For years, computer techs, advertisements, friends, family and the IT guys at work have hammered into you to "Use An Antivirus". While this is true for the average person, the choice of which one to get becomes a very diluted question because in my opinion, they are all junk. With that said, I may mention to stay away from certain ones and my opinionated reason as to why, however I'm not going to tell you not to use them but rather the reasons why I do or don't use them.
Antiviruses are like Insurance. You buy them in case something bad happens, then hope to a higher power that you'll be covered. Just because you have insurance, doesn't mean there isn't some sort of loop hole or back door that will keep you from getting paid. I should know. I worked an insurance claim one time where the adjuster had to tell a lady that insurance wasn't going to cover $60,000 worth of water damage because: "Nothing was broken by the storm to allow the water in." She cried. (It was an $800,000 house) Point is, Antiviruses are the same type of service. Just be cause you have it, doesn't mean you won't get a virus that will steal your info, delete your data or even worse, hold your data ransom for a stupid amount of money. Just because you have it, doesn't mean you're covered.
So which is the best? None of them. They are all junk in my opinion. I have worked on various computers for 15 years and despite the client having a "Good XYZ Antivirus", I find their computers riddled with all sorts of infections that the Antivirus never picked up. You essentially pay a lot of money to purchase, then upkeep in subscription fees to an "insurance" company that rarely pays out on claims. Their argument? "We can't keep up with the release rate of new viruses". This may be true, but I'm not the one to hold them accountable.
With the emergence of Malware, Ransomware, Spyware, Adware and a hole host of different categories of infections, the Antivirus companies quit trying to keep up. I've run an Antivirus on clients computers where it finds ZERO infections. I run an AntiMalware software and it will find 20 - 50 infections. I then run another protection software and it will find 2-3 trojans or viruses that the other two protection softwares never caught. More cases than not though, the Antiviruses FAIL to detect and clean up a whole host of infections causing all of the problems. You now have to run 3 different protection suites just to be adequately covered. It's ridiculous.
Now that you're scared witless, we'll move on to the various popular Antiviruses
If I'm going to install an antivirus on a clients computer, the easiest choice for me is AVG and for one simple reason: "It's free with the least amount of headache for the client". In the past, AVG used to be poor to fair in its findings, but AVG has stepped up their game over the last few years and the detection rate has improved. It's good enough if all you're looking for is: "something is better than nothing."
With AVG being "free", it does come with the cost of annoying you with constant pop-ups from AVG trying to get you to purchase it and maintain a subscription, or trying out their XYZ fix it software or whatever they think you might benefit from. I don't personally use their other software which means I have no opinion on it. You do have the option to reduce the annoying pop-ups to once every three days, but by default, you're going to be bombarded with them every few hours.
As far as free goes, my personal favorite over the years has been Avast!. While I haven't used their software in a while, back in the day it was one of the least obtrusive antiviruses out there and provided really good protection for being free. While I find it to be a better overall software than the competition, the sole reason I refuse to put it on clients computers is that they force you to obtain a license every 14 or so months in order to keep the subscription active and up-to-date. I've been around the computer industry long enough to know that if I install a piece of software and then get the license for the customer, 14 months later, they're going to be completely clueless about how to get another license or why they even need one in the first place to keep this Avast! up-to-date. It's a headache for the clients because they don't know how to deal with it, even if I walk them through the process of how to deal with it. At the end of the day, it's pointless to use because the overall experience isn't user friendly.
I've used Avira in the past and overall, didn't have much of a problem with it. It was free, decent protection that was pretty quiet except for the very annoying "BUY ME NOW!" nag screens popping up in the middle of your work every few hours. Because of that, I've stayed away from it. AVG has moved into this realm, but with the option to delay messages to once every three days, I tolerate AVG. It's been a few years since I've used Avira, so I don't have much of an opinion of it these days.
Microsoft Security Essentials was an antivirus solution provided by none other than Microsoft itself for Windows. It started out as one of the best software for antimalware named "Bit Defender". Then Microsoft got their grubby paws on it, renamed it to "Windows Defender", and as far as I'm concerned, gutted anything of value from it. This all happened back around Windows XP. Microsoft has had a LONG time to improve on their protection software but unfortunately, it never really matured into anything of value. What should you expect from a company that is notorious for having security holes within their operating system?
