The best antiviruses of 2016

What are the best antiviruses to protect your Windows machine in 2016? We analyze results from the four of the most prestigious, independent antivirus comparison services to bring you the top five.

And do not miss the video towards the bottom of the page where we summarize all these results for you!

With Windows 10 and its built in security features gaining more followers, plus protection in web browsers increasing, you may be thinking that there is little need to install dedicated antivirus software. But with the level of threats constantly growing, proper protection is more important than ever.

So, what is the best antivirus to protect your Windows machine in 2016? We are here to analyze the results of four independent comparison sites to find out.

Powerful independent comparisons

As we did last year, we have collected and analyzed the results of four independent comparison sites. Our selection of antiviruses is limited to those that’s detection data appeared in at least two comparisons.

AV-Comparatives

In November, AV-Comparatives became the first laboratory to receive an EICAR certificate in recognition of its excellent work. For this comparison we use protection data from real scenarios in October 2015. We have also used the performance test results from the same month.

AV Comparatives

AV-TEST

AV-TEST is a veteran of independent testing, with its proof of zero-day attacks similar to that of AV-Comparatives. Again, we have used data from October 2015. Windows-TEST also provides performance data relating to the speed at which operations are performed.

AV Test

Dennis Technology Labs

Dennis is less well known, but uses its own methodology to analyze antivirus software. The test measures not only how many threats are detected but also the number of false positives, allowing for an overall accuracy. It also includes Norton, a company that is traditionally reluctant to be analyzed. Results here span July-September 2015, and covers the most popular antiviruses.

Dennis

Virus Bulletin (VB100)

Since 1989, VB has been one of the foremost authorities on antivirus and malware analysis. Its antivirus index, VB100, is subjected to rigorous screening in which neither false alarms nor failed attempts are allowed. We have taken the reactive and proactive (RAP) detection data, which measures the percentage of unknown viruses that have been successfully blocked.

Virus Bulletin

Results of protection: What’s better at detecting malware?

How effective is your antivirus at stopping the latest threats? Here we have used averages of the protection scores offered by the four comparison sites. Do note, however, that AVG, BullGuard, ESET, and Kaspersky were the only antiviruses to take part in all four tests – scoring them top marks in transparency if nothing else.

Protection Table

Scores for protection range from 0 to 100, with a higher score being better. The antiviruses that fare best in terms of protection are Norton, Panda, and F-Secure. That said, like last year, Norton does not participate in AV-Comparatives nor in VB. Microsoft’s performance is mediocre, while Vipre and Lavasoft bring up the rear.

av-comparative-2016-protection

Sorted by average antivirus protection, a higher score is better

Performance results: which impacts your PC’s performance the least?

Antiviruses running in the background of your PC can slow it down. To know which will impact your machine’s speed the least we looked at performance scores from AV-Comparatives and AV-TEST, before averaging their percentages. In the below table you can see the results of these analysis.

performance chart

As with protection, performance scores range from 0 to 100 with a higher score being better. Norton – who only participated in one performance comparison – ranks first, followed by Avira and Avast. The later of these is a notable improvement over last year‘s results. Again, like last year and in the protection test, we found Vipre and Lavasoft bringing up the rear.

AV comparative 2016 performance

Antivirus ordered by the average yield, a higher score is better

Overall scores and winners of comparative

In this final comparison we use protection and performance data, both with the same 50-50 weighting. This enables us to consider the importance of good security, alongside the impact on the operating system, to provide an overall result.

The results are shown below on a scale of 0-10 (green bars), along with the amount of protection and performance tests it has participated in (orange line, up to a maximum of six).

Comparative 2016 available data

Final grade of protection and performance (green) and number of tests available (orange)

To reward the antiviruses involved in more comparison tests (over those that only participated in a couple), we have applied a correction factor: 1 – Number of tests / 4. This penalizes products that only participated in three tests. The final results vary slightly because of this, as can be seen in this final chart:

Final scores after applying the correction factor of tests performed

The winners: Avira, Kaspersky, Norton, Avast, and AVG

This year at the top of the best antivirus products we have two paid options – Norton and Kasperky – plus three free classics – Avast, AVG, and Avira. With the overall winner, taking into account performance and efficiency, being the German developed Avira.

Microsoft antivirus has improved a lot , making it an acceptable solution for those who do not want to spend money or install additional programs. It is particularly good at detecting malware.

At the back of the pack come Lavasoft, Vipre, Panda, and G Data – all of which were particularly impacted by their low performance scores, an aspect that cannot be overlooked.

How does this compare to 2015’s antivirus results? You can see the ups and downs right here.

final table

This year Avira is in the lead, jumping two places from last year’s comparison. Kaspersky is a solid second place and remains the best paid solution, while Norton is up a position.

More spectacular are the climbs of Avast and AVG, both of which have taken a huge step up – especially in terms of performance. BitDefender has had a notable fall from the number one slot to number six, and ESET falls slightly.

While Windows 10 is a more secure system – and its virus protection is significantly better than Windows 8.1’s – additional protection is still highly recommended. Will it remain so next year? That all depends on Microsoft…

What antivirus do you recommend for 2016?

Previous comparisons:

Best Windows Antivirus Comparison 2015

Softonic’s big antivirus comparison: Software to stay safe in 2014

Comparison: Free Antivirus suites 2012

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