Choosing an Anti-Virus Software, Based Upon Your Needs
Where to look for information
Objective up-to-date reviews from knowledgeable sources. User reviews can give you an impression of the Anti-Virus software's speed or interface, but the average user is not qualified to judge the technical aspects of an Anti-Virus product.
A good first step is to validate or eliminate your preconceptions about Anti-Virus products you have heard about.
After you have done this, compare these products against the products with the top reviews.
(A website to help you manage this is listed in the final section of this article)
Here are the main considerations when reading an Anti-Virus software review.
In recent years, with background scanning becoming the norm, the scanning speed of an Anti-Virus product has become less vital. It is still a worthwhile consideration, for the times when you feel a full scan of the system is necessary.
Some Anti-Virus software is said to be worse than the viruses it protects against with regard to system performance. In the past years, most Anti-Virus vendors have decreased the system load of their products, and added 'gaming modes' for times when the system needs more performance.
It is still vital to choose an Anti-Virus software that does not overly impede system performance.
The protection level of your chosen Anti-Virus software is important. This can be divided into several data points:
- Detection Rate
- Removal Rate
- Effectiveness of Heuristics
- Promptness of Updates Against New Threats
There is an organization known as avcomparatives that offers the industry standard figures for the first three, but this is not information for the end users. Looking at reviews on reputable websites is the best way to get up-to-date customer oriented information on these points.
Unfortunately, it is not usually possible to get accurate statistics on promptness of updates. Usually the bigger companies are best here, though.
Don't be fooled by the apparent increased cost of quality Anti-Virus software. Usually, it is possible to find even the top Anti-Virus software available for around 20 dollars. Beware of scammers selling pirated software, though, and use a reputable merchant, like Amazon.
Sources / Further Reading
If you want more information, or to help you get started, I suggest visiting http://rankantivirus.com. This site allows you to compare anti-virus software by technical features, reviews, prices, etc.
Wikipedia is also a great source, but it lacks consumer oriented information like prices and reviews.