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Antivirus Guide

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Do you need antivirus help right now? If so, see:

Removing Viruses from a PC That Won’t Boot, Krebs On Security, March 29, 2010

Malware Troubles? Start from Square One, Roger Grimes, PC World, February 20, 2009

Spotting a PC Infection, Erik Larkin, PC World, February 2, 2009

Is It a Virus? Lincoln Spector, PC World, October 3 2008



Important Antivirus Tips

  • Not Just Antivirus -- Malware protection software (still called antivirus for marketing purposes) replaces separate products for antivirus, anti-spyware, anti-Trojan, and other Internet security and privacy threats.
  • Watch Out -- Do not buy or download any antivirus software without checking this list first: The 69 Worst Antivirus Scanners, Mary Landesman,, September 15, 2008; and How to Tell If That Pop-up Window Is Offering You a Rogue Anti-Malware Product, Tom Kelchner, Sunbelt Software, June 2009.
  • Microsoft Monthly Top Ten -- What you don't know about the Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool, Michael Horowitz, Computer World, February 5, 2009.The second Tuesday monthly updates include this automatic scanner.
  • Just One, Not Two -- Never use two antivirus products at the same time. Completely uninstall one before installing another. Use the vendor's uninstall utility or if not available, use the Windows XP add/remove software tool in the control panel.
  • Patches & Updates -- Antivirus software is only as effective as its most recent update because it is inherently reactive treating "known" threats. So when you install antivirus software, go to the vendor's web site and update the program and virus definitions immediately and then turn on the auto update feature (if it has one). If you want to be ready for the next big bad thing before your antivirus signatures can be updated, consider Zero-Day Protection.
  • Get Online Protection Too -- Consider using an Internet service provider or email service that includes server side antivirus and spam email filtering as a second layer of defense. If possible, use different antivirus software on your home computer than your ISP or service uses on their servers.
  • Consider a Gateway -- A Broadband Gateway product between your modem and network can screen out viruses before they hit your computer(s).
  • Spyware & Trojan Horses -- Some antivirus software products now include anti-spyware and some anti-spyware products have added antivirus. In addition, some of these products include anti-Trojan, anti-worm and other anti-malware features. Before relying on a single security product, carefully review the vendor's list of features and study comparative test results if available. See Editorial - Do you really need a spyware scanner? Gizmo Richards' Support Alert Newsletter, April 17, 2008. Also see our Security Suite, Anti-Spyware, Anti-Trojan and Zero-Day Protection pages.
  • Prices -- For current prices, see our custom AntiVirus Software 2011 Price List powered by or click on one of the products below. Widgets

Comparative Retail Antivirus Reviews

Based on our interpretation of comparative reviews by PC Mag, PC World, and Top Ten Reviews, we conclude that these are the top 18 out of 36 products. The "best"are Norton and Webroot; "better" options include Ad-aware, PC Tools, Avast, AVG, Bitdefender, G data, Kaspersky, and VIPRE; and "good" products include Avira, Comodo, eScan, F-secure, McAfee, MSE, Tread Micro and Panda Cloud.

  • AV-Test Reveals Vista Antivirus Results, Neil J. Rubenking, PC Mag, Jan 27, 2011
  • Antivirus 2011: Digital Defenders, Nick Mediati, PC World, Jan 24, 2011 -- Norton, BitDefender, G-Data, Kaspersky, Trend Micro, Avast Pro, Panda Pro, Avira AntiVir Premium, NOd 32, GFI VIPRE, ZoneAlarm Antivirus, Comodo, Webroot.
  • The Best Antivirus Software in 2011, Neil J. Rubenking, PC Mag, 01.13.2011
  • Free vs. Fee: Free and Paid Antivirus Programs Compared, Nick Mediati, PC World Nov 29, 2010
    • Top five free are Avast Free Antivirus, Avira AntiVir Personal, Microsoft Security Essential, Panda Cloud Antivirus, and Comodo Internet Security Premium
    • Top five paid are Norton Antivirus, BitDefender Antivirus Pro 2011, Avast Pro Antivirus 5, G-Data AntiVirus 2011, and Kaspersky Lab Internet Security 2011
  • AntiVirus Software 2011, TopTenReviews -- BitDefender, Kaspersky, Webroot, Norton, ESET Nod32, AVG, G DATA, Avira AntiVir, Vipre, Trend Micro Titanium, Avast! Pro, F-Secure, eScan, McAfee, ZoneAlarm, Lavasoft Ad-Aware, Panda, CA AntiVirus Plus, CyberDefender Early Detection Center, ParetoLogic Anti-Virus PLUS, Norman Antivirus & Antispyware, ViRobot Desktop, F-Prot
  • Analyst's View: Antivirus Rescue CDs, Neil J. Rubenking, PC Magazine, May 7, 2010 -- Antivir Rescue CD (free) (Direct Download), avast! BART CD ($149.95), AVG Rescue CD (free), BitDefender Rescue CD (free), F-Secure Rescue CD (free), Kaspersky Rescue Disk (free), Norton Bootable Recovery Tool (free with license), Panda SafeCD (free), PC Tools Alternate Operating System Scanner (free).

Market Share

  • North America Antivirus Market Share Report, OPSWAT, Sept 2010 -- The top five vendors are Symantec (Norton), AVAST, AVG, ESET, Microsoft for a total of 60% of the market. 12 other vendors share the remaining 40%.

 Top Four Retail Antivirus Software Products

Comparative Reviews of Free Antivirus Software

  • Best free antivirus for netbook, eeejournal, May 24, 2010 -- Avast, Avira and Panda
  • Top free security suites [mostly antivirus], Seth Rosenblatt, CNet, April 29, 2010 -- Avast Free Antivirus, AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition, Avira AntiVir Personal - Free Antivirus, Microsoft Security Essentials, Panda Cloud Antivirus Free Edition, ThreatFire AntiVirus Free Edition

Top Five Free Antivirus Software Products (alpha order)

Free Antivirus Tools

Free Online Antivirus Scanners

 Antivirus Testing