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Antivirus Comparison: See How the Leading Software Companies Stack Up

Perhaps your computer has had a virus before – whose hasn’t? A computer virus can come in many different guises – an attachment on an email from a friend, a downloaded manual from your TV manufacturer’s website and even a link you click on from an e-newsletter. And, a computer virus will wreak havoc on your world by deleting files, photos and often destroying your expensive computer along with all those important documents and memories. Since you never know where you might be attacked, anti-virus software is an essential part of your computer system that should not and really cannot be ignored. But with so many antivirus packages on the market, how do you decide which one is right for you?

Lucky for you, we have done the heavy lifting for you in researching each brand’s antivirus offering closely to create in-depth reviews on the best antivirus solutions on the market, as well as a handy antivirus comparison table right here to help you see at a glance where each falls in relation to the features you need your anti-virus software to offer. Use these tools to help you make an informed decision when deciding on an antivirus solution. If you click on a link under the company name in the header (or footer), you will be taken to that company’s homepage to gain even more detail on their offering or to get started using them right away. You’ll also find a list of terminologies below the tables that explain the definitions in the left-column.

Please note that there are two tables, since there were so many anti-virus providers and they could not fit into one. You can jump to the second table using the navigation below.

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Antivirus Comparison Table 1

BitdefenderKasperskyPandaNortonTrend MicroAVGF-SecureMcAfeeWebrootAviraZoneAlarm

Overall Ranking

1st

2nd

3rd

T-4th

T-4th

T-6th

T-6th

T-6th

9th

T-10th

T-10th

Lowest Price

$39.95

$39.95

$39.99

$49.99

$39.95

$39.99

$39.99

$49.99

Sale: $34.99

$37.49

$44.99

$34.95

AV-Test Certified

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Virus Bulletin 100 Windows 7

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Virus Bulletin 100 Windows XP

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ICSA Labs Certification Windows 7

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Anti-Virus, Anti-Malware, Anti-Phishing, Anti-Rootkit, Anti-Spyware, Anti-Trojan & Anti-Worm

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Browser Exploits

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Incoming and Outgoing Email Protection

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Instant Messaging Protection

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Automatic USB Detection

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Registry Start Up Protection

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On-Demand Scanning

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Automatically Clean Infected Files

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Scan Compressed File Formats

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Bootable Rescue CD

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Quarantine Feature

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Gamer Mode

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Available on Mac

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Windows 8 Supported

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32 Bit Only

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Windows 7 Supported

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Windows Vista Supported

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Windows XP Supported

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32 Bit Only

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Visit Website

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Visit Website

Visit Website

Read Review

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BitdefenderKasperskyPandaNortonTrend MicroAVGF-SecureMcAfeeWebrootAviraZoneAlarm

Antivirus Comparison Table 2

BullGuardeScanAvastESETGDataAVStrikeTotal DefenseCyberDefenderTrustPortVipreNorman

Overall Ranking

T-12th

T-12th

T-14th

T-14th

16th

T-17th

T-17th

T-19th

T-19th

T-19th

22nd

Lowest Price

$29.95

$22.45

$34.99

$39.99

$39.95

$29.95

$79.99

$49.99

$29.99

$29.99

$19.99

$31.95

$39.99

$45.95

AV-Test Certified

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Virus Bulletin 100 Windows 7

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Virus Bulletin 100 Windows XP

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ICSA Labs Certification Windows 7

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Anti-Virus, Anti-Malware, Anti-Phishing, Anti-Rootkit, Anti-Spyware, Anti-Trojan & Anti-Worm

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Browser Exploits

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Incoming and Outgoing Email Protection

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Instant Messaging Protection

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Automatic USB Detection

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Registry Start Up Protection

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On-Demand Scanning

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Automatically Clean Infected Files

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Scan Compressed File Formats

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Bootable Rescue CD

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Quarantin Feature

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Gamer Mode

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Available on Mac

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Windows 8 Supported

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Windows 7 Supported

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32 Bit Only

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Windows Vista Supported

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32 Bit Only

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Windows XP Supported

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32 Bit Only

32 Bit Only

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32 Bit Only

Visit Website

Visit Website

Visit Website

Visit Website

Visit Website

Visit Website

Visit Website

Visit Website

Visit Website

Visit Website

Visit Website

Read Review

Read Review

Read Review

Read Review

Read Review

Read Review

Read Review

Read Review

Read Review

Read Review

Read Review

BullGuardeScanAvastESETGDataAVStrikeTotal DefenseCyberDefenderTrustPortVipreNorman

Terminologies

This list contains definitions for some of the more confusing terms used in the table above. Hope it is a helpful resource for you.

