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Trend Micro Antivirus Software: Thorough but Heavy

Trend Micro's Windows antivirus products provide top-notch protection and offer a wide range of extra features, but the product may slow down your system drastically during active malware scans.

If you can schedule scans for the wee hours, Trend Micro may be for you. If not, consider Kaspersky Lab or Bitdefender software, which provide similarly great protection with less of a performance impact. But all of them make our list of the best Windows antivirus software.

Costs and What's Covered

The entry-level Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security protects a single PC for $40 a year by scanning for threats like phishing attempts, coin-mining malware and fileless malware. It comes with a network scanner and ransomware protections, as well as browser extensions for Internet Explorer, Edge, Firefox, Chrome and Safari.

Trend Micro Internet Security costs $80 a year to cover up to three PCs. It adds for a social-media scanner, a system optimizer and parental controls.

Trend Micro Maximum Security is the company's flagship and includes a password manager and adds software for Macs, and Android and iOS devices. It costs $90 for five systems, or $100 for 10.

The company offers a 30-day free trial of any of its paid products. Trend Micro's applications work with Windows 7, 8.1 and 10, macOS 10.12 or newer, iOS s 9 or newer and Android 4.1 or newer. But be aware that the iOS app doesn't scan for malware.

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Trend Micro Antivirus+ SecurityTrend Micro Internet SecurityTrend Micro Maximum Security
Price$40, 1 PC$80, 3 PCs$90-$100, 5-10 devices
Windows supportVista thru 10Vista thru 107 thru 10
Bundled platformsNoneNoneMac, Android, iOS
Hardened browserYesYesYes
Ransomware protectionYesYesYes
Data theft shieldNoYesYes
File shredderNoYesYes
Parental controlsNoYesYes
Privacy scannerNoYesYes
System optimizerNoYesYes
Cloud storage scannerNoNoYes
File encryptionNoNoYes
Password managerNoNoYes
Secure browserNoNoYes

Antivirus Protection

Trend Micro's scanning engine matches new files with known threats, while its behavioral monitoring looks for early indications of an attack.

Anything that looks suspect is uploaded to Trend Micro's lab for analysis. (You can't opt out of such data collection during installation, but can do so later.) The company sends out daily malware-definition updates to its antivirus software.

The paid security products include an updated Folder Shield, which cordons off key files from ransomware attack. It takes about 2 minutes to set it up to shield critical files such as tax records or family photos.

Trend Micro's Mute Mode stops updates, popups and scans. You can start a Trend Micro Quick Scan, Full Scan or Custom Scan with a single click from the main window, or examine any file with a right click in Windows Explorer.

For a computer that's overwhelmed by malware, you can create a Trend Micro rescue disk on a DVD or USB drive to reboot and clean the computer or use the company's free HouseCall programs.

Antivirus Performance

All three of Trend Micro's paid Windows antivirus products use the same underlying malware scanning technology, differing only in the extra features they offer. Trend Micro's malware-detection engine was a top performer in recent lab tests, rivaled overall only by Kaspersky Lab and Norton.

In tests done at our lab in Utah, Trend Micro found every threat, putting it in the same class as McAfee and a step ahead of Kaspersky Lab (at 98 percent) and Bitdefender (at 99 percent).

Trend Micro had a perfect score in November-December 2018 tests run by German lab AV-TEST, detecting 100 percent of both brand-new zero-day malware and known widespread malware without registering a single false positive. That flawlessness was matched by Kaspersky Lab, McAfee and Norton.

Trend Micro likewise stopped all malware in the previous three rounds of AV-TEST evaluations, though it did garner one or two false positives in each round. In AV-TEST's last set of Windows 7 tests, conducted in January and February of 2018, Trend Micro had another perfect score, an honor shared only with Kaspersky.

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Yet Trend Micro got a total of 47 false positives in monthly tests run from July through November of 2018 by Austrian lab AV-Comparatives. Trend Micro blocked 100 percent of online malware in four of those months, dropping to 99.6 percent in only one.

Kaspersky had zero false positives, and Bitdefender only two, during that same period, but both had lower overall protection rates. Trend Micro had the highest protection rate overall.

Likewise, Trend Micro did very well in tests run by England's SE Labs in the last quarter of 2018, blocking 100 percent of all malware and flagging only 2 percent of legitimate files as possible malware. Only Kaspersky and Microsoft's own Windows Defender did better, avoiding any false positives.

Trend Micro did nearly as well in SE Labs' previous two rounds, blocking all downloadable malware but failing to stop a couple of targeted attacks. It was second place to Kaspersky in one round, and second place to Norton in the other.

