Before we get to the nitty gritty, I want to re-iterate that these kinds of test results should not be relied on too heavily when making decisions concerning anti-virus software; for starters they are generally testing against a comparatively tiny number of samples – in AV-Test’s case around 100 or so – and these tests cannot possibly accurately replicate actual real-world conditions. That said, I find the results interesting myself because they do at least provide some basis for comparison.
AV-Test.org is an independent organization which regularly tests consumer orientated security software and rubber stamps those achieving a set pass mark. The tests involve 3 categories, each scored on a six-point scale:
- Protection: gauges the software’s ability to blocks threats.
- Repair: evaluates how effective the software is at removing malware.
- Usability: is largely based on numbers of false positives (the more false positives, the lower the score).
- Eleven points total out of a possible 18 are required to receive AV-Test.org certification.
In its latest round of testing (July/August), for some strange reason AV-Test decided to use XP as the base operating system. Not that is should make any difference, I just find it unusual that they would choose an OS which is in decline over the more current Windows 7. I also find it strange that Avira Free Anti-Virus would be excluded, at least it does not appear in the list of test results… a rather glaring omission.
Anyway, here are the latest results for a selection of the most popular free anti-virus products:
|ZoneAlarm Free Anti-Virus + Firewall||5.0||5.5||5.5||16|
|Microsoft Security Essentials||2.5||4.5||6.0||13|
As you can see, the only one which didn’t meet the pass mark of 11/18 is Lavasoft Ad-Aware, with Panda Cloud just scraping through. These results don’t present any real shocks, although I must admit I was just a tad surprised at ZoneAlarm ranking above Avast.
Here is the same for a selection of the better known commercial anti-virus products:
|Kaspersky Internet Security||6.0||6.0||5.0||17|
|BitDefender Internet Security||5.5||6.0||5.0||16.5|
|Avira Internet Security||5.5||5.5||4.0||15|
|Norton Internet Security||5.5||4.5||5.0||15|
|McAfee Total Protection||4.0||4.5||4.0||12.5|
|Eset Smart Security||3.5||3.0||5.5||12|
|Trend Micro Titanium||4.5||3.5||3.5||11.5|
Again, no major shocks – and, if you compare test results between the top free and commercial products, you’ll see there are no significant differences.
If your particular anti-virus software doesn’t appear in the tables above, you can check out the full list of results at AV-Test.org.