  • AV-Test Certified: Tested and approved by the AV-Test Institute in Germany.
  • Virus Bulletin 100, Windows 7: The software was tested and approved by the Virus Bulletin, an independent testing facility for Windows 7.
  • Virus Bulletin 100, Windows XP: The Virus Bulletin, an independent testing facility for Windows 7, tested and approved this software.
  • ISCA Labs Certification, Windows 7: A software that has received certification from the ISCA Labs for Windows 7.
  • Anti-Malware: A software that offers this service not only protects against viruses but also protects against other malware. (Malware is a shortened name for Malicious Software which is created to disable computers and their systems.)
  • Browser Exploits: Protects users from breach in the security of a computer system through a vulnerability in the operating system.
  • Anti-Trojan: Protects the user against Trojan viruses.
  • Anti-Worm: Designed to provide protection against worm viruses that quickly spread through networks.
  • Anti-Spyware: Provides protection against spyware that could compromise personal data.
  • Anti-Rootkit: Keeps an eye out for viruses that can stealthily hide within the operating system, often within certain processes or programs, and thus do not become easily evident. A rootkit is designed to live undercover on your computer for long periods of time to gain access to all the classified content on your computer.
  • Anti-Phishing: Phishing is a method of obtaining personal information through email by pretending to be a legitimate organization. Anti-phishing software protects against this type of practice.
  • Outgoing Email Protection: Protects outgoing emails from unknowingly having viral files attached to them by infected systems.
  • Incoming Email Protection: Protects incoming emails from bringing infected files in to the computer system.
  • Instant Messaging Protection: Protects the user from receiving viral files through instant message services.
  • Automatic USB Detection: Automatically detects a USB device and includes it in antivirus scans to ensure it is “clean.”
  • Registry Start Up Protection: Provides antivirus protection for the system during startup to prevent viral files from running.
  • On-Demand Scanning: Offers users the opportunity to scan a file, folder or system on demand.
  • Scan Compressed File Forms: Allows users to scan compressed files such as zip and rar files before opening them.
  • Bootable Rescue CD: Allows users to insert a CD to run a virus scan directly from the CD drive when other functions are disabled due to viral infection.
  • Gamer Mode: Allows users to stop alerts from the antivirus software during gaming sessions.

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About Jeff Butler

Jeff's first exposure to security systems came from a real life experience. Nearly ten years ago, after multiple burglaries at his 4,000 square foot retail operation, Jeff was frustrated with the high costs of his failing security system. Knowing there had to be a better way, he built an efficient and streamlined system that prevented many future burglaries. Now focused on home security, he loves to stay on top of this ever-changing industry.
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  • DocH

    Is it necessary or even advised to have both McAfee Security Scan Plus on my HP Pavilion dv6 laptop if I already have Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2012 installed?

    • http://www.coverstorymedia.com/ Alex Schenker

      McAfee Security Scan Plus is merely a diagnostic tool – it scans your computer to find out if it’s up to date on antivirus, firewall, and web security. Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2012 is actual antivirus software that will protect your laptop from intrusions. Note that it is a couple years old and offers basic (essential only) protection. Depending on the level of protection you’re looking for or the importance of data on your laptop you may want to consider upgrading. Use this link for Kaspersky’s latest promotional/discount prices.

  • Anonymous

    There is so much I had not considered when it comes to choosing antivirus software. To be honest, I had no idea that so much needed to be protected. I knew that you obviously wanted to protect your ingoing and outgoing email. I also knew that you wanted to filter out websites that were unsafe and that you wanted to have software that immediately detected and deleted viruses. There was also a lot I took for granted. For example, I just assumed that all antivirus software allowed you to scan on demand.

    I think one of the biggest drawbacks to antivirus software is the expense. While this is obviously something you need on your computer, it can be easy to put it off until it's too late. However, once someone encounters a virus, they are usually quick to purchase protection so that it doesn't happen again.

    After looking at these options, I would probably choose MacAfree. Not only does the company offer many of the features that I would want, but it's also a company I've heard of and has been around for many years. In other words, it's a company I would feel safe using. I also like the fact that it's an affordable option.

  • Anonymous

    I think a chart like this is a good tool to reference when you are looking to purchase an anti virus software.  Going by people’s recommendations I think would simply produce too many biased results because nobody wants to admit they paid for something they do not believe is the best.  It is the same kind of a theory with people and their doctors.  Everybody says that their doctor or dentist or whatever is the best because they want to believe they are getting a good deal for their money and their time.
     
