The Top Rated Anti-Virus Software For PCs

We surveyed top review sites such as PC Magazine, PC World, AV-Comparatives, Amazon, CNET, and Download.com, to compile this list of top rated anti-virus software:

Norton AntiVirus 2011

Norton AntiVirus 2011

Norton AntiVirus 2011 ($17)

Top Review Sources:

  • PC Magazine: 4.5/5.0 “Editors’ Choice”
  • PC World: 4.5/5.0 “#1 Paid Antivirus for 2011”
  • AV-Comparatives: Advanced+ Certification – Performance Test

Symantec’s Norton AntiVirus 2011 is an excellent product with a familiar name. The Norton brand has been around for some time, but Symantec manages to keep things fresh and effective with AntiVirus 2011. In lab tests, AntiVirus 2011 earns top marks across the board for virus detection, and reviewers experience similar real-world results. Within the last few years, Norton AntiVirus has been under fire for software bloat—the tendency for a program to grow and become sluggish as new editions are released. With AntiVirus 2011, those criticisms are decisively answered; reviewers’ praise Norton for its quick installation and quick scan times. Couple those attributes with a low overall impact on system performance and you have a winning combination.

Symantec’s Norton AntiVirus 2011 is for sale on Amazon.

Webroot AntiVirus with Spy Sweeper 2011

Webroot AntiVirus with Spy Sweeper 2011

Webroot AntiVirus with Spy Sweeper 2011 ($29)

Top Review Sources:

  • PC Magazine: 4.5/5.0 “Editors’ Choice”
  • Amazon: 4.0/5.0 (150+ reviews)
  • AV-Comparatives: Scanning Speed Test – 4th Place (20 products tested)

Webroot AntiVirus with Spy Sweeper 2011 was delayed several times before its release, and it seems the program’s developers used the time wisely. Webroot AntiVirus is universally praised for its clean and easy-to-use interface. On top of that, Webroot Antivirus updates itself silently and runs virus scans during computer idle time—there is no need to schedule updates or scans. The product is also considered by most to be light on system resources, though a handful of real-world users report otherwise. While Webroot AntiVirus generated a higher-than-average number of false positives in lab tests, its overall scanning speed and detection rates are very good.

Webroot AntiVirus with Spy Sweeper 2011 is available on Amazon.

ESET NOD32 Antivirus 4

ESET NOD32 Antivirus 4

ESET NOD32 Antivirus 4 ($30)

Top Review Sources:

  • CNET: 5.0/5.0 “NOD32’s speed, accuracy, and lack of impact on resources make it a must”
  • Amazon: 4.0/5.0 (30+ reviews)
  • AV-Comparatives: Advanced+ Certification – Performance Test

ESET’s NOD32 Antivirus has been building its reputation as an effective security product since the 1990s. In particular, NOD32 is known for its superior protection against new and emerging threats. Thoughtful extras include a battery-extending mode for laptop users and self-hiding security popups when another program (such as a game or video) is in full-screen mode. NOD32’s interface is efficient and non-intimidating, reflecting the industry-wide trend toward greater simplicity in design. Installation is fast, and impact on computer speed is negligible. ESET NOD32 Antivirus 4 is (marginally) the most expensive antivirus software here.

ESET NOD32 Antivirus 4 is for sale on Amazon.

Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2011

Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2011

Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2011 ($20)

Pros:

  • Great virus protection
  • Clean interface
  • Phone, email, and chat support

Cons:

  • Can slow down system performance
  • Real-world detection rate slightly lower than lab results

Top Review Sources:

  • PC World: One of the “Top 5 Paid Antivirus for 2011”
  • AV-Comparatives: Advanced+ Certification – Retrospective/Proactive and On Demand Tests
  • Amazon: 4.0/5.0 (90+ reviews)

Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2011 performs strongly on virus detection and cleanup, as evidenced by its top scores in lab tests. Though some reviewers note Anti-Virus 2011’s slightly less satisfying real-world results, the product is still ahead of most antivirus programs in protection capability. Its interface is at the front of the pack for ease-of-use and customization features. Though some users report a noticeable impact on system performance, the majority are pleased with Anti-Virus 2011’s small footprint and fast scan times. Also nice are features like the “hot spot”, which allows you to drag a suspect file onto the program window to scan it, and a scan time estimator.

You can purchase Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2011 on Amazon.

avast! Free AntiVirus 6

avast! Free AntiVirus 6

avast! Free AntiVirus 6 (Free)

Pros:

  • Free
  • Top-notch detection rate
  • Anti-spyware included

Cons:

  • Relatively slow installation
  • Limited phone support; no email or chat support

Top Review Sources:

  • CNET: 4.5/5.0 “the core features are what make it one of the best security suites around”
  • PC World: 4.5/5.0 “#1 Free Antivirus for 2011”
  • Dowload.com User Reviews: 4.5/5.0 (19,000+ reviews)

avast! Free AntiVirus 6 builds on the success of its predecessor (AntiVirus 5) to deliver a widely-acclaimed security solution free of charge. avast! receives an “Advanced” certification from AV-Comparatives, indicating it performs at or near the top in on-demand detection. In the same series of tests, AV-Comparatives did not find another antivirus program that surpassed the speedy scanning times of avast!. Other review sources agree, citing avast!’s overall speed and low impact on system performance. avast!’s modern and functional interface also draws universal praise. As with the majority of free antivirus software, avast! offers limited technical support options and you will have to deal with advertisements to upgrade to paid versions of the program.

avast! Free AntiVirus 6 is available for download on the manufacturer’s website.

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