage may vary. We've had poor luck with AVG and Panda both from a protection and usability standpoint and would generally shy away from their offerings. We found Panda products especially bloated and somewhate ineffective. ESET has been solid and is another good choice. Microsoft essentials is okay for experienced and disciplined PC users that want a lightweight and ultra compatible antivirus package. For example, on one of our video editing workstations we used Mirosoft Essentials because AVAST gave us trouble activating the sotware key over the Internet. Since the system is rarely online or used for communication we were okay with this compromise.
Like anything, the choice is not absolute. The antivirus package you run should be a function of how the computer is used, who will be using it and what type of professional support will be offerred. AVAST is a very good choice in a consumer environment and Symantec for corporate use.
Visit AVAST for more information.
Visit Symantec for more information.