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Security software showdown! 9 antivirus suites empirically tested

Nick Mediati and Sarah Jacobsson Purewal | Jan. 29, 2013
We tested security suites on PCs, tablets, and phones to evaluate how well they protect against viruses and other threats.

4. Bitdefender Internet Security 2013 - 4.5 stars (Superior). Bitdefender has a user-friendly interface that will appeal to people of all experience levels.

5. Kaspersky Internet Security 2013 - 4 stars (Very Good). Kaspersky lets both beginners and advanced users get the most out of its suite, and scored well in our tests.

6. McAfee Internet Security 2013 - 4 stars (Very Good). McAfee didn't earn top marks, but it's still a proficient, user-friendly antimalware program.

7. G Data InternetSecurity 2013 - 3.5 stars (Very Good). G Data has an effective suite, but in­­stallation is a hassle, with a settings panel that's more suited to advanced users.

8. AVG Internet Security 2013 - 3.5 stars (Very Good). AVG's security program is perfectly re­­spectable. But perfectly respectable just doesn't cut it these days.

9. Avira Internet Security 2013 - 3.5 stars (Very Good). This suite is competent at detecting, disabling, and cleaning up malware, but its user interface is unfriendly.

BEST OVERALL: F-Secure Internet Security 2013 

F-Secure's 2013 suite kept our test system free of malware and did a great job of cleaning up infections that made it onto our PC. It's speedy and well designed, too.

BEST PROTECTION: Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security 2013

This suite had the most well rounded protection of all the suites we looked at. It proved effective at keeping malware at bay and at cleaning up infected PCs.

BEST SPEED: Norton Internet Security 

The days of Norton being ridiculed as slow are long gone: Norton's newest suite had lightning-quick scan times, and its impact on overall PC performance was minimal.

BEST INTERFACE: Norton Internet Security 

We liked Norton's polished, easy-to-use interface and one-click installation process. It's also designed to be Windows 8-friendly.

A competitive field

The security software market is highly competitive and it showed in our test results. In our testing, no suite detected less than 97.8 percent of recent known malware samples, and blocked below around 94.4 percent of new malware in our "real-world" attack-blocking tests. False positives were also largely a non-issue. But if you look closely, there are still some notable differences.

We noticed a fairly wide difference in terms of ease of use between the suites we looked at. While some-like Norton and Trend Micro-were very user friendly and polished, others-like Avira and G Data-were less so and seemed to be designed with
expert users in mind.

In the end, even the lower-ranked suites performed reasonably well, but simply didn't stand out enough to claim a higher ranking.

What you don't get in these suites


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