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4 Places To Find Up-To-Date Antivirus Test Results Online

antivirus-test-header

Do you know how effective your antivirus programs is? A variety of organizations regularly compare antivirus programs, throwing a large amount of malware samples at them, seeing how they perform, and ranking them in comparison to each other.

It would be very time-consuming to test 30 different antivirus programs in virtual machines with a large amount of malware samples yourself, which is why these test results are so useful.

West Coast Labs

West Coast Labs provides “real-time” test results for popular free antivirus products: Microsoft Security Essentials, Avira, Avast, AVG, and PC Tools. These antivirus programs are tested against a stream of newly-collected malware samples gathered 24/7. The real-time nature of the results is unique. Other organizations put together new test results monthly – or even less often.

west-coast-labs-mse-test

Virus Bulletin

Virus Bulletin magazine regularly tests antivirus products. Products that detect all virus samples with no false positives receive the VB100 award. To see how an antivirus program is doing, you can look at a variety of reports, including a chart that averages performance over the last four tests and a summary of the last five tests. The products at the top of the chart are doing fairly well, while you’re probably better off avoiding the products that are consistently at the bottom.

virus-bulletin-test-results-chart

AV-Comparatives

AV-Comparatives regularly performs a variety of tests, including real-world protection tests, file detection tests, and malware removal tests. The results of these tests are published on their website. For a quick look at how different antivirus programs are doing, you can view a chart of real-world test results or read the annual summary report. This report is published in December of each year and summarizes how the security products performed in tests over the previous year.

av-comparatives-chart

AV Test

AV Test performs regular tests of antivirus programs, ranking their ability to protect a computer, how well they repair infections, and their usability (which includes how much they slow down your computer). The test results are display how well an antivirus performed on different versions of Windows, although no Windows 8 test results are available yet.

av-test-windows-7[4]


You don’t necessarily have to switch antivirus products if your program isn’t at the very top of the charts – these results change from month to month, anyway – but these test results can give you an idea of how well your antivirus is performing. If you’re using one of the products that’s consistently at the bottom of the charts, you’ll probably want to switch. While these tests may not be perfect, they’re the best thing we have for evaluating how effective antivirus programs actually are.

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

  • Published 11/24/12

Comments (12)

  1. Bobby

    Shouldn’t Virus Total be on this list? In a way, it’s a good indication of what catches what. I keep a vault of old viruses and sometimes I’ll analyze them with Virus Total to see which antivirus can detect these…

    You’d be surprised. 5 year old virus, gets detected by only a 3rd of antivirus engines.

  2. Keeprunning

    Read customer reviews before switching av software. I almost switched to bitdefender based on the information above, but reading customer reviews pushed me back. Words like “poor east european company”, “bad customer service”, “slowing computer”, “deleting personal files in safebox” etc. expose the other side of the protection.

  3. TechGeek01

    You gys know ths aeticle shows up twice in the RSS feed, right?

  4. Me

    @Bobby — VT is good, but scans a target on demand using multiple engines. These are all overall results comparing the engines.

    Re old viruses: years ago I ran my own tests with ~100 floppy & doc viruses I’d collected at work and found the same thing. I asked my McAfee rep about it and they responded, “We remove old and inactive virus signatures from our database.”

    I’d assume the same thing is still happening — because after all, no _ever_ restores old files from backup tapes, do they?

    @KeepR: I completely agree, but also remember that there are a few users are either morons or trolls. A lot of good comments with only a few complaints — examine those complains Very Carefully to make sure they’re accurate. OTOH, discard a few of the “Best Ever” glowing reports as well.

  5. Chemical

    There is absolutely no need to pay for antivirus protection.

    With free offerings such as Microsoft Security Essentials (Microsoft finally steps up to the plate to better protect their O.S.) AVG, Avast, and Panda Cloud you can put your wallet away.

  6. Jane

    2001-2007 I used AVG only got few viruses, only real pain was downloading new version, removing old version, installing new version.Then talking a few friends thru the same process over the phone. grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr…. that really was painful

    2007- got new computer with Vista and issues with AVG. Avast was one of few that would work and sounded most user friendly.

    Avast gave me no problems. After a period of time, a newer version was released. Only way I knew was with a popup saying my Avast Program engine was updated.

    I checked and sure enogh, Avast installed its’ own new version and removed old. I fell in love.

    The next time my friends called about updating AVG, I talked them thru the switch and none of us have looked back.

  7. Bgarner

    I agree with you, Jane. Also a former AVG user with all the same issues. Switched to Avast & am so glad I did. Very user friendly and simple to use.

  8. EIW

    I clicked on West Coast Labs … Real Time Tets and this is what I got..

    To read the full review get the May 2011 issue of PC & Tech Authority on sale from April 6.

    MAY 2011??? Real time tests? give me a break.

  9. CJ

    Another VERY useful article from Mr Hoffman. Plus it’s nice to have the professional recommendations I have been making for years vindicated. I agree with Jane, above, on AVG. It used to be my number one recommendation, until Avast came out and was much simpler and caused me much fewer support phone calls. I have now personally installed either Avast or Security Essentials on over 800 client and/or friend machines in the past 5 years. I almost never touch a machine without doing so.

    The deciding factor between the 2 is simple: If the client is savvy enough not to get sucked into the paid version of Avast, (or well off enough to afford it, good companies do deserve some support!) I install Avast, first choice. Paid Avast is also installed on all the servers I admin.

    If the above conditions are not present, (fixed income elderly clients who barely know which mouse button to use, for instance) I install Security Essentials.

    I have seen both products fail to prevent virus or malware infection, sure. But damn rarely. And usually only when someone insists on installing some crap even when they are warned.

  10. Ran

    Having been in the business for 18 yrs now over 90% of my virus calls are with computers that have one of these free programs on it. being cheap on line these days is not worth it.Just keep all your important data pics and such back-up. I am great-full for such articles. It helps everyone become a little wiser. Just remember you get what you pay for, always have and always will.

  11. Ron

    I have my own business as well and most of my virus calls are people running MS Essentials, or some other free AV. (Fixed a Win 7 with MS Essentials last night that was so infectected, couldn’t use the machine.) That service call cost them what a paid product would have cost.

  12. Jay

    Ran and Ron must sell anti-virus programs as the 10 years that I’ve had a computer I never got a virus and all I use are the free programs mentioned above.

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