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  1. #1
    Will Watts's Avatar
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    What's the best Antivirus?

    What's the best antivirus program out there? A question all too commonly seen on forums, and yet also one that is virtually impossible to answer. There is unfortunately no “best” antivirus program out there, and no “best” way of protecting your computer. Malware is a constantly changing field, with new threats rapidly appearing soon after the last. As such, we can never expect 100% perfect protection from our security programs, and you should never rely solely on your antivirus program to protect you.

    Opinions on what the current “best” AV programs are change from day to day. As different versions of an AV program come out the program may be considered more bloated/resource intensive, or have unnecessary features that might be unneeded for some users. When deciding on which antivirus program to use, a good start is to check www.av-comparatives.org/. This site gives you up to date, independent statistics of the leading free and paid for AV programs. Different AV programs have different strengths and weaknesses; however the main area to look for is the detection rate. If you're considering using an AV product that scores well in performance, but has a low detection rate, then you will want to consider a different product.

    Different AV programs are also suited for different needs. If you’re looking for an all-in-one security program, that will require little maintenance or user input, then you might want to consider a paid for full security suite like ESET Smart Security. If on the other hand, you’re on a machine with very limited CPU and ram resources, you might want a lighter AV program that will perform better on your system.

    Providing you stick to one of the major vendors, AV detection rates will not vary too dramatically (although it’s always a good idea to check on AV Comparatives), but different AV products are suited for different environments. Think about your needs and requirements, and look around the various AV products. All the main paid-for suites have trial versions available that will help you judge what effect the suite has on system performance, as well as whether you personally like the graphical interface and the features offered.

    Like many of us here at Sysnative, I personally use free AV software and security programs. Whilst several free AV programs are great, these are often basic programs that will not offer you the complete protection needed for your computer – use these in conjunction with other security software, but always remember to only ever have one antivirus program installed at any one time.
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  2. #2
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    Re: What's the best Antivirus?

    It can change so often, and the fact that malware continually is being developed, you can't say what kind of malware that you'll come across to determine which AV will protect against it and which wouldn't. I do know now that for the most part because of this you can't fully rely on your AV and it's time to take some initiative to battle for yourself as well. I read the reports there from late 2011 and they do report that Kaspersky, MSE, Norton, Bitdefender were good candidates, ESET is fine, but with tons of false positives from what i've seen, AVG is horrible, and so is McAffee.

    That's about the "rule of thumb" I go by for now, but you never can tell, who knows if AVG hires some malware einstein in the future and improves, but the way they set their program up on a user's computer scares me too. That much is chaotic whether that program does a good job or not.

    MSE is lightweight, but programs like Norton; I absolutely enjoyed the configurability with it's firewall and auto protect. Full control if you know how to set it up, I know lots of people dont though, and now I just run MSE...

    Good post :)
    Automation Programmer
    Microsoft MVP [2012 - 2018]

  3. #3

    Re: What's the best Antivirus?

    I also agree one needs a full paid security suite and not a mashup of 7 different freebies. I have been with Norton for many years with not a problem. I know others strongly disagree but it just works, and the last 4 iterations have gotten faster and light on resources.
    Of course the best approach is to pull the ethernet cable. Some people will click anything they see flashing or changing colors.

  4. #4
    zigzag3143's Avatar
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    Re: What's the best Antivirus?

    From a strictly BSOD perspective I have seen far too many "probably caused by..." featuring Symantec/Norton to recommend it.

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  5. #5
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    Re: What's the best Antivirus?

    One of the "best" Anti Virus "programs" is the person who exercises control over what he / she clicks on.


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  6. #6

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    Re: What's the best Antivirus?

    The best antivirus is encasing your system in a cement block and dropping it into the Marianas Trench (a space shot into the sun being too expensive!).

    Seriously, there are several viewpoints for this.

    IMO, the best antivirus is user education. Teaching folks to not click on things that they don't know about.

    Reviews (such as this website: http://www.av-comparatives.org/ ) consistently rank the Internet Security Suites tops for users. But those of us who analyze BSOD's know that they are also the most cranky of programs and that they can cause more problems than most virus'.

    I only use MSSE (Microsoft Security Essentials), but many of my tech friends don't even bother with an antivirus. Their thoughts are:
    1) They don't do anything that needs security on their PC's (no personal info)
    2) They routinely backup their stuff (with images) - so they can restore an image faster than they can remove viruses.
    3) They are technical people, so they know the risks when they visit "nasty" websites. They accept an infection as the "price of doing business" on the web.

    I had an infection in 1991 that took out the US Army's computers in Saudi Arabia (for Gulf War I). We didn't have antivirus software back then - so we were just a target waiting for the malware to strike us.

    Since then I've had 3 infected files on my system - but none were executed, so the system wasn't infected. 2 were caught by the antivirus software - and another was caught by a scan with Lavasoft AdAware several months after it was downloaded.

    But I'm different. I'm technically oriented, and I've surfed the web since the late 1980's. I have no problems pulling the plug (literally) if I see something bad going on. I backup my stuff fairly regularly and find it easy to reinstall Windows.

    I only recommend using an antivirus (and not an Internet Security application) because (IMO) the Internet Security application only adds a small degree of protection. And I don't feel that that small degree is worth the chance of having a problem with the cranky Internet Security applications.

    But despite all the protection in the world, people are going to get infected because of "human engineering" - where people are tempted and can't resist the temptation. What can you do if someone is bound and determined to find out that they're winners of the XXXXX lottery?
    Antivirus/Antimalware applications can't easily protect against that!

