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Comparison of Anti-virus Software Programs: AVG, McAfee & NOD32

by Aaron Parson

When deciding on anti-virus software for your personal computer, several factors come into play. Besides detecting and preventing virus infections, an anti-virus program must be able to repair existing infections and not give off false positive warnings, all while avoiding excessive system slowdown. These factors, along with the cost of the product, can help you to compare and decide between popular anti-virus suites AVG, McAfee and ESET's NOD32.

AVG

In its latest report in December 2012, independent anti-virus research institute AV-TEST gave free anti-virus AVG ratings of 5.0 out of 6.0 for protection, 4.0 of 6.0 for repair and 5.0 out of 6.0 for usability. AVG fell behind the industry average in the removal of non-active malware components and the restoration of system modifications, with a score of 56 out of 100, compared to an average of 60. However, it beat the average in its ability to detect brand new viruses, and gave out significantly fewer false positives than average.

McAfee

AV-TEST's report on McAfee Internet Security awarded it scores of 4.5 in protection, 3.0 in repair and 4.5 in usability, giving it the lowest combined score among these three programs. In the subcategories, McAfee performed close to the industry average in nearly every area but two: a poor rating in the system slowdown category, with an 18-second slowdown rating compared to an average of 10 seconds, and a far lower occurrence of false positives than the average.

ESET NOD32

The AV-TEST report on ESET's Smart Security, a suite that includes the anti-virus software also used in NOD32, received scores of 4.0 for protection, 3.5 for repair and 5.5 for usability. Though the program beat the average for removing malware components and restoring system modifications, it fell below the average at removing active components from widespread malware, resulting in a low repair score. ESET ranked the best in usability among these three programs with a low system slowdown rate and no incidents of false positives detected.

Picking a Program

Rating scores can help you make your choice, but with all three programs performing fairly well, it may come down to personal preference. One potential deciding factor is cost: among these programs, AVG is the only brand to offer a completely free edition, while both NOD32 and McAfee require subscriptions to receive updates. If you do change your mind after trying one anti-virus program, be sure you completely remove the old program first. Running two anti-virus programs on one computer can cause conflicts, slowdown and system errors.

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