Most antivirus vendors that run on a yearly update schedule wait until the fall to release the next year's version, just like car manufacturers. So, the "2014 models" appear in the fall of 2013. They're definitely rolling in; I've reviewed four that actually contain "2014" in the name. Four others come from vendors who've dropped the notion of adding a version or year number, but they're still the "(2014)" editions.
As new versions arrive, most of the same products retain their positions at the top of the heap. Here are the best from the current crop of antivirus products.
The Best Products
The antivirus field is huge; I currently track over forty products. In a field that big there's room for multiple products to earn the title of Editors' Choice.
Three products share the Editor's Choice honor for best overall antivirus: Bitdefender Antivirus Plus (2014)$39.95 at BitDefender, Norton AntiVirus (2014)$49.99 at Norton, and Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus 2013$29.99 at Webroot. (I expect the 2014 edition of Webroot's antivirus in a few weeks).
The Best Antivirus for 2013.
Bitdefender and Webroot both earned 6.6 points in my malware removal test, though they were tested with different sample sets. Norton, tested along with Bitdefender, slipped to 6.3 this time around, but its impressive multi-layered malware-fighting technology continues to impress.
Two free products also did well in testing. Ad-Aware Free Antivirus+ 10.5 detected 83 percent of the samples and earned 5.8 points; for a while that was the top score. AVG AntiVirus FREE 2014 detected fewer samples, 78 percent, but more thorough cleanup earned it an impressive 6.4 points. AVG and Ad-Aware are our current Editors' Choice products for free antivirus. The new Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition (2014) also fared well in testing. It matched the full Bitdefender antivirus's malware blocking score, and earned a decent 6.2 points for malware cleanup.
Our two free Editors' Choice products share the best malware blocking score, 9.4 points, among products tested using my current malware collection. Trend Micro Titanium Antivirus+ 2014$39.95 at Trend Micro and McAfee AntiVirus Plus 2014£18.50 at Amazon were close behind with 9.2 points. Tested with my previous malware collection, Webroot scored an impressive 9.9 of 10 possible points.
A full-scale antivirus tool both cleans up existing threats and keeps new attacks from getting a foothold. Sometimes, though, a counterattack by entrenched malware means you can't even install that hot-shot antivirus. In that case, a free removal-only tool can be a godsend. In my malware removal test, Malwarebytes Anti-Malware 1.70 scored higher than any of the competition, paid or free. The well-known Malwarebytes is our Editors' Choice for free cleanup-only antivirus.
Of course, you do have to work to make sure your antivirus stays up to date, and you need to deal with any threats it reports. Or do you? In fact, once you install Daily Safety Check Home Edition you don't have to do a thing. Its managed antivirus will scan your system and block attacks, and it also ensures that you have all the latest security patches. If necessary, a support agent can remote-control your PC to clean up the worst infestations. All you need to do is view emailed safety reports. This unique service has earned Editors' Choice for consumer-side managed antivirus.
If ransomware or other malicious software has made it impossible to boot Windows, you need a solution that doesn't rely on Windows. When you boot from the hardware-based FixMeStick 2013$39.99 at Amazon, it automatically updates itself and runs a scan. All you need to do is click OK when it asks permission to clean up.
Newcomer Jumpshot is another interesting cleanup-only tool. It conceals a full-scale Linux-based bootable antivirus behind a user interface based on cartoon-style "minions" that handle tasks like wiping out malware, tuning system performance, and protecting your privacy. Jumpshot had the highest malware-removal score among products tested with my current malware collection, until it got edged out by Bitdefender.
Where did those scores come from? To test an antivirus product's ability to deal with existing malware infestations, I install it on twelve malware-infested virtual machines. After running the most comprehensive scan available, I check which threats the antivirus detected and note how well it cleaned them up. This article explains how I derive the scores in the chart that follows: How We Test Malware Removal.
- Related Story Antivirus malware removal chart
Starting with the introduction of my new malware collection earlier this year, I've added a new metric to my malware removal charts, an ease of installation score. I base this score on how tough it is to install the product on my malware-infested systems. A product like Malwarebytes that installs on all twelve with little or no help from the vendor's tech support, well, that's a five-star performance. If tech support supplies ancillary tools like rescue disks or threat-specific removal tools that make installation possible, we're at four stars; Kaspersky is an example.
All too often, getting antivirus protection installed on an infested system takes hours or days of back and forth with tech support. If after a super-lengthy process the product does get installed, that's worth two to three stars. If it totally can't install on one or more of the twelve systems, well, we're down to one star. That's not the bottom, though. Sometimes the cleanup process renders a test system completely unusable. A product that "kills" any test system beyond tech support's ability to fix gets zero stars. And yes, it does happen.
I also install each product on a clean test system and see how well it prevents infestation by the same collection of threats. Most antivirus tools wipe out a portion of the samples the moment I open the containing folder. I launch those that weren't killed on sight and observe just how far they get before the antivirus takes action. The article How We Test Malware Blocking explains in detail how I come up with the scores in the chart below.