    A while back I had a Social Worker bring in one of their "mentally challanged" clients with a virus infection. The user was searching for pictures of puppies and got infected that way. We cleaned his PC for free and gave him some advice on how to avoid the problems in the future. Haven't seen him since, so we hope that the advice is still working!

  7. #7
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    Re: What's the best Antivirus?

    It isn't only "human engineering" but also poisoned search results. I have an MSFT friend in MMPC who was innocently searching for something about a server and got hit clicking on one of the search results. Like you, he immediately pulled the plug and avoided infection.

    In addition to all the "safe surfing" tips, need for A/V, firewall, and Microsoft Security Updates, another major source of infection is outdated/vulnerable third-party programs; most particularly, Oracle Java and Adobe Reader/Acrobat and Flash Player.


    Take a walk through the "Security Garden" -- Where Everything is Coming up Roses!

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  8. #8

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    Re: What's the best Antivirus?

    At work we update these on every system before we finish:

    Adobe Flash, Shockwave, and Air - http://www.adobe.com/downloads
    Type "get java" (without the quotes) into your browser for a link to where to update it
    Type "get silverlight" (without the quotes) into your browser for a link to where to update it
    zigzag3143 says thanks for this.

  9. #9
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    Re: What's the best Antivirus?

    This is usually where I go for java: http://www.java.com/en/download/installed.jsp

    Usually just google "verify java"

  10. #10
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    Re: What's the best Antivirus?

    MSE is my favorite free a/v.

    ESET NOD32 - paid.
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  11. #11
    zigzag3143's Avatar
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    Re: What's the best Antivirus?

    MSE if I must otherwise Eset Smart Security.

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  12. #12
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    Re: What's the best Antivirus?

    Me, being the cheap a** that I am prefer free AV products.... My current favorite is MSE. I was getting sick of Avast's user interface, AVG's running of 1000 processes/services and bogging down my system, and Avira's constant barage of advertisement. John convinced me to try MSE and I have been hooked ever since.

    "Among the tales of sorrow and of ruin that come down to us from the darkness of those days there are yet some in which amid weeping there is joy and under the shadow of death light that endures."

    J.R.R. Tolkien - The Silmarillion

  13. #13
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    Re: What's the best Antivirus?

    Quote Originally Posted by jcgriff2 View Post
    MSE is my favorite free a/v.

    ESET NOD32 - paid.
    Quote Originally Posted by zigzag3143 View Post
    MSE if I must otherwise Eset Smart Security.
    Add me to the MSE/ESET list.
    zigzag3143 says thanks for this.


    Take a walk through the "Security Garden" -- Where Everything is Coming up Roses!

    Remember - A day without laughter is a day wasted.
    May the wind sing to you and the sun rise in your heart.

  14. #14
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    Re: What's the best Antivirus?

    Would recommend MSE if asked.
    Disclaimer. Use a paid version of an unmentionable AV myself though.


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  15. #15
    zigzag3143's Avatar
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    Re: What's the best Antivirus?

    Quote Originally Posted by Corrine View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by jcgriff2 View Post
    MSE is my favorite free a/v.

    ESET NOD32 - paid.
    Quote Originally Posted by zigzag3143 View Post
    MSE if I must otherwise Eset Smart Security.
    Add me to the MSE/ESET list.
    Great minds and all that
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  16. #16
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    Re: What's the best Antivirus?

    I also use MBAM as a secondary... And the eset online scanner occasionally.
    zigzag3143 says thanks for this.

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  17. #17
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    Re: What's the best Antivirus?

    MBAM is secondary & runs on-demand only.

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  18. #18
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    Re: What's the best Antivirus?

    My favourite geek magazine rates AV software based off of a few primary things:

    1. Speed of a quick and full scan
    2. Impact on boot time
    3. Difficulty to be forcefully removed or disabled
    4. User-friendliness of interface



    This is a pretty good idea I think. However I stick with MSE as it's been one of the easiest to use.

  19. #19

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    Re: What's the best Antivirus?

    In my current experience, for free junk:


    Best antispyware - SuperAntiSpyware

    Best feature suite - Avast

    Best malware detection engine - MSE

    Best rootkit detection/removal - Kaspersky TDSSKiller


    There's never really a good, solid "one AV to rule them all". There are various products - even paid - that specialize in certain malware detection and removal, and therefore it's always preferred to have a number of options available for cleanup. I personally recommend to anyone to have MSE installed and running, and have the others also installed (or at least downloaded) but inactive (this includes services) and should only be available for the occasional checkup and for any removal of infection. Avast I've preferred in the past, and in a sense still do since it does have boot-scanning (really, MSE? No boot scan?) as well as a bunch of other features; that's all good if you can get past its slow engine and awful GUI.

    Honestly though, cautious and sensible internet usage is the primary tool to keep one clean. Even poisoned search results can very frequently be avoided by using some of the nice tools Google provides for internet browsing. My favorite recently has been the preview window for each page. If I don't see a preview, or I see something with sparse information and/or a suspicious template (cheap, basic, generic design) than I avoid it. That goes also for sites that evidently have commonplace names. Even if they are legit, often times their quality is very low to where it isn't even worth checking in the first place.

    Of course, it also goes without saying that keeping a clean lifestyle helps big time. Not searching for pornography or illegal/cracked software or media keeps one away from a vast amount of the infectious material out there. If you're going to walk the back alleys, you should expect it to be unsafe.

  20. #20

    Re: What's the best Antivirus?

    Hi, I use my routers firewall and the windows firewall. I haven't had a virus for 10 years and that's about as long as I haven't had a AV, of any kind. This computer is a tester and goes to all the wrong places it has been formatted twice in the last 3 years once my wife (who is subsequently banned from all access and the cat, not banned simply because that would be cruel). Same for the three other computers in the house.

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