This is a comparison of free antivirus applications. These are all the programs I could dig up on wikipedia, google, and download.com. These tests were all performed within a VirtualBox virtual machine, which has 256 MB of RAM. Unlike my other comparisons, I moved the final score up so that the baseline was 0. These tests were performed on each antivirus application:
Time the malware scan takes, in minutes. These will be longer than in normal conditions because the virtual machine is slow, and it has some disk writing quirks. Fastest two get one point, slowest one gets -1 point.
number of items detected
The number of malware files detected. The malware folder is about 12GB large. About 4/10ths of this file is old malware the scanner really should detect. About 1/5th was (painstakingly) collected from the wild. It also includes all the malware in various archive formats, which make up the other half of the file. The program with the least detected gets -2 points, the next best gets -1 points, and so on; the best program gets 4 points.
RAM in use
RAM while the AV program is scanning, in KB. Best gets 1pt, worst -1pt
RAM at rest
RAM while the AV program is protecting the computer, but not scanning. This will not be counted if the program doesn’t include a virus guard. Best gets 1pt, worst -1pt
CPU in use
Percent of used CPU while the AV program is scanning. This will seem larger than normal because the scans are in a virtual machine with very limited CPU. Best gets 1pt, worst -1pt.
number of false positive detected
The number of safe files detected as malware. My false positive folder is about 1GB large. It contains a number of popular programs, and some little-known security programs that I chose because they perform functions similar to malware. If it detects one of these safe files, it gets -1 point.
If the program has some sort of virus guard(it checks files as they are written). -2 if it doesn’t, no change if it does.
If there are no remnants of the program after I uninstall it and restart. This is important because remnants of an antivirus application can cause problems in the future. -1 point if there are any remnants, no change otherwise
|AV programs||test time||number of malware items detected||number of false positives|
|AVG||87||11,873 (0 pt)||0|
|bitdefender||45||20,166 (3 pt)||0|
|COMODO||34||13,410 (1 pt)||0|
|clamwin||34||13,629 (2 pt)||0|
|avast||13||11,828 (-1 pt)||0|
|AV programs||RAM while scanning||RAM while idle||CPU while scanning|
|AV programs||clean uninstall||virus guard||notes||points|
|AVG||Yes||Claims to, but
in my tests it didn’t
|I didn’t like the interface. Not enough options. Very
slow scan, average detection. It automatically deletes files without
prompting the user. I’ll give it the point for virus guard, because it
claims to have one, but I couldn’t get it to trigger.
|Yes||Yes||Stylish and easy-to-use interface. Very slow scan, bad
|bitdefender||No||No||Professional looking, but it took me a few seconds to figure out how to
scan. Very nice speed and detection. Automatically deletes infected
files without asking. A bit bulky. It comes with a Pro version trial which
has a virus guard, but that is disabled after 15 days.
|COMODO||No||Yes||Simple, not many options. Basic HIPS protection I don’t
like much. Very fast, with good detection.
|clamwin||Yes||No||Plain, the GUI isn’t very user friendly. Many options.
Speedy with good detection. Some programs like winpooch
provide a virus guard using clamwin.
|avast||No||Yes, very good||Nice interface, mostly easy to use; some options are
hidden deeply. Bulky. Avast has protection
features unique to antivirus applications, and it acts almost like a
firewall. Fastest, detection isn’t great.
|antivir||Yes||Yes||I like the clean interface. Not enough options, though.
Slowest scans, but the best detection.
These results show COMODO, Clamwin, and Antivir are the best free antivirus applications. Since these ties aren’t very satisfying, here is my opinion on the programs, best to worst:
- Antivir, for its amazing detection
- Clamwin, because its an open-source project. Use a program like winpooch with this.
- COMODO, an all-around good antivirus
- Avast, which has a fantastic virus guard.
- Bitdefender, because of its great detection. Unfortunately, you have to pay for a virus guard.
- AVG, which has better detection than PC tools
- PC tools, which isn’t very good at all
You should be very secure with Avast, COMODO, Clamwin(with winpooch), or Antivir. I wouldn’t use the others.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this comparison, tell your friends! If you find any errors, please comment. You can link here using antivirus.theymos.com.