Security Software Roundup

April 27, 2017

(Updated April 27, 2017)

This is a roundup of security software packages. For the purposes of this article, we are focusing on consumer versions targeted at residential customers and small businesses that do not have a server. We will cover business oriented security products in a separate article.

After reading this article, see what security software you have and where it falls on the list. You may also want to forward this to your friends and family so they can see where their security software falls on the list.

We evaluate based on our own tests, personal experience, customer’s experience, and reviews by other credible sources. The criteria used to evaluate these products includes:

  1. Automation. We want to set it and forget it. It should automatically update, automatically scan, and automatically clean. It should not be popping up asking us if we want to allow something or not.
  2. Configuration. Can we configure it the way we want to?
  3. User interface. Does it make sense or is it confusing?
  4. How well it prevent infections
  5. How well it removes infections
  6. Annoyance factor. We don’t want any pop-up ads. We don’t want it to constantly talk to us or ask us a lot of questions. We don’t want it to block us from doing what we need to do, as long as what we are trying to do does not infect our computer.
  7. Performance. Does it slow down our computer?
  8. Price. Is the price reasonable?

No security software gets a perfect score because none of them can completely protect your computer. Thousands of new infections come out every day. They just can’t keep up. But the better the protection, the less likely your computer is to become infected. But you don’t want to go too far and make it harder to use your computer. Computer security is a balancing act.

When you purchase security software, they usually come in different editions. You can generally get a full security suite or just the more basic protection. Most people don’t need the full security suite. It adds a lot of features you don’t need and slows your computer down even more. We generally prefer the more basic packages with a few free utilities added in for extra protection.

We have organized this list of Security software into 3 categories. Not recommended, Neutral, Free, and Recommended. In addition to these three categories of software, we are also including a section of free security add-ons that you will want to check out to help keep your computer safe from infections.

So without further Ado, here is the list!

Not Recommended

We don’t recommend using these products. If you have one of these products on your computer, we urge you switch to one of our recommended products as soon as possible.

  • Avira
    There’s a free version, a premium version for $30, an Internet Security version fo $60, and an Internet Security Plus version for $80. Doesn’t provide very good protection and tends to slow your computer down more than other products.
  • Bit Defender
    Bit Defender comes in three different editions. Antivirus Plus ($40), Internet Security($50), and Total Security ($70). One plus is that you can put it on up to 3 PC’s. Provides very good protection, but unfortunately, it slows your computer way down.
  • CA Internet Security
    They don’t sell home versions of this software anymore, but some ISP’s use it. If your ISP offers you a free version of this software, just say no. It doesn’t provide adequate protection against viruses and spyware. Slows computer down way too much.
  • Comodo
    Comodo makes an antivirus, firewall, anti-malware, anti spam, and Internet Security. All are free. We like their firewall, although most people don’t need a software firewall. The other components provide OK protection, but not good protection. The biggest problem with it is all of the advertisements. It will even install other products without asking you. A big no-no. It will even change your homepage. Way too intrusive.
  • Kaspersky
    Like most of the other security products, Kaspersky comes in several different editions. Anti-virus ($60), Internet Security ($80), Pure Total Security ($90), and One Universal Security ($100). It provides good protection, but not great. The biggest problem with it is that it’s way too expensive. You can often find Kaspersky on sale on their websites and in stores, but even their sale prices are higher than most others normal prices.
  • McAfee
    Available in Anti-Virus ($50), Internet Security ($70), and Total Protection ($90) packages, there was a time long ago when McAfee was our favorite. But somewhere along the line McAfee got the whole idea of security backwards. Most security products try to prevent viruses in order to allow you to do what you need to do on your computer. McAfee, instead, seems to do it’s best to prevent you from doing what you need to do while letting infections right onto your system. McAfee is one of our least favorite security products at this time.
  • Panda Internet Security (Paid version only)
    Basic protection for $50. Internet security suite for $70, and Global Proection for $80 and they recently released a free version. You can put the paid version on up to 3 PC’s, but again it’s more expensive than a Vipre Home Site license. The paid version provides good protection but too intrusive and annoying. Slow performance too. Another thing I don’t like is when you purchase online they try and throw in all of these extra’s like Extended Money Back Guarantee for $6 and Extended Download Service for $10. Ridiculous!
  • PC Tools
    Their editions are called Spyware Doctor ($40), Spyware Doctor with Antivirus ($50), and Internet Security ($60).Spyware Doctor only protects against spyware, so you’ll have to combine it with another antivirus. Each of these products can be installed on up to 3 computers, which makes the price good. These products offer good protection, but slow your computer down.
  • Trend Micro Internet Security
    Trend Micro’s home security products have the name Titanium. There are four editions of Titaniam. Antivirus ($40), Internet Security ($80), Maximum ($90), and Premium ($100). Slows your computer way down. Too intrusive. Not very good protection.
  • Spybot Search and Destroy
    Spybot is free for home use. There was a time when we recommended Spybot Search and Destroy, but times have changed. This product has not kept up with the times. It only provides mediocre protection with an antiquated user interface and it only protects against spyware, not viruses.
  • Ad-Aware
    The story for Ad-Aware is similar to Spybot Search and Destroy. There was a time when we recommended it, but not anymore. Although Ad-Aware’s user interface is much better than Spybot’s, like Spybot, it only provides mediocre protection. They now have paid versions. One called Personal Security ($12) and the other Pro Security ($36). They are cheap, but we don’t recommend them.
  • Webroot
    Like most of the other security companies, Webroot makes several versions of their security software. It provides pretty good protection, but not quite as good as our recommended products. Their three home products are Antivirus($40), Internet Security Plus($60), and Internet Security Complete($80).
  • Microsoft Security Essentials (free)
    Can only be used on Windows Vista and Windows 7. We recommend you combine this product with an Anti-Spyware product like SuperAntiSpyware or MalwareBytes because although it does a good job against viruses, it doesn’t do as good a job with spyware which is a bigger problem than viruses these days. The one feature that it offers that the other free products don’t is that you can use it on commercial computers.
  • Windows Defender
    Windows Defender is the security software built-in to all versions of Windows starting with Windows 8. On it’s own, it does not provide adaquate protection.

