Depending on whom you ask, paying for antivirus software is either a good investment or a total ripoff. In reality, neither viewpoint is accurate. You can find plenty of good reasons to choose a paid antivirus product, and plenty of good reasons to go with a freebie.
Stories by Nick Mediati
Avast Pro Antivirus 5 ($US40 for a single-PC, one-year license as of 11/23/2010) ranks third in our roundup of 2011 paid antivirus products. When PCWorld last looked at Avast's paid antivirus offering, our reviewer wasn't particularly impressed with either its interface or its malware detection capabilities. Avast Antivirus Pro 5, however, is a definite improvement, thanks to a slick new interface and some useful additional features. But middling detection capabilities relative to other paid antivirus software keep it from claiming a higher ranking.
Avast Free Antivirus 5 took the top spot in our late 2010 roundup of free antivirus software. It provides good, all-around malware detection in a speedy, well-designed package. We liked its easy installation process, smooth interface design, and minimal impact in system performance. However, although it wins out overall, its malware detection, while good, isn't the best we've seen.
Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2011 takes fifth place in our roundup of 2011 antivirus software, closely trailing fourth-place finisher G-Data AntiVirus 2011. It did a great job at stopping brand new malware attacks, and a reasonable -- though not top-notch -- job at detecting known malware, and it sports a well-designed interface. On the downside, its impact on PC performance was worse than average.
Avira AntiVir Personal ranked second in our late 2010 roundup of free antivirus products. AntiVir has strength where it counts most: It did a great job at detecting and blocking malware. That said, its interface needs some improvement.
Norton Antivirus has been a strong performer in recent years, and this year is no exception. Norton Antivirus 2011 ($US40 for a one-year, single-PC license as of 11/23/2010) comes in first in our roundup of 2011 paid antivirus products. It does a very good job at detecting and removing malware, and it has a smooth interface.
Panda Cloud Antivirus is a unique entry in the free antivirus race. Most free antivirus products still rely on signature updates to detect new malware, but Panda's program instead uses fresh data about malware direct from Panda's servers. As a result, Cloud Antivirus put up some excellent results in some malware detection tests, but its scan speeds were slower than we would have liked to see.
G-Data AntiVirus 2011 (US$30 for a single-PC, one-year license as of 11/23/2010) placed fourth -- albeit a close fourth -- in our roundup of 2011 antivirus products. G-Data continues its recent trend of strong malware detection, blocking, and removal in 2011, and couples it with a good interface.
When we looked at the beta of Microsoft Security Essentials in 2009, we were impressed with its clean, easy-to-use interface, but less so with its sluggish scan speed. This still holds true for Microsoft Security Essentials 1.0; also, it hasn't kept pace with newer antivirus products when it comes to detecting malware.
Comodo Internet Security Premium came in fifth in our late 2010 roundup of free antivirus products. Although it was last among the products we tested, it did a very good job at blocking brand-new malware. Its detection of known malware lagged behind top performers, though, and it tied for the most false positives.
BitDefender Antivirus Pro 2011 ($US40 for a one-year, three-PC license as of 11/23/2010) ranks second in our roundup of 2011 paid antivirus software. In our tests, it did a good job at detecting malware, and was the top performer at removing infections from a PC, which pushed it up the leaderboard, but it had some trouble blocking live malware attacks, preventing it from climbing any higher.
Ah yes, the on-again, off-again HP Slate running Windows 7. Before CES, it was a buzz-worthy expected product, but its brief appearance in Steve Ballmer's CES keynote left some rather disappointed. But a new video making the rounds on YouTube shows what might be the HP Slate in action, running Windows 7.
IE 9's main browser window takes minimalism to a new level.
Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 -- now in public beta -- is the newest version of Microsoft's browser. Compared with IE 8, it's faster, with a streamlined interface. But it's also still A beta, and unsurprisingly, some areas still need refinement.
With all the attention paid to Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox in recent years, it's easy to forget that Internet Explorer is still the World's most widely used Web browser.