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The six most effective antivirus programs for Windows

An independent IT security institute in Germany—AV-TEST—made an interesting discovery. They claim to see about 390 000 new pieces of harmful programs every day. These malwares, spywares and Trojan Horses (programs usually called computer viruses) can hide anywhere. Even the most innocent looking page you open cause you think it is safe can get such a program into your computer. That is why it is important to find a good and effective antivirus program which will reliably protect your computer and data every day. How to choose the best one?

Passed the test

If you are still using Windows XP, you should pay a close attention to the protection of your data as the Windows XP support has ended. This means no more Microsoft Security Essentials security updates. So whether you use Windows XP, 7 or 8, we recommend protecting your data as best as you can. Thankfully, there are a lot of effective antivirus programs and most of them are free—you only have to pick one.

In 2014, AV-TEST performed the last test of antivirus programs for Windows XP, focusing on three categories:

  1. Data protection—the ability of an antivirus program to detect viruses.
  2. Performance—impact of an antivirus program on the everyday activity of users, i.e. downloading data from the internet, software installation or using Microsoft Office. If any of the programs slowed some of these routine actions down, it got a negative score.
  3. Usability—how often did an antivirus program mistakenly marked a file as harmful.

The outcome of the test was a simple finding: it is useful to protect a computer from harmful programs. The most useful and effective protection turned out to be the alternative antivirus programs which are usually offered for free. On the bases of these tests, we have created a list of the six most useful and effective antivirus programs. You can see the pros and cons of each program which will, hopefully, help you decide which one to get.

Bitdefender Internet Security 2014

Bitdefender Internet Security 2014 got the first place in the AV-TEST. It is designed for personal usage and for casual users (internet browsing, watching movies, using Microsoft Office). 


  • well-arranged user interface

  • perfect detection and deletion of harmful programs

  • does not slow down the computer

  • automatic and regular update of the virus database


  • limited settings options

  • not suitable for complicated tasks (i.e. detection of a specific virus)

  • paid



Panda Security Cloud Antivirus FREE 3.0

Panda Security Cloud Antivirus was also among the top rated by the AV-TEST. One of its main features is using data from other users for detection of harmful programs.


  • automatic and well-arranged updates

  • monitors and filters dangerous websites and links

  • automatic protection for USB mediums for free

  • compatible with Windows 8, 7 and Vista

  • XP


  • not suitable for beginners

  • slow installation

  • has ads

  • may perform unnecessary changes in the computer during installation (i.e. chages in browser settings)

AVG AntiVirus Free 2015

A popular antivirus program featuring on-access scanning running in the background during user’s activity actively seeking for viruses and other harmful programs. Despite its popularity, it has a few shortcomings, for example the lack of silent mode (possibility of turning off sounds and visual notifications for full screen settings, when the user plays a game or watches a movie).


  • on-access scanning

  • automatic and regular update of the virus database

  • small installation size

  • free

  • compatible with Windows 8, 7, Vista, XP and 2000


  • for personal use only

  • lack of silent mode

  • frequently bothers the user with ads for its paid, professional version



AVAST! Free Antivirus 2015

A Czech made antivirus program. The 2015 version has an excellent network scanning, controlling the security of your router.


  • functional network scanning

  • automatic and regular update of the virus database

  • silent mode

  • can detect and remove potential and unknown threats

  • free

  • compatible with Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista and XP


  • settings and control requires advanced computer skills

  • only for personal usage

  • requires a free registration regularly

  • notification sounds are very unpleasant



AVIRA Free Antivirus

Avira has earned the name of the “most effective free antivirus program”, probably because it has an option for automatic planning of computer virus scanning.


  • well-arranged user interface

  • automatic planning of computer virus scanning

  • free

  • compatible with Windows 8, 7, Vista and XP



  • for personal use only

  • longer installation compared to other programs

  • changes the default browser during the installation (if this option is not
    disabled during the installation setting)

  • the amount for ads and popup windows is annoying


Comodo Antivirus (Comodo Security Solutions)

The Defense+ technology is one of the most dominant features of the Comodo antivirus program. This technology regards every unknown file as harmful as opposed to other programs which work on the presumption of safety.


  • Defense+ technology

  • automatic and regular update of the virus database

  • is for free

  • is compatible with Windows 8, 7, Vista and XP


  • contains redundant programs and settings which must be deactivated

  • if you do not want to use them

  • the installation file is quite large

  • longer installation than other programs

Whether you are using Windows XP, Windows 7 or waiting for Windows 10, an antivirus program is a must. Without one, your user data and activity might be in danger. It is important to remember that there is no universal, omnipotent antivirus program. All of the above-mentioned programs are efficient—the choice is completely up to you. We hope that this article will help you to choose the right one for you. 


And a small tip:

To ensure the safety of your computer, an effective antivirus program is not enough. Please, follow the rules of safe web browsing. Do not click on anything that seems suspicious and update your antivirus program regularly.

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