Unless you logged out of Prodigy and went to sleep for the last 20 years, you are more than likely aware of just how prevalent, and how dangerous computer viruses can be. On the low end they can be annoying either flashing a silly message or slowing your computer down. On the high side, they could completely destroy your system and its data, or open holes for identity thieves and hackers.
Surfing online without an updated anti-virus program is like crossing the Grand Canyon on a tight rope. It’s not a matter of if you’re going to run into to trouble, it’s a matter of when.
Non-windows computers are certainly not immune from viruses, but Windows PCs are by far the most targeted attack surface out there.
Anti-virus programs have been around for as long as there have been viruses, and the old joke is that the anti-virus companies make half the viruses to keep themselves in business. That usually stems from the fact that shortly after a virus is discovered, the anti-virus companies have an update to their detection algorithms (thankfully) to keep viruses from spreading like wildfire.
Having said that, it goes with out saying that an anti-virus product is only as good as it’s last update. Regardless of the Anti-Virus program you use, keep it updated!
Here are our Top 7 favorite anti-virus programs (in no particular order).
- AVG Anti-Virus – This long time favorite has undergone a facelift in it’s most recent version, and it looks much more polished and ready for prime-time. It’s virus-detection ability is as good as any we’ve seen (in our unofficial, un-scientific testing) and best of all, it’s free for personal use.
- McAfee – McAfee has a robust suite of protection tools that help keep your PC virus and malware free. In our tests there products seem to have a slightly noticeable impact on performance, but overall they have solid products that range from personal use to enterprise-level protection.
- Norton Anti-Virus – Symantec’s Norton Antivirus have been another long time favorite that has gotten increasingly heavy over the years. From our (again unofficial) testing, it always seems to slow our systems down. Not to the point of being unusable, but slower nonetheless.
- Trend Micro - A long time contender in the AV space, Trend’s latest version is a solid product with good scanning capability and frequent updates. We did notice some system slowdown at times, but due to the nature of virus scanning, it’s understood that some performance degradation is unavoidable.
- BitDefender Internet Security – BitDefender has a solid anti-virus product that is easy to use, looks good, and plays well with others (the gamer mode keeps popups and warnings from interrupting you while your running wild through the streets of GTA)
- Kapersky – Another solid play in the AntiVirus space, Kapersky has gone through some facelifts and design upgrades over the years as well. Their newest version has an improved interface and works well.
- Panda Anti-Virus (Panda Security) – A decent AV product that has fewer features than some of the others, but can also be less confusing to the less technically inclined. It’s easy to setup, has automatic updates and provides good AV protection for your home PC.
New Editions to Our List
Due to the massive response from our readers, we’re adding two additional antivirus products to our list. Thank You for your responses, and letting us (and everyone else) know what works for you.
NOD32 (ESET) – We received a large number of e-mails and comments regarding NOD32, and what a great job it does for the people who responded. So we’re adding this to our list, and we’ll be certain to include it in future posts on this topic.
AVAST! - One that actually was on our larger list initially before we pared it down to 7, AVAST! antivirus is another perennial favorite for both home and business users. AVAST also has a free version available for non-commercial use.
ICSA Compliant Protection
All the antivirus packages mentioned above are fully ICSA compliant and will provide you with solid protection against viruses and malware.
It really comes down to features, personal preference, and performance tolerance.
We’ve mentioned our favorites, what antivirus products do you like best?