As my colleague Colin often says . . . to paraphrase him . . . “There’s no such thing as the ‘best’ antivirus”. Many people often write a question in forums: “What’s the best antivirus?” It’s like wine . . . it’s a matter of taste . . . what you’re comfortable with, and what “plays and works well” with the other stuff on your system. Nevertheless, all of them may exhibit some problems. Antivirus programs are notoriously cranky.

The most common bash on McAfee and Norton is that they are resource hogs.

AVG, Avast, and Avira’s Antivirus are three that have gained a reputation for not taking up many resources, and they all have good detection capabilities. Though the latest version of AVG has taken a hit as a resource hog.

As far as virus detection itself, they are all pretty good . . . retail or free, and the ratings that the trade magazines give them are all within a few percentage points. I don’t think any one is a whole lot better than the other (of course, there are a few slackers out there, but if you stay with the brand names and exercise good security best practices, you’ll be pretty safe).

Bottom line: As I said, it’s mostly a matter of personal preference and what you AND YOUR SYSTEM (Norton is notorious for not playing well with systems) are most comfortable with. No doubt, though, you’ll find plenty of people that will bash individual products. (And I think I just bashed Norton there!)

And if you visit Manufacturer forums, just keep in mind that most people come to those forums to complain about problems they’ve had, so your information from them is going to be skewed. Very few people visit a forum just to say “Atta’ boy”.

And what ever you decide to pick, it’s a good idea to run an online scan now and then, because what your local protection misses (and they all miss some things), an online scan may detect.

Online Scan Roundup:

  1. Panda ActiveScan 2.0
  2. Kaspersky
  3. Symantec Security check
  4. Trend Micro Housecall
  5. McAfee
  6. BitDefender
  7. F-Secure
  8. NOD32
  9. VirScan – This is just for selected files, NOT the whole machine.
  10. Virustotal – This is just for selected files, NOT the whole machine.

BTW, my own personal favorite is Avira’s Antivirus free version, but I would be quick to say that though I am comfortable with the GUI and it works and plays well with the other stuff on my machine, IT MAY NOT BE THE BEST FOR YOU.