Sophos Vs. Avast Comparison

by Scott Shpak
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The battle against computer virus infection shows no signs of abating, with over 220,000 malicious programs registered everyday. The anti-virus community is, at best, reactive, taking about a month to respond to new virus threats. On the front lines of the battlefield, software makers Avast and Sophos offer multilevel malware protection for a range of devices and operating systems.

The Cost of Coverage

Avast's marketshare is dominating, ranking second behind Microsoft in malware protection. This is likely due to Avast's free distribution model for personal use of its basic anti-virus product. Sophos provides strictly commercial software subscriptions of its products, though several have a 30-day, fully functional trial period. Avast also grants 30-day trials on its commercial offerings, as well as several additional free tools for mobile phones and browser clean up.

Platform Support

As well as malware solutions for servers and networks, both Avast and Sophos include support for Windows 8.1. Sophos also provides support for Mac operating systems, Android devices, Linux and UNIX anti-virus, Microsoft Exchange and network storage protection for file servers such as NetApp, EMC and Sun. Avast offers products for Mac operating systems, Android devices, Linux, email and file servers. Platform support varies by product for both companies, and platform coverage for individual users is very similar.

Comparing System Impact

In system impact performance tests conducted in May, 2014, software tester Anti-Virus Comparatives assessed Avast Free Antivirus 2014 and Sophos Anti-Virus 10.3 in side-by-side performance tests on a Windows 8.1 system. These tests compared how each product affected common computer operations after installation. Avast and Sophos scored identically, with a system impact score of 6.2. You can expect similar computer performance while running either company's flagship personal use product.

File Detection Performance

The key to anti-virus protection is the ability to detect files containing malicious code. Anti-Virus Comparatives reported the results of a file detection test between Avast Free Antivirus 2014 and Sophos Endpoint Security and Control Suite 10.3 in March of 2014. Sophos scored a file detection rate of 98.3 percent, compared with Avast's score of 97.7 percent. This report also included a test of false positives -- files detected as malicious, which are actually false alarms. Sophos demonstrated very few false positives, while Avast generated many.

Virus Removal Performance

Once an anti-virus product detects a malware infection, its ability to remove the infection completes the product's protection. Avast Free Antivirus and Sophos Endpoint Security 10.2 were tested by AntiVirus Comparatives in November, 2013 for malware removal ability. Ratings were based on effectiveness of removal, as well as the convenience of the removal process. Avast scored 87 on this scoring scale, achieving an Advanced + rating, while Sophos scored 85 and an Advanced rating.

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