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

Norton Antivirus 2011 ($40 for a one-year, single-PC license as of 10/26/2010) leads the pack of 2011 paid antivirus products. It does a very good job at detecting and removing malware, and has a smooth interface, although its speed is decidedly average.

Installing Norton Antivirus 2011 is a breeze: The well-designed installer only requires you to click through two screens before it begins installing. Norton Antivirus has a smooth, polished interface: The main screen shows on-off toggles for its various protection features, as well as a map showing the global cybercrime activity over the last 24 hours.

When it came to malware detection and removal, Norton Antivirus put out strong all-around scores. Norton Antivirus detected 98.7% of malware samples using traditional signature-based malware detection. This is an above average score, but it trails Panda Antivirus Pro 2011, which detected 99.8% of samples.

Norton also put up excellent scores in the blocking of real-world malware attacks: Norton completely blocked 24 of the 25 samples we threw at it, but it did miss one sample completely. Norton also detected all active infections in our tests; it removed the active components of an infection 80% of the time, and was able to completely remove the infections 60% of the time--both above-average scores.

Norton put up good scores in our speed testing, but not top-notch results. It completed an on-access scan of 4.5GB of files in 4 minutes, 32 seconds. This puts it ahead of the average of 4 minutes, 59 seconds, but it behind the top-performing product, which completed this test in 3 minutes, 35 seconds. Its on-demand scan speed of 2 minutes, one second is also above average, but again, it trails the top performing program by a good 30 seconds.


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