Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Which Antivirus Program Is Best?

After being in the IT profession for so many years, you would think that you have seen it all and that nothing else could surprise you. How untrue that is! Things in this field are changing so rapidly, something that may have been fact at one time is now null and void. At one time 16 bit processing in supercomputers was a huge achievement, but now we have many times that power in our cell phones. At one time Norton Antivirus was the best security solution on the market, but now that computer viruses are numbered in the millions, Norton just cant keep up. Yes, the truth is that times change, and so do the computers and programs that we use. So then, at this point in time, with all the different choices, which antivirus program is the best one to use? Lets find out.

Common logic would dictate that finding the best antivirus program would be a simple task. "Just find the one with the largest virus database" some may say. While the size of the virus database is important, it's a small part of the big picture as there are many things to take into consideration. But for the sake of simplicity, lets go over two of the most important things to consider. (1) How old is the computer that the antivirus program will be running on? (2) In what setting will the computer be used? Lets start with the first question.

Why is the age of the computer relevant?

The simple truth is that most older computers don't have near the power of newer computers. One program that runs just fine on a new machine may make an already slow older computer run snail speed. When a computer becomes this bogged down it actually makes the computer more vulnerable, because the antivirus program can't function efficiently (Not to mention how frustrating trying to use the computer would be). So the bottom line is that using an efficient light weight (non bloated) antivirus program on an older computer is important.

In what setting will the computer be used?

Computers are used in a variety of ways. Most of the time you have an average run of the mill home user, who does little more than get on the Internet and write up a document or two. But you also have more advanced settings, like a server running several terminals in a business. For home users a simple antivirus program may work fine, but for a business server you need more than virus protection. Other security features such as a firewall are important, because its usually businesses that get specifically targeted by hackers (many business servers store confidential client information that hackers want to steal).

So Which Antivirus Should I Use?

So now comes the part you have been waiting for, the antivirus programs I recommend. For older home computers, I recommend Panda Cloud Antivirus. For newer more robust computers or computers used in a business environment, I recommend Comodo Internet Security. Here are the reasons I recommend these antivirus programs, taking into acount their drawbacks.

Panda Cloud Antivirus: The Good

Panda Cloud is amazing for two reasons; its light weight (fast), and it just plane works. This program slows the computer down very little, because all of the heavy lifting is done on the cloud servers, and not your computer. And because the database is stored on the cloud servers, you don't have to wait for updates to download, you get them instantly. Granted you do have to download program updates, but its not a daily chore by any means. It may not have the best virus database out there, but regardless I have removed many viruses with this program that the "big wig" programs like Norton and McAfee didn't even see.

Panda Cloud Antivirus: The Bad

When you have a hard time thinking of something negative about a program, that is a good sign. But even though Panda Cloud is as fantastic as it is, it does have its downfalls. The program does keep a small cache file of the database on your computer, so it can function if you lose connection to the Internet. But the simple fact is that thousands of new viruses are written every day. Because of this, all it takes is one hour of being out of date for your computer to be at risk. So if you come across a nasty virus that disconnects you from the Internet, you may not be able to remove the virus without taking more advanced action. With all that said, I cant say enough good things about Panda Cloud. It has breathed new life into countless older machines that I have worked on, and needless to say my customers are eternally grateful!

Comodo Internet Security: The Good

When it comes to robust security software, Comodo is about as air tight as it gets. It has one of the best virus databases I have found so far, and it replaces your Windows Firewall (don't get me started on the worthlessness of the Windows Firewall) with its own firewall system, and this isn't just any old firewall. This baby checks every executable file that wants access to the Internet, and if its not recognized, it blocks the file until you allow it to continue. So if a virus tries to access the Internet, the rug gets yanked right out from under it, allowing you to remove the virus before it spreads further on your computer. Another really nice thing about Comodo is the "Sandbox" feature. If Comodo blocks an unrecognised program, you can send it to the sandbox so Comodo can further analyze it. This is what gives Comodo the edge, because analyzing unknown programs or files in the sandbox is how it can discover new viruses in a timely fashion. Another benefit to Comodo is its simplicity. Even though its a powerful program, the interface is very user friendly. It is also easy to add programs to your trusted list so Comodo wont block them in the future.

Comodo Internet Security: The Bad

Just like Panda Cloud, there are few bad things to say about Comodo. But no matter how good something is, it will always have its drawbacks. Because Comodo does such a thorough job of monitoring your system, it does use quite a bit of system resources, so it is out for older computers. The one thing that really jingles my nerves after a while is the constant "This program is unrecognized, allow it to continue?" pop up each time I run or install a new program. And because I'm in the IT field, I am constantly experimenting with new programs.

The Conclusion

Panda Cloud Antivirus and Comodo Internet Security are simply fantastic, and even though the have there drawbacks, they make programs like Norton and McAfee run with their tales tucked between their legs. The benefits of these programs outweigh the drawbacks ten to one, if not more. Just remember, times change, and maybe down the road from now I wont recommend these programs anymore. But for now, I wouldn't go with anything else.

Copyright © 2012, Tyler Adler. This article may be freely distributed provided that this attribution block remains intact. CompuTech Services LLC: Phoenix Arizona's Best Technology Services.

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