Five Best Anti-Virus Applications

by Heather Wilkins

The anti-virus market is vast -- PCMag reports tracking 40 products. Yet a few of those consistently rise to the top in independent testing, with scores only diverging by fractions of a point. Each program's strengths and weaknesses vary; how much they slow down your computer and ease of use also factor into determining which anti-virus is best for you. Many developers offer a trial period -- use it to evaluate each program and discern what works most efficiently with your system.

Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2013

Bitdefender rated high on most reviewers' lists. It was awarded top place by PCMag, AV-Test (for repair), AV-Comparatives and A Secure Life. It scored well in real-world tests and in detecting files, removing malware and protecting against phishing. It runs in the background and doesn't negatively affect your computer's performance, although it does increase start up and shutdown times by a few seconds. The user interface is clean, and your system's status is prominently displayed. You can manage the settings for scanning frequency, the firewall, online privacy and notifications, or you can accept Bitdefender's default settings for protection.

F-Secure Internet Security 2013

F-Secure was given best-of-show by PCWorld and AV-Test (for protection). It ranked in the top 10 packages reviewed by AV-Comparatives and was given excellent usability scores by AV-Test. It scored well for file detection, anti-phishing and in the real-world tests. It didn't perform as well as other programs at detecting malware. F-Secure adds five to six seconds to start up and shutdown times, as well as extending the time it takes to install other programs. Other anti-virus programs don't affect performance so heavily.

Norton AntiVirus

Norton was given the Best Usability award by AV-Test. It received second place overall from PCMag and PCWorld. It scored well for protecting computers against malicious files and scored above average for repairing infections. However, the program takes up a lot of RAM, so you might see a decrease in performance if you use resource-intensive programs, such as graphics, 3-D modeling or gaming software.

Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2013

Kaspersky was not given the Product of the Year award by AV-Comparatives because it scored slightly behind Bitdefender and it had received the award previously. However, the anti-virus package was given a high score by A Secure Life and PCWorld and scored well on ease of use. It will automatically lower its resource usage when a laptop switches to battery power. Kaspersky proactively watches programs' vulnerabilities and restricts actions if they could be dangerous.

Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus 2013

Webroot is AV-Comparative's top choice for an anti-virus program that isn't resource intensive and is easy to use. It installs fast and scans fast. Scan results are delivered at a high level for beginners, yet advanced users still have plenty of customization options. It scored well at blocking and removing malware, though not as well at blocking phishing attempts. It also includes a firewall.

About the Author

Heather Wilkins has five years of professional copyediting experience. She worked for Pearson Education, copyediting books about computer skills, the Internet, and general subjects. She also edits for online entry-level college courses. Wilkins holds a Professional Writing degree from Purdue University.

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