    With anti virus software though, there is a different more fundamental dynamic in play.  There are no emotions involved in anti virus software so it really can be measured objectively for the most part like this chart does here.   I would advise anyone who is in the market to purchase their own anti virus protection to reference something like this as well as several other websites with reviews and so forth to find the product that best suits their needs.  It may take a little longer but you’ll be glad you did.

  • Anonymous

    I have been a computer and internet user now for roughly seventeen years and I do consider myself a little more savvy than the average user when it comes to understanding how all these devices work and how to keep them in good working order.  That being said, I really do not know all that much about how antivirus software works or how one is different than the other.  I know that they are updated to recognize and defuse threats to a computer’s security and protect a user’s data, but beyond that it is all Greek to me.
     
    A comparison table like this is very useful, as it helps compare apples to apples in terms of what these programs cost and what they do for you.  From what I can tell, what you are paying for is the aggressiveness with which a company will update their software and act as an active line of defense against the scores of viruses and other malware that are produced every single day.  This would require research and development and that costs money.

  • Anonymous

    About two years ago, my whole hard drive was completely wiped out and everything I had was gone. Yes, I should have backed up online, but that did not really cause the problem. What did cause the problem was that I let my antivirus software program expire. I was always going to get around to updating it, but time went by and I kept downloading attachments from emails and other things that I should not have done, as though the antivirus program was still running normally. Of course, it should not come as any kind of shock that this risky behavior led to my hard drive’s untimely demise. The first thing I did when replacing my hard drive was to find the best antivirus software program around; thank you to this article, I decided upon Norton Antivirus, the old standard. I liked that it had pretty much every listed feature included and it was  still not much more expensive than other programs with fewer security options. Yes, you probably realistically could do without a lot of the annoying messages and such, but after what I went through, I will take it.

  • Anonymous

    Wow, these are some really in-depth tables. I think it is awesome that your site went to all the trouble to do the research on these antivirus programs, but I personally am overwhelmed by the information here. I don't know what a lot of it means, so I am glad that you have a forum and in-dept explanations in your articles so I can learn as I go. I would not want to make a bad choice about the antivirus I buy based on a lack of knowledge or attention to detail.

    One of the things I did understand is that there are programs that still support not only Windows Vista, but Windows XP as well. I did not even know you could still get online with Windows XP and I thought that most people had already made the switch from Vista to 7. I don't think Windows even offers updates for XP or Vista anymore. And now I feel really old as I realize that the first computer I owned and got online with had Windows 98 on it. My how things have changed!

  • Anonymous

    I am a pretty avid computer gamer so I really have a high value on my computer working properly.  Therefore I really want to know for sure that my resources are protected every time I connect to the internet.  My antivirus needs are a little more picky than most so I can maintain a high level of computing power and do not suffer any kind of lag. 

    What I want is a program that runs very quietly in the background, does not use up a ton of my computer’s resources, and blocks out any and all threats to my computer on a continual basis.  Based on what I am seeing here in this comparison table, I will have to spend a decent amount of money to achieve all of these desired traits. 

    The money is well worth it though, with the way things work on the internet these days, you really cannot take too many precautions to protect your data and your resources.  I have been hacked into a few times in the past and it takes forever to get things back to a level where you can feel secure.

  • Anonymous

    It does not even seem like that long ago when there were only one or two options for antivirus software out there. My, how times have changed! With so many different choices, it is possible to get the perfect value for your own needs, though, and that is far better than being stuck with the only things that might be out there at the time. Luckily, this article is there to help with the rougher side of having a lot of choices; namely, making said choices.

    I had no clue before this that there were even so many options available, like anti-phishing, outgoing email protection, and Instant Messenger protection. I am also glad to see that Windows XP is so well supported, since that is what I have, although it was interesting that not all of the programs had automatic USB detection or a bootable rescue CD. It looks like the programs are getting even better over time, too, since I notice they include anti-rootkit, browser exploits, and registry startup protection, none of which used to be standard on antivirus software programs. The best thing I see, of course, is that competition brought the prices down.

  • Anonymous

    As a mother, I have been looking for ways to save money.  One of the things that I've been debating on getting rid of is my antivirus software.  I mean let's be real about this here.  This stuff is not cheap.  However, it's cheaper than losing a computer to some kind of malware, so I'm torn.  I'm glad that you have this comparison chart here, because it allowed me to see that there were some less expensive options for me.  Like, last year, I was paying $65/year for a plan that covered 3 computers, and I mean that's fair if you think about it.  It's not like it cost $65 a month or anything, but still, $65 is not small change, and if you're only using it to cover one or two computers, it's expensive.  I wished the company had options for people that just wanted to cover one or two computers, because my plan made me feel ripped off.  That's why having chart that I can use really helps me because I can see that there are companies that offer just as good service that might save me a little money.

