The best anti-virus protection for Windows 8.1 home users and business?

Graham Cluley

Windows 8.1When respected anti-virus testing body AV-Test.org released the results of tests it had conducted against business security products running on Windows 7 earlier this month, it caused quite a kerfuffle in the comments section

Mostly from home users who hadn’t read properly that it was a test of *business* anti-virus products, and that might be why their preferred home user anti-virus wasn’t included in the test.

So, I’m pleased to share AV-Test.org’s latest test results, where they looked at the protection, performance and usability of business *and* home user anti-virus products, running on Windows 8.1.

Products tested include solutions from AhnLab, Avast, AVG, Avira, Bitdefender, Bullguard, Comodo, ESET, F-Secure, G Data, K7 Computing, Kaspersky Lab, Intel/McAfee, Microworld, Norman, Quick Heal, Microsoft, Panda Security, SentinelOne, Seqrite, Sophos, Symantec/Norton, ThreatTrack, and Trend Micro.

Here is the executive summary for home user anti-virus products, where Avira, Bitdefender and Kaspersky appear to have run off with top honours:

Consumer anti-virus test for products running on Windows 8.1

And here is the chart for business user anti-virus products, with Bitdefender and Kaspersky getting gold:

Business anti-virus test for products running on Windows 8.1

Most products appear to have performed reasonably well in the tests, with the only truly horrendous performer being Microsoft. One interesting inclusion in the business tests was SentinelOne, a so-called “next generation” security product. To its credit, SentinelOne appears to have performed well, keeping up with other better known anti-virus products:

With only one exception, the participants did not have major issues regarding false positives or scan speed/performance degration. For the first time ever a “Next Generation” security product has been included: The Endpoint Protection suite of SentinelOne. The results prove that it is able to keep up with the traditional Anti-Virus products.

AV-Test.org reported that most of the products’ detected the vast majority of the unknown, zero-day malware threats thrown at them:

“The malware protection of most tools was at an acceptable to good level, on average around 98-99% of all “zero day” malware attacks were blocked.”

Of course, even if a product scores 100% in AV-Test.org’s tests it’s worth bearing in mind that no anti-virus software is perfect – and only part of the answer to keeping your Windows computer safe and secure.

You can reduce your chances of having your computer attacked by malware by adopting a layered defence – which would incorporate elements such as training your users, installing security updates, configuring advanced features of your anti-virus software, and reducing the attack surface by disabling commonly-attacked platforms such as Adobe Flash.

Furthermore, just because an anti-virus performed well in these tests doesn’t mean it is necessarily the best choice for you. If possible, evaluate products to see if they are the right fit for your business network or home computer.

Full results can be found in the relevant section of AV-Test.org’s website: home users and business users.

How did your anti-virus perform? Which products do you trust to keep your computer safe from malware? Leave a comment below.

Graham Cluley Graham Cluley is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s when he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and is an international public speaker on the topic of computer security, hackers, and online privacy. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley, or drop him an email.

11 Replies to “The best anti-virus protection for Windows 8.1 home users and business?”

  1. McAfee got a 5.5 for performance and Norton got a 6 for protection?

    This makes me very skeptical about this data.

  2. McAfee got 6 on protection? In tha last few years it was barely better than Security Essentials.

  3. Can I also dismiss the results because they didn't match my preconceived notions from years ago? Everyone knows that malware and anti-malware landscape never ever changes.

    1. Indeed; to think that viruses can mutate, evolve and progress… what a ridiculous idea! It is the same for non computer viruses: this is why influenza has the same vaccine every year; the vaccine is perfect except it doesn't work indefinitely. Yes, that seems to be a contradiction but I assure you that it is only gullibility.

  4. With Win8.1/64 have used Win Defender ('cos it's unobtrusive) in conjunction with Malwarebytes Pro/Premium and their Anti-Exploit kit. Also have tdskiller as a fallback for any real nasties. This combo seems to work just fine; it's all unobtrusive, it doesn't slow things down and it works for me!!.

  5. Many of us use multiple real-time anti-malware programs these days, with no effect on performance, unlike those good old days of yesteryear, when even one would often drag one's system into the dirt.. How about Norton + Malwarebytes Premium + Superantispyware Pro for a combination? AV-Test.org needs to test a few such combinations, just for the heck of it.

  6. It's about time "next-gen" vendors proved on-par with traditional AVs.
    IMO that is the most important roadblock toward complete replacement of the useless resource hogs called AVs, which clearly can't prevent nay real infection (ask Target, Sony, bank of X for reference)

  7. Yet again, PC Magazine's Editors choice for 2015 AV of the year was ignored. How about these AV testing places actually test something that ISN'T garbage. I've run Webroot Secure Anywhere for 3 years now and have zero complaints. Unobtrusive, very low resource usage and far better protection than the resource hogs and paper thin protection McAfee or Bitdefender offer.Try it sometime folks, you won't be disappointed!

  8. I am 78 years old disabled just use my laptop windows 8.1 for accounts photos facebook skype and printing. canon pixma mg5600 bthub5-9WTN google chrome microsoft office home and student 2013 and have mcafee livesafe until 6/3/15 but have been disappointed because amount of spam went through and also my accounts were hacked bt/yahoo. Can you recommend me full security so I don't have to worry about my details being hacked. I have Tablet which I want security for. How much this would cost and you highlt recommend it.

  9. I would suggest to use ESET Antivirus for your business systems. It is fast, easy to use and it really remove viruses and other types of malware. Even my secretary knows how to use it. And my kids would love its interface.

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