Best antivirus software: 13 top tools

These top-ranking Windows 10 client antivirus products were tested on three primary criteria: protection, performance, and usability.

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The AV-TEST Institute recently tested the most popular Windows 10 client antivirus products on three primary criteria: protection, performance, and usability. Only five of the 18 products tested earned a perfect rating of 6 for each of those criteria: Bitdefender Endpoint Security 6.6 and Endpoint Security Elite 6.6, Kaspersky Lab Endpoint Security 11, Kaspersky Small Office Security 6, and Microsoft Windows Defender Antivirus 4.12 and 4.16. The top 13 antivirus offerings shown here in alphabetical order scored at least 17 points out of a possible 18.

The downloadable infographic below summarizes the results, along with earlier test data for Windows 7 and Windows 8. You can drill down on the full results at The AV-TEST Institute's website

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This infographic summarizes tests of Windows client antivirus software conducted by the AV-TEST Institute. The AV-TEST Institute

Best Windows 10 antivirus

1. Avast Antivirus Business 18.5

Avast Antivirus Business 18.5 could have had a perfect score with just a slight improvement on performance. The biggest issue was with slow-downs when launching popular websites. It was 4 percentage points slower than industry average. Otherwise, it had perfect scores for data protection and nearly a perfect score for usability. (It had 2 false detections of legitimate software as malware out of about 1.4 million samples).

2. Bitdefender Endpoint Security 6.6

One of five products with perfect scores for protection, performance and usability, Bitdefender Endpoint Security stopped all zero-day malware web and email attacks tested, and all malware discovered in the last four weeks. Performance degradation when using applications and websites was minimal to moderate, with the worst being a 26 percent website launch slow-down on a standard PC. For the latest round of tests, the product gave no false positives.

3. Bitdefender Endpoint Security Elite 6.6

The results for Bitdefender Endpoint Security Elite are nearly identical to those of the standard Bitdefender product. The main difference is that it did slightly better in some performance categories.

4. Check Point SandBlast Agent 80.84

A newcomer to the top 10 list, Check Point SandBlast Agent had perfect scores for data protection and usability. For the latter, it had no false warnings or blockages, and it did not flag any legitimate software as malware. It did perform significantly slower on launching popular websites than the industry average--a 30 percent decline in speed versus 18 percent on a standard PC, and a 16 percent decline versus 13 percent on a high-end PC.

5. Kaspersky Endpoint Security 11.0

With its nearly perfect scores across the board, Kaspersky Endpoint Security continues its run in the top tier of anti-malware products. It stopped 99.4 percent of all zero-day and known attacks tested. On the performance side, the product had minimal impact on the launching or installation of websites or applications.

6. Kaspersky Small Office Security 6

Kaspersky Small Office Security scored similarly to the company’s endpoint protection product. It had a slightly higher impact on website launches and application installation, but its performance there was still well above industry average.

7. McAfee Endpoint Security 10.5

For protection and usability, McAfee Endpoint Security ranks with the best of its competitors. However, it falls a little short on performance, particularly during launch or installation of software. Launching standard applications with the McAfee product active was 28 percent slower than normal, well above the industry average of 11 percent. It was worse when installing frequently used applications—39 percent slower. The industry average there is 26 percent.

8. Microsoft Windows Defender Antivirus 4.12 and 4.18

Performance had been holding Microsoft Windows Defender Antivirus 4.2 back on previous tests, but that has changed. In most performance categories, the product is now faster than industry average times. That's enough for it to join the elite with perfect scores among this group. It also blocked one action during the use or installation of legitimate software.

9. Seqrite Endpoint Security 17.00

Another newcomer to the list, Seqrite Endpoint Security came close to a perfect score. It lost a half-point on its usability rating because of three false detections of legitimate software and two false blockages while installing and using legitimate software. It offers better-than-average performance across all tests, 

10. Sophos Endpoint Security and Control 10.8

You can count on Sophos Endpoint Security and Control to stop attacks as well as any other product in this group. It lags the leaders only in one performance category: Slower installation of frequently used applications. The product caused a 30 percent slower installation time for standard PCs, higher than the 26 percent industry standard. It was also slightly slower than average when launching popular websites. It lost half a point on its usability rating by falsely blocking three actions while installing and using legitimate software.

11. Symantec Endpoint Protection 14.2

In addition to a perfect protection score, Symantec Endpoint Protection is one of the better-performing anti-malware tools tested. It scored below or near industry average in every category. The only reason it didn’t have perfect ratings across all three main categories is that it blocked four actions while installing and using legitimate software.

12. Symantec Endpoint Protection Cloud 22.14

Symantec Endpoint Protection Cloud scored similarly to its non-cloud counterpart. It did slightly better on usability, blocking two actions while installing and using legitimate software.

13. Trend Micro Office Scan 12.0

Previously one of the few products with a perfect rating across all three main categories, Trend Micro Office Scan lost half a point on its usability rating this time around. I had one false detection of legitimate software as malware, and it blocked one action while installing and using legitimate software. It is still among the best performers of the group. It was below or near industry average for all performance categories.

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