Security and Privacy Features

Every paid Trend Micro product starting with Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security has defenses against malware, spam and online exploits, including protection against coin-mining malware, fileless attacks and phishing scams.

There are browser extensions for Microsoft Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari that check the reputation of websites and warn of dangerous destinations.

Trend Micro's Pay Guard hardens Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer if you're shopping or banking online, but doesn't force the use of HTTPS secure connections.

Trend Micro Internet Security suite adds a file shredder, a system optimizer and a privacy scanner that checks social-network and web-browser security settings. Parental controls let you place nudity, gambling and dating sites off limits, block images and set time limits for web access.

Trend Micro Maximum Security incorporates file encryption, a password manager and a cloud-storage scanner to check Dropbox and OneDrive for malware.

Trend Micro doesn't come with its own firewall, but there is a firewall "booster" to beef up the Windows one. Nor is there webcam protection, backup software, online file storage or a VPN client, which are frequently offered by other antivirus brands. There is a virtual keyboard, but it's used only by the password manager.

Performance and System Impact

All that great protection comes at a cost. Trend Micro Maximum Security caused the biggest performance slowdowns during active scans of any 2019 antivirus software we've tested.

To measure the system-performance Impact , we used our custom benchmark test, which measures how long a computer's CPU takes to match 20,000 names and 20,000 addresses in an OpenOffice spreadsheet. Our testbed was an Asus X555LA notebook running Windows 10 with the latest updates with a 2GHz Core i3 processor, 6GB of RAM and 117GB of files on its 500GB hard drive.

The Asus had a baseline completion time of 6 minutes and 50 seconds on the OpenOffice test. After we installed Trend Micro Maximum Security, but before any active scanning took place, that completion time rose to 7:04.

This small 3.4 percent increase in performance drain was among the best we saw in 2019 antivirus products, particularly when compared with the 14-percent passive performance hit for McAfee Total Protection. 

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Things went the other way during active scans. The completion time on our OpenOffice benchmark rose by 68.5 percent, from 6:50 to 11:31, while Trend Micro performed a full scan. It rose 37 percent, to an average of 9:21, during quick scans. You would definitely notice the former slowdown during routine computer use.

Trend Micro's first full scan took 45 minutes and 15 seconds to look at 257,512 files, but by the third full scan the completion time was reduced to 7:15 after the malware engine learned what to ignore. That's one of the fastest full-scan times we've seen, but the scan examined only 6,335 files, presumably those judged to be most dangerous.

Quick scans looked at 1,100 files and finished in an average of 1 minute and 56 seconds. That's fast, but the same sort of scan took McAfee Total Protection just 34 seconds.


The 2019 version of Maximum Security looks like earlier Trend Micro efforts, with a green circle and a check mark prominently displayed on the home screen to indicate that everything is OK. You can start Quick, Full or Custom scans right from the home screen.

Security features are categorized into Devices (Security Settings, PC Health Checkup, Mute Mode and Protect Another Device), Privacy (Privacy Scanner, Social Network Protection, Pay Guard and Data Theft Protection), Data (Folder Shield, Secure Erase, Password Manager, Cloud Storage Scanner and Vault) as well as Family (Parental Controls). Each has its own individual settings.

The home screen also shows when the last update took place and when the subscription expires and has links for adding protection to another system and viewing the security report. Trend Micro's Task Tray icon lets you start a scan, update the program, turn on Mute Mode or use the troubleshooting tool.

Compared with its competitors, Trend Micro Maximum Security's interface felt sluggish. It can take 5 or 10 seconds for a request to show up on-screen, which is an eternity in the early phases of an infection.

Trend Micro's online-account portal shows you not only what's going on inside your protected systems but security trends for the world at large.

Installation and Support

Downloading and installing Trend Micro Maximum 2019 took us 11 minutes and 50 seconds, a little on the long side. The installation file is 245 MB, but be careful to choose either the 64-bit or the 32-bit one.

Trend Micro has a slew of support options online, including 24/7 email and chat communications with technicians and self-serve videos. Phone calls to the help center are answered from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday Pacific time.

Bottom Line

You could do a lot worse than Trend Micro when it comes to system protection. It offers most of the essential extra features, such as a password manager and a hardened browser, though we still wish for dedicated webcam protection.

Trend Micro's Achilles' heel is in its very heavy system impact during scans, a sharp contrast to its nearly imperceptible background activities. Kaspersky and Bitdefender antivirus software offer similarly good malware protection with more extra features and a much smaller system load during scans.

Credit: Tom's Guide