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Best Premium PC Security Suite

Best Antivirus Software and Apps 2015
By

The market is flooded with antivirus suites that can keep your computer safe and secure, making it tough to pick the right ally. To grab your attention, many security-software companies offer enhanced suites that do more than just scan your computer for malware.

We're talking about additional features such as built-in parental controls, privacy controls, smartphone antivirus software and even identity-theft protection. Such all-encompassing products cost more than basic antivirus software, but the investment is often worthwhile for customers who want more functionality.

Paid vs. Free Antivirus

There's a lot of free antivirus software available for Windows PCs, but it generally will not protect you as well as the paid software. Of the free products we reviewed, only Avira Free Antivirus did a comparable job. You'll also miss out on extra features such as cloud storage, password managers or file encryption.

To determine which security suite is worth your investment, we tested five of the most popular suites from the biggest names in the business, including Symantec, McAfee, Kaspersky Lab, Bitdefender and Avast! We evaluated each program based on setup, interface, ease of use and security and privacy features.

Top Antivirus Picks

What about protection? We used data from AV-TEST, an independent institute in Germany that rates most major security suites based on their ability to detect zero-day malware and other recent threats. But we didn't stop there.

In order to see how much of a performance impact the latest security suites have on an average PC, we ran the PCMark7 benchmark and our own OpenOffice productivity test on an Acer Aspire E1, which features a Core i3 processor and 4GB of RAM. We ran the tests while running a quick virus scan as well as a full system scan. The scan that caused the benchmark scores to drop the most was deemed to have a greater impact on our test PC.

Which security suite offers the best combination of protection and functionality? Check out our in-depth reviews to find out.

Display all 48 comments.
  • 1 Hide
    Caanis Lupus , January 21, 2015 5:50 AM
    Starting my 2nd year with BitDefender. Only thing I dislike is that it has at some times popped up a nag window over a game regarding reports/updates. Besides that I hate to admit I like the wallet that comes with BitDefender, so horrible at enabling my laziness on maintaining my passwords for me.
  • -1 Hide
    Steve James , January 21, 2015 10:54 AM
    Bitdefender? give me a break. Malwarebytes is still the best
  • 0 Hide
    SR-71 Blackbird , January 21, 2015 7:50 PM
    I have been running Trend Micro Premium , great suite.
  • 1 Hide
    SR-71 Blackbird , January 21, 2015 7:53 PM
    Minus the McAfee all good suites.
  • 1 Hide
    Honeykira , January 22, 2015 2:49 AM
    DO NOT DOWNLOAD the free version of the Avira Anti-Virus program! Avira uses TR/Agent. 35328.246 which will persistently show itself in Avira's pop-up box, asking the user to "remove" the threat, yet this Trojan/Agent is never removed! According to ehow.com: "The Trojan.Agent virus usually poses no threat to a computer's safe running. Instead, it typically installs on a computer with a less reputable antivirus and spyware blocking program. The program uses the threat of this hoax virus to pressure users into buying the full version of the antivirus software in question."

    Stay clear of Avira if you don't want to be constantly hounded by that company to upgrade to its paid "full version."

  • 0 Hide
    Raybo333 , January 24, 2015 5:41 AM
    Why ESET NOD32 isn't mentioned is beyond me. I've been using it for 10+ years and have never been infected by a virus. It has found things over the years and popped up on the screen to let me know. Uses very little resources and has never showed signs of slowing my computer down. Highly recommended!
  • -1 Hide
    gdk2008uk , February 5, 2015 8:05 AM
    I have tried Avast antivirus for unices (unix like operating systems ) it will install but when you try to update it just says "update failed" so I am using Clamtk AV.
  • -1 Hide
    halon789 , February 6, 2015 2:20 PM
    I just got through China's hack attack at a major health insurer. Bitdefender froze and failed. Avast helped my computer quite a bit.
    I don't think the above ratings accurately reflect how the softwares react in real world attacks.
  • 1 Hide
    ghill47 , February 11, 2015 6:05 PM
    I agree 100% with Honeykira and SR-71 Blackbird, and the reason I agree with them is probably the same for both their comments: Once installed (on a computer), the free version of McAffee acts more like a virus than it does an antivirus. And once installed (on a computer) the free version of Avast simply will NOT leave you alone to do your work, constantly bugging you to upgrade to the paid version. I am all for paying a developer for making great software. But don't offer me a free version that "does a few things" and then hound me for the rest of my life. Just don't offer a free version at all if you're going to do that!

    And for those who bash BitDefender in favor of Avast, at least please clarify whether you are talking about the free version or the paid version. People who are "serious" about antivirus and antimalware will (or should be willing to) pay for it.

    Likewise, I would have found it infinitely more helpful if the author of this article had written two articles: One on the pros and cons of the free versions of each of these pieces of software, and a second article on the pros and cons of the "serious" version of each program.
  • 0 Hide
    halon789 , February 12, 2015 11:36 AM
    Quote:
    I agree 100% with Honeykira and SR-71 Blackbird, and the reason I agree with them is probably the same for both their comments: Once installed (on a computer), the free version of McAffee acts more like a virus than it does an antivirus. And once installed (on a computer) the free version of Avast simply will NOT leave you alone to do your work, constantly bugging you to upgrade to the paid version. I am all for paying a developer for making great software. But don't offer me a free version that "does a few things" and then hound me for the rest of my life. Just don't offer a free version at all if you're going to do that!

