Fee vs. free: Paid, free antivirus programs

Can free antivirus software protect you? Or should you pay for a full-blown app? We look at the benefits and pitfalls of each

By Nick Mediati, PC World |  Security, antivirus, free software

Which free and paid antivirus products are best for you?

Avast Free Antivirus comes out tops among free products thanks to its all-around strong malware-detection scores, good design, and low system drag. Avira AntiVir Personal takes second place: It put up solid malware-detection scores, but its interface is kludgy.

Norton Antivirus leads the paid-software pack owing to its excellent malware detection, very good interface design, and comprehensive feature set that includes file-reputation analysis, a cloud-based scanner (which can help identify new malware more quickly), and system performance analysis tools. BitDefender Antivirus Pro 2011 is a close second thanks to strong malware detection; but slow scan speeds and some interface issues prevented it from taking first.

Check out our lists of the top five free and top five paid antivirus products. Our summary reviews of the top two free and paid antivirus programs are below.

Top Free Antivirus: Avast

Avast Free Antivirus couples good all-around malware detection with a speedy, well-designed package. We liked its easy installation process, smooth interface design, and minimal impact on system performance.

In traditional signature-based malware tests, Avast Free Antivirus detected 94.8% of samples, which is neither particularly good nor bad. It also did a decent, though not outstanding, job at detecting malware in our real-world malware detection tests: It completely blocked 76% of attacks (which is right about average), and partially blocked 4% of attacks.

But on the plus side, Avast Free Antivirus didn't falsely identify a single "safe" file as a piece of malware, the only free product we looked at that achieved this. Avast Free Antivirus also did a good job at disinfecting a PC; it removed all active components of malware infections 80% of the time, which set the pace among the free products we looked at.

Scan speeds are also very good. Its on-demand scan speed of 90 seconds was a close second to Avira AntiVir Personal, which completed the test in 87 seconds. And Avast Free Antivirus completed the on-access scan speed tests in 3 minutes, 40 seconds, tops among the products we tested.

Top Paid Antivirus: Norton Antivirus 2011


Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
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