Free Anti-Virus Comparison ReviewGuest_Jim_* - April 9, 2013
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Now we get to see how these different programs perform compared to each other! But first, my system specs more conveniently listed:
- Processor: AMD Turion X2 RM-70 @ 2.0 GHz
- Motherboard: Quanta 30F1 (Socket M2/S1G1)
- Memory: 3.00 GB DDR2 @ 399MHz (6-6-6-18)
- GPU: ATI Radeon HD 3200 Graphics
- Hard Drive: 60GB OCZ-VERTEX ATA Device (SSD)
- OS: Windows 7- Home Premium 64-bit
Antivirus/Malware Software Tested
- Avast! Antivirus
- AVG Antivirus Free Edition
- Immunet (ClamAV)
- Malwarebytes Anti-Malware
- Microsoft Security Essentials
- Panda Cloud Antivirus
All of the tests were performed with the other programs as disable as possible. As some of the programs cannot be prevented from running upon startup, their real-time protection was disabled.
As we can see here, Microsoft Security Essentials took the longest time to scan at two and a half fours while AVG took the least. However, multiple scans reveal the length of time to complete a scan can vary, even when using identical settings. With the exception of the Panda time result, MSE, and AVG, these results are the time it took to complete the first complete scan with the program. (An unnecessary setting I enabled in Panda greatly increased its scan time and I already run MSE and AVG on the machine.) Of course, time is not everything because it is what the scanner does with that time that really matters.
(AVG scanned 1,921,932 objects.)
Here we see something interesting starting to take shape as some programs simply did more (occasionally much more) than others. Look at Immunet for example, which was one of the fastest scanners. It actually scanned the least number of files, so that fast speed may not mean a great deal. AVG took approximately the same amount of time (actually one minute faster) yet it scanned the most files of all the scanners. Based on its scores at AV-Test.org, AVG is not just skimming over the files for that speed.
Here we can really admire the performance of these scanners, besides how many computer resources they take. The latter data is really just anecdotal though, as I do not have information on the total length of the scans, so you will have to read the previous sections to get that.
So which program would be the best choice? The answer seems to be AVG Antivirus Free Edition, given its exceptional performance and numerous of features. The next best is apparently Panda Cloud Antivirus, given its impressive performance, though it is lacking in features, and I have no issue with personally recommending it second, after AVG. I am not sure if I will replace MSE with Panda on my computers, but until Microsoft improves its zero-day threat performance, that may not be a bad plan. Hopefully they will not misbehave together, which they have not thus far.
As the other feature-rich antivirus, Avast! Antivirus comes in third, performance wise, to AVG. Personally though, my preference would be to consider Microsoft Security Essentials as third, but that may be my own bias talking. Avast definitely has a rich feature set which may go very far in protecting you, but I just found it too intrusive for my taste. Of course MSE is lacking in both features (not always a bad thing) and performance, so really only its simplicity and the Microsoft name gives a recommendation for it much weight. Perhaps it would be best to say Avast has won at this moment in time, but if MSE can get its detection-act together then the table may turn.
Immunet, very simply, is not something I can recommend. Its CPU usage can explode to and stay at 100%, unlike any other program on this list, and yet it is the slowest of all of these.
Malwarebytes occupies a different place on this list, given its free version's lack of features found in these other tools. Keeping it installed for emergencies is not a bad plan, but it is not a 24/7 security solution, without paying. It is neither particularly thorough nor particularly fast, based on the counts of things scanned and time for the first full scan I ran. However it has a reputation of catching and removing malware other scanners do not. That puts me in the curious position of recommending you remember it exists when something goes wrong, but otherwise, you will want something else.