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Best Antivirus Software and Apps 2015

Best Antivirus Software and Apps 2015
By

Many Windows users believe they don't need to pay for antivirus software, and most Mac and Android users think they don't need protection at all. It’s true that Windows' much higher profile makes it the biggest target, but OS X and Android are just as vulnerable to malware as Windows.

It's worth paying for Windows antivirus software, because even the best free software doesn't include features we consider essential. Mac and Android users have other options; our favorite Mac AV product costs nothing, and most Android security apps have free versions. 

Windows Antivirus Software Types

Most antivirus makers have three tiers of Windows products, with each price bump adding extra features such as child protection or cloud backups. But since each company uses a single malware-detection engine for all its antivirus software, the cheapest item in any product line usually finds malware just as thoroughly as the priciest.

Not all users will need premium suites or even intermediate products. If you don't have kids or already have cloud storage, the "starter" product may be enough.

Starter or Entry-Level Windows Antivirus

The least expensive paid Windows antivirus products, which generally list from $40 to $60 per year, have the essentials. Definition updates and scans are automatic; websites and attachments are screened; and the products should be easy to use. Some starter AV programs toss in extra features, such as secure browsers or system optimizers, normally found in pricier products.

Intermediate-priced Windows Antivirus

These products list from $60 to $80 per year. They generally build on the starter packages by adding parental controls, a spam filter or a two-way firewall to catch outgoing data. But for the full feature set, you'll have to pony up for the premium products.

Premium Windows Antivirus

Top-tier packages are often called suites because they do much more than catch malware. They might also have file encryption, secure online storage, a password manager or an ad blocker. As most cover multiple devices, they also frequently bundle in Mac and Android protection. For all this, you're meant to pay between $80 and $100 per year — but as with all paid antivirus software, discounts can often be found online.

Free Windows Antivirus

Free Windows antivirus products usually offer only bare-bones protection. Malware updates and scans must often be manually initiated, and there's little protection against malicious websites or email attachments. We can recommend some free Windows antivirus software, but don't rely on Microsoft's own products (Windows Defender/Microsoft Security Essentials). They simply don't catch enough malware.

Mac Antivirus

Despite what Apple's marketing has historically implied, Macs do get infected, and the amount of Mac malware has risen with Apple's share of the personal computer market. But there's less money in the Mac antivirus market, and the products are less standardized. Some Mac antivirus products are free, and some are paid: Of the products we evaluated, two free options came out on top. With that kind of recommendation, there's no reason for you not to run antivirus software on your Mac.

Android Antivirus Apps

Every Android device, whether smartphone, tablet or TV stick, should have antivirus software. Usually, that software comes with an all-encompassing security app that also includes anti-theft and remote-locating features.

The free versions of the Android security apps we reviewed are pretty solid. The paid versions, which cost between $15 and $30 per year, range from being just a bit better to becoming practically separate products, with a wide range of capabilities. For example, Avast Mobile Security offers geofencing and, for rooted phones, a firewall. You'll have to decide what you need and select accordingly.

How We Rate Antivirus Software

We evaluate antivirus software on three criteria: ease of installation and use, based on the reviewer's own experience; system impact, based on standardized benchmark tests; and malware detection, for which we use independent lab AV-TEST's periodic and detailed analyses. Malware detection is the most important factor, but we won't recommend a product if it's impossible to use or drastically slows down a computer or Android device.

We spend three to four hours testing and analyzing each piece of Windows antivirus software. For Android, the process takes an hour for each app.

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  • 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."

  • 2 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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