Have the biggest players dropped the ball on AV Protection?

Mike Halsey MVP
May 5, 2011
Updated • Feb 20, 2014
Antivirus, Security

The latest anti-virus test figures for Windows 7 are out and there are a good few shocks to be seen in the results.

In the tests performed by AVTest, BitDefender has leapt from ninth place since last year to 1st place in the chart.  Bullguard follows it closely having leapt even further all the way up from 13th place.

The top players from last time are now suddenly all doing very badly.  AVG, the former winner, drops to sixth place, G Data, in second place last time drops to seventh and Panda, which came third last time around now sits in 8th place.  Even those stalwarts of anti-virus Symantec have dropped a place from fourth to fifth.

Perhaps the biggest shockers though come from Microsoft Security Essentials, which has dropped ten places from 11th to 21st and McAffee (which has been experiencing other problems too) which is down even further from 7th place to 18th.

Clearly this demonstrates that the smaller companies have raised their game in the last year, but it could also indicate that the major players have become complacent. Let's not forget that Microsoft's scanning engine is the same one used in the award-winning Forefront anti-malware package for Windows Server and corporate systems.

How their product will now be viewed in the home and corporate marketplaces is in doubt, despite the company working very hard to shed the shackles of it's awful OneCare anti-virus package for home users.  McAfee's already battered reputation could take another hammering from these results too.

You can find the full results online here where you will be able to see where your own anti-virus package sits in the chart. It should be noted that this is only one test and there are other independent and recognised ranking systems that may rank anti-virus packages differently.


Tutorials & Tips

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. Varun said on May 6, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    This looks like a marketing gimmick to me
    MSE already does a splendid job on my PC, What more could BitDefender do.

    1. Jojo said on May 7, 2011 at 3:28 am

      “MSE already does a splendid job on my PC”
      And HOW do you know this? Show us some proof.

  2. Roger Heathcote said on May 6, 2011 at 4:46 am

    Hi Mike,

    If you aggregate the scores in all three areas you get a different picture, you are going on the first column only. Clearly AVTest’s methodology is meant to take account of the whole picture and not really meant to serve as a leaderboard. When all three columns are summed Security Essentials comes in at somewhere between 13th and 16th place, one above Bullguard (in 17th) with it’s lousy removal abilities. Of course it is also kind of arbitrary and unfair to rank these products monotonically as several of them share the same score. If you adjust for this MSE actually comes in joint 8th place along with Avast, Avira and eScan. Aggregated scores follow…

    1st) BitDefender (15.5)
    1st) Fsecure (15.5)
    2nd) Norton (15)
    3rd) Kaspesky (14)
    3rd) Gdata (14)
    3rd) Panda (14)
    4th) AVG (13.5)
    5th) Sophos (13)
    6th) Webroot (12.5)
    6th) Trend (12.5)
    6th) Eset (12.5)
    7th) Vipre (12)
    8th) Avira (11.5)
    8th) Avast (11.5)
    8th) eScan (11.5)
    8th) Security Essentials (11.5)
    9th) Bullguard (11)
    10th) Comodo (10.5)
    10th) PC Tools (10.5)
    11th) CA (9.5)
    12th) McAffee (8.5)
    12th) Norman (8.5)


    Roger Heathcote

    1. Bart Degryse said on May 6, 2011 at 9:56 am

      Not a good idea to aggregate results like this (imho!). You should put a weight into account too. Surely ‘security’ outweights ‘usability’. What’s the use of a very user-friendly package if you can’t trust it to protect you anyway.

      1. Roger Heathcote said on May 6, 2011 at 11:30 am

        You can’t trust any of them to protect you which is why I don’t use Windows any more.

        I still support hundreds of Windows users though so I have to keep abreast of developments in the AV world and I have to say, for your average user, usability is vitally important. There may be a couple of percentage points better protection available from the top commercial products but in the majority of cases I really don’t think they’re worth the money. The blinged out interfaces confuse my clients, slow down the older machines, sometimes make the machine unstable and the relentless popups annoy them – in many respects these symptoms parallel those of a virus infection!

        Beyond all this the big win with MSE is that it’s quiet and it never runs out. The majority of infections I deal with (several per week usually) have commercial virus protection that has expired. I feel sure the perceived faff of having to create or dredge up your account details and the annoyance of having to pay money for the thing that’s always popping up and bugging you makes people put off renewing as least as much as the direct financial cost. With MSE there’s none of that messing around and that simplicity translates into more security overall.

        As for adding further weighting that would only make things more arbitrary / subjective!

  3. Dan said on May 6, 2011 at 1:12 am

    I prefer the AV-Comparatives reviews. They’re more reliable and trustworthy. Which is not to say that AVTest is bad, it’s just not as high on my list.

  4. Dan said on May 5, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    Great article, thanks! Surprised (and disappointed) to see MSE losing ground.

  5. Haakon said on May 5, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    You have been deceived by the placement of apps in the chart. AVG, along with two other 5.0 scores, is actually in 3rd place when considering its PROTECTION – which is what *really* counts. It actually scores better in 0-day and Dynamic detection than some with 5.5 scores. Their criteria for what constitutes”cleanup” is debatable as it is in any discussion for that no matter who is doing the testing. “Usability” is so subjective it’s irrelevant.

    1. Jojo said on May 7, 2011 at 3:25 am

      Agreed! Protection is what counts.

      UI is subjective and I would never let an AV program try to do a repair. I have heard too many horror stories.

  6. Andy said on May 5, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    Would be interested in how they compared on Windows 7 64bit with SP1 installed.

  7. Enigma said on May 5, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    I don’t know about anyone else but MS Essentials works just fine for me, does a bang up job at that too.

  8. paul(us) said on May 5, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    Fokka, When you take a close look to the list the majorityof mentiond programa’s are internet security suites, just like zonealarm. I know that zonealarm is using the Kapersky machine but i wanted to know ore there are different s whit the mentioned Kapersky internet security suite.

  9. Keith said on May 5, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    I think the drops in ranking most often have to do with timing. When a company releases a new version/scanning engine relatively close to the testing period, it tends to rank higher. The longer the period between scanning engine release, it tends to rank lower. MSE just released a new version and ranked lower; I have no idea why!

  10. Paul(us) said on May 5, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    Hoi Martin, They picture, in your article, is not popping up.
    And again no zonealarm in this test do you know why this influential program is not in the list?

    1. fokka said on May 5, 2011 at 4:20 pm

      afaik zonealarm is a firewall, not an anti virus.

    2. Mike Halsey (MVP) said on May 5, 2011 at 4:12 pm

      Picture link fixed :)

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.