Clamwin is the only free antivirus that does not and never will nag you. While I can't speak for it's effectiveness against other categories outside of trojans or viruses, it's open source, small, light, clean and legit. There's only one major problem with ClamWin and that is a lack of realtime protection. If you open a file, ClamWin will never try to make sure it's clean unless you tell it to before you open the file. ClamWins whole purpose is to scan a computer for infections. So, while it does a great job of scanning, it will ONLY find infections AFTER they are already there, not before. That's not saying much though considering the other free and even paid antiviruses don't even catch stuff and they all scan in realtime...
Good old Norton. Norton has been around a long time and waaaayyy back in the day, it was a great piece of software. Over the years though, they felt like customers weren't getting enough "Bang for their buck" so Norton started adding all sorts of whistles and bells caused it to become a bloated, overloaded, very annoying antivirus that was "decent" to put it nicely. Where they sit today is anybody's guess. It's been a while since I've run across a client who's used Norton, so I don't know if they ever slimmed it down or got better so I'm speaking from a dated product standpoint.
Is it pronounced mick-aah-fee? Or mac-uh-fee? I pronounce it the former, but that's me. I feel that McAfee is in the exact same boat as Norton. Back in the day, it was a good piece of software, but over the years it has become bloated and riddle with more problems than it fixes. I do see McAfee installed on clients computers from time to time and it has trimmed down a bit, but rarely have they paid for it and rarely does it feel like a snappy program. It's usually a pretty big resource hog. Usually McAfee is installed before the client ever got the computer and came with a 1 month or 1 year subscription. Most of my clients let the subscription laps and I end up uninstalling it at their request.
While I have zero experience with WebRoot as an antivirus, I have a LOT of experience with it causing people MAJOR headaches and not from viruses. I don't know exactly what it is about the Webroot antivirus software, but it will completely lock you out of the internet for no apparent reason. It works great one day, the next, it stops working. Maybe it's a bug with a particular version, maybe it's something else, I don't know, but I end up having to manually remove it to fix a clients internet.
So, of the paid antiviruses, my opinion of Kaspersky is smack dab down the middle. I find it to be a very clean antivirus with a small footprint that does a good to excellent job finding infections. That's the good side of the fence. The bad, is that it is privately owned by a Russian. Don't get me wrong, I don't have anything against Russia or the Russians, and also keep in mind, this is my own personal opinion. From where I sit, it makes me VERY nervous to give a Russian company unfettered access to a computer. Story goes that the owner got tired of his computer getting viruses, so he came up with his own anti-virus software. Maybe that's true. Kaspersky may be a legit, down to earth company but having been around the tech field for a while now, two of the largest hacking bodies in the world come from Russia and China. Sorry Eugene Kaspersky, it's nothing personal.
On the flip side, I have a friend who swears by Kaspersky... Take your pick.
Panda Antivirus has been around for quite some time and It's honestly been a while since I've used it. Panda Antivirus is typically known more in the corporate world for it's automatic deployment server to workstations and centralized update process. It was OK. I wasn't overly impressed with it back when I used it but I wasn't turned off by it either.
As far as protection goes, there is only one single piece of software I would currently recommend, that has found countless thousands of infections over the years on various clients computers. It's MalwareBytes. I can usually run MalwareBytes and get rid of 90-100% of the infections on a clients computer. I'm not suggesting to go out and buy it, but If I were to recommend spending money on one, this would be it.
I've never used it. I have no opinion of it, however, it is advised according to others in the tech industry, to use extreme caution with the SpyHunter software or any software made by it's parent company.
Additional References, see:
https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/forums/t/604046/we-need-your-help-bleep... for more information.
It's been a while since I've used Emsisoft Antimalware, but back in the day it did a pretty good job for me. I would run it in tandem with Malwarebytes to help catch anything the other didn't. Over the years, I just migrated away from it in favor of the one-stop solution Malewarebytes offered.
There is a host of protection software on the market and while most of them provide decent results, I can't really recommend any particular one as a primary form of protection. Whatever program you decide to go with, try it out and if you don't like it, try another. From your experience, does it find infections? Is it slow to open the program? Is it annoying you with updates or ads? Find one that fits your work environment and go from there.