Choosing an anti-virus program is like choosing a bulletproof vest: you want the best possible protection, but not something that's going to slow you down.
Over at TechRadar, there's a roundup of 10 major anti-virus packages, 2011 editions all. The reviewers looked not only at the utilities' virus-whomping capabilities, but also their impact on system resources: "A modern tool should be expected to keep quiet until it has something important to say, and definitely not get in the way of the applications you're using." Amen!
So, what's the verdict? Which program deserves to stand guard over your precious PCs? Here's the rather surprising conclusion:
The most surprising thing about this antivirus test is how little difference there is between most security suites at the moment. If you buy antivirus, you'll get that.That being said, the reviewers gave the Editor's-choice nod to Norton Internet Security 2011, with Kaspersky Pure earning the "Performance award" for its high-end suite of security tools, and Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) claiming the "Value award" for being, well, free.
All are incredibly easy to use, and the majority scored a clean sweep in our tests. That makes it harder to recommend individual packages, but the good news is that as long as you stick with the known names, you're unlikely to buy a dud.
I'll second that: if you pair MSE with Windows 7's built-in security tools and one or two third-party extras, you've got everything you need to keep a PC secure -- everything except another expense.
That may seem like a bold statement, but I'm basing it on years of experience. I don't use commercial (i.e. fee-based) security tools, and I've never had a security problem. (Good thing I'm not superstitious, because I probably just jinxed myself.)
What are your thoughts on free-versus-fee security software? What's your current security tool of choice, and how do you like it? Let's keep the conversation going in the comments.
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