Choosing an antivirus for your computer system is kinda like choosing an Insurer. How do you go about making the selection? Check out the contenders – ESET Smart Security 4, Symantec Norton Internet Security 2010 and Kaspersky Internet Security 2010 as I uncover their strong points and weak points. I won’t be testing scanning (Antivirus) effectiveness because many have done so in a more official capacity and have done an impeccable job.

Anti-virus software has been around since 1986 and it has since evolved to encompass many more security threats. In general, the average Joe will still refer to the newer security suites as anti-virus. The suites are commonly referred to as Internet Security Suites and these applications have evolved into integrated applications that at least take care of anti-virus, anti-spyware, and firewall security. I take a look at three different manufacturers to find out if they are easy to use, new user friendly, system friendly and value for money.

Testing an anti-virus security suite and its’ ability to catch known viruses and a variety of other malicious types of programs is a tricky affair as it means dealing with the live malicious programs. The actual testing of the security suite software and the ability to detect virus infections is already carried out by an organization called, Virus Bulletin. You can check out their website at, http://www.virusbtn.com/ to find out more about their testing process. Therefore, I do not intend to do live virus testing and will pull this statistic from Virus Bulletin’s web site. The VB100 scores will be used as one statistic in my evaluation.

The statistic is the track record of the product to get a VB100 passing grade. There is a full history and archive of the testing dating back to 1998 by Virus Bulletin. A total of 67 tests have been run on a variety of operating systems with various versions of each product. This test score simply imparts the ability for the company to keep up with technological changes, like operating system upgrades and the ever changing landscape of viruses, Trojans and the like.

I will score based on xx/5 and then average out the score.

Package contents
All too often companies do not include enough information to get started or include too much. It is difficult to strike a balance but if you get to know the end users you should have a good grasp of what is right. At the same time too much is overwhelming and as we move towards being earth friendly (green) too much is not good.

Ease of installation from the CD media
All installers today are via optical media, be it a CD-ROM or DVD-ROM disk. The question is does the installer have easy to understand instructions and options to suit both the novice and the expert.

Installation Size
It is true that storage is so abundant now but that does not preclude for the developers to eat up gigabytes of space. In fact, more space taken up is an indicator of bloated programming.

Scanning speed
The ability to scan the entire hard drive contents efficiently and in a timely fashion. Of course, the more files you have, especially those that are archived, will impact the speed but since the same hard drive image is used for each test the variance should be minimal. I am comfortable with a 5 percent difference in total files scanned from the baseline image because I know Windows will kick out some temporary files as an when required.

There will be two scans – first full scan and a second full scan but no definition updates will be done before the second full scan. This is to measure the speed difference between the two scans as some of the products have built-in intelligence that ignores scanning previously scanned files.

Technical Support
Does the company have a local number to call for installation and operation support? Is it 24 hours? What about a website and message forums? The more avenues that the company provides in the event of an infection or problem the better off you will be when it comes to limiting the damage or loss.

Performance Impact
This test will report the responsiveness of the system while a full scan is in progress. I will attempt to launch and run multiple applications in the foreground while the full scan commences in the background.

Price
Is the cost of the security software an affordable proposition? A simple formula based on price divided by 12 months. This is probably a small amount when you look at it this way and a small price to pay for irreplaceable information and in some cases identity theft. It is little wonder why everyone doesn’t buy an Internet Security suite and prefers to use free software.

The Report Card Format

  ESET

 KASPERSKY

 SYMANTEC
 Package Contents

 

 

 Installation Ease

 

 

 

 Installation Size

 

 

 

 Scanning Speed

 

 

 

 Technical Support

 

 

 

 Performance Impact

 

 

 

 Technology

 

 

 

 Price  

 

 

 VB100 Award  

 

 

 TOTAL SCORE (Avg)

 

 

Do note that only 1 Anti Virus software should only be installed in the system at any given time. This would ensure no conflicting instructions amongst the Anti Virus products. The testing methodology will be shown in the last page.