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Independent antivirus testing labs have vastly more resources at hand than I do, so they can perform tests on a scale beyond what I can manage. At present I track results from AV-Comparatives, AV-Test, ICSA Labs, Virus Bulletin, and West Coast Labs. I hope to be adding tests from NSS Labs and Dennis Labs later this year. The chart below summarizes current results, and this article goes into more detail about how I interpret those results: How We Interpret Antivirus Lab Tests.
Note that only Bitdefender and Kaspersky Anti-Virus (2014)$23.42 at Amazon earn top scores across the board. To be fair, both Norton and Webroot argue that the current crop of tests don't match real-world circumstances well enough to properly evaluate their products.
- Related Story Antivirus lab tests chart
Whatever your antivirus needs, one of the over forty tools listed here should do the job. Note that the blurbs that follow are not the full reviews; click on the title of each antivirus to get to the full reviews, which detail my testing. Also note that we'll be updating this roundup often, adding reviews of the new AV software as it rolls out this fall.
The chart below lists current suites, along with their prices and star rating in several security categories. Note that in a few cases the price listed for "3-pack" actually gets you more than three licenses.
The Best 2013 Security Suites.
A lot of different components must thoroughly mesh and work together well to make a security suite. Some suites are barely more than an antivirus plus firewall, while others include ever feature imaginable. In the very best suites, all components are equally effective, but a suite that's only good at a few security tasks can still be useful if its strong points match your needs.
The flood of 2014 suites is in full swing at present. I've reviewed eight with "2014" as part of the name, and several more are in the queue. Bitdefender, Webroot, Norton, and Kaspersky have dropped year and version numbers. To avoid confusion we're appending "(2014)" to those product names.
The chart below summarizes our findings for three dozen current security suites, highlighting overall scores and category scores of 4.0 stars or better. It's easy to see that some products earned high scores in all or nearly all the categories, while others got just a few high scores.
Ad-Aware Pro Security 10.5 turned in average scores in most of our tests, but it proved quite effective at blocking malware attack on a clean system. G Data InternetSecurity 2014 likewise did its best work in the field of malware blocking.
ZoneAlarm Extreme Security 2013$44.95 at ZoneAlarm has perhaps the most complete parental control system of any suite, because its parental control component is a licensed version of the well-regarded Net Nanny. ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus + Firewall 2013 offers a bare minimum of suite components, but its firewall protection is top-notch.
Protection against fraudulent (phishing) sites is a primary component of the Privacy score. Because the actual phishing sites available on a given day are different from those on any other day, I rate antiphishing tools by comparing their detection rates with Norton's. Very few products come close to Norton's accuracy, but in recent tests both Bitdefender Internet Security (2014)$49.95 at BitDefender and Kaspersky Internet Security (2014)$79.95 at Kaspersky Lab North America | United Kingdom beat Norton, and Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security 2014$49.95 at Trend Micro came close.
Our Top Choices
As you can see in the chart Norton Internet Security (2014) earned four stars or better in every category. If you're looking for a traditional security suite, with essential features like antivirus, firewall, antispam, parental control, and phishing protection, it's a great choice, and it's one of our Editors' Choice suites. If you need local/online backup and tuneup, consider Norton 360 (2014)$79.99 at Norton, also an Editors' Choice.
Norton 360 falls into the category I call a "mega-suite" because it offers so much more than the basics. With Bitdefender Total Security (2014)$69.95 at BitDefender you get even more security components, pretty much anything you can think of. It's another Editor's Choice for mega-suite.
Looking for the smallest, lightest protection available? The installer for Editors' Choice Webroot SecureAnywhere Complete (2014)$39.99 at Webroot would fit on a 3.5" diskette (if you could fine one). Its unusual antivirus component doesn't use virus signatures; rather, it detects threats by their behavior and other characteristics. Webroot omits spam filtering and parental control, two common suite features that aren't universally needed, but adds a very flexible online backup and sync utility along with password management powered by Editors' Choice LastPass.
Modern malware is tough. If it's gotten a foothold on your PC already, it may resist your attempts to install the security software that could eliminate it. Tech support will help, of course, and many vendors will eventually escalate to remote-control diagnosis and repair of your troubles. Comodo Internet Security Complete 2013, also an Editors' Choice, makes that top-tier level support the default. Call on Comodo's GeekBuddy service for help with absolutely any PC problem, including getting the product installed on an infested system.
Make Your Choice.
You won't go wrong selecting one of our Editors' Choice suites. McAfee Internet Security 2014$39.99 at McAfee and Kaspersky Internet Security (2014)$79.95 at Kaspersky Lab North America | United Kingdom also proved impressive in testing. Click the links in the blurbs that follow to read our comprehensive reviews of all the current security suites.
Author : Neil J. Rubenking
Source : http://www.pcmag.com/, 16 October 2013.