THE BEST WINDOWS SECURITY SUITES
Nathan Taylor uncovers the best security apps for beginners, pros and even users who don’t want to pay a cent.
We uncover the best security suites for all types of Windows users.
Microsoft is, without a doubt, far better than it once was when it comes to security. Its antivirus tool is no longer a joke, Windows firewall is more than capable and even its recovery and backup systems have improved over time. But it’s still not up to the capabilities of a full security suite. The likes of BitDefender, Kaspersky and Symantec have remained a step ahead when it comes to security, and still have better anti-malware, superior parental controls options and a range of system tools that Windows just doesn’t have built-in.
So if you’re looking to up your security game, a third-party security suite is still your best bet, and to complement this month’s superguide, we’re going to look at our current three favourites. We have an editor’s pick for techie types, another for beginners and a third for people just looking for a free suite with premium features.
The choices are based partly on test results, but also on additional features and usability. For pros, we chose the suite that gives you the most tools to work with. For beginners, we looked for the suite that does the most while bothering you the least. And for the free suite, we looked for the tool that did the most in a single package without costing a cent.
Each of the suites reviewed here has been comprehensively tested by independent antiviral analysis company AV-Test ( www.av-test.org). We’ve published here the latest results available at the time of writing, from June 2017.
Note that the results are not, in all cases, from the specific products we’ve reviewed. For example, we may have looked at the full suite where AV-Test may have only tested the standalone anti-virus application, or we may have a product that has been updated since the tests were performed in June. That doesn’t change the validity of the results, since the same antivirus engine is in use. So let’s break down what the numbers mean:
“The likes of BitDefender, Kaspersky and Symantec have remained a step ahead when it comes to security, and still have better anti-malware, superior parental controls options and a range of system tools that Windows just doesn’t have built-in.”
Protection against 0-day malware attacks is a measure of the suite’s ability to detect new viruses based on their behaviour.
It’s perhaps the most important number here.
Detection of widespread and prevalent malware shows the detection percentage of known viruses released in the four weeks before the test.
The performance impact ratings give percentages by which the suite slows down a mid-range PC when performing common tasks.
False warnings is the number of instances where the suite flagged legitimate software and websites as a threat and either blocked it or produced a warning popup.
For convenience, AV-Test also provides three overall scores, rating each suite’s protection, performance impact and usability out of 6, to give a total score out of 18. (Usability, in this instance, is not a reference to ease-of-use, but is based on the number of times the program produced false popups and blocked legitimate software). We should note that AV-Tests aggregate scores are based on combined May–Jun performance, while we’ve only printed June results for space reasons.