New model-year security products used to come out in the fall, like new model-year cars. In 2011, though, the first 2012 antivirus (G Data AntiVirus 2012 ($29.95 direct, 3.5 stars) turned up way back in May. So far PCMag has reviewed over a dozen antivirus tools explicitly identified as 2012 models, along with a number of others released during the same period.
Testing the Tools
To evaluate antivirus utilities I rely on hands-on, real-world testing. The malware removal test involves installing each product on a dozen malware-infested virtual machines and challenging it to clean them up. This article explains how I get from those tests to the figures in the chart that follows: How We Test Malware Removal.
Best Antivirus for 2012 malware removal chart For the malware blocking test I attempt to install the same collection of threats on a clean system protected by the product being tested. The article How We Test Malware Blocking explains how I analyze and score the results.
Best Antivirus for 2012 malware blocking chart I also refer to reports from major independent antivirus testing labs. The labs have vastly more resources than I do, so they can perform large-scale tests that would take more time than I have available. The chart below specifically lists results for the companies whose 2012 products are rounded up here. For full details on how I interpret these lab results see How We Interpret Antivirus Lab Tests.
Best Antivirus for 2012 lab tests chart Webroot isn't included in this chart because the current Webroot antivirus is a completely different product from what the labs have used in most of their tests.
Three of these recent products are specifically designed to clean up malware infestations, with no real-time protection component. Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware Free 1.51 (Free, 4 stars) was the most effective of these. Its detection rate wasn't high, but effective removal gave it 6.4 points overall. The commercial Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware PRO 1.51 ($24.95 direct, 3 stars) does add real-time protection, but it was the least effective of the entire group.
Norman Malware Cleaner 2.1 (Free, 3.5 stars) wasn't as effective as Malwarebytes. Its rootkit removal score is especially low because most of the rootkits it detected were still running after its alleged removal.
While not free like the other two, avast! Rescue Disc ($10/once direct, 3.5 stars) is inexpensive. Rootkits and other malware types that subvert Windows itself should yield to this bootable tool. However, in testing one rootkit remained running even after alleged removal.—Next: Free Antivirus Tools >