Best Windows Antivirus Comparison 2015

Which is the best antivirus program for Windows in 2015? We’ve analyzed the results of four independent comparisons to bring you the winners.

For many people, the PC is still the place where we keep our most important files and what we use for a large part of our work and leisure activities. Protecting your PC is the equivalent of protecting the value of your digital identity.

A good antivirus is the cornerstone of security in Windows. While the industry may be in crisis, especially as Windows has improved its own security defenses, most of us still need an antivirus program.

To save you time and effort, we’ve analyzed the result of the most prestigious independent benchmarks. The results, together with our interpretation, will help you choose the best antivirus for 2015.

Which comparisons did we use?

AV-Comparatives

This Austrian company has been carrying out a monthly analysis of the best antivirus programs on the market since 1999. Its comparison involves testing infecting websites. For this comparison, we used data from August to December 2014. We also used the results of the performance test, which measures the time it takes a PC to carry out various operations such as copying archives or opening a PDF.

AV-Test

In its German lab, the team from AV-Test analyzes many antiviruses each day. Its security test uses a proprietary program, which verifies if malware has been blocked, and how this is done. We’ve used data from December 2014 here. AV-Test also analyzes performance, measuring how long it takes to perform 13 common actions, such as downloading archives, installing programs, or opening Office.

Dennis Technology Labs

Dennis’s antivirus labs uses its own methodology to analyze the best antivirus software. The test not only measures how many threats are detected, but also how many false positives show up. The test’s score indicates the accuracy of each antivirus scan. The most recent results from the period October to December 2014 give scores for the ten most important antivirus programs.

Virus Bulletin (VB100)

Since 1989, VB has been one of the leading authorities on antivirus programs and malware analysis. Its VB100 test subjects antivirus software to the most rigorous of tests, which takes into account false positives and failed attempts. For the comparison, we’ve taken data from its Reactive and Proactive (RAP) test, which measures the percentage of previously unknown viruses that have been successfully blocked.

Protection: which program best detects malware?

How effective are antivirus programs at detecting newly emerging malware? The average of the four benchmarks was used to produce global protection scores for each of the antivirus programs analyzed.

Below are the results of the 26 antivirus programs that have been analyzed, ordered according to their average score. Only six antivirus programs – Avast, AVG, Bitdefender, ESET, Kaspersky, and Microsoft – feature in all the benchmarks.

Protection score from 0 to 100. A higher score is better

The antivirus programs that scored best in the protection category were Norton, Panda, and Trend Micro. Bringing up the rear was Microsoft, with its Windows Defender program scoring a mediocre 70. It’s worth noting that Norton isn’t involved in either the AV-Comparatives or the VB tests.

Antivirus programs ordered by protection score. A higher score is better

Performance: which ones least impact your PC’s performance?

Does antivirus software affect the performance of your PC? To find out, we converted performance scores from AV-Comparatives and AV-TEST into percentages and took an average.

In the table below, you can see the results of the 26 antivirus programs we analyzed. Only Solo G-Data, Norton, and ZoneAlarm are missing from AV-Comparatives’ performance test.

Antivirus programs ranked by performance scores. A higher score is better

Norton took first place again, followed by Kaspersky and Bitdefender. Microsoft achieved a mid-table position, while Vipra and Lavasoft brought up the rear.

Global scores and comparison winners

In this year’s benchmarks, we decided to only use protection and performance data (an approach we also took in our browser comparison). The same weighting applies to both: 50%.

The result is shown below on a scale of 0 to 10 (the green bars), together with the number of protection and performance tests that each program featured in (represented by the orange lines).

As it wouldn’t be fair for an antivirus to win if it only appeared in two tests compared to others that feature in six, we’ve applied a correction factor where we add or subtract points accordingly.

This means that the only antivirus programs that were penalized were those that only featured in three tests: G-Data, Sophos, and Norton. This significantly altered the final result.

Final scores after adding the correction factor according to how many tests programs feature in

Bitdefender wins, followed by Kaspersky and Avira

There was a clear winner: Bitdefender, followed by Kaspersky and Avira, two solid antivirus programs. The presence of Qihoo isn’t particularly surprising: the company’s 360 Total Security program is one of the most popular antivirus suites at the moment.

Avast, AVG, and Panda were all mid table, while Microsoft showed itself to be an acceptable solution in terms of performance, but it comes up short when faced with a large percentage of malware.

Gold for Bitdefender, silver for Kaspersky and bronze for Avira. All three are outstanding antivirus

How do the top 10 antivirus  programs rank compared to last year? You can take a look for yourself in the table below.

The rise of Bitdefender has been spectacular. Kaspersky and Avira have cemented their positions, while Qihoo maintains its spot in the first division. AVG and ESET lost ground, while Avast lost its top spot and slid down the table, accompanied by Lavasoft, Panda, and BullGuard.

In the current climate of antivirus crisis, the programs that emerged as winners were those that focused on performance: today’s user doesn’t want to sacrifice speed for security, especially when it’s not always effective.

Which antivirus program would you recommend for 2015?

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