Kaspersky, Bitdefender, and Avira are the best AV suites out there, according to AV-Test

avtest antivirus windows most effective avira anti virus suite convention
Aleksej Penkov/123rf
If you want the best virus protection out there, Kaspersky, Bitdefender, and Avira are the top three. ThreatTrack and Comodo, meanwhile, are among the worst.

That’s according the latest round of tests by AV Test, an independent IT security institute based in Megdeburg, Germany. The firm’s December 2015 results for Windows 8.1 devices compared 20 different anti-malware programs for protection, performance, and usability.

avtest-results-december-2015

The results, outlined in the chart above, add findings based on three different ratings:

  • Protection, which rates how effective a given application is at detecting viruses
  • Performance, which rates how much a given application impacts your system while running
  • Usability, which rates how many false positives a given application shows users after testing.

By these metrics, the best possible antivirus will detect nearly all actual malware, will not use up a lot of system resources, and will not see malware where none exists. The chart makes for an interesting overview, but download the complete report and you can dig more into the specifics.

For example: At this point, most applications catch over 99 percent of well-known malware. Many, including Kaspersky and BitDefender, caught absolutely everything. But Comodo was shown to be particularly weak here, catching only 96.1 percent of the known malware that should be easy to spot.

The real difference comes when you get to 0-day malware, which is yet to be documented widely but is possible to spot based on patterns. Nearly half the programs tested caught everything; most caught over 98 percent. ThreatTrack, however, caught a pitiful 78.3 percent. Also weak in this category: Microsoft’s Windows Defender, which is the protection included with Windows right out of the box, and which demonstrated only a 90-percent catch rate.

But there is such a thing as being too zealous: pointing out malware where none exists can confuse users and waste time. AhnLab’s software seems to enjoy falsely labeling legitimate software as malware, with 18 installed programs falsely identified. F-Secure also falsely declared nine legitimate apps as malware. Most programs didn’t do this, however, or only falsely labeled one app.

This all could change, of course — malware is a fast-moving world, and this month’s test results might not stand up next month. That’s why it’s good that AV Test is regularly running these tests, to keep the security companies accountable.

Computing

Opera web browser targets enhanced accessibility with major redesign

The browser wars are heating up. In the latest move for Opera, a new development release pushes it even closer to Chrome with a redesign and overall goal of redefining the modern web browser. 
Computing

These are the 6 best free antivirus apps to help protect your MacBook

Malware protection is more important than ever, even if you eschew Windows in favor of Apple's desktop platform. Thankfully, protecting your machine is as easy as choosing from the best free antivirus apps for Mac suites.
Computing

Windows 7 is still immensely popular. Is it really better than Windows 10?

With the end of support of Windows 7 approaching, have you been holding off on upgrading to Windows 10? In this guide, we give look at some of the biggest differences between the most popular operating systems.
Cars

Keep your driving record squeaky clean with these top-flight radar detectors

Nobody likes getting a speeding ticket, but these gadgets can help. Check out our picks for the best radar detectors on the market, from the likes of Valentine One, Escort, and Beltronics.
Computing

Is your PC grinding to a halt? Here are a few ways to speed it up

Unlike fine wine and good cheese, your computer doesn't get better with age. Fortunately, these 10 tips will show how to speed up Windows, regardless of which version of Microsoft's popular OS you're currently running.
Computing

Breaking: Amazon won’t build headquarters in New York in face of opposition

Amazon has canceled plans for a New York City headquarters afer citizens, civic groups, and politicians pushed back on Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's exclamation of economic joy over Amazon's earlier…
Computing

DLSS is finally arriving in games, but how does Nvidia's super-sampling actually work?

Nvidia's new DLSS technology is exciting, but what is it and how does it work? It's not quite anti-aliasing and it's not quite super sampling. It's a little bit of both and the end results can be impressive.
Computing

A new Mac Pro is supposedly coming in 2019, but what will it be like?

Our Mac Pro 2019 rumor roundup covers all the top news, leaks, and rumors about the new Mac Pro set to be announced sometime in 2019. Here's what Apple has said, what the experts think, and what's likely to show up with the new Mac Pro.
Gaming

Take to the virtual skies with these free flight simulators

You don't have to spend the entirety of your paycheck to become a virtual ace, at least when it comes to flight simulation. Our list of the best free flight simulators will let you unleash your inner Maverick.
Gaming

Wage war on a budget with these fun and free first-person shooters

We all know about Halo and Call of Duty by now, but what about quality titles that won't cost you upward of $60? Check out our picks for the best free first-person shooter games from Paladins to Quake Champions.
Computing

Enjoy Windows on a Chromebook with these great tips and tricks

If you want to push the functionality of your new Chromebook to another level, and Linux isn't really your deal, you can try installing Windows on a Chromebook. Here's how to do so in case you're looking to nab some Windows-only software.
Computing

Switch your WMA files for MP3s with our quick conversion tips

The WMA codec may be great when it comes to multi-channel surround sound, but unfortunately, it falters in terms of compatibility. Check out our guide on how to convert WMA files to MP3 via web-based or desktop methods.
Computing

Looking for a new laptop? These 5 notebooks are on sale through Presidents’ Day

If you're ready to ditch your aging notebook, you can score some fantastic Presidents' Day savings right now on Microsoft's Surface Pro 6, Dell's XPS 13, HP's Spectre x360, Lenovo's Yoga C930, and Dell's G5 15 Gaming laptops.
Virtual Reality

Getting into VR is spendy. Which headset is truly worth your hard-earned cash?

Virtual reality has finally gone mainstream, but how do you find the best VR headset for you? Check out a few of our favorites, whether you want the best of the best or a budget alternative for your mobile device.