Neutral Products

These products offer pretty good protection, but have some issues. If you have one of these products, then you probably don’t need to switch right away but we recommend you switch when your current subscription expires.

  • AVG (Free and paid editions)
    Provides good protection if you change the settings to be more aggressive. You’ll need to change the advanced settings after install it to tell it to provide better protection. When major revisions of AVG come out, the free version won’t automatically update to it. You will have to manually download and upgrade. The free version of AVG is very intrusive. Pop’s up ads frequently. Also tries to trick you into getting paid version by converting free version to trial version.  Then the trial runs out and wants you to renew, even though you never bought it in the first place.
  • SuperAntiSpyware
    The interface is kind of clunky and is lacking some minor features. But although it’s not fancy, it does an excellent job of protecting against and cleaning up spyware. But not viruses. That’s why it should be used in conjunction with another security product. Most security products protect against both viruses and spyware. So there’s really no reason to have this additional product. The one thing this product is good for is removing spyware from an infected computer. But you can use their free version for that. No need to pay $30. The free version should not be your primary protection since it does not provide active protection and does not protect you from viruses.
  • MalwareBytes
    Even though it’s got a cute name, chances are, you’ve never heard of MalwareBytes, but it provides very good protection. But like SuperAntiSpyware, it only protects against spyware, not viruses, and must be combined with another product to fully protect your system. So why bother with it. Like SuperAntiSpyware, it is also good for cleaning an infected system, but you can use the free version for that, so no need to pay $25 for it. The free edition doesn’t provide active protection and thus does not prevent infections.
  • Norton
    There was a time when Norton was at the bottom of our list because it was too restrictive and slowed your computer WAY DOWN. But in the last two years, Symantec has really made strides in improving it and they have done a good job. In fact, last year, it was on our recommended list. However, in recent months we have seen a lot of infected computers come in that had Norton on them. I guess the hackers have figured out how to get around it. Since Norton is the best selling security product, it makes sense that the hackers would go after it. They have three editions. AntiVirus ($50 for one computer), Internet Security ($80 for up to 3 computers), and 360 ($90 for up to 5 computers).
  • Panda Cloud Antivirus Free Edition
    Good protection for the casual, non-adventurous user. There is a pro version that costs $30, but don’t bother. The nice thing about this one is that it is so easy to use. Basically, you don’t have to do anything. This is nice most of the time, but if it blocks something it shouldn’t, then telling it to not block it can be a pain. It’s pop-ups are really annoying.

Recommended Free Products

In recent years, some free antivirus products have really improved. So much so that they are probably fine for most home users who aren’t too adventurous on the Internet.

Here are our favorite free products:

  • Avast Free Edition
    Good protection. Requires that you register your email address and receive a license. It talks to you telling you that Avast has been updated. Some people find that annoying. Note that there is a free version for businesses too.

Recommended Products (Paid)

Although not perfect, these products are the best available in our experience. These are the products we use on our systems. these are the products we recommend to all of our friends, family, and customers.They are in order starting with our highest recommendation

  • Cyber Tek Computer Pros Security And Maintenance (SAM) Plan
    Our SAM plan offers the ultimate protection plus a lot more including free infection removal if your computer does become infected. Click here for more information our this service plan.

  • Vipre
    Vipre comes in two flavors. For $40 you get Vipre Antivirus which protects against viruses, spyware, and rootkits. For $50, you can get Vipre Internet Security which adds a firewall and other protection. We recommend Vipre Antivirus over the Intenet Security version. Vipre provides very good protection and doesn’t slow your computer down much.One of the best things about Vipre is you can purchase a Home Site License which allows you to install it on up to 10 computers. A Home Site License for Vipre Antivirus is $60, $70 for Vipre Internet Security.Another good thing about Vipre is that if your computer does become infected, you can call their support line and they will try to remove the virus for you at no additional charge. I’m not aware of any other company that will do that. The reason they can do it is because Vipre provides such good protection. Like anything, it’s not perfect, but it provides the best protection for the money and the best features.You can purchase Vipre or Vipre Premium from us.

  • ESET
    ESET’s products are NOD32 Antivirus ($40) and Smart Security ($60). They provide very good protection without slowing down your computer a lot. The interface is OK.
    You can purchase ESET products at

Free Add On Products

Whether you use a free security product or a paid one, we recommend that you use these two free add-on security products.

  • uBlock
    Some security software includes ad blocking functionality, but most don’t. None of our recommended security products include it. We recommend blocking ads because many infections get on computers through third party web banner advertisements. But never fear, you can get free ad blocking software for your browser as long as you don’t use Internet Explorer or Edge. We recommend you use Google Chrome or Firefox as  your browser and install the uBlock add-on.
  • BitDefender TrafficLight
    This add-on isn’t available for Internet Explorer or Edge. It helps keep you from going to an infected website. Again, we recommend Google Chrome or Firefox with this add-on installed.

Computer security is a balancing act. Not enough security and your computer can easily become infected. Too much, and your computer can become slow and hardly usable.

The bottom line is that we recommend you use one of our recommended products (free or paid) and then add on ad blocking and website rating software.

2 Responses to “Security Software Roundup”

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