    And for those who bash BitDefender in favor of Avast, at least please clarify whether you are talking about the free version or the paid version. People who are "serious" about antivirus and antimalware will (or should be willing to) pay for it.

    Likewise, I would have found it infinitely more helpful if the author of this article had written two articles: One on the pros and cons of the free versions of each of these pieces of software, and a second article on the pros and cons of the "serious" version of each program.


  • 0 Hide
    halon789 , February 14, 2015 1:39 PM
    Here is an article that extensively tests and ranks antivirus software.

    http://www.av-comparatives.org/summary-reports/

    I don’t think the testing services want to do a stealth download of virus/malware files and then observe the software’s reaction. I believe the test is realistic and would shake up the software rankings.
  • 0 Hide
    girlwskls , February 25, 2015 11:07 AM
    After using Avast for 6 years, 4 of them paid, at $30 p/yr, they could not install the renewal this year. Instead, I was told by the technical assistant who was online to help complete the failed install, that I had malware, 2000 temp files (normal was 200) and lots of background filing that had gotten into my laptop. I thought the yearly subscription was covering some of that? Wrong. System showed no scans, eventhough I had many pop-ups that scans were happening. Yes, if I did pay $170 for Total Support they could fix everything! No, thanks! I cancelled my subscription, feeling like I had wasted 4 years of paid fees and received inadequate protection.
  • 0 Hide
    rgd1101 , February 25, 2015 11:34 AM
    Quote:
    After using Avast for 6 years, 4 of them paid, at $30 p/yr, they could not install the renewal this year. Instead, I was told by the technical assistant who was online to help complete the failed install, that I had malware, 2000 temp files (normal was 200) and lots of background filing that had gotten into my laptop. I thought the yearly subscription was covering some of that? Wrong. System showed no scans, eventhough I had many pop-ups that scans were happening. Yes, if I did pay $170 for Total Support they could fix everything! No, thanks! I cancelled my subscription, feeling like I had wasted 4 years of paid fees and received inadequate protection.


    Did you just have the antivirus or the internet security suite?
  • 1 Hide
    japol29 , March 2, 2015 8:01 PM
    I've used multiple Anti-Viruses and so far those were Norton, AVG, Panda, Kaspersky, and Panda Security. Until recently I've been using BitDefender too, just as this article suggests. However I've switched to SecureAPlus late last year since I've found out that they have multiple commercial AVs running at the same time, which include Norton, AVG, BitDefender, as well as others.

    I was a bit skeptical at first but it didn't hurt to try since it was free. I still have it with me and it works really well. The interface needs some polish but other than that I'm quite happy with it.
  • 0 Hide
    lollypop1234567 , March 4, 2015 11:31 AM
    I use avira its not a virus!!
  • 0 Hide
    James87Raymond , March 24, 2015 5:06 AM
    Quote:
    I use avira its not a virus!!

    Quote:
    I use avira its not a virus!!

    Quote:
    I use avira its not a virus!!
    ................................... Who said you Avira is not Anti-Virus .... !??????
  • 0 Hide
    Someone Somewhere , March 24, 2015 5:21 AM
    It's not a virus, it's an anti-virus. An anti-virus is something that stops viruses.
  • 0 Hide
    Mj5 , April 5, 2015 10:00 AM
    come down guys... pls do respect the converstion. what we need is to find the best anti virus in the world.dosent if you or we using different kind of anti virus. i do respect other using avira,bitdefender,clamXav ect..can we figure it out find the best and latest anti virus for the future?one day one of the virus much more advance than the anti virus what we have.did you all think about that. this is Mj philippines peace on earth..
  • 0 Hide
    Blaze Infernus , April 5, 2015 12:52 PM
    Please explain to me how scheduled scans benefit a user in any way if the software is actively monitoring all the time, the user can also initiate a scan at any time, and virus definitions are updated in realtime? If it can't catch something during active monitoring, and it can't catch it during a user initiated scan, how will a scheduled routine scan catch it? This makes no sense to me and unless I'm seriously missing something, it's a stupid reason to take points away from Avast and Bitdefender.

    At the very least, it is certainly not a critical element to any virus scan if all other factors are in place that I'd mentioned already. Maybe you need to re-evaluate your criteria.

    And no, I do not work for either of those companies.
  • 0 Hide
    Someone Somewhere , April 5, 2015 7:56 PM
    Quote:
    Please explain to me how scheduled scans benefit a user in any way if the software is actively monitoring all the time, the user can also initiate a scan at any time, and virus definitions are updated in realtime? If it can't catch something during active monitoring, and it can't catch it during a user initiated scan, how will a scheduled routine scan catch it? This makes no sense to me and unless I'm seriously missing something, it's a stupid reason to take points away from Avast and Bitdefender.

    At the very least, it is certainly not a critical element to any virus scan if all other factors are in place that I'd mentioned already. Maybe you need to re-evaluate your criteria.

    And no, I do not work for either of those companies.


    If someone pulls your HDD or boots another OS, it's possible that a virus could get on to it without being running.

    Another option is that you could copy a file containing a virus from a USB stick or external HDD. Usually the data rate from those is too high to effectively scan them on-the-fly.

    Not significant loop-holes, but still minor ones.
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