Best antivirus software: 14 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 six of the 18 products tested earned a perfect rating of 6 for each of those criteria: Bitdefender Endpoint Security 6.6, Kaspersky Lab Endpoint Security 11, Kaspersky Small Office Security 6, Microsoft Windows Defender Antivirus 4.18, and Symantec Endpoint Protection 14.2 and Endpoint Protection Cloud 22.15. The top 14 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 and 18.6

Avast Antivirus Business 18.5 and 18.6 could have had a perfect score with just a slight improvement on performance and protection. It stopped 99.3 perscent of all zero-day malware attacks, but the biggest issue was with slow-downs when launching popular websites. It was 6 percentage points slower on a standard PC than industry average. Otherwise, it had a perfect score for usability with no false warnings, detections or blockages.

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 and in some cases better than industry average. 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 was in some insignificant differences in a few performances tests.

4. ESET Endpoint Security 7.0

A newcomer to the top 10 list, ESET Endpoint Security detected all malware discovered in the last four weeks and 99.3 percent of all zero-day malware attacks. It did well in most performance tests, although it was six percentage points slower than industry average installing frequently used programs and 11 points slower copying files. It had no false warnings or blockages, and it did not flag any legitimate software as malware.

5. F-Secure PSB Computer Protection 18.5

PSB Computer Protection would have had perfect scores in all categories, except it slowed copying files locally or on a network more than industry average. A few percentage points improvement would have earned it a full 6 rating. The software did flag one legitimate program as malware during a system scan.

6. G Data AntiVirus Business 14.1

Except for some performance issues, G Data AntiVirus Business would have been among the elite products with perfect scores. It slowed the following actions morer than industry average: launching popular websites, launching standard applications, installing frequently used applications, and copying files locally or in a network. The software stopped 99.3 percent of the 311 zero-day malware samples used in the test, but detected all 21,257 malware samples discovered in the last four weeks.

7. 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 100 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. It did flag one out of more than 1.3 million legitimate software samples as malware.

8. 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. It also falsely flagged one legitimate software sample as malware.

9. 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. The McAfee product slowed launching standard applications by 32 percent, well above the industry average of 13 percent. It was worse during installation of frequently used applications—46 percent slower. The industry average there is 31 percent.

10. Microsoft Windows Defender Antivirus 4.18

Performance is all that holds back Microsoft Windows Defender Antivirus from elite status..In most performance categories, the product is faster than or nearly the same as industry average times. However, it slows installation of frequently used applications by 85 percent on a standard PC, nearly three times industry average. It detected 99.3 percent of zero-day attacks and all malware discovered in the last four weeks.

11. 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 in a few performance categories: The product caused an 18 percent slower launch time for popular websites, higher than the 12 percent industry standard. It was also slightly slower than average when installing frequently used applications or copying files. It lost half a point on its usability rating by falsely blocking two actions while installing and using legitimate software.

12. 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 except for launching standard software applications, where it was slightly slower than industry average. It blocked one actions while installing and using legitimate software.

13. Symantec Endpoint Protection Cloud 22.14

Symantec Endpoint Protection Cloud scored similarly to its non-cloud counterpart. It did slightly better on usability, blocking no actions while installing and using legitimate software. It also had less impact on launching standard software applications.

13. Trend Micro Office Scan 12.0

Regaining its perfect rating across all three main categories, Trend Micro Office Scan improved its usability rating this time around. I only 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 except for copying files, where it was seven percentage points higher than industry average.

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