Milos Korenko

26 September 2011

Could Free Antivirus be the best?

Is free antivirus really the best? Can you depend on it? Is free antivirus better than…? These are typical rhetorical questions from someone who is trying to SELL computer protection to you. Since we are providing Free Antivirus, we of course know the answer ;) Rhetorical or not, let’s try to answer it.

First of all, it is a fact that there is no computer security that will give you 100% protection against all malware ALL the time. If someone tells you otherwise, he is not telling you the truth or he is in an ‘election year’. Independent tests from respected independent organizations show clearly that antivirus solutions typically run detection rates that are very close to 100% BUT not 100%. Typically, the best products will have a 98.xx% to 99.xx% detection rate. Now, there are well over 30 000 new unique viruses appearing EVERY DAY and that means that missing just 0.1% equals to letting through 30 pieces of malware. Of course, you would be extremely unlucky if you managed to get all 30,000 viruses attacking your machine in one day. I’d call that a very bad Monday ;) Therefore, even the 99% protection level will keep you protected most of the time.

With these basics covered, let’s see how it is with the protection. During last 2 years, avast! Free Antivirus has scored in tests of AV Comparatives and Virus Bulletin 98.4%, 99.3%, 98.9%, 96.2% and 97.7%.

How did the paid-for versions fare during the same period?
Kaspersky: 97.0%, 98.3%, 97.06%, 96.9%, 98.4%
Norton/Symantec: 95.5%, 98.7%, 97.9%, 91.0%
ESET: 97.5%, 98.6%, 96.9%, 98.3%, 97.1%
McAfee: 96.8%, 99.4%, 94.9%, 95.5%, 94.0%

So the answer is clear: free antivirus will give you a similar level of protection to that offered by paid-for products. To make the comparison easier, we have prepared a simple page with the test results from last two years for all main security brands. It covers detection and 7 other important criteria such as the rate of False Positives, Scanning Speed and Required Computer resources.
Have a look and a good start to your week!

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