    • Town Crier

      Mom, you don't say what AV you're using now, but all these companies offer single license versions of their product.  If $$ are tight for you right now, go with Avast! free Anti-virus and use the Windows firewall (if you're using Win7, or Win8).  Otherwise, I recommend the Comodo free firewall.  Download here instead of download.com to avoid confusing adverts and such: http://www.filehippo.com

      • mike

        I'm interested why Comodo was NOT tested…

  • Anonymous

    I love the antivirus comparison tables that your site offers. It makes it so much easier to look over a large amount of information. As someone who has been looking for antivirus software, I was happy to stumble across this table. There is so much information I hadn't even considered discussed in this table. I have to admit though that price is an important factor for me. Obviously, I don't want to go with a company that is low in price, but lacks services. With this table I was able to look at the options and find a service that was not only low in price, but also a great company.

    After looking over the options, I really like the looks of McAfee because they are a company I've heard of and their price is great. Not only that, but the company had many of the features I'm looking for. The company has also been around for many years.

    Honestly, I feel that I will have to look at the reviews to see which program is really best for me and my computer usage. As someone who is on the computer up to 12 hours a day, I need software that won't let me down and that's where reviews will come in handy. Thankfully, there are links to reviews conveniently located in this table.

  • Anonymous

    I have had quite a bit of experience with multiple versions of antivirus software over the years and I can tell you that one thing I have grown to expect is for the program or programs to not take up too much of my computer’s resources and for it to basically leave me alone while I do my work.

    A lot of antivirus software companies make some pretty extreme ovations to let you know that their software is doing its job in the form of pop ups every time an action is taken to block a virus or some other kind of malware.  While it is nice to know that the software is working, I would rather receive a report at the end of a month or some other period of time stating that it blocked these intrusions rather than each and every time it happens. 

    I have found that generally speaking, the more you spend on your antivirus software, the less of this sort of thing you have to deal with.  Guess that is just kind of how it goes.

  • Anonymous

    I have been a computer owner for most of my life now and an internet user for almost as long.  You did not always need to have anti-virus and security software when surfing the web, but now if you do venture out into the internet without something between you and potential attacks, you are really taking a sizable risk. 

    I currently use Norton Antivirus, but I have also used Kaspersky in the past and I have had a pretty good experience with both.  In both cases, they have been included with another purchase I’ve made and I have yet to go and simply buy a stand-alone antivirus software off the shelf. 

    Kaspersky came with the laptop I bought most recently and Norton comes with my internet subscription that I pay for on a monthly basis.  In either case, I feel pretty well safeguarded against online attacks and against putting my personal info out there for somebody to take advantage of. 

    This comparison was helpful in understanding the differences between them though and should I find myself needing to purchase antivirus software, I will reference it again.

  • Anonymous

    When I invested in my new laptop computer about two years ago, it came with a one year subscription to Kaspersky antivirus software to keep it protected right out of the box.  Initially, I had some major issues getting that service activated, but once I did get that straightened out it did work quite well. 

    That subscription has expired now and I was given the option to re-subscribe at a discounted rate thanks to the fact that I bought it through the popular retailer Best Buy and they evidently have a relationship with Kaspersky that is ongoing.  I decided, however to go with another provider after that subscription ran out. 

    I am a Comcast internet subscriber and that affords me a free ongoing subscription to Norton antivirus software that has also seemed to work quite well.  I guess I am saying that basically unless you have bought a used computer that you do not connect to a regular internet service provider, you should never have to pay full price for antivirus software with an ongoing subscription.  The companies are pretty smart about making relationships.

  • Anonymous

    I love it when you guys do these charts like this.  It must take a lot of work to put them together, however all of your work saves me a lot of time. 

    Seriously, do you know how long it would take me to actually go from site to site and compare pricing?  Also, some of these companies are brands I've never heard of, and they seem to offer services that are comparable to the big guys. 

    Trend Micro and AVG seem to be the lowest prices, but that might just be a temporary sale.  One of the things that has caused me to avoid antivirus software is the price.  There aren't many months that go by where I have an extra $50-100 laying around to purchase effective antivirus software. 

    However, your chart showed me that there is some good stuff out there in my budget range.  I was under the impression that anything that was not Norton or McAfee was garbage, or might even be malware itself.  It's amazing; most of these products offer the exact same antivirus protection as the big guys. Your software review links are also very convenient.

