Friday, November 26, 2010

Anti-Virus Software

For a number of years, I have been a strong advocate of Kaspersky Anti-Virus software. A few years back it was the ultimate choice of many large corporations, and did well in the reviews.

Unfortunately a few major revisions later they have not managed to maintain the quality of their offering. With each update, the software has become much more resource hungry.

I work with a lot of customers who wish to preserve the life of their old PCs. These machines are running old versions of Windows (usually XP) with a moderate processor and limited amount of memory. Many were complaining that their machines were running too slow. The solution in most cases was to pause Kaspersky. The machine was significantly faster, but they were left extremely vulnerable to any viruses or malware.

So it is time to have a good look round at the alternatives. A news article caught my eye recently saying that a thorough and independent lab test had rated the free Microsoft offering above many of the traditional packages that were sold on a subscription basis.

Trying to search Google for advice about anti-virus software is a nightmare. All the top articles are either sponsored by an anti-virus company and hence are very biased, or you will come across illegitimate anti-virus software that actually infects your computer.

So who is this independent lab whose review I am basing my new recommendation on? NSS Labs. Their Consumer Anti-Malware Products: Group Test Report Q3 2010 is available free at this link.

They tested 11 leading products, two of which are free. AVG has been available for a number of years, but the Microsoft addition is relatively new. And I really like the look of the Microsoft product. It has above average scores for Malware blocking and Exploit blocking, and has the joint-best rating for performance. Add to this its free, and the convenience that it is updated through the normal windows update system and this has to be my new favourite.

I note that the report also compares this year's findings with the previous year. In 2009 Kaspersky was second in the rankings detecting 87.8% of malware against an average of 80.2% for the group. This year Kaspersky detected 71.3% against an average of 74.1%. For performance Microsoft is rated 8 times better.

The guidance in this year's report is that AVG and ESET are poor. F-Secure, McAfee and Trend Micro were recommended and the remaining 6 (including Microsoft) were rated neutral.

The main problem for my customers is the performance impact of the anti-virus software. Cost is also a large factor for them. The product I will recommend was not the top rated for malware detected, but it still does a respectable job in both categories.

To summarise the next time I need to renew or install anti-virus protection, I will be selecting Microsoft. Click here to visit the Microsoft Security Essentials website.