There was a time when I would not connect a computer to a network or the internet without a current subscription to a paid antivirus product. Today however none of my computers have a paid antivirus program installed on them. Why is that?
Let’s start with the fact that I can not remember the last time I had to remove a virus infection, neither can the other techs I work with and talk to. Spyware? Sure. Malware? Yup. Crypto programs? Oh yeah. None of those are really viruses however and most virus protection programs will actually do more harm than good against Crypto anyway (deleting the key so you can’t get your data back even if you did pay).
Today the real problem is spyware and malware. Antivirus manufacturers realize this and have been building in antispyware capabilities into their products at a furious pace.
That being said, why wouldn’t you want a paid program to protect you from that? Because the free ones do just as good a job.
Now I know what you are thinking, the free versions have always been better than nothing but never as good as the paid versions. That has changed. Don’t take my word for it though, let’s look at the experts.
The results above are from www.av-comparatives.org, a leading independent antivirus comparison group. These results are the latest they had when I started writing this article and what I want you to see is that Avira, a free antivirus, doesn’t rank near the top, it is at the very top. In fact, it scores as high as is possible. Kaspersky, the king of protection for many years scores equally, not better. So you want to pay for Kaspersky and get no better protection than the free Avira?
OK, so maybe this is a fluke, a one time thing, lets look at the previous month:
Yup, same thing, Avira and Kaspersky both score as high as can be. Fine, maybe this is a recent thing, lets look back at the beginning of the year:
Look at that, Avira missed a perfect score, but so did Kaspersky! Not only that but both scores are so close to the top for the drop to be pretty much insignificant.
So maybe these people over at www.av-comparatives.org are not as independent as they want you to think and they really like Avira, lets check out www.av-test.org, another leading independent antivirus comparison group and see what they have to say.
Avira is still right at the top! Not only that, they are a recommended product! But wait, why does it say Avira Pro? That’s because they tested the pro version which uses the same definitions as the free version. Yes, the pro version gets you more features but the basic protection is the same.
So could this be a one time thing for www.av-test.org?
Nope, doesn’t look that way.
So what does all this mean? It means that for 99% of my non-business clients I am recommending you switch to Avira free. For smaller businesses I am making the same recommendations. For larger businesses, or other clients where .05% (that’s half of one percent) better protection could be a life saver, I recommend Bitdefender as it has been scoring higher lately than even Kaspersky.
For more information, or a different take on the situation, check out Tom’s Guide for best antivirus products of 2016. You may notice that his top tier paid antivirus pick is actually Kaspersky which is an excellent product, however this is because of additional features and NOT because it offers better protection than Bitdefender.
Enjoy and stay safe surfing out there!