  • Anonymous

    It is good that internet users as consumers have a lot of options when it comes to antivirus software because going without it these days is certainly not an alternative that one would want to consider. 

    I have had many viruses come and go on my laptop computer that I have had for only a couple years now.  Fortunately, I have also had a subscription to one or more antivirus software products pretty much throughout so the problems have not persisted for very long, but still it makes me wonder how many people out there actually just chance it without any kind of protection and the consequences they have to suffer as a result.

    With all these options, it is very likely that you can bundle your antivirus software with either some other kind of protective programs or with some other kind of service offering such as internet connectivity or the warranty to the computer itself.  Should that subscription expire though, be sure you do not let that situation endure for very long otherwise you can be sure that you will get infected.

  • Anonymous

    Anyone who has ever had a computer virus or some unexplained strange thing on their computer which causes problems is well aware of the need for great anti virus protection. These antivirus programs are designed to recognize all the different types of viruses and help to keep them off your computer. At the very least, they should be able to detect and then remove when something harmful has made its way onto your machine.

    This article provides several incredibly helpful tables which compare the offerings of some of the top anti virus packages on the market. You can start by simply browsing the tables and see what features and services each company offers. This can be a great way to get an idea as to what features will be the most helpful for you.

    From here, it is also recommended that you look at the list of terminologies below the tables. These can help to ensure that you understand exactly what all the features are and give you a much better idea about how each antivirus software actually operates and what you need to do to make sure they are running at top efficiency.

  • Anonymous

    As a user of the computer and the internet for a very long time, I can tell you first hand that going without internet security software is not something you really want to try.  I have ruined more than one capable and expensive lap top computers in my time thanks to frivolous downloading of files without the correct anti virus protection downloaded on my hard drive and maintaining steady updates.

    I used to be a pretty big file-sharer on the once popular peer-to-peer websites like Napster, Kazaa, Bear Share and others.  I would not really even dare to do that these days even with capable internet security software installed on my computer, but to consider I used to do that without even thinking about downloading a virus or whatever else may be out there and did so without anti virus software, I feel pretty stupid about it.

    It may be somewhat cliché and a little vulgar, but doing that sort of thing these days is akin to having unsafe sex in a third world country.  It just is NOT a good idea.

  • Clark

    This chart was extremely helpful for me, mainly to see all of the prices on one page. I have been researching AntiVirus options and I have been overwhelmed with all of the information that is out there. The big takeaway from this chart for me is too always be on the lookout for an AntiVirus sale, as it seems there are always going to be a few that are on sale. No reason to pay full price in my mind.

    • Dimitris

      I don't know about their product yet. What I know is that their Customer Support is bad and very poor. There is no actual online chat for someone to contact. I am trying from the last 45 minutes to find in their site the proper channels through which I will get in touch with someone but even "On-Line" is e-mail sending request cause service is unavailable right now.

      I was using Symantec for the last 3 years and decided to leave cause of their price. think again! They have 24/7 live support and even when i came up with some issues they called me 3 times to fix and solve my problems… 

      So I think I will go back to Symantec.

  • Anonymous

    I, for one, consider myself a pretty knowledgeable computer user and have had them as a significant part of my life for many years now, certainly well over half of my life.  That being said, I cannot say that I would be able to look at this chart of anti-virus software and all the different things listed about them and be able to tell you with any certainty which one is better than another.  Even as a retail customer, I tend to go with whatever is the most readily available to me and seems like the biggest name I can afford.

    I realize this is not the most scientific manner with which to approach something like this, but in reality I think the method holds some water.  The anti virus software you choose is only going to be as good as the research and development team that is assigned with the task of ferreting out the viruses that assail your computer and diffusing them.  This costs money and takes time, therefore a smaller and lesser known provider would seem ill equipped to take on the task.

  • Anonymous

    I am feeling so overwhelmed on the whole anitvirus issue. I really just want something that quietly works in the background, keeping my computers safe from harm. You know, kind of like an antivirus ninja? I don't want to have to get an IT degree to operate it or understand the basics of how it works. All I want to do is turn my computer on and maybe get a little note that tells me all is well. Is that too much to ask for?

    I love the way you set them up so that they can be compared. I have one of the free versions of AVG on my system right now and it seems to do a decent job, but I don't know that it has ever encountered anything serious to deal with either. I don't roam the Web for porn or free games, so that probably goes a long way toward keeping things the way they should be. But I still want to buy an antivirus. You can call it overkill. I will call it preventing the next trip to the IT shop.

    I still have not decided on one yet, but I am still looking. What you really need to post on here is an article version of "Antivirus for Idiots" or something.