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Antivirus Software: Choosing the Top Picks

The Final Cut for 2003 Finalists

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ITW test results: Of the remaining products, those achieving 100% detection of ITW viruses with both the on-access and on-demand scanners were BitDefender Professional, Frisk's F-Prot for Windows, McAfee VirusScan Home, Nod32, Norman's Virus Control, Norton AV 2003, Panda AV Platinum, and PC-cillin 2002. Of these, only Nod32 scored less than 90% on Zoo detection (86.97%). Both BitDefender and Nod32 had higher false positive rates (.22% and .29% respectively). The complete test results</A> will be published on the AV-Test.org website.

Performance and Useability: No product will be effective if users do not understand how to use it, if certain features are absent, or if it has a negative impact on their system. At a minimum, users should expect smooth performance as well as on-demand, on-access, and right-click scanning. The right-click scanning should launch the scan and not simply open up the program dialog. Most importantly, the right-click scanner should scan the file regardless of file-type or its inclusion or exclusion status in the program. The product should be able to update easily and should allow for full customization of the types of files to be scanned. Finally, the product should work well on a range of systems and not adversely affect system performance.

Before settling on any of the recommended products, choose a few to test on your system(s) to ensure there are no adverse performance issues or useability factors that might make your use of the software less comfortable. Antivirus software that causes system conflicts or is deemed obtrusive is far more likely to be disabled, uninstalled or improperly used.

Top Picks: Before you buy antivirus software for Windows PCs, be sure to check out the Top Picks, chosen based on the criteria outlined above. You can then test a free evaluation copy of each of the selected scanners, to find the antivirus product that works best for your particular system. For other tips on making the right antivirus purchasing decision, consult Before You Buy Antivirus Software, also from your About Antivirus Guide.

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