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What makes a good antivirus?

Choosing the best antivirus is not as easy as it might seem. Antivirus, Anti-Malware, Internet Security software, Anti-Spyware, there are so many similar products so what do you really need?

One of the most important factors should be malware detection scores from industry standardized testing labs. These labs conform to AMSTO guidelines which are the anti-malware industry standard. The most popular independent antivirus test labs are VirusBulletin, and AV-Comparatives. Reputable antivirus software providers will participate in regular virus testing by the labs who publically display the results of the tests. They use new zero day malware samples and test that the AV can detect and block the threats.

You may think well surely the antivirus which scores the highest is the best antivirus and you should just sign up for them. But it’s not that simple!

Yes the highest malware detection is great, but what if that particular AV would slow down your computer as their detection engine uses too much CPU? Or what if they are expensive, or have poor support and have bad customer reviews or if they don’t have the feature set you are looking for. Unless you are a government agency do you really need 99.8% detection over for example 99.3%.

That’s why we think you need to choose the antivirus which is right for your security needs. All the top AVs we review participate in some form of independent testing and to be honest there is very small margins between all of them when it comes to malware detection, probably due to most the top AVs sharing data to enable widespread user protection.

Some older antivirus software can really slow down your computer so if your machine is older maybe consider an AV which is known to be faster which we comment on in our reviews.

Antivirus providers can apply to become Microsoft approved vendors which involves regular testing of the performance of their software. This is different from malware detection scores these tests are designed to ensure you interact with the user’s computer in the desired Microsoft fashion and you run smoothly and efficiently on their computers. 

In 2021 you should always be looking for an antivirus which has URL blocking built in to protect you from phishing scams also an antivirus with real-time protection.

Instead of manually running a virus scan which you used to have to do, now the top antiviruses have real-time protection which means they stop threats in real time reaching your computer as they are always scanning instead of being on demand.

So the conclusion is there are many factors to consider when choosing your antivirus, just use all the information available to you and make the smart decision.